Core sets have become, well, the core of Magic: the Gathering. These sets release with many different staple cards, and remain in Standard play for a whole year. A lot of players look forward to the core sets each year, and sometimes they’ll be rewarded for their faith. Other times, however, the majority of the Magic community will be let down with reprints of cards nobody used in the first place. Well, M14 is out now, and I was fortunate to get a little taste of what it’s got to offer. Let’s take a look and see which side of the pedestal we’ll fall on.
Looking over the new cards in the set, they definitely scream CORE SET. Lush with mono-colored cards, M14, just like any other Core Set, takes players back to Magic’s roots. The artwork is really nice, and we do get to see a lot of new cards not seen before. That being said, there are some reprints that make a comeback yet again, like Diabolic Tutor, Garruk’s Horde, and Sanguine Bond. A brand new take on an old creature type makes its introduction in M14, but we’ll get to that later.
Overall the look of the set is appealing, albeit a bit simple.
All of our favorite original Planeswalkers make a return in M14. By original Planeswalkers, of course I am talking about:
- Ajani, Caller of the Pride
- Jace, Memory Adept
- Liliana of the Dark Realms
- Chandra, Pyromaster
- Garruk, Caller of Beasts
Out of all the Planeswalkers released in this set, 3 of them are direct reprints. Chandra and Garruk come sporting both new names and abilities, however. Chandra is a little more useful, in that she exiles cards from your library, but allows you to play spells exiled this way. It’s a bit of a gamble, but being able to cast a big nasty spell, copy it three times, and not pay for it is pretty good.
When it comes to Garruk, he just excels better at what he does: putting dudes into play. He allows you to dig through your library to add creatures to your hand, put those creatures from your hand onto the battlefield, and for the first time, offers you an emblem. This emblem lets you search your library for a creature card and put it onto the battlefield each time you cast a creature spell. That can get out of hand quickly.
Part of me expected to see a new version of each Planeswalker, and aside from a story aspect I don’t really see why Wizards only picked two to buff. Some players might be fine with Jace and Liliana as they are, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing a new trick or two.
Slivers, They’re Back!
Perhaps the biggest news with this set is that a fabled creature type – sliver – was making its triumphant return. In M14, however, they act a little differently than before: instead of being printed with the words “All slivers…” and having an effect, the wording has been changed to “All slivers you control…” This makes them a bit more useful, as their own abilities don’t carry to slivers your opponents control. I will admit that seeing slivers return to Standard does scare me a bit, because they’re sure to take over quickly, but if we don’t see any of them beyond M14 they’ll lose the fight even faster. For EDH decks and Legacy, though, they’ll no-doubt come in handy.
The best thing about the return of slivers is that they’ve gotten a brand new look. They’ve taken on a more humanoid shape now, resembling the Predator from those Alien movies. Still, they’re pretty cool and my sliver EDH is going to get a lot more efficient.
M14 is a pretty solid set if you’re looking for something simple, or if you’re looking for staples to compliment a tournament-ready deck. It’s literally at an end of two extremes. The Intro Packs are great in this set, though the color combinations don’t work out the best. I received a Chandra Intro Pack, and it does what she does best: turn and burn. The deck is a red/blue combination that utilizes quick spells and creatures to get in damage before your opponent can recover. That’s not bad, but the blue cards put in the deck aren’t really of much use. For beginning players, these Intro Packs will provide a great example of what each color does, and the booster packs will offer great draft practice.
When it comes to staples for constructed decks, players (except for me) will be sad that Thragtusk is officially gone. There are some cards, like Scavenging Ooze, Imposing Sovereign, Fiendslayer Paladin, and Witchstalker, that I believe could see some hard Standard play. Of course none of these could replace Angel of Serenity or Thragtusk, but they’ll surely switch up the game a bit. I’ve been looking to see some different strategy hit Standard than the “Flick Thragtusk and Win” play that’s taken the format by storm.
All together, Magic 2014 isn’t a horrible set. Is it something that players will rejoice with? Probably not so much, but it’s not something to easily scoff at either. Cards like those I’ve mentioned above make it a very playable set, but it’s not something I’d dump cash into to get Booster Boxes of. I’ve found that, with many Core Sets, grabbing singles is the way to go. I do like that this set isn’t really based off of a theme, like I believe M13 was, so it’s more playable to me. The slivers add some toughness to Standard, and EDH owners will love their new toys. I’d say to pick up a Fat Pack to see what it holds for you, and grab what you need from there. For everything else, there’s always Wizard’s Tower!