Those who have visited the page in the past know that this isn’t going to be a “best of Core Set 2020” article. I might end up accidentally or incidentally choosing cards that would be considered good. However, that is not the intent of this article. There are plenty of other resources out there that will give you those cards. Instead, I like to do things a bit differently around here.
In the realm of Magic the Gathering personas or whatever they call them, I’m a Johnny. Sometimes I’m a Timmy. I am almost never a Spike unless I start getting beat a bit too many times on Magic the Gathering Arena. As a result, I look through spoiler lists with a slightly different eye than the usual reviewer. My list of cards will contain cards that I (a) think I can build crazy combos around but usually (b) ones that make me say, “Wow, that’s a cool card!” If that sounds like your cup of tea, join me and continue reading.
White Cards (Did Somebody Say Angels?)
Planar Cleansing – Those of you who visit the page on a semi regular basis know that I am a hypocrite when it comes to Magic the Gathering. I will rail against other people playing solitaire Magic decks until I’m blue in the face even as I tap my own blue face for mana to play cards that don’t allow my opponent to play Magic. Planar Cleansing has always been one of my favorite cards. The art is perfect. The effect is ridiculous. And, if you hate all the Superfriends love from Dominaria, here’s your answer.
Starfield Mystic – As soon as I saw this card, I texted Chris about it. Looks a bit like a Theros card, doesn’t it? He agreed. We’ve been talking for a while now that it would be nice to travel back to Theros. I mean, they’ve been back to Innistrad and Zendikar. This last trip was the third to Ravnica. How about some Greek mythology love this time, WotC?
Sephara, Sky’s Blade (Honorable Mention) – i think it was Jeff Hoogland who was playing this one on his stream recently. The alternate casting cost didn’t go off as much as I had hoped, but this thing would be ridiculous in an EDH white token deck. I’m sure someone else already has theirs built and tuned but I’d love to put one together myself.
Pacifism (Lifetime Achievement) – Remember earlier when I mentioned that I like to play cards that don’t let my opponent play Magic? This is probably my all time favorite card ever printed. I don’t like this art, but I will still play the card.
Blue (Oh, I’m Sorry. Did you want to play Magic today?)
Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer – This card might as well just say, “Blue. Blue blue blue blue blue. Blue blue blue.” Everything about this card says to me, put 20 basic islands in your deck and play this card on turn 3. The only thing missing is a counter ability, but that’s tough to do when Planeswalkers activate at sorcery speed. Nevertheless, drawing 20 cards a turn, you’ll get a counter eventually.
I saw this card on a Gaby Spartz’ stream, I think. She was playing limited and it seemed like every single person was playing this card. The card itself is a blue beast token with upside, but that name is absolutely magical. I’m putting four of these in my Mu Yanling deck just so I can repeatedly say, “I cast Octoprophet.”
Tale’s End (Honorable Mention) – This is a very specific counter and ultimate useless in most cases. However, it has that quality of blue Johnny cards that just speaks to me. Being able to either counter a Planeswalker or a particularly annoying activated ability of that Walker if you get it a turn late is oddly satisfying. You’ll still lose the game, but a turn or two later.
Leyline of Anticipation (Lifetime Achievement) – One of the surprising reprints in this set was the Leyline cycle reprint. I’m not sure why they would have been reprinted now, but maybe because they are Enchantments and Theros was all about enchantments, that’s one more clue that we are going to go back there in the next sets.
Black (Your graveyard is looking a bit empty)
Rotting Regisaur – This is another one that I texted Chris about. 3 mana 7/6 with minimal draw back? And, as he said, one of black’s identities is sacrificing cards for stronger effect, so even if you discard something, chances are it will be back later. Sometimes I think the fine folks at WotC are just trolling us with these cards.
Yarok’s Fenlurker – This card seems like it could be a limited all star, but I’m terrible at evaluating cards (as the next section will show). A 1/1 body that exiles a card from the opponent’s hand? Sure, the opponent gets to choose, but that’s still a great upside. Plus, it can be a grizzly bear for only 3 additional mana! See, I told you I’m terrible at evaluating cards.
Sanitarium Skeleton (Honorable Mention) – This card is absolute garbage. Sure it might be nice on turn 1 as a blocker for those pesky goblins that basic mountain decks like to play. And, it can sit in your hand for a few turns to be fodder for Regisaur. Why am I including this card in my article then? Who knows. Sometimes, a card just speaks to me.
Murder (Lifetime Achievement) – The caption to the picture says it all. I’ve been playing a UB no fun deck on Arena the last few weeks and it’s filled with counters and removal. This one is just such a tidy answer to pretty much anything that the opponent sneaks through my counter spells.
Red (Aw, man, do I have to?)
Chandra’s Regulator – Another card that necessitated a text to Chris. I think my exact words were, “This card might be garbage, but I love it.” We then had a discussion about Chandra planeswalker cards, how they are always garbage, and as a result, so was this card. Oh well, I still want to play it.
Reckless Air Strike – There is so much wrong with this card. First, it’s a sorcery. Second, many flying creatures have so much more than 3 health. Third, we’ll just slap some artifact hate on the end there. Still, I’m sure to end up with this card in draft and it’ll prove just how unplayable it actually is.
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames (Honorable Mention) – I really include this card as an homage to our fallen homie (oh, he’s not dead, just inactive on the page), Chris. He’s a dragon guy. And this is quite the dragon. Hell, even that subtitle is ridiculous.
Act of Treason (Lifetime Achievement) – Oh, you got a creature past my counter and I don’t have removal? Well, I guess I’ll just take it from you and beat you with it, then. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve used this card to steal someone’s giant creature and beat them.
Green (Giant, Stompy Dinosaurs!)
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger – This is another card that I texted to Chris about. I mentioned how I thought the card was sexy and he told me to calm down. Our conversation then went on to other NSFW content. Seriously, though, this card is dope.
Loaming Shaman – I’m only including this guy as another possible hint that we’re heading back to Theros soon. That ability it kind of neat. What really grabs me is white horse guy with white hair and bear has gotta live on Theros.
Vorstclaw (Honorable Mention) – This thing is just a big dumb creature. It doesn’t trample. There’s no ramp. No text at all other than for flavor. And that’s even that isn’t much of a flavor. Earlier there was a 3 mana 7/6 with minimal draw back. Now, we have a 6 mana 7/7 with no upside. What is happening in this game?
Gift of Paradise (Lifetime Achievement) – This is probably the slowest ramp in the history of the game. But, it is ramp. And ramp helps you to get to those 6 mana generic 7/7s that much faster. So, get out there and start ramping.
Multicolor (Or, the gold border always makes me think it’s Mythic. Yes, still.)
Omnath, Locus of the Roil – If you have “I texted Chris about this card” for this one, then I’m pretty sure you have BINGO. However, I didn’t see this one during spoiler season. It wasn’t until Jeff Hoogland was playing an interesting Elemental deck that I texted him about this card. It looks like such a fun card.
Kykar, Wind’s Fury – Back when Tarkir was the new hotness, I was drawn to Jeskai. I ended up trying to force Mardu in the prerelease event that I went to, but Jeskai is my first love, espeically when they got rid of the pesky red from their color scheme. This card screams Jeskai. And, so, it gets a spot on my list.
No Honorable Mention or Lifetime Achievement – None of the other cards jump out at me as interesting and there aren’t any reprints that I recognize.
Colorless ( Weren’t these cards brown before?)
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim – If you already got BINGO last round, go for Super BINGO this time. Or, you could play how was this message delivered? “This card is probably garbage, but I can’t wait to build a Commander deck around it.” I love the fact that it is an artifact, but also five colors at the same time. That’s all you need to get me to love a garbage card.
Bag of Holding – A second way to get me to like a garbage card is to name it after a Dungeons and Dragons item. When WotC first took over D&D, I was a little bit worried, but they’ve done a good job with the game. I haven’t played the Ravnica cross over yet, but I saw that they are releasing a 2 player version of D&D for losers like me who don’t have more than one friend.
Manifold Key (Honorable Mention) – Another sure fire way to get me to love a garbage card is to make it so that it reminds me of a card played in my favorite format to watch, Vintage. There’s a combo that allows you to go infinite with Time Vault and Voltaic Key. However, both of those cards are restricted. This one isn’t. Not yet. I’m not sure if there are 3 cards to remove from the deck to add 4 of these, but there’s a chance.
Grafdigger’s Cage (Lifetime Achievement) – I was watching Modern the other day. And, yes, I did text Chris about it, but this card wasn’t involved in the conversation. Rather, I was telling him about the Hogaak deck that was casting the title creature on turn 2 or 3. WotC was quick to ban Bridge from Below to slow it down. But, thinking about that deck made me think about this card.
The Verdict (Core Set 2020 is a Core Set)
There are some good cards in the set. At its heart, though, Core Set 2020 lives up to the name. There was a time when WotC killed off core sets and nobody, aside from collecting nerds like me, seemed to miss them. I might be off base here, but I don’t remember a ton of complaining when it happened.
Therefore, I, for one, am happy to have the core sets back. I am a bit behind in my collecting, so I just recently picked up my box from Core set 2019, but it should only take a month or so to get up to speed with Core Set 2020. Until then, maybe I’ll do a draft or two on Arena.