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Core Set 2020 Draft Guide

Core Set 2020 Traditional Draft is live from July 8 until the next set release and Ranked Draft to follow on July 19. We will guide you on how to draft the best cards and build your deck.

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If Core Set 2020 Sealed is any indication, the set’s draft format should be just as good, if not even better! The Traditional Draft event is probably one of the better way to spend your gems if your drafting skills are above average – as you can earn excess gems and many packs to go along with it. Our guide will help you be prepared for Core Set 2020 drafting.

Check out our other guides in the Core Set 2020 Limited Series:

Core Set 2020 Limited Tier List

Core Set 2020 Instants, Flash and Tricks for Limited

Core Set 2020 Sealed Guide

Traditional Draft Event Information

Duration: July 8 2019 to Fall 2019 (until Archery set release)
Format: Core Set 2020 Traditional Draft
Cost: 1500 Gems
Match Structure: Best-of-three matches (BO3)
Rewards: Depending on amount of wins (up to 5) before 2 losses:

  • 0 Wins – 1 Core Set 2020 Pack
  • 1 Win – 2 Core Set 2020 Packs
  • 2 Wins – 800 Gems, 3 Core Set 2020 Packs
  • 3 Wins – 1500 Gems, 4 Core Set 2020 Packs
  • 4 Wins – 1800 Gems, 5 Core Set 2020 Packs
  • 5 Wins – 2100 Gems, 6 Core Set 2020 Packs

The event rewards you quite well – event at just 3 wins, you will recoup your entry fee.

Ranked Draft Event Information

Duration: July 19 2019 to Fall 2019
Format: Core Set 2020 Ranked Draft
Cost: 5000 Gold or 750 Gems
Match Structure: Single matches (BO1)
Rewards: Depending on amount of wins (up to 7) before 3 losses:

  • 0 Wins – 50 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (20% chance of bonus pack)
  • 1 Win – 100 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (22% chance of bonus pack)
  • 2 Wins – 200 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (24% chance of bonus pack)
  • 3 Wins – 300 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (26% chance of bonus pack)
  • 4 Wins – 450 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (30% chance of bonus pack)
  • 5 Wins – 650 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (35% chance of bonus pack)
  • 6 Wins – 850 Gems, 1 Core Set 2020 Pack (40% chance of bonus pack)
  • 7 Wins – 950 Gems, 2 Core Set 2020 Packs

This event also means you are participating in the Limited portion of War of the Spark Season 3 – and you will be eligible for season rewards and Mythic Championship V qualifiers if you reach top 1000 Mythic ranking.

What is Draft?

Draft is a type of Limited MTG format where you take turns choosing a card from three rotating Core Set 2020 packs, and using them plus (basic lands) to build a 40-card deck. The left over cards become your sideboard.

In MTG Arena, you are drafting with 7 other bots – not with other players. That means your draft is influenced somewhat by the bots’ programmed behavior (more on this topic below), but the principles are the still the same – pick the best card for your deck in each pack, according to your chosen color.

You will then play best-of-three-matches (Traditional Draft) or single matches (Ranked Draft) with other players. You can change your deck (and sideboard) in between matches if desired.

Format Overview

Having experienced the sealed event and the prerelease, as well as some practice drafts, we feel that the Core Set 2020 limited environment boils down to the points below:

  • Power: Core Set 2020 cards offer a higher than usual level of power (compared to Core Set 2019), making the set overall more fun to play. However, it is still a Core Set and strategies are somewhat less complex. The format itself is slower in nature due to lack of decent aggro cards.
  • Mechanics: There are no new keywords in this set but make sure you understand how the “Protection from” keyword works (which is new to MTG Arena). Against their respective colors, they make them very powerful sideboard cards (more on this below).
  • Bombs: The Mythic Rare and Rare Creatures and Planeswalkers are indeed strong and will steer you into their colors (some of them have restrictive casting costs). However, they are not impossible to deal with, given the range of removal we have in set, unlike the God-Eternals in War of the Spark.
  • Strategy: What colors you should be drafting should be pretty clear based on the first few picks of the draft. There are few available synergies (e.g. lifegain, elementals) but you should not aim to lean too heavily on them and just aim to draft stronger cards.


Let’s review the general themes for Core Set 2020 Limited again, as intended by the game’s developers:

  • Flying (blue-red-white)
  • Elementals (green-blue-red)
  • Go Wide (white-black-green)
  • Aggro (red-white-black)
  • Control with “Enters-the-Battlefield” Effects (black-green-blue)

In Core Set 2020, each color combination is a valid choice but your deck may be enhanced by different synergies some cards offer.

  1. Black-Green: Green is supporting Black’s range of removal spells like Murder and Agonizing Syphon with big creatures such as Silverback Shaman, and Howling Giant. Brightwood Tracker is also a great card advantage engine. You are generally trying to out-value your opponent.
  2. Blue-Green: This is a great color combination that combines bigger creatures and blue disruptive spells and flying creatures. There are some interesting synergies as well that combines Elementals and Enter the Battlefield effects.
  3. White-Black: The cards that support this archetype – Raise the Alarm, Corpse Knight, Inspiring Captain, Inspiring Charge, Griffin Protector, and Gruesome Scourger are decent but sometimes may lack that reach the deck needs to finish off the opponent.
  4. Red-Green: Generally will be an aggro deck, supported by burn spells and bigger Green creatures. There are some decent Elemental synergies, and if you manage to score Chandra, Novice Pyromancer and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, your deck can become quite strong.
  5. Red-Black: Black and red have the best removal spells in the set, and are supported by some great cards such as Audacious Thief and Gorging Vulture. If your deck has a bomb like Dread Presence or Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, then becomes even more enticing.
  6. White-Blue: Flying creatures in general are small and evasive, so you want to chip in as much damage as possible where you can. The idea is to have as much flyers as possible (ideally with Empyrean Eagle) and use tempo spells like Pacifism, Sleep Paralysis and Unsummon to disrupt your opponent.

Now we will review the key cards of the set below in more detail. Remember you can refer to our Core Set 2020 Limited Tier List as well if you need a quick reference.

Key Cards


White offers some flying creatures, lifegain synergies and Sephara, Sky’s Blade. There is the premium removal in Pacifism and a more average one in Aerial Assault. There is not too much depth in White without the Rares and other colors do the job in aggro and flying department much better.


Blue is a more aggressive/tempo color in Core Set 2020, that offers good cards in all three archetypes – flying, Elementals, and enter the battlefield effects. There are less control elements here, unless you want to play counterspells like Convolute and Bone to Ashes. Because of this, it pairs well with White flying creatures or Black, where you have more removal options.


Black is a strong color in Core Set 2020, it offers quality removal, creatures and other spells that gives it an edge over other colors. It pairs well with all colors, especially with Blue or Green.


Red is somewhere in the middle, where it has some aggressive creatures and some elemental and Chandra synergies mixed in between.


Green has some big creatures, but other than that there’s nothing more special that it offers (Rares and Mythic Rares aside). Sedge Scorpion and Rabid Bite is a good combination.

Multicolored Cards

All the uncommon multicolored cycle cards are decent and will be a factor in deciding your second color and archetype to keep in mind.

Artifacts and Lands

There are decent artifacts occupying the uncommon and rare slots in the set, and Golos is much better than it appears on paper, even if you cannot manage to use its ability.

As for the non-basic lands:

  • Generally, you want to play any Scrylands (the Temples) you draft, if they are in at least one of your colors. Scry is very valuable and similar to drawing a card.
  • Only play the common lands if your deck has both of its colors, but not just for the life gain. You can always play Evolving Wilds.
  • A single copy of Cryptic Caves in a two color deck is a good option.
  • We feel Lotus Field and Field of the Dead are best not played, unless you really need the mana fixing from Lotus Field.

Protection Creatures and Hate Spells

General advice with these cards is the creatures can be maindecked if you are looking for fillers, and if they target your opponent’s color it can be very difficult for them to deal with.

The spells on the other hand, should never be put in the main deck and should be used in the sideboard instead.

Multicolored Mythic Rares

The general advice with these cards is that you should not be playing them, and they are not worth the trouble of adding a third color unless:

  • You have decent synergies with their abilities and;
  • Given you have enough mana fixing to accommodate their casting cost.

Building your Draft Deck

Similar to the sealed deck, your deck will look like this:

  • Two colors
  • 17 lands
  • 14-16 creatures
  • 7-9 other spells (ideally 3-5 removal/interaction spells)

Strategy, Tips and Tricks

This section is also from our sealed guide:

  • Remember the new London Mulligan rule is in place – don’t be afraid to do so as you will have a much better chance of winning than keeping a terrible hand.
  • Your removal spells are super important! Think about whether it is better off to trade your creatures off and save it for something later – you might be sorry if you cannot deal with a larger creature later on in the game.
  • Always be prepared and play around your opponent’s open mana. Click here to see all the cards in Core Set 2020 that are Instants, have Flash, and other combat tricks that can be used against you.
  • Gods Willing can be a pretty versatile card. Other than protecting your creatures, it can also remove enchantments like Pacifism and Sleep Paralysis from your creatures and make them unblockable from the color of your choice, if you need to squeeze in a bit of damage.
  • Also, regarding the above-mentioned enchantments, remember that the opponent can still use abilities on the creatures that don’t require them to tap, such as Ogre Siegebreaker, Dread Presence, and more.
  • Goblin Smuggler and Pack Mastiff was a good way to break out of board stalls, using the excess lands to pump the Pack Mastiff after making it unblockable with Goblin Smuggler.
  • Rabid Bite allows your Deathtouch creatures such as Sedge Scorpion to kill almost any Creature.

Wrapping Up

We hope everyone enjoys the Core Set 2020 limited format – it certainly seems more interesting than previous iterations. If you have any questions or feedback, make sure to contact us on Twitter or Discord.

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