Other LSV Core Set 2020 Limited Set Reviews:
White | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts and Lands
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Skarrgan Hellkite. Ethereal Absolution.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Thief of Sanity. Judith, the Scourge Diva. Experimental Frenzy.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Gate Colossus. Mortify. Biomancer’s Familiar.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Blade Juggler. Skewer the Critics. Skyknight Legionnaire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Sauroform Hybrid. Watcher in the Mist. Wojek Bodyguard.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Ornery Goblin. Syndicate Messenger. Plague Wight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Radical Idea. Noxious Groodion. Ghor-Clan Wrecker.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Wall of Mist. Axebane Beast.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Feral Maaka. Knight of Sorrows. Prying Eyes.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Expose to Daylight. Persistent Petitioners.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Font of Agonies. One with Nothing.)
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
I recommend against maindecking the color-hosing spells, as they are just dead draws if the opponent isn’t either of the colors they target. That said, they are all very good sideboard cards, and I’d happily side in Aether Gust against anyone that is red or green. Note that the owner of the card (aka, the opponent) gets to choose where the card goes.
Agent of Treachery
Agent of Treachery may be a 7-drop, but it’s a permanent steal effect (it doesn’t end when/if this dies) and gets really busted with Raise Dead and bounce effects. I am a little disappointed this doesn’t untap lands like a real Agent of Treachery, though I know how absurd that would be.
Air Elemental has carried its weight since Alpha and continues to be a premium uncommmon in every set where it appears. The stats and price are just right, and this is a great early pick and will be one of the better cards in your deck.
Anticipate is filler, and as such will only sometimes make the cut. It just doesn’t do anything, and even though it gives you decent card selection, it’s often hard to make room for a card that isn’t a creature or removal spell. I do like this more in decks lacking in 2-drops, as it fits better.
Even though Atemsis has a somewhat awkward mana cost, it’s still a 4/5 flier with a powerful activated ability, and that rates highly in my book (a book that Atemsis has surely read).
Like Anticipate, Befuddle is rarely bad but also easy to cut. It’s nice that this does provide the opportunity for a 2-for-1, even if it’s not super efficient.
Bone to Ash
Bone to Ash has a couple points in its favor in this set. It’s a great combo with cards that have flash like Brineborn Cutthroat, or activated abilities like Spectral Sailor. It’s also not bad with Unsummon, as you end up even on cards. Not every blue deck wants this, but if you have other ways to spend your mana at instant speed, it works out pretty nicely.
Being an Elemental is definitely worth something in this format, and a hard-to-kill 3/4 flier is not a bad deal for five mana. When you find a boreal one like this, you should hold on to it.
You only need to get one counter onto Brineborn Cutthroat before it’s above the curve, and a 2/1 flash can give you plenty of options as-is. Unless your deck has literally no instants, this is a card that should always make the cut.
I’m not super high on this mega bounce spell, as you need to be ahead on board for it to really be effective. I’m not a huge fan of cards that only work when ahead, and this fits right into that category. If you spend six mana and a card and don’t capitalize on it, your opponent is just going to replay two of the creatures you bounced, and all of a sudden you’re back to square one. As a curve-topper in an aggressive deck, Captivating Gyre is good, but in a random midrange or control deck I’ll pass.
Cavalier of Gales
Brainstorm in Limited most often reads “draw a card,” but that’s still a great ability when stapled a five-mana 5/5 flier. Cavalier of Gales is absurd, and even gives you a scry 2 and a shot at a redraw when it dies. That doesn’t put it too far from God-Eternal status, which is a good place to be.
I’m really into Cerulean Drake, and I would always begin by maindecking it (the exception being a deck that has no interest in a 1/1 flier, like a very controlling build). If you play against a red deck this vastly overperforms, and the sacrifice ability works against any spell that targets you, not just red ones. I would side the Drake out against non-red decks, but the upside is worth starting it.
Cloudkin Seer is the real deal. An aggressive flier for just three mana that also draws a card is fantastic in any deck, and it being an Elemental is the cherry on top of an already delicious treat.
Three-mana counterspells are on the weaker side because you have to leave three mana up and there’s no guarantee your opponent will play anything relevant. Add to that the downside of this going dead in the lategame and you have a card I’m unhappy to have in my deck.
Drawn from Dreams
I dream of spending four mana to dig through my deck, even if it must be at sorcery speed. This combines nicely with cheap removal and defensive creatures, though any deck will be happy to have this.
Dungeon Geists gets such a high grade based on efficiency and power. At only four mana, this can come out early and cheaply, and it always has a large effect on the game. The downside is that a removal spell does trade for it without lasting damage, but whenever this isn’t immediately killed, the swing is enormous.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
Unless you’re playing Pauper or manage to collect 5+ Faerie Miscreants, I’d avoid this trap. The first one not drawing a card is rough, and if you don’t get three in the same game you’re still not in fantastic shape.
Flood of Tears
Everything I said about Captivating Gyre applies here, though it’s even worse if you don’t get to play a free permanent. That’s not a card I’m thrilled to play, and it’s especially bad when you’re flooded.
Defenders gonna defend. Sometimes you just need a giant blocker, and Fortress Crab delivers.
Frilled Sea Serpent
Honestly, if you’re high and dry when it comes to finishers, you can play a Serpent and it’ll do its job, but I’d really hope to do better. This is just so slow and the ability is even slower, making it a card I only play reluctantly.
Frostie was good in every previous format, and even got a minor upgrade this time around because Elementals is a supported type. Paying three mana for a significant tempo gain is worth it, and this does a lot of work when ahead or behind (though isn’t great when at parity).
Hard cover, soft target. I’m not interested in spending a card for these minor upgrades, and the exposure to removal is a real downside.
Leyline of Anticipation
I don’t anticipate ever playing with or against this card. Even if it was always free, it’s not worth a card in Limited, and most of the time you’re going to be stuck paying full retail. Is there a bigger delta in the set for Constructed vs. Limited than the Leylines?
Six mana for two 3/3’s is a mediocre deal, and you will never have enough artifacts for the second clause to do anything. I’m struggling to find anything masterful about this.
Metropolis Sprite gets a decent amount of damage in and can play nicely with any effects that pump its toughness. I’d mainly be looking to play this in a deck with 2-3 flier payoffs, or if I was drastically short on 2-drops.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In a deck that cares about attacking, this is basically a blank. In a dedicated control deck, Moat Piranhas lives up to its name (their name?) and stops non-flying creatures for long enough for you to get your control game in place. Not many decks will end up wanting this, but I look forward to playing the ones that do.
Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer
Mu Yanling will quickly fly away with any game where you can protect her, and with her +2 ability she even helps in that. Playing her, hitting +2, then -3, is a really tough line to beat and a very easy one to accomplish. Three mana is an aggressive cost, and I’m a big fan of Mu Yanling as a result.
As always, Negate is a card I basically never maindeck (Sealed aside) and am happy to side in.
Octoprophet tickles my fancy and is a reasonable card to boot. It gives you some decent stats and a nice ETB ability, making it a fine play at any point in the game.
Portal of Sanctuary
Sadly, the designers stopped us from doing anything cool (and extremely annoying) by making this your turn only. That’s likely for the best, but it does leave Portal of Sanctuary in the “hypothetical but not actually good” build-around pile. If you have tons of ETB abilities, this may sometimes be worth trying, but I’m not holding my breath.
This rating is contingent on having 1-2 copies of the named cards, though Vial of Dragonfire is much better in general. Even if you do get all the pieces, the end result is far from busted, making this a fairly weak card overall.
Sage’s Row Denizen
Sage’s Row Denizen provides a mediocre body and a mediocre win condition, which with their powers combined…makes a mediocre card.
Scholar of the Ages
Scholar of the Ages is a very powerful finisher. Playing this and picking up two removal spells is quite strong, and not that hard to pull off. Where it gets really spicy is when you bring back cards like Unsummon or Soul Salvage and start recycling the Scholar. Getting multiple triggers off this is disgusting and will lead to a (slow and grinding) victory.
Sleep Paralysis is a fine removal spell, and you will rarely cut it. It’s never exciting, but it sure gets the job done. Of note, I’m a little lower on Auras thanks to Gods Willing and Unsummon being in the set, though it’s still not a huge swing.
As much as I rail against 1/1’s for 1, this letting you draw extra cards goes a long way in my book. Spectral Sailor is a real threat if the game ever slows down, and a 1/1 flier does have some effect on the board (even if it’s not much).
This is a tale best told to a Constructed audience, though if the opponent has multiple legendary cards I don’t hate the idea of boarding this in. You will sometimes find other uses for the card, and it does answer some problematic threats.
The first Unsummon is worth a lot more than subsequent ones, as trading a card for temporary board advantage is not a deal you can make multiple times in most games. It does work out against auras, pump spells and can even save your own creatures from removal, so I do like having one in most blue decks.
Warden of Evos Isle
Ideally you have at least a couple other fliers to go with this, and if you’re lucky, they are on the more expensive side. The floor is pretty high here, as a 3-mana 2/2 flier is solid, and if you ever curve this into a 5-drop you will be very happy with the results.
Divination is already a fine playable in most core sets, so getting that effect at 2 mana is something I’m thrilled to play. Even if this costs 3, you aren’t falling behind, so Winged Words ends up being pure upside.
How good the Wavecrasher is does depend on your deck, as its ability can range from drawback to upside. If you’ve got a lot of cheap creatures and creatures with ETB effects, the Wavecrasher is great. If your deck is slow and has no good combos with this, it’s barely playable. Note that if it’s the only creature you have, the ability doesn’t do anything, and you can play this as a 4-mana 4/4.
Zephyr Charge looks powerful but is too slow to really have a good effect. Your best bet is to side this in when it’s UG vs UG, though I’d usually err on just not playing it.
Top 5 Blue Commons
4. Winged Words
2. Frost Lynx
Blue comes out swinging here, with an actual aggressive flying deck ready to go. It’s also got some good control elements, and overall looks like a powerful and flexible color.