Core Set 2019 is the return of the Core Set releases to Magic and with it come a bevy of baseline cards and concepts for new players. I love these sets as they’re precisely where Wizards inserts new evergreen abilities, new mechanical alignment by color and new twists on familiar effects.
I love “spell creatures” like Cavalry Drillmaster. Getting something on-curve and a reasonable effect is why everyone loves creatures like Mulldrifter and Man-o'-War. Here, playing Drillmaster as a two-drop has a steep downside, but +2/+0 and first strike are great for getting an attack in with something smaller any other turn.
I like Take Vengeance. It’s as close to unconditional removal as white gets now—no power requirement at least—and your opponent will almost always be attacking with some creature. While being a sorcery make it seem bad, it’s a nice alternative to Pacifism and other enchantments that can end up feeding a creature to Phyrexian Ghoul or sticking around to be tapped for something else.
I saw several folks get excited about this card on Twitter, particularly in the context of Pauper and cube. I just wanted to put it in here as I don’t think Aviation Pioneer is great here for the cube. Flying 1/1 Thopters are good… but 1/2 creatures do not trade well. Convince me I’m wrong—I’m already sipping my coffee.
Blue’s Aura removal keeps inching up better and better. Dwindle‘s -6/-0 is big game against big creatures, and clearing the creature off the battlefield by blocking is a fair upside. I don’t think it’s a Waterknot, but I feel it’s better than it might look.
Flash is officially getting traction in black! At worst, Hired Blade is a removal spell of sorts. At best, it allows a blue-black control deck to wait until the last moment to:
- Play a real removal spell
- Play a counterspell
- Advance their board with a creature
Sparktongue Dragon is a lot of mana for a modest flier and kicker effect. (It’s kicker. Call it kicker. It’s kicker.) I don’t know if a eight mana ramp payoff in red is right, but a Dragon that arrives throwing a Lightning Bolt out is definitely nice.
Remember when I said I loved “spell creatures” above? Viashino Pyromancer is a fair body and guaranteed damage in a two-drop. Aggressive!
Elvish Rejuvenator is a great twist on the “three mana ramp spell” trope. Here, we get a 1/1 (It blocks!) but also a limited Rampant Growth. This one can drop a non-basic land into play, which makes it uniquely appealing: There’s few effects at common that can do the same.
A flying 1/1 that draws a card when it enters the battlefield? I’m fairly certain Skyscanner isn’t a great card without an “artifact matters” theme, but creatures that cantrip (see Coiling Oracle) are solid today—unlike when Merchant of Secrets was printed 15 years ago.