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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Jul 12 2018 11:00am
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Core Set 2019 is now available on Magic Online, and I thought it would be interesting to go through some pick 1 pack 1 scenarios for the new set. I find these types of articles are much more valuable at the start of a format, and so I decided to go deep on it and talk you through what I would pick in each of these packs.

 

I have also put together a simple card-by-card evaluation of the set, which can be found here.

Pack 1

Our rare in this pack is Prodigious Growth, which is not a card I am really interested in at all, even though it does give you a heck of a lot of power. Enigma Drake is a good creature if you happen to be in the blue/red spells deck, and Poison-Tip Archer is a good value creature that blocks and kills everything. Murder and Take Vengeance are the two removal spells in the pack. Then we have some playable creatures in Colossal Dreadmaw, Child of Night and Oreskos Switfclaw, as well as a good tempo card in Totally Lost. I'm not remotely interested in picking anything else first pick with this pack

My Pick:

Honestly, this was an easy pack to start with. Murder is premium removal; it kills anything at instant speed for three mana, and that is a superb rate. None of the other cards come close to it in power level in this pack.

What, then, if we pretend Murder wasn't here? The best cards are Enigma Drake, Poison-Tip Archer and Take Vengeance. Out of the gold cards, I think Poison-Tip Archer is a safer bet than Enigma Drake, as it requires less set up to make it good; you need to draft plenty of instants and sorceries for the Drake, where the Archer is just good by itself. So, that brings us to the Archer or Take Vengeance. Whilst I think the Archer is a better card, I would pick Take Vengeance here as I'm not confident picking a gold card first.

Pack 2

The rare in this pack is Ajani's Last Stand. Let's break this card down, as it's a little hard to evaluate. For 2WW, you get a 4/4 flyer when another creature dies. Let's compare this to Serra Angel. For 1 less mana, you get the same creature but lose Vigilance, and it's conditional upon when you get it. I don't think the card is as good as Serra Angel, but it still seems strong.

What else do we have in this pack? Creature wise, we have some playables in Bristling Boar, Boggart Brute and Rhox Oracle. There is a good removal spells with Shock, plus some card draw spells in Sift and Blood Divination. There is a strong combat trick (Titanic Growth), a tempo spell (Totally Lost) and (Macabre Waltz).

My Pick:

Early in a format, I like to try rares I suspect will be strong, so my pick is Ajani's Last Stand. I think the next best cards are probably Shock and Sift (which is a much better card than Blood Divination).

 

Pack 3

This feels like a weak pack, so, what will we take? Windreader Sphinx is our rare; this seems to be a powerful card, but for 7 mana I'm not sure if it is worth it. Enigma Drake is a pay off for the blue/red spells deck; however, do we want to take it first pick? Rabid Bite is a decent removal spell but is conditional on you having a creature. Creature-wise, we have Gallant Cavalry, Doomed Dissenter and Havoc Devils. There is also Mirror Image, but I'm not sure it is very good; it only copies your own creatures (so if you don't have any, it's useless) and the best thing about Clone effects is you can copy the best creature on the board. That's not necessarily the case with this card.

My Pick:

My pick is Windreader Sphinx. I think it is better than the other creatures in the pack by a fair margin, even at 7 mana. This means it comes down to this or Rabid Bite. I actually wouldn't fault anyone for taking Rabid Bite, but I'd rather take the card with the higher upside this early in the format.

 

Pack 4

To start with in this pack, we have a couple of Goblin synergy cards: Goblin Trashmaster, our rare, and Volley Veteran. However, there isn't really a big Goblin theme in the set. Herald of Faith and Havoc Devils are good creatures that I'd be happy to play in my decks. There is also Switcheroo and Electrify as removal spells, as well as Essence Scatter which is probably the only counterspell I'd play in my deck.

My Pick:

I ruled out Goblin Trashmaster, as Volley Veteran is just better; it's a bad Flametongue Kavu but it still does at least 1 damage when it enters the battlefield as it counts itself. Herald of Faith is better than Havoc Devils; they have the same stats, but flying is better than trample and for the extra mana you get some upside with the lifegain. So, Volley Veteran vs Herald of Faith: I think Herald of Faith is slightly better, so if I was going to take a creature, I'd take the Herald. 

What about the spells? Essence Scatter is worse than both Switcheroo and Electrify, so we can eliminate that. But what is better out of those two? I think Switcheroo, while requiring an extra condition to use (you must have a creature), has a better upside. Electrify can remove a creature, but for one mana more, you can actually take the best creature your opponent has. If you find yourself behind and your opponent has a bomb, suddenly you can put yourself into a winning position. Electrify helps you stay alive if you are behind, but Switcheroo puts you in front. Switcheroo is better, then.

So now we have Switcheroo against Herald of Faith. Switcheroo is just better for the same reasons outlined above, so Switcheroo is the pick.

Pack 5

This is another pretty poor pack. Death Baron looks like a strong card, but, like Goblins, Zombies and Skeletons are a minor theme of the set. Creature wise, we have Pegasus Courser, Child of Night, Boggart Brute and Doomed Dissenter, which are all playable cards but nothing exciting. There is a Satyr Enchanter and two auras to go along with it Oakenform and Talons of Wildwood

My Pick:

I'm not happy first picking any of these cards, to be honest. I don't want to take the Satyr Enchanter or an aura early, so can rule them out. That gives us four average creatures to pick from. I think Pegasus Courser is better than the rest, so that would be the pick, though I wouldn't be happy with it.

Pack 6

Our rare in this pack is an absolute bomb. Demanding Dragon, as a 5/5 flyer for 5 mana, is quite good. Add in the fact that it either then kills your opponent's worst creature or essentially has haste makes this an extremely strong card.

Other than that, we have Vine Mare, which is a card a lot of people are high on. I'm less high on it, but with the amount of auras in the set, they pair very well with this card. Skymarch Bloodletter is the next best creature, but doesn't live up to the other two.

My Pick:

This is an easy windmill slam of Demanding Dragon. It is so much better than any other card in the pack it is a no-brainer.


That's it for this week. I hope you found this article useful! Feel free to tweet at me if you have any comments or suggestions, or leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

9 Comments

I dont like the Switcheroo. by Cauchy at Sat, 07/14/2018 - 05:31
Cauchy's picture
5

I dont like the Switcheroo. Have you had any experience with it yet in the M19 format? Is it good enough for the high CMC?

However, I like playing with Prodigious Growth. It is a strong finisher or/and it demands a response from the opponent immediately. Still, Murder is the supirior pick in that pack but I would definately consider playing with it.

Switcheroo by TheWolf at Sat, 07/14/2018 - 07:36
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I have used Switcheroo and found it as good as Control Magic. Obviously, it's one more mana and a bit more conditional, but it has been good for me so far.

Prodigious Growth... yeah I might have been a bit harsh on it. I still don't think I would first pick it willingly, though it has gone up a little in my estimation.

Switcheroo is a solid first by stsung at Sat, 07/14/2018 - 15:37
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Switcheroo is a solid first pick. It is very good in both draft and sealed.

Well, I hope to meet you two by Cauchy at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:38
Cauchy's picture

Well, I hope to meet you two in a limited event soon ;)

I saw that LSV ranked it very low in limited. I have faced it a couple of times without it having a large impact. But ok then I also dont think that Control Magic would have had a large impact in those situations. I think that the effect from Switcheroo is too conditional to be a solid first pick. However, I will have to try it out now!

hehe, even fellow usually by stsung at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 04:54
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hehe, even fellow usually mono red playing pros are valuing the card highly :-). The thing is, the format changes. At the beginning it's usually slower and people are trying to see how to evaluate the cards and solidifying the archetypes. Even XLN wasn't that catastrophic at first nor OGW until people realized that you can just be aggressive put +2/+2, Flying on something and just win.

Switcheroo is a high impact card and can be played in two different archetypes. You can run it in UW/UR tempo or more control deck. Both of these are likely to run Aviator Pioneer or bunch of 1/3s you can trade since you might be winning with flyers usually. Switcheroo costs a card and it is not going to get it back but it can give you the tempo swing you need, usually removing the creature you have problems with or it can steal a creature with which you can win. Very little is needed to turn the game around in this set and this is one of the cards that can do it (in blue).

I'm not entirely sure where I'd put Switcheroo in terms of pick list. It wouldn't be high in overall but it would be one of the best blue cards though. Like you'd take Murder instead if it were in the same pack but if there wouldn't be any kind of bombs in the pack I wouldn't feel bad for first picking this, knowing I can draft blue then. There's not so many cards I can say this about. It is limiting in terms of forcing you into an archetype which probably translates into 'not a solid first pick' and could end up a card that just tables. The question is, would you first pick Sleep? Because I could use the same analogy with it. Sleep can be great, but also pretty bad. You get a consistent effect with it, but it requires a specific deck and or specific use.

Anyway I wouldn't really put that much emphasis on each card's evaluation because it doesn't show the big picture. Some cards will eventually show to be the best ones to draft but the ability to use the cards you draft to win is very important if the set lets you do that. With a suboptimal deck you can still win.

I drafted Goblins few days ago and according to LSV that deck would probably be just trash. I built that around Goblin Motivator and the Goblin FTK. I honestly think, for example, that one drops may prove to be very important. I will wait for the format to settle and someone to figure it out. But already in my events while I didn't start with one drops in my decks I eventually ended up playing them and thanks to the synergy and speed of the deck that is also how I managed to win. Sometimes you have powerful cards and don't need to care about something like that but sometimes you don't but there are subtle ways how to gain advantage in this set.

In m19 it is very difficult to curve out actually. 2 drops are rares, there is a bunch of really bad 3 drops and 4 drops are solid. What you want to play early game? Some decks won't even play 2 drops even if they have them (2/2 Vigilance elf) or some 3 drops (like the 3/2s in the format except the red one, which is ok).

Just some of my thoughts on m19 which may help understand why I'd pick Switcheroo early.

EDIT: I just looked at the Switcheroo pack. In that case it would be a very tricky pick because this way you'd be sending the player next to you into red while wanting to also play red most probably. I'd rather pick a red card that would allow me to go into different decks (I'd still note that the player sitting next to me would be either blue or red). The Goblin FTK is too narrow, Havoc Devils costs RR but Electrify allows one to end up in black, green, white. (This decision would also depend on whom you play with. In the environment I play it is very important not to fight over cards with the pro players around, so I'd need to send a strong signal)

I just used it by TheWolf at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 05:17
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I actually just finished a draft where I had a main deck Switcheroo and one in the sideboard. I was UR spells with goblin tokens, Aviation Pioneer and Skyscanner. I had an opponent scoop when I swapped a goblin for his Demon of Catastrophes.

Hehe, nice! by stsung at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 10:13
stsung's picture

Hehe, nice!

I had an opponent stealing my by Cauchy at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 11:27
Cauchy's picture

I had an opponent stealing my best creature with Switcheroo but then I played Totally Lost and then my opponent scooped. So Im still not convinced :) However, you both make some compelling arguments so I will have to try it out in a tokens deck.

Best Case Scenario by IYankemDDS at Sun, 07/15/2018 - 14:38
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Switcheroo is great in its best case scenario - when you steal a huge bomb and give up a 1/1. Unfortunately, most of the time, it's not that. An average case might be more like trading a 2/2 for a 3/3, and you're still down a card. If you don't have a creature, or if your opponent doesn't have one worth stealing, it's useless. Even worse, if you cast it and get blown out by instant speed removal or bounce, you're going to have a hard time coming back. I don't think it will often help you much if you're winning, but it can work out if you're at parity or losing. That's great, but I'd rather be in a position where I am ahead in the first place, and I want cards that will extend my advantage.

I've only had it cast against me once so far, where my opponent took my Poison-Tip Archer. That would've been great for him, except that he had attacked the previous turn, and my opponent died before he could untap with him, so I didn't mind the exchange there.

Because of the set-up cost for using this card effectively, I totally agree with the 1.5 that LSV gave it. I don't expect to run it often in this format.