The next release of Magic: The Gathering is around the corner, so let’s have a look at what this set has in store. 

Core Sets are designed differently to other Magic expansions. While a typical Magic set seeks to introduce new planes of existence, including new game mechanics, Core sets take a different approach, as can be seen from the content. 

There is a strong focus on a simple and straight-forward design, centred around a few key concepts:

New Players, Thematic Flavour, and Keyword Abilities

Core Sets lend themselves wonderfully towards being an easy opportunity for brand new, and less-enfranchised players to experience a new expansion. This is evident from the design of individual cards, as well as the overall look and feel of the set. 

Core Set Products

Core Set 2020 will have three different products designed to help new players with their introduction to the game. The first of these is the Welcome Decks found at Open House events that happen two weeks before the main release. Open House is a referral-based new player recruitment drive – simply put, existing Magic players are encouraged to bring their friends along for a Magic demo during a special event that takes place a week before the Prerelease. Each participant at Open House is gifted a free 30-card mono-coloured Welcome Deck that they can take home to further explore the game.

starter set

If you can’t make it to an Open House event, or if you don’t have a tournament venue nearby, then you can pick up a copy of the Spellslinger Starter Kit – this product features two decks that come with step-by-step instructions on how to play Magic, so you don’t even need an experienced player around to show you the ropes. The 2019 version features a lower price point compared to the 2018 edition and will include two decks – one Red, one White.

Planeswalker Decks

For players who are familiar with the basic concepts of the game and want to try out playing with a full 60-card deck, then the Planeswalker Deck is the next step. These decks are ready-to-play straight out of the box and comes in five different versions – each themed around a mono-coloured Planeswalker. Planeswalker Decks feature cards not found in boosters, including an alternate version of the namesake Planeswalker, so they offer a unique play experience. Each deck also comes with a 15-card booster to allow you to start tweaking your deck right away.

deck builder’s toolkit

For more enfranchised players, booster packs are the primary product. Each booster comes with 15 cards (1 Rare or Mythic Rare, 3 Uncommons and 11 Commons) and are the simplest way to expand an existing collection. In any booster pack, you have the chance of opening a premium version (aka foil version) of any card from the set. Core 2020 will see some changes in the odds of finding a foil card – ordinarily, foil cards are found in 1:67 cards, but in Core 2020 your odds improve to 1:45 – a whopping 30% increase!

If you happen to buy a full display of boosters (36 packs) from a participating Wizards Play Network (WPN) retailer, then you are eligible for a foil promotional Buy-a-Box card. For Core 2020, the card is Riene, Angel of Rebirth – and Riene is only available as a promo and can’t be found in any of the Core 202o products – supplies of the promotional cards are limited, so make sure you don’t miss out. 

Should you be a player who is loyal to a specific colour, then you can supplement your collection with one of the five Theme Boosters. Theme Boosters feature 35 cards, including one Rare or Mythic and all the cards in a specific Them boosters will be in the colour of the version that you have chosen. 

If a full display of boosters is not for you, then you should check out the Bundle. As the name suggests, this is a collection of various items from Core 2020, including 10 boosters, a storage box, art poster, and basic land pack. For this release however, you will see some changes in the contents – instead of a Player’s Guide, each Bundle will now feature twenty foil lands, an alternate-art foil promo card, and an oversized Spindown life counter.

Core Set Themes

In a regular Magic expansion, you can expect to discover new worlds and a host of associated characters and will also find brand new game mechanics that reflect the flavour of the specific story setting. Core Sets approach their theme a little differently and this opens unique opportunities from a design perspective. As we saw with Core Set 2019 that featured the Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas as its main character, Core Set 2020 is themed around a central figure… Who else but everyone’s favourite red-headed pyromancer, Chandra Nalaar. Continuing the theme of Uncommon and Rare Planeswalkers, Core Set 2020 will feature three versions of Chandra (four if you count the Planeswalker Deck edition), at three different stages of her life, and thus three different rarities. Let’s have a closer look at how Chandra evolves.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame is not the only 3-mana Planeswalker in the set. Historically, ‘cheap’ Planeswalkers are very powerful – they come down early in the game and can quickly overwhelm an opponent with their effects.

Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer is a character that was first introduced in the Japanese-inspired Global Series: Jiang Yanggu vs. Mu Yanling and here she makes her first appearance in a Standard legal release. Being a Core Set, new characters can be introduced without a need to explore their back-story, and cards can be assigned more generic abilities that don’t need a specific link to the “flavour” of the card set.

What better time to reprint a cycle of powerful enchantments from a previous Core Set than in the upcoming Core Set. Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of the Void are format all-stars and last made an Appearance nine years ago when they were first printed. We also see the return of Leyline of Anticipation and two new versions for Red and Green. Leyline of Abundance already has deck-brewers busy figuring out its potential in a combo.

Core Set mechanics

As mentioned, Core Sets do not introduce new worlds so there is no need to have the cards play in a manner that one would expect from the story setting. Rather Core Set expansions focus on existing abilities thus giving enfranchised players something familiar to work with, while introducing new players to simple-to-understand keyword abilities.  Having an appeal to new and established players alike is important for any set, more so a Core expansion. 

While we’re doing reprints, why not include a cycle of Rare dual lands from a previous set? In Core 2020 we will see the return of the ‘Scry lands’ that originally appeared in the Theros Block. These are the perfect play for Turn 1, or later in the game should you need to smooth any of your draws. The 6th Rare land from Core 2020 is Lotus Field, a functional reprint of Lotus Vale – a card that is on the Reserved List. The two cards have slight differences, notable that Lotus Field cannot be used in the same turn that it is played but having the added benefit of Hexproof. With Lotus Field becoming Standard legal on July 12th, this is a great time to start brewing around Crucible of Worlds, especially since Field of Ruin will still be around for a while.

In addition to the Rare land cycle, we will also see a cycle of mono-coloured ‘Cavaliers’ in the Mythic slot – each of these Elemental Knights feature an Evergreen ability, as well as an enter the battlefield and dying trigger, giving you triple value.

As with every Magic release, the cards are not just focused on the Standard format and Core 2020 brings with it some exciting new toys for the Commander crowd. These multi-colour Legendary creatures are sure to find a home in one or more decks of the popular multi-player format.

As with every Magic release, the cards are not just focused on the Standard format and Core 2020 brings with it some exciting new toys for the Commander crowd. These multi-colour Legendary creatures are sure to find a home in one or more decks of the popular multi-player format.

some added flavour

Core Set 2020 is shaping up to be a very exciting release, and I’m happy to make the claim that it is one of the strongest Core Sets we’ve seen, and is also a very powerful set in general, Core or otherwise. 

events calendar

Here are the important dates linked to the release of Core 2020, and keep in mind that the celebrations continue long after the set goes on sale: 

Open House: June 29–30, 2019

Prerelease: July 5–7, 2019

Main Release: 12 July

Draft Weekend: July 13–14, 2019

Friday Night Magic: July 12–September 27, 2019

Magic Weekend: August 24–25, 2019

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