Dominaria United Set Review - Blue

Andrew Floury • August 29, 2022

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied Colors and Shards | Enemy Colors and Wedges

What Lies Beyond the Academy Wall?

Hi everyone, I'm Andy Floury, and welcome back to set review season. It's been a few months and we've missed you. Now that Dominara United is fully previewed, I'm covering cards containing everyone's favorite color, blue! Let's take a look.


Sphinx of Clear Skies

Sphinx cards are always a fan favorite. It's a fun creature type, and they usually have some very powerful abilities. Sphinx of Clear Skies is in a tough spot, though. Flying and ward 2 are great, but this is a mono-color card with Domain, which wants you to be in as many colors as possible. The most popular Sphinx commander is Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, which is mono-blue. Beyond that, we have some two- and three-color Sphinx commanders, but I'm not convinced that having a similar ability to Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign is something needed when you're going to need to work much harder for it to trigger since combat damage is a requirement.

I think this is going to be a fantastic draft card and will do a lot of work in a 40-card deck, but I'm not sure this will make any waves in Commander.

Vesuvan Duplimancy

Vesuvan Duplimancy is probably one of the most powerful blue cards this set has to offer. This card is very reminiscent of Orvar, the All-Form and is going to do a ton of work in the right deck. Playing this in a dedicated clone-themed deck looking to make a lot of creatures, like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm, or Obeka, Brute Chronologist, is a slam dunk.

But what if we added this to Tatsunari, Toad Rider to target the token creature Keimi that it makes? Creating multiple copies of a creature that causes your opponents to lose 1 life and gains you 1 life whenever you cast an enchantment spell is very strong when you have access to Aura cards that target a single creature, like Shimmering Wings or Whip Silk. You can cast these and then return them to your hand, triggering Keimi, and making another nonlegendary copy while Vesuvan Duplimancy is out is game-ending.

I wanted to spend most of this discussion on Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, but I needed to leave room for the rest of the cards. I'm in love with the Brudiclad clone strategy with Irenicus's Vile Duplication, Cackling Counterpart, and Rite of Replication just to make a ton of nonlegendary The Locust Gods in combination with Vesuvan Duplimancy.

I'm a big big fan of this card. I think this will see plenty of play in a variety of decks.


Academy Loremaster

I'm a huge proponent of having additional card draw in games of Commander. I'm always happy to see a Howling Mine or Kami of the Crescent Moon on an opponent's battlefield. It not only helps out folx who might not have drawn well, but it keeps games moving. I'm particularly excited to add this to my Kaza, Roil Chaser because I've got plenty of instant-speed spells. I'll take advantage of the card draw without the drawback. This provides card advantage intertwined in subconscious favor from your opponents.

Aether Channeler

Aether Channeler is a significantly upgraded Man-o'-War that offers some great abilities for decks that are focusing on enter-the-battlefield triggers. Commanders like Roon of the Hidden Realm, Brago, King Eternal, or even Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward with the Background Candlekeep Sage can take advantage of this Wizard. I think this card will see play in a good number of decks, but it's not going to be necessary for each strategy.

Cosmic Epiphany

This is the "draw cards" equivalent to Rise from the Tides. While Cosmic Epiphany is a perfectly fine card and will draw you many cards the later the game goes, I'm bummed that this is a sorcery. Casting this at sorcery speed is likely going to lead to this being a bulk rare, so I don't think we'll see this played much. Perhaps Zaffai, Thunder Conductor would like to take advantage of the 5+ mana value casting cost to make a 4/4 when cast? I'm also into the idea of Neera, Wild Mage casting a spell and turning it into a Cosmic Epiphany.

Defiler of Dreams

Defiler of Dreams is part of the cycle of cards with a flavor of the Phyrexian mana mechanic in a particularly fixed form. Of that cycle, I think this card falls into the higher tier of power level. This card combos with Shrieking Drake in that you can pay 2 life to cast it, draw a card, and return it to your hand. From there you can rinse and repeat. Life is but a resource, and I say, "YOLO." Add this to The Locust God and you'll have a good time.

However, I think this being a Sphinx more relevant. This fits into the upper echelon of cards that belong in Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign. Sphinx spells are mana-intensive to begin with, so churning them out sooner is relevant. It actually fits into any tribal Sphinx deck, but I prefer Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign, Raffine, Scheming Seer, or Isperia, Supreme Judge because you've got access to additional colors.

I expect this card to be popular but won't be in every deck. I actually like the idea of playing this in Animar, Soul of Elements, but it does require a heavier emphasis on blue, which might be difficult.

Haughty Djinn

If you looking for additional instant and sorcery spell cost-reducers, look no further. Haughty Djinn will join the ranks of cards like Jace's Sanctum, Goblin Electromancer, Rowan, Scholar of Sparks, and Will, Scholar of Frost. Each are perfectly fine cards and some provide more value than others. I think this will likely see play but likely as a budget option.

Silver Scrutiny

This card is in a tough spot. I'm not convinced that having the ability to cast this at instant speed to draw a maximum of three cards is a great alternative to spending all of your mana at sorcery speed in blue to draw just a few more. I'm not really impressed with either option, to be honest. It's also likely that this card would be added to a spellslinger style deck that wants mana available during other players' turns, which competes with other priorities.

While they aren't one-for-one matches, Silver Scrutiny competes with Blue Sun's Zenith, Even the Score, Finale of Revelation, and Ingenious Mastery, to name a few. If I wanted to draw X at sorcery speed, I'd prefer the Finale, but at instant speed I'm going with Even the Score or Ingenious Mastery, although if you want to draw all of the cards though X spells in your Zaxara, the Exemplary deck, I'd say add this one in too!

The Phasing of Zhalfir

I'm a huge fan of Sagas, and The Phasing of Zhalfir offers more options for removal on Sagas for decks like Go-Shintai of Life's Origin and my personal favorite, Tatsunari, Toad Rider. I'm envisioning the manipulation of those lore counters with Power Conduit. You can continually remove a lore counter so that you consistently trigger the first and second chapters. I don't expect this to be a wildly popular card, but when it shows up and phases out huge problematic permanents for two turns, the table will rejoice.

Vodalian Hexcatcher

This is a powerful new Merfolk lord with flash that upgrades all of your other Merfolk into Cursecatchers, so it's safe to say that this will be a staple for Merfolk decks. I'm also thinking that tribal tribal decks that focus heavily on Changelings could be interested. Having an ability to counter spells is a great way to make your opponents play around your board state. The only downside is trying to figure out what to cut from your Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca or Svyelun of Sea and Sky decks. I don't have a Merfolk deck, but I'd build Kopala, Warden of Waves just to play this card.

Vodalian Mindsinger

It took me a bit to figure out where Vodalian Mindsinger is going to fit, but I think we're looking at a new card for Yasova Dragonclaw decks. Many Yasova decks are looking to steal creatures and then sacrifice them with cards like Neoform, Evolutionary Leap, and Eldritch Evolution for value. Vodalian Mindsinger only gets better the later the game lasts and synergizes with the this theme and generic strategy. This is a niche card and I can't wait to see this work.

Uncommons & Commons

Academy Wall

This new looting Wall is neat for defender decks, but I'm not sure this will be all that popular. It doesn't fit all that well into the general strategy of defender decks, and I think you're going to opt for other looting cards in non-defender decks.

Battlewing Mystic

This may ultimately be a draft-only card, but it fits well into Rielle, the Everwise decks: the more cards you discard, the more you draw with Rielle as long as it's the first time you've discarded on your turn.

Coral Colony

Coral Colony is the mill counterpart to Axebane Guardian and close cousin to Doorkeeper. Mill gets so much hate, but it just does so much work. This will absolutely see play in a dedicated defender deck. I'm looking at Arcades, the Strategist or Pramikon, Sky Rampart specifically, but also works well with Phenax, God of Deception. 8/10, would mill again.

Djinn of the Fountain

Sorry, Commander players, I don't think we'll be playing this card. This is a Limited bomb if I've ever seen one, and you're going to do well if you draft a few of them.

Founding the Third Path

When I first looked at this card, I dismissed it pretty quickly, but after thinking more about this Saga, I realized the ability to Read Ahead here is important. The first ability probably won't trigger in Commander often unless you're building for it specifically, and milling an opponent for four cards can be useful, but that third chapter is where I'm headed. Albeit sorcery speed, chapter III grants an ability similar to Snapcaster Mage. You're still required to pay the mana value to cast the copy, but it's an option if you're building on a budget for this effect.

Frostfist Strider

This card is expensive for what it does in Commander, but Frostfist Strider is an Elemental, so I'm sure you can find a home for it. It works well with Rhoda, Geist Avenger and Timin, Youthful Geist, and stun counters tapping down a creature for a turn is nice. I doubt this card shows up often, though.

Haunting Figment

Illusion creatures are great for Minn, Wily Illusionist and Meloku the Clouded Mirror. I don't think a 2/1 that can't be blocked conditionally is beneficial, but we don't get Illusions that often, so they're always fun to check out.

Joint Exploration

I don't think I'd play this as a ramp spell personally, but you'll see this come up in Verazol, the Split Current decks.

Impede Momentum

Tapping a creature and putting three stun counters on it is probably less of a priority than drawing a removal spell entirely. Perhaps you're playing a deck that cares about tapping creatures, but I don't think this card is going to be very popular.


I'm a big fan of enter-the-battlefield tutors, and this is a backup Spellseeker if you're looking for a one-mana-value card. Sorry, Cyclonic Rift fans, you can't look for that this time. What one-mana-value spells should we look for? Maybe we're in Azorius and about to lose. How about Angel's Grace? Are you playing a competitive Grixis deck looking for a Demonic Consultation? Or maybe a simple Simic deck looking for a protection spell like Tamiyo's Safekeeping. Let me know what you're going to search for below!

Phyrexian Espionage

I don't believe that Commander is going to see much of this card. Paying five mana to draw two cards and forcing each opponent to discard a card isn't very efficient. I think that this card lives in the draft environment.

Pixie Illusionist

Whenever I see a 1/1 with flying, I always think about Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Edric wants a bunch of small creatures to deal combat damage so that he can draw you lots of cards. Wizard and Faerie decks aren't typically in the Simic colors, so I'd bet that it's not utilized as a tribal card.

Protect the Negotiators

I like this card, but I'm not sure it's great. As a self-proclaimed Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper aficionado, I'm looking to test it out, though. Animating a land and making a Soldier when Kicked is great for three mana when we're potentially countering a spell at the same time.. This is definitely a budget build option, but I'm waiting for the day that this counters a game-winning spell. We're all going to remember that play.

Rona's Vortex

I really like this variation of Unsummon. Sure, this only targets a creature or plansewalker you don't control, but the benefit of putting it on the bottom of your opponent's library is relevant.

Shore Up

Another one-mana-value card joining the ranks that grants a bonus to power/toughness, like Dive Down or Mizzium Skin. I think it's valuable to dodge targeted removal. The commander you're playing really helps you decide which version you'd like to play.

Talas Lookout

Talas Lookout works well with the new Ramirez DePietro, Pillager, but being mono-blue means it works with Admiral Beckett Brass and Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator & Breeches, Brazen Plunderer. I've got a Captain Vargus Wrath deck, myself, and I'll be looking at including this value-adding Pirate.

Tidepool Turtle

Do you play an Eligeth, Crossroads Augur deck that makes infinite mana? Boy, do I have the perfect card for you. I like having mana sinks in Commander because there is a good chance that you'll have extra mana to spare at some point in the game. I don't think this fits into most decks, but if your scry is turned into card draw, you're golden.

Timely Interference

I don't typically play with combat trick cards. Reducing a creature's power by one might not be relevant, but I do think forcing a creature to block when you Kick it is great (I am a huge promoter of Lure cards). Maybe you've got a deck that cares for this type of effect, like a Kalamax, the Stormsire voltron deck. Where else would you add this forced combat trick?

Tolarian Terror

I'm always happy for the sea-creature-themed Runo Stromkirk, Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle, and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait decks to get new options. It might not make the cut, but having an option for budget builds is always important.

Tolarian Geyser

I don't think it makes the cut for my decks. Returning a creature to its owners hand and drawing a card is great and all, but I don't think we'd really want to Kick this spell for three life.

Voda Sea Scavenger

Having a mono-blue Merfolk Rogue creature with Domain which is aiming for as many basic land types as possible to ultimately put a single card on top of your deck isn't going to make waves in Commander based on these tribes. I don't expect this card to see play.

Volshe Tideturner

I'm not sure this card is particularly useful in many decks. Like the previous Kicker spells I discussed for this set, I think it works well in Verazol, the Split Current for Kicker purposes but will probably see some play in dedicated spellslinger decks like Lier, Disciple of the Drowned or Talrand, Sky Summoner. I don't currently have a home for this card in my suite of decks.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

So, what are your thoughts on Dominaria United? Which blue card is your favorite? What did I miss or get wrong? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading. I'll Vodalian Hexcatch(er) you next time!

Andy Floury is one half of the Guardian Project Podcast. He started playing Magic following the release of Gatecrash and has been playing ever since. Insurance professional by day but commander player by nights and weekends. Follow him on Twitter @AndyFloury for updates on his content!