Other LSV Core Set 2020 Limited Set Reviews:
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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.)
The biggest drawback to Aerial Assault is that you often got hit by whatever creature you killed with this, making it a painful piece of removal. The kicker on this mitigates that and adds up if you reliably have a couple fliers in play. I normally only want one of these types of cards in my deck, but Aerial Assault in a fliers deck is something I’m open to play multiple copies of.
Ajani, Strength of the Pride
Ajani goes off quickly if your opponent can’t attack him, as the play pattern of -2, -2, +1 leaves you with a bunch of very angry kitties. Even if your opponent does have a way to pressure Ajani, you can just +1 him and gain a bunch of life while upping his loyalty. That makes Ajani good when ahead, good in a race, and only bad when every far behind, but even then you get a creature that costs 2 and a couple life points. Ajani may not be the most flashy planeswalker, but is definitely a strong one.
I love these designs, as they play quite nicely. Ancestral Blade starts as a 2/2 for 2, which is a fine deal, and it leaves behind a Leonin Scimitar when it dies. That’s a lot of value for just two mana, as a +1/+1 equipment with equip 1 is more relevant than you might think and having that be a kicker on a bear is just good value.
Angel of Vitality
Fliers are even better than normal in this set, as there are multiple rewards for having them. That makes a 2W 2/2 flier a card you’ll basically always play, and the lifegain incentives are a nice bonus on top of that. I wouldn’t go hard on lifegain because of Angel of Vitality, but if things line up then this could give you a few extra life and maybe even become a 4/4.
The way cards like this usually work is that they seem good, but you rarely actually have room for them. This replaces itself right away, and even gives a small bonus, but once you add up all your creatures and removal, you often are out of slots.
Apostle of Purifying Light
I’m wary of how protection will play in Limited, as I’ve had plenty of bad experiences in the past, though that’s more of a play pattern concern than a lack of power. In fact, I would always maindeck Apostle, as a 2/1 for 2 is passable against non-black decks, and when you do run into a black deck, this can just dominate the game. They can’t kill it with black removal, this can block ground creatures with impunity, and it gets in for free damage if they only have black blockers. The graveyard hate part isn’t particularly relevant, but it’s free, so might as well.
Battalion Foot Soldier
The sweet spot for Battalion Foot Soldier is three, though I’d play up to four without issue. White has good rewards for going wide in almost every color pair, and a flood of 2/2’s is generally going to be effective in Core Set drafts regardless. I don’t mind speculating on the first one of these early, though if you notice copies aren’t wheeling, it may be time to get out of the foot soldier game.
Bishop of Wings
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
It’s not often that you have a ton of Angels in your deck, and if you do, your deck is probably busted. Bishop of Wings is big enough that it’s worth playing with as few as three Angels, though I’d want four or five to be happy. Also, this card sounds like the guy distributing Red Bull at their upcoming tournaments, which I view as upside.
It’s going to be rare to get an actual two-for-one with Brought Back, though a big combat step could do it. I’d view this more to bring back one creature when it dies, which at WW doesn’t quite do it for me.
Cavalier of Dawn
Cavalier of Dawn is a wild combination of abilities, as Beast Within + Argivian Find isn’t the most intuitive, but it’s still a giant monster with multiple good triggers attached. A 4/6 Vigilance is worth five mana (though triple white is a little rough), and killing their best permanent plus getting back a stray Pacifism or the like makes this good value both coming and going.
I have this on my list as one of the toughest cards to beat out of the Fliers deck, as multiple Dawning Angels make it really hard to race. The main flaw with 3/2 fliers is that they aren’t great defensively, and the four life really mitigates that. I’m high on Dawning Angel and will be happy to snap up as many as I can get.
Daybreak Chaplain loses a little luster in a set without a lifegain theme (or with an extremely minor one), though it does fill out your curve if you need 2-drops. It gets a little better with pump spells too, even if aggressive decks aren’t really into 1/3’s.
Unlike Apostle of Purifying Light, I wouldn’t maindeck Devout Decree. It’s just too bad when the opponent doesn’t have targets, as it’s a stone-blank, so keep this in the board. It is an effective sideboard card, so I don’t mind taking it early, as having cards that are this efficient is valuable, even if you only get to board them in some of the time.
Disenchant is a strictly sideboard card, and a classic one at that.
I’m fine maindecking Eternal Isolation as most opponents will have a couple targets, though be aware that you should side it out if they don’t present any in game one. I like how efficient this is, as you are almost always trading up on mana significantly.
Fencing Ace is just a glorified 2/1 until you pump it up, at which point it becomes a real beast. It’s a replacement-level 2-drop in decks without pump spells, and a great card if you have a few ways to buff its power.
Gauntlets of Light
I’m not sure what this is trying to do, but I’m not buying it. Giving a creature +2/+2 (or so) and an expensive untap ability is not worth three mana and a card, though I’m sure I’ll lose to this on some ridiculous 1/5 or something.
Glaring Aegis is acceptable in super-aggressive decks, as it removes a blocker and makes your creature a lot harder to kill. It has the same glaring weakness as every aura, which is that removal and bounce owns it, so you may want to side this out if the opponent is flush with removal.
Gods Willing is so cheap that you always end up ahead on mana and up a scry, which makes it a fantastic inclusion. As long as you don’t do something silly like run this in a deck with 10 creatures then you’ll be happy with it, and it really gains value if you are aggressive and have a lot of pump spells. It’s also worth noting that this can knock off auras like Pacifism, even when you draw it well after the fact.
It’s ironic that Griffin Protector is better on offense than defense, but I’ll overlook the blatant flavor fail. You don’t want too many of these, as they are a little clunky, but they will kill the opponent quickly in a creature-heavy deck.
I’m a little higher on this than normal, as the heavy flying theme gives it some extra value. It’s a fine defender for three mana and pecks in for a damage reliably, which is well worth three mana.
I like Hanged Executioner quite a bit. Getting two 1/1 fliers for three mana is good to begin with, and this can hang out until it’s time to sacrifice it and take out something big.
Herald of the Sun
Herald of the Sun isn’t cheap, but it does give you a 4/4 flier and a legitimate activated ability in the lategame. If you ever run out of things to do, pop some +1+1 counters on your other fliers and enjoy the fact that you have a 4/4 beater while doing so.
The go-wide theme in this set is well-supported, so you will want Inspired Charge more often than you’d think. If you reliably will be attacking with 3+ creatures, this is worth it.
Inspiring Captain is a less all-in version of Inspiring Charge. It’s not as good as Charge when you are really going off but is much better when you have a worse draw. At worst, it’s still a 3/3 for four, which is definitely passable.
Leyline of Sanctity
Save this one for Modern.
I really like Loxodon Lifechanter. When you have any sort of built-up board, it gains you some life and threatens to attack as a 15/17 (or often more). The main issue with this is that when you’re far behind it’s just a dork, but there are plenty of situations where it does a ton for you.
How loyal can this possibly be if it refuses to attack or block without backup? I like this in aggressive decks, though it’s largely unplayable outside of them. You really need a ton of 2-drops to make this work, so don’t skimp on the bears.
I’m never turning down 5/5 worth of stats for four mana, and this even pairs nicely with Raise Dead effects and bounce spells. There are even a couple random Golems in the set, though you don’t need anything else to make this great.
Moment of Heroism
Moment of Heroism has always been a fine combat trick, and most aggressive decks will be happy playing one. It’s not great in control or midrange, though I do like siding it in against aggressive decks if you have a bunch of big creatures.
This is basically the baseline 2/2 for 2, as it has a minor ability that doesn’t come up much, but it sure does fill out your curve. If you need to get on board then this does that, though it doesn’t do a whole lot more.
Pacifism is quality removal, even if Gods Willing and bounce spells can make it a bit of a liability. Two mana is just so efficient, and I’d play as many of these as I could get.
At six mana, it’s hard to set up a good Planar Cleansing, which is why I’m not super high on it. I love 4-mana wraths, but six mana is just so much because you can’t just do nothing for six turns without dying. At best, you stall the board with a couple good defensive creatures and wait for them to overextend, but that usually only works once in a match.
Raise the Alarm
Raise the Alarm is better than usual because of all the token support, and I think multiple decks at the table will be interested in picking these up. It seems like there are more token payoffs than enablers, which makes this all the more valuable. It’s also fine without help, as 2/2 worth of stats at instant speed spread across two creatures is a solid deal.
Rule of Law
Once again, save the narrow anti-combo hate cards for Modern.
Sephara, Sky’s Blade
I suspect the alternate cost on Sephara is better than it looks. There are a ton of fliers in this set, and all the flier payoffs make 1/1 fliers much more playable than normal. Plus, paying seven mana for this is worth it, as it’s a huge lifelinker that protects your other fliers. I like this as a control finisher or a part of an aggro flier strategy and wouldn’t mind taking it early.
There isn’t enough of a lifegain theme to make this a card you should play often, though every now and then I could see it making the cut. To be clear, it’s not good enough on its own merits, as a 1/1 that gains 1 a turn is too low-impact to be worth a card.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
Squad goals for this are to make it a 5/5, and ideally even bigger. If it’s not reliably hitting those marks, leave it on the sidelines, as paying five mana for a 4/4 or 3/3 just doesn’t cut it. Vigilance is especially good on a huge monster, and this is a real payoff for going wide.
Starfield Mystic is mostly just a 2/2 for 2, as the enchantment theme isn’t strongly represented at lower rarities in this set. Let’s just say that at the mystic family reunion, this guy probably gets sick about hearing about his more successful cousin, Stoneforge.
I’m not normally a huge fan of 3/2’s for 3, but Steadfast Sentry has two additional upsides that make it a solid playable. Vigilance means it can play both sides of the court and giving away a +1/+1 counter means that you don’t feel as bad when you trade it for a 2-drop.
Damn, that ox is YOKED. Despite an obviously successful workout routine, I’d leave the Ox in the sideboard, and only bring it in against a deck full of small ground dorks.
Top 5 White Commons
White got a solid haul at common, with a premium removal spell, a great threat, and an enabler for the go-wide decks topping things off. After the top three, things can vary as your individual deck needs will dictate whether you want a Foot Soldier, a Griffin Protector, or a Griffin Sentinel.