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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 24 2018 12:00pm
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 Core Set 2019 is what would have been called Magic 2019 (somehow confusingly, the product code is indeed still M19), if the core set hadn't been discontinued three years ago with the introduction of the now defunct Two-Block Paradigm. Had that somewhat unfortunate change never happened, Magic Origins would have been called Magic 2016, and after that we would have had a Magic 2017 and a Magic 2018 core set. Not to worry, though, the Three-and-One Model has eventually taken over, and the "One" in it refers to none other than the most controversial of Magic expansions: the annual core set, traditionally released on July since the 8th Edition, home of reprints that could never happen elsewhere (a big part of the reason why they were brought back), as well as new cards from throughout the whole multiverse.

 In some ways, the return of the core set is designed as a reboot, as very few cards carry directly from Magic Origins. In fact, only 12 of the almost 300 cards in M19 come from the previous core set (and none of those are actually played anyway, except sometimes Plummet as a sideboard option, and maybe Titanic Growth). But hey, at least Giant Spider's back, just in time to celebrate Magic's 25th anniversary!

 The original Elder Dragons have returned, too, in new, shiny, more playable versions, including a transformer Nicol Bolas that's meant to represent his younger self, Magic Origins-like (though "younger" is certainly a very relative term where Bolas is concerned). M19 debuts a record five Planeswalker Decks, each built around a different, beginner-friendly version of one of the planeswalkers from the set itself, taking the total number of new planeswalker cards to the unheard-of, preposterous amount of 11. All five walkers are depicted during a moment in the past when they met Nicol Bolas. For the occasion, Ajani, Tezzeret and Sarkhan reverted to their monocolored roots, Liliana wears her signature black, while green gets a new planeswalker entirely, the captivating Vivien Reid, a survivor from Skalla, a plane that Bolas destroyed, as Bolas does.

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are listed alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump


Angel: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 148, online: 146

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Singularly, M19 gives Angel one card per each rarity level. The tribe is a definite presence in current Standard, thanks mostly to Lyra Dawnbringer, but also to Angel of Sanctions and Shalai, Voice of Plenty, so there was some pressure to get something more to play with, even if all the tribal interaction involved might just amount to giving another powerful tool for Selesnya Midrange to pair with Lyra. The rare Serra's Guardian is just too expensive to be that card, though universal vigilance nicely translates into an universal escape from Seal Away. One fewer mana in that cost would have probably meant the world for the Guardian. Then again, she comes from the Ajani's Planeswalker Deck, so not turning out as a Constructed staple was somewhat expected.

 Angel of the Dawn and Herald of Faith are very clearly cards designed with Limited in mind, and they're both pretty good there, the former as a common flyer that sets up safe alpha strikes, and the latter as a pseudo-lifelinker whose cost feels reasonable enough for the uncommon rarity.

 This leaves us with the mythic, and that one does play well with Lyra, because Resplendent Angel really wants for you to gain at least 5 life each turn, so she can start churning out Serra Angels. She's otherwise a 3/3 for 3, which is okay, if on the frail side, but seeing her killed doesn't make you feel too bad since she didn't ask for a large mana investment to begin with. The self-fulfillment of her token-making ability only works in late game, but it's cool that she ultimately doesn't need another card to properly function. So she's sort of a low-key early drop, which is also sort of a build-around me card that doesn't actually require much effort (you already want something like Lyra Dawnbringer in your white-based deck), and then she becomes sort of a bomb in late game. I think her set of abilities also successfully rides the line between inevitability and win-more. And, speaking of Standard, she combos with (or better, doubles the effect of) Crested Sunmare, too. Girl power!


Archer: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 76, online: 71

 Related Tribes: Elf, Skeleton

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Doing 1 damage to any target as an ETB trigger is a neat little bonus, but probably not enough to redeem a mere black Hill Giant. As for Poison-Tip Archer, it's both entirely serviceable (he keeps large flyers in check) and entirely unremarkable, except for being one of only eight new multicolored creatures, Elder Dragons aside, one per Guild (except, for some reason, Boros, while Izzet gets the reprint of Enigma Drake).


Artificer: +7

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 112, online: 107

 Related Tribes: Dwarf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A core set offers not only a chance to reintroduce some key reprints for the Standard or Modern meta or for the secondary market, but it's also a way to showcase different planes at once. Case in point, a lot of these Artificers look like cards that didn't find room in the Kaladesh block and resurfaced here. Both the ornate theme of the surroundings in the artwork and the use of Thopters are dead giveaway. Interestingly, most people are unaware that the Kaladesh setting had debuted one year before in Magic Origins, so a M19 card like Aviation Pioneer simultaneously recalls, and downgrades, both Aspiring Aeronaut and Experimental Aviator. As the cheapest monoblue Thopter-creator (for some reason, the superior red ones have been excluded from the set, so no Pia Nalaar wannabe here), she's also kind of playable, in that Blade Splicer fashion in which you keep the token and chump with the actual card.

 For the same cost, the legend of the group, Sai, Master Thopterist, requires artifacts to create Thopters, but then he'll keep going at it, and is able to make card draws out of them, so is clearly a guy who could see some action in the right deck, also due to his solid butt. He's curiously looking more like he's from Ixalan, but there weren't Thopters in that setting, and someone dressed like that should be a Vampire there, so maybe that's just a botanical greenhouse where he's studying dragonflies to replicate them, or something. He still doesn't seem like he's from Kaladesh, anyway. And that's true of Skilled Animator, too, which, similarly to the Pioneer, is a creature you care more for what he creates than what he himself does on the battlefield, except in his case you can't keep the animated artifact if he dies. Still, attacking with a 5/5 Prophetic Prism (or, even better, Darksteel Citadel) on turn 3 has to be good.

 The more clearly Kaladeshian Artificers are all fairly functional. A couple of them, Aerial Engineer and Gearsmith Prodigy, aim to fight personally if there's an artifact around, with the latter being the tribe's one-drop 2/2 of sorts. Aethershield Artificer provides a strong support for artifact creatures, impacting the board right away, which is always important; four mana might not be an ideal cost for what she brings to the table, but at least she has a decent fighting body herself.


Assassin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 48, online: 44

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Oh yeah, flash is a way to ambush your enemies in order to kill them, so it's surprising to find out Assassins never used this mechanic before. Then again, they'd likely sacrifice themselves doing that, and that's not what a hitman usually plans to do (a kamikaze would be more of a Rogue in Magic's taxonomy). This said, three mana are probably too many to leave open for this guy to do his trick and probably trade in the process. You're better off using actual instant removal.


Bear: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 20, online: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: As Mark Rosewater reports, Bear was the creature type people would more fervently ask to be given a legendary member. I can't fathom why, since it's such a small, largely vanilla tribe, with no real history of tribal interactions. Maybe it was just for the kick of it, or possibly because Grizzly Bears is such an ancient and recognizable card. Anyway, our scary mama bear Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma is not as much a tribal lord (there are only two other Bears with power 4, both vanilla, one of them is a Portal Second Age card that was never reprinted) as she is a "fattie lord", since she makes every creature with power greater than three both cheaper and more effective in combat. She swings as a 5/4 trampler herself, but she's otherwise awfully killable, so I don't see her being played just because of her performance alone on the battlefield. Turning into two-mana tramplers such beaters as Obstinate Baloth, Chameleon Colossus or Bristling Hydra has to be relevant, while Rhonas the Indomitable is down to just one mana under Goreclaw's command. Can she be the lynchpin of a new stompy to come? Too bad Steel Leaf Champion has no generic mana in his cost.


Beast: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 353, online: 344

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Beasts in M19 are pretty much just filler slots. Vigilant Baloth is certainly a good uncommon pick in Limited, though.


Berserker: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 66, online: 62

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Speaking of Bears, this guy really went back to the etymological roots of the word Berserker. And he's a Grizzly Bears that can turn into a larger beater, and an actual Bear, in the late game. For six mana each turn. Yeah, let's just leave it at "fascinating research into the name of the tribe". Werebear, he is not.


Bird: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 233, online: 219

 Related Tribes: Spirit, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Out of the three M19 Birds, one is a humanoid Aven (in fact, he's a Wizard); one is a ghost; and one is an actual animal. And two of them are Limited fodder that barely registers, but the black one (a very unusual color for Birds) comes with a larger-than-life, repeatable reanimation ability. I'm not saying it's any good, the activation clocks at 7, so it's unlikely you could ever use it more than once per turn, and Gravewaker itself costs Titan mana, though its evasive body is reasonably buff. The ability doesn't require tap but it's still too steep of a cost to envision an activation in the same turn as Gravewaker hits the battlefield. Still, man, is that powerful. You don't stop it, it keeps going, because the creatures don't get exiled, so you can combo with both ETB or death triggers, given a sacrifice outlet. I'm not saying it's the new The Scarab God, because it's not, but it should be fun to include in a monoblack ramp deck, which is now easy to build in Standard and Modern, too, thanks to Cabal Stronghold.


Boar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 30

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Doesn't it feel like there's always a Boar in the core sets? Or even that they exclusively show up there, like if there's a plane that we never actually visited where all the Boars live. And now we know that place was possibly Skalla, the lost home plane of Vivien Reid!


Cat: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 167, online: 151

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Leonin Vanguard is a very roundabout way to lifegaining, but not the worst one-drop in a Cat-based white weenie deck, while Vivien's Jaguar, as the name implies, is just a card from new planeswalker Vivien Reid's preconstructed theme deck (representing one of the Spirit animals she summons with her arrows). All attention goes to Leonin Warleader, then, which is... well, not exactly the new Brimaz, King of Oreskos, otherwise he'd be mythic. But let's see, Brimaz is a 3/4 for 3, the Warleader is a 4/4 for 4. Brimaz creates one attacking token with vigilance, the Warleader two attacking tokens with lifelink. Brimaz works while blocking too, but is legendary, so you can't have more than one at any given time; the Warleader lacks defensive skills but gives you life. I don't know, I feel like the Warleader holds his own against the mythic king well enough. The key difference is probably going to be the cost, even if Hero of Bladehold did see a serious amount of play in the kind of deck the Warleader aspires to be included.


Cleric: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 367, online: 341

 Related Tribes: Dwarf, Human, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Lots of lifegaining among the common and uncommon Clerics, including the Ajani-mandated Court Cleric (apparently the old lion likes to surround himself with sexy nuns from Bant). The rares are both intriguing, though, both very cheap to cast, both hosing something. Innistrad-based Remorseful Cleric attacks graveyards, in a way that feels very well designed, because until he's called to action, he's a relevant 2-powered flyer, and then he doesn't exile cards from his controller's graveyard (unless we want to, like maybe to prevent the opponent from reanimating something from our turf). On her part, Suncleanser (who clearly hails from Ixalan) hates things with counters on them. I don't know that removing counters from a creature and stopping them from getting more is worth the bother, since you could just exile the creature altogether with something like Fiend Hunter, albeit Suncleanser is one mana cheaper and defends better. The more attractive option is doing the same to the opponent; to be fair, this mostly means energy counters, as the only other counters placed on players are the fairly rare experience counters (unfortunately, you can't use Suncleanser on yourself to get rid of poison counters); this doesn't mean there won't be other type of counters in the future, so this is a card that's bound to become stronger over time. Right now, though, I'd go with Remorseful Cleric: graveyards are always relevant, energy is not that crucial anymore even in Standard (not to justify a dedicated sideboard card), and I'm not sure it'll ever be in Modern. But who knows. It's still good that we now have one creature who hates it, along with all the other player counters to come.


Construct: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 120, online: 119

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: So this guy is a 5/5 for 5 in a creature-based blue deck. Yeah, not excited. Kaladesh cards are always awfully pretty to look at, though.


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 96, online: 92

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This is a very simple Demon with very simple tastes: give him a creature to snack on, you'll have your headache-free Abyssal Persecutor. It's in the same mold of Demonlord of Ashmouth, who had a smaller body but undying in place of trample, which was good for resilience, bad because that would require another sacrificial lamb at the ready, something that couldn't be always possible (and would cause the Demonlord to perma-die to any sweeper, essentially). So what to make of this new take called Demon of Catastrophes, then? On one hand, the Persecutor is guaranteed to drop regardless of the board state, while this guy requires the coveted creature as part of his cost. On the other hand, how hard can it be to build a deck where you have some small critter you can sacrifice for value before you hit four mana? Granted, it's still a condition, and Desecration Demon, for instance, doesn't have one; but I still think Demon of Catastrophes feels playable enough.


Devil: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 21, online: 20

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Just a 4/3 trampler for 4. Devils used to be more mischievous back in the time.


Dinosaur: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 85, online: 84

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Dinosaur might well be the fastest-growing tribe ever, considering it debuted last September and already has 85 members (a few of them were repurposed from Lizards, but not too many). Not sure why they keep reprinting Colossal Dreadmaw, though. It had four versions in 10 months! And it's not even picked that much in Limited!

 Anyway, post-Ixalan, Dominaria had the very solid Territorial Allosaurus, and these two are somewhat interesting, too. Runic Armasaur has the same, excellent cost/body ratio of Thrashing Brontodon, except more oriented on defense, and its ability sounds pretty good on paper. It's not a trigger that you can expect to see fulfilled in every game, but I'd say there's a fair chance it will in most of them. As for Gigantosaurus, the only other five-mana creature requiring all colored mana of a single color, not counting the Spirit Avatar cycle from Shadowmoor, is Rushwood Elemental from Mercadian Masques, so if you want to get overboard with a Modern devotion to green deck, Gigantosaurus is your guy. Otherwise, I don't know, it's just a big vanilla dude, the largest Dinosaur for its cost, but also the most boring, and probably more ineffectual than one would expect. Plus, if we want to be honest, Ghalta, Primal Hunger costs just two mana a lot of the times.


Dragon: +10

   

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 187, online: 177

 Related Tribes: Elder, Skeleton

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Dragon is the largest tribal focus of M19, since the whole set is about Nicol Bolas, trying to make up for the fact that he wasn't included in Magic Origins, so now he gets a big Bolas Origins thread of his own; for one, all the other planeswalkers in the set are depicted during a time when they have interacted with him in some way, either as foes or minions (all of Bolas's acquaintances tend to exclusively fall under one of those two categories). But his Elder Dragons siblings couldn't miss the party, so it was an occasion to revisit them, silly names and all, and finally give them an incarnation that might be worth playing, despite the fact that, you know, they've all been dead since many centuries by now.

 As MaRo comments, each new version of an Elder Dragon plays up his or her nature as depicted in various source material such as books and comics (not so much in their old Legends cards, because they were all so, so bad). Arcades Sabboth is the wise and cautious one, Chromium Rhuell is the shapeshifter that can turn into human form, Palladia-Mors is the most ferocious and accomplished hunter, and Vaevictis Asmadi is the weird, chaotic one (too bad they didn't seize the opportunity to make a Ugin creature card, considering we now know he's Bolas's twin).

 Let's see what the results of this approach are. Arcades, the Strategist has an extremely cool defender theme, and if you build around him, he'll be able to turn every Wall into Wall of Blossoms (and Wall of Blossoms into... twice as much), and then act as a free-of-charge Assault Formation. All while getting a vigilant 3/5 flyer for 4 mana – of course all these Elders are three-colored, so that's something you have to prepare for.

 Chromium, the Mutable is larger and more expensive, but he's all about surviving unscathed, so he can't be countered, you won't see him coming because of flash, and if threatened with removal, he can shrink into a Human ball and get hexproof. He also ges to bypass blocking in this form, though he won't be much aggressive, barring some equipment or +1/+1 counters shenanigans.

 Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner is just a big finisher for six mana. I don't think she really passes the Titan test, though, because that "hexproof until she has dealt damage" clause only guarantees she'll deal damage once.

 Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire is the more casual-oriented of the bunch. He does the kind of random permanent replacement red is known to be fond of, but you control what permanents to choose, so there's a good chance your land will turn into something more useful (especially if you have some way to manipulate the top), while the opponent's big dude will turn into a land, or even nothing. It's a good design, in that it does make Vaevictis feel weird and chaotic, but it's not completely left to chance, so the opponent will feel the pain of his presence on the board, beyond the fact that he's still a 6-powered flyer attacking them. In this, he shares the same issue with Palladia-Mors, not impacting the board enough while not having any way to resist removal. He's definitely more fun, though.

 And then there's the Big Kahuna himself, under the guise of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. He has the smallest body of the cycle, because he and Ugin were the runts of the litter after all, and is basically a 4/4 flyer for 4 with a little discard ETB that links him to his old Legends card. And as long as you manage to keep him around, you'll get the chance to just hardcast a Bolas planeswalker card, one that's quite similar to the original Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker: he takes more effort to switch control of an enemy creature (he has to kill them with his -3, then reanimate them with his -4, and can't do that back to back without dying, whereas the older version would just use his -2 steal), but gets the chance to do it to other planeswalkers, too; has a more drastic, if less appealing "I win" ultimate; and a plus ability that might just be what you want to use every turn, because two-card draw is nothing to sneeze at.

 All in all, though, I think Arcades is the most playable card, even if it's necessarily a built-around, and Chromium is the better finisher. I don't know that having to cast a not particularly significant, three-colored midrange Dragon is a very desirable gateway to any Bolas planeswalker card, as powerful as Nicol Bolas, the Arisen is. I feel like the transform cost should have been a bit lower, on account of the fact that you had already spent mana on the creature, and the creature could die at any moment, and you basically announced you are going to "ignite" Bolas in a few turns, whereas casting Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker just directly delivers the damn planeswalker already.

 But the M19 Dragonfest isn't restricted to the five Elders. Reprints of Dragon Egg, Volcanic Dragon and classic Shivan Dragon pave the way for a very Dragon-friendly Standard season. We have a (not very good) common Dragon with a Lightning Bolt attached in a kicker-like fashion, and Sarkhan's own little Dragon pet. We have a mythic Dragon Skeleton that you can recast from the graveyard with a delve-like additional cost. We have yet another unofficially returning mechanic with Demanding Dragon, which has uncodified tribute, and I actually like it a lot, because the choice is between sacrificing a creature or getting 5 damage, which is often win-win the way tribute doesn't always is; and if the opponent has no creatures at hand, that becomes a 5/5 flyer for 5 that hits the opponent right away, which is pretty great.

 And last but not least, we have Lathliss, Dragon Queen, a veritable dragon lord (I mean, lady) that essentially forks all the Dragons you cast after her, and then gives universal firebreathing to the whole team. She's probably too cute for her own good, and totally win-more in Dragonstorm builds, but seems destined to at least make a stab at becoming a staple in Dragon tribal decks.


Druid: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 166, online: 161

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Satyr

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Elvish Clancaller is yet another Elf booster, but she at least stands out in the way she calls for more copy of herself, Rebel-style, and also for being a 2-drop. Plus the artwork is gorgeous. I mean, that dress is something else. Other than that, Druid of Horns is an "Auras matter" card that would only be good if it dropped earlier, and Elvish Rejuvenator is a bad Farhaven Elf, demonstrating the new policy of only looking among the top cards of the library when resolving these kinds of effects, to avoid having to shuffle the deck too often. The result is that, while the Rejuvenator can put any land on the battlefield, not just basics, there's a chance he won't find any.

 But Satyr Enchanter is a new Verduran Enchantress (or Mesa Enchantress, if you want) that gets to have offensive capabilities because it's two colors. The Enchantress deck is quite solved in Legacy with all better cards than this one, but it might emerge in Modern somehow, maybe even in Standard if the enchantment theme will be supported in the upcoming year, something that doesn't feel too likely, but this Theros remnant might be here as a hint to prove us wrong.


Dryad: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 36, online: 34

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I guess this Dryad might work in conjunction with something that lets you peek or outright forces you to reveal the top card of your library. I still think you might be better off with a mana dork for the same cost and body, like Druid of the Cowl.


Dwarf: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 64, online: 56

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: One life per creature you control could be quite a few life in the right circumstances, and +2/+2 and indestructible is a substantial boost to one of your artifact creatures and is immediately online. And yet, both these new Dwarves feel like filler that won't see any play outside of Limited.


Elder: +5

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 22

 Related Tribes: Dragon

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Some trivia about the five Elder Dragons. They're all siblings, spawned some 30,000 years before the current era by (The Ur-Dragon), the essence of all Dragons in the multiverse. Except for Vaevictis Asmadi, who somehow is the others' younger cousin from a different clutch on a different plane (so yeah, he's their weird country cousin). They all named themselves. Palladia-Mors is the only girl and used to bully twin brothers Bolas and Ugin because they were the smallest and weakest of the siblings. Another female, Merrevia Sal, was killed by human hunters shortly after she was hatched, a fact that greatly upset Bolas, triggering his obsession of becoming the more powerful ever and avenge his sister's death (he would sort of forget about the last part at some point during the following couple millennia, I guess). He and Ugin for some time lived with Arcades, while the latter was the mostly benevolent dragon-tyrant of some dragon-worshipping human civilization. Chromium had an Elder Dragon girlfriend named Piru. For unknown reasons, all Elder Dragons that survived the Elder Dragon War have silly names.


Elemental: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 385, online: 377

 Related Tribes: Horse

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: While Catalyst Elemental is a mostly worse Generator Servant (the concept of mana storage creature is always alluring, tough), the other two new Elementals are from the Horse variety, and part of a whole cycle, so I'll discuss them there. Meanwhile, I think I finally grasped what Magic's Elementals are supposed to be. Not creatures that epitomize the element they're made of, but just creatures that are, indeed, made of that element. And sometimes they take the form of a common animal, like a Cat or a Hound or a Horse, or even an Ox, and somehow this means they're recognized by those animals as their kin. I still haven't figured out this part.


Elephant: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 49, online: 48

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A humanoid vanilla Loxodon can't overshadow the big Elephant in the room, which is Aggressive Mammoth. Remember how much pain one had to go through in order to field an 8/8 trampler back in Alpha? 25 years later, that's not the case anymore, and we can have a Force of Nature descendant that just costs as much as its progenitor, and instead of a downside, it gets an additional ability, like giving trample to all the other creatures on its side of the battlefield. It's not even the first example of the times being a-changin' in this particular way, because Zendikar already gave us Terra Stomper, and that was almost 9 years ago already. What's more desirable, uncounterabilty or universal trample? It probably won't matter much. Terra Stomper was entirely ignored in Constructed at the time, and chances are this Mammoth won't fare any better (outside of Elephant tribal, where it'll sure lead the pack), because these days 12/12 tramplers drop for 2, and 8/8s cost 5 and have many more tactical applications that aren't nullified by a single Murder. Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Verdurous Gearhulk, anyone?


Elf: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 345, online: 327

 Related Tribes: Archer, Druid, Scout, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Apart from the reprints of Llanowar Elves and Reclamation Sage, which ensure those crucial tools will stay in Standard for another rotation, the most visible movement within the Elf tribe is the addition of a new lord, and one that drops on turn 2 at that: the exquisitely dressed Elvish Clancaller. She doesn't do anything else but boost her Elvish team, but given time, she's able to do a self-serving Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero trick, and fetch more copies of herself directly onto the battlefield, which is always great because it's always built-in card-advantage. Granted, six mana is not a bargain price, but we're talking Elves here, you know. Their six is other tribes' three.

 The other members of this Elf batch are less showy, but I think the other rare, Thorn Lieutenant, might be a hidden gem. He's another two-drop that asks for 6 mana later, but I think in his case, the best home might be a generic green stompy rather than tribal Elves. In Standard, the best two-drops for stompy are currently Merfolk Branchwalker and Resilient Khenra. The Khenra is actually not that good on turn 2, because his trigger at that point is most likely going to waste. As for the Branchwalker, she provides some sort of scry, which could turn into some degree of card advantage (explore is really a good mechanic). Most of the times, she'll be a 3/2 that gave us some control on the next draw. What Thorn Lieutenant brings to the table, instead, is first of all a 2/3 body, which is less aggressive, but makes him able to withstand all the many 2-powered attackers in the format, in many cases killing them in return. Second feature: he basically replaces himself with a 1/1. I mean, I assume that the moment the opponent targets him, it'll be to remove him, so unless we want to spend something like Blossoming Defense on him (which we probably won't), there will always be just one resulting token. Final act: if he survives into the (relatively) late game, you can dump mana on him and attack with a 6/7, obtaining more reach from an early creature. He's basically Ursine Champion done right. I'm not sure Modern will have room for him anywhere, but Standard might.

 Another intriguing fella that doesn't immediately have a home, because non-Merfolk Simic is not a thing in Standard right now, Skyrider Patrol is a midrange flyer that comes with a combat phase trigger that shouldn't be dismissed, since it's a +1/+1 counter and a Jump for two mana. He looks perfect as a cap to an aggressive deck filled with superior creatures that drop early enough (imagine making Ghalta fly!), and it's worth noting that his ability can be used right away, given enough mana to both cast the guy and pay for his trigger.


Elk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 15, online: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Elk gets an old classic trigger of white, dating back to at least Seasoned Marshal, first appeared on Portal; most recently it has been seen on Territorial Hammerskull. It's a good trigger for Limited, but not really Constructed material, I'm afraid. Certainly not when mounted on a Hill Giant shell.


Fish: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 31, online: 26

 Related Tribes: Horse

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This is a Horse that's also a Fish. Don't ask me how or why (then again, Magic designers are also under the belief that a hippocamp is actually an underwater miniature horse). Anyway, it's part of the Mare Cycle, so scroll down to Horse and we'll try and sort out this whole loopiness. But I can already tell you, this is a pretty good addition to the humble Fish tribe.


Giant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 138, online: 130

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Prevent blocking is generally a strong ability, though maybe not so much if you have to pay 4 mana apiece. I know it's repeatable, but still. As an uncommon, this guy can be appealing in Limited, even if he costs more than Hazoret the Fervent and dies of a light breeze.


Goblin: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 316, online: 301

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So let me get this straight, Dark-Dweller Oracle. I spend one mana, sacrifice one creature (because you're that kind of oracle), and exile the top card of my library, and if I can't play it, that's it? How is this a rare? There are plenty of red cards that do the "impulsive drawing" these days, most notably several Chandras. None of them asks for so many resources. When should I even activate this ability? Very late in the game, when I aim to exile lands away and I have the mana to cast whatever else my deck proposes to me? I honestly prefer Goblin Instigator, then. It's two basic Goblins for two mana, and it's better than Dragon Fodder and Krenko's Command because the resulting Goblin won't be both tokens and recurring a creature is generally easier than regrowing a sorcery. It's almost on par with Mogg War Marshal, considering most of the time you won't pay the echo cost, so the Instigator actually provides two bodies that will both be able to attack the following turn.

 And then we have one new Goblin lord, just not to be too jealous of Elves also getting one. This one's a mixed bag, unfortunately: Goblin Trashmaster drops too late and his only other ability is trading Goblins for artifact hate. It could be crucial against an artifact deck, but otherwise it's situational at best. Maybe he'll show up as a sideboard card, but I still don't think it fits the overall furious style of most Goblin builds. If you want to include a four-drop, just go with Krenko, Mob Boss, who will actually take advantage of Goblin Chieftain and Goblin Warchief.

 And speaking of four-drops, at least Volley Veteran is removal. He would actually start to feel like an essential inclusion in Goblin tribal if he was able to hit any target. But he's decent enough as he is; he comes in the mid-game, he kills the thing that's stopping his fellow Gobbos, then he swings for 4. I've seen worse.


Golem: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 105, online: 105

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Tezzeret's Strider is, of course, just a Planeswalker Deck card, but Meteor Golem is seriously intriguing. He costs a lot, but he's a colorless Vindicate or Maelstrom Pulse (all right, it's actually neither, but close enough). If only the body he left behind was a bit more relevant, he could be outstanding. As is, eh, maybe just cast Karn Liberated instead. Unless you have some way to consistently recur a colorless creature specifically.


Gorgon: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 14, online: 13

 Related Tribes: Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Arisen Gorgon is a Planeswalker Deck exclusive, which usually means nobody cares, but I see it's actually priced very high on MTGO (not so much in paper), currently second only to the returning Time Walk Nexus of Fate and the star of the set Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. I don't know if it's due to some anomaly, or if people actually plan to play her, possibly because she's linked to any Liliana planeswalker card, not just the one in the preconstructed deck. In a Liliana deck, she sure is solid, deathtouch hits a sweet spot on a 3/3 body: not too large to be meaningless, not to small to basically function as one-time removal on legs. And she's sensibly costed at 3. I don't know, it might just be wishful thinking, particularly because the set also contains Isareth the Awakener. By the way, is Liliana raising and enslaving Gorgons now? That might not bode well for Vraska's future.


Griffin: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 41, online: 40

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Oh, look! Griffin gets a filler slot! What a surprise!


Harpy: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 8, online: 8

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Harpy can't be too choosy (the tribe has been in development since at least Theros, but is still terribly small), and this new specimen can feed on creatures doomed to die, to become herself stronger. But yeah, it's still a 1-powered flyer for 3. You're not gonna play it unless you're building tribal Harpy, or arguably in Limited.


Hellion: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 15, online: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It was a while since the last time we got one of those "one-and-done" creatures that go away after their first attack or block. At least Inferno Hellion doesn't die, it gets tucked. Or is it actually worse this way?


Horror: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 189, online: 188

 Related Tribes: Nightmare

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Isn't six mana on two colors a bit too much for a 3/3 flyer that just creates a one-card swing between the players? Maybe it's correctly costed for an uncommon. Still not very appealing.


Horse: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 31, online: 26

 Related Tribes: Elemental, Fish, Nightmare

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: One of the cycles in Core Set 2019 is a Horse cycle. There's Elder Dragons, and then there's Horses. It's just bizarre that way. They're actually all mares, but I don't think there's any reason for them to be female Horses at all – it's just that they did the Nightmare/Night Mare joke that one time, and then they kept repeating it even if it stopped making sense right after (see also: Crested Sunmare).

 Anyway, only the white one is an bonafide Horse (albeit a magical one that can shield damage, apparently); the blue one is a Fish somehow, the black one is once again the Nightmare wordplay, and the red and the green ones are Elementals. So if you thought the focus on Horse directly stemmed from the focus on Knights, because Horses are their steeds, well, think again, because these five wild mares won't be tamed.

 They're all generally solid for being uncommons. Each of them is unblockable by creatures of an opposite color (but not in pairs, so, for instance, the white one is anti-red, but the red one is anti-blue), which is a nice occasional bonus, and effective in some of the cases more than in others. And then they get a color-related ability or two. This is sort of a strange approach, actually, but I guess it depends on how strong the creature is overall. Like, the black one, Plague Mare, has an ETB giving -1/-1 to all the opponent's creatures, so that was probably deemed enough for her power level. She's indeed one of the most easily playable in the cycle, at worst setting up an advantageous alpha strike, at best sweeping away an army of tokens and/or some minor indestructible or regenerative guy. She's not Goblin Chainwhirler, but she's also easier to cast, and waltzing past white blockers is not irrelevant.

 At the other side of the spectrum, the red filly, Lightning Mare, gets the anti-blue package, but blue creatures are the less likely to meet, and uncounterability on a 3/1 for 2 is hardly crucial, so they added firebreathing for good measure. Still not the brightest hoof in the herd.

 The green one, Vine Mare (yeah, she's actually supposed to be an Elemental Horse made of vines; shouldn't she be a Plant, too?), is a 5/3 hexproof for 4. I think I'd have preferred her as a 3/3 for 3, so you could drop her earlier on, then throw something like Blanchwood Armor on her. She's still okay, and being unblockable by black creatures does account for something (combined with hexproof, she becomes close to being protected from black altogether), but I guess I expect my midrange green drops that aren't Thragtusk to have higher toughness.

 The mentioned white Horse is called (Shield Mare) and is a three-drop 2/3 that gives you three life, then three more if she gets killed by spot removal, or controlled, both being circumstances that I don't believe will prove too likely. She's decent but nothing about her really stands out, and red creatures are the least likely you'd find the need to circumvent.

 Finally, there's our blue Horse/Fish hybrid, Surge Mare. She is the most resilient for the most aggressive cost, she's anti-green, which is most significant when creatures are the topic, she can turns into a 2/3 or a 4/1 when needed, and she loots upon connection, if the controller says so. I'd say she's the winner of the horse fair, or the prize of the caught, or whatever. Can't tell why she needed two additional abilities, but without either of them she was probably not going to function at all, so it was a matter of either making her the best one or the worst one.

 There's also a colorless member, though it doesn't exactly feel like a part of the cycle, if not in name. Diamond Mare is a customizable lucky charm on a stick. For the same cost of one of the actual lucky charms (like Angel's Feather, Dragon's Claw, that kind of stuff), you also get a decent defensive body. So this might just be the best lucky charm ever printed, not that it would be an incredible accomplishment or anything. Also, for a creature entirely made of diamond, you would think she had more value.

 Man, this has to be the longest section about Horses I've ever written.


Human: +25

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2116, online: 1917

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Assassin, Berserker, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Shaman, Soldier, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Yep, there's Humans in M19. Who would have thought?


Hydra: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 37, online: 37

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Hydra is another core set classic. Since the core sets began including new cards, there's always been one Hydra. At first, it was an escalation in power: Magic 2010 and Magic 2011 had the cute Protean Hydra, then Magic 2012 and Magic 2013 had the vastly superior Primordial Hydra, and Magic 2014 debuted the top-notch Kalonian Hydra (along with Vastwood Hydra; it was a favorable year for Hydras). Magic 2015 gave Plants vs. Zombies' George Fan (later hired as a designer) a chance to create his own Hydra, resulting in Genesis Hydra, while Magic Origins sort of rebooted the concept with Managorger Hydra, which starts small and grows larger steadily over time.

 Three years later, it's the time of unleash the Hungering Hydra! I feel like I should like this one, but I don't entirely. We're back to X-costed Hydras and to Protean Hydra's ability of growing when dealt damage, except worded in a more streamlined way. Its only other feature is, basically, that you can only chump-block it, which sounds like the opposite of trample. I guess it's sort of like Desecration Demon, where you sacrifice creatures to the monster and makes it larger, until you runs out of creatures to appease it. Except Desecration Demon start as a 6/6 for 4, and the creatures you sacrifice to him don't actually pose any danger to his health. To have a 6/6 Hungering Hydra you have to spend seven mana, and if it's smaller, they can find a way to block trade for it. I suppose you can time its descent right, and have it the size it's needed not to be at risk during combat, but it's easier said than done. All in all, I wouldn't dump mana into this thing, even with Winding Constrictor or Hardened Scales around.


Knight: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 239, online: 221

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Some interesting Knights, all in white, to further reinforce a tribe that already saw some serious action in Dominaria. First of all, we have a lord (everybody gets a lord these days, so the Knights might as well do), the first since Knight Exemplar, while the only other in-tribe synergies came from Kinsbaile Cavalier and, in his own way, Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Valiant Knight combines a classic lord boost with Kinsbaile Cavalier's tribal double strike, but for a price. He might be too slow to matter, to be honest, at least in Modern, while in Standard he could just complete a curve that goes from Dauntless Bodyguard to Knight of Grace to Danitha Capashen, Paragon and Benalish Marshal. Even if Kwende, Pride of Femeref is a strong alternative. But hey, Valiant Knight rides a lion! That's got to count for something! (To be fair, (Knight of the Tusk) rides an elephant and makes jokes about it, and that's the only thing he'll be barely remembered for).

 The thing is, these Knights require you to make an effort. Gallant Cavalry is two vigilant 2/2s for 4 mana. It's basically the same end result of (History of Benalia), but one turn earlier. And Cavalry Drillmaster is not a bad two-drop in white weenie, he'll probably make your one-drop swing for 4 and be very hard to trade for. Novice Knight is a 2/3 one-drop that only asks for some fast equipment or Cartouche of Solidarity. All these Knights have the potential to be very explosive.

 The named rare, Lena, Selfless Champion is more of a late game card, instead. She has the capacity of creating a cubic ton of tokens, and then she can sac herself to protect them (her presence on the board is not that critical, anyway. She essentially only matters when coming and going). It's all just peachy, but likely ill-positioned curve-wise for the deck she wants to be in.


Merfolk: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 202, online: 199

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Another active tribe in Standard, Merfolk gets two new members in M19, but none of them does anything for the current Simic Fish build. I mean, common filler Salvager of Secrets doesn't do anything for any build, more or less, while the rare Mistcaller is a Legacy card, the simplest, fastest available way to hate on reanimator, Show and Tell and other assorted cheaters, since Containment Priest costs 2 mana. Granted, Mistcaller can't catch the opponent by surprise the way the Priest does, but being a one-drop, he has to be dealt with before going on with the plan, and this might slow down the proceedings considerably. He's also useful in Modern against Living End, Through the Breach and such, by the way.


Minotaur: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 71, online: 70

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Well, that is one strictly better Hill Giant, I'll give him that. I won't give him anything else, though. All right, I'll give him this: he'll see some amount of play in Limited.


Monk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 84, online: 80

 Related Tribes: Rhino

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Over the years, green has grown into the second best color for card drawing after blue, so once in a while, it'll get a straight up "draw a card" effect, usually on a creature, and usually slightly too expensive to actually make the cut in any Constructed brew. This Rhino Monk perfectly exemplifies what I just stated.


Nightmare: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 24, online: 24

 Related Tribes: Horror, Horse

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Nightmare is a wider, stronger tribe than Horse, so it could probably make better use of Plague Mare. It's in the same boat as Horror in not knowing what to do with Psychic Symbiont, though. Such a great name, so thoroughly wasted.


Ogre: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 80, online: 75

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Onakke are the ancient Ogre civilization that created The Chain Veil, the source of Liliana's highest powers. And now we get one of them, and... it's just vanilla beater? Even the flavor text talks of their "intellect and industry", saying they had "brute strength without being brutish". Does that savage guy in the art look non-brutish to you? Such a design fail. (To be fair, we did get another Onakke in M15, Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient. That one fit the description more. So we're actually going backwards here).

 The other Ogre is a menacer. Is a 3/3 menacer for 4 any good on its own? In Limited, almost certainly. Outside of it, almost certainly not. This one doubles as a sacrifice outlet to temporarily become a 5/5. I don't think this ability changes his assessment much, though it could push the last points of damage through, in a situation where there's only one blocker, therefore the other creature wouldn't contribute any damage, so Brawl-Bash Ogre has to save the day by heroically murdering his own ally.


Pirate: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 77

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A Pirate g-g-g-g-ghost! This is actually an excellent top-down design. In his notes for the set, Rosewater recounts how they wanted to do a ghostly Pirate in Ixalan block, but there wasn't room, so it ended up here. It's unblockable because it's incorporeal (I know that should apply to all ghosts, but let's bear with the designers here), except to other ghosts, and it dissipates when engaged, like an Illusion, or the originator of that mechanic, Skulking Ghost. The part where the ghost can temporarily ghostify other creatures is a bit lost on me, flavor-wise, but it feels okay. And by the way, flavor aside, is not a bad two-drop. Not outstanding, but it brings its fair share of pain, and later it could push some Torrential Gearhulk through, or something (because a giant robot can totally be turned into a ghost). It's very bad against Spirit tribal decks, though.


Rhino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 28, online: 28

 Related Tribes: Monk

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Monk or Rhino, this guy is still not seeing play, trust me.


Rogue: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 225, online: 209

 Related Tribes: Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This guy is meant for Goblin decks, clearly. Still not bad, by the way.


Satyr: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 19

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: You know, Satyr does actually support this Enchanter as a tribe, because they have three enchantment creatures among their ranks.


Scout: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 130, online: 123

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Skyrider Patrol, I like, even if it's not particularly good at interacting with outer Scouts. Greenwood Sentinel is just a strictly better Grizzly Bears, which does not say much in 2018. In fact, it's more correct to identify him as a strictly worse Untamed Kavu. And if we wander outside of monogreen, the vigilant bear has been done to death, including vastly superior cards like Steward of Valeron, Cerodon Yearling, Elite Inquisitor, Loyal Cathar, and Sentinel Sliver.


Serpent: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: All right, a big-butt common that can become unblockable if you pay the full cost of, say, Nezahal, Primal Tide as an activation. Serpents will never be good, will they? I mean, Taniwha had its 15 minutes that one time, but other than that, just look at their rares. They're the laughing stock of the sea monsters.


Shaman: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 352, online: 346

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I still don't understand Dark-Dweller Oracle at rare. Draconic Disciple has a cool late-game ability that gives you a 5/5 Dragon, but her early role as a three-drop mana dork is too unremarkable to be worth the bother, mana fixing notwithstanding.


Shapeshifter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 81, online: 79

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Another story Mark Rosewater recalls on his Making Magic articles is about Metamorphic Alteration, a card that he had designed for a future set at the same time a designer for M19 came up with the same idea (and their rule in these cases is that the set closer to publication gets priority). He wonders how something so simple and obvious had been actually never done before. The same could be said for Mirror Image. He's simply a Clone that costs one fewer mana because it can only target creatures on your side of the battlefield. It feels like a honest clause that still leads to a powerful card for just three mana, even if sometimes a Clone is a way to answer a threat the opponent dropped. Mirror Image favors a more proactive style, and blue has tried to feed that kind of strategy more and more in the past few years.


Skeleton: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 47, online: 45

 Related Tribes: Archer, Dragon

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: As negligible as Skeleton Archer is, you can't as easily ignore Bone Dragon. Granted, it doesn't come back as smoothly as, say, Gravecrawler. But it does come back eventually, barring a one-way trip to the exile zone. Finishers with built-in resilience to removal, even in this kind of roundabout way, always force you to take notice.


Soldier: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 610, online: 550

 Related Tribes: Cat, Elephant, Human, Vampire, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A few Soldiers of some interest here, starting with Leonin Warleader, whose tokens, however, have the Cat type only. Similarly, the aggressively costed Graveyard Marshal creates Zombie tokens, so it's more at home in his other tribe.

 Militia Bugler feels like a revised Ranger of Eos, using the anti-shuffling mechanic of limiting the search to the top cards of the library, in this case the top four.  Pros: he costs one fewer mana; looking for power 2 or less increases the range of targets; a sturdier, vigilant body. Cons: you only get to pick one creature rather than two; and yeah, maybe you won't even find any in such a short selection. Verdict: he's playable, but he's not gonna twist the meta for sure.

 There's a "gaining life matters" theme at work lately, especially triggering token creation with cards like Hour of Devastation's Crested Sunmare and this same set's Resplendent Angel. Regal Bloodlord doesn't create big dudes, but his Bats are flyers nonetheless. As an uncommon, he can't really compete with the two mythics I just mentioned (his body is unimpressive for his cost; he doesn't have a way to trigger himself), but he's not terrible.


Specter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 21, online: 20

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It seems to me a lot of this set's uncommon have the markings of potentially awesome rares that got downgraded to properly fill the rarity slots. This Specter, for instance, has an awesome triggered ability hitting for two at every instance of discard (which includes cycling, looting and such). It's attached to an otherwise largely underwhelming midrange creature, though, even if it gets bonus points for at least being able to trigger itself once.


Sphinx: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 45, online: 45

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This Sphinx comes from Tezzeret's Planeswalker Deck. Maybe that's why she's just an overgrown Man-o'-War, which is a bit disappointing considering the creature type and its history.


Spirit: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 441, online: 433

 Related Tribes: Bird, Cat, Cleric, Pirate, Wolf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Spirit joins Dragon, Elf, Goblin and Knight as a tribe that M19 graces with a new lord. Despite the pompous name, Supreme Spirit is a very basic lord that doesn't do anything else, which is a fail compared to Drogskol Captain, but at least it's just one color. Remorseful Cleric is therefore the most alluring new Spirit for Spikes here, with Gravewaker as the Timmiest card of the bunch, while Departed Deckhand, as perfectly functional as she is, looks designed with Vorthoses in mind.

 The last two Spirits are uncharacteristically green, as they're both linked to Vivien Reid, being imprints of animals from her destroyed home plane of Skalla, stored in her Arkbow and summoned in phantasmal form through her arrows. Both the wolf and the jaguar are represented alongside Vivien in the artwork for both her major card and her Planeswalker Deck incarnation, Vivien of the Arkbow. They're indeed cards found exclusively in her preconstructed deck, with Skalla Wolf ideally acting as a tutor for Vivien herself, de facto being little more than a 5-mana, "draw one card", underpowered creature. 


Thopter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 12, online: 12

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: See, Rhox Oracle and Skalla Wolf? This is how you do a card-drawing ETB trigger. You do it for 3 colorless mana! Seriously, as a common, and you even get a flyer out of it, as tiny as it is? Sign me up.


Treefolk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 65, online: 63

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The old Two-Headed Giant of Foriys routine doesn't rescue this uncommon Treefolk from its own mundanity of being a late-game fattie nobody will ever find a reason to play in a Constructed environment.


Vampire: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 211, online: 199

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A potential Standard player, Vampire doesn't get the crucial rare or mythic that could have brought the tribe to the foreground. In fact, most of these new Vamps are only concerned with either draining life or profit from it, which I realize is something a Vampire should do, but it doesn't translate into memorable cards. They're also almost all five-drops, for some reason. When some degree of lifegaining happens, Regal Bloodlord creates Bats, which is cute. Epicure of Blood does instead that miniature Sanguine Bond trick we had already seen on Cliffhaven Vampire (remember Cliffhaven Vampire? No? That's what I thought).

 Vampire Neonate is not to be confused with Innistrad's Bloodcrazed Neonate and Shadows over Innistrad's Insolent Neonate, both of which were red. Apparently, Vampires really love the word "neonate". This one is the rare defensive one-drop with an activated ability that, you called it, drains life. I guess it was meant as the enabler for his big brothers. As was the only lady Vampire in the set, Vampire Sovereign. Gotta say, Limited filler as she is, a moderately large flyer for 5 mana that does a triple life swing feels more playable than most.


Viashino: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 36, online: 36

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Viashino get here the new card that Dominaria negated them, despite having been a recognizable part of the storyline since Mirage. They actually are a case of "wrong" creature type, because, as MaRo once argued, they should be for Lizard what Loxodon is for Elephant, Rhox is for Rhino and Leonin is for Cat: just the name of the humanoid civilization found within that type. Anyway, Viashino Pyromancer is a two-powered two-drop that Shock the opponent on the face for free, so a great addition to RDW. Because that's what was needed right now, of course.


Wall: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 120, online: 99

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The most surprising part about Wall of Mist is that, apparently, there wasn't already a card with that name. Suspicious Bookcase, on the other hand, takes the Wall concept into a curious, amusing direction: this is somehow a bookcase that somebody is using to hide behind and go undetected, like in some old comedy movie? But flavor aside, it's a reasonably resilient, colorless defender for just two mana, with an application that may come in handy later. They've been exploring this little corner of design space, lately, with colorless two-drops like Consulate Skygate in Kaladesh, Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs in Hour of Devastation, and Gleaming Barrier in Rivals of Ixalan, but I think I like this latest attempt best. In my book, the prospect of an unblockable finisher beats one possible mana or conditional pinging.


Warrior: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 654, online: 622

 Related Tribes: Elf, Giant, Goblin, Human, Ogre

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Warrior has more members than Wizard now, thanks to the Battlebond boost. Here I see Thorn Lieutenant, that one Goblin lord that's probably not gonna see play, a cute Dragon companion from Sarkhan's Planeswalker Deck, and very little else.


Wizard: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 652, online: 625

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human, Merfolk, Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A few Wizards are deserving mention in M19, starting from the new cheat-into-play hoser Mistcaller. The other blue rare, Mystic Archaeologist, is a variant on Azure Mage. CMC and body are the same, activation goes up by one mana and one card, which seems a big deal, especially when compared to Battlebond's Lore Weaver. Shouldn't archaeologists be Artificers, though? Not that it ever made sense, as archaeologists discover things, don't create them (unless they're con artists, that is). So maybe Wizard was the correct tribe all along, as they represent scholars in general, since there's not a specific type for that kind of job.

 Red gets a rare, too, on top of the burn-friendly Viashino Pyromancer. Same category, greater flexibility, Dismissive Pyromancer is a bear with a rummaging ability, but he could turn himself into a Flame Slash if needed. I don't like the tap symbol on the latter, and the mana costs overall, though.

 I do like the black legend, Isareth the Awakener, but I suspect she's just a Timmy card. The reanimated creature's casting cost has to be repaid in full, and she needs to attack to even create the opportunity to use it. Deathtouch should discourage opponent from killing her by blocking, but yeah, it's not gonna happen. They will kill her asap. So she might ultimately be just a very convoluted way to recast one creature from the graveyard. And unlike with Gravewaker, once a creature has been resurrected, they won't get a second chance. Still, she's a 3/3 deathtoucher for 3 (without the need for Liliana to hold her hand), and she looks like she could be good in Commander. She also looks like a dark Egyptian princess, which is cool. I guess Liliana would indeed be friends with her.

 Exclusion Mage makes me sad, because it's the improved Man-o'-War functional reprint Aether Adept could and should have been (the sad part comes from the fact that I love Aether Adept's art. Exclusion Mage's, not so much).


Wolf: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 46, online: 42

 Related Tribes: Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Vivien Reid's friend's Wolf is not one you want in your pack, I don't think. Sorry, Vivien. And to your probably deceased friend, too.


Zombie: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 401, online: 393

 Related Tribes: Gorgon, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: On top of a few useful reprints for Standard, like Death Baron and Diregraf Ghoul, Zombie gets a simple but effective self-milling enabler in Stitcher's Supplier (not sure why a supplier of body parts for necromancers had to be a Zombie, though; on the other hand, why not), and a very solid token factory in Graveyard Marshal. The latter is solid because he's a two-drop 3/2 to begin with, so he has a role before the token-making ability is online, and the earliest copies will eventually feed the latest one that drops.

 Then we just have the apparently very appreciated Liliana's Gorgon, and a straightforwardly named Two-Headed Zombie that unexpectedly doesn't go with the same old, same old routine of "two-headed creatures can block an additional creature". Not that he's any better because of that, but praises for the effort.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


NON-ELDER BEST IN SHOW

(click on them to go to their main tribe)

   

   

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS

1 Comments

awsome as always! by Nagarjuna at Fri, 07/27/2018 - 12:46
Nagarjuna's picture
5

Thanks for the great content!