Tag Archives: TCG Corner

Core Set 2020 Notable Cards


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?)

Yes, it’s a reprint. But, what a reprint!

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.

So, uh, does this mean we are returning to Theros?

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?

Oh, there’s a 2 mana penalty for removal on my commander? That’s cute

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.

Only one of us will be playing Magic today.

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?)

Further enraging the community by giving blue players another reason to tap their islands.

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.

Someone posted online that whoever came up with this card needs to be fired or promoted. On the name alone, promotion.

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.”

I activate Teferi’s +1. Uh, just a minute there, Buddy.

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.

All my spells have flash? Perhaps I don’t want to draw all those cards with Mu Yanling.

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)

Why not just give it trample, too, and make you discard 2 cards a turn?

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.

Half of a duress that exiles on a stick feels real nice.

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.

4 mana 1/2? Sure, why the hell not?

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.

If I can’t counter your stuff, I’ll just kill it.

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?)

I hate red, but this is the kind of red I can get behind.

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.

It might be red. But, the art and flavor text make this card solid gold.

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.

We heard you like dragons. Well, we’ll dragon your dragon until you got a dragon.

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.

A red card that is sort of like a blue or black card? Of course this is my favorite.

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!)

If Mu Yanling is blue, then this card is GREEN.

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.

He looks like he might live in Theros.

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.

A generic 7/7?!

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?

3 mana now for 1 mana later? Sure, why not?

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.)

Now, this one is Mythic. However, many of them are not.

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.

Jeskai is as Jeskai does.

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?)

A colorless card that is actually WUBRG? Mind blown…

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.

Um, Time Vault is an artifact, yes?

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.

And stay dead!

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.

Journey to Redemption?

(Editor’s Note: We know that you have become accustomed to our intense and burning hatred for all things Blizzard and Hearthstone. If so, this article might come as a shock to you. Please consult your doctor if you have a heart condition or are prone to fits of hysteria.)

Yes, it’s that time again when a not so young gamer’s heart turns to anger and frustration. Spring means a new Hearthstone expansion–as they’ve done away with adventures–and our “card review”. More often than not, “card review” means that I discuss new mechanics, get excited that control might finally become a viable option in the game, and then conclude that Hearthstone is just fundamentally flawed in design and face decks will always rule until they change how the game plays.

It’s become a bit of a running gag around here that we hate Hearthstone. That’s only partly true. I do find the focus on aggro and the reliance on RNG to be annoying. Also, I’m bitter that they ultimately killed a good game in the WoW:TCG to focus on this. I still feel like they could both exist. But, I do genuinely like some of the ideas that the game has introduced to the genre.

I mean, people might get confused because there is so much overlap in the art for the two games, but eventually, I think we’re smart enough to get it.

And, so, I kept playing in spite of how angry it sometimes made me. Chris kept telling me that I was addicted. Hell, I might have been. I am a sucker for the treadmill type of games that Blizzard makes. So, I guess we score one for addiction. Because I kept playing it, I’ve found my comfort zone in the game. It may not always be fun, but I’m not constantly texting Chris how much I hate the game anymore.

I have a feeling that some of this is temporary. After months of trying and promising control decks, Blizzard finally accidentally created an environment where they are viable. Sure, the meta is overwhelmingly face decks, so you still get aggro’d out of the game quite a bit of the time, but control decks actually do exist and get played quite a bit. As someone who prefers that playstyle, I couldn’t be happier. But, Standard rotation beckons and Reno is being relegated to the Wild frontier.

Don’t worry, Buddy. As a filthy casual, I prefer playing Wild, so we won’t be apart for long.

That’s the big selling point this time. Every time there’s an expansion, players get excited for new cards, the meta gets solved in a few days to a week, and then everyone complains about how boring the game is for another 3 months. Rinse and repeat. This time is different, Blizzard promises. Not only are new cards being introduced, but cards are rotating out for only the second time int he history of the game. That’s gotta add at least a day or two of theory crafting to figure out that spamming minions and going face is the optimal strategy. Okay, okay, that was a cheap shot. Only one at this in the article, though, is way under par.

So, what cool stuff can we expect from Un’Goro? First, and I’m actually genuinely excited about htis one, they’re bringing back the concept of quests. If you ever played the WoW: TCG, you remember that quests were the resource similar to mana. Since Hearthstone uses mana crystals, it doesn’t make sense to use quests in a similar fashion. Instead, they are legendary cards that are auto included in your opening hand. They require you to do something–ie, playx cards of some sort or another–and reward you with a super powerful card. I don’t know if any of the quests will be seen in competitive play, but I can’t wait to play around with them in the casual modes.

I feel like I’ve seen this card before. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the card was definitely blue there, too.

The other new mechanic that has potential is “Adapt”. This feature “discovers” three upgrades to your minion in the form of divine shield, windfury, stealth, taunt, etc. The discover mechanic is one of the best ideas that the Hearthstone team has introduced into the genre. It fits in with the theme of the game that RNG is skill. There is variance, but because the game gives you three options, the chances of getting something useful are that much higher. Anything that adds more discover to the game is okay by me.

Hey, you might say, you’ve already mentioned 2 concepts that you like about the new expansion. Maybe you’ve turned the corner and will actually like the game now. Woah! Hold up there. Hating Hearthstone is part of my identity. If I actually like it, who have I become? this is an existential crisis in the making. But, not right now! Yes, there are some cool mechanics in the set, but there are always things that I can find to like about a card set before it’s been released.

I’m right there with you, Snoopy. Hearthstone is enough to make a man mad.

Usually, in Magic, that means that these things are not remotely viable as a competitive strategy. In Hearhtstone, they are usually unique strategies that change the way the game is played. So, I guess both are in keeping with my tendency to go against the grain. As far as the rest of the cards are concerned, there is an emphasis on “tribal”. Tribal is always one of the MtG buzzwords that is never viable, but always hooks me.

In addition to an overall deck strategy, I will often try to adhere to a tribal theme in Magic. Honestly, I don’t thin that it is any more viable in Hearthstone, but it is easier to make a tribal theme work because the synergies are more prevalent. For instance, you won’t ever get high ranks playing murlocs, but I did get a healthy win streak while playing a dumb shaman murloc deck the other day.

Who knows? Maybe I have turned the corner. I have gone from actively hating the game to accepting it as part of my daily routine. I suppose the next logical step is actual enjoyment.

Exodia X Pikachu

(Editor’s Note: That title just made me wish that Namco/Bandai and Nintendo/Game Freak make that game.)

Last week, I faced a bit of a dilemma. I could use the remainder of the tax refund to either get caught up on our mortgage or buy a new laptop. Yes, I am in the market for yet another new laptop. This time, though, it actually isn’t entirely my fault. I think I already told this story, so I won’t go into much detail. Just know that one laptop stopped charging and I screwed up trying to fix it. Then, my backup fell off of the ottoman and busted the screen. Yes, that truly seems to be my curse in life.

Of course, I made the correct and adult decision of replacing my laptop. Seriously, though, for those of you worried about me and the future of my children, I paid the mortgage. It would have been a very different story if the bill to be paid had been my student loan. Those guys can suck it.

I’m not entirely sure why I tell that story other than as another example to illustrate my commitment to gaming. I mean, it’s not relevant to the topic of this article. But, hey, non sequitur is one of the things we do best around here. Something else we do around here is awkward transitions from the non sequitur. In keeping with both of those traditions, allow me to continue.

Because, without tradition, what are we? No, seriously, what are we. With tradition, we stuff chocolates in socks, so I think it’s worth a shot.

I got the idea for this article a couple of days ago. I knew that I wanted to write another Pokemon article to finish out that game until our next podcast about the game in a couple of weeks once Aiden and Quinn are able to play Sun and/or Moon. Well, Quinn has played it, on my file (and I recently found out that was never saved, so progress was lost!), but Aiden hasn’t played it at all, so we have to give him a chance.

But, that is in about a month, so I have time to come up with more articles then. For now, though, let’s get this one written. The other day, we found ourselves int he middle of a blizzard. I was already home on spring break (yeah, a bit of irony there from Mother Nature) and the rest of the family was also home due to the snow.

For once, I’m not talking about this Blizzard. Except, now I am. But, earlier, I wasn’t. Why can’t I quit you?!

We’ve been trying to ween Aiden off of his “addiction” (I’m not sure if that is the proper word, but he acts like a junkie glued to the screen at times) to technology. The latest attempt has been absolutely no technology until he can show that he can function without it. Yes, we are those parents.

But, I have to say, it seems to be having the intended effect. He’s been reading more. He’s played with Legos (that’s not new, but he’s showing off his creations on Instagram. See themhere), and during the snowstorm he asked to play YuGiOh. I thought this was interesting because I found one of his decks a few weeks ago and remarked on Facebook how I missed the time when he was so into the game. He never saw that post, but still we ended up playing. Sometimes if feels like there might just be a Creator watching over us after all. (S)He certainly answered that prayer.

I know what you’re thinking. YuGiOh? The answer to a prayer? Well, it wasn’t entirely about YuGiOh, okay. It was about father and son time and doing something that he once loved. Judging by our game, he still does. Not only did he ask to play, but he used the deck that I found. What’s so special about this deck? Well, this time it is mostly about the deck. But, it’s also about that coincidence that may have been more.

Okay, I certainly questioned the existence of God after he played this card against me.

When he was really into the game, I got him one of the 1000 assorted card lots. He was so grateful and overwhelmed by the cards. He still talks about it to this day. Both Quinn and Liam asked to make decks and he replied, “Sure, I have over a thousand cards!”

After getting the cards, he spent some time researching decks until he found the perfect deck. He built that deck–Yugi’s deck, he calls it–and put it into a holster like pouch. That’s the deck that I found and that’s the deck he used to pound me into submission the other day.

The most encouraging sign came at the beginning of the match before we even started playing. As I built my deck, he spent the time trying to set up his Kindle to record a video of our match. When that didn’t work, we were going to use Liam’s new camcorder to record. That didn’t work either because the SD card that he got with it malfunctioned. Okay, so where’s the encouragement?

First, and this is total proud parent stuff, he didn’t quit in spite of adversity. He kept trying and that is to be commended. Second, and this is related to the game, he said that he’d be willing to play again once I got a new SD card for the camcorder. With my newly found commitment to the web page, look for that video soon.

I wouldn’t use this much, but it would come in handy for times like this.

So, ostensibly, this article was to compare the two card games that I have played with the boys over the past month. It has taken almost a thousand words to get here, so let’s take at least a couple of paragraphs to explore this. First off, I think that I prefer Pokemon. That’s not a slight against Yugioh at all. I enjoy playing YuGiOh and I can’t wait to play against Aiden again and get our video recorded. The main problem that I have with it is that there are seemingly too many rules that aren’t as intuitive as Pokemon or Magic. I mean, I haven’t played Pokemon in months, either, but I was able to pick it up and play through with only a few questions about mostly status effects. Those always get me. We are never able to keep the tokens around, so it makes it even harder to keep track.

I feel like every time I play YuGiOh, I have major questions about every aspect of the game. The turn structure is similar to Magic, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around them. I completely forgot about my trap and spell cards because they are played face down and I had a lot of them on the field at one point in the game. Maybe that’s a flaw in my deck design. See, that’s the kind of thing that I mean. I can’t tell if it is my own incompetence or the design of the game. Oh well, I won’t let that get in my way and I will continue to play through as many times as it takes to get to the point where I feel at least competent. I owe it to Aiden to try.