Finally, every single card for Core Set 2021 is out for us to look at! It’s unclear what will be good, but the commons this time around are more powerful than in the average core set and the removal is fantastic! Check out these commons:
My one expectation after reviewing the entire set is that synergy will be much more important than in most core sets. Simic cares about drawing cards and Izzet cares about spells, so don’t think of Opt as some random filler common. Opt will be a significant role-player in a variety of blue strategies and it even helps Dimir piece together reanimation combos. When drafting Core Set 2021, position into a synergy deck if possible. This isn’t usually the core set recipe, but it’s what the cards seem to point to.
With this in mind, let’s jump into a draft!
Pack 1, Pick 1
I’m usually a fan of taking rares at the beginning of any new Draft format. Generally, it’s good form to maximize exposure to rares in order to get an informed opinion as early as possible. However, Conspicuous Snoop is rarely going to be more than a glorified Runeclaw Bear. Goblin Arsonist is a common hit, but it’s not a high-value card to put in your deck.
Bad Deal is a hard card to evaluate. It can be a four-for-one, but that’s conditioned on your opponent having cards in their hand. That might sound like a small ask, but on a six-mana sorcery, the hellbent scenario might be more common than intuitive. At first I was pretty low on Bad Deal, but then I realized that if it cost 4WB, I would like it more because Orzhov has a lifegain theme. The two life is inconsequential, and that kind of theme yields long games that can really take advantage of late-game grindy cards. So if Bad Deal ends up good in Orzhov, and technically still playable in other black archetypes, the card can’t be that bad. That being said, I don’t want to start a draft with Bad Deal. If it turns out the format is incredibly slow, it’s probably the correct card to take out of this pack. However, that’s a pretty unlikely situation given that both Selesnya and Boros look quite aggressive.
This leaves Indulging Patrician. Lifelink and flying are the two best evergreen keywords for Limited, and a 1/4 body with those keywords is certainly above par for three mana. Gaining three life seems to be an important threshold, as can be seen on the Griffin Aerie in this pack. I’m unsure how common it will be to trigger Indulging Patrician’s life loss, but it seems like that’s a key component to Orzhov. I don’t mind starting with a gold card, and I genuinely believe Indulging Patrician is first-pick material. It’s probably worse to start with than the best common removal such as Grasp of Darkness and Scorching Dragonfire, but a fine first pick.
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
Teferi’s Ageless Insight is an interesting card, and if it was Pack 1, Pick 1, I would take it to experiment. It might be busted, and maybe I should just take it to experiment anyway, but generally four-mana enchantments that don’t guarantee something fall flat. The ceiling is incredible, but the floor is comparably terrible.
Skyscanner is a fine playable, but that’s all. Don’t let the colorless nature fool you into thinking that it “keeps you open.” It keeps you open the same way Hexplate Golem does. Some decks will want it, but most won’t care for it and even the decks that want it won’t miss it.
I expect Basri’s Acolyte to be a top common in this format, and would be happy to first-pick it. It’s a fantastic followup to Indulgent Patrician too! The next pack also has a Basri’s Acolyte, but there’s some stiff competition. Would you take a second copy?
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
I can’t tell if Garruk’s Uprising is one of the best versions of this effect we have seen or not. Colossal Majesty is usually terrible, but that has to do with timely removal combating the card advantage. Furious Rise at least answers this by requiring that removal to be instant-speed, but that card comes with significant timing issues for using the extra cards. Garruk’s Uprising can’t just provide an endless stream of cards alongside a 4/4, but it also is harder to combat the card advantage engine since most removal won’t do it, and providing trample is nothing to scoff at. Still, I don’t think it’s a card that should be taken highly.
Sanctum of Calm Waters is the best standalone Sanctum, and should be an early pick. Multiple Sanctums can get out of control quickly, and so the ones that don’t require extra work to be good are impressive. However, I don’t think it’s good enough to draw me that far away from my current pool. Yes, it’s probably playable in Azorius, but Sanctum of Tranquil Light is not an exciting card, making Sanctum of Calm Waters worse in Azorius.
Does Conclave Mentor compete with Basri’s Acolyte? I think so! I know a lot of players would say taking this gold card isn’t “staying open” and it’s better form to stay mono-white for as long as possible. I think that’s a fallacy. What’s to say that having an Orzhov card, a white card, and a Selesnya card isn’t comparably “mono-white?” The pool provides the exact same bias towards a white deck. Sure, not having the second Basri’s Acolyte means that, should I draft Azorius or Boros, I am missing a card. But in this day and age, every deck is so flush with playables that that isn’t a big deal. It is much more important to position yourself for success.
Passing Conclave Mentor means that another player at the table will draft the card, as it’s too powerful to wheel. This means that, by passing it, you are reducing the probability that it’s correct to draft Selesnya for this seat. It doesn’t remove it from the equation, but it makes a significant dent. I believe that taking Conclave Mentor maintains the highest probability of drafting a white archetype. Given that, in Selesnya, Conclave Mentor is likely going to be the literal best card in the deck, I believe it is the correct pick out of this pack.