Previous Core Set 2019 Reviews
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
I wouldn’t call this a triumph of modern sideboarding, but if you have a deck full of giant monsters there may be matchups where this reads like a one-sided Howling Mine. That’s worth considering.
Druid of the Cowl
With Llanowar Elves around, a 2-mana Elf is going to be a tough sell. I figured I’d mention it because this is close, and if it were the only accelerant around it would be in the conversation.
While this may approximate Courser of Kruphix in Limited, it’s got a long way to go in Constructed. What really makes me pause is the turn delay before you get an activation, making this likely to eat a Lightning Strike or Fatal Push. That said, it’s a 2-mana 1/3 with tap: draw 40% of a card, and that is powerful when it gets rolling.
This rating is almost entirely for Modern, as this gives Modern Elves a nice bump (and there’s no such deck in Standard). A 2-mana lord is interesting to begin with, and this acts as a nice mana sink to boot. Elves is about getting the opponent dead more than comboing these days, and this fits right in.
I would have more hope for this if the selection was better and if it couldn’t miss. Granted, you won’t miss very often (above 90% in a 24-land deck), but when you pay 3 mana for ramp, missing is a disaster. The biggest edge this has over something like Gift of Paradise is the 1/1 body, so it’s a lot better in decks that can make use of that.
While this is actually a 2.5, it’s hard to resist giving it 5[G] out of 5. I thought Ghalta was the pinnacle of absurdity when it came to gigantic Dinosaurs seeing play, but Gigantosaurus has set a new bar. In a deck of all green mana sources, this does exactly as advertised, and provides a lot of stats per mana. I do think this is playable in Mono-Green, adding more of the same to the deck (rather than a new dimension).
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
When this is working, you’re getting a lot of stats and a good mana reduction ability for 4 mana. When you don’t have big creatures to drop or this eats a Lightning Strike, you’ll feel pretty medium about the whole thing. Sadly, this is more likely to eat a Terror than be one, and even the powerful text box can’t save it.
Still here and still mediocre.
Pelakkalaka is one of my favorite things to say, and this is one of my favorite Draft cards. It’s also a plausible sideboard card, offering a nice mix of cards, life, and stats. Especially stats.
Plummet sees some scattered sideboard play, and is best used when green has no good removal and desperately needs to remove a specific flyer.
This isn’t a complete joke, as it does attack for 7 immediately. If there’s a matchup light on removal (or you have Vine Mare) and it’s all about stats, this is not bad at all.
I love having access to a good Uktabi Orangutan, and Reclamation is the best of the bunch. This props up midrange green decks and does a better job in this role than Thrashing Brontodon (at least out of the sideboard—Brontodon is a better main-deck card). Getting the clean 2-for-1 is just so good at 3 mana, and there are a lot of juicy targets floating around.
2/5 for 3 is good enough to take notice, and it’s highly possible that this serves some function against aggro decks. The ability is a nice bonus, and it can pick up a lot of extra cards in the right matchup. It does very well against Walking Ballista and might catch people by surprise when they Field of Ruin you.
This once again misses in Standard, but is still a key piece of a good Modern deck.
Thorn Lieutenant is a nice little card. It spikes in value against red decks while still attacking well against other foes. If the opponent wants to remove it, you are getting a card, and it really punishes effects like Ahn-Crop Crasher. Thorn will be a go-to green threat for aggro and midrange green decks, which were missing a non-Heart of Kiran 2-drop.
Well then. This little horsey is going to upset a lot of apple carts, as it is a huge hexproof threat for not a lot of mana. This mightily punishes control decks and brawls really well in midrange mirrors, especially if you have ways to pump it. It even walks (gallops) right on by Gonti, The Scarab God, and others, which is not a throwaway line of text. Look for this to show up often.
I like the addition to the planeswalker pantheon, as Vivian Reid (Duke) shoots down a wide range of cards and has a nice card draw ability. The two combined make her ideal against control, where she can kill Seal Away or Cast Out with ease. She looks like she’s replacing Nissa in the anti-control role, as artifacts or enchantments are so prevalent in control decks these days.
Top 3 Green Cards
Green got some very nice cards in this set, with threats all the way from 2 to 5. These are some good proactive green cards, which should help Llanowar Elves quite a bit.