Dominaria United Draft Primer: Top Commons
Dominaria, one of Magic the Gathering's core settings is an evocative high fantasy plane which many fans are itching to return to again and again. Well good news folks, that's exactly where we'll be heading tomorrow with MTGs latest draft set.
Welcome to our discussion of the top limited commons in Dominaria United. Whether you'll be playing draft or sealed, online or in store it's crucial to be prepared and this article will help you do just that. This time around all the colors have a strong theme at common which provides a helpful framework for discussion. We've listed our predictions for the three most powerful commons in each color along with a fourth card which, although strong in its own right, will typically only shine in certain archetypes.
Right, let's get into it.
White has a strong looking go-wide theme. This includes several ways to make 1/1 tokens as well as payoffs for doing so. White also has access to the Enlist mechanic which clearly favors attacking. As such the color is looking assertive and likely to be the aggressor in many match ups.
Providing 3 power and 3 toughness for three mana Argivian Cavalier has the additional benefit of having those stats split across two bodies. One of which even boasts the Enlist mechanic. For players looking to build a board presence early this card offers the opportunity to do exactly that wrapped up in a low cost package.
Although White aggressive decks don't want to be stuffed with removal, they still need a way to take out blockers and neutralize troubling threats. Citizen's Arrest is an excellent way to do just that. Much better than a Pacifism type effect, this enchantment exiles its target, meaning there’s no pesky body left on board. Yes, double white mana can be tricky to achieve by turn three but it's unlikely you will want to cast this on curve.
White has no shortage of two drop creatures to choose from, however Samite Herbalist appears to be the best of the bunch. It's the built-in and repeatable Scry attached to this card that pushes it over the edge. Helping you hit your land drops early and preventing flood late, this card is made considerably stronger by the presence of Enlist which allows you to tap this creature without sending it into combat.
White’s honorable mention goes to Captain's Call. Although three 1/1 creatures for four mana wouldn’t be exciting in some draft environments, White’s go wide theme spills over into each of its color pairs. Between the sacrifice theme present in Orzhov and the varius go-wide payoffs in Boros, Selesnya and Azorius there will be plenty of opportunity for this card to shine.
Blue’s theme is a classic that is typically present in UR, instants and sorceries matter. As usual Blue’s creatures are on the weak side however the other spells available here do seem to make up for that.
Bouncing a creature and drawing a card for three mana is a pretty nice tempo play and Tolarian Geyser offers even more. Helping to keep your opponents off balance whether you're on the offense or defense, the lifegain will be super useful for those building more controlling decks.
Although death triggers are generally less valuable than ETBs, Talas Lookout still has a lot to offer. Look at it this way; if this card is still alive then things are likely going well for you and, if not, you get to draw the best card from a choice of two. Able to attack in the sky, this also makes a reasonable blocker as your opponents will be reluctant to trade.
With 104 creatures at common and uncommon, Essence Scatter will most likely be able to find a target. Excellent in controlling decks, this card can also be serviceable in aggressive decks as a mid game counter to a potentially board stabilizing threat. As always the key to using counterspells successfully is having other ways to spend your mana if they don't find a target. Luckily there’s no shortage of other instants to choose from here.
Blue’s honorable mention goes to Phyrexian Espionage, A Divination with upside. Recent sets have been so fast paced that simple draw spells have generally been a liability. However, with Divination being powerful in the last Dominaria draft set there are hopes that it will be again. Many experienced drafters prefer sets where this effect is viable as the slightly slower game speeds give more room for a variety of archetypes and strategies to thrive.
Black has both a sacrifice and a graveyard theme which is very heavy at common. With no shortage of death triggers available and multiple other ways to get cards into your graveyard it looks like recursively grinding your opponent out should be a real possibility.
That said, it's notoriously difficult to predict which of these synergies will be powerful enough to contend in the arena. As such our picks for the top three black commons are tried and tested power houses - two removal spells and a creature which draws you a card on ETB.
If recent sets have shown us anything it's that bodies which draw you a card on ETB are extremely powerful. This time around it's Black's turn to enjoy this kind of effect in the shape of Phyrexian Rager. Although the life loss here is technically a downside, it barely scratches the power level of this card.
Used to enjoying the spot as top common, Black's four mana remove spell is no slouch this time round either. Extinguish the Light is actually one of the stronger such cards we have seen in a while, boasting instant speed as well as a life gain clause. Make no mistake this is a rawly powerful pickup.
Next in line we see Tribute to Urborg. Clearly this will be excellent when built around with blue mana and plenty of instants and sorceries. However it will simply be a fine card when used as a removal spell or combat trick in decks which can’t kick it. That said, it's worth noting that the baseline -2/-2 effect does have diminishing returns unless you are able to power it up.
Our honorable mention for Black is a classic reprint, Bone Splinters. Although virtually unplayable in some archetypes (low creature count control decks for example) Bone Splinters can be incredibly efficient in decks built to accommodate it. With White offering plenty of sacrifice fodder and Red packing an Act Of Treason variant it seems likely that this card will find a home in the format.
Red’s commons are looking on the weak side this time around and don’t appear to have a discernible theme like the other colors. That said it has some efficient removal spells, as per usual, and some serious beaters so it’s unlikely to be left completely on the sidelines.
Three damage for two mana has been a draft staple for sometime now and Lightening Strike is a classic such card. Lacking any frills it's still very capable of getting the job done, killing around 75% of the common and uncommon creatures in the set.
Enlist and Trample is a combination that your opponents will likely find quite terrifying when facing an attack. Considering the fact that Coalition Warbrute has 4 toughness we see that, not only is this card a beater but it’s really quite difficult to deal with. Of the 104 common and uncommon creatures in the set only 17 have power 4 or greater so it will be tough to find a fair trade with this monster.
Flowstone Infusion is another efficient removal spell which, for just one mana, can kill around 45% of the common and uncommon creatures in the set. It's worth noting that we typically see this effect as an enchantment rather than an instant which is clearly much more powerful. In addition the value of this card will rise further, thanks to the instant and sorcery matters themes within the set.
Red’s honorable mention goes to Ghitu Amplifier. While the 1/2 body won’t be playable outside of a deck loaded with instants and sorceries, in UR this card has potential to be a devastating build around. Also if a mono red deck exists in the format, perversely this seems likely due to Red’s apparent weakness, then this card may well find a home there too, most likely with some blue sources thrown in for good measure.
With three ways to fix your mana and a host of Domain cards available at common, it looks like Green's theme this time round is multicolor. It remains to be seen if the format will be slow enough to make five color piles possible but splashing and playing off color lands will certainly be viable.
Those who played Innistrad Midnight Hunt will remember just how busted Organ Hoarder was. As we know, pretty much any creature that draws you a card is excellent in limited and adding a selection clause really ramps up the power level. Although Vine Shaper Prodigy has one less point of power this won’t dampen its effect in Simic decks where the flexibility of being able to play this as a two drop more than makes up for that.
Outside of Simic the utility of this card is a little less obvious however with the floor of a two mana 2/2 things can't go too far wrong. Personally, we'd put this card into any green deck with just a single source of blue mana, although clearly the more often you can kick this the better.
An efficient removal spell, Bite Down obviously needs to be paired with a beefy creature for full effect. That said bite spells are considerably more valuable than their little brother fight variants and instant speed gives this card a further power boost. As always, pick your spots carefully when casting this card, the risk of a blow out is always present.
Two drops are always important in limited and those with relevant late game abilities are especially sought after. Sunbathing Rootwalla will be fine in just about any deck but will really shine when used in a multi color ramp strategy. Allowing you to gain board presence on turn two this card can also turn into a game ending threat later on, provided you can muster up the relevant land types. Even in two color decks the threat of activation will give your opponent a headache and having a mana sink to fall back on in case of flood Is always nice.
Green’s honorable mention goes to Scout The Wilderness. If multicolor decks do have a chance to impact the format then this card will surely be a key component of those strategies. With its ability to ramp and fix you, as well as potentially finding a land type for Domain, this effect is considerably stronger than usual.
With Domain as a headline mechanic it would be a big mistake to overlook the common dual lands in this set. As these cards have both land types on each dual they will be a key way to power up your Domain effects. Depending on the structure of your two color deck you should seriously consider playing any duels that touch any of your base colors. Whereas three, four and five color decks will be taking these extremely highly.
Thanks for making it all the way to the end with us. Hopefully this information will help you crush your first few drafts and give you confidence to explore what promises to be a fun and interesting draft format. All the best and happy drafting.
Dave ‘Angri’ Warner started playing Magic The Gathering during the Ice Age expansion. Proud to have collected a full set of 4th Edition, he was horrified to discover that, whilst he was away at college, his mom had donated his cards to a thrift store! With two mathematics degrees safely under his belt, Angri turned his attention to the world of online poker. Following a 10 year stint as a professional poker player, he finally returned to the glorious game of his youth. When not found playing or writing about MTG, he enjoys hanging out with his small family or riding an electric bike around the polluted English city he calls home.