Why MTG Dominaria United is Sure to Make History

by | Aug 24, 2022 | Magic The Gathering, TCG News

Like any upcoming Magic: the Gathering set, Dominara United has a lot of hype behind it. Here’s why it’s (more) justified this time.

Okay, let’s all admit it: We TCG enthusiasts have a bit of a hype problem. It’s all part of the enjoyment of the hobby, if we’re being honest. What else besides hype would be capable of elevating cardboard rectangles to the financial value and the emotional potency of a Black Lotus or even that foil russian prerelease copy of Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Yes, I did spring 25 bucks on a fancy version of a 5 cent card because it’s the set I got back into Magic with and Sidisi was both in my prerelease pool and the card that got me hyped enough to finally dive into the deep end of MTG financially).

So yes, Magic players are hypebeasts, and with that very obvious fact established, it’s no surprise that Dominaria United has a lot of hype surrounding it. It is an upcoming Magic set after all, and nothing is more exciting to Magic fans than the irresistible allure of brand-new cards, fancy foils, full- and alternate arts and perhaps entirely new masterpiece frames.

But with Dominaria United on the Horizon for early September, there is no denying that something more than your average new set hype is in the air. And there are a couple of reasons why I believe that Magic’s ninety-third expansion will be a landmark release for the game – for better or worse.

And that isn’t me being a naysayer here. While I’m as excited as anyone for new packs to crack, cards to collect, and decks to build, the biggest reason why Dominara United is such an obviously high-stakes release is the fact that it is going to be the opening salvo of fireworks for Magic’s 30-year anniversary. Why is that a reason to dread it?

A brief history lesson: The 20th anniversary that wasn’t

Well, let’s just say that Wizards of the Coast basically just seemed to have forgotten that 2013 was Magic’s 20th anniversary. I mean, just look at the sets that got released at the time. When the game should have given itself a bunch of proverbial pats on the back with fancy new cards, a bunch of nostalgia-tinged product and a series of exciting events for players to participate in the anniversary celebration, instead we received Gatecrash, Dragon’s Maze and Theros. Which are all Fine I Guess, but come one! There is more excitement in a new edition of vintage cube going up on Magic Online than there is in Dragon’s Maze.

And so, in 2018, for the ever-awkward 25th anniversary – Which We Totally Meant To Be The Exciting Milestone All Along, Guys, We Didn’t Forget – we got Dominaria. And man, what a homerun that set was. Dominaria had it all: Richard Garfield on the design team? Check. Commander darlings? Check (Hi Muldrotha, Slimefoot, Tatyova and – for me at least – you as well, Yargle). Awesome new design space? Dominaria had it in spades! Sagas became a deciduous tool for Magic’s designers and fan favorites within like a week, the historic mechanic set the precedent for batching (still every custom card connoisseur’s pet mechanic) and its limited environment was great! That’s what people who play limited tell me, anyway.

All that is basically just to say that Dominaria United is perfectly set up to be Dominaria – Dominaria Harder: The glorious Return To The Return To Magic’s Home Plane And A Celebration Of It’s History. I mean, they literally solved the issue of Dominaria being a rich setting that lacked a cohesive focus by turning it into the “History Matters” world. So obviously, there is nostalgia bait. Between the five cards previewed so far, we already have the obligatory reference to Llanowar, Jaya Ballard as a major story player, a team-up card of hers with Teferi, nods to Phyrexia – and Sheoldred – returning to Dominaria, and a Shivan Dragon Hydra.

Priceless treasures and a major new story arc

On top of that, in an act so Inception-tastic it would make Christopher Nolans head spin, they are delving deep into Magic’s history by using the now newly-minted History Plane to bring back a historically exciting promotional gimmick from the ancient Magic history times of 2009, original Zendikar’s “priceless treasures” – actual, real, old school Magic cards from the 90s in modern boosters, reserved list be damned. History coming full circle. It’s an exciting prospect for new and old players alike.

And with the last couple of sets setting up New Phyrexia as a multiversal threat and Sheoldred being the last praetor on an extraplanar mission, Dominaria United is also going to be the spark that lights the powderkeg that is Magic’s return to not-totally-horrible storytelling. After the incredibly long and mostly exciting Nicol Bolas arc ended in the confusing mess that was War of the Spark and it’s two accompanying novels, Wizards of the Coast has taken great pains to give their franchise another stab at becoming the next avengers, by bringing back the game’s other great villain: Phyrexia.

That’s why I believe that Dominaria United will make history: It will be the set that really kickstarts Magic’s next big arc and the real, proper celebration of a huge anniversary (sorry 25th, you did your best, but move over now). And that means Wizards are going to pull out all the stops: Chase cards, incredibly rare alt arts, perhaps even thematically appropriate Masterpieces.

Dominaria United as a landmark set

And when it comes to game design, I believe that Dominaria United will also align itself closely with War of the Spark. Wizards knows, for better or worse, that marquee sets like WAR and now Dominaria United need that certain extra juice. The cards can’t just be fine, is what I’m saying, and with War of the Spark and the following set Throne of Eldraine and, to a lesser degree, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, basically setting the tone for modern design philosophy, warping formats and causing many bans, I am certain that Dominaria United will not just be a set to watch for spoiler season, but that it’s impact is going to be felt for the following years.

However, with this much pressure on a set – making up for the lost 20 year anniversary, a completely different approach to product design and trying to ensure that cards will see tournament play – the spectre of bans and format bogeymen is once again on the horizon.

So this basically all boils down to one thing: Dominaria United will be huge. Of that I am sure. Whether it will be a blunder or a home-run is everybody’s guess, but these are exciting times for cardboard collectors and with Wizard’s recent approach to product design (lots and lots of shiny and rare versions of cards to collect) the value of Dominaria United’s chase cards and sealed product will be sure to reflect that.

Join us next time, when we take a deeper look at the initial spoilers for Dominaria United and evaluate chase cards and key format players. More speculation? Don’t mind if we do! In the mean time? Check out the official Building Worlds video for Dominaria United.

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Written by: Jonah
Raised on a steady diet of fantasy storys and video games, Jonah discovered Magic: the Gathering at age 12 and has since spent half his life and about the same percentage of his total income so far on the game. If he's not playing commander, brewing new decks or reading up on Magic trivia, he's probably dead - or playing Flesh and Blood.
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