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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 09 2020 12:00pm
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CORE SET 2021

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 It's summer time, so the moment has come to enjoy a new core set! Core Set 2021, the third using this name pattern since the core sets were reinstated two years ago, has the lowest power level we've seen in a while (which is not a bad thing for Standard), but still gives us a few of impactful reprints, like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Scavenging Ooze, while hitting some important milestones: mill is finally keyworded, and Hound is replaced by Dog, a change head designer Mark Rosewater has been pursuing for many, many years. This means we get to witness the now-rare instance of a tribe being retired, as Hound doesn't exist anymore – all Hounds are Dogs now, as one test card from Mystery Booster foreshadowed in a way that at the time was taken as just tongue-in-cheek, but it was actually a sneak preview of things to come.

 A core set typicaly has not much of a tribal component, resulting in a large number of affected tribes, most of which are represented just with a single random member. However, Core Set 2021 does include a cycle of monocolored tribal lords for Dog, Spirit, Rogue, Goblin and Cat, while the Buy-a-Box promo, Rin and Seri, Inseparable, takes the novel route of combinining two tribes together, with a "pet" theme that follows the flavor of Ikoria's companions and is reprised in a multi-tribal land, Animal Sanctuary. Elsewhere we can see efforts being made to reinforce recently introduced creature types like NobleShark and Warlock.

 Time to have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 285 (+15 variant basic lands and a bunch of other alternate art)
  • New cards: 183
  • New creatures: 113
  • Reprinted cards: 102
  • Reprinted creatures: 36 (notable: Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Baneslayer Angel, Containment Priest, Massacre Wurm, Scavenging Ooze, Solemn Simulacrum)
  • New Legendary creatures: 9
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 3
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 0
  • Creature types affected: 59
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+29), Cleric (+9), Wizard (+9), Dog (+8), Elemental (+7)

Archer: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 80, online: 76

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Angel only gets one aged star on the Sunset Boulevard, Baneslayer Angel, so Archer gets to open the proceedings, alphabetically speaking. Skyway Sniper has the heart in the right place, being a reach creature that can kill flyers with a mana sink activation, but a one-drop 1/2 can only stop the feeblest of threats, and three mana for one damage is a bit too step to shoot down anything larger than a little bird. Silklash Spider this ain't.


Assassin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 59, online: 56

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Probably not playable in competitive Constructed, due to the relatively high casting cost, but the ability of this Assassin clique is neat and uncomplicated. In a typically very interactive Golgari deck, it adds a nice cantrip clause to the first piece of removal you use every turn, and in sacrifice-heavy builds, while it's not exactly a symmetrical version of Liliana, Dreadhorde General's passive (since it tops at one card drawn no matter the massacre), it still resides in that part of the mechanical world. Also important to note that it triggers at end of turn, so it could technically follow a sweeper and still do its job. It might be worth the inclusion in Commander and Brawl decks.


Beast: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 408, online: 399

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Great showing for the Beasts in M21. Well, except for Garruk's Gorehorn, which is just a filler common, even if it's part of Garruk's vertical cycle of referential cards. So is Garruk's Harbinger, which is apparently the steed of choice for our crazy survivalist, freshly returned to monogreen after the events of Throne of Eldraine. The Harbinger is a brilliant three-drop, immune to targeting from the color of spot removal, and capable of selecting and drawing a relevant card per turn, if helped connecting (the third card in the cycle, Garruk's Uprising massively helps with that). Its toughness might be its Achilles heel, but at that point in the curve is still a worthy presence. More problematic is the seemingly pushed mythic Elder Gargaroth, aka the Beast You Can't Clearly Detect (seriously, what's up with that incomprehensible art?). On one side, the Gargaroth feels like Questing Beast's larger cousin, with an endless number of keywords and other assorted abilities. It's the only creature in the set that's able to utterly neutralize Baneslayer Angel. But lacking haste or flash, or at least a way to survive some of the sorcery-speed removal it allows the opponent to calmly point in its direction, I'm afraid it's going to go the way of the Vorapede. Once your colossal value engine is forced to sit on the battlefield with no impact whatsoever for a full turn cycle, it's just asking for trouble, which will invariably come in the form of a two-mana kill or bounce spell, regaling a ton of tempo to the opponent. This said, it still packs a high degree of inevitability, and it could be a strong sideboard cards to field against Monored Aggro, the archetype that probably has the hardest time dealing with our Gargo and is most threatened by both the lifegain and the additional bodies generated by its trigger, potentially even twice per turn thanks to vigilance and the fact that one can't keep taking damage from a 6/6 for long.


Bird: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 265, online: 252

 Related Tribes: Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: These two "flyers matter" guys are excellent Limited picks, but probably won't make the cut in any Constructed deck. Aven Gagglemaster (did Gilded Goose hit the gym before joining the military?) is underwhelming at five, which is already past the curve-top of a typical flyer deck, anyway. Watcher of the Spheres has more of a chance of being useful at two, offering a discount that might allow to cast more spells on turn three, and then swing for a bit of extra damage in those early turns of board development.


Boar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 39, online: 37

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Not all lifegaining Boars get eaten, the implied destiny of Brindle Boar and Gristleback. The adorable trained piggie Trufflesnout fetches you some truffles for dinner, and could occasionally consume them itself to get buffed. It's a good design, and while it doesn't exactly reaches Knight of Autumn levels of versatility, it is strictly better than enduring core set staple Centaur Corser, at the same rarity.


Cat: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 210, online: 203

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Dog

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: One of the five tribal lords included in M21 is a Cat, Feline Sovereign, which is a typical anthem lord but also plays into the set's canine subtheme by granting protection from Dog to all your Cats. The most popular of household pets stop being enemies with the Buy-a-Box promo Rin and Seri, Inseparable, which acts as an additional lord to either tribe, or to some unlikely combination of both. The Sovereign is sound, if slower than some recent +1/+1-granting lords for major tribes, like Legion Lieutenant or Merfolk Mistbinder; the protection is clearly meant just for flavor, but the possibility to destroy an artifact or enchantment for free (since cats break things around the house, get it?) is never unwelcome. Rin and Seri felt more strictly casual, along the lines of all Buy-a-Box promos that weren't Nexus of Fate and Kenrith, the Returned King. It's not a bad creature, but it's a four-drop that implies a wide follow-up of tribal creatures in even later turns, and has a triple-colored activation that requires tapping and a well-developed board – all the marking of a win-more card. Also, I read comments saying they are supposedly inspired by Ren & Stimpy, but I really don't see it; they're depicted in a serene, pastoral setting, and Rin's name, look and demeanor feel more like a reference to Rin Tin Tin.

 Among the other Cats, Basri's Acolyte is part of Basri's vertical cycle, and a strong card for Limited. Pridemalkin might work in Constructed too, as a lesser Rikshar, Peema Renegade for the tribe. It's not clear how a common street cat is able to inspire trample in others, though. It must have something to do with the Heaviside Layer.


Centaur: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 65

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Scout

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Speaking of Peema, there's another Aether Revolt callback: Conclave Mentor is Winding Constrictor for Centaurs, at least for the more relevant part involving creatures. The tribe has a few members using +1/+1 counters, either via heroic or other mechanics, the most notable of which is Phantom Centaur. In general, the Constrictor remains the superior card, but Selesnya is a better home for +1/+1 counters shenanigans, and the incidental lifegain is appreciated, and suggests you want to put the counters on the Mentor itself, if able.


Cleric: +9

  

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 407, online: 382

 Related Tribes: Cat, Centaur, Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Cleric is, randomly enough, one of the most supported tribes in the set, received three new rares, a mythic, and a couple of interesting uncommons in counter duplicator Conclave Mentor and graveyard combo enabler Archfiend's Vessel. We saw how the Mentor perfectly marries Selesnya's recurring "+1/+1 counters matter" theme, and the Vessel is similarly at home in any black deck featuring recursion, turning into a 5/5 flyer for one if it was reanimated or cast from the graveyard by any means, from Lurrus of the Dream-Den to Yawmoth's Will. It's a nice little demonic cultist with excellent flavor, and the lifelink even means he'll net you one extra life when he inevitably chump-block to get to the graveyard – but it's equally likely you will pitch or mill him, of course.

 As for the rares, two are part of a number of legends linked to the face of the set, Teferi, and his Dominarian home of Jamuraa, all callbacks to Mirage and/or Time Spiral blocks. Mangara, formerly depicted in Mangara of Corondor is a diplomat who helped Teferi defuse the situation during the Mirage Wars (they missed the chance to make him an Advisor, so everybody in that group of Teferi-related characters would have a different class). His new card discourages the opponent from attacking with more than one creature or casting more than one spell per turn, or else you'll get card advantage or match theirs. His body is dependable and lifelink can mitigate the opponent's attack further. He's clearly meant for more control-oriented white decks, but it's hard to envision a home for Mangara right away, because he drops at a point in the curve when that type of deck sweeps the board.

 Teferi's daughter Niambi was previously featured as Niambi, Faithful Healer, an exclusive card in her father's Dominaria Planeswalker Deck. Now she gets a proper card, a Whitemane Lion that, for just a blue requirement, also gains life when she rescues or sets to retrigger something, and then provides a useful discard outlet for legendary cards, trading them two for one. Not bad.

 Speaker of the Heavens and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose are different facets of lifegain matter decks. The former aims for a place in the kind of build that employs Serra Ascendant, creating 4/4 Angel for free under roughly the same conditions. It's a slow process that requires tapping and only happens at sorcery speed, but the Speaker is fetchable via Ranger of Eos, so it could represent Ascendant #5-8.

 The Ixalan vampire priest Vito is instead a Sanguine Bond on legs, so a much broader win condition than the Speaker. He's inevitably more fragile than the relative enchantment, but also drops earlier on the curve, and can procure a massive amount of lifegain on a crowded board, thus enabling himself. As a combo piece that's more easily fetched and recurred, he seems very valuable.


Construct: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 127, online: 126

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This is a new take on last year's "two of the same matter" robot, Pattern Matcher. Now you need the pair to already be on the battlefield, but you get rewarded with a second pair of 4/4s. It's good for Limited, and nowhere else.


Cyclops: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 29

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This guy is a half-decent curve-topper in Limited, but that's pretty much it. Cyclops is still a relatively small tribe, and the only rares it got in the past five years (out of eight total) are Okaun, Eye of Chaos from Battlebond and Erratic Cyclops from Guilds of Ravnica. There's still potential for something great in the near future, but their subpar performance in Theros Beyond Death, whose ancient Greek flavor should have made it a natural environment for some prominent Cyclops, doesn't bode too well for their longterm consideration.


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 109, online: 106

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This is, at the end of the day, just a big, dumb Plaguecrafter. Not an effect you want on a six-drop, but of course a 5/5 flyer is a bona fide finisher in Limited. The pun in the name (he's a "gourmand", get it?) is positively diabolic.


Devil: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 28, online: 27

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Havoc Jester is a more expensive Mayhem Devil that only triggers for your sacrifices, but it could be useful as redundancy in singleton formats. Hobblefiend is a decent sacrifice outlet, cheap to cast and easy to activate, so at least these two work well together. Also, we've now added a new delightful performer to the Rakdos Circus of Evil. His "jest" is throwing metal spikes at the audience. So very Rakdos. I wonder how much does a ticket for these shows cost.


Dinosaur: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 114, online: 113

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Dinosaur is an established tribe by now, even competing with Hydra and Wurm as the iconic green critter (despite the fact that it was assigned to red in Ikoria). These two are just commons with a "ferocious" mechanical implementation. Deathtouch in attack is not particularly alluring on a four-drop, but a 3/3 for three is still borderline interesting for Stompy decks, and Drowsing Tyrannodon can even wake itself up if you give it a +1/+1 counter or cast Rancor or Setessan Training on it.


Dog: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 83, online: 79

 Related Tribes: Cat, Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: So, it finally happened: all Hounds are Dogs. It's a change Mark Rosewater have been pursuing since more than twenty years, as he himself recalls here, and I, for one, am of two minds about it. On one hand, it feels correct, since hound is just a type of dog, so calling Akroan Mastiff a hound was just wrong (then again, we're still filing all cattle under "Ox", which is even more baffling). On the other hand, "dog" really does feel mundane, while "hound" evoked more vididly a fantasy setting, especially considering the vast majority of printed cards in the tribe openly referenced warhounds or hellhounds. But now that the dog is out of the bag, they seem to have jumped at the chance to create more cutesy doggies, which is also a development I'm not particularly fond of – for some reason, I'm in favor of making the dangerous fantasy version of a real-world creature usually considered harmless, like a squirrel, but these new dogs do not put any twist on the concept of "cute puppy", and the white additions definitely cross the threshold to cartoonish in a way that personally find disappontining and lazy and pandering. I really don't care for the opportunity to have poodles and Chihuahas in my Magic games.

 This said, the new/old tribe acquire a strong lord in Pack Leader (two-drop anthem plus the whole team is impossibile to beat in combat? I guess Dog is now a white tribe by default), a one-drop bodyguard effect in Selfless Savior, and even their own color-shifted Indrik Stomphowler in Rambunctious Mutt. Beyond that, their cat connection with Rin and Seri, Inseparable is probably just a meme card, while the red Dogs, which retains traces of their Hound past, take more evidently the role of Limited fodder – Bolt Hound's attack trigger is good to have on a haste creature, but three mana is below curve for this kind of effect. Alpine Watchdog and Igneous Cur, Limited playable on their own, give birth to a mini-archetype when fetched by Alpine Houndmaster. They also seem to signal the alliance between the old Hounds (red, fierce-looking, depicted as actual hounds but with supernatural Fire Elemental components) and the new Dogs (white, placid- or playful-looking, depicted as real-life canines of a different breed than hound).


Dragon: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 205, online: 203

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Three Dragons of increasing rarity, with some new ideas on display for once. Well, the uncommon Hellkite Punisher is really just a reworking of Shivan Dragon (one more mana for a larger base body), the oldest of finishers, which was seen last in Core Set 2019 and is always a Limited bomb. More intriguing is the rare, Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge. We've had in the past Dragons of threatening size that dropped for cheap because of a clause that kept them from leveraging their power offensively – or even at all, in the case of Slumbering Dragon. Gadrak, which is legendary, adds an artifact theme as an enabler, while allowing to be used as a blocker from the get-go, both elements that may remind us of Vantress Gargoyle, a strong early blocker that would fit well in artifact decks. Much like the Gargoyle's milling, Gadrak also comes with a solution to his attacking issue, a flavorful treasure-hoarding resulting from the estate of any creature that passed away under his watch – and yes, that dog had money, funny you asked. So sacrifice synergies work to enable Gadrak, as does having a bunch of removal, but of course the easiest route is just running him within an artifact build, which has to be his designated home. He might not be necessary there, not being an artifact himself, but at the same time he's able to generate free artifacts, so Johnnies and Jennies, take notice.

 Finally, the flashiest new Dragon is the mythic Terror of the Peaks. It takes the form of your regular five-powered five-drop Dragon with an additional ability (not haste, alas, but three life lost when the opponent target it with spells, which isn't too shabby, even if there are many ways around that, from sweepers to Oblivion Ring effects). The real reason this Dragon is attracting attention, though, is its third ability, which offers Warstorm Surge for one less mana – or, I guess, Pandemonium for one more, except asymmetrical. It gets the usual tension of a late game threat that doesn't impact the board right away (there's the three life to get rid of it, but it's not even a guarantee), while having the potential to win you the game if left unchecked for a turn or two. But compared to similar high-reward creatures, like Elder Gargaroth from this same set, Terror of the Peaks more naturally lends itself to combos. It's after all a permanent that craves an immediate follow-up to pay off its ability. This may suggest a Big Red build that ramps into one decisive turn; or even better, a combo deck where you cheat the Terror into play alongside another large creature, and perhaps the new damage tripler Fiery Emancipation, to really go over the top. Here's an example of a brew using Genesis Ultimatum in Standard. And yeah, both Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Beanstalk Giant seem really great with the Terror).


Drake: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 88, online: 87

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Drakes can't have nice things – but sometimes they do, because Tide Skimmer's card-drawing engine is pretty sweet in a flyer deck, and can get you a card right away. Four mana are probably too many for Constructed flyer decks, but the Skimmer is certainly a high-value pick in Limited. Plus, it could have easily been a Dinosaur (the art does have it look like a pteranodon of some sort), so I'll mark it as a win for the Drake tribe.


Druid: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 198, online: 194

 Related Tribes: Elemental, Elf, Human, Treefolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Jungle queen Jolrael, Teferi's friend and ally, already immortalized as a Magic card in Prophecy's Jolrael, Empress of Beasts, has switched from animating land to creating Cats (specifically panthers, I guess). The ability automatically triggers in turns where you drew more than one card, which is not hard to enable in monogreen, but even more suitable in Simic, since you even get the chance of exploiting it in the opponent's turn, via something like Chemister's Insight or Thirst for Meaning – or, you know, Brainstorm. The activated ability is only occasionally useful, and it's a late-game play predicated on still having enough cards in hand for it to matter (unless your creatures are all 0/0s with +1/+1 counters). But Jolrael is cheap and can generate a lot of board advantage, so she matters in Eternal formats too, becoming sort of green's Young Pyromancer.

 Among the other Druids, Llanowar Visionary catches the eyes as the literal summation of Llanowar Elves and Elvish Visionary, packed in one card. Since it drops only as soon as you would be able to cast both its constituent cards, it might not do enough for older formats, but it's a nice addition to Standard and Standard-adjacent formats, and a valuable pick in Limited. More doubtful is the value of Leafkin Avenger, which is what happens when you bully Leafkin Druid one time too many. It's conditional ramp that, at best, will get you two or three mana, the activation hits any target but it's crazy expensive, and the Avenger's body is supbar.


Dwarf: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 68, online: 60

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Well, this Dwarf is... small. Nice of them to still keep the tribe alive, though. It's, alongside Orc, one of the major fantasy tropes Magic for some reason didn't feel like supporting consistently throughout its history. And this is a legit one-drop in certain archetypes, like Selesnya "+1/+1 counters matter"; or even mutate, should white be needed (yes, you can turn a Dwarf into a monster, but not a Human. Is this racism? Or transdwarfism?)


Elemental: +7

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 456, online: 449

 Related Tribes: Dog, Druid, Lizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The two most notable Elementals in Core Set 2021 both have a reduced cost mechanic that makes them drop earlier than they should. The only blue one, Stormwing Entity asks to be the follow-up to an instant or sorcery (to be translated as: an Opt or Shock), so you get a 3/3 flyer with prowess and scry 2, all for two mana. Considering this is easily online on turn three, it's really a great deal for spellslinging deck, perhaps a companion of Pteramander in aggressive Izzet decks, or some early board presence that also sculpts your draw in Izzet Control.

 Even more impressive is Chandra's Incinerator, the rare in Chandra, Heart of Fire's vertical cycle. This unusually humanoid Chandra-esque Elemental is a 6/6 trampler whose casting cost is reduced by the amount of direct damage dealt to the opponent's dome in the turn, which in Modern already means it'll go down to just one mana as early as turn two, with a suspended Rift Bolt on turn one, followed by a Lightning Bolt or Skewer the Critics on two. And it's not just a big evasive beater, it also essentially forks all subsequent sources of noncombat damage, allowing for them to hit both the opponent's life total and a creature or planeswalker they control. It spirals out of control fast, for an initial tempo investment that in the right deck is really minimal. We're gonna see a lot of this fiery guy going forward – maybe at some point we'll learn what's the deal with that fractured moon. Is that Chandra's fault? I bet it's Chandra's fault.

 The Incinerator interacts well with the other two new entries in Chandra's pet menagerie – both subtly depicting their mistress in the background, which is a cool touch. Chandra's Magmutt (because of course Chandra has a doggie now, how couldn't she?) is a solid spectacle enabler in the form of a red bear, and it and Chandra's Pyreling could maybe go in the same decks where Chandra's Spitfire is a thing; the Pyreling is not as explosive as the Phoenix, but drops earlier in the curve and similarly synergizes with Cavalcade of Calamity.


Elf: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 393, online: 380

 Related Tribes: Archer, Assassin, Druid, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A few movements in the Elvish territory. Even if it's relatively expensive (it costs as much as Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, Renegade Leader), Llanowar Visionary might end up winning a small role in the audition for Elf Tribal, since it does the two things the archetype values above everything else, drawing cards and making mana. Twinblade Assassins has not a chance, though, the trigger only happening once at end of turn means it won't be able to combo.

 Full attention goes to Radha, then, who was Teferi's protegée during the Time Spiral events, back when she was the way-too-skinny Radha, Heir to Keld. Returning now in the contemporary era after Dominaria's Grand Warlord Radha, the half-elf is still after alternative ways to ramp, but this time her method doesn't involve attacking. Radha, Heart of Held is in fact the third green card that lets you cast lands from the top of your library, following in the footsteps of two huge classics like Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix (a recent white card, Verge Rangers from Commander 2020, does it only conditionally). The ability is good on its own, but becomes truly excellent when combined with cards that grants an additional land drop, resulting occasionally in the removal of two back-to-back dead cards from the top while ramping. The Oracle is a full package that does both things, so new Radha should be primarily compared to the Courser, and if we do, we find she's more aggressive, trading a point of thoughness for more power and first strike when attacking, and the incidental lifegain with a mana sink that puts the extra lands to use and can lead to a lethal attack, especially if enabled by one of the many ways green has to provide trample to its creatures. Of course, Rhada also requires a Gruul environment, but that's not too much to ask, so the power level is pretty similar to the Kruphix Centaur's – and constantly knowing your next draw without revealing it to your opponent, as it's now become common practice for this kind of effect, turns what used to be a partial downside into a full strategic advantage.


Fish: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 33, online: 29

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Entirely irrelevant piece of junk at the bottom of the "drawing extra cards matter" archetype. I wonder if Fish has lost a precious influx of new cards now that the Sharks have migrated out of the tribe and the Whales (which are not Fish, but still Fish-adjacent) are receiving renewed attention. To be fair, this is just the exclusive common from Teferi's Planeswalker Deck, though, so it's not even meant for Limited. Has Teferi any particular link with fishery?


Goblin: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 351, online: 338

 Related Tribes: Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: M21 introduces new Goblins and both are rare. The hilariously flavored Conspicuous Snoop is sort of an Experimental Frenzy for Goblin decks, and as such it's immediately valuable, given the usual low average cost and reduced land count of that kind of build. Plus it's a two-drop 2/2, which keeps it on curve. The last ability is only occasionally relevant, but, if managed accurately, could create combos.

 On the other hand, Brash Taunter is a born combo piece, the tribe's own Stuffy Doll, which is probably not going to be played in-tribe too much. Also, unlike the voodoo Construct, the self-damaging activation doesn't just cause one damage, but as much as the highest power on any side of the board, since the Taunter is allowed to provoke into a fight his own allies, too. And he's odd-costed, so imagine fightning your Obosh, the Preypiercer and thus dealing 12 damage to the opponent per activation. Plus, he is an immortal fighter, so if properly equipped, he could even be played straight and kill and endless rank of enemies, at the very least any one-toughness mana dork and such, all while discouraging attacks. Pretty versatile little fella.


Golem: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 115

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: This Golem is one of the three new artifact creatures of the set (the other two being a Construct and a Masticore), but it's just filler. Creatively, I suspect it's a reference to the forgotten, deactivated robots from Hayao Miyazaki's Laputa: Castle in the Sky.


Griffin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 49, online: 48

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Griffin is, much like Drake, a tribe routinely assigned to filler duty. Gale Swooper makes no exception, but a midrange flyer that casts Jump as an ETB has got to be at least playable in Limited.


Hellion: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 18

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: This is from the Chandra, Flame's Catalyst Planeswalker Deck, and has absolutely no purpose anywhere else. Just when I thought Planeswalker Decks had finally been discontinued, they had to go and bring them back in full force as a core set element. Let's pray from now on they at least will be relegated to appear only once throughout the year.


Horror: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 201

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Nothing remotely attracting for Constructed with these two Horrors. Crypt Lurker makes some sense in Limited, as you can sac a creature that was caught in a Capture Sphere or discard a surplus land, so it basically reads as a four-drop 3/4 that draws you a card. Not enough value or general applications outside of Limited, though.


Human: +29

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 2411, online: 2228

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Druid, Knight, Monk, Rogue, Shaman, Soldier, Warlock, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: As it turns out, six of the seven legendary creatures linked to Teferi are Humans (Radha is an half-elf). With the exception of Barrin, they're also all persons of color, being from Jamuraa, the Dominarian continent inspired to Africa. It's a nice and effortless boost to representation, organically woven into the Teferi theme. (They also managed, with Teferi, Master of Time, to finally create a Teferi incarnation that feels powerful but won't top any "most hated" list of cards – wich was a problematic, unintended side effect with the last couple of Teferis).


Hydra: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 50

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Ouch, they managed to design a Hydra that hates being with other Hydras. Of course they had to avoid for it to automatically go infinite by triggering off its own counters, but wasn't the word "another" already sufficient to prevent that loop? I guess without the "non-Hydra" clause, two of these would already combo with each other. There still are non-Hydra decks that can grow Wildwood Scourge to a large size, which in turn encourages to drop it on the battlefield early on as a small version of itself, but the whole thing takes a sour taste when this becomes so evidently a card that has been prevented to interact with its own kind for the sake of template economy.


Insect: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 172, online: 168

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Limited self-mill enabler with a bit of payoff. Nothing more than that.


Knight: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 313, online: 300

 Related Tribes: Human, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: As their names imply, two of these Knights take the rare slot in as many planeswalker vertical cycles, working as second-in-command for Basri Ket and Liliana, Waker of the Dead, respectively. Basri's Lieutenant is a reliable four-drop with relevant keywords (protection from multicolored shouldn't be underrated, as it can affect any matchups), and he can either show up with a 4/5 body or give the extra +1/+1 counter to someone else. Basri's whole strategy is based on those counters, so the real strength of his Lieutenant resides in the last ability, which has him act as an Anax, Hardened in the Forge for decks with a strong presence of +1/+1 counters. In fact, in those decks the effect is even vastly superior, as it's the difference between a 1/1 that can't block and a 2/2 with vigilance, so Basri's Lieutenant is well-positioned for Constructed play, despite his CMC placing him at the top end of White Weenie's curve.

 Liliana's Standard Bearer is curiously similar, in that he also refunds the death of your creatures, in his case by drawing you cards for each of them that has died in the turn when you flash him in. It is strongly reminescent of Caller of the Claw (whose effect had some similarities with Basri's Lieutant, too), although keeping up three mana to counteract a sweeper might not be always as easy in black; on the other hand, Liliana's Standard Bearer doesn't need to go big in order to be an effective three-drop with aggressive power – even just replacing himself as a follow-up to the death of some dude that might well come back later is enough value to make him desirable, especially in a Zombie deck. Anything more is just decomposition gravy.

 Tempered Veteran, which is not part of Basri Ket's crew (he's from Ravnica, by the look of it), but still complements his strategy well, is a somewhat attractive booster for aggro. The six-mana activation providing a new counter is definitely too slow to matter, but one mana for a delayed Hardened Scales effect is not a bad deal, especially since it can be used at instant speed to mess with the combat phase a little. The two mana of the initial investment are reasonable; what makes it more suitable for Limited than Constructed is probably the tap symbol included in the activation.

 Some flavor notes about all these guys. Basri's Lieutenant continues the Basri's cards trend of not looking at all like warriors from Amonkhet. Full armor and heavy clothes in a desert climate? Do these guys only fight at night? The purple banner that Liliana's Standard Bearer is carrying looks worn and tattered, a miserable symbol, which seems uncharacteristic for someone as concerned with outward appearances as Liliana. Finally, Tempered Veteran doesn't look anywhere near as old as the flavor text implies; and his prosthetic leg, which is front and center in the art, is neither mentioned in the text nor reflected by the abilities. He also feels as he would make more sense as a Soldier. Creatives, you really let these Knights down!


Kraken: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 16

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Well, worst case scenario, this guy taps a blocker per turn; best case scenario, it opens the path for an alpha strike. It can also floats some mana from a mana dork that taps for more than one, to funnel it into an instant. Of course for the rest we're talking of six mana for a vanilla body, so Limited remains its domain, but it does more than your regular dumb uncommon sea monster. Also, the Naban quote implies it's a student at the Tolarian Academy, which the art depicts as a truly problematic situation. One might wonder if it was a scholarship.


Lizard: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 53

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Unfortunately, only one Lizard consistently enables Chandra's Pyreling double strike, and that is Scorch Spitter (technically, Hissing Iguanar too, but it's hard to set that up every turn, unless we manage to build a sacrifice shell around Lizards). Regardless, this card might have my favorite art of the set, an excellent interplay between foreground and background, making use of the light in a way that at first sight hides where exactly the little fiery reptile is standing on. Deserved shoutout to Chilean illustrator Josu Hernaiz.


Masticore: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 5

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: The Masticores are back! The fifth member of the tribe of mechanical Manticores (which exist for reasons) is a variation on what the tribe has always done, starting from the original Masticore from Urza's Saga. This new guy is indeed styled after the most well-known member, mixing an activated ability that repeatedly pings a permanent type with another that preserves the Masticore from damage. The fresh twists are: the permanent type being pinged is now planeswalker, at a discounted rate; and the old-school regeneration shield has been replaced with its contemporary equivalent, indestructible, if for a steeper cost. The discard requirement is also there, but it's paid only once during casting, along the same lines of the most recent fellow tribesmember, Lesser Masticore from Modern Horizons.

 What does all this amount to? It's a cheaper Masticore with a still relevant body for its spot in the curve, and it even gets a novel protection from planeswalkers as a nice bonus. But what if there aren't planeswalkers around in the matchup? Nowadays this occurrence might not be very frequent, but still archetypes exist across the formats that have no use for any of the superfriends. This would suggest Sparkhunter Masticore is strictly a sideboard card, unlike its ancestral predecessor – whose discard upkeep cost, it must be noted, didn't even need to be paid, as sometimes, especially in colorless ramp builds, one would use the oldest Masticore as removal, or even a sweeper in the most degenerate board states, and then let it die.


Merfolk: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 224, online: 221

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing of note among the trio of monoblue Merfolk that Core Set 2021 has to offer. And don't let the gold rarity on Teferi's Wavecaster trick you, that's just a Planeswalker Deck card that's meant to fetch the time mage's harmless six-mana incarnation Teferi, Timeless Voyager – which is nonetheless the second of only two M21 cards with phasing (or to be more precise, "phase out", which is the less problematic subset of phasing that's being returned into the game).


Monk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 84

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Look, Chandra's old schoolmates from the Keral Keep monastery! (People tend to forget that Chandra is supposed to be a Monk herself). This is just a card from her Planeswalker Deck, but it's good flavor and a decent addition to any Chandra thematic deck.


Noble: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 34

 Related Tribes: Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This new Noble Vampire (I have a feeling the two tribes are going to overlap a lot) is a good pick in M21 drafts, but not effective enough as a three-drop in Constructed, even in Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose decks: the power is too low and requires too much outside assistance to trigger the miniature Sanguine Bond ability on her own. This said, it has to be mentioned how the gorgeous artwork by newcomer Miranda Meeks is a wonderful inversion of the horror version of the "bridal carry" trope, where typically some male vampire (or another monster, like most famously the Creature from the Black Lagoon) is carrying an unconscious pretty girl in his arms.


Ogre: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 90, online: 85

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Mostly irrelevant dude from Chandra's Planeswalker Deck, which may confirm at least one card in each of those decks has nothing to do with the relative planeswalker (see Teferi's flying fish and Basri's karate fighter), because I can't remember Chandra ever being friendly with Ogres.


Orc: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 55

 Related Tribes: Pirate

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: In a deck with consistent recursion (think something like Bloodsoaked Champion), this Orc is a 5/5 trampler for three, which isn't too shabby. And he also triggers sacrifices where it matters.


Pirate: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 92, online: 82

 Related Tribes: Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: In a deck with consistent recursion (think something like Bloodghast), this Pirate is a 5/5 trampler for three, which is better than a kick in the teeth. And he also triggers sacrifices where it matt... wait a minute, am I having a déjà vu?


Rhino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 37

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Sure Garruk is riding a lot of different things for his return to core set, isn't he? This Rhino is the steed of choice for the Garruk, Savage Herald Planeswalker Deck incarnation.


Rogue: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 263, online: 248

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human, Merfolk, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Somewhat randomly, Rogue gets a tribal synergy card from Core Set 2021, in the form of sultry burglar Thieves' Guild Enforcer. Now, the idea of winning through incremental milling is usually misguided, if extremely popular for reasons I never entirely understood. Luckily, the Enforcer works beyond that plan, as she can easily be a very effective 3/2 with flash and deathtouch for just one mana, especially within a Rogue tribal shell, where filling the opponent's graveyard up to eight cards is going to be trivial and fairly quick. So I can see this little Rogue going places among her peers. I can't place her flavor with certainty, though, even upon closer examination. There's no Thieve's Guild on Ravnica (it would have to reference House Dimir, if anything). Her veil and complexion look a bit middle Eastern or South Asian, and her prosthetic arm is ornate, so maybe she's from Kaladesh? Also, another prosthesis? What's with M21 and artificial limbs?

 The rest of the Rogues are Limited cards, plus Conspicuous Snoop, which is meant for Goblin decks, and the Spirit Ghostly Pilferer. The latter is a reasonable two-drop with two different ways to draw you cards, of which one is a bit clunky, as it involves untapping it and pay two, and the other is quite situational, punishing the opponent for casting a spell from anywhere except their hand, something that has some chances of happening during the average game (these days more than ever before), but it's far from a given. The final ability helps with the untapping by making an attack harmless for the Pilferer (Audacious Thief would have liked that option), but it costs you a card, so it essentially becomes looting.


Scout: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 147, online: 141

 Related Tribes: Centaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: There are way too many Scouts with just a keyword ability ("French vanilla") or no abilities at all ("vanilla"), and that's particularly annoying in a tribe that encompasses a class with a very specific job description. Trample is a first, though. I can at least buy that a scout could have useful explorative skills like flying or mountainwalk (or nothing at all; maybe it's just not a great scout). But is trampling over the enemy lines really something that falls under a scout's expected range of battlefield activities?


Shaman: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 396, online: 391

 Related Tribes: Human, Ogre

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Kinetic Augur is a very bland payoff for spellslinging decks, considering it's the same cost and rarity as Crackling Drake, but trades flying and drawing a card for trample and rummaging. It's not unplayable in Limited, but not a high pick either.

 So that leaves the full limelight for the debut of Teferi's late wife, Subira. She's a multifaceted three-drop that can attack right away, but also make a number of small creatures unblockable, and eventually even turn her connections into fresh cards. It's not banal to envision a home for her because she describes a unique play pattern, but red aggro seems like a good start – funny how she's designed to be in the opposite kind of deck than Teferi. Apparently, Niambi took more after her dad because her mom was always away traveling. Not sure why a caravan drover is a Shaman, though. Did she give complementary tarot readings to her fellow travelers or something? (Now, that's one card that could have warranted the Scout type. Just saying.)


Shark: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 9, online: 8

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Sharks keep growing their ranks, but after the Ikoria bonanza, this time they only get a big hexproof dude that works as a curve-topper in Limited, but nothing more.


Siren: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 15

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Honest flying Siren with prowess. The base stats are mediocre, but prowess is a very powerful mechanic, which Core Set 2021 brought back after the idea of making it evergreen faced too many obstacles and was abandoned.


Snake: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 89, online: 81

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Ikoria introduced the "keyword lords" (well, sort of; the concept already existed on the fringe), and M21 gives us another that gives all deathtoucher the Sanctum Seeker attack trigger, plus the "deathtouch for planeswalkers" from Vraska, Swarm's Eminence's Assassin tokens. It's a nice enough package to inspire build-around, if not a game-winning strategy per se, as you're not bound to have as many deathtouch creatures on the board as you would Vampires to make the life-draining matter, although the deathtouchers can certainly attack in a more carefree fashion, considering that they're almost guaranteed to trade. In Snake tribal specifically, there's a good number of members with deathtouch, most of them dropping earlier in the curve than Hooded Blightfang, plus Ohran Frostfang giving deathtouch to the occasional non-poisonous Snake so they can join the trigger feast (the timing of that interaction tracks). So the build might have some merit, beyond its casual appeal, and a three-drop deathtoucher with four toughness is a scary roadblock to get past.


Soldier: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 690, online: 632

 Related Tribes: Dwarf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing too fancy for the Soldiers in Core Set 2021, mainly employed as solid Limited filler. Let's only give a shout-out to Falconer Adept, the last in a glorious tradition of white creatures whose attacks generate tokens already turned sideways (or, in the case of Brimaz, King of Oreskos, still untapped but attacking nonetheless). Of course the Falconer is only the second time, after Skyknight Vanguard, that this kind of effect appears at uncommon, so the main body is just a 2/3 with no other abilities, but the tokens are flyers, so there's that.


Spider: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 56, online: 55

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: At first sight, this rare Spider doesn't look to exciting. It follows the "1/4 for three" pattern that we've already seen a couple other times in the set (Indulging Patrician, Hooded Blightfang), so it's generally focused on defense: it can't be bounced, it stops flyers (like al Spiders), it discourages attacks in general because getting Sporeweb Weaver damaged gains us life and a Saproling token. This pseudo-enrage is what sets it apart from other defensive critters, though. Yeah, there's a recipe for infinite mushroom! You just need to make the Spider indestructible (its lifegain means Heliod, Sun-Crowned putting infinite counters on it works too, as it would keep it alive through the ordeal), and then trigger an effect like Terror of the Peaks, which will trigger again at each new Saproling, creating a fungal loop. It's just a Johnny/Jenny extravaganza, of course, but it goes to show the Sporeweb Weaver is not that boring, after all.


Spirit: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 471, online: 464

 Related Tribes: Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Spirits get the Pilferer, which is an okay new member, but also a quasi-Opposition lord in Shacklegeist. Can it find a place in established Spirit tribal lists in Modern and beyond? If it does, it's because it's a two-drop 2/2 flyer with the Spirit type, but the ability can come in handy to clear the path for a decisive strike. Among the rest, Roaming Ghostlight is a large, flying Man-o'-War which probably has no chances to see play outside of Limited (maybe as a transitional five slot in Prime Speaker Vannifar decks?), and Spirit of Malevolence is somehow exclusive part of Liliana's Planeswalker Deck. And, man, malevolence? Her conscience is already eating at her right now; way to rub salt on her WAR wounds. Plus, as far as sacrifice fodder goes, it's a pretty insipid card.


Treefolk: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 72, online: 70

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Treefolk are overdue a comeback. For being a former candidate to the positition of green's iconic creature (it's still not clear if Hydra ultimately won that title), they've been on the low side for the past few years. Ixalan block had no new Treefolk, and so did DominariaBattlebond and the last three Commander products. Core Set 2019 had one forgettable uncommon, everything set on Ravnica is not very tree-friendly by default, Modern Horizons had the offbeat Abominable Treefolk and Core Set 2020 had Ironroot Warlord. No Treefolk on Theros Beyond Death and Ikoria, but Throne of Eldraine had two, with the rare Faeburrow Elder as the most notable member of the tribe in a very long time, yet still not very synergistic in a Treefolk deck, where most of the permanents are monogreen. And now this trio from M21 marks the largest new influx of Treefolk in years, but they're nothing of any relevance outside of Limited. How far have the mighty trees fallen since the time they were a major force in Lorwyn/Shadowmoor.


Unicorn: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 19

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Unicorns have increased their appearances as Core Set 2021 is the fourth premier set in a row with a Unicorn in it. These two are fairly playable in Limited, and decent in a casual tribal deck. Daybreak Charger is an aggressive white weenie that puts three points of power on the board on turn two while increasing the effectiveness of your one-drop. Valorous Steed (which looks a lot like an Eldraine leftover) is five vigilant power and toughness across two body on turn five. They're still two humble commons, but the horned equines have seen worse, and they're even going to get their first legendary mythic in Jumpstart, so things are at an all-time neigh.


Vampire: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 240, online: 236

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Noble, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: As pretty as Indulgent Patrician is, I'm afraid she won't be able to make the cut in any Vampire Constructed list, and will end up relegated in the "not good enough" category with other fellow Orzhov three-drops like Drana's Emissary. And Blood Gutton is just a Limited card. Luckily, Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose (I keep reading that as Thorn of the Black Rose, thinking he was from Fiora instead of Ixalan) plays into the lifegain theme many modern Vampire builds already fully support. And Silversmote Ghoul is equally great in that kind of build, as you can keep self-sacrificing it and get it back automatically once a wide lifegain synergy is firmly in place. It particularly works wonders in a deck that's simultaenously able to consistently hit the required lifegain threshold, but also tends to self-mill or discard for value.

 And this is where I point out that the Silversmote is the first Zombie Vampire, a fantastical graveyard smash whose genesis is definitely unclear and best left to the imagination. But to further complicate the matter, it's also a Ghoul, which should be yet another different thing altogether (traditionally, it's an Arabic demon that eats corpse and human flesh, but it's not undead), but it's been frequently used in Magic to identify Zombies or people who deal with them, like Ghoulcaller Gisa.


Wall: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 132, online: 111

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Not a very sturdy Wall of its price. And the bonus to attacking creatures is something that decks running Walls don't care about, while decks that would care about it aren't running Walls. Strange, almost fascinating design.


Warlock: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 9

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Kaervek was the the main antagonist in the storyline from Mirage block. Formerly incarnated into the black-red Time Spiral callback Kaervek the Merciless, he was allied with Jolrael before the green sociopath was advised otherwise by Teferi. Now Kaervek gets a new version as a Warlock, which kind of makes sense if that has become a way to define a "dark wizard" (has it? It's not abundantly clear what a Warlock is supposed to be, as Kaervek is not a "witch" nor a spellcaster who made a pact with a demonic power). His body is frail and his ability symmetrical, but there are builds that won't mind depowering all creatures, and opposing builds that will see several of their cards entirely shut down, if not whole avenues for victory. An universal malus affecting toughness is always an impactful effect with dire consequences.

 The other new Warlock, Liliana's Devotee is part of Liliana, Waker of the Dead's vertical cycle. He's a minor Zombie lord, providing an anthem and some conditional token generation. The most disappointing element is that he's not a Zombie himself, so he can't partake in other tribal boosts. On the plus side, he looks like he's about to go on stage and sing a Tenacious D song.


Warrior: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 731, online: 714

 Related Tribes: Bird, Elf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Warrior recaps. In Core Set 2021, the fighting tribe gets: a cute dog fetcher, a strong land whisperer, and an angry goose. Sigiled Contender is from Basri's Planeswalker Deck, despite clearly being from Tarkir (he still synergizes well enough with the Amonkhet's man of the people). Seasoned Hallowblade is a hard-to-kill two-drop along the lines of Adanto Vanguard. Cards are a more valuable resource than life, but maybe your White Weenie list includes some synergy with cards like Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants? And the Hallowblade defends better than the Vanguard, for what it's worth. Undeniably great in Limited, jury's still out for Constructed.

 


Whale: +2

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 11

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The best (only?) top-down design from Core Set 2021, Pursued Whale is a juicy reference to a certain pale cetacean from classic American literature. Yeah, it's expensive and does next to nothing against creatureless decks (other than being slightly annoying to kill with spot removal, I guess). But the tale it paints on the battlefield is unparalleled: beholding the obsessed red Ahab sending his crew to its doom, you'll definitely feel the urge to call yourself Ishmael.

 Waker of Waves is another playable Whale with built-in reanimation synergy. Not that you'd care too much to reanimate a vanilla 7/7 body that just makes the opponent's creatures slightly less damaging (the artwork really oversells that point), but its super-cycling is nice, and there's even a chance the Waker will disrupt go-wide strategies.


Wizard: +9

  

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 738, online: 720

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human, Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Last entry in the Teferi gang: Barrin was the time mage's mentor at the Tolarian Academy, and previously seen in-game as Barrin, Master Wizard. His new identity is that of a flexible Man-o'-War that, in exchange for a less splashable casting cost, can also affect planeswalkers, and draws you a card if you use it on your own permanents for value rather than on opposing permanents for tempo. Actually, the card reward keeps being on the table for self-bouncing, so that might be a good strategy to follow if you have Barrin in your deck, even if returning stuff to hand is much clunkier than flickering it.

 Teferi also gets a bespectacled Protege who's a decent looter-plus-blocker package for Limited, and a couple of less than memorable Wizards as exclusives from his Planeswalker Deck. Non-Human Wizards include flyer lord Watcher of the Spheres and big bouncer with prowess Shipwreck Dowser, while Obsessive Stitcher is an interesting all-in-one reanimator package, able to discard and then switch places with its target, if probably in too slow of a fashion for Constructed. Similarly, Heartfire Immolator is a high pick in draft, but the applications in Constructed might not be too many, even if growing its body with prowess turns the self-sacrifice into competent removal that goes beyond a simple Shock, which is still a reasonable starting level.

 Finally, Liliana's Scrounger, another Planeswalker-Deck exclusive, is another reminder that Liliana apparently employs more living beings to do her bidding than one would expect. That woman also looks scrappier than any Liliana's associate should be allowed to be (barefoot on a battlefield?!), and did she steal one of Liliana's discarded dresses? And why is she collecting body parts, anyway? Isn't stitching the blue way of raising the dead, a la Geralf? Last I checked Liliana doesn't sew together Frankenstein zombies, she reanimates the whole thing.


Wurm: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 90, online: 85

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Today we learned: Garruk's friends with Wurms, too. This one from his Planewalker Deck is a vigilant 6/6 for four as long as its muscular master is around. Still not very impressive, I'm afraid – not with the reprint of Massacre Wurm in the same set.


Zombie: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 457, online: 450

 Related Tribes: Knight, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Core Set 2021's contribution to the Zombie tribe comes mainly in the form of new recursion specialist Silversmote Ghoul, even if the lifegain mechanic fits its other tribe better. Caged Zombie has obscure mechanical flavor (is it implied that the creature that died has come too close to the cage?), but a funny flavor text.

 The rest is part of Liliana's menagerie, with her Standard Bearer has an acceptable Zombie to flash in while hopefully maintaining card advantage, and the Devotee as an off-tribe lord that I can't really envision will matter much. Liliana's Steward, our sassy necromancer's butler Zombie, is a one-drop that can self-sac to disrupt the opponent's hand, and you could perhaps recur ad nauseam with the most tribalistic Liliana, Untouched by Death, but this whole plan already seems weak sauce as I'm writing it down.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW
(click on any them to go to their review)

   

   

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THE TEFERI LEGENDS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

   

  

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THE TRIBAL LORDS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS