This Monday I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the Wizards-sponsored Early Access event for Core Set 2020. Being able to play a bunch of cool new Standard decks and try out new cards made the event a lot of fun.

After playing with the cards for about five hours, I have some thoughts on cards that surprised me.

My friend John Ramos submitted a Big Red deck to me that included three copies of Chandra’s Regulator. The card looks very average in power level, but in a deck like Big Red the card filtering does real work. The Regulator helps smooth your mana draws, either discarding extra lands or digging for more.

Big Red Meme Engine

Creatures (4)
Chandra's Embercat

Spells (18)
Chandra's Regulator
Chandra's Triumph
Lava Coil
Lightning Strike

Planeswalkers (13)
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Fire Artisan
Sarkhan the Masterless
Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Lands (25)
25 Mountain

Everyone knows this is good, but the other ability is actually quite cool. Copying any Chandra activated ability for one mana provides massive card advantage. The deck played ten copies of Chandras, and all had relevant abilities to copy. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame applies a serious clock when she makes four tokens, and the Snapcaster Mage impersonation with double flashback can really swing games. Chandra, Awakened Inferno’s emblem ability is good by itself, but being able to double up can be devastating.

Chandra’s Embercat really surprised me because it is so versatile. Mana dorks turn out to be good, even if they onlypay for Elementals or Chandra planeswalkers. The Embercat did good work in the Big Red dck above, and the 2/2 body protects it from Goblin Chainwhirler.

Temur Elementals, by Sean Boyle

Creatures (30)
Paradise Druid
Chandra's Embercat
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
Living Twister
Overgrowth Elemental
Cavalier of Flame
Creeping Trailblazer
Rekindling Phoenix
Vine Mare

Planeswalkers (4)
Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Spells (1)
Sylvan Awakening
Lands (25)
Steam Vents
Stomping Grounds
Breeding Pool
Rootbound Crag
Hinterland Harbor
Sulfur Falls

If you want to make full use of Chandra’s Embercat, Temur or at least RG splash blue Elementals is definitely a deck. The best shell will take time to develop, but the acceleration of Embercat is really important. A turn-three Omnath, Locus of the Roil fits the curve perfectly, and the Shock is well-timed to kill something relevant.

Pretty sure I found my pet card of the set with Leyline of Abundance. I absolutely loved playing with this card—it’s a powerhouse. This new Leyline can power explosive starts in your opening hand alongside Llanowar Elves on turn one. In the Early Access event and off stream I was casting Nissa, Who Shakes the World very consistently on turn three and even sometimes on turn two.

Leyline of Abundance also does something new and special: the static ability stacks in multiples, similar to Amulet of Vigor in Modern. That is a good place to be. Plus Leyline of Abundance can be your win condition pumping all your mana creatures.

Dork Fish

Creatures (26)
Llanowar Elves
Paradise Druid
Incubation Druid
Druid of the Cowl
Cavalier of Thorns
Voracious Hydra
Hydroid Krasis
Pelakka Wurm

Spells (7)
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Leyline of Abundance

Planeswalkers (4)
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Lands (23)
Hinterland Harbor
Temple of Mystery
Breeding Pool
11 Forest

Sideboard (15)
Disdainful Stroke
Nullhide Ferox
Pelakka Wurm
Carnage Tyrant
Crushing Canopy

With thirteen mana dorks in the deck, eight mana isn’t hard to achieve by turn four or five. At that point, the second ability of Leyline of Abundance comes alive. The blue splash brings Hydroid Krasis and some scry lands. This was certainly my favorite list from the Early Access event, and something I will continue to explore in Standard.

What are some decks you are considering playing now that Core Set 2020 has joined Standard?  Any that you have already enjoyed testing out?

Zack is a SCG grinder with one ultimate goal: getting to the Players Championship. Based out of NYC, you can find him in other cities every weekend trying to hit that goal. When he isn’t traveling he streams. Follow his journey on Twitter!

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