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: The best of the best. (Siege-Gang Commander. Lyra Dawnbringer. Icy Manipulator.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Fight with Fire. In Bolas’s Clutches. Josu Vess, Lich Knight.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Cast Down. Slimefoot the Stowaway. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Eviscerate. Shivan Fire. Cloudreader Sphinx.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Blink of an Eye. Llanowar Elves. Jousting Lance.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Windgrace Acolyte. Opt. Grow from the Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Keldon Raider. Vodalian Arcanist. Dark Bargain.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Ghitu Lavarunner. Knight of New Benalia. Corrosive Ooze.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Cabal Evangel. Aesthir Glider. Arbor Armament.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Skirk Prospector. Unwind. Dub.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Shield of the Realm. Board the Weatherlight. One with Nothing.)
Limited: 1.5 // 3.0
Blanchwood Armor is a funny card—if it’s great, your deck probably isn’t, because mono-green is unlikely to be a very supported archetype. You really need this to give +3/+3 or greater in order for it to be playable, and +5/+5 or more before it starts feeling unfair. That makes it medium in most decks, though when it’s good, it will be very good.
I like reverse menace—it makes it hard for your opponents to take down your creatures and lets you attack without fear into boards of small creatures. Green is flush with solid bodies, so this isn’t a card you need to prioritize, but it’s a little better than a boaring vanilla.
In normal Limited formats, 3/3s for 3 are always a welcome sight. Harrier Naga ended up being mediocre, thanks to how powerful and slow Hour of Devastation was, but I suspect that a core set won’t be quite that extreme. If the format ends up being very slow, this could drop to a 2.0, but I’d much rather start it at 3.0 and adjust from there.
This is slightly worse than Carnage Tyrant, mainly because of the lesser stats and lack of great abilities. It’s still a perfectly acceptable finisher, and a card I’ll play multiples of in a ramp deck. It doesn’t even sound bad to play one in a red-green beatdown deck, as a 6/6 trample is no laughing matter for the opponent.
Limited: 1.5 // 2.5
Colossal Majesty strikes me as a bit win-more, but I’d still run it with six or seven creatures that fit the bill. Like with Sarkhan’s Unsealing, Onakke Ogre will be your friend, and there are a couple of other midrange creatures that are colossal enough to trigger this.
The basilisk doesn’t hit for enough damage to be an offensive threat, and is small enough that it doesn’t stonewall opposing creatures either. It can trade up against decks with big creatures, but looking at a board of 2/2s when you have this can be a dagger. I like having access to this, as it will be very potent out of the sideboard, but don’t take this early.
I think this card will end up being surprisingly dominant. You can use it as a removal spell, and pretty easily pick up a 2-for-1 in the midgame—your 3/3 eats their 2/2 plus their 3/3. Unlike previous versions of this spell, everything has to block, not just something, so you can really wipe out their forces. Later in the game, this lets everything else get through unimpeded, letting you overrun them with attackers. This card will miss some of the time, and is weak to instant-speed removal, but the upside is high enough that it will be an early pick.
Druid of Horns
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
Unplayable without Auras and unexciting with, this isn’t a card I’m looking to put in my deck. I don’t want to build around it, and don’t like the path it leads you down. I guess the joke is that Talons of Wildwood is a low-risk way of making beasts, but I don’t really want to play Talons.
Druid of the Cowl
Mana Elves are good, and one that can block when you don’t need it for mana is pretty sweet. There’s not much to say about this—it’s a great card for any green deck, and a reason to go into green.
I’m in love with this card. It’s great at any point in the game, and it helps smooth out your draws while ensuring that you don’t get flooded in the late game. You only draw lands when you have two in a row, easily letting you overpower your opponent if the game goes long (while blocking and finding you lands in the early game). This card is all about the green, and so am I.
With three Elves at common, none of which are great attackers, this isn’t really a card for Limited. It is an exciting addition to Constructed, so be on the lookout for Clancallers to unite in Modern.
This is great. Not only does it ramp you, it does some color-fixing, and leaves you up a card. Even if you can’t make specific use of the 1/1 (with sacrifice effects or the like), this can still chump block or make double-blocks better. I’m in for any and all of these that I can get.
Seven is much more than six, specifically when talking about which turn you hit 7 mana versus 6 mana. That said, this does block really well and can’t be chumped easily, so it’s not as ghastly as it may seem. I like this as a finisher, especially since they moved my favorite Wurm to rare.
If you want a 3/2 for 3, this certainly delivers. The activated ability isn’t all that great because it’s expensive and somewhat situational, but as an upside on a passable body you could do worse. This occupies a weird space of trying to be an aggressive green card with an ability that doesn’t quite get there, and as a result most decks aren’t that interested.
An Alpha throwback, Giant Spider has been great in green decks since 1993. This fits nicely into the plan of ramping out big creatures, and protects you from most threats in the air. It is relevant that Aven Wind Mage can beat it in a fight. When your common Spider can’t beat the common Wind Drake, blue does have an edge.
Gift of Paradise
Limited: 1.5 // 3.0
In a deck that wants this, it’s one of the best cards. It fixes your colors, ramps you, and gives you a little life to play with. In a 2 color deck with a low to medium curve, it’s not great, but more green decks will fall into the first camp. This ended up being awesome in Amonkhet/Hour Limited, and there are enough ramp payoffs that this will perform in this format too.
Limited: 0.0 // 3.0
Unless you’re mono-green, don’t play this. Seriously, just don’t. You need 14+ Forests for it to pull its (considerable) weight, and even then it’s not a bomb. This is no Tempest Djinn, and is a gigantic pain to get to work properly.
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
Overly Dramatic Name: 4.5
The Terror does live up to its over-wrought name, as it attacks as a 5/4 trampler and makes your other big creatures cheaper and bigger. You don’t need anything else for this to be great, and it won’t be hard to find friends for it in any case.
If this ends up being more of a bear format, this will earn its 2.0 rating, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a 1.5. Core sets tend to alternate between “play all your bears” and “you need bigger cards to win”, so it’ll be interesting to see where this lands. I suspect that G/W and R/G are likely to play this more often, with U/G and B/G largely leaving it on the sidelines. Vigilance isn’t nothing, but it’s not much, since this will perish most of the times it gets into combat.
This, on the other hand, is a very small game. I’m not keen on 1 toughness creatures, and this looks like fodder to me. It is a passable sideboard card against an aggro deck full of 3/2s, but attacking with this is a fool’s game.
I had to read this cards a few times to make sure that I had it right—when it survives damage, it gets huge. There’s no drawback, just reverse menace, and between this being good at most points on the curve and splashable, it’s an excellent early pick. I know the hungering life, and can confirm this has what it takes.
The format isn’t extreme enough to push this into main decks, so it falls into its natural place as a sideboard card.
Against a removal-light deck, this will often end the game. Against someone with bounce or removal, it will do the same, just in reverse. I’d avoid playing this in my main deck, though it’s a decent sideboard card against decks that can’t punish you for playing it.
I love me a Pelakka Wurm, and I’m sad it’s now a rare. The reason I’m so high on this is that it stabilizes with the 7 life, making it less risky to tap out for, and draws you a card when it dies, making it a good exchange against removal. Those two abilities shore up most of the problems 7-drops typically have, and leave you with an excellent finisher and ramp incentive.
I’d always sideboard this in Draft and often main deck it in Sealed, especially if you’re light on flying defense. Plummet is a great card to exist, and there’s a reason something like it is printed in every set.
As much as I bag on Auras, I’m not opposed to playing them when they are game-winners. Prodigious Growth essentially is a 7/7 haste trampler for 6, with the requirement that you have a creature in play (and an upside of adding in that creature’s stats). When this works, it’s incredible, which is why I like it so much more than something like Oakenform. This still is vulnerable to instant-speed removal, but you end the game often enough when you cast this that sorcery-speed removal isn’t as big a concern.
Green sometimes wants a fair fight and sometimes wants to fight dirty, with biting definitely in the latter camp. Rabid Bite is a solid piece of removal, though it will be more of a nibble against big creatures or in creature-light decks.
What vaults Sage past Naturalize is that the fail case here is a 2/1 for 3, which is at least a card. When this works, it’s a huge upside, and when it doesn’t, you can often trade it off, even if it’s inefficient. That says a lot about the value of a card, and why this is a card I’ll take early and play while Naturalize is a sideboard-only option.
The strength of Recollect is giving you another shot at a powerful card. The downsides are that it won’t always have targets and that you’re paying 3 mana on top of whatever the card originally cost. That’s not enough to make this good, and I’d advise against it.
You can’t play too many of these (sounds like a dare to me), but having 1-2 on the top of the curve will be lovely. You pull slightly ahead every time you cast one, and they rhox at trading for 4/4s. Their weakness is aggro, so make sure you have good defense if this is your plan.
Runic Armasaur is sturdy, to say the least, and will make life difficult for the opponent. There are enough creatures with activated abilities that its text box is relevant, and it blocks well enough that I’d be happy to play it regardless.
If you want to draft this for…collectability reasons (a.k.a. $$$), by all means do so, but don’t expect it to do much in Limited. I guess it can thin your deck of lands, but that’s a marginal upside for a 4 mana blank.
Talons of Wildwood
I won’t want to pay 2 mana for +1/+1 and trample, even if I get to buy it back later. This is green’s version of Equipment, and it’s not effective enough to get me interested.
This won’t just be a thorn in the opponent’s side, it’ll be a whole bush. It attacks without fear early, plays like a 6/7 late, and punishes the opponent for trying to deal with it. It’s good at every stage in the game, which is exactly what you want out of your cards.
You can do worse for 5 mana, even if these aren’t the most exciting beasts you could be summoning. Green has plenty of solid vanillas, and there’s nothing wrong with playing a couple of ‘em.
Titanic Growth checks a lot of boxes when it comes to what you want out of a trick:
- Wins most combats.
- Deals a bunch of extra damage when unblocked (or on a trampler).
- Costs 2 or less mana.
- Can be used against damage spells.
Not every deck wants combat tricks, and in particular the high curve green decks won’t, but this is good in any beatdown or midrange deck.
What does Vigilant Baloth do, I wonder?
This is efficient enough that I’d always play it, and if you’re lacking in beef, feel free to move it up the pick order. It defends nicely, and vigilance is good for defensive decks.
I could easily see this being closer to a 3.5, at least once you have a couple Auras. It’s vine by itself, but really gets going once you pants it up. Hey, I’ll take the big hexproof things being uncommon, especially when the good Auras are uncommon as well. This is no Jade Guardian // One with the Wind situation.
Vivien Reid fits nicely in almost any green deck. She finds more creatures/lands while increasing an already-high loyalty, and can snipe opposing flyers if need be (plus handle pesky artifacts/enchantments). She isn’t a busted planeswalker, but is a solid card that I’d always be happy to have. I’d like her a lot more if she defended herself against ground creatures, but luckily green is already good at doing that.
Limited: 1.5 // 3.0
In a dedicated ramp deck with a lot of solid creatures, this is a decent finisher. There’s a natural tension between this and expensive creatures, as you can’t just run 10 cards that cost 5+ mana, but if you have 4-6 good hits and 6-8 decent ones, this will be worth 7 mana.
Wall of Vines
I’d never main deck it, but I might side it against small flyers. Given how good most of the flyers are, this doesn’t even seem good after board, but it might have some applications.
Top 5 Green Commons
Druid vs. Bite is pretty close, and I could see it shaking out either way (with the picks you already have influencing it as well). The rest of the list is so close together that it’s almost pointless trying to differentiate it—in general, I’d start with Spider and Rejuvenator, but later in the Draft you might need one of the creatures at different casting costs. I like green ramp, looking at these cards, though there’s a solid midrange deck that curves good creatures at every cost and backs them up with Titanic Growth.