After a few weeks of silence, the hulking Magic: The Gathering spoiler season engines have lurched to life once more, with Dominaria United cards now coming thick and fast. With a plethora of cards presented to us already, here we’ll look over every new and returning mechanic already revealed for the set.
The first wave of Dominaria United spoilers really brought the goods. From a compleated Ajani (sniff) to a new Sheoldred phyrexian Praetor card, there’s been lots for MTG fans to look at this week – and let’s not forget the MTG 2023 release schedule was also announced. The revealed cards show off a broad range of mechanics that deserve unpacking in detail. So let’s get on with it.
First up, we found out earlier this week that sagas are in Dominaria United, but card spoilers like The Phasing of Zhalfir reveal a new saga mechanic: Read ahead. This lets you skip chapters of a saga, providing great flexibility. With that Zhalfir card, for instance, you can use the first two chapters to protect your creatures from the coming board wipe. But if you’ve got nothing worth saving, and want to remove a key threat urgently, you can fire chapter three right away.
Head MTG designer Mark Rosewater earlier teased the return of poison counters, and they show up on Ajani, Sleeper Agent’s ultimate (the rest of his card has very normal Ajani abilities, a brilliant way to communicate the sleeper agent angle). A new kind of counter is also in the set, however: Stun counters.
Stun counters work like the unofficial ‘freeze’ mechanic. If a permanent with a stun counter would be untapped, you instead remove a stun counter from it. We can see cards like Impede Momentum in the set, which add multiple counters to creatures, keeping them out of the fight for a while.
Kicker is back, all over the place, communicating everything from planeswalker team ups (Temporal Firestorm) to phyrexian sleeper agents (Benalish Sleeper). And Domain is here too; this returning mechanic makes cards like Nishoba Brawler stronger for each basic land type you control.
A new mechanic, Enlist, takes a little bit of explaining, but it’s basically an updated version of banding. When cards with enlist, like Guardian of New Benalia, attack, they can tap another creature that doesn’t have summoning sickness, and add that creature’s power to their own.
Finally, we just want to highlight a mechanic not in Dominaria United (as far as we know), but that seems sure to come up in future sets. Proliferate is already a mechanic that’s heavily associated with Phyrexia, and with saga counters, shield counters, stun counters, and poison counters all in Standard right now, the groundwork has definitely been laid for it to make a comeback. They’re all in the colours of one of our favourite commanders too…