This week is my financial review of Core Set 2019 where I offer my thoughts on every rare and mythic in the set, both in terms of strategic applications and predicted monetary value – including sleeper picks at the end.
Might see some play as a sideboard answer to Slippery Bogle in Modern, and if a similar type of deck takes off in Standard it might find its way into some decks. It's not the sort of thing that will see widespread play except in very specific metagames.
Great against decks with really difficult-to-handle creatures such as Lyra Dawnbringer, especially if you have an indestructible creature in your deck such as Hazoret the Fervent that you can target just to make an Ox token. This is one of my sleeper picks.
Sigiled Sword of Valeron
Too much of a mana investment to be worthwhile.
Unless you have some way to add Charge counters onto it without paying four mana each time, this is not going to see any play.
This is a pretty cool card in the Dragon tribal deck. It helps accelerate you into your Dragons, including color fixing, and then allows you to draw cards later in the game after you run out of gas. It won't ever be worth much money though because it really only fits in one deck, and that deck might not even be good.
If you have a way to remove creatures from your graveyard one at a time, such as Scavenging Ooze, this could create a fairly large army. Jotun Grunt also seems like a cool use for this card. Likely shines brightest in grindy matchups.
Crucible of Worlds
We already know how good this card is. It's high-demand existence will Bring Down the price of some of the other mythics in the set.
This card seems really good in a lot of matchups and is skill-intensive in the sense that knowing the best time to activate the wand depends on knowledge of what is in your opponent's deck. I expect it to be a fairly popular sideboard card.
Amulet of Safekeeping
I'm not sure exactly what deck or decks this card was intended to stop, but it definitely feels like it was designed to stop something(s) in particular. It isn't good against Storm because it only stops their win conditions, at which point they can easily bounce it. Perhaps it will keep something in check that is printed in an upcoming set.
I like that they brought back the Elder Dragon Legend cycle. It's a neat nostalgic feel.
Vaevictis Admadi, the Dire
Sometimes the ability will Backfire, but usually it will deal with the opponent's best permanent and replace it with either nothing or something less good such as a land. I expect this to be great in the Dragon deck and reasonable in a Jund midrange deck, if that ever exists.
Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner
This is a really hard-to-deal with creature that is almost certainly going to get in for six points of damage before being answered. It also is a very good blocker since it has hexproof initially and then vigilance after it hits once.
Chromium, the Mutable
The protection ability is pretty cool, allowing him to essentially transform into Invisible Stalker by discarding a card. Usually this will be to protect it from a removal spell. I can see this making its way into control decks as a mirror breaker.
Arcades, the Strategist
This is my second favorite of the cycle behind Nicol Bolas. The card is reasonably costed for what it does and I think it is good enough to see play, depending on how good the existing defenders are. It seems insane with Wall of Omens and with Wall of Roots in Modern. Wall of Roots can accelerate into it and then attack for four damage the same turn. Wall of Omens is basically a 4/4 for two mana that draws you two cards. It also combos with cards that produce tokens with defender, though I'm not sure if any of those cards are strong enough to see play.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
We all knew this would be the best one. Nicol Bolas is by far the most iconic Elder Dragon. Transforming into a planeswalker feels pretty awesome too, given that he has appeared as both a planeswalker and an Elder Dragon. The card itself is reasonably costed, provides immediate card advantage, and threatens to take over the game as either a 4/4 flyer or as a planeswalker later. In my opinion this is one of the strongest cards in the set.
After Collected Company and then Aetherworks Marvel, I was a bit concerned as I read the textbox of this card. Fortunately it costs seven mana instead of four mana, so I think we're safe this time.
I overheard Andrew Cuneo ask Reid Duke if he was going to play four copies of this planeswalker in all of his decks. Reid responded, "No, but I might play one copy in one of my decks." Seems reasonable in matchups where the second ability has multiple good targets, but otherwise not that enticing.
This card actually feels pretty strong to me. It's a reasonably-sized body that really punishes opponents for targeting it. It seems very good against Red decks, especially in pre-board games. It's also a solid mana sink later in the game. It reminds me a lot of Sylvan Advocate and I would not be surprised if this card ends up seeing a healthy amount of Standard play.
I can't think of a good use for this in Standard, but it will bring the price down on some of the other mythics just like Crucible of Worlds, due to its demand for older formats.
The body is very hard to get past in the early turns, but the ability isn't super relevant in Standard. Sure, it has utility against Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, but I think at that point the Dino friend won't be of much help. And we haven't seen much from Harsh Mentor lately due to lack of utility, which again doesn't bode well for the Dino. Maybe in Modern it can work, given the heavy fetch land mana bases of the format, perhaps in conjunction with Doran, the Siege Tower. There we have Courser of Kruphix though, so I'm still skeptical. What is going on with his spikes though? Did Dino just return from the Matri X?
This card will either be completely unplayable or it will be broken in conjunction with Vine Mare. I'm really hoping it's the former. At least we have Detection Tower if it's the latter.
At least they got the rarity right on it this time.
A slight upgrade to Protean Hydra, but likely not enough of an upgrade to make it playable.
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
I like to call these types of card "intermediate ramp threats" and they are rarely good enough. The problem is that Ramp decks have to play so many ramp spells to make their big payoff threats worthwhile and enough payoff threats to draw them consistently. So when you play an intermediate threat like this, it's either a worse payoff or a worse ramp spell. Usually it ends up being a worse ramp spell as it gets killed by a removal spell, making something like Gift of Paradise generally a more reliable option. Maybe this time it will be different. Nevertheless I'm not beary optimistic about this one.
This card actually seems kind of sweet. Ramping into a 10/10 as early as the third turn will functionally act as The Abyss for the rest of the game. It also makes Ghalta cost GG all by itself. Can maybe splash a second color, but you really need all your lands to produce green to play it, so it's unlikely to see play outside of one deck.
Definitely feels like a four-of in any Standard Elf deck and likely a one-of in Legacy/Modern Elves as a toolbox target for Chord of Calling type cards. I'm not holding my breath for this archetype taking off in Standard though as long as Goblin Chainwhirler remains the gatekeeper of the format.
Good in the Dragon deck, and playable in decks that contain Glorybringer. Fight with Fire seems a little better if Lyra Dawnbringer and Settle the Wreckage are around, but in decks that can recur this spell, it should see play.
Some people are trying hard to make this card work, but I need to see it before I believe it's possible. Too much setup for an effect that is powerful but by no means game-ending, even against decks where the effect is very good. Doubt this will end up anywhere other than the bulk bin.
Outside of a Dragon deck, this is basically just an overcosted Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. So I don't expect the price on this one to skyrocket anytime soon, but it definitely feels sweet in a Dragon deck. I'm hoping we might see Dinosaurs vs Dragons in upcoming Standard. That sounds sweet!
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Definitely a strong payoff for playing a deck with a lot of Dragons, but unless you cast another Dragon with it on the battlefield, it's basically just a Shivan Dragon. I'm not big on six-drops where their upside requires you to cast more high casting-cost spells and where their floor is basically Shivan Dragon. Probably a one-of in the Dragon deck though or part of a combo that puts multiple Dragons onto the battlefield simultaneously.
Now this one I think is actually really good. Artifacts are no joke in Standard, especially Heart of Kiran and Aethersphere Harvester. And even if you are not playing a dedicated Goblin deck, playing this alongside Siege-Gang Commander and maybe a few other goblins could be worthwhile. Here is the Goblin deck I would start with.
The cost on this is just about right. It's just big enough to survive Goblin Chainwhirler while pressuring the opponent early. It then has a pair of useful yet very different abilities that can be used as the game goes on. Best of all, the abilities synergize well together. Pass with three mana untapped. If they play something you want to kill, such as a Glorybringer, then kill it. If they do not, then rummage.
Miles worse than Glorybringer since it can only hit opponents and not creatures, and much like Browbeat, the opponent always gets to choose which option is less bad for them.
I think this card is really good. If you have enough cheap spells in your deck, this card makes it very difficult for the opponent to kill your creatures at the times they want to. It almost feels like Voice of Resurgence in that regard, forcing the opponent to kill your creatures on their own turn before you get to untap all your lands and potentially sacrifice them to the goblin.
Settle the Wreckage? Yeah, you might want to Rethink playing that against Red decks nowadays. This card is definitely a game-changer for the Red vs Control matchup.
Apex of Power
Probably great in a combo deck somewhere, perhaps alongside Omniscience, but I'm definitely not the player that will find such a deck if it exists.
Sounds like a cross between an air freshener and a craft beer. It's a one mana answer to Tron and God only knows if it stops Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. My guess is that it does, based on the way it is worded, but my knowledge of layers and time stamps is a bit rusty to know for sure. If it does, I can see this making its way into Modern as a more cost-efficient answer to the land menaces than competing options.
Could see play in a Zombie deck, but the price of this reprint seems pretty predictable.
Open the Graves
I think this costs too much to be a sideboard card against Fumigate-type cards, but perhaps it is worth it in an Aristocrats-style deck if such a deck is possible.
Someone somewhere is going to accept the challenge and go on this Side Quest. And when they succeed, it will be glorious. Everyone else will merely see this as a black Tidings that you can blink.
Liliana, Untouched by Death
Just as Sarkhan is pretty much relegated only to a Dragon deck, Liliana is relegated to only a Zombie deck. In the Zombie deck, however, she is great. The question, just like with Sarkhan, boils down to how good the tribe ends up being. It pretty much has to be tier one in order to be a hit financially, and that is asking a lot.
Isareth the Awakener
Nice attempt at answering Eldrazi and Affinity, but it doesn't stop Karn or Etched Champion.
This is a really powerful Zombie that looks like it wasn't just printed with Standard in mind. This plus Liliana plus Diregraf Ghoul plus Death Baron really makes me excited to play Zombies! Ok, ok, obviously you're not buying that, but my point is that Zombies seem really good again.
It's like Pox, but without sacrificing lands, except you lose a larger chunk. Five mana is a lot, but I could see someone building a deck around this card and combining it with enough card advantage type cards.
Demon of Catastrophe
In a different Standard, this would be really good. Abyssal Persecutor saw some amount of play in Jund decks back in its time. Unfortunately, we currently live in a world of Ravenous Chupacabra and Cast Out, etc. The body does match up well against Glorybringer and Lyra Dawnbringer, though, so it has that going for it.
It's a promo foil and it's been reprinted a few times, but it's still a high-demand card and will be worth a reasonable amount for the foreseeable future. Oh, and did I mention I think the Zombie deck is really good?
Unlikely to be a staple in the Dragon deck, but I can see this making its way into a deck that fill up their graveyard reliably and is looking for a way to cash in that value.
Seven mana is far too much for this effect.
Tezeret, Artifice Master
I think Tezeret is really powerful. You really only want it in a heavy artifact deck, just like with any other Tezeret ever; but once you have the supporting cast in place, you get to draw two cards a turn off the second ability. That is extremely powerful, especially for a planeswalker that starts with five loyalty and can even go up to six loyalty while producing a flying chump blocker to protect itself the turn it comes down. I expect to hear Tezzeret named quite a bit with Sorcerous Spyglass in upcoming Standard.
I don't see this going anywhere in Standard, at least until more spirits are printed in upcoming sets. I assume they will be; otherwise this card doesn't make much sense. When they do, this could take off. As is, however, it still may be good enough for Modern Bant Spirits or an Esper tokens deck with Lingering Souls.
Six mana is a bit too much for this effect.
It mills while also drawing cards at a reasonable rate. Probably too much worse than Search for Azcanta.
One with the Machine
Maybe you can make this happen with Metalwork Colossus. Maybe in Magical Christmas Land.
I'd be surprised if someone figured out how to use this in Standard, but it's a welcome reprint for Legacy players.
A neat design, and a nice mana sink, but one-toughness doesn't cut it in Standard right now. The card also feels a little underpowered, even if it had the extra point of toughness.
Lots of fun uses for this in older formats, and depending on the metagame, it could be a role player in Standard. Doubtful that Merfolk will prove playable as a tribe, but one-drops with useful abilities should always be on your radar.
This card seems really fun in a deck with lots of incidental garbage creatures such as 0/1 defenders or 1/1's with ETB abilities. This way if the opponent plays a powerful creature you can decide whether to turn your garbage dork into a copy of their monster or to turn their monster into a copy of your garbage dork, depending on whichever is more beneficial for you. This one could be better than people realize.
Djinn of Wishes
It's going to take a lot more than wishful thinking for this to ever see play.
This card seems really good in tribal knights, which already has excellent support, including the all-star History of Benalia. I really hope this card is fantastic! I shared my initial list and thoughts here.
The cost and stats on this are strong as long as the abilities have enough applications. This can take out Walking Ballista, remove all energy counters from someone's reserve, make yourself immune from poison counters, restore your Lyra Dawnbringer to health after getting stunted by counters from Soul-Scar Mage, or do various other neat things. My guess is that there will often be enough reasons to play this card in some capacity. It won't always be good, but there will be times when it is right to play it.
This is one of my favorite cards in the set. Very powerful late game mana sink, works exceptionally well with another one of white's most powerful cards ( Lyra Dawnbringer), and triggers itself with its own pump ability. It dies to Abrade and Lightning Strike, but other than that, it's super powerful.
A reasonable graveyard hate card attached to a playable body that also has synergies with cards that grant a bonus when cards get exiled from your graveyard. Oh, it's a Spirit too! But wait, it dies to Goblin Chainwhirler, so never mind.
Mentor of the Meek
Playable value card, but this reprint won't be breaking anyone's bank.
What happens when Brimaz, King of Oreskos joins Hero of Bladehold? I don't know exactly, but probably something like this. It competes with the new Ajani for the four-drop slot, along with Shalai, Voice of Plenty. So I think it will likely end up overshadowed, but I want it to be good.
Lena, Selfless Champion
It is a proactive anti-wrath measure, but it costs six mana. My guess is that it costs too much but that it will likely show up in a few deck lists.
It's no Mental Misstep, but I can see it being playable in older formats, especially in decks running Snapcaster Mage. It may even see play in Standard in the right deck.
Control decks will likely prefer Fumigate, though there is a decent chance they hedge a bit if people start packing Gideon's Intervention or whatnot. Where I think this card will really shine is in decks that are creature-based that want to side in a wrath effect in some matchups. That way you can wrath their board just like you would with Fumigate, but you could also kill their Ixalan's Binding and their Baffling End instead if the board state dictates that line is more beneficial. Or you can kill their Heart of Kira and their Cast Out. Killing every artifact plus The Antiquities War is also a welcomed application, especially in a world that includes the new Tezzeret.
Ajani's Last Stand
If Nicol Bolas or other cards that make you discard start seeing a lot of play, this one could be a very potent sideboard card.
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
I saved the best for last! If you are ahead, this snowballs the game by making your threats into larger threats. And if you're behind, the -2 ability gets you back on the board. The ultimate isn't exactly game-ending, but the swarm of cats will eventually give you inevitability in most cases.
- Banefire – perhaps a few too many reprints, but I expect it to be a major player in Standard and $.50 is a Bargain.
- Metamorphic Alteration – $1 is low. I don't think people see this yet for what it is: a removal spell / Clone split card for two mana on either side. Sure, you need to do some work to make it happen, but it's not a lot of work and there is enough support to make it happen.
- Transmogrifying Wand - $1.25 feels low. I expect this to be at least a great red sideboard card and likely a card that finds its way into main decks. It is a reusable removal spell!