Other Core Set 2020 Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) 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.)
I can see a world where Audacious Thief out of the sideboard is a decent plan in a control deck, though Tomebound Lich likely does that job but better.
Blightbeetle would be a lot better if it could prevent Nissa from putting counters on lands, but because Nissa puts the counters on and then makes the lands a creature, the Beetle doesn’t stop that. Unfortunately for Beetle fans, that takes away a ton of the value Beetle has, and this is relegated to stopping aggressive green decks that can’t remove Beetle (aka, nothing right now).
Blood for Bones
There are some cool possibilities with this, especially if you sac something like a Jadelight Ranger and put a monster into play plus re-draw the Jadelight. It takes a fair amount to set up, but there is a powerful reward.
Cavalier of Night
I had high hopes for this bad boy, but it’s firmly losing the race to Cavalier of Thorns at this point. What you need to make Cavalier successful is a deck with a lot of cheap creatures, and ideally ones that provide value leaving or entering. Given that, I think there is a real opportunity for Cavalier to be good, especially if there are good targets to destroy.
I love having Disfigure around. Good, cheap removal is hard to find, and Disfigure interacts well with the aggro decks in the format. This will see more sideboard than main deck play and is a good option either way.
Dread Presence is a legit Swamp payoff. Playing this on turn five and immediately killing a creature and gaining 2 is good against Aggro, and doing the same except drawing a card is good against control. The drawback of having to play a ton of Swamps is real, though the power here is worth it. There is also the combo with Scapeshift, which is pretty cute too.
Much like Negate, Duress is the perfect sideboard card.
Embodiment of Agonies
This isn’t quite worth playing a Singleton deck in order to enable, but in a deck that fills its graveyard quickly maybe this comes in as a 5/5 or more. It’s a bit too slow, sadly, but this is still cool text.
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Knight is a beating. This a very aggressive 1-drop with plenty of synergies going too. By itself, it attacks unchecked for most of the game, and if you have nothing better to do, pumping lets it hit for more and get a +1/+1 counter. It also is a Vampire, which is an extremely relevant creature type right now, and it even combos with Adanto Vanguard (if you pay 4 life it still gets a counter). Knight of the Ebon Legion is a mainstay in Vampires and will show up in many aggro decks during its run in Standard.
Legion’s End is a cute way to get rid of tokens, and sure does snipe Growth-Chamber Guardian nicely. If there are a lot of good targets running around, this is powerful enough to reward you for playing it.
Leyline of the Void
This rating is largely for older formats, where Leyline is an all-star sideboard card. I doubt it’ll be necessary in Standard, as graveyard synergies aren’t that out of control.
Murder is a solid removal spell that doesn’t ask a whole lot of you. This will see play but will never be amazing.
I like Grasp a lot as a sideboard card. It hits a ton of good cards in Standard (Nissa, Hydroid Krasis, Cavalier of Thorns, anything in White Weenie, Hero of Precinct One), and the extra life does matter. Flexible sideboard cards are great, and this one will see plenty of use.
Regis here has already made a big impact in Jund Dinos, as giving this haste leads to tons and tons of damage. I also like this in a low-curve black aggro deck, as the drawback stops when you run out of cards. Regisaur has a ton of stats and a low cost, which is a recipe for success.
Two-Headed Giant: 5.0
As someone who isn’t the biggest Imperial Seal fan, playing a version that also gives the opponent a free tutor isn’t high on my list. For this to be good, you need it to fill out a combo, and draw the card before the opponent. That isn’t impossible in older formats, but it’s a lot of work when you could just cast Preordain or Serum Visions.
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Sorin is the real deal. He’s a very focused planeswalker, as none of the abilities really work without Vampires, but this tribe has really come together. The addition of Sorin and Knight of the Ebon Legion was huge, and that plus Ixalan makes an incredible deck. Sorin gives you lifelink and grows your Vamps, or lets you toss Vamps at the opponent (and this ability being a +1 is amazing), and the -3 isn’t bad either. Dumping a Champion of Dusk or Vona in ahead of schedule is quite good, making Sorin a cheap planeswalker with three good abilities. That’s what all-stars are made of, and even though Sorin is a one-deck kind of card, he’s so good in that deck that he deserves a high rating.
I’m ravenous for value, and Yarok’s Fenlurker gives you plenty of it. A chump blocker that eats a card is good for two mana, and later in the game this can become a relevant threat. That is exactly what I’m looking for, and a tempting addition to any deck that can get BB early.
Top 3 Black Cards
Wow, black got the hookup. Sorin is a huge addition, and that plus Knight has made Vamps into a serious contender. Disfigure is also a less flashy but still important addition, and there are plenty of other goodies scattered around too.