Core Set 2019 has not been the most exciting Limited environment. They aren’t playing any rounds of draft with the set at this weekend’s Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, and that was by design. I’ve enjoyed a few draft and sealed tournaments in the format, and plan to hit up a couple more local PPTQs before the season ends. But it’s not much to write home about. We’ll be going deep on Chaos Drafts online in a few weeks rather than exploring the depths of Core Set 2019.

Still, the latest core set is doing something right: pumping out powerhouse two drop creatures! There are a ton of good ones in the format. Here are my favorite eight:

Eight—Suspicious Bookcase

This is the little wall that could. Four toughness for two mana is almost always a good deal, as it will trade with a combat trick against the most aggressive decks and brick wall early attacks from everything else. Usually, the cost of such defensive beef on a two drop is a serious lack of offensive firepower. Suncleanser, for example, is playable even without getting much use from it’s counter-stripping ability—but it is not good. Suspicious Bookcase saves plenty of life early, but it also provides inevitability late, even though you need another creature to punch through the damage.

It also does okay in terms of flavor. Bookcases are great for hiding secret passages. But you don’t want your hidden doors to look suspicious. If your creepy mansion only has one bookcase randomly sitting in a hallway, people are going to get ideas. Evil estate best practices require an overwhelming number of bookcases to conceal the special one.

Seven—Graveyard Marshal

Black isn’t great in Core Set 2019 Limited. Its two drops are notably weaker than you get in the other colors. Still, this zombie machine is pretty good. It better be as a rare, but any type of creature graveyard recursion in strong in Limited. Graveyard Marshal only has two toughness, but at least it can attack through the myriad 1/3s clogging up the format. This guy feels like he’s a bit better in tribal Commander decks, or maybe in Standard Zombies.

Six—Ajani’s Pridemate

Bears with upside are always appealing. With all the ways to gain life in the format, Ajani’s Pridemate has big upside. I personally find lifegain themes the least interesting of Orzhov gimmicks, but cards like this help you turn a defensive mechanic into serious offense.

Five—Departed Deckhand

You won’t find many spirits in Core Set 2019—just ask poor little Supreme Phantom. That makes Departed Deckhand basically an unblockable 2/2, which is pretty good. Yes it dies to any targeted spell, but that’s true in a practical sense for most two drops. Eating a removal spell is one of the better use cases for any two drop in Limited—you want to trade cheap resources to make room for the big hitters. And if your opponent starts siding in bad pump spells to try to kill this thing, you should be quite pleased.

You get quite a bit more out of Departed Deckhand, however. It’s basically a better version of Suspicious Bookcase. You can force through a lot of damage in the late game with eight free mana and a few attackers. Evasion wins games of core set Limited. Get on this ghost shipmate and ride to victory!

Four—Druid of the Cowl

Mana ramping is good. Magic has trended away from one-drop mana dorks toward two-drop versions. Llanowar Elves made its triumphant return to Standard with Dominaria, and R&D was so afraid they printed Goblin Chainwhirler in the same set. Druid of the Cowl adds two key points of toughness in return for coming down a turn later. In Limited you will take that deal all day long.

Being a 1/3 is such a great bonus on a mana dork. How many times have you played a mountain turn one on the draw holding Shock in hand, only to see Druid of the Cowl come down on your opponent’s second turn? Too many, that’s for sure. What a beating! It’s not a bird, and you don’t have a bolt.

Three—Mystic Archaeologist

Azure Mage must have taken the Rat Tail to Bahamut in the Temple of Ordeals, because Mystic Archaeologist is a major upgrade in class. I’d call it a mana sink, but that’s selling it short. If you play Mystic Archaeologist with seven mana, you are basically guaranteed a three-for-one. And that’s assuming it dies immediately! Stick around a few turns and it’s lights out.

I could even see this card-drawing powerhouse in the sideboard of Modern Humans. I mean, five mana is probably too much to pay for two cards a turn, but it is pretty good in a long game when you’ve got mostly-useless Aether Vials sitting around. Maybe not. But still, you basically win every game of Limited where you activate this even once.

Two—Dismissive Pyromancer

I love this card. Somehow it’s not the best two drop pyromancer in the history of red, but I guess it makes sense to have competition for that spot. Anyway, you can’t go wrong with a bear that rummages away extra lands before popping off a Flame Slash on a troublesome creature. In both aggressive and controlling red decks, Dismissive Pyromancer does everything you want—even if that’s just trading off with an opposing attacker or Shock.

Compare this card to some previous rummagers. Mad Prophet costs four mana, though at least it has haste and doesn’t ask you to spend any more mana. It was a pretty good card the two times it’s showed up. Dismissive Pyromancer is miles ahead of it. And then there’s Rummaging Goblin, a card so mediocre that you don’t play it in many Limited decks. Three mana 1/1s don’t do much beyond the bonus text they must have to come close to playability. But like I said above, bears with upside are where you want to be.

One—Dryad Greenseeker

What a ridiculous card! I loved playing Sigiled Starfish, and Dryad Greenseeker is even better. (Well, other than being green instead of blue.) You get a point of power to help block small creatures, and you get to draw those lands instead of scrying them to the bottom of the deck. Unless you are digging for a specific card, this ability is going to be better than a scry. And let’s be serious: there’s nothing better in Limited than blocking and playing a ton of lands. Here you have a true powerhouse uncommon, and it’s a big reason you see so many green decks in this sealed format.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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