BUILDING WITH DOMINARIA
As we prepare for our homecoming to Dominaria, remember the adage “the more, the merrier.” Take on a Two-Headed Giant prerelease with a teammate for double the fun and glory! Combine your sealed pool with a friend’s and build the best two decks. With more cards to use, Two-Headed Giant decks will generally be stronger than their single-pool counterparts, so craft yours accordingly. Here are a few tips to help guide you toward this format’s HIDDEN GEMS.
- Evasion: With more creatures in play, board stalls can happen very quickly. Evasive creatures are critical! Flying is critical both on offense and defense. Also keep an eye out for creatures in the set that can’t be blocked like Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive. On the other hand, creatures with menace like Stronghold Confessor tend to be much worse with twice as many potential blockers.
- Countermagic: Being able to shut down an enemy spell is twice as likely to happen with two spell-casting opponents. With stronger decks there are more must-answer bombs overall and the risk of devoting a turn to counter an enemy spell (say, with Wizard’s Retort) is less problematic when your teammate helps advance the board. Even situational counterspells like Unwind find their targets more often.
- Situational Answers: Cards that only interact with specific card or creature types are normally relegated to the sideboard but with two opponents they’re more likely to have a target. Remember that matches just one game – you won’t have a chance to grab a silver bullet after seeing what you’re facing! Look for versatile cards that answer multiple threat types like Blessed Light or Fiery Intervention.
- Synergy: The larger shared pool means decks can be more synergy-based than when you’re on your own. You’re also likely to have more cards like Rat Colony or Powerstone Shard that benefit from multiple copies. Remember to check for that sneaky text, “you control” – many cards in Dominaria only impact your own board!
- Quick Tips
- Play or draw: In 2HG sealed it’s often correct to choose to draw if your decks aren’t incredibly aggressive. Drawing two extra cards on your first turn can be a significant advantage if you’re planning for a longer game.
- Mulligan: Each player has one ‘free’ mulligan. Use it aggressively! If you have a sub-par hand, pitch it back and try again. Don’t risk a mediocre opening seven.
BETTER WITH FRIENDS
As we mentioned earlier, 2HG matches are best of one. You want as many of your cards as possible to be efficient and flexible. That doesn’t only mean packing cards that answer different threats; it can also mean engaging with your teammate.
- Utility: When Pegasus Courser attacks, you can choose any another attacking creature to gain flying, including a teammate’s. If you’re going for the long game, Gaea’s Blessing can selectively refill your partner’s library while recycling your own. For maximum power and flexibility, Phyrexian Scriptures offers the option to turn any creature into an artifact to save them from the coming apocalypse. It can be yours, your teammate’s or even an opponent’s – choice is valuable!
- Combat Tricks: Instant-speed spells that don’t specify creatures “you control” can be great at fouling up combat math for the opponent. Watch for (and watch out for) common and uncommon tricks like Adamant Will, Arbor Armament, Blessing of Belzenlok, Fervent Strike, Gift of Growth or Run Amok.
- Suit Up: Pay attention to restrictions on your auras and enchantments. Many of them can be used to support your teammate’s creatures like Dub or On Serra’s Wings. Demonic Vigor can add resilience to your partner’s must-answer threat and return it to their hand if it’s destroyed.
BETTER WITH ENEMIES
The word “each” gains a great deal of power in multiplayer formats. Here’s the list of cards in Dominaria that impact each opponent, often doubling their effectiveness:
- Cabal Paladin
- Caligo Skin-Witch
- Ghitu Journeymage
- Goblin Chainwhirler
- Hallar, the Firefletcher
- Slimefoot, the Stowaway
- The Eldest Reborn
- Chainer’s Torment – Buyer beware on this one! It drains a good chunk of life on the front end but the payback is intense. Half of your team’s life total will yield a large threat but is it worth the cost?
Some cards benefit from the Two-Headed Giant format either through additional life, more creatures or simply more options. Here are some notable cards to be aware of:
- Haphazard Bombardment – With two opponents, you’re more likely to find four good targets.
- Jaya’s Immolating Inferno – More heads means more targets to burn! When you cast this spell you can choose each of your opponents as a target, doubling your damage to the team. This card will steal many otherwise unwinnable games out of nowhere.
- Karn’s Temporal Sundering – Taking extra turns in Two-Headed Giant is as powerful as you’d imagine. Untapping and each drawing a card is a huge leg up in a game of attrition. Returning a permanent to its owners hand is gravy – you should play this card.
- Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood – Kazarov doesn’t care how your opponent’s creatures are damaged. It’s just pleased to soak up all of the counters.
- Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice – These creatures get the power boost from any player controlling a permanent of the appropriate color. With twice as many players you’re twice as likely to have the benefit.
- Urgoros, the Empty One – You get to pick the best option each time since you choose which player you’re attacking.* If you can deal combat damage you can force discards or draws to suit your team’s need.
- Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering – More graveyards means more choices! Not only will there be more targets to return to the battlefield, there are bound to be more targets ripe for destruction.
I’d like to mention two cards separately here. They’re incredibly high variance and don’t quite fit with the others:
- Evra, Halcyon Witness – This is the ultimate high-risk/high-reward card for Two-Headed Giant. When you exchange your life total with Evra’s power you’ll get an enormous lifelinking threat sure to strike fear into your opponents.** However, if anything happens before you get a change to gain that life back or undo the exchange, you’ll be stuck at 4 life as a team. Yikes!
- Lich’s Mastery – If an effect states that one player can’t lose the game, that player’s team can’t lose the game.*** Enjoy your collective unlife! Do remember that since your opponents can choose who to attack during combat they can focus on the player with the enchantment to force a quicker demise for the team.****
These are the cards that suffer the most from the multiplayer format. While you may find exceptions that make them work for you, be aware that they are inconvenient at best and disastrous for you in most other cases.
- Baird, Steward of Argive – The biggest loser in this set for Two-Headed Giant. When creatures attack, their controller chooses which player or planeswalker they’re attacking. Since Baird only taxes creatures attacking its controller, your partner gets bludgeoned without the penalty. Thanks a lot, Baird!*
- Gaea’s Protector – ‘Must be blocked’ is not particularly useful text on a card that trades for smaller creatures so often. Your opponents will almost always get the better end of blocking this elemental.
- Howling Golem – A 2/3 for 3 isn’t going to be doing much attacking in a gummed-up board state and you don’t want to allow each player to draw a card on your opponent’s turn by blocking. This is very likely a trap for you. Let your opponents play it and reap the benefits.
- Juggernaut – It may be tempting to dust off this aggressive artifact but remember that it will be charging into twice as many blockers and combat tricks. In a single game where choice and flexibility matter, removing choices like ‘not attacking’ can be a huge drawback.
- Rampaging Cyclops – This creature is much more likely to be double-blocked in 2HG, meaning it’s often just a 2/4 for 3R. It’s not a strong option here unless you’re playing really defensively.
These are the cards I feel get the biggest boost from being in a multiplayer environment, not necessarily my top picks overall. You should still prioritize solid removal and efficient creatures but I personally value these cards and others like them highly.
Top 5 Common/Uncommon picks
Top 5 Rare/Mythic Rare picks
- Jaya’s Immolating Inferno
- Karn’s Temporal Sundering
- Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood
- Muldrotha, the Gravetide
- Phyrexian Scriptures
We’ve made it to the end of our homecoming! Was this helpful? Did I miss any cards you thought should be mentioned? Did you take down your own 2HG prerelease? Let me know in the comments and may good fortune follow you until we meet next spoiler season!
Kade Goforth is a L2 Judge from Oklahoma.
* CR 802.3 – As the attacking player declares each attacking creature, he or she chooses a defending player or a planeswalker controlled by a defending player for it to attack.
** It’s worth noting that if Evra is somehow removed in response to the exchange ability it won’t take place at all. See CR 701.9a
*** CR 810.8a – Players win and lose the game only as a team, not as individuals. If either player on a team loses the game, the team loses the game. If either player on a team wins the game, the entire team wins the game. If an effect would prevent a player from winning the game, that player’s team can’t win the game. If an effect would prevent a player from losing the game, that player’s team can’t lose the game.
**** CR 810.9 – Damage, loss of life, and gaining life happen to each player individually. The result is applied to the team’s shared life total.