Core Set 2020 is a legendary set. With the return of protection as an evergreen mechanic, new (and powerful) answers for enemy colors in each color, and a trio of Chandra Planeswalkers at the center, the dial is firmly cranked up to
Twelve new legendary creatures are coming, each with new ways to impact the format, update your favorite deck, or kick-start an all-new phenomenon. From mono-colored tribal leaders to a five-color machine destined to draw removal out, each one adds a new wrinkle to work with.
Taking to the skies and attacking in the air is a tried and true way to close out a Limited game. It’s also one of the best ways to stay in and eventually win a game of Commander. Flying is why Sephara, Sky’s Blade is a sneaky solid option for some Commander decks.
All the new mono-colored legendary creatures in Core Set 2020 have hefty mana costs. Normally, Sephara would be a seven-mana task to complete, but with some help from her flying friends, she can pop into play earlier than your opponents expect.
Giving other creatures with flying indestructible is a great way to hedge against removal spells and effects what would sweep the battlefield clear, and it puts her as a solid option to join a deck full of Angels or other flying creatures. (Feather, the Redeemed, anyone?)
You don’t have to get fancy to make the most of Sephara, either. Battle Screech was just reprinted in Modern Horizons, and the Thopters you can make with Hangarback Walker or Sharding Sphinx make nice companions to an early Sephara in the right deck.
Perhaps the strongest new Commander option among the mono-colored options in Core Set 2020 is Vilis, Broker of Blood. Eight mana is a huge hurdle to overcome (though enough copies of Shadowborn Apostle can grab any Demon you might need, and Zombify effects always work, too), but the payoff is huge: Pay one black mana and two life to put a -1/-1 counter on something and draw two cards.
What can you do if you draw cards every time you take damage or pay life for other effects? Anything you can dream of. Font of Agonies and Carnival of Souls add plenty of synergy, but if you’re bold enough to commit to it, Measure of Wicknedness turns into a no-win scenario for everyone else.
An unexpected and surprising legendary creature in Core Set 2020 is our new Hydra tribal leader Gargos, Vicious Watcher. The secret isn’t in being big with vigilance or packing free copies of Prey Upon — it’s the big discount Gargos gives you for other Hydras.
Genesis Hydra. Hooded Hydra. Hydradoodle, if you’re into adding some silver-bordered fun to your decks. The power of some Hydras skyrockets when you have four more free mana to put into them. And alongside other Hydras like Ulvenwald Hydra and Hydra Omnivore, mean green creatures have plenty of power.
Discounting a creature type by four mana works with a few outliers as well. Morophon, the Boundless and other big changelings (Valiant Changeling and Cairn Wanderer are spicy) mean Gargos can show up in surprising places.
Friends Among Enemy Colors
On the other side of the Core Set 2020 coin are enemy “wedge”-colored legendary creatures with aggressive mana costs. Hitting the required three colors is the tricky part, but with access to all of Magic‘s greatest lands, casting these creatures isn’t as challenging as it is in Standard—and each is an exciting way to kick off a powerful Commander deck.
Kaalia, Zenith Seeker is a riff on the classic Commander 2013 creature Kaalia of the Vast. Do you like Angels, Demons, and/or Dragons? Kaalia lets you command all of them in the same deck, setting up a greatest hits of flying awesome to play with. (And, as a nice nod, the three mono-colored legendary creatures in Core Set 2020 in Kaalia‘s colors are an Angel, a Demon, and a Dragon!)
Cards with changeling give you clever ways to expand what Kaalia can find: Graveshifter, Crib Swap, and Taurean Mauler all qualify as Angels, Demons, and Dragons, too. Additionally, other cards that care about those tribal types will ensure you have payoffs with or without Kaalia around:
- Bishop of Wings, another new card in Core Set 2020, gives you plenty of runway to work with
- Mark of the Oni lets you steal someone else’s creature as long as you keep the Demons flowing
- Bladewing the Risen brings another Dragon friend along for the Kaalia ride
Kaalia is already renowned in Commander, but Kethis, the Hidden Hand might be next. Kethis features a creative intersection of two powerful abilities: Discounting some type of card (legendary) and making it easy to replay that same type of card from the graveyard.
If you love playing with as many legendary cards you can, then Kethis is a great place to start. You also unlock access to a bevvy of support cards, from Blackblade Reforged, Champion’s Helm, and Captain Sisay to Time of Need, Thalia’s Lancers, and Heroes’ Podium. Don’t forget that every Planeswalker is also legendary, which means you can go big with Superfriends (Doubling Season and all), if you want to.
The real secret to how scary Kethis can be is to look at the long list of other creatures with reanimation abilities. Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Sheoldred, Whispering One add a layer of redundancy to Kethis’s headlining ability, as do Yomiji, Who Bars the Way and Ravos, Soultender. Opponents might be focused on how efficient Kethis is, so use that to your advantage and overwhelm them with recursion elsewhere.
Kykar, Wind’s Fury is another new legendary creature that leans on a creature type and what white, blue, and red do best together. Between extra Spirits (that turn into extra mana) and a focus on spells, the possibilities are powerful. Our friends over at the Command Zone covered it well when they previewed the card.
If you want a quick list of ways to make Kykar work for you:
- Jeskai Ascendancy lets you power through your deck as you cast noncreature spells (especially if they draw you cards)
- Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain let you lean on artifacts for a ton of value
- Take your Narset, Enlightened Master deck down a step and use a different commander to set up combos
- Set up a massive Electrodominance
Arguably the most exciting new legendary creature we’re getting with Core Set 2020 is Yarok, the Desecrated. Panharmonicon is a favorite card for players that love shenanigans, so a commander that’s also a second copy of the fun artifact doubles down on what makes those kinds of decks awesome:
- Eternal Witness, Solemn Simulacrum, and Mulldrifter are the triumvirate of creatures any Yarok deck should consider
- Ravenous Chupacabra, Meteor Golem, and Rune-Scarred Demon can answer whatever opponents present
- Guardian Project, Polluted Bonds, and Path of Discovery can lead to new ways to crank out triggers for fun and profit
And Then There Were Two (More)
With two full cycles of legendary creatures in Core Set 2020, you’d think that would be all, but Wizards had two more to surprise everyone.
The first is Rienne, Angel of Rebirth. While you won’t find her in booster packs (she’s only available as a Buy-a-Box promo), she is an impressive engine to work with. There are hundreds of multicolor creatures in Magic, and many of them will provide you plenty of utility to reuse:
- Dauntless Escort can make your army of multicolor creatures very hard to kill
- Brion Stoutarm gets an endless supply of bodies to throw at opponents
- Bloodbraid Elf gets you something else for free, too
- Zacama, Primal Calamity is a combo engine unto itself
- Retaliator Griffin can become a monstrous flyer, given enough chances
- Knight of Autumn and Duergar Hedge-Mage can bust up plenty of opponents’ plans
With the right mix of multicolor creatures, Rienne will truly reign.
- It costs one more mana, but finds any land your heart desires. Go big with Gaea’s Cradle, Academy Ruins, Hall of Heliod’s Generosity and more!
- It’s a legendary creature, and if you make it your commander, you can always plan on casting it. (You don’t always draw Solemn Simulacrum, unfortunately.)
- Its activated ability requires all five colors, meaning you can play just about anything you want with it.
If you’ve tried the Elemental combos of Horde of Notions or the “cheat big spells into play” action of Jodah, Archmage Eternal, then you have a good idea how best to build a deck for Golos. Golos‘s take on cheating spells looks at casting multiple spells from the top of your library rather than discounting them down to five colored mana, which means scrying can be incredibly useful.
Golos also pairs well with the typical suite of cards that care about putting extra lands onto the battlefield—The Gitrog Monster, Courser of Kruphix, and Lord Windgrace are happy to see more lands than usual in a Commander deck.
- Fist of Suns lets you play anything for the mana cost you’re building up to
- Conflux and Maelstrom Archangel make a deadly one-two punch if you pull them off
- Bringer of the White Dawn and Bringer of the Black Dawn provide tremendous value given a little time
When you can play anything, your plans are only limited by your imagination.
A Core Set Commanding More
Legendary creatures aren’t the only useful cards for Commander in Core Set 2020. From your Prerelease pool to first Draft pack and beyond, keep your eyes open for more awesome waiting to add to (almost) everyone’s favorite format!
From coast to coast and event to event, Adam Styborski has played Commander around the world. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, he enjoys learning how others approach the format and finding new ways to put more lands onto the battlefield. If others are having fun, it’s a great game of Commander.