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.)
Ajani, Strength of the Pride
Ajani does well when you have a full board and want to gain life and can put multiple threats into play against an empty board. That’s a good combination and makes this planeswalker a legit card against both aggro and control decks. Where it lacks is midrange, and Standard is dominated by midrange decks, so I’d expect to see more Ajanis if the format speeds up or slows down.
Apostle of Purifying Light
Besides Vampires, there aren’t many black aggro decks running around right now, and that’s where this card really shines. It acts as mediocre graveyard hate, but unless you expect to be attacked by a lot of 2/2 black creatures, you can do better with your sideboard slots.
Bishop of Wings
In a dedicated Angel deck, this does actually have wings (wait, did the Red Bull sponsorship come with card naming rights?). Bishop drops the hammer against aggro, as it gains a ton of life and is a 1/4, and even offers a little protection against sweepers out of control decks. The biggest drawback here is that it requires some hefty deckbuilding costs, though if you pay them, it can deliver.
This was one of the most exciting cards for Modern when it was first spoiled, though I believe the hype has faded some. The main combo seems to be getting back two fetch lands, with other permanent types being a possibility as well. That seems a tad slow for Modern, though this is cheap enough that it should be on your radar.
Cavalier of Dawn
I’m not exactly sure where Cavalier of Dawn is supposed to fit, but it is a powerful card. A big monster that casts Beast Within (or I suppose Generous Gift at this point) is a good starting point, and if you do the work to make the death trigger relevant than this is a very good deal.
All the Cavaliers are powerful and reward the right deckbuilding, even if that deckbuilding can be tricky. Cavalier of Dawn in particular has a high ceiling, and getting full value from it is the challenge.
I like Devout Decree as a sideboard card and expect it to be a reliable way to answer red/black aggro or midrange as long as the format has enough of those decks.
Truth be told, Disenchant isn’t as good as it was in Alpha, but being relevant after 26 years is still impressive. If you need artifacts or enchantments to die, this does the trick.
This is like a mono-white Despark, though it does have the extra feature of banishing God-Eternals to the shadow realm. That’s a real benefit, and white decks may look to this as backup removal.
Fencing Ace’s wheelhouse is silly combo decks, and I’m sure there are plenty of people itching to load this up with auras and pump spells. I won’t be one of them, but I do acknowledge the possibility.
Gods Willing is an extremely high rate way to dodge removal, and it happens to fit neatly into the Feather deck. This will punish control plenty during its run, and if you have good creatures to protect, Gods Willing is a great option.
You could do a lot worse than two fliers for three mana, especially when one of those fliers has a bonus ability. This will mostly show up in fliers-based decks but is good enough value that it can easily pass without too many additional synergies.
Leyline of Sanctity
Leyline of Sanctity is a decent sideboard card in Modern, though I’d recommend against Standard usage. Yes, it can annoy Mono-Red, but they often kill with creatures anyways and if you don’t have this in your opening hand it is a horrendous draw.
I’m not super high on Cleansing, but it does wipe the board of anything but animated Nissa lands. That’s a powerful sweeper, and worth keeping in mind if you are building control decks.
Raise the Alarm
Tokens decks often end up leaning on Raise the Alarm in Standard, as it is an efficient way to build your board. On its face, this isn’t quite good enough, but it doesn’t take too many synergies to get there.
Rule of Law
Rule of Law continues to be a decent Modern option if you fear combo, and likely won’t see any Standard play.
Sephara, Sky’s Blade
I like Sephara as a build-around, though her weakness to removal is definitely an issue. Against some decks, she does just win the game if you turbo her out, so if Gruul and Mono-Red are big, Sephara may be worth going for.
I’m not sure exactly where Starfield Mystic is supposed to fit. It is a combination of powerful abilities, so there may be a Legacy or Modern brew that uses the cost reduction to good effect.
Top 3 White Cards
1. Gods Willing
White is definitely not the winner of Core Set 2020, as it only got one real staple and a lot of speculative cards. It’s still got a ton of good Standard decks representing it, but M20 isn’t ushering in a new era here.