Most Controversial Rares and Mythics of Core Set 2019

29 Jun 2018

Core Set 2019 is coming, and it's bringing with it a brand new limited format. To prepare for this new format you - the limited playing community - have put together the Core Set 2019 community set review. You've collectively provided over 110,000 grades for the new (and returning) cards, trying to discern just how good they are in draft and sealed.


Your participation and support has been awe inspiring, and if you haven't yet had a chance to contribute follow the link above and grade some cards. This project only exists because of your support, whether that support is in the form of you grading the cards, visiting the site, or sharing these links on social media. You have made the Core Set 2019 set review the largest ever, so I'd like to start by saying: Thank you! You guys are amazing!


Now, when you look at the results of a couple hundred players rating a card you'll notice that we don't always vote the same way. Let's use as an example one of the cards where the community agreed the most:


A 4/4 flyer for 4 mana that turns into this:

...well that's pretty darn powerful, but is it 'A' or even 'A+' powerful? Or does the restrictive mana cost mean that this card is just going to be too hard to play? Is it a "B" or is it even a "D"? While the average community grade is an 'A' you can see not every player has the exact same opinion of the villainous elder dragon.


Now some cards incite more disagreement than others. What about the cards where the community just couldn't seem to agree? In the last article we looked at the most controversial commons and uncommons of Core Set 2019. In this article we are going look at the 8 most controversial rares and mythics - as voted on by you, the limited playing community. For each card I'll start by summarizing the controversy, looking at the average community grade and then offering my take... 


...which, given these cards, is guaranteed to be controversial.


Honorable Mention: Crucible of Worlds

The controversy: This spot in the list is for Crucible and it's other eternal format playable but dodgy in limited brethren:

These three cards are the most controversial cards according to my standard measure for controversy - namely "the cards with the highest average distance between two random grades in the sample." And while in each case the majority of the community has deemed these cards unplayable in draft, a handful of players have given these cards high ratings.


Community Grade: D


What I think: You shouldn't play these cards in limited. However, I'm not going to hold it against you if you do choose to first pick a ten dollar bill.


Verdict: F


These three cards highlight an issue with the set review's controversy metric - namely, it's sensitive to outliers when there is otherwise strong agreement. Over half of Crucible's grades were F ratings, which to me indicates a pretty high level of agreement. So for this article I'm going to be test driving a new controversy metric. Informally it's a measure of how spread out the distribution is, for the mathematically inclined it's the kurtosis of the distribution. And math lovers, I would love to hear your suggestions for a better way of measuring 'controversy' so please let me hear your ideas! With that, on to the list.


8. Phylactery Lich

The controversy: 5/5 indestructible for 3. Seems decent. If you find a proper storage vessel for Phylactery Lich to keep his stuff, your opponent is going to be in a whole lot of trouble.


So is the restrictive casting cost and artifact requirement too much trouble for an under costed beater?


The community has decided that Pyhlactery Lich is worth it and is an above average card.


Community grade: C+


What I think: There's a definite artifact theme in Core Set 2019:

And while this theme is most prevalent in blue/white I could easily see a blue/black version of this deck that makes use of the Lich. Given just how powerful the Lich can be, I see it as a strong incentive to start drafting artifact matter cards. I guess that means I have to give Phylactery Lich something in the B range.


Verdict: B-


7. Patient Rebuilding


The controversy: Patient Rebuilding serves dual roles as both a mill win condition and a way to draw extra cards each turn, if somewhat unreliably. The controversy seems to stem from the community's skepticism of whether a mill based win condition is good enough and whether conditional cards every turn is worth spending five mana on a card that doesn't effect the board.


In the end the community thought that it was worth giving Patient Rebuilding a chance and rated it an above average card.


Community grade: C+


What I think: This card is very good. Even in aggressive formats I find enchantments that sit around and let me draw an extra card each turn worth it, even if I have to take a turn off to get them onto the battlefield. Patient Rebuilding is better than the prototypical card in that vein because, first, it gives you on average more that one card a turn, second, doubles as a win condition, and third, has really sweet art of Nicol Bolas reshaping Amonkhet.


I feel the need to justify at least one of those claims with some math so let's talk about how the ratio of the top half of the art and it's reflection in Magali Villeneuve's piece is exactly the golden ratio...


Oh, and I guess I should also mention that your typical limited deck is 40% lands meaning that Patient Rebuilding draws on average 1.2 cards/turn.


Since Patient Rebuilding can't always save you if you are behind I can't in good conscience give this a straight A, but this is definitely a card I will playing every opportunity I get.


Verdict: A-


6. Sarkhan's Unsealing


The controversy: Sarkhan's Unsealing is a red build-around-me style enchantment that offers a big reward for the right kind of deck. In this case it looks to be a payoff geared toward the red/green ramp and big stuff deck. In the best case, it turns each new creature you play into a kill spell, or in the very best case a one sided wrath. In the worst case you play Sarkhan's Unsealing and never have it do anything. The question is: is it good enough to be worth building around?


The community's answer is "yes" and they have rated Sarkhan's Unsealing as a strong reason to start taking ferocious creatures.


Community grade: B-


What I think: Let me show you two red commons I would be perfectly happy playing in any red deck:

Now imagine putting these otherwise acceptable cards in the same deck as Sarkhan's Unsealing, and you can begin to see why I think it may be one of the better cards in the set. Also let me just remind you of another red card that made the list of controversial commons and uncommons:

I can't wait to unlock the "Wrathing an opponent twice with the same Inferno Hellion" achievement.


Verdict: B+


5. Fraying Omnipotence


The controversy: Fraying Omnipotence is a potent and dangerous package. It can wreck an opponent's game plan, but at a high cost to yourself. I don't think I can actually say it better than /u/marcusredfun on the community review thread over on reddit, so I'm just going to quote him:


Yea it's very similar to The Eldest Reborn, except replace "you get a creature" with "you lose all your stuff"



Yep. That leaves the question: Is the potential upside of Fraying Omnipotence worth the cost?


The community is mostly down on Fraying Omnipotence, with a large contingent of players deeming it a simply unplayable 'F'.


Community grade: C-


What I think: Breaking Fraying Omnipotence is a three step recipe - first, getting creatures into play that don't mind being sacrificed:

Check and check.


Second, you need to catch your opponent with an odd number of creatures in play and/or an odd number of cards in hand to your even number of cards and creatures. This is tricky, but if your opponent doesn't realize you are playing the Fraying Omnipotence game, you might be able to get them.


Third, you need to be have a deck that can play the game effectively after getting cut off from half its resources.


Even if you do all this Fraying Omnipotence is only a value card, and not one that will get you out of a bad situation, for instance, if your opponent has played a big flyer you can't deal with.


So while I do appreciate the upside, casting Fraying Omnipotence effectively demands too much from your deck and game plan to be something I'm thrilled playing.


Verdict: D+


4. Gigantosaurus


The controversy: 10 power, 10 toughness, 5 mana. Oh, and the most restrictive mana cost we've seen in a long time.


Is a huge under costed vanilla creature worth warping your mana base? On average the community is optimistic that Gigantosaurus will be an above average card.


Community grade: C+


What I think: Let's think through exactly how restrictive GGGGG is. The downside here is that if you are casting this on turn 10 in your average two color deck you're not going to feel like you've cheated the mana cost gods. Even if your deck is a very green deck - one that is running ten or eleven forests - your aren't going to see five green sources until you have seven or eight lands in play. For the most part you aren't going to be playing Gigantosaurus unless your are nearly 100% green sources.


And your reward for skewing your deck to that extent is a really huge vanilla with no evasion. For no particular reason I'm just going to put a picture of this card here:

However, if you do end up mono green Gigantosaurus will be a super sweet payoff.  I just don't see that being something that is going to happen very often in Core Set 2019.


Verdict: D-


3. Liliana, Untouched by Death


The controversy: Liliana, Untouched by Death is somewhat hampered by the fact that if you don't have zombies it literally does nothing. Like actual nothing. It can mill you, or not hurt your opponent's creatures, or not let you cast cards from your graveyard. That's a hat trick of nada. A trifecta of zilch. A trio of zero.


If you do have a critical mass of zombies the story is different. In that case she protects herself, "draws" you cards, and let's you bury your opponent in reanimated undead.


So is Liliana worth it? Does Core Set 2019 provide her the tools to terrorize opponents? The community has decide that yes, she's an above average card.


Community grade: C+


What I think: Let me show you the list of every common zombie creature in Core Set 2019:

This is sort of a good news/bad news situation. Good news is that no one is going to be fighting you over drafting Walking Corpses, the bad news is that your deck will be full of Walking Corpses.


There are some sweet rares that might make a zombie deck an occasional reality, but for the most part I think Core Set 2019 just doesn't give Liliana, Untouched by Death enough dead bodies to work with.


Verdict: D-


2. One with the Machine


The controversy: One with the Machine has the potential to be a back breaking card in an artifact based deck. Drawing three, five or even seven cards makes for a amazing top end for this rare.


However, this card could just as easily do absolutely nothing. Is the all or nothing nature of One with the Machine worth the risk?


The community has decided that on balance, no matter how many cards it may draw, the risk that One with the Machine does nothing outweighs any potential benefit.


Community grade: C-


What I think: One with the Machine is one of the more exciting payoffs for drafting the blue artifact deck. I'm willing to draft an early One with the Machine in the hopes that I can cobble enough of these machines to merge with:

One with the Machine is a card I'm willing to gamble on early and draws me toward a specific deck. Accordingly, I feel like it must be in the B range. However, I can't put it too high given that it's both highly conditional and only really plays one role in the artifact deck - that of a powerful finisher.


Verdict: B-


1. Chaos Wand


The controversy: Slow, unpredictable, yet potentially powerful, Chaos Wand seems like a card that was destined for a spot on the most controversial list. For 4 mana you get to draw and cast an extra spell each turn. That is an excellent rate. However, you have absolutely no control over what spells the wand might spit out. But if you do get lucky and hit a string of relevant removal spells Chaos Wand is going to easily win you the game.


Is it worth trying to wield such an unpredictable relic?


The community on average thinks - well I'm not sure - Chaos wand's ratings are all over the place as is befitting the most controversial card in Core Set 2019.


Community grade: C


What I think: Call me a pessimist, but I can't shake the feeling that when I activate wand I'm going to flip conditional removal spells with no targets, or a combat trick, or even a counterspell. And I'm not sure how to feel if I flip over this:

I think the possibility of spending 7 or 11 mana and bricking is just too painful for me to actually like Chaos Wand in general. However, I do think the Wand is an amazing sideboard card against removal heavy decks, but in most decks I don't think I see a place for it.


Verdict: D

Those are the 8 most controversial cards 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.


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