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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Jun 19 2018 11:01am
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Core Sets are some of the weirdest sets for the entrenched Magic: The Gathering player.  In the long long ago, these sets were nothing but reprints of staples and filler cards.  They tried to form a limited format out of them, but often enough, these sets were too big, to unwieldy and packed with cards that no one really asked for.  Sure getting extra copies of Necropotence, Worship, Ensnaring Bridge or Blood Moon into circulation was nice, but with that we had to get copies of stuff like Shivan Dragon, Serra Angel, or Sengir Vampire, stuff that had been reprinted so many times that there was no real value in them.  By the time Tenth Edition rolled around, we had ten full core sets of nothing but reprints, and they were not really selling well, with the state of Magic 2010, we started to get original, new cards in core sets.  Baneslayer Angel, Thundermaw Hellkite, Primeval Titan, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy exist because of this shift in core set design, and as players, we're better off for it! 

Consider this, already in Core Set 2019, we have reprints of Crucible of Worlds and Scapeshift.  These are some valuable cards that see a ton of Modern play.  They do not really fit in any of the expert level sets though. Having core sets as a product allows Wizards of the Coast much needed wiggle room in regards to reprints.  Yes, these have been printed in Masters sets throughout the years, but reprinting these two cards in a pack with a much lower MSRP is exciting!  With the Masters sets moving their design to themes, it would be much harder to justify reprinting these kind of cards in those sets, but in a Core Set, where the goal is to get exciting reprints to go along with exciting new cards, it's a lot easier to slot these in to Mythic slots.

While the history of core sets is something really neat to look at, as are exciting reprints, I'm not really here to talk about that, Wizards of the Coast gave us a free preview card for Core Set 2019 and we appreciate that very much!  We are not revealing a reprint, but rather a brand new card that I feel is a nice call back to a very popular and loved card from Future Sight. 

Bridge from Below when first printed was a weird card.  It shared a mana cost with other combo engines (Necropotence and Doomsday for example), but it really didn't seem to do much.  Dread Return, Narcomoeba and Golgari Grave-Troll all existed alongside Bridge from Below in the same Standard format, but without the explosiveness of something like Lion's Eye Diamond, Breakthrough or Bazaar of Baghdad the deck didn't really take off in the format.  Magus of the Bazaar does a really bad impression of the land, and Merfolk Looter and Bonded Fetch are also less than impressive.  In the older formats, Bridge from Below really shined though, turn one kills were commonplace, and even in newer non rotating formats, stuff like Dread Return and Golgari Grave-Troll are banned because of their power. 

Today's preview card is a bit more expensive than Bridge from Below, and operates a bit differently.  They do share a bit of text though.  It's not the When a creature is put into an opponent's graveyard from the battlefield, if Bridge from Below is in your graveyard, exile Bridge from Below, though.  Rather it's this text. 

Whenever a nontoken creature is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.

Well to be fair, it's dies now.  For some reason the Oracle version of the card text does not match up to current terminology. 

I think that is well past time that we open the graves. 

Drink it in!  With a casting cost of five mana and no need to worry about having this in the graveyard, I do not think there is a huge danger of this card being super busted, as Bridge from Below was.  What we do have here is a nice sideboard card against decks with mass removal.  It is a nice card that can play along well with the Zombie tribe, and something like the returning Death Baron, and a card that can be the payoff to an Aristocrats style deck, something that pairs nicely with Yahenni, Undying Partisan

How is this card good against something like Fumigate or Sweltering Suns?  Well those are not exile effects, so when your opponent casts those cards against you with this in play, you're obviously going to lose your team, but the zombified remains of them will come in to play and keep pressure up on your opponent.  It in essence forces them to have back to back mass removal spells, because if the initial team is dealt with, then clearly the bench-warmers will have to be dealt with as well. I imagine that you're going to be recurring stuff like Dread Wanderer or Scrapheap Scrounger, because really, as an artifact it's a super nice black card in the Standard format.  Being able to keep the pressure on immediately after a board wipe is great for you, and if they have to waste a Cast Out to deal with this enchantment, then it's one more turn of being able to beat face with your A-Team. 

Core Set 2019 is bringing back Death Baron a super cool lord for the zombie tribe.  With Lord of the Accursed in Standard as well, we have two lords for the tribe in the three drop slot.  It's also reprinting Diregraf Ghoul which is a really nice one drop for the tribe.  Wayward Servant, Plague Belcher, and In Oketra's Name are other nice cards that could fit in to a Zombie Tribal deck, and if you recall Black White Zombies was a powerful deck in Standard when we were last in Innistrad.  It is very possible that this power could be resurrected with other Core Set 2019 reprints.  Though I wouldn't be super excited about Walking Corpse, you could probably skip that one!

The final home that I can find for Open the Graves is in a Mono Black deck that was one of my favorites before the Pro Tour came along and made everything in Standard red.  I am glad that the deck deck exists, I'm just not happy about it being one of the best decks, because it's not my style.  It's not for me, and that is okay!  However the aggressive mono black deck that featured Yahenni, Undying Partisan sure is for me.  We have great ways to interact with the enchantment in the already mentioned Dread Wanderer and Scrapheap Scrounger.  Recurring threats is super good and will always help to keep the graves open.  We have card advantage in Ruin Raider and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and we have a super fast Vampire that wants to sacrifice our creatures for his own benefit.  While it does not grow larger whenever a teammate goes down, it does become Indestructible whenever he makes the sacrifice.  The greatest benefit to Open the Graves is having a sacrifice outlet and then being able to return the creature we sacrificed to the battlefield.  This deck would love to have this card! 

There you have it, the graves are open, the dead are returning, and with Core Set 2019, the format will be changed.  I'm looking forward to this, and am very excited to see how things go with the newest set! 

Thank you again to Wizards of the Coast for this free preview card, it was a pleasure! 


As someone who really enjoys by Paul Leicht at Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:15
Paul Leicht's picture

As someone who really enjoys token strategies I find this card lacking. If it was costed 3b even it might be more palatable. It really irks me that WOTC prints cards like this. Meh. You might be right about Monoblack if they are running the bad basic lands deck (Coffers, etc.)