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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Jun 27 2018 11:00am
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Three years ago, Wizards of the Coast released Magic Origins to the world, and that was the very last core set we ever saw. The model for releasing sets changed and we said farewell to the idea of a yearly core set. That changed again, and we are now about to get our grubby hands on Core Set 2019, Magic's newest set!

With the full spoiler now out (which you can view here), it's time to take a look at what we can expect for limited. Core sets are often fairly basic by design, and this one looks no different; we have no new mechanics, and in fact no keywords that are not evergreen. This is perfect for newer players to learn the game, and also lets us veterans return to basics when it comes to draft.

THE DRAFT ARCHETYPES

If you are new to drafting, one of the best places to start to get a feel for what the colour pairs in a set want to do is the gold uncommon cards. Wizards does a good job of seeding these cards in a set to give us an idea of what each colour pair is trying to achieve. Let's take a look at the gold uncommons in Core Set 2019.

 

White/Blue

Aerial Engineer is a 2/4 creature for 4 mana. By itself, this is not very good. But as soon as you control an artifact, it becomes a 4/4 flyer for 4 mana, which is very good. 

Obviously, this is a pay off card for having artifacts, which leads me to believe that white/blue is an artifact type deck. So let's have a look at what are some of the commons in these two colours to support this:

This is pretty heavily skewed in favour of blue at common, as you can see. Of these, Aviation Pioneer is probably the best, and Gearsmith Prodigy the worst. But, obviously, we want to have a look at artifacts as well. What seem to be the best ones for this archetype?

Nothing too exciting here. Gearsmith Guardian will be a 5/5 for 5 mana, but that's still just a big dumb creature that can be chump blocked easily enough. Explosive Apparatus is better than it looks, I think; this set seems to have a lot of 2 Toughness creatures. Plus, you can get it back with Trusty Packbeast.

There are some uncommons to be aware of as well that help this deck come off:

Both of these cards are pretty good, but there is a lack of good artifact creatures for Aethershield Artificer. In tandem these two are fantastic, though.

 

Black/Red

This guy is a bit of a beater! 3/3 menace for 4 mana is about average, but with the ability to become a 5/5 by sacrificing a creature, it can inflict a world of pain on your opponent. This card points to black/red being about sacrificing for value, something of a classic archetype for the pair.

So, what commons do we have that help fit this theme?

As you can see, there is a bit more support for this colour pair at common that white/blue. Doomed Dissenter and Goblin Instigator give you two creatures for the price of one card, while Act of Treason lets you get steal an opponent's creature to sacrifice. Macabre Waltz lets you get back creatures you sacrificed, while Abnormal Endurance and Infernal Scarring make you feel less bad about losing a creature.

There is also a lot of support at uncommon for this archetype:

Ravenous Harpy and Reassembling Skeleton are probably the most important of these cards. The harpy gives you yet another pay off for being in this deck along with Bash-Brawl Ogre, while the skeleton just lets you do it over and over again.

 

Red/Green

2/2 for 3 mana is nothing fancy, though being able to fix your mana for any colour is a very handy ability. It's also a fantastic mana sink towards the end of the game, turning itself into a dragon instead. This card leads me to believe that red/green is a ramp deck with a possible dragons matter theme.

So, what commons do we have here?

These cards are nothing very exciting. Having said that, this colour pair always looks unexciting and usually performs better than it looks, so keep that in mind. The best of these cards is Druid of the Cowl for the ramp and Sparktongue Dragon. It's not overly powerful, but a 3/3 flyer for 5 mana is okay, and if you can pay the "kicker" cost, it's better. I would have liked this card to have had haste, personally, but you don't always get what you want.

These are the better uncommons for this archetype. Again, nothing too exciting, though I feel Gift of Paradise will be pretty important and also a high pick for many green decks.

 

Blue/Red

Enigma Drake is a reprint, and its text box makes it pretty obvious what this colour is about: spells! The more spells you cast, the better this creature becomes. The type of spells this deck wants are obvious; you want cards like Shock, Divination, and other spells that will go any in deck of these two colours. Beyond that, there are some other cards to look out for:

Both of these both help with the spells matter theme but, like I said, beyond these you just want to pick good instants and sorceries: blue card draw and red removal is an excellent place to start.

What uncommons support this deck?

If I can get one each of Engima Drake, Aven Wind Mage and Guttersnipe, I will be quite happy. Blue/red spells is one of my favourite draft archetypes and I look forward to trying this. With the number of good removal spells and card draw spells in the set at common, I think this archetype might be strong. Look at these:

And that's not counting some of the cantrips in blue. I think this archetype has the potential to be pretty strong.

 

Red/White

Heroic Reinforcements, by itself is, I think, not a great card. For 4 total mana, it gives you two 2/2s with haste which, if they live, become 1/1s after that. That's not fantastic, but it does suggest that this colour pair is a go-wide deck. So, what is there at common to help such a strategy?

That isn't a huge amount of token makers (which is what you really want); only two in total, and three cards that pump your team. However, both red and white have some aggressively stated cheap creatures at common to go along with this strategy, so I think it's possible the deck can get there. As for uncommons, there are not many:

That's about it. If you are going to draft this archetype, my suggestion would be to stay with a low, aggressive curve.

 

Black/Green

2/3 reach and deathtouch for 4 mana is probably not a bad card, but doesn't give us much to go on in terms of what this colour pair does. Nor does the last ability - we want creatures to die, but then, we always want creatures to die, don't we?

There isn't really a clear deck here. I think it might be similar to black/red, using the same black cards from that archetype and some of the following green ones:

Overall, this pair seems like a weaker and less focused version of black/red. 

 

Blue/Black

By itself, Psychic Symbiont doesn't give us a clear idea of what this colour pair does. Discard matters? Control? It's a little hard to tell. Thankfully, there are two other uncommons that go well with this card:

So, we have a card that mills your opponent when you draw cards, and a card that causes your opponent to lose life when they discard. The gold card triggers both of them, meaning we have some sort of mill/hand disruption/control deck going on here. 

Firstly, I want to take a look at the commons that let you draw cards:

And then the commons that force your opponent to discard:

There are also a bunch of uncommons to support the theme:

So, how does this deck end up working out? Overall, I think it will play as a control deck built around one of either Psychic Corrosion or Fell Specter; there seems to be a bit more support for drawing cards, so Psychic Corrosion might be the better choice. A controlling/mill deck is a real possibility, but there you aren't going to get there without one of the build around cards. I think, most likely, if you are in these two colours keep the build arounds in mind, but draft more as a control deck.

 

White/Black

Thankfully, Regal Bloodlord gives us a very clear indicator of what is happening with this colour pair: lifegain matters! If you gain life, you get a 1/1, so let's look at what commons the set provides to help us do this:

That's quite a few cards just at common! There is even another payoff card, though it is not overly strong, with Epicure of Blood. What about uncommons?

As you can see, this archetype has received a ton of support in this set, more than any other colour pair. Regal Bloodlord and Ajani's Pridemate are the two strongest payoffs, and Nightmare's Thirst might be one of the most efficient removal spells of the set when used in this deck. With the amount of support this deck has, it might be quite strong, and I'll be keeping an eye out for it early in the format.

 

Green/White

This is another pretty obvious theme for this colour pair: enchantments matter. Drawing a card every time you cast an enchantment can be very strong, and constructed decks in Legacy are even built around this theme.

So, what support do we for enchantments matter at common?

Luminous Bonds is the best card here, but these are all auras. There are no important creatures to put them on at common, but what about at uncommon?

We have three creatures at uncommon, the best one being Vine Mare due to the fact it is hexproof. That's one issue you run into with decks like this; if you put an aura on a normal creature, you run the risk of being 2-for-1'd. Vine Mare makes that impossible unless they deal with it in combat. Druid of Horns also mitigates this risk somewhat; you get the 3/3 Beast trigger upon casting the aura, so even if they remove it, you still get the token.

My fear with this deck is that there is some decent removal floating around this set; we'll get into that next week, but I'm hesitant with this archetype.

 

Green/Blue

Finally, we come to the last colour pair. Here we have a flyer that can put +1/+1 counters on other creatures and also give them flying until end of turn. What does this indicate for us? +1/+1 counters matter?

A quick look through the commons tells us that this is not the case. So, what is it, then? It seems, like black/green, this deck doesn't have a clear direction. My gut feeling is it is supposed to be some sort of tempo deck; play out early creatures and utilize bounce, combat tricks and blue's flyers to get the job done. Let's see what common cards you'd want in a deck like this:

This is the only thing that seems to make sense to me for this deck: use green's efficiently stated creatures and tricks with blue's tempo and flyers to get your opponent dead.


That's it for this week. Next week, I'll delve further into the format ahead of its release, looking at what else we can expect from Core Set 2019. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my assessment of the colour pairs, or hit me up on Twitter.