A few years back Wizards of the Coast decided to do away with Core sets. This was a change that some people didn’t care about, but others felt was taking away a main set that had come to be expected each year. I would fall into the latter camp, because Alpha, Beta, Unlimited and Revised were essentially core sets, and I got started with the game back in those days, but then came back to the game again with 7th edition which was essentially a core set as well. At some point they started calling them core sets, with a year affixed to the title, and then got rid of them altogether. But good news friends, core sets are back and standard players especially should be rejoicing. You’ll get cards in a core set that are reprints of big powerful older cards, along with some draft fodder just like all other sets. I wanted to take the time today to look at the set, as the full spoilers are now out and it’s a good time to do so. I’ll break things down by color and try to give my reasoning for highlighting these particular cards. Most of them are cards I’d like for my own EDH decks, but some are just plain good cards (reprints) that people should get in their collections.
Most of the multi-colored cards represent the original Elder Dragons from the 1990’s. This new version of Nicol Bolas is actually quite nice, though I don’t really have a slot for him unless I plopped him into my Jodah deck. Arcades on the other hand, I have some awesome plans for him, which I’ll be writing about soon. There are other Elder Dragons and some middling multi-color stuff in the set but nothing worth pointing out in my opinion.
I’m being fairly selective here, but there are some decent white cards here. I really like the way Wizards have given White a sort of Blue ability in the “look at the top X cards of your library and pick one to put in your hand” effects. Ajani’s Influence combines the Support keyword (without actually having it) and this card draw effect, while the Militia Bugler has the card draw as well. It’s been a weakness for white and they’ve been fixing it. Valiant Knight is another great lord for Knight tribal, and I’ll be slotting that into my Aryel deck. Finally, Cleansing Nova is another 5 mana board wipe for White, but it’s got the nice ability to either kill all creatures, or take out the enchantress or stax player in your pod. Good stuff.
Blue has a wide mix of things going on and a chunk of it is pretty good. Omniscience getting a reprint is good as it was starting to creep up towards being too expensive. Nexus of Fate is a great card, but unfortunately is the buy-a-box promo and I don’t want a box of this set enough to get one. Patient Rebuilding is some nice jank, where you mill an opponent and draw cards as well. Metamporphic Alteration is a great removal spell or can copy you a big baddie. The Phantom is a good spirit lord if that’s your thing, and the new Tezzeret is actually pretty good if you’re running an artifact deck.
Black got some love too, with some interesting cards. Liliana’s Contract could be an alternate win-con in decks heavy with demons, so I’ll likely find a spot for it in my Kaalia deck. The new Liliana is good for Zombie decks, and I think I’ll put her in mine. Fraying Omnipotence would be good to cause chaos in a game that is stalling out, and finally Isareth the Awakener is a nice recursion engine on the cheap.
Red is typically a color I don’t really care too much about, but lately there have been some good red cards coming out. There are two Goblins here that I definitely want to slam into my Krenko deck, one being a lord that lets me sacrifice gobs to destroy artifacts, and the other let’s me sac them to potentially cast cards from the top of my library. Good stuff! Alpine Moon is sort of a Blood Moon effect, but not amazing. It will still deal with Gaea’s Cradles and other troublesome lands. Lathliss should be in Dragon tribal decks, giving you tokens and pumping your dragons across the board. Lastly, Apex of Power could be decent in spell slinger decks, as you’ll be casting a bunch of spells for free.
Green feels like one of the weaker colors this time around, but they have been buffing it for a few sets now so that makes sense. We get a new planeswalker in Vivien, and she seems alright. Her Invocation is more card draw for green, and one of the lone dinosaurs in the set is pretty good allowing you some card draw in a dino deck that doesn’t have a lot of it. Sort of meh.
Colorless and Lands:
Crucible of Worlds is a big money reprint, and getting another Reliquary Tower reprint is nice too because it was starting to creep up in price and is an EDH staple. I also like Isolation Tower which will let you get around hexproof. Dragon’s Hoard should be in a tribal deck as it will get you card draw for dragons. Chaos wand belongs in a chaos deck, but it allows you to steal spells from enemies. The Sword should be in a Knight deck, the Scepter is a long way from being fast but will get you extra turns if not dealt with. Lastly, the Bookcase is actually a decent wall, and I know where I’ll be putting that one.
Overall the core set is a great entry point for those new to the game, but is sort of a meh set for veterans. As I’ve shown here there are a good couple dozen cards that are worth having amongst 280 cards… so buying packs doesn’t seem like the way to go for me. I intend to buy singles of most of these cards and then prepare for Commander 2018 which is right around the corner.