Overrated And Underrated Cards From Core Set 2019

Jim Davis loves to look his readers in the eye and tell the truth! Some of these cards people are hyped about won’t make it, but many will! So which is which?

Okay, I get it.

While Dominaria was a really exciting set that was jam packed with
flavorful and fun cards, Pro Tour Dominaria ended up being
completely dominated by Goblin Chainwhirler and friends. It looked like
Standard was once again going to be a disaster and hope faded.

Despite the poorly designed Goblin Chainwhirler making life extremely
difficult for a large portion of the creatures in the format, Standard has
still managed to even itself out reasonably over the last few months. There
are various midrange decks, Goblin Chainwhirler decks, God-Pharaoh’s Gift
decks, control decks, beatdown decks, and even oddball decks like this
Sifter Wurm deck:


It’s not perfect, but it has evened out. And now, we have another new set
to add on top!

Core Set 2019
is here, along with a whole host of new cards looking to shake up Standard.
New planeswalkers, tribal cards, enablers, and more are entering the fray,
and in order to get a leg up on the first few weeks of events like #SCGWOR or your local
FNMs/PPTQs, card evaluation is going to be king. Whether you’re just
updating your old deck or brewing something entirely new, being among the
first to properly identify if a card is a dud or a stud will give you a
huge edge.

So, as we did
a few months ago with Dominaria
, we will once again be looking at a collection of cards in Core Set 2019 that are either currently overrated or underrated,
in an attempt to bring their evaluations closer to reality. Presenting…

The Core Set 2019 Over / Under:

Resplendent Angel

Let’s get right to it.

Do you know what I see when I see Resplendent Angel?

I see Jenara, Asura of War. I see Olivia, Mobilized for War. I see Mantis
Rider without any upside. I see Necrogen Scudder without any downside.

In short, like most of these cards, I see a 3/3 flier for three mana with a
lot of words on it and no future in Constructed Magic. There was a time
where a 3/3 flier for three mana would be downright exciting, but we are
far past that time. You need some serious upside, like maybe haste and
vigilance, to get the immediate impact necessary for Constructed play.
Triggering Resplendent Angel seems exceedingly difficult playing against a
competent opponent, and the six mana activated ability is just asking for a

Just because a card has a reasonable rate, a ton of words on it, and a
mythic rare symbol does not mean it’s automatically going to be a Standard

Vine Mare

Vine Mare, however, is a house.

Very reminiscent of the powerhouse that was Phantom Centaur back in the
day, Vine Mare is a nightmare for any deck relying primarily on removal
spells for defense. Hexproof is a much maligned mechanic for a reason, and
if your deck is jam packed with copies of Fatal Push, Abrade, Vraska’s
Contempt, and friends what are you supposed to do about Vine Mare? Gee…
is there a deck like that right now…?

Going into #SCGWOR,
Grixis Midrange feels like the front runner for de facto “best new deck” in
the format, and Vine Mare is one of the best threats you can have against
it. Almost nothing can kill it and, more importantly, almost nothing can
block it either.

Furthermore, the cards that these black decks usually use to beat hexproof
threats are deathtouch blockers like Gonti, Lord of Luxary and Gifted
Aetherborn, which are completely ineffective against Vine Mare.

Vine Mare is great!

Viashino Pyromancer

Not every card is going to be an insane planeswalker or bomb mythic rare.

Viashino Pyromancer is an unassuming little common that fills a very nice
role. It’s a two-drop, it does some damage, it can finish off a
planeswalker… it’s a nice Limited card, right? Sure, but there’s one word
on it that makes it a consideration for Standard play:

“Viashino Wizard.

There was a mild Wizard tribal theme in Dominaria, which provided
a few nice payoffs without giving a critical mass of good Wizards to help
turn them on. The biggest of which is pretty much actual Lightning Bolt in
Wizard’s Lightning, which is a huge addition to the already legal Shock and
Lightning Strike. However, finding enough Wizards to play was tough.

Viashino Pyromancer helps red decks to reach that critical mass to get
Wizard’s Lightning into the decklist. Whether it’s U/R Wizards or Mono-Red
Flame of Keld decks, Viashino Pyromancer fills a nice niche.

Vivien Reid

Okay, nobody is mistaking Vivien Reid as a hugely impactful Standard card,
but I just wanted to gripe about how boring her design is. Vivien
Reid is just the green version of the super generic planeswalker design
that has gotten very common:

Planeswalker Lady

+1: Draw a card in some manner.

-3: Remove a permanent from the battlefield in some manner.

-8: Create an emblem that will make you heavily favored to win.

5 Loyalty

Sure there’s some variation here or there in loyalty or mana cost, but you
get the idea:

And so on.

There have been some notably cool planeswalkers lately, but come on,
WotC… Planeswalkers are supposed to be unique and special!

Graveyard Marshal

Hot damn is Graveyard Marshal good.

I don’t think anyone out there is saying that Graveyard Marshal is bad, but
I also don’t think that people are properly conceptualizing how good it is. Scrapheap Scrounger has shown us how solid a 3/2 body
is for two mana and Graveyard Marshal can block while also being a great
creature type. But there’s so much more.

Graveyard Marshal’s activated ability is phenomenal. Given enough time,
Graveyard Marshal can raise an entire army of Zombies to overrun and
overpower your opponent. The fact that they’re Zombies helps to push
whatever Zombie tribal synergies you may be running, providing both synergy
and power in a small and efficient package. The ability is great, but the
fact that it’s attached to an already well costed creature makes Graveyard
Marshal a full package for only two mana. It even crews Heart of Kiran!

If there’s an aggressive black or Zombie deck in Standard, Graveyard
Marshal will be a cornerstone.

Sai, Master Thopterist

Have we finally reached a point where there’s enough critical mass for an
artifact-focused deck in Standard?

Ever since Kaladesh and Aether Revolt there have been a
laundry list of artifact themed cards trying to make it. Improvise cards
like Herald of Anguish and Maverick Thopterist, all the way up to Dominaria cards like Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp and The Antiquities
War… the Standard artifact deck has always been rumored but elusive.

Alongside Karn, Scion of Urza, Sai, Master Thopterist may be able to change

Sai, Master Thopterist is quite the package for three mana. Four toughness
is just enough to get out of range of many of the format’s removal spells,
while three mana lets him come down early enough to get things rolling.
Sai’s ability to make Thopter tokens is not only great on both offense and
defense, but the ability is self-perpetuating. Each artifact you cast now
counts as two artifacts for synergies, allowing you to quickly build a
battlefield full of artifacts; Karn’s Construct tokens really like this.

But wait, there’s more.

Sai is also a card draw engine too! Two mana to turn a random artifact into
a new card is great, as that new card will hopefully be an artifact that
will make two more artifacts and even more cards. In a lot of ways Sai is
similar to Tireless Tracker in that it draws more of the cards that let it
draw more cards.

That’s quite the package for three mana. I don’t know exactly where Sai
fits in to the Standard puzzle (aside from likely alongside Karn, Scion of
Urza), but the power is there. Sai also plays very well with our next
underrated card:

Tezzeret, Artifice Master

Another great artifact-themed card? Sign me up!

Tezzeret, Artifice Master is another self-perpetuating card draw engine and
artifact maker that fits right in with Sai, Master Thopterist and Karn,
Scion of Urza. As cards like Whirler Virtuoso, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and
Lingering Souls have shown us, groups of flying tokens are very powerful.
They block well, they attack well, and they’re highly resistant to targeted

On a complex battlefield Tezzeret gets to start making flying tokens right
away, while also going up to a very high six loyalty. This Bitterblossom
effect is nice, but the real prize is when you untap and begin to
stabilize. How about drawing two cards every turn for no loss in loyalty?
That’s something that’s almost unheard of in modern planeswalker design,
providing a substantial amount of card advantage for no loss in loyalty.

Like Karn, Tezzeret can’t just slide into any deck and be very effective.
But if you’re playing a critical mass of artifacts and looking for a
powerful curve topper, Tezzeret feels pretty incredible.

Sarkhan, Fireblood

Not every planeswalker in Core Set 2019 is a winner however,
despite Sarkhan, Fireblood being a fun design.

In a lot of ways, Sarkhan, Fireblood is like a bizarre mixture of Azor’s
Gateway and Manalith. You get to loot, and you get to awkwardly add mana,
and if you’re really lucky you get to make a bunch of Dragons. However,
your opponent also gets to attack, burn, or remove either of these
resources as well. Is it worth it?

What it comes down to is… do you really want Azor’s Gateway or Manalith
in your deck? Sarkhan’s double red mana cost is not an easy pill to
swallow, and putting a bunch of Dragons in your deck is also a fairly
limiting restriction. If you’re going to put a bunch of four and five mana
dragons in your deck, you need all your other spells to be cheap and allow
you to get to a safe point to cast said Dragons.

Sarkhan doesn’t defend itself or you, doesn’t help bridge the gap the mid
game, doesn’t provide card advantage, and is very unreliable against any
opponent pressuring you.

No thanks.

If you’re looking for a nice Dragon enabler that’s much more reliable and
provides actual card advantage, try Dragon’s Hoard instead.

More Unders Than Overs

A good sign for Core Set 2019 is that it feels like there are far
more cards being underrated than overrated.

Not every card will find a home, but there’s a number of interesting ones
that I look forward to trying out. There’s more synergy than rate in the
set, which is my kind of Magic. I’m very excited to see what #SCGWOR brings to the
table, as well as tackling new Standard on my stream next week.

For this weekend though, I’ll just have to be content playing Modern from
the B seat and watching the A seat’s Standard matches longingly. Soon
Standard… soon!