We’re following up our favorite commons of Magic: The Gathering’s Core 2019 by picking up with the natural progression of our favorite uncommon cards. Much like the set in general, Core 2019 has to follow up on Dominaria, a set in which uncommon legendary creatures like Slimefoot the Stowaway and Tatyova, Benthic Druid defined the format and made it an all-time favorite.
It might not be on the same scale as Dominaria, but at the same time, whittling away to just ten cards in Core 2019 is proving to be a tough task. The commons of core 2019 left me unimpressed, but I’m finding that most of the colors (looking at you, White) have really solid uncommon cards, all of which I need to try at least once when I draft.
Uncommon cards are always my favorite to use and evaluate, and we’ll kick things off with a reprint of one of my faves from the last few years.
Blue and Red Prowess always interested me when I was getting into Magic, but it wasn’t until Amonkhet that I really started to get crazy with the color combination. The card that pushed me over the edge was Enigma Drake. I drafted a foil copy in my group’s first Amonkhet draft, and it stormed over my opponents’ defenses.
Now that it is in Core 2019, I don’t have to worry about it rotating out of Standard, and I can draft again with it. There is a definite Blue/Red spells deck you can make with Anticipate, Lightning Strike, Shock, Electrify, Disperse, Guttersnipe, Aven Wind Mage, and if you’re really lucky, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager on the splash. On his own, Enigma Drake survives Shock, Lightning Strike, and even Strangling Spores, leaving only a few removal spells available to deal with that ever-important 4 toughness.
Load up your graveyard with cheap burn spells and cantrips, and just let this guy soar. You can’t lose.
He’s a bit pricey, but the effect tied to Regal Bloodlord will be an infuriating one for opponents. As a 2/4 flyer, he blocks very well, but more importantly, the lifegain options in Core 2019 allow him to consistently trigger that second ability.
Vampire Neonate, which we discussed in the commons, is this guy’s best friend. Fountain of Renewal and Diamond Mare are a pair of artifacts that tie together with this guy. Skymarch Bloodletter, Sovereign’s Bite, Lich’s Caress, Leonin Vanguard, and Herald of Faith are a few of the obvious options. The real strategy comes from gaining life on your opponent’s turn since Regal Bloodlord isn’t limited to triggering on your own end step.
With two 1/1 flyers every single round, an army of bats will really start to pile up and become a problem for any opponent.
Simic, Green/Blue, is always a bit weird since it has awesome cards but rarely a defined deck. Clues were awesome in Shadows Over Innistrad, and Ixalan had the Merfolk deck, but on the whole, card draw and ramp are more of a general style of Magic, not a defined synergy.
This is a perfect example of that in action. Skyrider Patrol is a ridiculous Magic card that both permanently pumps creatures and gives them flight for a turn. This works in any Green beat down deck, but it just seems like win-more since blocking a Colossal Dreadmaw usually removes creatures and pushes damage through anyway.
2/3 also survives a lot of combat in the air, so the respectable stats tied to the ridiculous ability make this a great card that just struggles in finding an identity to fit somewhere. Play it on the splash, absolutely. Wait and see if Green/Blue is a thing before dedicating yourself to it.
This is the last multicolored card we’re going to look at today. Poison-Tip Archer isn’t overly impressive (outside of me being overly excited to use him in Slimefoot Brawl), but he does provide amazing defense and an ability that will wear down opponents over time.
He can block and kill any flyer, usually guaranteeing at least some value for a single point of damage lost. He doesn’t trigger himself, which is a shame, but when facing down an army of cheap creatures and tokens, those points will start to pile up.
Poison-Tip Archer is the most average of the multicolored cards I’m choosing today, but I’m currently in the mood for a Black/Green deck after its dominance in Dominaria.
Why couldn’t this have been in Ixalan?! Oh well, this is one of the sweetest Bears printed over the last few years with huge upside and little downside to hold it back. It attacks early for unblockable damage, and with enough mana, it allows bigger, badder creatures to swing in alongside it. Huge upside in a controlling Blue deck or a Green/Blue ramp deck.
The downside of not being targeted by a spell mostly means you can’t pump it with a Titanic Growth. Usually if an opponent targets it with removal, the 2 toughness means it would have died anyway. This text also leaves it open to opponents killing it with otherwise useless pump or Aura spells, so keep that in mind.
Also, never overlook equipment. They are not spells when they attach to creatures, and they help her swing in a lot heavier.
What an annoying card! A permanent chump-blocker, an endless target for sacrifice, a solid way to trigger Ajani’s Welcome or any other ETB effects. Since exile isn’t much of a thing in Core 2019, this guy just keeps coming back… and coming back… and coming back.
Better hope you brought along your Colossal Dreadmaw for trample damage.
Man-o’-War attached to a Wizard? All day long! Bounce creatures are always a slam dunk in Limited, and this might be the best one in years. Academy Journeymage proved to be a back-breaker in Dominaria, and Deadeye Rig-Hauler was fine in an aggressive Raid deck back in Rivals of Ixalan. He’s even strictly better than Separatist Voidmage!
With a price this cheap and an effect this powerful, there’s no way you can pass this. It will throw any deck off of its gameplan and clear the board to easy attacks. Rarely send this to an opponent. It’s just a shame there is no Wizard support in Core 2019 like there was in Dominaria. Then this would be truly busted.
Boom, you’re dead.
Clang, you’re stuck.
Kerpow, you’re toast!
Bam, my 9/9 Colossal Dreadmaw just wiped your board.
Thud, my 9/9 Colossal Dreadmaw just hit you in the face for even more damage. Even if this card doesn’t prove to be that good, at least I can give it props for having the best art in the set.
Core 2019 has a cycle of Mare cards that are designed to hose their respected color’s classic enemy. This means they’ll mostly be truly useful against specific colors and will often be bombs in the sideboard.
Plague Mare at least has a bonus ability that makes it useful in a main deck, allowing players to wipe the board of chump blockers and creature token if need be.
Surge Mare and its looting ability also seem noteworthy, even if you are forced to pump him to do the required damage. 4 points of unblockable damage is also pretty busted in the late game.
This was an all-star in Hour of Devastation, being one of the main cards that turned a strictly aggressive set into a multicolored, splash small-expansion extravaganza. Wizards of the Coast noticed this and boosted it up to uncommon for Core 2019. The thing is, there are plenty of splashes available with dual taplands at common and other mana-producing rocks like Manalith readily available.
I’m not sure how necessary it will be for a splash, but in a ramp deck, this could save your hide, replenish yourself, and let you cast any off-color bomb you want. Sounds like a bargain to me.