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Vodalian Mindsinger Art by Steve Prescott - Dominaria United

Dominaria United Limited Set Review: Blue

Our complete review of all the Dominaria United cards, for limited (sealed and draft).

Hey everyone! We’re back for my favorite time of year. That’s right it’s pumpkin spice season! Oh, I guess you are here for Magic stuff. Let’s try that again… It’s new card preview season! I’m really excited to be heading back into Dominaria to throw down with the Phyrexians for the fate of the multiverse. So, let’s get down to the business of how these cards are going to be playing out in Dominaria United Limited.

Here’s the usual grading scale:


Academy Loremaster

Rating: 2.0/5

I’m not sure what kind of Academy this wizard teaches at, but it seems like one of those schools that leaves you with a mountain of debt and not much to show for it. I’m sure there’s a Murica joke here, but even I’m not grabbing fruit hanging that low.

It’s a decent early body, but you need to break the symmetry of the card draw to make it worth playing. The optimum way to pull this off is to have a decent number of instants so you can play draw go in limited.

The best case is that your opponent passes up drawing to try to play some spells that you outclass with your instants. The worst case is that they get a free card and kill this basically making their removal a cantrip. Making your opponents removal better isn’t what I want to be doing.

Academy Wall

Rating: 1.5/5

If you are trying to win through the air, this can give you a big body to clog up the ground while letting you filter some cards. The actual reason I haven’t just dismissed this is that the uncommon cycle of defender cards can gain extra benefits off of this and I love me some random build arounds.

Aether Channeler

Rating: 3.5/5

I saw some people saying they thought this should be a common and I respectfully respond with “Are you insane? Did you learn nothing from SNC?”.

It gives you the options of a Man-o'-War for any permanent, a 1/1 flyer, or just draw a card on a two-power creature for only three mana. That’s supremely versatile and probably even worth splashing.

Battlewing Mystic

Rating: 3.0/5

We all know how much I love me some good early, good late magical cards. A two-power flyer for two mana without any drawbacks is nothing to sneeze at and a great way to start the beat down. If it gets to later in the game, then you just hold on to this until it’s your last card and get a free Divination thrown in.

Combat Research

Rating: 2.5/5

We all enjoy slapping a Curious Obsession on an evasive creature and spending the rest of the game chilling in value town. The ward one probably won’t actually matter unless your opponent is mana screwed so you don’t necessarily need to wait for a legendary to slap this on.

If you’ve done your research, you know the obvious drawbacks that apply here. Most of it boils down to waiting to play this until you can get a free hit in or are able to protect the creature with something like Shore Up.

Coral Colony

Rating: 2.0/5

How many defenders can you play in a limited deck and still manage to win? That seems to be a question that I’ll be trying to answer early in the format.

This is a great blocker for its mana cost and milling someone for a few cards every turn can add up a lot quicker than you think. I’m pretty sure there will only be one person fighting for the defender deck so you should be able to wheel the pieces to make it come together.

Defiler of Dreams

Rating: 4.0/5

My very first thought when I saw this was, “It’s sure going to suck when they just play Lightning Strike.” If it sticks though, it’s going to take over the whole ball game by putting you so far ahead on cards that they might as well scoop the poop.

This is the one where the Phyrexian ability actually matters the most because you can chain cast with the card draw instead of being limited by what you already have in hand.

Djinn of the Fountain

Rating: 3.0/5

This is going to be extremely frustrating to play against since they can just blink it in response to any removal spell as long as they have an instant to play. The scry 1 being thrown in on any other spell is also a nice way to churn through your deck looking for gas.

This would be pushing mythic uncommon status at five mana, but that extra mana really hurts and pushes it down to merely good territory.

Ertai’s Scorn

Rating: 2.0/5

It’s our Cancel with upside of the set. This time the upside is actually a real thing as punishing your opponent for double spelling is a nice little bonus. If you suspect your opponent is holding this with two mana up, you should actually switch the order of your double spell to play the more important spell first.

Essence Scatter

Rating: 2.5/5

There are a lot of creatures that provide huge value in this set and having a two-mana answer to them is great. There aren’t abilities like Embalm or Disturb floating around to punish you for using the 1 for 1 either. A nice way to replace your two drops as well as being cheap enough to hold up while still developing your board.

Founding the Third Path

Rating: 1.5/5

If by Founding the Third Path, they mean only using the third part of this than yes, it was very well named. I highly doubt that I am ever going to be reading the first chapter on this in limited. Even if you do use it, you are still taking a turn away from progressing to the only really relevant part of this card.

In short, it is two mana get an instant or sorcery back that you have to cast as soon as you use this. Maybe you will ninja mill someone out with the second part or use it to dig for a spell you would much rather have the next turn, who knows. Not a card I really want to play.

Frostfist Strider

Rating: 3.0/5

I loved Berg Strider and this gets Ward two thrown in for free without the drawback of a needing a snow land. I’ll happily slam as many of these as I can get.

Haughty Djinn

Rating: 3.0/5

Obviously, this is heavily dependent on the number of instant and sorcery cards in your deck, but as long as you have 6-8 this will be just fine. The discount is an often-underrated ability that let you multispell ahead of curve while pumping this up.

My main concern is drawing this without any spells and sitting there with an 0/4, but it shouldn’t happen often as long as you build your deck with this in mind.

Haunting Figment

Rating: 2.0/5

Being able to smack them for two unblockable damage while still holding this up on defense sounds great on paper. It just requires playing an instant or sorcery before combat and what are you really blocking with this anyway. I’m sure I’m going to lose to this at some point, but it should just be a curve filler most of the time.

Impede Momentum

Rating: 2.0/5

If you plan to win the game in the next three turns than this is just Doom Blade with a Scry 1 thrown in. It actually plays similarly to Heliod's Punishment as a temporary restraint that can get you to the point of the game that you take over.

I can actually see a tempo rush deck playing a few of these to just close out the game before your opponent has a real chance to respond. I wouldn’t want more than one of these in most other decks though.

Impulse

Rating: 2.0/5

Has anyone ever been happy to play Anticipate? No, well does digging one card deeper really matter that much? This card is fondly remembered for being great when it was in standard (or Type 2 as we called it in the Cretaceous Period) and as being a good card in cube which has a much higher power level.

Should this still end up making the cut in a lot of decks? Probably, but it’s just a card 20-23. I think the history of the card will have it being scooped up earlier than it should for the first couple weeks.

Joint Exploration

Rating: 2.0/5

I’m willing to explore this joint after they balanced Growth Spiral by adding a mana and a scry 2 to it. While three mana ramp is historically much worse than two mana ramp in limited, being able to cast it without kicker is a nice fallback option.

Micromancer

Rating: 2.5/5

No one wants to be playing Hill Giant in 2022 so I want at least two cards that this can grab from my deck before I am willing to play this. Rona's Vortex is the one that really does it for me, but some of the others could make it work.

Other cards that Micromancer can fetch are Bone Splinters, Cut Down, Flowstone Infusion, Gaea's Might, Strength of the Coalition, Tail Swipe, Runic Shot, Shore Up, Timely Interference, and Urborg Repossession.

Negate

Rating: 1.5/5

Negate is always the classic sideboard card that makes an occasional main deck appearance. While I have always harped on how much you need to evaluate formats differently, I’m pretty sure that is just Negate’s lot in life.

The Phasing of Zhalfir

Rating: 2.0/5

It’s really hard to look at this as a sweeper because it doesn’t get you out of the big problem of them being ahead of board with a bunch of creatures. I think this is more of a combo card that you want to employ in a go wide strategy such as with Captain's Call where you end up upgrading all of your creatures while downgrading theirs.

Sure, there are times that this is going to be able to be set up for a turn or two by stashing your best creatures and then turning the rest of the battlefield into a pile of 2/2s. It’s just that if you’re already in a good enough position that you can sit there for a couple turns without your best two creatures without having to chump block, why do you need to do this?

Phyrexian Espionage

Rating: 2.0/5

It’s Divination with the slight upside of being able to pick a card off. While it’s nice if you catch them with their pants down, I wouldn’t really consider that option as a part of my evaluation. Either your deck wants a draw two or it doesn’t.

Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you want to do with your mana until after you draw the two cards. Not being able to cast something important you drew while they discard their 7th land isn’t great so stop and think through whether the kicker is actually free before playing it.

Pixie Illusionist

Rating: 2.5/5

They fixed Reef Shaman so I can no longer torture my opponent by mana screwing them every turn. Everybody with IPA experience just had a flashback and had a chill run down their spine. Yeah, I’m that person. I screwed them and I’d screw them again!

This combines cheap fixing that can also up your domain count on a flying body all for the bargain basement price of one mana. It even has the bonus of being a 3/3 flyer if you draw it later. This seems like a card that will be heavily underrated early in the format.

Protect the Negotiators

Rating: 2.5/5

Another cheap counterspell, man some people are not going to be happy about that. This is probably the best of the bunch, but at least it’s uncommon. If you don’t have access to white mana, I would drop this down to a 1.5. Yeah, I think the 1/1 matters that much.

In case you were wondering, you do put the 1/1 into play before calculating how much they have to pay so it’ll always be at least Censor.

Rona’s Vortex

Rating: 3.5/5

Quite possibly the best iteration of Unsummon that has ever been printed for limited. Always putting the creature on the bottom is a huge step up from the recent effects where they got to choose top or bottom. That makes this basically a four-mana instant speed removal spell that can double as a one mana bounce in a pinch. Is that good? Yes… Yes, it is.

Shore Up

Rating: 2.5/5

I love one mana tricks that provide versatile effects. If you played much Kaldheim, then you know what an absolute menace Snakeskin Veil was. While this doesn’t provide a +1/+1 counter, it does essentially the same thing on the turn you cast it while adding the ability to ambush some poor unsuspecting creature with the untap.

Silver Scrutiny

Rating: 2.0/5

They keep trying different ways to make this effect work and it keeps being awkward. Braingeyser was amazing during the early days of magic, but cards have enough value built in now that raw card draw isn’t as powerful as it used to be.

You’re either going to play this after you stabilize and pull so far ahead that they might as well concede or have an overcosted spell clogging up your hand. No real in between on this.

Soaring Drake

Rating: 2.0/5

While Wind Drake has been garbage tier for a while, the extra toughness does really help. Previously you’d play it out and your opponent would just smack in with a bear and you either took it or traded down on mana. Now it’s basically a turn three trick detector that can start getting in early with something juicy like Combat Research.

Sphinx of Clear Skies

Rating: 4.5/5

The only thing holding this back from being S tier is that they can remove it without you getting any value out of it. Otherwise, this is absurd and they will lose to it while being quite upset about it. Similar to Iymrith, Desert Doom it’s a huge flyer for five mana with ward that draws a bunch of cards for you. Any further questions? Didn’t think so. It’s pretty clear that you should just take this and enjoy your winnings.

Talas Lookout

Rating: 3.0/5

Watch out, Snapping Drake just walked into school with a whole new look. While the easy comparison is Expedition Diviner, it really is so much more than that. You don’t need anything else to get the cards and you get to take the best of the top two. There’s also no Patriar's Humiliation floating around to shut down the card draw.

Do they really want to kill your flyer if you get not just card advantage, but card selection off of it. It’ll put them in one of those awkward do they or don’t they attack situations every turn.

Tidepool Turtle

Rating: 2.0/5

I’d almost prefer that this had defender so I could put it in my durdle wall decks. If you need something to clog up the ground while you fly over for the win, then just dial up this turtle to block the way. It even provides a late game mana sink to dig through your deck. You could certainly do worse than this.

Timely Interference

Rating: 2.5/5

This is going to be the “Oof, they had that” card of the set. You’re just trying to do an innocent little trade and for only one mana they got over on you and drew a card. This cards very existence is a pretty big reason to be suspicious of a lot of attacks.

It’s great that the kicker effect forces them to put something they care about in front of one of your attackers. Just don’t be the person who attacks with a bunch of things and then realizes they get to choose what it blocks.

Tolarian Geyser

Rating: 2.5/5

Would Repulse be too good of a card these days? It’s still fine at sorcery speed as a great tempo card. While the life gain matters when you’re racing, it’s awesome to have the three-mana fallback if you’re just trying to get them dead.

Tolarian Terror

Rating: 2.0/5

The Tolarian Terror sounds like Teferi’s nickname during his days at the academy. Kind of an odd card as you really never want to pay more than 5 for it. It will probably be the largest thing on the board when it comes down so don’t be too afraid of spewing a few spells early to get this down on “curve”.

Vesuvan Duplimancy

Rating: 1.0/5

We have our big meme card that people are going to try to pull off before failing miserably. You need to play a four mana do nothing, a creature worth copying, and a spell that profitably targets your own creature. That’s a lot to ask out of a limited deck.

Consider how many instants you need to be playing and that they have to be things you want to target your own creature with. I would highly recommend avoiding this. Of course, I fully expect to somehow open three during qualifier weekend.

Voda Sea Scavenger

Rating: 2.0/5

This is pretty similar to a scry two when it comes down on turn three. That’s not terrible, but it doesn’t really make up for my hatred of three mana 3/2s.

Vodalian Hexcatcher

Rating: 1.5/5

There’s a huge difference between a 2/2 and a 1/1 lord when it comes to limited. It becomes much more reliant on both drafting and drawing a critical number of that creature type to be able to pull its own weight.

There are only two unexciting common merfolk in the set that I certainly don’t want to be playing multiples of. The rare and uncommon merfolk are powerful on their own and don’t need the +1+1.

So, what are you going to do with this? Since it has flash, you can hold this and play it in response to a tap out as an off-brand Censor.

Vodalian Mindsinger

Rating: 4.0/5

Mind Flayer with some restrictions and a bit of upside. If you drop this crazy merfolk down as a 6/6 you’re most likely going to be able to steal anything on the battlefield. Adding two huge threats while your opponent loses their best one is huge game.

I expect there to be lots of bad beat stories involving “I was going to win and what did that (redacted) draw, (redacted again) Vodalian Mindsinger!”

Volshe Tideturner

Rating: 2.0/5

We’ve seen various iterations of this card for years such as Vodalian Arcanist. Being able to produce blue mana as well as be used to pay kicked spells bumps it up a bit for me. To clarify that, you can spend this on a creature as long as it is being kicked.


Wrap Up

Blue in Dominaria United is definitely interesting. It has multiple playable pieces of counter magic and solid cheap tricks like Shore Up and Timely Interference. It even has a nice air force to back it up with. The only things it’s missing is a good early ground presence and hard removal so as long as you pair it up with a color with those, you should be well on your way to victory.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my Dominaria United Limited Review of Black. Now I’m going to go get that pumpkin spice latte… Yeah I have them every day… Don’t judge me…

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

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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.

Articles: 106

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