Other LSV Core Set 2020 Limited Set Reviews:
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Skarrgan Hellkite. Ethereal Absolution.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Thief of Sanity. Judith, the Scourge Diva. Experimental Frenzy.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Gate Colossus. Mortify. Biomancer’s Familiar.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Blade Juggler. Skewer the Critics. Skyknight Legionnaire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Sauroform Hybrid. Watcher in the Mist. Wojek Bodyguard.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Ornery Goblin. Syndicate Messenger. Plague Wight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Radical Idea. Noxious Groodion. Ghor-Clan Wrecker.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Wall of Mist. Axebane Beast.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Feral Maaka. Knight of Sorrows. Prying Eyes.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Expose to Daylight. Persistent Petitioners.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Font of Agonies. One with Nothing.)
Corpse Knight is a solid beater that pressures the opponent even if it isn’t attacking, and gives tokens decks some extra reach. Imagine how busted this would be as a 2/3?
Limited: 3.0 // 3.5
By itself, Creeping Trailblazer is a fine card. Its pump ability gives it a minimum of +1/+1, and it’s a 2-drop that can grow a little later. Where it gets really good is in the heavy Elemental deck, as it both pumps other Elementals and becomes a massive threat itself, making it a card I’m happy speculating on early.
Empyrean Eagle is the best reason to be U/W Fliers, as it’s an efficient beater that can provide a lot of stats if it sticks around. This is exactly what the fliers deck wants to be doing, and I’d take this as a sign that the deck is a good place to be.
You don’t need to be a token deck for the Warlord to be great, as it’s going to be plenty large even without trying. The activated ability is nice too, as it’s a fallback if you ever run out of things to do. I like Ironroot Warlord, and would be happy splashing it.
Kaalia, Zenith Seeker
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
This applies to all of the 3-color legends:
The casting costs here are difficult enough that you can’t evaluate the cards as if they are a 3-mana 3/3 flier or a 3-mana 3/4. You are looking to play these around turn 5-6 (or later), so any that are efficiently costed (like Kaalia) lose a lot of their luster. They are also risky early picks, and only a few are worth jumping into without knowing where you are going to end up.
On to Kaalia. I don’t imagine you’ll have many of the types she seeks, which makes me pretty low on her. She’s hard to cast, really just a 3/3 flying vigilance creature, and not worth splashing unless your fixing is awesome.
Kethis, the Hidden Hand
Like Kaalia, I wouldn’t play Kethis unless you had perfect 3-color mana, which isn’t likely. His ability is essentially blank in Limited.
Kykar, Wind’s Fury
Kykar, on the other hand, provides a lot of value if it lives, and note that it triggers off any noncreature spell, not just instants or sorceries. That makes this a powerful enough card to splash in blue-red or white-blue, and a solid build-around.
BZZZT. Stormkin comes down early and hits immediately, making it a great way to pressure the opponent and a card that will often deal 6-8 damage without trouble. Plus, it’s even an Elemental, which blue-red is a fan of.
Limited: 1.5 // 3.5
In a slow deck or one without creatures, I’d leave this to the mold. In a deck with lots of creatures and token-making, plus maybe a few sacrifice outlets, it becomes a dominating card. It gives you an entire gameplan by itself, and makes the opponent have to jump through hoops to make good attacks.
Ogre Siegebreaker doesn’t feel like a gold signpost uncommon to me, but it is a card I’m fine playing if I’m red/black. The ability is expensive, and you usually traded a card already to get damage on their creatures, so it’s not like you’re going to run away with the game. The stats are fine, and ultimately what makes this playable.
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
Omnath is a fantastic splash card. It’s in a 3-color archetype that has a ton of support, and has two very powerful abilities. It will often eat something when it comes down, and getting counters plus making lands 8+ cycle is insane. Omanth is making waves in Constructed and is something I’d be very happy picking early in Limited.
I love Risen Reef, as does everyone else. It’s just so fun, and extremely powerful to boot. I’d look to maximize my number of Elementals, especially with cards that make multiple tokens, but I’m also just playing this in any blue-green deck as a value creature.
While Skyknight Vanguard may get through most of the time, the Soldier coming in attacking is mostly a disadvantage. Unless you have a lot of removal or tricks, the opponent will usually eat the Soldier for free, making this a powerful but inconsistent card.
This may love books more than I do, and I love books. Tomebound Lich is a great play at any stage of the game, as it cycles through your cards (including one immediately) and can take down anything in combat.
Yarok, the Desecrated
Yarok is a decent splash, as a 3/5 with deathtouch and lifelink has a big impact on the board. If your mana is good enough (3+ free sources), I’d play Yarok without any ETB abilities, and once you have a couple good creatures with ETB abilities, Yarok’s value goes up meaningfully.
Much like 2019 Josh Utter-Leyton, Anvilwrought Raptor can win games but isn’t my first pick. It gets a little mileage from the flier build-arounds, but is expensive enough that I’d default to not playing it.
Bag of Holding
Bag of Holding is insanely good flavor, as it’s the perfect top-down from the Dungeons and Dragons item of the same name. This is a good way to grind out a long game, and sometimes even protects you against Mind Rot or Duress. Bag of Holding is cheap enough that I’d even play it in fast decks, as it’s a fine fallback plan for when you need to close out the game.
Colossus Hammer is super expensive, and instead of granting evasion it actually removes it. That makes me wary about playing it, and would only play this if I had multiple Renowned Weaponsmiths to pay for the cost.
If your deck is about 2/3 of the same color, Diamond Knight is a fine option. It takes two spells to break even and three to get an advantage, making it a poor topdeck and overall a card I’m not looking to bet on.
Paying five mana to draw three cards is passable, but not exciting, and this is so much worse than that. Keep the box closed, no matter what combos you may have with it.
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
I like Golos as an early pick. It’s big and gives you an extra land, and that land doesn’t even have to be a basic. It also pushes you towards a 3-color deck, and once you’re there, I don’t mind playing an extra basic / dual in order to be able to produce all five colors. If you activate Golos, you will win the game in very short order.
This stops maybe 2-3 cards in the entire set, if that. Do not play it.
I mostly like the Bow as a sideboard card against 1-toughness creatures, though it gains a little utility from Renowned Weaponsmith. Note that the templating is weird, and this is sadly not a combo with deathtouch creatures.
Icon of Ancestry
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
Once you have 6-7 creatures of the same time (likely Elementals), Icon becomes playable. The dig ability helps a lot, as it gives you something to do when you stall out, and of course combines nicely with the pump ability.
The best use for this (besides untapping Time Vault) is as a sideboard card in a matchup where the board stalls out. That’s thin, and I wouldn’t look for this to be the key in most games.
In a low-curve deck with token generation or fliers, Marauder’s Axe can do some real damage. I’d mostly stay away from it, but it can overperform if you have enough dorks that either have evasion or you don’t care if they die.
At seven, this is a little pricey, but it goes a long way towards stabilizing the board once it hits. It’s also colorless, and a fine early pick as a result. I especially like it in black decks with Soul Salvage effects.
There is no way you will assemble enough colorless cards to make this do anything, so I’d just forge(t) it.
With even one set of doubles, I’d play Pattern Matcher, because the upside is real. Once you have 2-3 pairs to go get, this becomes very sweet, though I’m concerned about what it’s doing with that rabbit.
This was mediocre in WAR and I expect it to be about the same here, despite the overall power level being a bit lower.
I mostly am looking to sideboard the Wand in against decks that are vulnerable to it, as it’s a little too slow of a card to play maindeck.
Salvager of Ruin
I’ll leave the Teshar combos to Matt Nass, and try and avoid playing this in my Limited decks. At best, this trades 1-for-1, but it has to be in play the turn your good thing dies, which is a bit narrow.
Changing colors is cute in a land of color hosers, and Scuttlemutt pays for itself by tapping for mana. If you’re two colors and don’t have any combos, its fine to leave this on the bench, but I’d be happy playing almost all the time.
Even if this isn’t the menace that it is in Modern, Steel Overseer is a 2-drop that grows itself very rapidly. That’s worth playing, and I don’t mind taking this early.
If you need a random beater, this mostly does the trick, though I’d be unhappy if I had to play this.
Vial of Dragonfire
Like Heart-Piercer Bow, this gets carried by the Weaponsmith more than on its own merits, and I mostly like it as a sideboard card against fliers.
Lifegain Lands (Bloodfell Caves cycle)
All of these lands are nice additions to any 2-color deck, and make splashing a third color much easier. I tend to take them a little higher than average playables, but under anything premium.
If your deck can afford a colorless land, I’d be happy to play Cryptic Caves. Cycling from play is good flexibility, and can help prevent flood.
This is about the same as the gain life lands, though it’s better earlier in the draft due to flexibility.
Field of the Dead
I don’t see how you are pulling this off in Limited, though it would be cute if you did.
In a 3-color deck, this is still worth playing, though the risk of ruin is higher than I’d like (drawing this plus one normal land).
Scry 1 is a real advantage, and I’d take these Temples aggressively. They are rare, so it doesn’t come up a ton, but treat them like real playables (and play them even when half on color).