Core Set 2021 Limited Set Review – Blue

Limited_Blue

Today, we gaze upon a parade of spirits as they emerge, drifting through stormy skies, while colossal whales emit songs loud enough to drown out ship horns, even from darkest depths… Blue is deep as the ocean and overwhelming as a tidal wave this set.

Who are we?

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Drifter

I’ve been enthralled by Limited ever since I began in New Phyrexia. With a particular fondness for flashback and cube drafts, I’ve drafted more sets than I can count on every platform through wildly different eras. On Arena I draft infinitely, having profited 30k or so gems from it at this point, and have made top 100 mythic frequently. Self-reflection and critical analysis are paramount to Limited improvement, and that theme features in many of my articles, and in each session of the Limited coaching service I provide.

Check out all my articles here or follow me on Twitter for regular updates!

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Compulsion

I’ve played Magic off and on for the last 20 years. I just checked to confirm that and it blew my mind a little bit. I started with 6th edition and began playing ‘competitively’ with Odyssey. My handle is actually a really good Limited card from the Odyssey block. Anyway, Magic Arena got me back into the game, and I have been drafting infinitely since closed beta and have finished top 1000 Mythic nearly every ranked season.

Check out all my articles here or follow me on Twitch to catch my streams!

Legend

We’ve expanded our system of pluses and minuses from last time. Any grade except S and F can receive them now, but C+ and C- are still most common and important.

Barrin, Tolarian Archmage

Barrin, Tolarian Archmage

Drifter: B

Aether Adept has always been a fantastic card in Limited, and this has a lot of upsides over it – this card really makes the idea of bouncing your other stuff with enter-the-battlefield abilities very exciting, both with its ability and any other spells you play. Bounce spells tend to be reasonable in Limited anyway so you’ll be playing them, and then you’ll get a tremendous amount of value from them when this is out. Resetting auras like Capture Sphere and Faith’s Fetters will come up too, and lets you cantrip. This is all attached to this card’s base case, so you’re getting a good deal regardless and then there’s a strong ceiling on top.

Compulsion: B-

Ideally you bounce something with an enter the battlefield effect or save a creature from Faith’s Fetters / Capture Sphere and draw, but having the option to bounce an enemy creature is nice. The 2/2 body is a definite downside, however.

Cancel

Cancel

Drifter: D+

I’m really never excited by Cancel in Limited sets, it’s just too awkward to hold up 3 mana for the most part. This isn’t a set with a lot of Flash synergy like Theros: Beyond Death, and even there Whirlwind Denial was pretty weak, and was a significantly better card than this. Neutralize was far better than this in Ikoria, since Cycling was massive upside on it, and I still swapped between C and C- for it a lot in Ikoria.

Compulsion: C-

Standard issue counterspell (these days) if your deck is into that sort of thing.

Capture Sphere

Capture Sphere

Drifter: B-

Capture Sphere is a bit expensive and you don’t want to take it too highly, but it is a solid removal option. There does appear to be more Enchantment hate in White, since Rambunctious Mutt and Feat of Resistance are such good answers to this, so do keep that in mind and don’t be afraid to board it out if you see a couple of those.

Compulsion: B-

Capture Sphere has been staple Blue removal in recent sets such as Ikoria and Guilds of Ravnica, and I don’t see any reason it would be different in M21.

Discontinuity

Discontinuity

Drifter: D+

Discontinuity is like a split card with three modes: one function is as a 6 mana counterspell – if you cast it in response to an opponent’s spell or ability, the turn will end immediately and the stack will be exiled. The advantages of this are that they can’t then cast more spells that turn, so you might waste some of their mana, and if you counter a spell in their main phase one, they also won’t be able to attack that turn. Another function is that you can cast Discontinuity on your opponent’s upkeep as essentially a Time Walk where they still get to untap – they won’t get to draw a card for the turn but they will have access to their mana if they have instants, and have blockers/tap abilities ready. Finally, and this is more of an edge case, you can hold up Discontinuity and cast it for just 2 mana if you think your opponent is going to cast something like a Dark Bargain on the end of your turn, and it will be a pretty big blowout in the very few games when you can actually set that up! Some added flexibility is for 2 mana, you can use it with first strikers to deal the first round of combat damage and then end the turn to prevent the rest of the damage.

Unfortunately, none of these modes are both good and common case – the problem is in costing 6 mana, and the fact that they get to untap their creatures – one of the main use of Time Walks in Limited, especially expensive ones, is in simply ending the game, and this won’t do that a lot of the time. You don’t lose a card when playing it, since you either counter something or deny them a draw, but you’ll often get no value or tempo from playing this for 6 mana.

While this card isn’t great, I do think it’s sweet and surprisingly versatile.

Compulsion: D-

At least you get a discount if you use it to get your wasted turn over with immediately. /s

But in all seriousness, the six mana here is too much for what you are going to get in nearly all cases. Timewalking your opponent at upkeep is cool, but you are essentially giving up your own turn and a card to do it. I think the best scenario is countering something and skipping their attack phase, but I do not think that is enough upside to play a six mana counterspell.

Enthralling Hold

Enthralling Hold

Drifter: A

This is an absurd uncommon that will decide a vast number of Limited games – stealing your opponent’s creature is devastating on both tempo and value. They can destroy the enchantment in a few ways, more than in most sets, Rambunctious Mutt and Thrashing Brontodon being good maindeck cards, but the way this is worded means they can’t untap the creature in response, which is some nice insurance. Feat of Resistance is also really strong against this, but honestly this card is so powerful that you are willing to incur some risk in playing it unless your opponent has like 4 or 5 ways to destroy Enchantments and you don’t have sacrifice outlets to get value off the creature.

This does involve taking some damage to steal the creature, and you won’t be able to block with it on the same turn.

Compulsion: A

Tapped or not, stealing a creature is extremely powerful in Limited. This will end up being one of the best Uncommon cards in the set.

Frantic Inventory

Frantic Inventory

Drifter: D+

I think because the first one of these is so bad, you really need several before they’re worth playing – 2 mana cantrips that don’t do anything else are pretty bad. Still, if you have looting or other ways to get this directly in the graveyard, Accumulated Knowledge 2.0 gets a lot better. This also goes really well with Teferi’s Tutelage, and is a good reason to want a bunch.

Compulsion: C-

Unless the format ends up being really durdly, I am not feeling this draw engine. If you can cast three in a game you are +3 cards, but that is a lot of opportunity cost. There is some combo potential with payoffs for drawing cards, but in a generic Blue deck I don’t think these are worth accumulating.

Frost Breath

Frost Breath

Drifter: D

Frostveil Ambush had Cycling, which was massive upside on it. Without that, I’m really not that interested in this kind of effect as a maindeck inclusion except perhaps in my most tempo-oriented decks or decks where I had several ways to loot it away.

Compulsion: C-

I think this is playable if you are playing multiple copies of creatures like Library Larcenist that can get enough value out of spending a card on this effect. I was surprised how many times I hard casted Frostveil Ambush in Ikoria to great effect. The Instant speed allows you to lock down their creatures for two entire turns. I think I would still rather have Frost Lynx and get a creature out of the deal, but I see this as a suitable replacement in decks that can capitalize on the effect.

Ghostly Pilferer

Ghostly Pilferer

Drifter: B

This card seems pretty strong – you can pay 2 on your upkeep to rummage with it (untap triggers are delayed until then, check out my priority article for more info!) and deal 2 unblockable damage per turn> One nice aspect is that it will force your opponent to leave a blocker back so you have to discard, so this is especially good at racing. This is a 2 drop that’s relevant at any point in the game, and forces your opponents to play in a really awkward way.

The Pilferer seems especially good in Azorius, where you can pretty easily stack +1/+1 counters onto it, and it has some nice synergy with Siege Striker, which taps it for you so you don’t have to discard! In general, auras become a bit more enticing with it, since they’ll allow you to get a hit in without discarding some amount of the time, and 2 mana to draw a card repeatedly is a fantastic rate.

Compulsion: B-

This one is going to depend a lot on how often you are able to spend 2 mana at upkeep and get away with it. If you need to use its ability to attack it ends up being card neutral, so ideally your deck has some ways to give Ghostly Pilferer evasion or clear a path for it.

Jeskai Elder

Jeskai Elder

Drifter: C

Jeskai Elder requires you to have 7+ spells to be great, which I think is going to be hard to do in the format, but it will sometimes force them to leave a creature back to stop you looting, and the threat of activation is a really big deal, since they really won’t ever want to block it with a 2/2. Elder pairs especially well with Rousing Read, since looting every turn is fantastic.

Compulsion: C

Prowess is looking pretty weak after playing with cards like Spellgorger Weird recently. I could see getting this through due to the threat of activation, but the Looting reward is a bet underwhelming as well.

Keen Glidemaster

Keen Glidemaster

Drifter: C+

This is a really solid 2 drop – it’s good early or late, and is a threat that stays in play and eventually becomes very threatening. This is especially good in Simic, where you have big green creatures to pair with it.

Compulsion: C+

Speaking of, this is a solid option at common to generate evasion. This is a solid ability to have on your 2-drop and there are a lot of good targets for it.

Library Larcenist

Library Larcenist

Drifter: C+

This card draws on attack, which is a whole different ball game from drawing on combat damage – it works fantastically with Green tricks and White +1/+1 counters, is great with Rousing Read, and even a card like Gale Swooper represents a lot of value with it.

Compulsion: C+

This plays a similar role as something like Thieving Otter, but keeping it alive for multiple attacks may prove tricky. Then again, Audacious Thief was an excellent card in Core Set 2020, so with the right support Library Larcenist could get there.

Lofty Denial

Lofty Denial

Drifter: C

I think the Censor mode on this card saves it to some degree, but holding up 2 mana turn after turn is just so hard in Limited that I’m not especially excited. Still, countering unless you pay 4 instead of 3 is worth enough that I’m happy to give this a low C; it will be hard to outscale in the late game, and I think there are enough fliers in Blue for it to be reasonable.

Compulsion: C

Force Spike is always an annoying card to lose a spell to, so be on the looking for untapped Islands. I like that it becomes a discounted Convolute as long as you have a flyer. I could see it becoming a C+ if it interacts well in this format, but in a vacuum this seems about right.

Miscast

Miscast

Drifter: F

I am never going to play this card maindeck; there are just too few targets for any Limited format, but especially in Core Set Draft which tends to be creature-oriented. By the time they have one, they might well have three mana up to pay – Mana Leak effects are not nearly as good in Limited as Constructed. It’s an okay sideboard card but still nothing special.

Compulsion: D

The Instant/Sorcery stipulation really hurts this. I am expecting a lot of creature-heavy decks in M21, which makes main decking this quite risky.

Mistral Singer

Mistral Singer

Drifter: C+

2/2 Flier for 3 is a solid statline, and prowess means it will often hit for 3. This is a staple bread-and-butter card for your fliers decks.

Compulsion: C+

This card feels fairly ‘pushed’ for a common, and I suspect most Blue decks will look to draft these fairly early.

Opt

Opt

Drifter: C-

Ordinarily, I would give Opt a D+ but it is good enough with Prowess, especially in Izzet, and with Riddleform that I am willing to push it up to low C-. In the average deck without those, you’ll cut this most of the time.

Compulsion: C-

If your deck has payoffs for drawing extra card or a lot of Prowess you won’t mind running this, but Opt doesn’t generally do enough to be worth running without some synergy.

Pursued Whale

Pursued Whale

Drifter: B

This is a really powerful card, with a great statline, that forces them to make bad attacks into you and resists removal. I’m inclined to give this a slightly lower grade because Blue has a lot of huge monsters at 7 mana in this set that compete with it, and all of them are good even if they are a bit worse than this – you only really want one 7 drop in every deck. It’s worth noting that they can also get rid of the token with sacrifice effects in Black. This is better in Simic because you’re more likely to be ahead of them on mana so they won’t be able to pay for the removal as easily, and because 7 drops are better in Simic in general.

Compulsion: B

7 mana is a lot, but it protects itself decently well and gives you the opportunity to eat your opponent’s best creature next turn. Pursued Whale could be situational, but I think it is a good include in any deck that can reliably cast it (likely UG). This is not something you can slam into any Blue deck, though.

Rain of Revelation

Rain of Revelation

Drifter: B-

This is a really strong card to tack instant speed onto – it allows you to hold up removal and countermagic, and still make use of your mana if it doesn’t happen, and drawing three and discarding one is hugely better than merely drawing two.

Compulsion: B+

Sift at Instant speed!? Sign me up. This is one of the best reasons to have Islands in your deck.

Read the Tides

Read the Tides

Drifter: C

I think both modes on this are a bit weak for the cost – drawing three is reasonable but not amazing, and returning two creatures for 6 mana is something you only do if you can kill them or are really desperate. I could see moving this up to C+ if the set is quite slow, but even Ikoria was too fast for this to be a C+ I think. Additionally, the Blue decks seem quite fliersy, and while the double bounce might look deceptively good in a fliers deck, I think those can just do better with their high end options, and won’t be that interested in the card draw – there’s a lot of other ways to draw cards in Blue in this set, so less need for an inefficient option like this.

It’s worth noting that if you have a couple of Vodalian Arcanists or are in Green and have Llanowar Visionary/Cultivate, this gets a lot better, since the difference between 5 and 6 mana is colossal. Even with one Arcanist, I’d be looking at taking this more at low C+.

Compulsion: C

Six mana is pretty steep. If the format is slow this may end up being decent, but right now it is looking like 1-of filler to me.

Rewind

Rewind

Drifter: D-

Rewind is absolute garbage – four mana is incredibly hard to hold up, and there aren’t enough other instants to give you an easy way to use the untapped mana. You might think that the Teferi’s Tutelage decks or other more controlling decks would want this, but really what happens is you never have time to hold this card up – those decks are weak to pressure and need to spend most of their time preventing death, or they’ve already stabilised and are winning. Rewind is a lot like discarding a card in many games.

The one situation where Rewind might actually be good is maybe if you have ways to loot it away and just want more dedicated late game in your controlling deck, and it’s not baseline the worst playable you can possibly put in the average deck, so I have left it at D-.

Compulsion: D

Another interesting reprint, Rewind is fairly lackluster from a Limited perspective. Most of the time it is an overpriced Cancel. In some universe you are going to counter something and then make it Rain of Revelation, but let’s temper those expectations.

Riddleform

Riddleform

Drifter: C

I don’t think this format is incredibly well set-up for Riddleform; it is by no means trivial to set this up as a 3/3 flier repeatedly, and cards like Opt aren’t super exciting in Limited unless you have Prowess or some other ways alongside Riddleform of making use of them – I think you need 6 or 7 spells minimum before you’re okay to play this card, and that’s tough. That being said, the ability to scry repeatedly late game is worth quite a lot, and is worth incurring some risk to try to make this work.

You can set up some nice spots where this will ambush them as a blocker, at least; I consider this a high C and could see moving it up to C+. It does make the leap to C+ in a more dedicated Izzet deck.

Compulsion: C-

This can be a decent beater or surprise blocker, but you need to be heavily invested in noncreature spells for it to be worth playing. Those kinds of decks are often subpar in Limited, especially in Core Sets where Creature decks tend to dominate.

Roaming Ghostlight

Roaming Ghostlight

Drifter: B

Getting to bounce something on top of a good flying threat is absurd… compare this to Chillbringer, which was a fantastic card at around B- in Ravnica Allegiance, and this effect is actually significantly better – bouncing is much better tempo than “chilling” something, since they’re forced to spend mana to recast the card. That being said, the body is significantly worse – this will be forced to trade with 2/2 fliers, which Chillbringer would be able to attack or block profitably, and it’s vulnerable to Shock effects, but really the card is still jst better. I consider this a solid B, since there aren’t that many 2/x fliers in the set, and most of the ones that are you’re reasonably happy to trade with.

Compulsion: B-

This is another nice Blue threat with Chillbringer vibes. Between this and Mistrel Singer, Blue has some nice Flying threats at common.

Rookie Mistake

Rookie Mistake

Drifter: D-

This is an incredibly situational card, and I would be inclined to almost never play it maindeck – your creatures have to be trading in combat anyway for this to do anything, and Blue creatures don’t tend to hold up to Green or White ones all that well. You can board this in in some weird small creature mirrors, and sometimes you’ll play this if you have loads of Prowess cards (but there aren’t even that many cards with that mechanic in the set), but you want your cards that trigger Prowess to be decent by themselves, and this is far from that.

Compulsion: D-

This is not the combat trick you are looking for. It is much better to run tricks that boost power/toughness as they can be converted to damage if need be via unblocked creatures. There could be some situations where this pulls off a cute play, but I recommend reading the name of the card before drafting it.

Rousing Read

Rousing Read

Drifter: C+

So here’s a fantastic combo with Library Larcenist, but this is a very strong card anyway. Whatever you put this on, you’re getting good value since you always get your card back (this is significantly better than draw a card, especially in the late game!) and +1/+1 and flying is enough to make most creatures a threat, even random 2/2s.

The main downside of this card is that many of your creatures in Blue will have Flying anyway, and you really don’t want too many of those with this since fliers tend to be understatted anyway, so you’re compounding that problem; this card is awful in an Azorius Fliers deck. You also need to be careful not to get blown out by instant speed removal in response, but that is something you need to watch out for with any Aura. It also gets a bit worse in multiples, since you really don’t want to draw too many of these – if you’re not getting the flying, you’re getting card parity rather than card advantage.

This is at its best in a Simic deck, since you’ll have efficient creatures and good blockers alongside it, so you’ll be able to tap out for it more and always have premium targets.

Compulsion: C+

I like this card quite a bit. It is basically a card-neutral Arcane Flight that has a lot of good targets. Library Larcenist is the obvious one in Blue, but thinking back to the White review we had cards like Falconer Adept and Siege Striker as good targets, and there will be more to come as we get deeper into the set. Even though it isn’t strictly card advantage, I would rather have these in my deck than Divination.

Sanctum of Calm Waters

Sanctum of Calm Waters

Drifter: C-

This card is pretty unexciting if you don’t have a second Shrine – looting every turn is not worth playing a 4 mana enchantment. Luckily Shrines is a pretty viable strategy – Black is great, Green is reasonable, and Red and White badly want other Shrines to pair with them so the three medium ones go well together. At the point where you have two Shrines in play, this card is immediately great; this is a great card to splash in your Shrine decks. Still, I wouldn’t take it too highly since it’s bad in every other archetype; I could see going down to D+ but think I will pick it at C- mostly.

Compulsion: C

It is a little jarring that this shrine triggers on your precombat main phase, which means you don’t get to draw/discard the turn you cast it. At four mana this is an investment, but I could see some decks wanting this Shrine.

See the Truth

See the Truth

Drifter: D

This is not a Limited card. Anticipate isn’t good, now it’s at sorcery speed, and it doesn’t have any other text in this game mode.

Compulsion: D

Anticipate isn’t my jam, especially at Sorcery speed.

Shacklegeist

Shacklegeist

Drifter: B-

This is mainly just a 2 mana 2/2 flier that can’t block ground units, which is good. There are enough Spirits for the tap effect to be decent in some spots; it will win you races and keep their big attackers at bay, and the ability is really nice on a stalled flying board.

Compulsion: B

The base rate of 2/2 flying for two mana is fantastic. The tap down ability seems fairly situational but hey I will take it.

Shipwreck Dowser

Shipwreck Dowser

Drifter: B

This card is great – unlike Salvager of Secrets, it’s a very solid threat, as a 3/3 Prowess can block reasonably and attack really well. I don’t think you need too many reasonable spells to want this card, but some decks will struggle to get three or four so I leave it at B for now.

Compulsion: B+

It looks like Salvager of Secrets has been working out. As long as you have a few good targets, getting a 3/3 Prowess is a nice bonus. If I had spells like Rain of Revelation I would take this very early.

Spined Megalodon

Spined Megalodon

Drifter: C

Scrying every turn is worth a lot on a creature that can’t be killed and will solidify the ground as soon as it arrives – the Megalodon will help ensure you draw more spells, and the stat upgrade on Cold-Water Snapper means I think this will be better. Still, there are a couple of better uncommon big creatures competing with it in Blue, so I wouldn’t take it too highly; you only ever want 1 7 drop, maybe two in Simic. I consider this a high C.

Compulsion: C

7 mana is a lot, but Hexproof can be obnoxiously good in Limited. I think it occupies a similar space as Cold-Water Snapper, but will be hard cast unless you are playing Green.

Stormwing Entity

Stormwing Entity

Drifter: B+

If this card were just a 5 drop, it would still be great in Limited! It’s not hard to have a cheap instant or sorcery lying around, and you’re getting free value and an insane double spell turn at that point. This card is great early and late, the value of scry 2 shouldn’t be understated, and it will be good in every deck, but especially in ones with cheap instants/sorceries e.g. in Izzet.

Compulsion: A-

The ability allows you to reasonably tempo this out 4th turn, and the value is great. Add in the Prowess ability and you have a substantial threat in the air.

Sublime Epiphany

Sublime Epiphany

Drifter: S

This card does a truly colossal amount in Limited – 6 mana is a lot to hold up and it won’t always counter something – your opponents won’t play around this, but they will play around any other counterspell you might have. Still copying your best creature, bouncing their best nonland permanent and getting your card back makes the fail case a lot like a slightly worse Dream Eater, which is an absurd card in Limited. I consider this a low S and did consider only giving it an A+, but it’s so absurd if you do counter something that I have left it there; sometimes there’ll be a nice activated or triggered ability to snap up at least.

Compulsion: S

Lol this looks like someone read Cryptic Command and found it lacking because Blue decks do more things. The value is spectacular, allowing you to counter/bounce/clone/draw all at once. Sublime Epiphany should really cost more Blue mana in my opinion, but it is what it is, and amazing is what it is.

Teferi, Master of Time

Teferi, Master of Time

Drifter: A-

Remember that Teferi can use his abilities twice per turn – on yours and then your opponent’s. Planeswalkers that tick up for two loyalty a turn are always far more powerful than they first seem, in my experience, and that essentially means Teferi starts on 5 loyalty, which makes him absurdly hard to kill in Limited, and if they do have an annoying flier or whatever then you can phase it out and buy yourself a lot of time. In addition, getting to use Teferi’s minus at awkward times for your opponent is deceptively strong – it’s very hard for them to play around and forces them to commit to bad attacks. Being able to loot away so many of your lands and ensure you draw gas, or dig towards your best and most relevant cards is not an ability to be underrated either; you get to look at a full three cards per turn cycle.

In Limited, it’s not that hard to protect Teferi and ultimate him, and when their creatures stay tapped for two turns, it’s not that hard to set up positions where you can kill them.

Compulsion: B

As Tefaris go this one is pretty tame. Phasing out a creature on your opponent’s turn is a powerful ability, but you are likely only going to be able to do it once, while looting is good but certainly not broken in any way. I have a hard time seeing how you could reasonably hit 10 loyalty and use the ultimate ability.

Teferi’s Ageless Insight

Teferi's Ageless Insight

Drifter: D-

I don’t believe in this card in many decks; I think you need to be well set-up for it with looters to really get good value, since in the average deck you’ll play this card for 4 mana and it won’t necessarily do anything for quite a while. To be getting a good rate, you need to draw three extra cards from this over the course of the game, which means three loots or three Opts, or whatever. Additionally, many Blue decks will just have other less awkward sources of card draw and won’t need this. This is a card that’s truly terrible when you’re behind, and not even necessarily good when you’re ahead or at parity.

There is some synergy with Teferi’s Protege at least, but that’s a lot of mana to spend to finally get an engine going. I could see moving this up to D or D+ if the format is slower than I have the impression right now.

Compulsion: C

Of course Teferi’s Ageless Insight would include the word ‘Draw’ four times. I am kind of at a loss on this one. You basically need to draw three extra cards with this in play for it to be worth it. Drafting this would make accumulating a set of Frantic Inventory more appealing, but the format needs to be pretty slow for a deck like that to work.

Teferi’s Protege

Teferi's Protege

Drifter: C

This card is actually significantly better than Facet Reader, since a 2/3 for 3 is so much better than a 1/2 for 2 – this has a relevant effect on combat and stops 2 drops from attacking. This card gets much better with Teferi’s Tutelage, and you should take it more at C+ if you’re angling towards that deck. I consider this a high C.

Compulsion: C

It seems like Blue decks are going to need to play defense, and this card does pretty well there. A 2/3 shuts down enemy Bears and having a mana sink later on seems solid.

Teferi’s Tutelage

Teferi's Tutelage

Drifter: C+

I think this card is pretty strong – Sphinx’s Tutelage, the card it was referencing, was an amazing Limited card (while being much better than this) and it seems like there’s some cheap card draw with stuff like Rain of Revelation and Teferi’s Protege to make it work. However, a lot of the Blue cards are fliers cards and those cards are horrible in Tutelage decks; you want to be really defensive, and there isn’t quite the density of good blockers and removal options I want, in order to give this a higher grade. I suspect Tutelage will also be overdrafted to some degree, so it will be hard to get two of these, which is the sweet spot where going all-in is really worth it.

I think Dimir will be the best pairing for Tutelage decks, since Black has a bunch of ways to gain life and good removal options.

Compulsion: B-

We may have a Mill deck on our hands. I am not confident this is fast enough to reliably win, but Milling two every time you Draw puts your opponent on a pretty short clock. Psychic Corrosion was a legit win condition in M19, and there seem to be even more tools in M21 to enable it. Needing to find multiple copies could make it tough to play it as a build around, but even having one as an alternate win condition in Blue decks that are already trying to draw a bunch of extra cards seems good.

Tide Skimmer

Tide Skimmer

Drifter: C+

This card is absurd in Azorius, but there are enough fliers at common in Blue that you’ll sometimes get there anyway (even if you have to pay 3 mana with Keen Glidemaster, that will often be a reasonable rate) – ideally the fliers are already out and you get to draw the card instantly, because this will be the first thing they remove if it’s even close to online!

Compulsion: B-

Why aren’t you a 3/2? Oh well, I can forgive Snapping Drake for the switcheroo if it draws me cards. Maybe this is obvious, but abilities that reward you for doing things you already want to be doing work for you instead of the other way around, and that is worth something.

Tolarian Kraken

Tolarian Kraken

Drifter: C+

Tolarian Kraken blocks really well, and this is a fantastic ability that will mess up a lot of combats. The Kraken makes cards like Opt and Teferi’s Protege a bit more valuable, since tapping on their turn is so much better than yours, and it lets you untap itself to block, which can lead to some real blowouts. You can also untap your Capture Sphered creatures repeatedly, functionally reviving them!

Compulsion: C+

The rate is pretty average on this but the ability is worth it, especially considering how many ways Blue has to draw cards at instant speed.

Tome Anima

Tome Anima

Drifter: D+

I think cards like this generally end up playing out a lot worse than they look, and a 4 mana 3/3 is a pretty bad failcase. Even if you get to deal 6 damage with this card, you’re replacing another 4 drop with it that will be able to attack and block better on average and might well deal even more than that over the course of the game. I feel like this isn’t what Blue wants to be doing in any deck in this format – not fliers, not Control, and not spells. This set does have some stuff like Opt and Skyscanner, but I consider this generally worse than Wishcoin Crab, even.

Compulsion: C

3/3 unblockable creatures seem pretty good. With so many options to trigger this I have to say overall Blue seems pretty stacked when it comes to Evasion in M21.

Unsubstantiate

Unsubstantiate

Drifter: C

You don’t want too many bounce effects since they put you down a card but Unsubstantiate being able to hit anything, even spells and enter-the-battlefield creatures is worth a decent amount. Blue has a lot of card draw, so it might be able to recoup that card disadvantage. This is also a set that rewards high spell counts, so you might get some additional value, and if you can save your own creatures with it then you do get your card back. That being said, I still wouldn’t take this that highly.

Compulsion: C+

Paying an extra mana for Unsummon seems like a decent trade off for the option to delay an important Noncreature spell. This is another spell that can trigger your Prowess creatures and/or remove blockers, so there are plenty of utility applications for this in M21.

Vodalian Arcanist

Vodalian Arcanist

Drifter: C

This card is pretty solid all-in-all as a good blocker that has a lot of upside with any expensive spells, especially Read the Tides.

Compulsion: C

Even though it is still a C, I think this guy is going to overperform in M21. 1/3’s seem pretty ideal for holding down the fort while you pick away with flyers. The ability also helps you hold up instants or Read the Tides a turn earlier.

Waker of Waves

Waker of Waves

Drifter: C+

I think this card is deceptively powerful – it’s okay early because you can just ditch it to get a bad Anticipate and then it’s actively great late. For those of you who have not played with Cumber Stone, that card is a real trip… suddenly your opponents’ creatures are attacking and blocking so much worse, and you’re getting that effect for free on a reasonable body. It does cost 7 mana so it won’t be great in every deck, and it will especially good with ramp in Simic, and a decent reason to play Rise Again in Black (although you’ll miss Unbreakable Bond whenever you cast that card).

Blue seems to have a lot of boom booms this set, and this competes with Tolarian Kraken, the better card, so I’m leaving it at C+ but, if the format is a bit slower than I’m expecting, I will easily move it up.

Compulsion: C+

The debuff ability is better than it probably looks, but I am still skeptical about the mana cost. I guess it is nice that you can pseudo cycle it, but unless you can cast it out of the graveyard I would not take this too highly.

Wall of Runes

Wall of Runes

Drifter: D+

I think Blue is lacking good blockers a bit in M21, so this card is okayish, but it’s never exciting and in some matchups, such as against Green decks with 4/4s or flier decks, you will really need to board it out.

Compulsion: D+

I think this might be a little more playable in M21 (similar to Vodalian Arcanist), but I would still need to be a Mill deck or really confident in my air force to creatures that can’t attack.

Wishcoin Crab

Wishcoin Crab

Drifter: C-

This is a necessary evil you only play in fliers or defensive decks when you really need more blockers. Still, I think both Control and Fliers will want more of this kind of effect, so I’ve bumped it up to C- where I would normally have it at D+.

Compulsion: C-

Yet another defensive creature that may see more play than usual. The 2/5 stat line is looking pretty good in this set, requiring your opponent to have a 5/5 or at least two 3/3’s to declare any attackers.

Conclusions

Drifter

Blue seems to have a solid mix of tools for different decks available, and seems very deep. There are some good control tools and card advantage, some strong fliers, and some powerful creature support options like Rousing Read; I expect Simic to be stronger than usual here between that and all the great 7 drops Blue is offering up. The spells theme seems a bit weaker and will require pairing with Red, but if you do get enough decent cheap spells between the two colours, has the potential to be quite powerful. Having access to a common like Roaming Ghostlight and some of the best uncommons in the entire format never hurts; I expect Blue to be one of the stronger colours, all in all.

Compulsion

Blue is very on brand with its Card Advantage and Flying themes, which is to be expected from a Core Set. The suite of commons seems very strong, and there are also a couple of the best uncommons in the entire set here. I could see Blue pairing well with any color. Aggro decks can take advantage of its Evasion and Tempo options, while control decks will want to access its card advantage and counter spells. There are even some intriguing high-curve spells that could justify a pairing with Green to Ramp into.

Compulsion

I have been playing MTG for 20 years and am an infinite drafter on Arena. I teach high school chemistry full time and have a two year old daughter.

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elvisguy
elvisguy
2 months ago

Am I missing something because I thought you can’t use the Sanctum the turn it enters.