What a time to be alive!
Wizards of the Coast has brought back the Core Sets, something I believe has been painfully missing from Magic for the last few years. Core Set 2019, like other core sets, is full of reprints and a large selection of new, exciting cards as well.
So it seems fitting to take the time and point out some of the more exciting cards in the set since it just released today, and try to evaluate them for various formats. My focus is going to be pretty squarely on Modern and Commander since those are my primary interest, however, there are a few cards in the set that may be able to make the jump into legacy, and we’ll try to point those out as well.
So lets get it started
I decided to break the list down into card types for easier reading.
This planeswalker is very difficult to evaluate. 3 mana is a great rate, his 2 abilities both being + is a bonus as well. His first ability is what Tibalt wishes he had. it’s a great looting effect, and it being repeatable on a planeswalker is very strong. His second ability is where things start to get difficult. Clearly in a dragon tribal deck, he’s going to be a great asset… if you can keep him alive. So far, in Modern I’ve seen rumblings of Skred decks trying to take advantage of him to power out Glorybringers and other powerful red dragons. If these decks will become a thing is hard to say, but the chances of him being a blast at FNM or your kitchen table are high. This is in my opinion the coolest Sarkhan card ever printed.
Liliana, Untouched by Death
Zombie Tribal, the dream deck of magic players everywhere. I don’t see this card having an effect on most formats, but I could see it showing up in Commander as an amazing engine and combo piece. The fact she comes in and “ultimates” immediately is very interesting, and may be far more powerful that it’s being given credit for. Combining it with Rooftop Storm makes you able to cast out an entire graveyard of zombies… for free… This is foolish value. But obviously is a pretty casual sounding plan, and will certainly make your friends sigh when you set it up at your local commander games.
Tezzeret, Artifice Master
Whew, Tezzeret has been on fire over the past few years. He’s had multiple planeswalker printings, most have been playable, and full of artifact loving flavour. This card is no exception, a major standard with planeswalkers that you should pay attention to when evaluating is does it protect itself in some way?
Tezzeret does this in two ways. First with his + ability by creating a flying blocker. This ability should not be overlooked for its power either. a 1/1 flyer can end games in the right deck. The bonus for this Tezzeret is he comes in at a very high loyalty, so he’s tanky if you choose to take advantage of his 0 ability when he comes in. Speaking of, his 0 ability is bonkers in decks that try to take advantage of him, but even more interestingly, it’s never bad since it will always draw you at least 1 card, and his + ability actually helps enable his 0.
His ultimate is clearly powerful, and will make him a likely addition in Superfriends decks who are always looking for very powerful ultimates. Speaking of Superfriends… if you don’t get excited at the mere thought of dropping Tezzeret on a board where you control a copy of The Chain Veil, you need to reassess your priorities (or you’re not a huge nerd, at which point I’m confused how you’ve made it this far into this article)
ENCHANTMENTS & ARTIFACTS
This card has generated plenty of buzz on the internet for Modern as a card that hates on Tron. But the counter argument is that this card may be played IN Tron as a one sided way to hate on Ghost Quarter & Field of Ruin. How that all ends up is certainly up for time to tell. In Formats like Legacy and Commander, this card needs to be looked at as a method of hating on lands like Dark Depths, Wasteland, Strip Mine, and other utility lands.
It’s very hard to know if this card will be good or not see play at all, but one thing is certain, the mana investment is so low, that the card will always be in consideration if you need to hate on opponents lands without disrupting your own manabase.
Commander is chalk full of “I win the game cards”, and Liliana’s Contract fills that same roll. That said, the ability to put 4 demons into play is easier the slower the format is, and the larger the card pool gets. That said, it’s a singleton format so relying on building your deck around this ability isn’t likely. But if we ignore that ability as a bonus if you hit it, 5 mana for a draw 4, lose 4 life card is not a bad rate.
If you have a way to blink this out of play, you can use this effect repeatedly. Starting at 40 life in Commander, this is a very small price to pay for a great effect. Look for this card to make a splash in black commander decks, even if just for the card drawing utility.
This card was an early spoiler for Core 2019, and it’s been a hard card for people to come to a consensus on. In most formats, a 3 mana artifact that doesn’t have an effect on entry isn’t likely to be worth the price of admission. However, an effect that puts a free creature into play for simply removing a creature card from the graveyard, through delving, exiling, reanimating, it’s not too bad. This card may find a home in the right commander decks, like a scavenge based deck, or a deck that is looking to maximise value from their graveyard in general.
Hard card to read, but it is likely to end up a bulk rare when all the chips fall.
This card is very likely to find a comfortable home in the sideboard of Modern decks everywhere. It may be powerful enough to land in Legacy as well, but I’m unfamiliar with what slots it would be competing with. In Modern, there are various clear targets for this card. Many of the major eldrazi, Hollow One, but most importantly Wurmcoil Engine.
Bucking the colour pie trend, this removal spell exiles. This is big game against the classically difficult to deal with threat. Your opponent doesn’t get the wurm tokens, and you get 6 life for your efforts. A great deal if I’ve ever seen one.
Obviously pointing this at Ulamog The Ceaseless Hunger would feel pretty good, the downside of course being that they’re still going to get their cast trigger, however, dealing with the huge threat in black is hard to complain about. Expect to see this card in Modern starting immediately.
There is nothing better on a magic card than options. Every card that has multiple modes is sure to offer you something to do with it when you are in different difficult situations. Many people are comparing this to having an additional copy of Asture Command in your white decks, and that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s a bit cheaper, a little narrower, but a very strong option none the less. You will certainly start seeing this in Commander games near you soon enough.
This card has been causing quite a bit of stir online as well. The effect is very narrow, but in hyper efficient formats like Modern, there are quite a few great 1 drops that this spell answers cleanly regardless of its type. Some will argue “Why wouldn’t you just play lightning bolt to kill that 1 drop creature”, the answer is of course that while bolt can go to the face or kill a creature, it can’t answer any of these other commonly played 1 drops
Aether Vial, Expedition Map, Rancor (or many other Boggles enchantments), Pithing Needle, Sol Ring, and many more
Now, some creatures like Death Shadow are going to grow out of range of a spell like Lightning Bolt, so efficient removal such as Fatal Push or Path to Exile are obvious answers to that, however, fatal push only gets creatures, and you sometimes need to work to kill most expensive threats, while path to Exile, or Swords to Plowshares come with obvious draw backs in exchange for the efficient removal.
This card doesn’t ask you for much in that regard, It answers all one drop creatures, all enchantments, artifacts or otherwise, it’s just narrow and time will determine if the narrowness is enough to make it a bulk rare that doesn’t see play, or some kindof sideboard (or mainboard) staple in Modern or Legacy. This card is very unlikely to see play in Commander because of the nature of the format, 1 drops may be common, but this card is going to become completely dead quickly in most Commander games.
A very interesting card to evaluate.
One with the Machine
So, not many people are talking about this card, and I can understand that. On it’s surface, it’s a pretty expensive card draw effect. Depending on the board state, it may be a completely dead draw. However, there are many artifacts that see play that have a high enough converted mana cost and are simply excellent cards to justify this spell in Commander.
The above mentioned Wurmcoil Engine is certainly worth playing, and if it sticks around for a turn, drawing 6 cards for 4 mana is a pretty fantastic rate. There are quite a few downsides to this line however, the draw spell is a sorcery, your opponent can respond by killing your creature or artifact to possibly blank this spell. However, at 4 mana, you don’t need a very big artifact on board to still get reasonable value from this spell. It doesn’t target anything, so unless your opponents can wipe out all of your artifacts, you’re always going to draw something from this spell.
It also gets mad respect from me for being one of the coolest looking cards in the set. I absolutely love that artwork and think that Chase Stone totally killed it. Foils of this card are going to be spectacular.
This is a card I’m personally excited for. The effect of drawing a card of enchantment casting has always been powerful in Magic, and this creature is a pretty decent mana rate for the effect. I believe that there may be room in the fringes of modern for an enchantment prison style deck using this creature as a great card draw engine. Time will tell, but this creature is likely to land on the table in future Commander games to strap card drawing onto your Oblivion Rings, Detention Spheres, and the like.
Sir Mix-a-Lot approves of this little dino with the big ol butt.
In a multiplayer game of commander, this dinosaur is likely to gain you an incredible amount of value. Your opponents are unlikely to want to spend premium removal on it, and if you hold it up until a boardwipe occurs, you are far more likely to have it sit out and generate cards for you until the board gets too out of control again. I’m not certain if it sees play outside commander, and probably some amount of standard, but I would not be surprised to see it show up in modern in small numbers as a decent hit off Collected Company.
Speaking of Collected Company, this guy says “nope” to that game plan.
It’s hard to know if this card will replace a card like Cursecatcher in Merfolk, but if reanimation strategies, or collected company decks becomes too powerful or commonplace in your modern meta, expect to start seeing this guy floating around. Off an Aethervial, this guy is an instant speed “No Dice” to those types of game plans.
It is entirely possible you will see this little merfolk show up in commander as well since cheating out big creatures is certainly common in that format.
No abilities – Check
10/10 for 5 – Check
Surprisingly clean teeth in artwork considering the situation – Check
I have zero idea of this guy will see play anywhere, but there is absolutely no way I wasn’t going to put him on the list. He is awesome in every way. 5 green pips makes Gigantosaurus a possible top end finisher in a green devotion list. His body is huge, but he doesn’t evade in anyway. So who knows.
Doesn’t matter. He’s awesome.
10 out of 10 if you will……
With the recent banning of a certain elf in Legacy, there has been talk about the chances of goblins making a comeback in that format being greater and greater. This big guy has raised some eyebrows as a Goblin lord with a repeatable powerful ability. My lack of familiarity with the format leaves me without much meaningful to say, however, if you are looking into playing Legacy Goblins, this is a guy you may want to consider somewhere in the 75
This is a creature I’m very excited for. As a player who appreciates his graveyard being used to full effect, and someone who regularly tries to find dumb combos that involve the grave, this little 1 mana zombie gets instant 3 card value just for coming into play. if that was all he did, I may not be that interested, but to also get an extra 3 cards when you use him to chump block is the leftovers on the proverbial trashpile. I am 100% certain this creature is going to see play in modern. Making into the defacto king of the grave deck, Dredge, is up for debate currently, however, if you are in black, and you are trying to reanimate or cheat with your graveyard, this 1/1 for 1 has got to at least be sitting at the table for consideration.
Supreme Phantom / Remorseful Cleric
These 2 cards could almost certainly have been split up and discussed for their own individual merits, but they are so likely to both end up in the same shell I decided to just stick them together here too. Supreme Phantom is an absolute auto include in U/W Spirit lists in modern. This is a no brainer. But he is likely powerful enough that he will be considered in Bant lists as well. 2 mana lords are no joke as Merfolk can attest. This spirit lord also fits perfectly on curve to be followed up by Drogskol Captain, giving it hexproof and a large body.
Remorseful Cleric can easily slot into that deck as well as an on curve, aggressive way to hate on the graveyard. However, Cleric has the added bonus of being graveyard hate in a body that can be found with Collected Company, Chord of Calling, and snuck into the battlefield suddenly with an Aether Vial to really mess up your opponents plans.
Keep an eye on these two cards, they are going to be a hot commodity from Core 2019
Chromium, the Mutable
Man…. that is an expensive Dragon… but that text box…. it has SO MUCH going on.
If you are playing an esper control list, I don’t know that you could ask for a more versatile finisher.
It has flash so you can hold up counterspells.
It can’t be countered in control matchups
It can protect itself for the cost of a card making it very difficult to remove once resolved.
I honestly can’t see a downside with this card beyond the fact that it’s fairly expensive to cast in the first place. But as a commander it’s probably a very powerful and flashy general.
In Standard if control decks continue to be great, then splashing some amount of black for this may be a reasonable way to finish the game.
Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire
Everyone loves Elder Dragons, they’re so flashy and cool.
Huge evasive bodies, they cost a bunch of mana.
This elder dragon seems particularly amazing in multiplayer commander. Because the ability is left for you to choose permanents instead of the normal “each opponent chooses”, this guy being left to attack even once allows you to reshape the board in a very powerful way. Obviously the downside that the ability is not a may, and that your opponents “could” upgrade from your attack are there, but for commander, this card feels like exactly the type of ability people want to see resolve. Who doesn’t like rolling the dice now and then.
Nicol Bolas, The Ravager / Nicol Bolas, The Arisen
Well, lets start by pointing out that this is currently the most expensive card in Core 2019.
He is VERY difficult to assess, but at the end of the day I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to not gain advantage from him.
On his front side, in Multiplayer commander games his ability being each opponent is a real powerful effect for 4 mana when you attach a 4/4 evasive body to it. Not to mention the fact he can be your commander, he looks more and more promising.
But then you drop 7 mana into him…
Holy lord almighty (bit of a pun because of the God Pharaoh gig 😛 )
This planes walker is nutty.
+2 – Draw Two?? Seriously??
Starts at 7 Loyalty!
Protects himself with his -3
REANIMATES from ANY graveyard with his -4
And the -12… Flawless Flavour Victory.
I mean there is literally no downside to this planeswalker. The worst element is that to actually get the walker, you need to have the creature side survive, and can only flip him at sorcery speed.
(Those are probably a good thing for other players however….)
I’m not convinced that his price tag is correct, this is not a 50$ magic card. However, the hype is not without warrant, he’s very strong, the flavour is just dripping off the card, and if you play commander, expect that you WILL see this being cast from the command zone so you can deal with the planeswalker side over and over again very soon.
Arcades, The Strategist
Well here we go. This card is the absolute conductor of the Hype Train.
Do you like Walls?
Do you like when your walls draw cards?
Do you like when your walls draw cards, and can attack?
Do you like when your walls draw cards, attack, and deal damage based on their huge backsides???
Arcades has one mission, Make Magic Great Again (MMGA)
With all the talk of building walls in the United States, and opposing opinions on both sides, NOONE should disagree with building walls with this guy at the helm.
Commander – Heck yes
Standard – Ok probably not
Legacy – ummm… no
Modern – Yes. Of course modern walls needs to be a thing!! Modern is the greatest magic format for playing stupid deck ideas against competitive decks and laughing all the way.
Adding the abilities of Doran the Seige Tower & Assault Formation together on a single card is pretty amazing. Strapping the added bonus of drawing a card everytime you build another piece of the wall is unbelievable.
Some people are misreading his ability where Doran made all creatures deal damage based on their toughness, Arcades on makes DEFENDERS deal damage that way, and it’s only the Defenders YOU control.
This is not a problem, but is certainly worth pointing out before you just start looking for the biggest butts you can find, that won’t work out for you.
Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall! (In Magic)
Alright, well nothing like leaving on a US Politics reference.
Core 2019 is a pretty cool set, I don’t think it’s going to go down in history as the most impactful set, but the cards are flavour rich, some are quite powerful, and I for one can’t wait to start slipping some of them into my decks and seeing how they perform.
Hopefully you all have great pulls, and don’t forget that the Buy-a-Box promo for this set is the very powerful Time Walk effect Nexus of Fate, so might be worth picking up a box just for that.
Thanks for reading!!