We tend to think of Core Sets primarily as a tool for introducing new players to Magic. There will be a couple of fringe-playable cards for Standard; maybe we’ll enjoy the Limited format for a week; and then we’ll pretty quickly turn our sights to the upcoming Fall set release. Core Set 2020 seems to be challenging those expectations. This is a high-power set that’s going to shake up Constructed–and more than just Standard. In particular, I’d like to highlight one card that’s going to be a gamechanger in the older formats.
The Power of Veil of Summer
Veil of Summer is the best version of this effect that we’ve ever seen. It stops a wider range of spells and abilities than ever before, and it cantrips! Where previous incarnations had been niche role-players for when a particular problem needed solving, Veil of Summer is actually a card that I’m excited to play with. I want to use Veil of Summer to punish people for playing blue and black interactive spells!
What exactly can this card do?
“Spells you control can’t be countered this turn.”
So for one green, Veil of Summer counters a counterspell and draws you a card. It stops particularly troublesome cards like Dovin’s Veto and Flusterstorm, and if need be, it can also cut through something like a Chalice of the Void. Note that it lasts for the whole turn, and can be played preemptively, which is crucial against Teferi, Time Raveler.
“You gain hexproof from blue and from black until end of turn.”
That means Thoughtseize, Thought Erasure, or an activation from Liliana of the Veil or any other blue or black planeswalker. And by the way, you’re also protected from Tendrils of Agony and Brain Freeze. This is particularly huge because Storm players will often use Duress to make sure the coast is clear on their combo turn; even if they’re prepared to fight through all the hate, Veil of Summer will force them to pass the turn and try again later.
“Permanents you control gain hexproof from blue and from black until end of turn.”
If you liked using Blossoming Defense to save your creature from Ravenous Chupacabra and Vraska’s Contempt, now you can do the same while drawing a card. Teferi going to bounce my creature? How about that creature sticks around to kill your planeswalker instead.
It’s easy to see how useful Veil of Summer is, and how any of these abilities might be worth enough to consider using a sideboard slot. But what’s really special are the decks that can take advantage of multiple of these abilities at once. Imagine an Infect deck that can now protect its key creatures, as well as force its combo elements through discard and permission. Imagine Legacy Elves being able to resolve its Natural Order, or to buy a turn to win a key race against Storm Combo.
Veil of Summer in Vintage
Of all the formats, Vintage is where I could envision Veil of Summer being a maindeck card. Basically all decks outside of Workshops and Dredge play with blue spells, so Veil of Summer is a way to counter a permission spell, and at worst can easily be cashed in as a low-cost cantrip. As a bonus, you get an outstanding hate card against Storm Combo. Two copies might be a nice fit in Oath of Druids.
Veil of Summer in Legacy
Compared to Vintage, more non-blue decks means it’s harder to maindeck Veil of Summer. But more black decks means more punishment for those Thoughtseize/Liliana players. As mentioned above, the standouts seem to be Infect and Elves.
3 Forest (347) 2 Bayou 2 Dryad Arbor 3 Misty Rainforest 2 Windswept Heath 2 Wooded Foothills 2 Verdant Catacombs 4 Gaea’s Cradle 2 Craterhoof Behemoth 4 Heritage Druid 2 Birchlore Rangers 4 Nettle Sentinel 4 Quirion Ranger 4 Wirewood Symbiote 4 Elvish Visionary 1 Multani’s Acolyte 1 Reclamation Sage 1 Llanowar Elves 1 Fyndhorn Elves 1 Elvish Mystic 4 Glimpse of Nature 4 Green Sun’s Zenith 3 Natural Order Sideboard 1 Abrupt Decay 2 Assassin’s Trophy 2 Veil of Summer 1 Progenitus 4 Thoughtseize 1 Cabal Therapy 4 Leyline of the Void
Veil of Summer in Modern
The best home in Modern would be green combo decks like Scapeshift, Neoform, Infect, and Collected Company. As a Jund player, I’m not looking forward to having my discard spells met by Veil of Summer. It’s a devastating trap, and it feels practically unavoidable. Holding up a single green mana is such a low cost to pay. And besides, discard spells are usually the way to sniff out a trap and make sure the coast is clear! Now, your best cards against opposing combo decks turn into devastating two-for-one exchanges in the opponent’s favor.
2 Forest (347) 6 Mountain (343) 4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 4 Stomping Ground 2 Cinder Glade 1 Sheltered Thicket 4 Wooded Foothills 2 Verdant Catacombs 2 Bloodstained Mire 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder 4 Primeval Titan 2 Relic of Progenitus 4 Search for Tomorrow 4 Farseek 2 Wrenn and Six 2 Lightning Bolt 2 Flame Slash 3 Anger of the Gods 2 Summoner’s Pact 4 Scapeshift Sideboard 3 Veil of Summer 1 Crumble to Dust 3 Nature’s Claim 1 Ancient Grudge 1 Obstinate Baloth 2 Relic of Progenitus 3 Tireless Tracker 1 Flame Slash
I’ve always liked Valakut, but right now it’s positioned to be a predator in a field of Jund, Humans, Dredge, and Urzatron. It desperately needed a sideboard card to fight through the Cryptic Commands of U/W Control, and Veil of Summer might be it. If this new printing allows green combo decks to flip the script against the major forms of disruption players are using to beat you, then they could be great choices for upcoming Modern events.
Veil of Summer in Standard
Veil of Summer is probably at its narrowest in Standard, since it’s a format where discard and permission tend to be “tools” rather than “plans.” Still, the raw strength of the card combined with the ubiquity of Thought Erasure could still make it a good sideboard card. Its best home will probably be the sideboard of green creature decks as a way to protect key creatures like Steel Leaf Champion or Rekindling Phoenix from black removal spells. It’s also a particularly great answer to Mass Manipulation and Entrancing Melody, which have been major beatings for these strategies in the past.
Every once in a while, a card comes around that changes the game forever. I believe that Veil of Summer is one of those. With its efficiency and crisp, clean reliability, I think this card will be the best at what it does for quite some time. In all formats from Vintage to Standard, we’ll forever need to give deeper thought to how hard we’re leaning on our Duress and counters.