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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
May 29 2018 11:00am
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Hello everyone! I'm now many, many drafts into Dominaria and thought I would share some of the things I have learnt about the format with you. Hopefully this article will provide you with some edges in your next draft or sealed deck! Firstly, I want to give you some tips on the format; these are the little things that I have found will help you get ahead of the pack. Then, I'll provide a list of things I see people doing that you shouldn't, mostly around playing certain cards; these are the traps to avoid falling into.  


One of the fiercest debates I have seen occur Is whether or not you should choose to draw first in this format. The decision seems to be split, with some advocating always drawing first and some never drawing first. Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Whether or not I play or draw depends on a couple of things. The first is what game of the match it is. Given the choice, in game one of any match I will always play first. I still think being on the play is slightly more advantageous, and I will always play in game one. Games two and three are different matters, though. If my opponent's deck is not aggressive and neither is mine, I will choose to draw in games two and three. This gives me that extra card and I have found that in the games that are going to go long, this is a big advantage.

The second consideration is on how much cheap removal I have. If I have a bunch of Shivan Fire, Fungal Infection, or Vicious Offering, I am also more likely to draw first, as I have ways to keep myself alive in the early game. 

To sum up this tip: you should default to playing first unless the games are going to go long and/or you have ways to survive the early game. 


Another consideration is how many lands you should be playing. Seventeen is always the default for most limited decks, and in truth, Dominaria should be no different. I have found most decks want seventeen and somtimes they need to go to eighteen if you have a bunch of powerful four and five drops and need to make sure you hit your land drops.

The ideal scenario is to actually run eighteen lands, but have one of them be one of the Memorials (ideally, not the red one). This allows you to cash in one of your lands later in the game to mitigate flooding.



While staying open in a draft is important anyway, it seems even more so in Dominaria. The most success I have had in the format is when I have stayed open, identified what colours I am getting passed, and moved in. It has not been uncommon in my winning decks for me to abandon my first three or four picks and move in a completely different direction, then 3-0 the draft.

For this reason, picking cards like Skittering Surveyor, Icy Manipulator and other colourless cards early is a good idea. In fact, one of the reasons Skittering Surveyor is such a high pick (and is probably the best common in the set) is because you will play it in every deck you draft and it not only lets you avoid committing to a colour early, but it lets you splash one of those early picks you might otherwise have to abandon. Heck, I'll even take an Aesthir Glider around pick four or five if I am not sure which direction I am going in yet, and if there is no other powerful cards in the pack. 


While this is again a fundamental of limited, it hasn't been as important in recent sets as it is here. You need evasive creatures - flying, ideally - to close out the games for you and break board stalls. I have been picking flying creatures quite highly lately and have had some great success with it. In fact, while I had white/blue as my third best archetype in my article two weeks ago, I think it might even be coming close to being the best. It is certainly my favourite, as I have one a ton of matches with Serra Angel, Cloudreader Sphinx and even the humble Aven Sentry

Flying is not the only way of breaking through, though. Jousting Lance has overperformed for me in this regard. The +2/+0 and first strike is just hard to overcome when they are attacking, as anything you throw in front of the creature carrying it is likely to die. Not every deck wants this card and I wouldn't pick it highly, but I would certainly take it if I had few evasive threats and some bigger ground creatures to wear it.




You should be doing this anyway, but don't kill the first thing you see if you have a removal spell in hand. Here's a hint for you: your creatures can act like removal spells. If your opponent plays a 2/2 and you follow up with a 2/3, you have effectively blanked their creature. Use your creatures to stop their ground threats, and use your removal spells on creatures you can't otherwise stop, like flyers and bombs. This simple thing will help you win a lot of games. 


Here me out. This is going to be the most controversial tip, but I stand by it. Bombs are usually big, splashy cards that unless dealt with immediately will win you the game. They often help you stabilise the game if you are behind, and then allow you to get ahead over the next couple of turns before eventually winning you the game. 

On Serra's Wings does all this. Yes, it is an aura and has all the disadvantages that go with it. But this card turns one of your creatures into a must-answer threat. Ideally, you want to put it on a medium sized creature, but even if you put it on a random 2/3, it turns it into a 3/4 flying, vigilance, lifelinker that provides you with a 6 life point swing on attack and is then ready to block as well. Nearly every time I have cast this, if my opponent cannot answer it, I win. That is the sign of a bomb card, and I recommend you take this card highly.

You can also do silly things like this:



Having one of Invoke the Divine or Broken Bond in your deck will help you win a lot of games. Between a lot of good artifacts, enchantments and sagas, I think it is correct to put at least one of these effects into your decks. However, don't be afraid to side it out after the first game if you see no targets for them. 


Look, I get it, these things are powerful. But seriously, don't play them. More often than not, you will not be able to cast them, for various reasons: you haven't got enough Legends in your deck, or your opponent has killed the ones you do have (if they are smart, they will be doing this anyway as they are some of the better creatures). Above all, do not pick these highly. If, somehow, you have managed to draft a deck with seven or so Legends, then sure, play one of these cards. But in all other case, avoid them.



Seriously. I have seen way more Jaya Ballards across the table from me than I care to mention. I get that you probably want to play your mythic planeswalker, but she is not a good limited card. It hurts, but she doesn't make the cut. 


I do want to clarify this somewhat, as they do have their place. If you aren't sure which cards I am talking about, it is Benalish Marshall, Tempest Djinn, Dread Shade, Goblin Chainwhirler and Steel Leaf Champion. In a normal, two-colour limited deck, you will find that these five cards will often sit in your hand until late in the game when you can actually cast them. By that stage they have usually lost their effectiveness somewhat, with the exception of Benalish Marshall and Tempest Djinn. Ideally, you want to have at least ten sources of the colour - and ideally eleven - to play these cards. 

For that reason, these cards should not be high picks. If you are very heavy in one colour already, though, go for it.



I thought I'd show you these tips in practice. Below are the first eight picks of a draft that I did recently. I will talk you through each pick and why I picked what I did, so you can see these tips in action.


Pack 1 pick 1:

So here we have an interesting first pick. The rare is Goblin Chainwhirler but, like I said, this is a bit of a trap this early. If I was deep into the draft and was already heavy red, I would consider it, but I do not want to take it right now. Apart from that, this is a very strong pack. There is Academy Drake, which is a fine if unexciting evasive creature; In Bolas's Clutches, a very strong uncommon and I think what most people would take here, as stealing a creature is an extremely powerful ability; Fiery Intervention, a decent if expensive removal spell that can also hit an artifact; Baloth Gorger, a good green ground beater; and Tiana, Ship's Caretaker, a flying first striker that can be annoying. There is also On Serra's Wings which, as I mentioned, I believe to be a bomb.

My Pick: On Serra's Wings. I stand by what I said in the article, though I think most people would take In Bolas's Clutches here. I don't fault them for that, either; I think blue is better than white, but I personally believe On Serra's Wings is a better card.

Pack 1 pick 2:

For the second pick, I get a much weaker pack than the first. There is Deep Freeze, which is not the best removal spell but can do some work; Fungal Infection, a nice cheap removal spell / combat trick that I quite like; Goblin Barrage, a four mana for four damage removal spell; Grow from the Ashes, one of the only sources of mana fixing in the set; and Hallar, the Firefletcher, a cheap but efficient beatdown creature. Of note, there are no white cards to go with our first pick, and only a mediocre colourless card in Voltaic Servant.

My Pick: Grow from the Ashes. Honestly, it was really close between this and Goblin Barrage. What made me pick Grow from the Ashes though is it allows me to splash for On Serra's Wings if I don't end up in white, and that is something I would like to do.

Pack 1 pick 3:

In this pack, I want to choose from Baird, Steward of Argive, who is a good defensive creature; another Deep Freeze; Haphazard Bombardment, which does some good work as a removal spell; and Llanowar Elves, one of the best green commons in the set that can put you ahead of the curve if you get it down on turn one.

My Pick: Llanowar Elves. I could have taken Haphazard Bombardment but having already taken a green card, I decided to stay the course and pick another one.

Pack 1 pick 4:

With this pick, we can start to see what is maybe open. There is a Windgrace Acolyte, which is a good flying black card; Shivan Fire, a cheap removal spell that gets better a little later on; Saproling Migration, which is a key part of the black/green decks; and Skittering Surveyor, which as I mentioned, is probably the best common in the set.

My Pick: Skittering Surveyor. Some may have taken Shivan Fire here, but the Surveyor is an easy pick for me. It fixes my mana, once again allowing me to splash for a bomb, plus it is colourless, goes in every deck, and still keeps me uncommitted to any colour.

Pack 1 pick 5:

This pick is going to be a little harder, as there are no clear signs here as to what colours are open. It's a weak pack, with the only cards being Vodalian Arcanist, Rampaging Cyclops, Broken Bond and Aesthir Glider, all of which are very unexciting picks.

My Pick: Aesthir Glider. Again, it's a colourless card and it has evasion, and could end up in any deck that I draft. 

Pack 1 pick 6:

This pack also doesn't give me much to work with, with the two best cards being Divination and Dark Bargain.

My Pick: Divination. There hasn't been a lot of clear signs as yet, but I like Divination in this format.

Pack 1 pick 7:

This is another pretty weak pack, with Rampaging Cyclops, Broken Bond and Pardic Wanderer.

My Pick: Pardic Wanderer. I'm a bit higher on this card than most people; it has trample and can finish games off, especially if I put something like On Serra's Wings on to it. It also keeps me open.

Pack 1 pick 8:


This pack has Relic Runner, which with enough historic cards becomes annoying; (Broken Bond); and Rona, Disciple of Gix, a good, grindy late game card.

My Pick: Broken Bond. This keeps me squarely in green at the moment, though with the amount of artifacts I have picked up, Relic Runner was also a consideration.

So after eight picks, I have three green cards, three artifacts, a white card and a blue card. I also have two sources of colour fixing, and while I am likely to end up base green, I can go in any direction I want from here. If I open a bomb in pack two, I can easily move in on that colour, and even potentially play it if that colour isn't open.

I actually ended up in green/blue, picking up a Verdant Force in pack two as well as a Tatyova, Bethic Druid. I splashed On Serra's Wings and went 3-0.  


There you have it, my top tips for Dominaria limited. Do you agree with these, think I am wrong or have some tips of your own? Let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter: @The_Wolf_MTG