Pret-a-Porter Third Edition available now
   Sign In
Create Account

Core Set 2020 Standard Set Review: Black and Gold


Check out the other entries:

White | Blue | Red and Artifacts | Green and Lands

Today we'll be going over both Black and the Multicolored cards, and the multicolored cards pack a pretty big punch this time around. Let's go ahead and get started but first, my grading scale.

I will not be going over cards that I believe will not see play in Standard. For example, cards like Wishcoin Crab and Watcher in the Mist will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and saying, "This is just a Limited card" repeatedly gets old rather fast. Don't worry though, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the set. So, if you like a certain rare or mythic, it will be mentioned in the review.

Keep in mind I'm rating all these cards for Standard playability. I will mention Modern applications if I believe the card has some.

Each card will be listed by color, then alphabetically by name.

Each card will give a rating of 1-5. If a card would receive a 0, meaning it will see no play in that format ever, its rating is left off the list.

Rating | Explanation | Standard Examples

0 - Will never see play in this format (0 ratings are not listed).

1 - Unlikely to see play. (Light of the Legion)

2 - Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card. (Drowned Secrets)

3 - Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Cast Down, Thought Erasure)

4 - Format staples. Sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Nexus of Fate, Light Up the Stage)

5 - Format warping. If you're in these colors, you play that card. (Teferi, Time Raveler, Narset, Parter of Veils)


2 - A poor man's Tocatli Honor Guard, I don't think it's good enough, but you might want it against explore creatures.
Cavalier of Night
2 - I would rate this higher if it could kill planeswalkers but it can't. You also need to have a creature in play and your opponent needs a creature in play for the first ability to even do anything. To top it all off it must die to trigger its other ability. If you want a five-mana 4/5 with Lifelink then play this card but otherwise left it alone.
3 - Staple removal spell that will see play if it's in Standard. I'm glad we got this since we will be losing Moment of Craving soon.
Dread Presence
3 - Now this is a good pay off for being heavily Black. It's a four-mana Tireless Tracker that lets you draw the card right away while also shooting down creatures and planeswalkers. Very solid against burn as well, I love this card!
Embodiment of Agonies
1.5 - Terrible card. You need to somehow mill yourself on turn one and two to even play this on curve. Deathtouch is an irrelevant ability if you plan to make this creature huge mid-late game. It asks you to build around it and the payoff isn't worth it.
Knight of the Ebon Legion
3 - Vampires needed a good 1-drop and now it got it. I expect this alongside Sorin to make vampires playable in Standard.
Legion's End
2 - A Black Declaration in Stone. Can't play it main deck like you could Declaration in Stone but it's a solid Sideboard card for tokens or hard to kill creatures like Adanto Vanguard.
2 - Sideboard only and I don't even think it's good enough against Command the Dreadhorde decks. They will just kill you with their explore creatures, Krasis, and Nissa. Not to mention they can still Command the Dreadhorde on anything in your graveyard.
Noxious Grasp
2.5 - One of the better hate cards. This card will do a lot of work for you in games two and three when you're bringing it in. A solid answer to Tamiyo, Nissa, or a big Green creature.
Rotting Regisaur
2.5 - Playable if you are using your graveyard or you can give it evasion somehow. Very overhyped though and you shouldn't just jam this in your Black decks. I do like it in Black control decks out of the sideboard against non-creature decks!
Scheming Symmetry
2 - A very interesting card. While it's great in Modern in Lantern Control, it will take a lot of work to make this good in your Standard deck. You'll either want to play it alongside Teferi, Time Raveler so you get your card first, or play some sort mill card like Enter the God-Eternals, Field of Ruin, or Ashiok, Dream Render to get rid of whatever your opponent gets. The last scenario you'll want this in is if you can combo and kill your opponent the same turn you cast this card.
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
3.5 - This is the reason why Vampires is playable now. Sorin does so much for the vampire deck. Cheats creatures into play, gains you life, grows your creatures, and gives you reach all for 3 mana...
Thought Distortion
2 - A worse Identity Crisis. I would say you want this against midrange/control decks but by the time you cast it, if they already have a couple of planeswalkers in play it will be very easy for them to rebuild. It's best against Izzet Phoenix but it doesn't shrink Crackling Drake.
Vilis, Broker of Blood
2 - WHERE'S THE LIFELINK LIKE GRISELBRAND? We haven't had a worthwhile reanimation target for a while in Standard but Vilis is a decent one. I like that he draws you cards from taking any kind of damage.

Top 5 Black Cards

  1. Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
  2. Disfigure
  3. Knight of the Ebon Legion
  4. Dread Presence
  5. Noxious Grasp


Corpse Knight
2 - The aristocrats deck keeps getting more and more cards, but it still really needs a free sacrifice outlet more than anything else.
Creeping Trailblazer
2.5 - Two-mana lords are always decent. This one more so since it has an ability and elementals work so well together since they have ETB abilities.
Empyrean Eagle
2 - uw fliers? Ehhh, are you a deck? If you are, this will see play in that deck, problem alongside Supreme Phantom as well.
Kaalia, Zenith Seeker
2 - If you can get her ability to work, she's very good as her stats for a three-mana card aren't terrible. The hard part is getting her ability to work...
Kethis, the Hidden Hand
2 - Another solid Commander card but we don't have enough legendary things to make this really abusable in Standard. It could be fun to play him in some sort of infinite combo deck with Mox Amber though.
Kykar, Wind's Fury
2.5 - If you build your deck right around Kykar and you untap with it on the battlefield, you could do some real damage. It takes work but the reward could very well be worth it.
Lightning Stormkin
2.5 - Flying haste creature. I'm sure it'll see play in some sort of tempo/burn deck, they always do.
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
3.5 - This is the best wedge card in my opinion. Omnath is great in an elemental shell or just in ramp so your lands draw you cards mid-late game. The fact that he can also kill Narset by himself by pinging her for one makes Omnath even better.
Risen Reef
4 - This gets my vote for arguably the best card in the set. It's so much more than Coiling Oracle because your opponent can't ignore it. If they do, they risk being buried by card advantage.
Skyknight Vanguard
2.5 - An Emmara for Boros decks! A very solid 2-drop that can make a small army if left unchecked.
Tomebound Lich
2 - Only reason I'm including this card is because it also triggers when it enters the battlefield. So, if you are playing a reanimator deck then you'll get to put your fatty into your graveyard even if your opponent kills the Lich.
Yarok, the Desecrated
2.5 - This card is slow but powerful if you can untap with it. Unlike Panharmonicon it triggers off anything and it has a solid body to boot.
2 - I have no idea where this card would fit in Standard, probably because it doesn't. Orzhov makes colored tokens but that would make you five colors if you wanted to play Rienne. Glass of the Guildpact sees no competitive play and I don't expect to see Rienne to either.

Top 5 Multicolored Cards

  1. Risen Reef
  2. Omnath, Locus of the Roil
  3. Lightning Stormkin
  4. Creeping Traiblazer
  5. Yarok, the Desecrated

Core Set 2020 is really shaping up to a very cool and fun set. No cards seem over the top and we have a ton of sweet cards to brew around. I'm really enjoying this set. Make sure to tune in tomorrow when we'll go over the Red and artifact cards of Core Set 2020!

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

Twitch Channel

Think Twice MTG Podcast