Battle Box Set Review and Danger Room Update with Core Set 2020

I find Core Sets extremely enjoyable. While I appreciate the weird, wacky twists expansions bring to the table (distinct parallel worlds with unique flavor, feel, and gameplay mechanics), I’m always thrilled to come home and live the Core Set life and in a familiar setting. Even when it’s specifically not Dominaria, it’s basically Dominaria.

Core Set 2020 looks to be a strong Core Set and I’m loving the back-to-fundamentals approach. “Protection From” makes a triumphant return after an extended period of obscurity. I’m also pleased to see an emphasis on narrow, focused, sideboard cards (many classics return as reprints and some powerful new ones as well!) as an acknowledgement that this style of card is a hallmark of what makes the game special.

I’ll also say the uncommons from this release nicely hit the power level I try to build around in my Battle Box, which means this set will impact my stack for years to come.

What is a Battle Box/Danger Room?

If you’re not familiar with “Battle Box,” it’s worth trying out. It’s kind of like a Cube that you don’t need to draft (but you certainly can!) that doesn’t include lands. Instead, players start with 10 lands in exile:

PlainsIslandSwampMountainForestUrborg VolcanoShivan OasisCoastal Tower - FoilSalt MarshElfhame Palace

One of each basic and one of each allied tapped dual land. Each player may play one land from exile as their land drop per turn. Essentially, both players are playing Magic from a deck of pre-selected creatures, artifacts, and spells and have access to equal and balanced mana production each turn.

“The Danger Room” is my personal Battle Box stack that I update with each release and is the first and oldest Battle Box in the world. Today’s article is about the cards I’m most excited to play in the format and how I’m changing my stack to make room for Modern Horizons.

A Danger Room With a Point of View

My take on Battle Box, The Danger Room, aims to facilitate a specific style of gameplay: I want the games to feel like each player is piloting an amazing Limited deck that is packed with the most fun to cast spells imaginable. There are beatdown cards, midrange cards, and control cards all mixed together and since no player can control which cards they are dealt, the style of game you play is shaped by what you draw!

Who’s the beatdown? It could be you, it could be me, and figuring it out is part of the fun and means that no two games are ever quite alike.

I like to think the format encompasses “all of Magic,” but there are some things that don’t translate well and are excluded.

  • Mana Ramping and Land Destruction: the game is predicated on parity of mana and these effects break that mold, are overpowered, and thus excluded.
  • Library Manipulation and Tutoring: Since mana flood and screw are removed, smoothing draws is less important. Tutoring a 600-card deck is broken. The idea is that you make it work with the cards you get and I’ve put a lot of work into making “finding the good cards” less important to playing the game.
  • Busted Bombs: I don’t include Plague Winds, Overruns, or cards that tend to always win the game outright if not immediately answered. A few examples of cards I actively love but have been cut for this reason are: Mistmeadow Witch, Umezawa’s Jitte, Bitterblossom, and Whisperwood Elemental.

Obviously, broken “power level” is a subjective thing and I operate on a “I know it when I see it” premise and that is part of what makes building and tuning a Battle Box so much fun: it can be whatever you want it to be! I encourage players to experiment with their stack (I do) and explore new options to see how they work out. I’ve played Combo Boxes, Control Boxes, Beatdown Boxes, and everything in between. It’s not right vs wrong, but a matter of preference and whether the games are fun to play.

Whether you already know the joy of Battle Box ownership or are thinking about taking one for a test drive, there’s no right or wrong way to have fun when it comes to building a stack and playing some Magic.

Danger Room Metrics

I want all the colors to be relatively equal. In the earliest days of the Battle Box, everybody always played Salt Marsh on turn one because the deck had way more blue and black spells than the other colors and the cards were simply better than the rest.

I limit the size of my stack and the number of cards included from each color, guild, shard and wedge. It’s a fancy way of saying I have the same number of cards of each color.

  • 587 Total Cards
  • 30 Artifacts
  • 75 /each Mono Color (375 total)
  • 15 /each Guild (150 total)
  • 3 /each Shard / Wedge (30 total)
  • 2 WUBRG

In order to make room for new cards, I must cut old ones to make room. Typically, I tend to cut cards that feel too far above or below the power level of an average card. I’ll list the cards I’m cutting and giving a brief reasoning for why the card was replaced with a new card.

Put Me In, Coach! I’m Ready to Play: “The Bench”

I’ve added an innovation to the Danger Room called “The Bench.” The Bench is a collection of about 300 cards ranging from past cards that have been cut, cards that I think are close to making it in the stack but are probably a little too busted, old iconic cards, and even some cards that I think are outright too broken for the stack (but I own a sweet foil copy).

When I sit down to play, I let my opponent look through The Bench Box to see if there is anything in there that strikes their fancy. If so, I let them pick a card of the corresponding color characteristic to make the switch. Mostly, I’ve found players tend to add cards they feel fondly about (or cut a known card they hate), but it’s a fun way to further personalize the gaming experience. Shower of Coals, for instance, has been such a popular Bench card that I put it back main deck! I think people believe they are trolling me by putting it in, but honestly it’s an iconic card of the format and of my stack and that has value as well.

It’s like I always say, “If the cards people complain about being broken in your format are Dragonlair Spider and Shower of Coals,” it sounds like a pretty great format to me!

Danger Room Updates with Core Set 2020

Artifact (30)

No changes with this set. I think the last artifact that had staying power in the Battle Box was Fountain of Renewal. In a format where colored sources are not a constraint, it’s difficult to find colorless spells on par with multicolored spells, which is why artifacts don’t tend to turn over often.

Basilisk Collar
Bloodforged Battle-Axe
Conqueror’s Flail
Crystal Shard
Engineered Explosives
Etched Oracle
Filigree Familiar
Fleetwheel Cruiser
Fountain of Renewal
Hangarback Walker
Icy Manipulator
Lightning Greaves
Loxodon Warhammer
Mask of Memory
Nevinyrral’s Disk
Nihil Spellbomb
Peace Strider
Perilous Vault
Pierce Strider
Power Matrix
Runechanter’s Pike
Scrapheap Scrounger
Serrated Arrows
Smuggler’s Copter
Trip Noose
Walking Ballista
Sylvok Lifestaff

I did swap Sphinx of the Guildpact (it was awful) for Nevinyrral’s Disk.

Mono-Color Spells (375)

I currently have 75 of each mono colored spell.

White (75)

I ended up settling on four white adds from Core Set 2020.


Ancestral Blade


Soulfire Grand Master

I know I just got done saying I never get to add artifacts, and here we are! For my purposes, Ancestral Blade works toward my “white count” since it costs white mana to cast. It’s a great little 2/2 for 1W and I love the cheap cost to move the equipment around with spare mana as the game goes on.


Apostle of Purifying Light



I love, love, love incidental graveyard hate in this format. I don’t push graveyard synergies too hard, in large part because they are so difficult to combat without diluting the deck with Headstones and Cremates that take spots from more interesting cards. I misread Vesperlark on the spoiler and so it’s an easy card to cut here.


Hanged Executioner


Tithe Taker

Hanged Executioner is a nice utility card. Two bodies, evasion, and a quality removal spell built into the mix. Also, great flavor! Tithe Taker has been a weak card and I didn’t like the way the taxing ability played in the format.


Loxodon Lifechanter


Commander Eesha

Loxodon Lifechanter is a sweet card. I love the flavor and I’ve always been a big fan of the big life gain effects and I think this will be a powerful one. I like the way the 10-land total makes it impossible to pump him with the ETB ability on the stack. I’m sad to see Commander Eesha retired, but to be fair the card’s value tends to range from “bad to mediocre, but passable.” She’s been a staple since the first box and I’m sure she’ll get some bench play from time to time on flavor alone!

Adanto Vanguard
Adorned Pouncer
Akroma’s Vengeance
Ancestral Blade
Angel of Finality
Angel of Sanctions
Apostle of Purifying Light
Austere Command
Azorius Herald
Belfry Spirit
Blade Splicer
Cleansing Nova
Cloudgoat Ranger
Collective Effort
Dauntless Bodyguard
Dawn Charm
Day of Judgment
Declaration in Stone
Dragon Hunter
End Hostilities
Exalted Angel
Final Judgment
Geist-Honored Monk
Giver of Runes
Glorious Anthem
Glory-Bound Initiate
Hallowed Burial
Hanged Executioner
Hero of Precinct One
Hidden Dragonslayer
Imposing Sovereign
Inspiring Cleric
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Karmic Guide
Kinjalli’s Sunwing
Kirtar’s Wrath
Knight of Dawn
Lingering Souls
Loxodon Lifestealer
Mardu Woe-Reaper
Martyr of Dusk
Ministrant of Obligation
Moment of Triumph
Momentary Blink
Mother of Runes
Phyrexian Rebirth
Regal Caracal
Remorseful Cleric
Restoration Angel
Righteous Confluence
Scout’s Warning
Selfless Spirit
Selfless Squire
Shrieking Grotesque
Skymarcher Aspirant
Soldier of the Pantheon
Spear of Heliod
Spectral Lynx
Sunscape Battlemage
Suture Priest
Swords to Plowshares
The Wanderer
Thraben Inspector
Trueheart Duelist
Valorous Stance
Venerated Loxodon
Wall of Omens
Wing Shards
Wrath of God

I considered adding but decided against Brought Back. While I do think this is a sweet card and very powerful, like Heroic Intervention I imagine that in most cases it probably just steals the game. If others are trying it out let me know how it plays. I’ll probably put a copy on the Bench.

Blue (75)

While artifacts are the rarest Danger Room finds, it turns out that generic blue cards are not far behind! Blue cards from 10+ years ago are powered at a similar level to the other colors today and a high percentage of ‘good’ blue cards tend to manipulate the deck, which I’m against. I did find a couple of traditional-feeling blue cards to add to my stack.


Cerulean Drake


Allied Strategies

Cerulean Drake is very good card. It has evasion, but Protection from Red makes it immune from the types of spells that tend to be good against 1-toughness cards, such as pingers and scatter damage like Forked Bolt. The fact that it protects you from a burn spell to the face when your life total is running low is grand, and I’d be happy to sacrifice it to protect an important piece of my strategy from a timely Thoughtseize.

I decided to move Allied Strategies to The Bench. It’s often awkward when you prioritize getting tapped lands into play early and you’re looking at a five-mana, draw 2-3. It basically shines as an unbeatable late game topdeck and because the card tends to feel ‘uninteresting,’ it has been phased out.


Cloudkin Seer



Cloudkin Seer is a nice, basic creature at a good rate. I like cantrips and so do most players. Quench is fairly unexciting and was basically just begging to be cut.


Spectral Sailor


Mystic Archaeologist

Spectral Sailor is a more interesting version of the card I’m cutting to make room for it. Flying Men have come a long way since Arabian Nights!

Aeon Chronicler
Allied Strategies
Ancestral Vision
Angler Drake
Aven Eternal
Blue Elemental Blast
Careful Consideration
Cephalid Sage
Champion of Wits
Chart a Course
Circular Logic
Cloudkin Seer
Commence the Endgame
Control Magic
Deep Analysis
Delver of Secrets
Dream Eater
Dungeon Geists
Evasive Action
Fact or Fiction
False Summoning
Harbinger of the Tides
Jace’s Phantasm
Jolting Merfolk
Looter il-Kor
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Merfolk Looter
Narset’s Reversal
Nimble Obstructionist
Neutralizing Blast
Phantasmal Image
Power Sink
Rain of Revelation
Remove Soul
Riddlemaster Sphinx
Secrets of the Golden City
Serendib Efreet
Snapcaster Mage
Spectral Sailor
Steal Artifact
Stolen Identity
Stratus Dancer
Sun Ce, Young Conquerer
Talrand’s Invocation
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Warkite Marauder
Whirler Rogue

I’m a big fan of Aether Gust existing, but chose not to include it in my stack because it interferes with my rule against manipulating the top and bottom of the stack.

Aether Gust

Easily one of my favorite cards in the set, but I decided not to make an exception to include it. On the other hand, this card would be amazing in a Battle Box where putting an opponent’s cards on top is encouraged. For instance, my Old School Battle Box allows cards like Brainstorm and Conch Horn to stick opponent’s with the cards you don’t want. I’ll top that Fireball you just cast, draw it, and cast it against you!

Black (75)

No changes. I was surprised because it always seems like I want to add a half-dozen black cards with each new release! There were multiple cards that felt sweet but were simply ‘too much,’ in terms of power level, and one other that felt like a close fit but was likely worse and less interesting than any single card I could have cut.

Bane of the Living
Big Game Hunter
Bloodsoaked Champion
Bone Shredder
Cast Down
Chainer’s Edict
Coffin Queen
Collective Brutality
Consuming Vapors
Crypt Angel
Dakmor Lancer
Dance of the Dead
Dark Hatchling
Doom Blade
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Dread Wanderer
Dusk Legion Zealot
Entomber Exarch
Eternal Taskmaster
Fatal Push
Flesh Carver
Ghastly Demise
Go for the Throat
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Hero’s Downfall
Inner Demon
Inquisition of Kozilek
Keening Banshee
Knight of Infamy
Knight of Malice
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Lay Bare the Heart
Lifebane Zombie
Midnight Reaper
Moment of Craving
Murderous Cut
Never // Return
Noxious Gearhulk
Night’s Whisper
Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty
Orzhov Enforcer
Phyrexian Gargantua
Phyrexian Rager
Plague Mare
Ransack the Lab
Ravenous Chupacabra
Rend Flesh
Ritual of the Machine
Sever the Bloodline
Skeletal Vampire
Sling-Gang Lieutenant
Ransack the Lab
Sudden Death
The Eldest Reborn
Tragic Slip
Transgress the Mind
Unburial Rites
Undying Evil
Vampire Nighthawk
Withered Wretch
Wretched Confluence

Here are the cards I considered:

Rotting RegisaurEmbodiment of AgoniesCavalier of Night - Foil

All three of these are sweet designs but all seem a little bit much for my stack. Inversely, Bloodthirsty Aerialist isn’t good enough; a three-mana 2/3 flier with inconsistent upside just isn’t going to get the job done these days!

Red (75)

I only found one red card that I was excited to add to my stack:


Glint-Horn Buccaneer


Young Pyromancer

Glint-Horn Buccaneer is a real nice card. Great stats and speed and useful on offense or defense. I love the incidental damage clause for discarding and reasonably costed looting effects are always good in the Danger Room. I can’t wait to see somebody assemble the burnout kill with Wild Mongrel or Noose Constrictor. It’s also worth noting this scales to hit all opponents in multiplayer. I know it may seem jarring to see Young Pyromancer cut from the stack because it’s an iconic Constructed card, but it’s pretty bad in the Danger Room. The stack isn’t built around cheap cantrips as a payoff for playing the card, and the Elementals (if you’re lucky enough to get a couple!) are not particularly good in combat.

Abbot of Keral Keep
Arc Lightning
Barbed Lightning
Beetleback Chief
Brute Force
Burst Lightning
Chain Lightning
Collective Defiance
Conquering Manticore
Cunning Sparkmage
Deem Worthy
Desolation Giant
Dire Fleet Daredevil
Dualcaster Mage
Earthshaker Khenra
Faithless Looting
Feldon of the Third Path
Fiery Confluence
Fight with Fire
Fire Imp
Flames of the Firebrand
Flame Slash
Flametongue Kavu
Fledgling Dragon
Forked Bolt
Frenzied Fugue
Glint-Horn Buccaneer
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Goblin War Party
Grim Lavamancer
Hordeling Outburst
Hungry Flames
Incendiary Flow
Kird Ape
Krenko, Mob Boss
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
Lava Coil
Legion Warboss
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Strike
Mindclaw Shaman
Pardic Arsonist
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pia Nalaar
Pillar of Flame
Punishing Fire
Rampaging Ferocidon
Red Elemental Blast
Resounding Thunder
Rix Maadi Reveler
Searing Spear
Seasoned Pyromancer
Shower of Coals
Siege-Gang Commander
Skewer the Critics
Slice and Dice
Smoldering Werewolf
Temur Battle Rage
Thunderbreak Regent
Thunderscape Battlemage
Tribal Flames
Vulshok Sorcerer
Warfire Javelineer
Zurgo Bellstriker

Green (75)

It’s the second set in a row where I think green got the best and most interesting cards for Battle Box. I’m looking forward to playing with all three of these spells in my Danger Room:


Nightpack Ambusher


Somberwald Stag

I love big flashy blockers as well as the flavor Nightpack Ambusher brings to the table. It has an obvious Mayor of Avabruk feel to it.


Shifting Ceratops


Biogenic Ooze

I’m a huge fan of the Dinosaur tribe and this is a pretty good one! It’s a nice card to have in your hand when it looks like the opponent is representing Counterspell mana, and in addition to being uncounterable it has a range of nice stats and abilities. I ended up cutting Biogenic Ooze because it felt like a ‘blah’ powerful bomb. While that is probably a fair way to describe an amorphous blob of Mythic Rare, I don’t think it will be missed.


Veil of Summer


Elvish Fury

I’m just upgrading a fairly medium ‘tricky card’ for a much more powerful and useful one. Veil of Summer is extremely good, and it’s going to see a ton of Constructed play. It is the card from this set I think is most likely to move to the Bench as a result of being ‘too good.’ It’s almost always going to trade up on mana and net a card. It feels like a tailor-made, one-mana blow out. I specifically want more cards like this in my stack, but this one might be too much of a good thing!

For the record, I would have named this card “Harvest’s Veil,” since the card is a functional reprint of Autumn’s Veil with “draw a card” tacked on and the Harvest implies the +1 card bounty rather than just insert random formulaic “season + veil = sideboard card.”

Ana Battlemage
Arborback Stomper
Autumn’s Veil
Avoid Fate
Basking Rootwalla
Benefactor’s Draught
Blossoming Defense
Call of the Herd
Caller of the Claw
Deathmist Raptor
Deathgorge Scavenger
Deep Forest Hermit
Den Protector
Earl of Squirrel
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Flinthoof Boar
Forgotten Ancient
Gaea’s Might
Giant Growth
Hooded Hydra
Imperious Perfect
Kessig Prowler
Kraul Harpooner
Loaming Shaman
Master of the Wild Hunt
Mitotic Slime
Mother Bear
Mouth // Feed
Nightpack Ambusher
Noose Constrictor
Obstinate Baloth
Ohran Viper
Patagia Viper
Pelakka Wurm
Pelt Collector
Phantom Centaur
Polukranos, World Eater
Predator’s Strike
Qasali Slingers
Ranger’s Guile
Reclamation Sage
Resilient Khenra
Ridgescale Tusker
Ripjaw Raptor
River Boa
Scavenging Ooze
Shifting Ceratops
Skyshroud Elite
Skyshroud War Beast
Spider Spawning
Stingerfling Spider
Sunblade Elf
Thorn Lieutenant
Thornscape Apprentice
Thornscape Battlemage
Thrashing Brontodon
Veil of Summer
Wall of Blossoms
Weather the Storm
Wild Mongrel
Wild Nacatl
Withstand Death
Wolfir Avenger

I considered adding Ferocious Pup because it’s a cool design, but ultimately I don’t think it’s quite good enough to make the cut.

Ferocious Pup

Besides, what kind of a deranged person wants to chump block with puppies? I imagine a grumpy cat Green mage summoning puppies and throwing them underneath a Juggernaut. What’s next? 0/1 Orphans, Innocent Bystanders, or Endangered Baby Seals? I get both the card and the token share a type and have utility in a deck that is going to pump them with Lords but I just thought it was a bizarre flavor moment.

Multicolor Guild Spells – 150

Azorius (U/W – 15)

No changes.

Deputy of Detention
Dovin’s Acuity
Dovin’s Veto
Elite Guardmage
Hindering Light
Ojutai’s Command
Ordered Migration
Reflector Mage
Senate Guildmage
Sphinx’s Insight
Supreme Verdict
Wall of Denial

Boros (R/W – 15)

No changes.

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
Basandra, Battle Seraph
Boros Charm
Boros Guildmage
Boros Reckoner
Deafening Clarion
Feather, the Redeemed
Foundry Champion
Heroic Reinforcements
Integrity // Intervention
Justice Strike
Lightning Helix
Nahiri, Storm of Stone
Tajic, Legion’s Edge
Warleader’s Helix

Dimir (U/B – 15)

No changes.

Baleful Strix
Connive // Concoct
Dragonlord Silumgar
Enter the God-Eternals
Far // Away
Hostage Taker
Psychic Symbiont
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Soul Diviner
Soul Manipulation
Spite // Malice
Thief of Sanity
Thought Erasure

Golgari (G/B – 15)

No changes.

Abrupt Decay
Baloth Null
Consume Strength
Find // Finality
Golgari Findbroker
Golgari Guildmage
Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
Lotleth Troll
Maelstrom Pulse
Pernicious Deed
Slimefoot, the Stowaway
Status // Statue
Storrev, Devkarin Lich

Gruul (R/G – 15)

No changes.

Assault // Battery
Bloodbraid Elf
Collision // Colossus
Dragonlair Spider
Fires of Yavimaya
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Ground Assault
Gruul Spellbreaker
Huntmaster of the Fells
Raging Regisaur
Reap the Past
Rhythm of the Wild
Thrash // Threat
Wort, the Raidmother
Zhur-Taa Goblin

Izzet (U/R – 15)

No changes.

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
Beacon Bolt
Crackling Drake
Dack’s Duplicate
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
Fire // Ice
Izzet Charm
Prophetic Prism
Ral’s Outburst
Storm Fleet Sprinter
Turn // Burn

Orzhov (B/W – 15)


Corpse Knight


Basilica Bell-Haunt

Corpse Knight is a pretty sweet Battle Box two-drop that I’m happy to try out. I decided to cut Bell-Haunt because it was just a little bit too difficult to cast for the impact it provides in the game.

Blind Hunter
Consecrate // Consume
Corpse Knight
Cruel Celebrant
Death Grasp
Elenda, The Dusk Rose
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Imperious Oligarch
Karlov of the Ghost Council
Kaya’s Guile
Orzhov Pontiff
Sin Collector
Zealous Persecution

Rakdos (R/B – 15)

No changes.

Bituminous Blast
Carnival // Carnage
Claim // Fame
Cut // Ribbons
Judith, the Scourge Diva
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Skelemental
Munitions Expert
Murderous Redcap
Olivia, Mobilized for War
Unlicensed Disintegration

Selesnya (W/G) – 15


Ironroot Warlord


Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

Selesnya is the most difficult guild to get into in the Danger Room by a wide margin. All of the cards are insanely awesome and there is a waitlist wrapped around the building. With that being said, Ironroot Warlord might be my absolute favorite new card for the format in the entire set. Not only is it very good, but it has great flavor drawing on the five toughness of Ironroot Treefolk. I love that it’s a “warlord” that doesn’t crumble and die to Pyroclasm or Infest effects (since the creatures in play only boosts the power of the card). It’s a reasonable card to play onto a board when the opponent has been killing your potential blockers.

Advent of the Wurm
Assure // Assemble
Dromoka’s Command
Elderwood Scion
Enlisted Wurm
Ironroot Warlord
Kitchen Finks
Knight of Autumn
Loxodon Hierarch
Loxodon Smiter
Mystic Enforcer
Pledge of Unity
Selesnya Charm
Trostani Discordant
Voice of Resurgence

Simic (U/G – 15)

No changes.

Aether Mutation
Ethereal Ambush
Frilled Mystic
Horizon Chimera
Icefeather Aven
Incubation // Incongruity
Jungle Barrier
Merfolk Skydiver
Mystic Snake
Plaxcaster Frogling
River Hoopoe
Roalesk, Apex Hybrid
Shardless Agent
Simic Charm
Zegana, Utopian Speaker

The Rest of the Multicolor

Abzan (G/W/B) – 3

Abzan Charm
Anafenza, the Foremost
Doran, the Siege Tower

Bant (W/U/G) – 3

Arcades, the Strategist
Bant Charm
Rubinia Soulsinger

Esper (U/W/B) – 3

Dromar’s Charm
Punish Ignorance
Trial // Error

Grixis (U/R/B) – 3

Dark Intimations
Gwendlyn Di Corci
Slave of Bolas

Jeskai (U/W/R) – 3

Lightning Angel
Mantis Rider
Sage of the Inward Eye

Jund (R/B/G) – 3

Darigaaz’s Charm
Jund Charm
Sprouting Thrinax

Mardu (B/W/R) – 3


Kaalia, Zenith Seeker


Ponyback Brigade

A pretty clear upgrade to Ponyback Brigade here. A 3/3 vigilance, flier with potential upside is a great rate. There are not a ton of Angels, Demons, and Dragons in the stack, but there are some. Even if it only finds a card a small portion of the time, it’s still a decent inclusion in the stack.

Crackling Doom
Kaalia, Zenith Seeker
Mardu Charm

Naya (R/W/G) – 3

Fiery Justice
Marath, Will of the Wild
Woolly Thoctar

Sultai (B/U/G) – 3

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Sultai Charm
The Mimeoplasm

Temur (R/U/G) – 3

Savage Knuckleblade
Temur Ascendancy
Temur Charm

Five-Color – 2

Fusion Elemental
The First Sliver

Top 8 Battle Box Additions from Core Set 2020

My impression is that Core Set 2020 is a solid set for Battle Box / Danger Room staples. It’s fairly average for the pure number of additions, but I think the majority of the cards I’m adding are likely to stick for a while and several of them feel extremely solid.

Here’s my Top 8.

I’ve got Glint-Horn Buccaneer as my favorite card because it exceeds and defies my expectation of what a red card looks like, while also feeling like a very, very red card. I’ve often complained that red has the least diverse and interesting design when it comes to finding Battle Box staples: burn spells, Goblin tokens and Dragons, and then it drops off quickly. The red cards that break from the generic mold are always so much fun to play! A hasty 2/4 for 3 with a static ability that rewards discarding and a conditional looting ability I have to work for? More of this please!


Overall, I’m a big fan of Core Set 2020. I like the direction and the flavor and there is a significant crop of cards that I would purposefully select to play with on my own time for fun removed from the context of what “is” or “isn’t” Constructed playable, which is at the “Core” what Battle Boxing is all about!

Scroll to Top