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.)
Will this kill Tron in Modern? No. Is it a plausible sideboard card for decks that rely on specific nonbasic lands? Yes, and at 1 mana, it is priced to move. My guess is that you’d rather have a card with slightly broader applications, but it does stop Urza’s Tower from assembling with the other two pieces, and can halt Inkmoth Nexus out of Infect (also out of Affinity, but given that Affinity has Inkmoth and Blinkmoth, I’m less a fan of that), while also hitting Valakut out of Scapeshift. If you expect enough Tron/Scapeshift, then the sun could shine on this.
Apex of Power
The second rating explains the first, as this costs roughly a million mana. Unlike Omniscience, it’s a little harder to cheat into play, but it is amusing to think what happens if you do cast this.
I’m not usually a fan of sideboarding in Banefire against control, as appealing as that may sound. The base premise of paying XR to deal X damage is just not a Constructed-level card, though the success stories with this will be impressive. Nugging them for 7 to close out the game against three counterspells is pretty sweet, and the fact that this exists will cause unending stress for control players (even if it doesn’t end up seeing a ton of play).
This is powerful enough to make me take notice, as it lets you trade your cheap creatures for extra cards at a good rate. It does have some variance attached, but as long as you use this before playing a land and have a deck composed of cheap cards, this should be a decent inclusion. Plus, it’s a Goblin, and those always get a slight bonus due to strong tribal implications.
If this always dealt damage, I’d be pretty high on it, but even control decks have random Knight tokens and the like to feed the Dragon. It does demand answers, as is clearly stated, but at 5 mana you can usually get more in Standard.
If you wanted to go for max flavor, this would counter spells and draw cards, but you can’t have everything. What it does do is three things medium well: it attacks for 2, lets you pay mana to loot, and takes out a medium-sized creature. That may be enough to justify some slots, though I think you are paying a little more for flexibility than I would like.
To get value from this, you want to double a card that costs a lot more or to double a card with additional costs, as you won’t have to pay them again. That isn’t a long list, and given that this doesn’t do anything on its own, you have some work to do.
This is quietly the best red card in the set, as it replaces Mogg War Marshal in Modern or Legacy Goblins, and fits nicely into any sort of Goblin brew in Standard. This is much better than something like Krenko’s Command, because being an actual Goblin lets Goblin Warchief reduce its cost, among other synergies.
Goblins are a funny tribe—they are so much better in older formats, so most of the playable Goblins impact formats other than Standard. Trashmaster certainly qualifies, and this looks like a good 1-of for Legacy Goblins to tutor up with Goblin Matron. It wrecks artifact decks, and even makes your Goblins stronger to boot.
Standard Burn decks could lean on this against decks with no removal, but given that siding in removal against red is a common strategy, it’ll be hard to end up actually sniping anyone.
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
I don’t see this making any waves in Standard, but it is a sweet card. Getting rewarded for extra Dragons feels like a win-more, but it would be really funny if you could play this in a deck with cheap Dragons (like Changelings in Modern). That’s more of a fun deck idea than a good deck idea, but it does strike my fancy.
This is still good in Standard, even if its inclusion in M19 doesn’t add anything since it was already legal.
Sarkhan is cheap enough that I think there’s some solid potential here. He is mostly a looter, though in a deck with a couple of Dragons he can also be a powerful accelerant. The mostly likely scenario is as a Jace Beleren-esque threat against control, but if you end up with Sarkhan and Glorybringer in your hand you’ll feel pretty clever.
See Lightning Strike.
I would love nothing more than if there was a Dragon Control deck in the works, as this into Dragon Egg is a nice 3-4 punch. Threats are pretty resilient these days, but Murder with buyback is an appealing endgame, and this could actually spit some hot fire if the format lines up right.
Fling is always on the edge of playable, and this shaves a mana off for good measure. Sorcery speed is a bit clunky, but in a deck looking to combo this could be a meaningful improvement.
Top 3 Red Cards
Goblins aren’t going to rock Standard, but these are real upgrades in older formats (despite names like “Trashmaster”). Alpine Moon goes on the long list of Modern hate cards, and will see some play as the metagame shifts. Past that, red got a bunch of good burn that was already legal, and some threats that won’t quite make the cut.