While I’m disappointed to say goodbye to one of the best Draft formats of all time, Dominaria, I’m excited to get my hands on a fresh one, Core Set 2019.
I first dipped my toes into the format with some Magic Online Sealed deck, and it left a poor taste in my mouth. But after doing a couple of Drafts, I actually like the format quite a bit.
This week, I’m going to walk you through one of my first Drafts.
Let’s get started.

Pack 1 pick 1

My Pick: Vampire Sovereign

This is a pretty easy pick for me. Vampire Sovereign outsizes all of the common flying creatures, and has a huge impact in racing situations with a powerful enters-the-battlefield effect. I’ve had a lot of success in Sealed deck with B/W Life Gain style decks, and this is always one of the higher impact cards that can close a game in those archetypes.

The rare in this pack, Hungering Hydra, is fine, but putting the same old Ivy Elemental into a new box and calling it something else doesn’t make it much better. It’s a fine card I’ll always play, but it’s still just a dopey green fatty that’s fairly replaceable.

Pack 1 pick 2

My Pick: Vine Mare

This creature is totally unreasonable if you can find ways to force it through in combat. Thankfully, there areare cards like Arcane Flight at common to make it easy, but you do see Oakenform at common to make it tough to block. If you’re against a heavily black opponent this creature can go the distance on its own. Hexproof is still dumb in Limited and this is one of the best rate hexproof creatures we’ve seen in Limited.

Draconic Disciple is a nice mana creature that can later turn into a 5/5 Dragon, but even if this was pack 1 pick 1 I’d take the Vine Mare here.

Pack 1 pick 3

My Pick: Cleansing Nova

This was an agonizing pick for me. There were three cards I considered taking here: Cleansing Nova, Skyrider Patrol, and Rabid Bite.

On the one hand, Rabid Bite is a single color, solid removal spell, especially with the pair of cards I have now. On the other hand, Skyrider Patrol is bonkers with Vine Mare, and lastly, Cleansing Nova is a sweeper effect in a slowish Limited format. I’ve been impressed with Cleansing Nova when I’ve seen it as both a Wrath of God effect, and as a way to clean up enchantments and artifacts. The card is incredibly flexible, which is why I end up taking it here. I also like to take rares early in Draft formats to get more experience with them in case I see them in a higher stakes spot, like an upcoming Grand Prix.

I’m still not sure what pick is correct here, but I think I can rule out Rabid Bite and it’s still close between Skyrider Patrol and Cleansing Nova, mostly backed up by the fact that I have Vine Mare already. If it were pack 1 pick 1, I’d definitely take Cleansing Nova here.

Pack 1 pick 4

My Pick: Luminous Bonds

Luminous Bonds is a solid removal spell and there’s not much else here. It’s a shame my Cleansing Nova gets a little worse because its second mode is much worse when you have a Luminous Bonds in play, but there are situations in which you can hold it for specifically artifact creatures and still get the full value out of Cleansing Nova.

Pack 1 pick 5

My Pick: Meteor Golem

Meteor Golem is an expensive Ravenous Chupacabra, but it also hits all types of permanents and is still a reasonable sized body attached to a removal spell. In some formats, Meteor Golem will be too slow, but I have not found that to be the case with this format. I’m always pretty happy to pick it up.

I’m not very high on Take Vengeance as it doesn’t help me get creatures through, and I’ve found the white decks can be brick walled a lot, so having a removal spell that can’t push creatures through in combat isn’t effective a lot of the time.

Pack 1 pick 6

My Pick: Ghastbark Twins

So I just took a 7-drop, and now I’m taking another? Well, the choices in this pack are all replacement level unless I want to dip my toes into another color for a mediocre card like Tormenting Voice. I haven’t been very pleased with Aegis of the Heavens, as I find it usually much worse than Mighty Leap, which can do some of the last few points of damage to an opponent, and Thornhide Wolves is extremely replaceable. I’ve also found that with Druid of the Cowl and Elvish Rejuvenator at common, it’s much easier to cast the expensive cards in a green deck than usual.

Pack 1 pick 7

My Pick: Oreskos Swiftclaw

This is a curve filler pick that I wish I didn’t have to make. While the format is still reasonably slow it’s nice to have a creature to cast on turn 2 so that you can deal some quick damage or trade with the opponent’s early play. Oreskos Swiftclaw also can trade up with some creatures on defense so I’m fine picking up a 2-drop here, but I hope to improve with some better 2-drops down the road.

Plummet is a card I’d love to take here and potentially should have. It’s a top tier sideboard card against a bottom level playable, but early in Drafts I tend to make safer picks.

Pack 1 pick 8

My Pick: Explosive Apparatus

Explosive Apparatus is a card I’m not usually excited to play outside of artifact synrgies, but with a Meteor Golem already and an Explosive Apparatus I can start considering Trusty Packbeast if I pick one up. While this isn’t a great thing to be doing, it’s something to be doing. The opportunity cost is only a Highland Game, a card I’m never excited to play in this format.

Pack 1 pick 9

My Pick: Thornhide Wolves

Thornhide Wolves is a vanilla 5-drop I’m not excited about and don’t love to play, but there’s nothing else here in G/W for me. I briefly considered taking the Epicure of Blood in case I switched into black pack 2. It’s not that I love playing Epicure of Blood but if I switch into black I may be struggling for playables whereas I’m unlikely to need them for a green-white deck and Thornhide Wolves will often end up in my sideboard. I stick to my guns and take Thornhide Wolves in case I get a fair amount of ramp or a card like Colossal Majesty where I’d want it.

Pack 1 pick 10

My Pick: Dwarven Priest

This was just a bad pick. At the time I was thinking that I could be a midrange deck trying to stabilize and play my 7-drops but I think I should have just taken Knight’s Pledge in case I turned into an Aura deck with Vine Mare and cards like Druid of Horns or Satyr Enchanter. Dwarven Priest is much worse in the deck I’m describing than Giant Spider so it’s unlikely to end up in my deck.

Pack 1 pick 11

My Pick: Woodland Stream

While I briefly considered an Oreskos Swiftclaw here it would be a shame if I missed out on a good splash like Arcades, the Strategist because I didn’t take a land when I could. I’m still short on 2-drops but I’m hoping to get another two or three in the last two packs.

Pack 1 pick 12

My Pick: Duress

In case I switch into black.

Pack 1 pick 13

My Pick: Revitalize

Unexciting but you can put this card in your deck if you’re short on cards and it’s fine.

Pack 1 pick 14

My Pick: Root Snare

Last Pick: Swamp

So after pack 1 I’m likely G/W but there’s a chance that I dip into another color for a busted rare or something. My deck is very top heavy so I need to focus on filling in the curve a little better.

Pack 2 pick 1

My Pick: Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

While I love me a Psychic Symbiont, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma is an excellent 4-drop that can not only hit hard, it also ramps big creatures while giving them trample and an attacking bonus as well. It’s easy to kill Goreclaw, but when you don’t it can be a real problem.

Pack 2 pick 2

My Pick: Rhox Oracle

Rhox Oracle is a better Thornhide Wolves as I’d much prefer to draw another card than have a few more toughness in most cases. There’s not much else here for me except potentially a Horizon Scholar. I did pick up that Woodland Stream, which would make it an easier splash, and had the Rhox Oracle actually been a Thornhide Wolves it’s what I’d take in this pack. Draconic Disciple is again sweet, but its also not the kind of card I want to splash because its best when cast early and is extremely slow if you cast it late just to eventually make a 5/5.

Pack 2 pick 3

My Pick: Pegasus Courser

Pegasus Courser is an excellent way to push my big green creatures through in the air. I like Fountain of Renewal in almost every deck as it replaces itself and can give you a fair amount of life on turn 1, but it’s not great without a card like Ajani’s Pridemate to synergize with it. Cavalry Drillmaster is a solid 2-drop that I’d happily play but Pegasus Courser is just the type of card I need as a cheap blocker that can also help me push damage.

Pack 2 pick 4

My Pick: Colossal Majesty

Colossal Majesty is a rare way to get card advantage out of green decks, and with cards like Vine Mare it’s just incredible. I now have a way to churn through my deck in stalled games and find ways to close out the game. Titanic Growth is a card I’d be happy to play but it’s nowhere near the level of drawing an extra card a turn.

Pack 2 pick 5

My Pick: Blanchwood Armor

Isareth the Awakener this late is a sad sight to see, and I’m not in love with Blanchwood Armor but I already have a Vine Mare, and it helps with Colossal Majesty in ways so I’m fine picking it up here. I don’t find Blanchwood Armor to be all that much better than Oakenform usually, but they’re both cards I’d play here.

Pack 2 pick 6

My Pick: Highland Game

I’m still worried about not having any early plays so I take Highland Game over Invoke the Divine here. The pack I opened also has a Naturalize and an Invoke the Divine so I’m hoping to pick one of those up on the wheel.

Pack 2 pick 7

My Pick: Bristling Boar

Another 4-power creature to go with Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma and Colossal Majesty. Happy to take it over Plummet here.

Pack 2 pick 8

My Pick: Revitalize

Small mistake here. I should have just taken Macabre Waltz in case I get a bunch of free lands in the last pack and want to sideboard it in against a controlling deck. Act of Treason is a fine hate draft here as well, and outside of a league likely what I’d have taken.

Pack 2 pick 9

My Pick: Invoke the Divine

It’s nice to pick up one of the enchantments or artifact removal spells that I opened, but seeing Psychic Symbiont here is insane. I’d strongly consider taking it at a Pro Tour because I don’t like giving opponents cards this powerful on the cheap. It’s likely that no one is U/B because they’d have taken it already but this is a format where splashing is fairly easy so this is the type of spot where you should consider hate drafting when playing in pod.

Pack 2 pick 10

My Pick: Knight’s Pledge

Nothing here for me, and though I’m unlikely to play it I may consider it if I pick up another Vire Mare or some Auras-matter cards.

Pack 2 pick 11

My Pick: Fountain of Renewal

Perfectly happy to play this if I need a playable but not excited about it. It does make me want to consider Trusty Packbeast a little more in the next pack.

Pack 2 pick 12

My Pick: Vampire Neonate

Pack 2 pick 13

My Pick: Abnormal Endurance

Pack 2 pick 14

My Pick: Revitalize

Last Pick: Novice Knight

Not a bad last pick and one I’ll consider playing if I play my Auras or pick up an Equipment.

I’m firmly into G/W at this point.

Pack 3 pick 1

My Pick: Luminous Bonds

I struggled with this pick a lot. Mentor of the Meek is definitely the better card, but at this point in the Draft I have so few cards that even trigger the Mentor, and I’m incentivized to try and take bigger creatures with Colossal Majesty anyways. I’m also short on removal so I take the Luminous Bonds here and I’m really confident I made the correct choice. Pick 1 pack 1 I’d definitely take Mentor of the Meek though.

Pack 3 pick 2

My Pick: Vine Mare

Another Vine Mare means that I can start to strongly consider more Auras in my deck and it’s just great to have another creature that’s impossible to remove with the Colossal Majesty. My deck is shaping up quite nicely now.

Pack 3 pick 3

My Pick: Elvish Rejuvenator

While I have the Woodland Stream and two Vine Mare for the Skyrider Patrol, my curve is a little high. Having an Elvish Rejuvenator can fill the gap in quite nicely as both a creature that can block a cheap 1-toughness creature while also ramping to my big plays. If the circumstances were a little different I’d consider taking the Skyrider Patrol here, but as is I want the Rejuvenator.

Pack 3 pick 4

My Pick: Hieromancer’s Cage

Incredibly late pickup here. Hieromancer’s Cage may make my Cleansing Nova a little worse, but it’s still a premium all-purpose removal spell. Cleansing Nova will definitely still make my deck, but it has gotten a lot worse. It’s still a unique effect in Limited that can swing games.

Pack 3 pick 5

My Pick: Remorseful Cleric

While the activated ability on Remorseful Cleric isn’t super potent in Limited, it’s nice to have a 2-mana 2-drop evasive creature, and my deck is short on 2-drops as is. It’s worth noting that the activated ability isn’t useless as it can counter a Macabre Waltz or the triggered ability of a Salvager of Secrets.

Oakenform is a card my deck could likely play here, but I don’t need to go overboard on making my Vine Mares good. I’d much prefer have a solid deck outside of them and play the two Auras I already have.

Pack 3 pick 6

My Pick: Reclamation Sage

While I don’t necessarily want to main deck Invoke the Divine, I don’t mind main decking Reclamation Sage. There are a ton of random artifacts and enchantments floating around so even just hitting a Thopter token makes Reclamation Sage a playable card. This is a solid pack this late, and I considered taking Gargoyle Sentinel or Elvish Rejuvenator but I think the upside on Reclamation Sage is so high that it’s worth taking here and main decking comfortably.

Pack 3 pick 7

My Pick: Elvish Rejuvenator

Another ramp creature for my high end cards. My deck is turning into quite the nice midrange control deck that can easily play the two 7-drops I played in pack 1. I’m missing Druid of the Cowl as my 2-drops, but I’m pretty pleased with my deck at this point.

Pack 3 pick 8

My Pick: Centaur Courser

Centaur Courser is just a curve filler here, but I like it in this format. It’s hard to brick off Centaur Courser and it blocks a lot of the relatively small ground creatures as well. While Bristling Boar works better with my 4-power matters cards I want to take the Centaur Courser to make sure I’m casting cards before turn 4.

Make a Stand is cute with Cleansing Nova and fine with Vine Mare but I don’t quite think this is the deck for it.

Pack 3 pick 9

My Pick: Rupture Spire

Not going to play it, but it could prevent someone else from splashing and covers more splashes than Foul Orchard.

Pack 3 pick 10

My Pick: Naturalize

Unlikely to play all my copies of this effect but it’s there if I need it.

Pack 3 pick 11

My Pick: Giant Spider

I’m definitely not going to main deck this because I want all of my later plays to be 4-drops, but this is an excellent sideboard card against the common flying creatures of the format. I’ll happily sideboard this in to slow the game down against some Snapping Drakes and such.

Pack 3 pick 12

My Pick: Mighty Leap

A combat trick in case I want one. I really don’t want to play another Oreskos Swiftclaw but may want a Mighty Leap to push the Vine Mares through.

Pack 3 pick 13

My Pick: Daybreak Chaplain

I spent all that time talking about how I could play a Trusty Packbeast if I wanted to, and then didn’t even take the relatively free one. Daybreak Chaplain is a decent creature against aggressive decks that can hold down several small creatures. Since my curve is fairly high I’d much prefer the road block creature here and I’m not planning on playing the Packbeast package anyways. Daybreak Chaplain also wears a Blanchwood Armor well.

Pack 3 pick 14

My Pick: Dwarven Priest

Last Pick: Plains

Here’s the final build of my deck. I ended up playing some mediocre playables like Knight’s Pledge and Daybreak Chaplain but the deck played out well, and I did manage to earn a trophy with this deck. I struggled some with blue decks countering all my big creatures since I had very few ways to get underneath them, but was able to stick a Vine Mare usually and ride it to victory.

My initial impression of Core Set 2019 was it would be a format I rarely played because the Sealed format felt swingy, but after drafting the set I’m having a ton of fun with it and if you are on the fence I highly recommend it.