Set Name: Core 2019
Number of Cards: 269
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Languages Available: English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Wizards of the Coast has brought their A-game to bear with their newest set – Core 2019. Core Sets were a staple of Magic: The Gathering all the way through Magic Origins in 2015. The new three-and-one model, however, has allowed for their return, albeit with some slight twists on the Core Set concept. They have remained, despite these changes, a haven for valuable reprints and powerful cards unshackled by the thematic restrictions of other mainline expansions. Core 2019 (or M19) not only continues to have its predecessors' penchant for high-value reprints, but also brings a whole lot of new stuff to the table. It marks the origin story of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Nicol Bolas with a new cycle of Elder Dragons and a second look at the mighty Tarkir plane. Core 2019 was released on 13 July 2018 and has 280 cards.
One major change to the Core Set formula is the integration of a narrative for the Core Set block. While previous Core Sets like Magic Origins have highlighted important lore events through their cards, very few have had full overarching narratives helping give the set cohesion. This has led previous sets to just be collections of needed reprints or for cards that make later sets more interesting. This lack of identity hurt these Core Sets' effect on players and on the overall narrative. While Core Sets won't move the main MTG story forward, WotC is using them to explore other stories in the Magic multiverse. In this case, we are getting Nicol Bolas' backstory and a better understanding of the Elder Dragons.
To this end, we are getting a whole cycle of Elder Dragons, starting with Nicol Bolas himself. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is M19's Grixis Elder Dragon. He is also the only flip card of the set, harking back to the Magic Origins flip planeswalkers. Chromium, the Mutable is the Esper Elder Dragon, with the ability to turn himself into a lowly un-targetable human at the low, low cost of discarding a card from your hand. Bolas's sister, Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner is the Naya Elder Dragon, having hexproof until it deals damage for the first time. Bant is getting Arcades, the Strategist, a high-toughness dragon that will make Wall-enthusiasts ecstatic. Finally, everybody's favorite shard Jund is getting Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, a dragon capable of doing some real damage whenever it attacks, but at the cost of your opponent getting a chance to recoup their losses.
Core Sets are historically excellent places for Wizards of the Coast to reprint powerful cards. Oftentimes, Magic cards are very restrictive and can only appear in the planes they are first featured in. If they want these cards back in Standard, they must either go back to the plane they were printed in or reprint them in a Core Set.
M19 is no exception, bringing high-value cards like Crucible of Worlds and Scapeshift back into Standard, while also alleviating the cards' high price-point to some degree. Core 2019 booster packs have a manufacturer standard retail price (MSRP) of 3,99 €. Oh, and keep an eye out for the unique planeswalker decks releasing alongside the set.