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Preparing for Dominaria United

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Welcome back, Lore Seekers! We are less than two months away from the release of Dominaria United, and it's hard to believe it has been five years since I wrote the first Preparing for Dominaria! I've written so many words on Dominaria, that I'm not going to talk much in the way of history today, but instead highlight some old articles, cover the basics, and talk about who these characters in the Dominaria Key Art are!

Dominaria United Key Art

Preparing for Dominaria... Again

Looking over my early Dominaria articles, they really hold up, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. I got most of the Living Legends correct (sorry Tahngarth, First Mate), and given none of them were killed off in Return to Dominaria, it's a good bet they'll still be around. And there's always a chance for more Legacy characters to show up!

Who is Karn

Karn, Scion of Urza by Chase Stone

Karn's role has been minimal in recent years, so you'll be forgiven if you're not quite sure who this silver golem is. If this is going to be your first trip to Dominaria, or you need a refresher, I highly recommend reading my preview article for Karn, Scion of Urza. It covers Karn's history from the dawn of Phyrexia through the modern day. With the way the story is going... that's probably going to be the important backstory. The only forward momentum on his plot was the discovery of the Golgothian Sylex, a weapon of mass destruction used by Urza that Karn planned to use against New Phyrexia. We know it's been over a year since the last time we were on Dominaria (although exactly how long has yet to be revealed), so let's talk about what happened in the story!

The Sylex

When we left Dominaria in, er, Dominaria, a few things had changed... besides Karn recovering the Golgothian Sylex... or at least a Sylex. I've run the numbers and supposedly two different sylexes have been destroyed through Magic lore, plus there's a known fake, so *shrug emoji*. In any case, Karn's big plan is centered around this device.

The Cabal

The Cabal, a centuries-old Black-aligned organization with a focus on wealth on the continent of Otaria, tried to resurrect their god but accidentally freed Demonlord Belzenlok instead. Under Belzenlok, they became a death cult that began spreading across the plane, eventually making their headquarters in the ruins of the island of Urborg, in the former Phyrexian Stronghold, now the Cabal Stronghold. The crew of the restored Weatherlight, along with Gideon Blackblade and Liliana, Waker of the Dead, destroyed Belzenlok, but the Cabal itself still exists, albeit fractured from a leadership vacuum.

The Weatherlight

The Weatherlight by Jaime Jones

The original Weatherlight was destroyed after the Legacy Weapon was activated, destroying Yawgmoth, killing Urza and Gerrard, and granting Karn a spark in the process. It was recovered during the events of Return to Dominaria and restored by Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain. After the defeat of Demonlord Belzenlok, the crew dedicated themselves to mopping up the fractured Cabal.

Who Is Shanna?

Shanna, Sisay's Legacy by Magali Villeneuve

Shanna is the figure depicted to the right of Karn in the key art. Shanna, Sisay's Legacy is a descendent of the legendary Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Shanna believes that the Weatherlight is her birthright, but has been content to serve aboard it until Jhoira is ready to step aside. Shanna has no tragic backstory; she was raised in a loving home and has a large family who adores her. She did, however, inherit her ancestor's mysterious resistance to magic, making her the perfect choice to take on a Cabal of death and nightmare magic users.

Who Is Jodah?

Jodah, Archmage Eternal by Yongjae Choi

Jodah is depicted to the left of Karn in the Key art. Jodah, Archmage Eternal is one of my favorite characters in all of Magic, and an interesting choice for the key art. Jodah is a descendant of Urza and Mishra, born during the period known as The Dark on Dominaria. Although he was initially unaware of his famous ancestors, the world Jodah grew up in was shaped by them: the climate was changing and there was widespread fear and mistrust of Magic users because of the Brothers' War - to the point where many mages were put to death on sight. Also, he fell into a Fountain of Youth and now is nearly ageless.

Jodah's world view has been heavily influenced by the devastation wrought by the Brothers' War, and so he is very careful to wield his power responsibly, and is often the only mortal willing and able to challenge the arrogance of planeswalkers. Jodah was responsible for the defeat of Mairsil, the Pretender and Lim-Dul the Necromancer (who are, in fact, the same person - sort-of) and the founding of the modern nation of New Argive by unifying the warring Kjeldoran and Balduvian peoples. He didn't do it alone, though - Jaya Ballard, Task Mage fought by his side, and added some much needed sarcasm. Around the time of the Mending, he struck up a relationship with Jhoira, although by Return to Dominaria their relationship had fallen apart.

The World of Dominaria

Dominaria Map by Jared Blando

I wrote the original Travel Guide to Dominaria before we had seen the updates in Return to Dominaria, and while I don't have the space for a full rewrite, here are the factions and locations to be aware of for Dominaria:

New Benalia is situated to the north of the continent of Aerona, but effectively controls a large portion of the continent. They're a martial society full of knights, and their armor and weapons are decorated with enchanted stained glass. New Benalia's state religion is the Church of Serra, a benevolent faith centered around Serra, the creator of the plane's angels.

To the north of Aerona lies Keld, home to the Keldons led by Grand Warlord Radha. The Keldons were once known as marauders and mercenaries, but under Radha they've forged a self-sufficient nation.

We've only seen a little of Terisiare, the island archipelago that was once the site of the Brothers' War. The nation of New Argive is located here, although so far we've only seen a glimpse of them through Baird, Steward of Argive.

The two major elf societies are those of the major forests of Llanowar (on Aerona) and Yavimaya (on Tersiare). Llanowar is full of more traditional elf societies, with many different kingdoms called elfhames layered throughout the forest. In Yavimaya, the elves (along with humans) were kicked out by the sentient forest years ago while it healed. We haven't seen much of these elves, but all of elfkind has a close kinship to the Kavu, primordial creatures spawned from underground in order to combat the Phyrexian Invasion.

Under the ocean lies the Vodalian Empire, a militant merfolk society that encompasses a huge swath of the plane, although their interactions with the surface folk are generally minimal. Lastly, spread throughout the plane are the various campuses of the Tolarian Academies. Each campus of the academy is functionally its own city-state, led by academics in pursuit of learning and magic.

Next Time

I know I haven't been particularly productive when it comes to articles lately, but don't worry - that'll be changing soon. As we return to Dominaria for two blocks - present and past - I'll have a LOT to say, and I'm sure there will be lots of Legends to build fun Commander decks around!

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