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Shanna, Sisay's Legacy Art by Magali Villeneuve

Dominaria Premier Draft Event: Overview of Archetypes, Tips and Tricks

Dominaria is coming! One of the most beloved sets in recent memory is returning to Premier Draft April 1st through the 8th. Unless WotC is pulling a huge April Fools prank on us, we’re all about to have a great time slinging some old school spells.

I’m going to walk you through through all of the archetypes, the key cards for them, and the signpost uncommons before hooking you up with a bunch of tips and tricks to help you collect a pile of trophies.

For another perspective on the format, be sure to check out Compulsion’s remastered guide:


Archetypes

White Blue Flyers

The typical Azorius flying deck where you beat in with Cloudreader Sphinx while delaying your opponent with a combination of ground dorks, Blink of an Eye, Blessed Light, and Deep Freeze. You can even party like it’s 1993 where Serra Angel is still an uncommon as Garfield intended.

One of the things I love about this archetype is that you have so many evasive threats while the ground in Dominaria gets clogged up worse than my toilet after a trip to White Castle.

Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage is slightly above rate for this set with the potential to flash it in to Flametongue Kavu an unsuspecting attacker in the middle of nowhere. Letting you do the same thing with your other historic spells is great and more likely to happen because people are rusty on their Dominaria skills.

White Black Historic

This archetype is legendary or at least that’s what it tries to tell you. Personally, I think it’s overcompensating for something. Hey I’m not going to judge if you have a desire to slap someone in the face with Yargle, Glutton of Urborg.

Bad jokes aside, this deck tries to beatdown with a variety of legendary threats backed up by the usual suite of removal like Blessed Light and Eviscerate. One of the key things to remember is that all the cards that trigger off of playing a historic spell include artifacts and not just legendary spells. This makes Skittering Surveyor even better than it already was.

The value of Arvad the Cursed is really going to fluctuate based on the number of random legendary creatures you manage to stock your deck with.  Unless you have him early, I think I would focus more on just having good, solid cards than trying to force drafting some legends.

White Red Auras and Equipment

Boros is one of my least favorite archetypes because the equipment is weak and the auras are a great way to get blown out. You can still play the high-quality cards in these colors, but unless both colors are wide open, I don’t want to go down this path.

There are just too many good cards that stall the board to try to build an aggressive deck without much evasion. Your Dauntless Bodyguard is going to look pretty silly in a world where people are playing 1/3s.

Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker has decent stats and helps to minimize the normal risk of using auras. However, I don’t like relying on having a certain card out to make some of my other cards less bad. Hard pass for me.

White Green Go Wide

This archetype goes wide with tokens exactly as you would expect a Selesnya deck to do. Song of Freyalise is bomb tier and can lead to some disgusting unbeatable starts. The main drawback is if you don’t have a card like that, you might lack ways to get those last few points in unless you grabbed some flyers too.

Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy really pays off on the going wide strategy by giving you a huge untargetable beat stick. If your opponent is playing a fair game of magic, this can turn into a real problem for them. It just makes me sad that there isn’t a cheap trample trick.

Blue Black Control

Dimir is looking to kill, counter, and discard your opponent into oblivion before winning with some form of grindy card advantage. Caligo Skin-Witch, Divination, and Soul Salvage are all good ways to pull ahead on cards while playing the usual suite of black removal.

Rona, Disciple of Gix is a solid engine that typically replaces itself when it comes into play before turning into repeatable card draw.  It’s not a raw power card like you might be used to, but if set up properly can turn the game in your favor.

Blue Red Wizards

You’re a wizard Larry! (Can’t get sued for that one) This is the aggressive archetype of choice in Dominaria.  It really leverages tempo cards like Academy Journeymage, Blink of an Eye, and Shivan Fire to bash in while your opponent is durdling around.

There is also a slower, grindier version you can build, but personally I don’t find that one to be as much fun.  If there’s one thing I care about when playing flashback sets, it’s having a good time

If you get Adeliz, the Cinder Wind then you’re really cooking with gas. That lets you leverage cheap cantrips to anthem your squad over and over again. Your opponent is going to be hunkering down for a long game and BAM, they’re dead. This is my favorite archetype just because of how enjoyable it is when you are comboing off with Adeliz.

Blue Green Ramp

The problem with ramping in this format is that you really need something great to ramp into and unless you have some busted cards, there isn’t really anything spectacular to be doing. The big benefit is that Grow from the Ashes lets you easily splash some of the key cards in other colors so hopefully you can nab some of their bombs.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid is absolutely insane providing a repeated card advantage and life gain engine. The only issue with her is that she’s so busted that other drafters are going to snag her up to splash.

Black Red Removal Control

Crazily enough Rakdos is more of a control deck in Dominaria due to the presence of so much removal. While removal is amazing, you do need ways to gain an advantage as just one for oneing over and over again isn’t going to get you there. Ghitu Chronicler is a great way to bring back Eviscerate, Fiery Intervention, Shivan Fire, or Soul Salvage to slowly pull you ahead. Even a card like Drudge Sentinel can play a role here as it prevents you from having to use removal on a random 2/2.

Garna, the Bloodflame is another way to gain an advantage as you can just trade off your creatures, flash this in, and bring them right back. This is especially beneficial when you are bringing back cards with a comes into play ability or that you want to kick again.

Black Green Sacrifice

Are you into growing lots of plants and fungi? How about sacrificing things for profit? If that sounds like your kind of Venn diagram, then Golgari is where you want to be. Saproling Migration gives you tons of fodder for Vicious Offering and Thallid Omnivore. With all the thallids running around, Sporecrown Thallid can put in some real work. This is one of the better archetypes that I am happy to get into when it’s open.

Slimefoot, the Stowaway may look average compared to current set power levels, but I can assure you it is a bomb in this format. Pumping out piles of dudes while slowly draining your opponent is more inevitable than Thanos.

Red Green Kicker

This is another archetype that has the problem where all of its best cards are good in other archetypes. The only way I ever really end up in this archetype is by taking the busted uncommons like Fight With Fire early with this being the only open lane. It’s really just another average aggressive deck in a format where everyone else is grinding.

Hallar, the Firefletcher is solid on rate, but it’s ability should just be looked at as a bonus if it happens. It’s not a draw into this color combination and I just look at it as a 3/3 trample with slight upside which is about as exciting as opening socks at Christmas.


Tips and Tricks

  • This format is REAAAAALLLLYYY slow so you have time to play your cards.
  • Skittering Surveyor is the best common because it’s colorless fixing that replaces itself. It also easily enables splashes.
  • Speaking of splashes, feel free to splash any of the good single pip cards especially removal. The only deck I don’t like to splash in is UR wizards.
  • While you might have heard the legend of Sam Black’s Navigator's Compass deck. I’d recommend trying to steer clear of that. Unicorn decks are rare for a reason.
  • Did you know Icy Manipulator is insane in this format? You do now, act accordingly.
  • The original busted one drop Llanowar Elves is still great here. Even though the set is slow, being a turn ahead for such a small investment is a big deal.
  • The memorial lands are all great upgrades over a basic land slot except for Memorial to War.
  • This set is so old school that Divination is still good. That is pretty self-explanatory for how important card advantage is here.
  • This is from back when they still printed bad cards so the last few picks of each pack are usually pretty sus. This means it is possible to not get enough playables so finding your lane early is more important.
  • Arena is going to tell you when they have Fungal Infection so make sure you don’t walk into it.

Wrap Up

This was one of those times when taking a trip down memory lane helps prepare you for the future. Now that you have all the knowledge that you need, get out there and get those trophies!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can find me at:

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j2sjosh
j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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