Core Set 2019 Review — Blue

A Very Blue Review

That’s right my friends and foes, you read this correctly. Someway, somehow, the powers that be not only give me a black set review a while back, but they thought it was so compelling that they let me do a Commander set review for blue cards too! Me, the guy who hates Dimir colors! Luckily, I am super excited about some of these blue cards, and Core Set 2019 looks incredibly fun for pretty much every format. The set has some sweet reprints (looking at you Scapeshift) and some awesome new cards sure to tickle the fancy of players of any style. Since you’re here I guess I’ll give you the inside scoop on the blue side of the Core Set revival. Let’s roll!


Nexus of Fate

Let’s just get the easy one out of the way here. HOLY SANDAL WEARING MOSES! As if you wanted those extra turn spells to be MORE ridiculous as time goes on, they make one that not only goes back into your library a la Beacon of Tomorrows but it’s INSTANT FRIGGIN’ SPEED AND I PROMISE MY CAPS LOCK ISN’T BROKEN!?

Ok, now that I got all that out of my system I promise I’ll be normal. Relatively. Nexus of Fate is seriously going to be a wild card, even with the high mana cost. If you’re like me and have “that” friend who plays Vial Smasher the Fierce + any blue Partner, then they’ve probably talked your ear off about how sweet this card is. (They’re right, but don’t let them know that.) The only downside to this card—which you’ve also probably heard plenty of times—is that it’s the Buy-a-Box promo for the set, so you can’t open it in the actual packs. That just means you have to support your LGS and split a box with your buddies, which is never a bad time.


Aether Tunnel

Ok, now we can move on to normal cards. This here is a fine and easy to cast Aura. If you’re really trying to find ways to punch damage through and want more unblockable effects, you at least get a small power boost from this one. Aqueous Form gets played in over 5,000 decks, and while this enchantment doesn’t have the Scry upside, if you need the jump for commander damage’s sake, this will do the trick. It’s not great, but I’m sure it’ll pop up now and then.


Aven Wind Mage

Probably not the best card for Commander purposes, but I do like the flying in Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest spellslinger decks. Not having true Prowess is kind of annoying, but I won’t complain too much.


Aviation Pioneer

Oh look, another card that makes Thopters and gets wild with Panharmonicon! It is only three mana, but I don’t expect this to show up at the Commander tables too often. Limited? Sure. I suspect this doesn’t do enough to be included in Commander except the most devoted blue Thopter decks.


Departed Deckhand

This card I’m torn on. I like the design and I like making blocking difficult for opponents. Problem is, any targeted spell will always kill this guy. I’m not sure if this will make the impact in Commander as surely as it will in Limited. There are better ways to give your own creatures true evasion, so you might just say this is a little departure from Aether Tunnel, which is really what you’re looking for.


Dwindle

I really like all the enchantment-based removal that Wizards has been introducing lately. Darksteel Mutation is one of my favorite ways to deal with a problem creature, and this is a fun spin. Song of the Dryads, Imprisoned in the Moon etc. are probably better, but punishing the creature for blocking is a nice twist. I will probably play this in my Muldrotha, the Gravetide deck, which is devoted to repeating these effects.


Exclusion Mage

If you like Man-O-War effects in tribal decks, boy do I have a treat for you. I don’t know if this will get much love in the world of Commander outside of Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, but this does seem like quite the Brawl-Star if you feel what I’m laying down. Being limited to opponents’ creatures is nitpicky, though, and with all the other duplication spells out there, Exclusion Mage might find itself excluded from the party.


Frilled Serpent

Call me crazy, but I think there’s some sort of theme going here with blue making creatures unblockable. Not bad, but the cost to activate this ability might make some players frill up a bit and ignore it. There are much better creatures with built-in unblockability.


Gearsmith Prodigy

Kird Ape and Wild Nacatl are both played in under 300 decks each and those are arguably better than this young one. If you happen to cast Gearsmith Prodigy on turn one off Seat of the Synod then maybe it’s worth playing. Until then, a 2/2 for one mana just isn’t at home in Commander.


Ghostform

Hey everyone, another card that says your stuff can’t be blocked! Who’d a-thunk!? This reprint is only showing up in 182 decks at the moment. Distortion Strike and Artful Dodge are both played in around 1,400 decks apiece so there is some precedent for one-off unblockability spells. I’m a fan of being able to hit multiple creatures instead of just one, but most decks that want these spells normally focus on a one-shot hit with just their commander, so spells like this fall to the wayside.


Metamorphic Alteration

Jason Alt is sure to love this one. Making your worst creature a copy of their best creature—or their best creature into a copy of your worst creature—is a swift way to level the battlefield. When we first saw this card spoiled, even Don, the progenitor of EDHREC, got a little giddy. Turning your lowly Gearsmith Prodigy into a copy of their Consecrated Sphinx? Yup, seems good to me. The upsides to this card are pretty sweet.


Mirror Image

Got one Consecrated Sphinx? Have another for only three mana! If you’re at parity with the rest of the table, this card can be a cheap way to pull ahead. However, if you’re behind with nothing on board and top-deck this thing… ouch. You might want to imagine a better scenario than that actually. This card has lots of upside, but just as much downside. Clone decks are a real thing, though. So there’s that.


Mistcaller

This is a fantastic Commander version of Cursecatcher for a 1-drop Merfolk in tribal decks. Containment Priest has now been expanded into blue! Turning off a massive Rise of the Dark Realms is sure to make every necromancer like Joey Schultz out there shudder a bit. Meren of Clan Nel Toth and other reanimation decks all hate the sight of this card, and rightfully so!


Mystic Archaeologist

Well, the creature is cheap. A Treasure Trove with legs is a nice thought at least. The downside? Treasure Trove is only played in 188 decks as of right now. Whomp whomp. Mystic Archaeologist is probably a fine card for Brawl—in fact, I think it might really shine there—but in 100-card formats it’s just outclassed a little bit.


One with the Machine

Why yes, I would love to put my Blightsteel Colossus into play with Master Transmuter and then draw a stack of cards with this spell. One with the Machine is fantastic and any artifact-heavy deck is sure to find a spot for it. Drawing nine cards from your Darksteel Forge sounds pretty darn decent. Just don’t get blown out by a Shatterstorm before you cast it.


Patient Rebuilding

Mill is a less-than-ideal yet super-popular theme among casual players of the format. According to EDHREC’s Themes Page, there are over 1,800 dedicated Mill decks dedicated to removing opponents’ libraries. This might be a little low impact, only hitting one opponent at a time and not doing anything until turn six, so like the card says, you’ve got to be very patient. Still, milling and drawing cards at the same time will certainly boost the numbers of decks we’ll see running this card.


Psychic Corrosion

Speaking of milling opponents, this is one that I imagine more players are excited about. Hitting each opponent instead of just one and triggering off every card you draw makes this much more desirable than Patient Rebuilding. I imagine this will get more love than Jace’s Erasure which is played in just a hair over 1,600 decks at the moment.


Sai, Master Thopterist

I wasn’t very excited about Sai at first, but I have softened a bit. In the 99 of Breya, Etherium Shaper decks, this is a slam dunk, where you’re sure to have a glut of artifacts to sacrifice. This will join the ranks of Padeem, Consul of Innovation and other utility creatures that help keep your hands well-stocked with artifacts. Very solid card.


Salvager of Secrets

Archaeomancer is played in over 12,000 decks, so the question is: would you play another Archaeomancer for one more mana? If you run tribal decks, remember that the Salvager is both a Merfolk and a Wizard.


Scholar of Stars

This is just too high of a cost for this effect. It will probably be a great limited card and all, but 100-card formats have too much competition for this.


Skilled Animator

I loved Ensoul Artifact when it came out. Sadly for me though, it’s only played about 270 Commander decks. Hardly a shining word of confidence. Seeing this effect on a creature and not an Aura certainly prevents as many blowouts, so maybe this is the card we need for the effect! I like it. Making an obsolete mana rock into a beater is fun.


Supreme Phantom

Commander players love tribal decks, and tribal decks love lord effects. Ergo, Commander players will probably love this card. An easy-to-cast 2-drop means whether you want to play Azorius, Esper, Bant, or any other Spirit color combination, you’ll be finding room for this one.


Surge Mare

Horse. Fish. That is all.


Tezzeret, Artifice Master

Holy cannoli, that is one heck of an ultimate ability there! Anyone else surprised that a big blue planeswalker can come down and ultimate with Doubling Season, then proceed to win the game? Me neither. Even without Doubling Season a 5-mana planeswalker that makes a 1/1 Thopters and draws you extra cards is still going to be just fine. That ultimate though… that’s just insane if you ever get to pull it off.


There we have it! 1,800 words of blue Insight. I hope you enjoyed this colorful foray into the Core Set comeback. What new cards are you most excited about? How about the reprints? Can’t wait to get your hands on a less-pricey Omniscience, like the rest of us? Yeah, I thought so. Let me know in the comments what you think of the new set. Thanks everyone!

Selesnya, Naya, Temur, Ink-Treader...whatever you want to call it. Matt knows a good creature-combo deck when he sees it. He is the only EDHREC writer that was sad to see Leovold go. Outside of EDH plays Legacy and Modern and got his first career Pro Point at GP Louisville. Matt lives with his wife and two dogs, but no cats because cats are terrible.