Core 2019 Cube Review

Hello and welcome to Only On Tuesdays! This week I will be reviewing Core set 2019 for cube, and examining what cards might make it into our awesome format. I will only be looking over cards that I think have potential for cube, and thus will be ignoring some cards such as Isolate. If you think there is a card I missed, or you feel as if I misevalutated a card let me know in the comments below. Let’s get to it!

Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

I don’t think this card is good enough to make the cut. 4 mana white cards are viciously competitive in cube, and other planeswalkers such as Elspeth, Knight Errant, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are both significantly more impactful. The reanimation on this is nice, but no other ability makes me want to play this card. Grade C-

Resplendent Angel

If you support lifegain in your cube this is a fantastic card. Being able to make a Serra Angel just for doing something you already want to be doing is awesome. 3 mana 3/3 flyer is also not bad stats, and it works really well with another cube all-star Lyra Dawnbringer. Even if you don’t support lifegain, this card on it’s own is still pretty great. Even getting one angel can be more than enough to snowball your way to victory. Grade A-

Leonin Warleader

Hero of Kittyhold! Hero of Bladehold is a very powerful Magic card, and while this isn’t quite as good, having lifelink instead of battlecry is relevant. This is a card that control decks are likely to pick, where they normally wouldn’t pick Bladehold, however I don’t think it’s strong enough to see play in the white weenie deck. Being at the 4 drop slot in white isn’t helping it’s chances in cube either. Having multiple types of this effect is still very nice to have. Grade B

Cleansing Nova

Having a board wipe that is effective against both aggro and control is a very unique effect, and flexibility is a very important aspect for cards to have in cube. My only issue with this card is that it is just too expensive. It’s probably not wrathing the board in time to save your lifetotal, and 5 mana is a lot to fight over in a counterspell war. Grade C

Gallant Calvary

Now this isn’t a card I am considering very heavily for stronger cubes. However, for pauper cubes this card is the nuts. Flicker is a very common supported strategy in lower rarity cubes, and being able to flicker this even once is amazing. I really like this card for Pauper, but it’s probably not going to see play anywhere else. Grade A

Metamorphic Alteration

This kind of effect is very interesting. It’s very versatile in what it can do, but is not broken at all. Get rid of the best creature on the battlefield by turning it into a token, or vice versa turning your random token into a Grave Titan. It doesn’t trigger etb’s which is relevant when you want to transform a problematic creature and your Man-o’-war is still lying around. I can’t say for certain how good this card is, but it’s worth testing. Grade B

Exclusion Mage

A near identical Man-o’-War reprint is something to take note of. In a cube that runs a lot of flicker effects this card can be a terrible nuisance for your opponent. Seeing another effect like this is good to have, and could potentially be ran in larger cubes. Not being able to bounce one of your own creatures is a pretty significant drawback however. Grade B-

Aven Wind Mage

Wind drake is already a very playable card, and giving it prowess is a very cool thing to have. This card can fit into a lot of archetypes, Izzet Spellslinging, Azorious Flyers, Simic Counters etc. Aven Wind Mage seems like it will fit into a lot of Pauper cubes and provide a very good effect at a very good price. Grade B+

 

 

Bone Dragon

Black 5 drops aren’t the most competitive slot at the moment, but I’m not sure this card makes the cut either. It’s obvious comparison is Bloodgift Demon, same size and abilities except that it draws cards rather than reanimating itself. Exiling seven cards is also a pretty big downside meaning you will only get to activate this ability maybe once a game. Grade C

Graveyard Marshall

A 2 mana 3/2 is very playable, and being in a relevant tribe is just gravy. It’s activated ability is very nice to have if drawn in the late game, and even though the double black pips can be a downside in some decks, in mono-black devotion it’s just a plus. It’s not a free inclusion in any cube, but given the right environment it could very well be a key player. Grade B

Demon of Catastrophes

I love this card. One card that is currently seeing play in a lot of cubes is Desecration Demon, and I find that card to be really weak. Demon of Catastrophes on the other hand can turn it’s downside into a really huge upside. It is very easy to sacrifice random tokens or creatures that are lying around and upgrade them into a massive flyer. Whereas all other cards with a statline like this are strictly downside, Demon of Catstrophes can turn its negative into a positive a lot of the time. Grade B+

Isareth, the Awakener

We’ve seen an effect very similar to this in Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and that card does a very good job of pulling its weight. Isareth’s ability is easier to activate, however you won’t be cheating in cards like Siege-Gang Commander, but at the very least all cards in your graveyard are fair game. Another issue I have with the card is that the creatures don’t come in tapped and attacking like Alesha, which means that this card would probably only see play in midrange black decks. I’m not too excited for this card overall. Grade C+

Dismissive Pyromancer

Seeing lots of text on a 2 drop is usually a very good thing, but it’s abilities don’t exactly make me super excited. Rummaging is nowhere near as good as looting, and it’s second ability sacrificing itself means that Dismissive Pyromancer is never really giving you card advantage. Consider this dismissed. Grade D

Dark-Dweller Oracle

Unlike Dismissve Pyromancer, this goblin actually gives card advantage to red in a very unique way. Being able to turn outdated Goblin Guides into better cards is really nice, and it has a respectable stats to boot. Combine this with a card like Act of Treason and you are really cooking with gas! Grade B+

Demanding Dragon

Punisher cards aren’t usually very good because giving your opponent a choice between bad and worse usually means they are going to just choose bad. Demanding Dragon breaks this stereotype however in being a very effective 5/5 flyer for 5 that either domes the opponent for 5 or eats a random creature. Considering I’d play this even in worst case scenario makes me like the card a lot more. Only thing preventing me from playing this is the fact that the red 5 drop slot already has three other dragons that outvalue this card pretty hard. (Glorybringer, Stormbreath Dragon, and Thundermaw Hellkite). Grade B-

Viashino Pyromancer

Another card that I would consider for Pauper cubes, shocking upon entry and still providing a body is a very nice effect for aggressive red decks to have. It’s not splashy, and doesn’t really work anywhere else besides aggro, but it’s a solid effect, and important for cubes to have. Grade B

Vivien Reid

When this card was first spoiled my initial thought was “meh”. That thought still remains. This card isn’t exactly doing anything new, and for 5 mana it’s not cheap enough to make me think that this mediocre of a Planeswalker is worth it. At the very least, I think that the character behind Vivien is awesome, and I hope to see better iterations of her in the future. Grade C-

Thorn Lieutennant

A 2 mana 2/3 that is impossible to target without giving up some value has my attention. Losing this guy after an opponent responds to you equiping your sword isn’t the biggest blowout in the world. It’s activated ability is probably not going to be activated, but just having it there gives it more depth than it would otherwise have. Only issues I have with this card is that green 2 drops are pretty good right now, and cards such as Sylvan Advocate probably outclass it. Grade B-

 

 

Runic Armasaur

Being able to draw a ton of cards off of this is the dream, but I unfortunately don’t think that dream will be a reality. Getting things off of opposing fetches, and Grim Lavamancer triggers is really nice, but I don’t think it will happen enough to actually garner a lot of card draw. Compared with the other 3 mana value cards in green, it’s seeing a lot of competition with Courser of Kruphix, Eternal Witness, and Yavimaya Elder. It’s got a big butt at least, I’ll give it that. Grade C

 

Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

If you pick this early on in a draft, you have things figured out. Cost reduction for fatties is a very sweet ability to have, and granting trample is important for cards such as Thragtusk. Giving another card to R/G stompy decks is also nice to see, and it swings in as a 5/4. I’d personally play this over a card like Oracle of Mul Daya as they fill in similar roles, but this bear can at least kill the opponent. Grade B+

Satyr Enchanter

With this many enchantress style effects available in Green and White now, building an enchantment sub-theme is very doable. It’s always awesome to get more effects like this, as it can enable a lot of fun things in singleton formats. Only thing holding it back is that it is the worst of all the enchantress cards so far. Grade C+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chromium, the Mutable

Is this as good as a Sphinx of the Steel Wind? Probably not, but I’d say this card is a lot cooler. It is a much harder to kill threat, competely stomps in the control mirror, and is a sweet dragon. I’ll be playing this over Sphinx of the Steel Wind, primarily because I don’t run Tinker in my list. Grade A-

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

This card is everything I ever wanted in my Grixis slot. It can see play in both the Grixis midrange lists, and the control lists. It creates card advantage as soon as it enters play, and represents 2 different threats in either a 4/4 flyer, or an unbeatable Planeswalker. I anticipate this card being the go to choice for Grixis in any cube. Grade A+

Palladia Mors, the Ruiner

This card is neat, but it’s not something that I’m really all too excited to be doing in my Naya colors. It hits the opponent once and then just becomes a big dumb flyer. Not very impressed with the Naya elder dragon unfortunately. Grade C

Vaevictus Asmadi, the Dire

I really like this card. Being able to Chaos Warp their best permanant and potentially turn a land into gas is a very powerful effect, and 6 mana is not impossible to reach. Vaevictus has a very unique effect, and is going to warrant me playing it over Broodmate Dragon in my cube. Is it as good as Broodmate? No, but it is much cooler, and for my cube it is a much more interesting choice. Grade B

 

Overall Thoughts

This set was not the most impactful for cube. It has a couple of cards that will see cube play, but beyond that card quality seriously begins to drop. This does not make M19 a bad set by any means. I am still just as excited for the return of core sets, and I believe that they did a fantastic job on this set. Core sets are an important part of Magic in my mind, and are the reason I fell in love with this game in the first place.

My top 5 cards for cube are going to be:

5: Chromium, the Mutable

 

4: Dark-Dweller Oracle

3: Gallant Calvary

2: Resplendent Angel

1: Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

Is there a card you think I overlooked? Do you not agree with some of my ratings? Let me know in the comment section. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

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