M13 Core Set Review: This year seems to be very different I’ve attended events in several local communities and the buzz is really good for M13.
The Core Set has gone through many changes during its lifetime, it’s been an introduction to Magic, it’s been a base to build decks from and once upon a time it even had white borders on the cards!
To be fair the Core set has been maligned for many a year, then came M10 and the tide began to turn as new cards were put into the set and we also were to get a yearly rotation of the set. Core Set limited has traditionally been classified as being a format with “Bombs” but we always have had some form of removal to deal with those bombs.
Many have bemoaned core set draft at Nationals but I for one would have loved the opportunity to be drafting anything at a Nationals this year. I’ve always enjoyed core set limited, I’ve had some nice results including second place last year in the 2HG Championship at Nationals and going 3-0 in the draft section of Senior Nationals in 2011 after an awesome blue white tempo deck.
This year seems to be very different I’ve attended events in several local communities and the buzz is really good for M13, people are excited about attending the Pre Release and how the new set will shake up the Standard format.
I’ve started writing this article and the spoiler isn’t complete, I imagine I will finish the article when everything is spoiled so there will be a spread of emotions over the cards in the sets, some old friends depart, some old friends return and some new cards catch the eye.
From first impressions the set looks really nicely thought out. You’ve got some cycles in the set with the new rings, we’ve got a Legendary Creature for each colour which will be in each of the theme decks as the premium foil as a deck building start point, the guest mechanic is Exalted and for the first time we have a multi coloured card in the reprint Nicol Bolas, Planewalker which ties into D13 as a rather nice marketing strategy.
Goodbye my dear friends.
Every year several cards will depart from the core set, some leave without making so much as a whimper, some promise so much but never reach that hype and some are so disliked that their departure is welcomed.
At this point the first cards we have to mention is of course the Titan cycle, these guys were big for two years and even managed to assist the value of Baneslayer Angel going into the tank. The debate will always be which was the best Titan and really only the Blue Frost Titan didn’t see play, I’ve had all the Titans in my decks at some time or other, my favourite though has to be Primeval Titan for all the fun I had with Eldrazi Green ramp during 2010 & 2011. Their passing will certainly shake up the format in October.
However, Titans are not the only cards set to depart and the list is looking wide and varied. Some cards follow in the vein of Fauna Shaman, Squadron Hawks and Obstinate Baloth to be around for one year and then gone, Angelic Destiny, Grand Abolisher, Phantasmal Image, Dungrove Elder and Timely Reinforcements; we will miss you but await your return in a future core set.
Personally I’ve really enjoyed using Dungrove Elders and only have a limited window to see how they interact with Rancor. Cecile, my partner, is seeing her deck fall off a clip at rotation as her favourite combo not only loses Mirran Crusader but the Angelic Destiny to make it obscene.
Some departing friends though have been around much longer and their loss may well be more significant. Just by reading the spoiler and number crunch we’ve lost several cards that could have a much bigger impact on the game.
After a year back in the sunshine we are losing our sad robots in Solemn Simulacrum and Grim Lavamancer. Both have seen play over the past year with Solemn Simulacrum featuring in many decks being a highly sought after card.
Birds of Paradise are leaving us again but they were in the original Ravnica so maybe this may be a diversion, we finally lose the Dragons Claw and its siblings but these hardly ever see play if we are honest and Overrun vanishes again for another variant to appear.
Two cards though haven’t made the cut, their cut though are two that may be format defining if strong removal is taken out of the format as Day of Judgment and Doom Blade are both due to leave us, Doom Blade also sees its friend Go for the Throat retiring at the same time.
A Quiet Night In.
We’ve now been told that the Core Duals, known as M10 duals will be returning again. This is really good as they are simple to use, the vast majority of players already have their play set and it means they will be readily available to newer players to acquire. These lands also have the potential to ally with “Shock Lands”, yes, I honestly believe that we will see the Ravnica Shock lands return over the next year but they will be mixed up with old Ravnica, Guildpact and Dissention lands coming in over different sets so the Guilds will interact differently in Limited play to make the experience different.
The Innistrad duals were enemy M10 lands also which again will work well for three colour decks around a core colour. The final clue is the cards that are being printed in M13, Wizards always like to do little tasters and clues to future sets, remember Future Sight and the card type Planeswalker on Tarmogoyf ? and Eye of Ugin before Rise of the Eldrazi ? Well just look at some of the cards confirmed in M13, Farseek is back to search out a Shock Land, Arbor Elf can untap a Shock Land, Lilliana of the Dark Realms can now search out Shock Lands and we have Mutilate which is based around the number of swamps you have in play. I’d say we are getting some clear messages where the game is heading.
So despite losing lots of friends we have plenty of cards that we will continue to play with. Serra Angel will continue to be a house in limited which is nice to see. Oblivion Ring returns being the white catch all answer to pretty much anything which is always a pleasing sight. Acidic Slime returns to give green decks a triple threat. The final returning card is Elixir of Immortality which I have always liked.
Well the big guy has to be mentioned first, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is an awesome card and he also has the flavour that many will desire him for a second time around.
Exalted comes back as the returning mechanic, this is a nice mechanic as it is simple to learn and also is extremely flexible. The arrival of Cathedral of War, a colourless Exalted lands is certainly an interesting development but don’t think it will be used that much as many decks are mana dependent and we have more versatile lands that offer colourless mana that also come into play untapped. With Exalted over all the colours it will sure be an interesting time.
One bug bear I have with the core set is when they bring cards from the previous year straight into the core set, this year we have Prey Upon back returning which may be great for limited play but I would have liked the spot to have added another card into the Standard format.
With the really good Angels in Avacyn Restored casual and competitive players will both like Serra Avenger, this card will also create a few talking points down at FNM when the full art top eight promos from Time Spiral see play. Planar Cleansing is back but this card is a very slow Day of Judgment.
The blue mage’s lose Mana leak and Cancel, getting back Essence Scatter may be okay in a more creature heavy format but you just know at some point it will be a dead card when your opponent resolves their Planeswalker. The most important counter spell coming back is the mighty Rewind, with it’s awesome land untapping. Blue limited doesn’t look to have taken a turn for the worse with Welkin Tern making a welcome return.
The power level of the core set seems to creep in tandem with the game, once upon a time Serra Angel was taken from us as it was deemed to be too powerful but since then we have had Baneslayer Angel and now the red guys are going to get Thundermaw Hellkite, we’ve come a long way from Shivan Dragon.
We have now got five new Legendary creatures into the mix and akin to the Planewalker’s they have synergetic cards within the Core set to support them and in ever popular races. I like the Merfolk tribe led by Talrand but with Master of the Pearl Trident and the old school Merfolk of the Pearl Trident.
Krenko for Goblins gets a functional reprint of Dragon Fodder which was a fun card when it was last in Standard though we haven’t got Goblin Bushwhacker to combo with it. Odric, Master Tactician and his soldiers look like they will be cool on the casual table but I doubt they will break through without Veteran Weaponsmith and Veteran Armorsmith.
After a year when Zombies were the big black bad guys we see Vampires coming Vampire Nocturnus and one of my personal favourites Vampire Nighthawk returning will give a big boost to the maligned tribe but they have plenty of support cards now like old friends Duress, Sign in and Mutilate.
No set review would be complete without mentioning our new Planeswalker’s,
+1: Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature.
-3: Target creature gains flying and double strike until end of turn.
-8: Put X 2/2 white Cat creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is your life total.
Do we think we will see the Ultimate go off, I think this could well be possible as Ajani is certainly an option in white Token based decks. Shame though that we didn’t get Ajani’s Pridemate back.
+1: Search your library for a Swamp card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
-3: Target creature gets +X/+X or -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of Swamps you control.
-6: You get an emblem with “Swamps you control have ‘: Add BBBB to your mana pools.'”
Land search in black is awesome, shame we haven’t got Korlash in the format as that would be really interesting, still for a few months we have Lashwrithe.
Overall, I am very happy with the latest Core Set and looking forward to getting to play with what I feel is the best core set ever produced.
Thank for reading, thanks for sharing.