THE MANA DORK—AN ARIA FOR DOMINARIA

We’re coming home to Dominaria, folks.

Dominaria, the latest Magic expansion, returns us to the world where it all began. Kavu, Benalish knights, Saprolings, a renewed Weatherlight, and more are ready to greet us.

So this week is a bit of a two-parter—I’m going to take some time to break down the themes of Dominaria and what we’re likely to see, and then I’ll talk about the Brawl deck I promised last week! (I hope you like mana… )

dominaria karn's temporal sundering

DOMINATING DOMINARIA

There’s three big things happening this time around—”historic” spells, kicker, and Sagas.

dominaria history of benalia

Let’s start with Sagas. These are a brand-new type of enchantment (based off of an old design for planeswalkers!) that tell a story while you play.

When a Saga enters the battlefield, you put a lore counter on it and activate its first ability, beside the “I” marker. Each turn, at the beginning of your pre-combat main phase, you put another lore counter on it and activate the next ability—so, “II” and then “III”, in the case of all the Dominaria Sagas. After you’ve activated the last ability, you sacrifice the Saga and it goes to the graveyard.

One quick note for those of you who are thinking of being clever—adding lore counters and sacrificing the Sagas are special actions that do not use the stack. The abilities appear on the stack as normal, but the actions of adding counters and sacrificing the Sagas are separate. So no naughty tricks with Rescue!

dominaria jhoira weatherlight captain

Now that we’ve talked about Sagas, we can talk about “historic” spells.

Historic spells consist of artifacts, Sagas, and anything Legendary—whether it’s Legendary Creatures, Legendary Planeswalkers, or the brand-new Legendary Sorceries. (They’re just like regular sorceries, except they’re pretty strong and you can only cast them if you have a Legendary Creature or Planeswalker—NOT artifact, enchantment, or land—when you cast it.)

That’s pretty much it—it’s fairly straightforward. There are a bunch of cards that will care about historic spells in some way, but each of those cards will explain what they do.

(Oh, and if you’re worried about not having enough Legendary things to cast, don’t be—there will be a guaranteed Legendary Creature or Planeswalker in every pack, thanks to some of the new collating technology Wizards tested out in Unstable!)

dominaria krosan druid

Finally, the ur-mechanic has come back to us. Kicker returns in Dominaria, primarily as a theme in Red and Green cards but spread at least lightly throughout all colours in the set. Whenever you cast a spell with Kicker, you can choose to pay the additional cost as you put it on the stack. If you do, you get a beneficial effect, as spelled out on the card.

All the usual rules around kicker still apply—you can’t pay it more than once, you can’t kick it if you’re putting it on the battlefield for free (thanks, Thran Temporal Gateway!), and all the properties of the spell on the stack are the properties that get copied if you copy it, including all of its kicked effects and total converted mana cost.

Kick away, folks!

dominaria jaya's immolating inferno

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT BURN SPELLS AND PLANESWALKERS

There’s one big new rule for the game as a whole coming with Dominaria, and it’s this: you can no longer redirect damage to a planeswalker you control.

If someone hits you with the classic Lightning Bolt, you can no longer say, “I’ll redirect the damage to this Teferi I control” (and why would you, Teferi’s amazing!). Instead, spells will spell out whether or not they hit planeswalkers.

There’s something on the order of 700+ cards receiving errata with this update, but most of it can be boiled down to one of the following four rules—

If it used to say… It now says… Which means…
“Target creature or player” “Any target” Target creature, player, or planeswalker
“Target player” “Target player or planeswalker” Target player or planeswalker
“Target opponent” “Target opponent or planeswalker” Target opponent or planeswalker
It didn’t have a target The same thing still What it used to

Hope this helps! If you have any questions at the pre-release, there’ll be a Judge on site with the answers!

dominaria rishkar peem renegade

BRAWL DECK—RAMP-‘EM, SOCK-’EM RISHKAR

Ever wanted to play a deck where every creature was a mana dork? Have I got the deck for you!

dominaria ramp em sock em rishkar

Rishkar’s a nice, strong commander for a mono-green strategy in Brawl. He pumps a couple of your guys and provides a whole lot of ramp. He also shows up nice and early, so you’ll get a few turns in with him on the field while your opponents are all still trying to ramp into their planeswalker commanders.

Interestingly, he doesn’t care what type of counter is placed on a creature, only that they have a counter at all. Where in Standard can we get creatures that really like to put counters on themselves? Say hello to Amonkhet block.

This deck aims to get a ton of creatures out, put +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters on all of them, and then pour the mana into a game-winning outlet. Our favourite targets are Walking Ballista or Rhonas the Indomitable, with lifedrain from Throne of the God-Pharaoh as our back-up option. Wildest Dreams and God-Pharaoh’s Gift help get our creatures back from the yard in case of a wipe, while Armorcraft Judge, the Feed half of Mouth // Feed, Rishkar’s Expertise, Vizier of the Menagerie and his Uncaging of the Menagerie, and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary help filter our deck so we can get all the good stuff out.

One key piece of piloting advice—remember that -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters cancel each other out when they’re both on a permanent, like matter and anti-matter. So be sure that when you’re going to put counters on a creature, you’ve got enough going the other way that there are still counters present afterwards!

This deck is poised to do quite well in 1v1 Brawl. For multiplayer games, I recommend fielding your Amonkhet -1/-1 cards early to avoid looking like a threat, then biding your time and waiting for an opportunity to alpha-strike with Overcome.

Now go rock-’em and/or sock-’em… perhaps at an upcoming store event?

dominaria hardcore 24

THAT WAS A REALLY GOOD SEGUE, HOW ABOUT ANOTHER?

Well, if Magic isn’t quite your thing, maybe events for Star Wars: Destiny or Netrunner tickle your fancy?

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic! (Except maybe the next one. He’s probably just going to be a puddle of drooling nostalgia.)