Magic the Gathering Core Set 2021 - Quick Look

Magic the Gathering Core Set 2021 - Quick Look

July 3rd is quickly approaching, and with it brings the new Core Set M21, so I thought I’d give a quick overview of what’s to look forward to in this set. I know there have been a lot of people who have started to play Commander during lockdown and hopefully this can give some helpful information to newer players.


M21’s main set includes 274 cards, featuring a mix of brand new and reprinted cards, and bringing in new themes, Planeswalkers, mechanics, and keywords.


This set will introduce the Dog creature type, which erratas all Hound creature types to become Dogs, making Cats v. Dogs a big theme in the set. A card that might be one to watch for Commander players is Rin and Seri, Inseparable, the first card to have the Dog Cat creature type and an interesting choice as a Commander in a Cat/Dog Tribal deck. 

Name: Rin and Seri, Inseparable


Creature Type: Legendary Creature – Dog Cat

  • Whenever you cast a Dog spell, create a 1/1 green Cat creature token
  • Whenever you cast a Cat spell, create a 1/1 white Dog creature token
  • Pay RGW: Rin and Seri, Inseparable deals damage to any target equal to the number of Dogs you control. You gain life equal to the number of Cats you control


These abilities on Red and Seri make it perfect for Commander, giving space for players to go big or go home with Cat and Dog tokens, as well as a great source of damage and life-gain.


Similarly to M20 with the fiery Chandra, M21 will have Teferi as its feature Planeswalker. With Blue an already popular choice for decks in Standard and Commander, it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting.


Teferi’s new Planeswalker card completely changes how Planeswalker abilities have worked in Standard formats in the past; keeping in theme with Blue’s penchant for Instant cards, Teferi, Master of Time takes it to a whole other level. 

Name: Teferi, Master of Time


Type: Legendary Planeswalker

  • Starting Loyalty - Three
  • Static Ability – You may activate loyalty abilities of Teferi, Master of Time on any player’s turn any time you could cast an instant
  • +1 Ability – Draw a card, then discard a card
  • -3 Ability – Target creature you don’t control phases out (treat it and anything attached to it as though they don’t exist until it’s controller’s next turn)
  • -10 Ability – Take two extra turns after this one


In Standard, a player can essentially activate Teferi, Master of Time twice per round. However, in Commander, with more people around the table, Teferi could be at 10+ Loyalty by the time you get your next turn, and can win you the game by allowing you to take three turns in a row.


Along with a number of reprints in this set, there’s also the return of keywords. As we’ve seen with Teferi, Master of Time, Phasing returns for the first time in Standard in 23 years, although it was last printed on Teferi’s Protection as part of Commander 2017. Another keyword returning to Standard is Prowess, a powerful mechanic in game modes like Standard and Pauper.


Phasing – While something is phased out, it is treated as if it doesn’t exist. It phases in or out before you untap during each of your untap steps.

Prowess – Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.


Shrines are also returning in M21, only seen before in Champions of Kamigawa, released in 2004. Shrines have no inherent rules meaning, but each Shrine gets better and better as you control more and more Shrines. Shrines encourage multicolour decks and because they are all Legendary, they will do something during your upkeep for each Shrine you control. If you’re interested in playing Shrines, remember that Shrines only count enchantments with the subtype ‘Shrine’ and do not count cards with ‘shrine’ in their name. However, each Shrine ability will count the card it’s printed on.


Although a common mechanic in most card games, Mill will finally be officially introduced as a mechanic in M21. In Standard, with a 60 card deck, a deck that’s themed around the Mill mechanic. With the Liliana, Death Mage card only available in the Liliana Planeswalker Deck released alongside M21, you can make a target opponent lose 2 life per creature card in their graveyard. In Commander, although it might take a bit of work to Mill a player out completely, the mechanic still has its benefits. In singleton format, every card is in there for a reason, and being able to Mill an important card in someone’s deck could be the difference between their deck winning and being left in the dust.


Mill – Put the top N cards from the library into your/their graveyard. 


M21 also introduces the Basri Planeswalker type. Basri, Devoted Paladin is a Planeswalker card only available in the Basri Planeswalker Deck released alongside M21, and also has a mythic Planeswalker card in the M21 main set simply called Basri Ket. Basri is looking to be very similar to various Ajani Planeswalker cards in previous sets.


Basri Ket


Type: Legendary Planeswalker

  • Starting Loyalty – Three
  • +1 Ability – Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. It gains indestructible until end of turn.
  • -2 Ability – Whenever one or more nontoken creatures attack this turn, create that many 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens that are tapped and attacking.
  • -6 Ability – You get an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a 1/1 white creature token, then put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.”

Basri, Devoted Paladin

(available in the Basri Planeswalker Deck, not available in main set)


Type: Legendary Planeswalker

  • Starting Loyalty – Four
  • +1 Ability – Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. It gains vigilance until end of turn.
  • -1 Ability – Whenever a creature attacks this turn, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
  • -6 Ability – Creatures you control get +2/+2 and gain flying until end of turn.

In comparison to the other Planeswalkers in the M21 Decks, Basri, Devoted Paladin is probably the weakest. With cards like Chandra, Flame’s Catalyst and Teferi, Timeless Voyager as the featured Planeswalkers in these decks, Basri seems to fall short.

Notable cards in the set include Sparkhunter Masticore, a 3 mana Artifact Creature, this is the first card to ever have protection from Planeswalkers. Nine Lives is an interesting card, costing 1WW, this Hexproof enchantment will put a counter on it and prevent the damage. However, when there are nine or more counters on Nine Lives, it’s exiled, when it leaves the battlefield, you lose the game.  


In formats like Commander with a seemingly endless pool of cards that can move target Enchantments to other players, if you can set things up properly, putting this Enchantment on an opponent’s battlefield and destroying or bouncing all Enchantments or cards back to people’s hands could mean that you could knock someone out of the game in a single turn without any combat damage.

With Prereleases going out from this weekend, more cards will be revealed before the set is released on July 3rd, 2020. Roughly two weeks later, Jumpstart will also be released, sharing 150 cards with M21 and lots more reprints, Jumpstart looks like it will be a great way to introduce newer players to Magic the Gathering, as well as a great product for Commander players of any experience level.

M21 is available at Chase Games with Jumpstart to follow in the coming weeks.

  • Cat Maddox
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