The Core Set is back and the new edition is all about Nicol Bolas - his allies, enemies, siblings, and history. And with this new set comes a brand new limited environment. To prepare many of you have already contributed your grades to the community limited set review. If you haven't had an opportunity, you can follow the link and tell us how all the new (and returning) cards are going to play in draft and sealed.
And wow, have you guys ever responded. With over 100,000 grades Core Set 2019 is the largest limited set review we've every put together. Thank you to everyone who's contributed and to everyone who has supported this project by visiting the site, discussing the cards and sharing links to the project. It's been a great privilege to be part of your set review.
That said, when this many players gets together to rate limited cards they aren't always going to perfectly agree. Centaur Courser, for example:
The community thinks this vanilla is the definition of a solid limited card - a 'C' on the rating scale. However, a large contingent thinks an easy to cast 3/3 for 3 is worth at least a 'C+'. This relatively small disagreement manifests itself as a tight distribution of grades clustered around these two points. We can measure this disagreement mathematically by asking: if we picked two random participants from the community review how much, on average, would their grades differ? According to this metric, the venerable Centaur is the least controversial card in the set.
But what about those cards where the community can't agree? What about the cards where the community offered wildly different grades? Today I'm going to take a look at the 8 most controversial commons and uncommons in Core Set 2019 as voted by you - the limited playing community. I'll start by summarizing the controversy, then offer my take on the card...
...which, given these cards, is guaranteed to be controversial.
8. Knightly Valor (Community Grade C+)
The controversy: Knightly Valor may be an expensive aura - one of the riskier card types to play in limited - but the upside is that it brings in 4 power and toughness and makes a huge, and essentially hasty, vigilant threat. That's the kind of tempo that can put an opponent on their back foot and on a short clock. The controversy comes from the fact that bounce spells and instant speed removal spells put you in danger of getting 2 for 1'd.
So does the upside make up for the risk associated with a five mana aura? The community on average thinks it does - and Knightly Valor gets an above average grade - a "C+".
What I think: Aura's are at their best when removal is weaker - and Core Set 2019's removal seems to be step down from a set like Dominaria. As such, I think teaching your creatures the code of chilvary is something most white decks are going to be happy to do. And while your creatures helping old ladies cross the street may be upside enough, we haven't even discussed that there seems to be an auras theme supported in Core Set 2019:
To me that's a recipe for Knightly Valor to surpass the community's expectations. Casting Knightly Valor isn't without it's risks, but I think this card is going to end up being very good.
7. Rogue's Gloves (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Rogue's Glove offers a sweet payoff - an extra card each turn - but that comes with a high cost, 4 mana, and then only if one of you creatures can connect with the opponent.
The community has weighed the risks here and, on average, decided that Rogue's Gloves is generally more of a liability - it's a below average 'C-'.
What I think: There are just too many ways for my plans to give my thopter sticky fingers could go wrong. My creature could be bounced, killed or just blocked and I'd be down mana and precious tempo.
There are definitely board states where Rogue's Glove is going to bury opponents. However, having to take a turn off to play and equip the gloves is going to prevent you from doing the things you need to do in order to craft those board states - namely, playing creatures and clearing blockers.
6. Inferno Hellion (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Inferno Hellion offers 7 trampling power for the low, low cost of 4 mana. And the cost of shuffling it away if it ever actually gets to use that power.
The community thinks that makes Inferno Hellion a below average card and grades it as a C-.
What I think: Inferno Hellion is an interesting twist on this:
It serves the same basic function as Lava Axe - trading one card for a whole bunch of damage. In one respect Lava Axe is better at reaching out and melting your opponent's face if you need to just get in those final points of damage. On the other hand, Inferno Hellion is better because it actually does something if your opponent isn't at 5. And while blocking with Hellion isn't necessarily what you want to do with a 7 power trampler, the flexibility is very appreciated.
Since Lava Axe is my prototypical 'D' card - some decks will want it but it's not for everyone - I think the community got Inferno Hellion just about right.
5. Meteor Golem (Community Grade C+)
The controversy: I finally get to break out the old standby: "Expensive but powerful spells are a mainstay on the most controversial list." The ability to nuke any problematic card from orbit and leave behind a reasonably sized body to boot is powerful even if it is tied for the most expensive common or uncommon in the set.
The community has decided that the price is worth it and gives Meteor Golem an above average rating - a "C+".
What I think: In Sealed I'm going to enjoy watching Meteor Golem's impact on the game. In draft I'm more nervous, because Core Set 2019 actually does give decks the tools to be aggressive, but I think Meteor Golem will help decks stabilize and pull ahead in enough matches that I'm willing to risk it.
The fact that drafting a Meteor Golem early leaves you open makes me rate it just a hair better than the community average.
4. Blanchwood Armor (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Blanchwood Armor can make even the most modest creature unreasonably huge. Provided your opponent can't kill or bounce it, and that your mana base cooperates with you.
While the upside has tempted some players, on average the community has decided Blanchwood Armor is a below average 'C-'.
What I think: Let's assume for a second that the aura deck is real, and that drawing cards off of Satyr Enchanter or getting tokens off of Druids of Horns is a decent strategy in Core Set 2019. In that case I'm very happy with Luminious Bonds to give me some removal:
And I've already said that I like Knightly Valor as a generically good card. And I also like the fact that Talons of Wildwood makes the usual downsides of auras a little less painful:
And that Oakenform gives me 3 power and toughness even if my mana base isn't quite so full of forests:
So is Blanchwood Armor the forth or fifth best aura for a deck that wants auras? Yikes.
3. Sleep (Community Grade B-)
The controversy: Blue lava axe is a great way for aggressive decks to put away a game. And a great way for other decks to find out the 4 mana sorcery speed fogs feel terrible when you are behind.
Although telling your opponent's creatures to take a nap can range from devastating to inconsequential, the community thinks that, on average, Sleep is a strong card and a signal to move into blue - a "B-".
What I think: I've stared at too many useless Sleeps rotting in my hand to be too taken by this reprint. When Sleep works it's going to be backbreaking, but to me it's more a replaceable part for an aggro deck rather than a strong draw toward one.
2. Rupture Spire (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Rupture Spire can fix your mana worries at the cost of a single mana. However, the downside on Rupture Spire makes for some seriously awkward play patterns - unlike most come into play tapped lands, you can't sneak Rupture Spire into play on turn 1, and being cut off of two mana in the early turns of a limited game is always painful.
The community recognizes this awkwardness and, on average, thinks that Rupture Spire is a below average inclusion - a "C-".
What I think: We should start any discussion about Rupture Spire by looking at the state of mana fixing in Core Set 2019. The only other lands that provide mana fixing are the cycle of tap lands, Cinder Barrens and company:
Despite being "commons" these lands aren't part of the common print runs. Instead, they replace the basic land in 5 out of every 12 packs. Since there are ten of these they will show up with a frequency of about 5/120 per pack, compared to a normal uncommon like Rupture Spire which shows up at a frequency of 4.5/120 per pack, making the tapped duels essentially "bonus" uncommons.
What will the effect be of having about half the packs opened contain a dual land? Hopefully it means I won't ever have to play a Rupture Spire.
1. Psychic Corrosion (Community Grade D+)
The controversy: More than one limited player has been driven insane by the argument of whether this format is finally going to be the one with a viable mill deck. Core Set 2019 provides two other cards to power up opponent's Lab Maniacs:
However, despite these cards hinting at the possibility that my opponent might find no cards left for them to draw, the community is skeptical and thinks Psychic Corrosion is a fringe playable "D+".
What I think: I personally think that Psychic Corrosion is better situated as a hard to interact with finisher than a piece in a dedicated mill deck. And while there is some value in being able to pressure your durdling opponent with an unblockable, hard to remove clock, this is something only a few decks will want.
Those are the 8 most controversial commons and uncommons in Core Set 2019. What cards am I wrong about? Where is the community misjudging the cards? Do you have a better read on the environment? Let us know: rate the cards yourself.