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Core Set 2019 Set Reviews (Click to expand)

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Before I introduce the grading scale, I offer the usual caveat—the grades don’t tell the whole story, and what I write about each card provides context.

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind SculptorTarmogoyfSnapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s ProdigyCollected CompanyRemand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace BelerenRadiant FlamesShambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of ThoughtZulaport CutthroatExplosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory AdeptAnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalizeDuress.) 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.)

Disdainful Stroke

Constructed: 2.5

I like having this card around. It’s a situational counterspell, and we are kind of counterspell-rich right now, but it’s cheap and splashable, making it a solid sideboard option for a variety of decks.

Dream Eater

Constructed: 3.0

This will be eating plenty of dreams during its time in Standard. 6 mana is a lot in Constructed, but this gives you so much for your mana that it’s definitely going to see play. It’s big enough to trade (or in rare cases, ambush) attacking creatures, it hits hard enough to threaten opposing planeswalkers, it can bounce any threat, and surveil 4 means that you are hitting action your next turn. The rotation of Torrential Gearhulk gives Dream Eater an opportunity, and it’s going to devour it with glee.

Mission Briefing

Constructed: 2.5

Mission Briefing is no Snapcaster Mage, but it’s still got potential. Instead of a 2/1, you get surveil 2, which can also find you a better target than when you first play this. For decks that can’t make use of the 2/1 all that well, it has real upside, and I’ve seen this in Taking Turns in Modern for that reason. Another key difference between this and Snapcaster Mage is that Snapcaster Mage isn’t legal in Standard, and Mission Briefing is. Even if this is worse, there’s a lot of room below Snapcaster, so this could very well see play in spell-heavy decks. You’re paying a bit of a premium to replay a spell, but between the surveil and the flexibility (this can be removal, card draw, a counterspell, whatever), this is an interesting option. I like Mission Briefing, and can see this one overperforming.

Murmuring Mystic

Constructed: 2.0

Young Flyromancer here is a bit expensive for my taste, but does make one of the better tokens we’ve seen. I like the idea of this out of the board in a spell deck, as it can catch opponents off-guard once they board out removal. Plus, it is a 1/5, so some decks won’t be able to kill it even if they wanted to.

Narcomoeba

Constructed: 2.5 (Standard) // 3.5 (Eternal formats)

This doesn’t actually change older formats because it was already legal (and a crucial part of Dredge decks). For Standard, Narcomoeba offers some cool options in a surveil-heavy deck, and I’m excited to see if there are enough self-mill payoffs to have that be a real deck. Arclight Phoenix, Narcomoeba, and Creeping Chill may just be sufficient.

Quasiduplicate

Constructed: 2.0

More like quasi-playable. Getting to jump-start your clone is pretty appealing, but only being able to target your side of the board is a big downside. I’d need to see a heavy blue deck that reliably sticks threats to make this good.

Sinister Sabotage

Constructed: 3.5

Dissolve but better is a huge win for control decks in Standard. This is definitely worth 3 mana, and will become a 4-of in a ton of different decks (if not different strategies). Teferi has some new friends, and this one is among the best of them.

Thoughtbound Phantasm

Constructed: 2.0

I don’t know if the surveil deck is going to be real, but if so, this looks like a good addition. It’s a good defender when you need that, and starts attacking about the time you’d want to go on the offense anyways.

Top 3 Blue Cards

3. Mission Briefing
2. Dream Eater
1. Sinister Sabotage

Blue got some hits here. Both Sabotage and Dream Eater are great for control decks, and Mission Briefing offers new possibilities even in older formats. Don’t put down those Teferis just yet.