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Magic: The Gathering Core 2019 – Our Favorite cards for Constructed play

by Ron Duwell | June 29, 2018June 29, 2018 9:30 am EDT

I love Magic: The Gathering’s Draft format and rarely play outside of it anymore. I only played Standard recently thanks to a viable mono-Green Stompy deck via Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion, and I avoid EDH like the plague. Modern is fine, but too expensive for me to further expand into while my kid is so young, and Brawl has me excited though if I have nobody to play with.

The point is, I rarely write about constructed Magic: The Gathering, but I feel that I want to start giving it a try. Core 2019 has a few cards that interest me quite a bit, and neglecting to mention them would feel like my initial thoughts on the set are incomplete.

So, here are a few constructed cards I’m really looking forward to using, or at least watching other people use, in Standard, Modern, EDH, Brawl, Legacy, you name it.

Dominaria‘s Blue/Red Wizards is a deck always felt like it was almost there. Vehicles and an arsenal of powerful Black creatures and removal spells overshadowed Blue as Red’s partner throughout the last Standard season, leaving the Wizards behind in the dust.

Blue/Red is my favorite combination outside of anything that has to do with Green, so I am excited to see some of these new card team up with Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and her spell heavy friends.

You just gotta do it! Engima Drake is not a Wizard, but it might as well be since its “not quite Prowess” ability gives its power a permanent boost. After Adeliz powers up a host of Wizards a few times, Enigma Drake can slam in for 5, 6, or even 7 points of damage a turn. Also, it survives Lightning Strike, Abrade, Fatal Push, and can block a Goblin Chainwhirler with no added assistance. That’s a lot of power in this three-drop.

Enigma Drake becoming a superstar of standard is a pipe dream, especially because its already in Standard. Maybe once we ditch Aethersphere Harvester and Heart of Kiran, it’ll be a more dominant flyer.

I love this card, but I’ll keep my expectations in check. Its addition to Core 2019 just makes me happy that we’ll be bringing it along to Ravnica, where it might make a splash alongside big-daddy dragon, Niv-Mizzet.

Viable Wizards need to do more than just benefit from Adeliz’s pump ability. They also have to disrupt opponents’ strategies, catch them off guard, and essentially deliver the same value as an instant or a sorcery the second they hit the battlefield. Soul-Scar Mage and Merfolk Trickster already provide natural abilities that can disrupt creature heavy decks, and Siren Stormtamer can take care of decks focused heavily on removal.

Exclusion Mage feels like it can also get there.

We’ve never had a bounce creature this cheap outside of Man-o’-War, and attaching that ability to a Wizard creature shows that Wizards of the Coast isn’t messing around.

Goblins have bombarded their way into Standard via God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Skirk Prospector. Goblin Instigator simply provides more ammunition to let the little green creeps fly.

This also is a viable card in Pauper, where go-wide Goblin decks are always a thing. Combined with Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst, which is now a common card, and… ugh, talk about an ugly board state.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone in the Magic: The Gathering world wants to make their own, goofy Wall-tribal deck. I have no interest in doing so, but I can’t wait to see the insanity that emerges from this commander.

This card is a legit sideboard presence for Modern, Legacy, anything… you name it. Killing off graveyards is a task often reserved for artifacts in those formats, but now that it is attached to a legit, aggressive 2/1 flyer, that opens up whole new prospects for dealing with some of Magic’s most notorious decks.

In standard, it cripples pesky control payoffs like The Scarab God and Torrential Gearhulk, possibly catapulting White decks to the forefront once more.

Neither are overly impressive cards, but I’m always on the hunt for options to put into my Slimefoot the Stowaway Brawl deck. Poison-Tip Archer doubles the damage done by sacrificing Saprolings while Slimefoot is on the battlefield, closing out a game at twice the normal speed. It also provides defense against almost any creature in a fix.

Ravenous Harpy is just an efficient sacrifice outlet, much better than other current options like Ruthless Knave, Whisper Blood Liturgist, or Bontu the Glorified. Plus, a huge flying threat for three mana is never a bad thing in Magic.

For the same reasons in Limited play, Chromium is just a legitimate Magic card and exactly what his board state wants. Whether he’s a commander or a build around in your Standard decks, with enough support, he’ll be able to close out a just about any game, so long as you keep at least one card in hand at all times.

No problem for Esper, White/Blue/Black.

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On the other hand, Bolas is built to dominate Standard and will do just that with the proper support around him. Again, his creature side is not overly impressive, but flipping him into a Planeswalker is a much easier prospect in Standard play.

Those four Planeswalker abilities make him a force to be reckoned with, and when paired up with Nicol Bolas, God-Pharoah, ol’ Bolas will hurl Grixis decks into power and leave his mark on Magic at least until the fall rotation.

Mono-Green Monument Stompy in Standard was fun while it lasted, but with Rhonas the Indomitable, Resilient KhenraRhonas’ Monument, and Heart of Kiran rotating out this coming fall, it will be taking a legitimate hit to its power level. Goreclaw isn’t nearly on the same power level as the Snake God in a dedicated 4-power deck, but when built around properly, those 4-power creatures suddenly get all the more threatening with her stat boost and the added bonus of trample.

Between now and the rotation though, the two work pretty well in tandem. There is also a Commander deck somewhere buried beneath the tag team, as well.

And trample is exactly what this hulking beast needs! The lack of it makes my eyes glaze over when I see this otherwise awesome card, one that plays to my style of Magic. This is no Ghalta, Primal Hunger, not by long shot, but a 10/10 vanilla creature for just five mana is pushed.

There is room for this card in a deck somewhere. Maybe not Standard, but a Legacy or Modern Green devotion deck could certainly make use of at least one of these.

One more, just to make sure, because Green will make excellent use of this. In Standard, it’s almost guaranteed card advantage by turn-4, and with Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, the Pokedex card, rotating out, this is a legitimate replacement for any Green sideboard.

Don’t even get me started on the Commander prospects either. Big Green dummies everywhere will make this will be an all-star card.