On Thursday, Wizards of the Coast announced a wide range of new and returning cards for Magic: The Gathering, including six returning pain lands, a nickname theyve earned for doing a point of damage to their controller when they are tapped for a color of mana.
For the first time, three of these six lands will be included in the MagicsPioneer format, indicating a fresh level of balance to three well-known color combinations that have had to deal with a resource shortage since the formats' inception in 2019.
Since 1995, five pain lands have existed in Magic, with five more being printed in the 2001 Apocalypse set, completeing the land cycle for all 10 color pairs. However, these lands have often remained a useful if not beloved resource for fans of two-or-more decks because of the relatively low cost of one life per color of mana.
Although these lands have existed for a long time, and all ten are permitted to play in Magicsbigger formats, such as Modern and Commander, this is not the case for all competitive players. Especially those playing Pioneer or Explorer.
The game's color pie is a design philosophy that defines what each of the game's mana colors can do in its various cards. The enemy pairs are grouped next to one another on the pie, while the enemy pairs are placed across from one another on the pie.
The first time pain lands were included in a Magic Standard set in the 2015 set Magic Origins, which only included the aforementioned enemy pairs. The remaining allied pairs haven't seen a Standard reprint since 2007s Tenth Edition, starting with 2012' Return to Ravnica.
Because of other resource imbalances, the enemy color pairs have more land to choose from, even if they leave out the pain lands.
The other notable example of this issue is seen in 2016's Kaladesh, which included a cycle of five enemy dual lands known as fast lands, which gained their popularity because they entered the battlefield untapped if there are fewer than three other areas already under the players' control. As a result, the absence of these 10 allied dual lands has an influence on the competitive viability of new strategy that does not have access to these crucial resources.
Dominaria United is able to add three of the five missing pain lands to the format, giving the red/black, blue/white, and green/green color pairs a whole new level of flexibility that might allow new decks to enter the format that previously struggled to keep up, or strengthen existing decks that had to rely on inadequate mana.
Pioneer has never had a consistent red/green ramp deck, often known as red/green monsters, that are then used to increase the decks' ability to attack larger and more costly red creatures that match its strategy.
The addition of Karplusan Forest to Dominaria United might help a classic Dominaria card such as Llanowar Elves coexist with new Dominaria cards such as Dubious Monarch or Shivan Devastator.
In addition to the lands, there's a new iconic reprint of Dominaria United that's likely to make a splash on Pioneer and, to a certain extent, every format where Liliana of the Veil is playable. Over the years, this 3-mana planeswalker has been a dominant presence and staple across a variety of formats, but hasn't been available to Pioneer players yet.
Liliana has remained a fixture in grindy and destructive midrange decks that last for hours on end with constant removal spells, cheap creatures, and stuck planeswalkers. When she appears in Modern midrange decks, she acts as the glue that keeps cards out of opponents' hands, while her -2 helps keep the board clear, and her final -6 ability basically resets the game, making it near impossible to recover.
Liliana will be a hit among midrange players since Pioneer already has a powerful red/black midrange strategy that most players agree is one of the best in the format. As a result of the new red/black pain land, there is little reason to doubt that she will make an appearance in the deck.
Dominaria Unitedgoes will be available online on Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic: The Gathering Online on September 1, followed by its paper release on September 9.
Prices were calculated at the time of publication.