10 best Magic: The Gathering Core Set 2021 cards
We pick out some of the most powerful creatures, game-changing spells and absurd abilities in M21.
Core Set 2021 is a great Magic: The Gathering set - and along with any great set comes a plethora of cards that can help reshape the way MTG is played in various formats and at various levels.
That means that no matter what kind of player you are, you’ll be able to find something new to mess around with. Of course, it helps a lot if you know which cards are worth looking out for, or which ones you should try and pick up for your favourite deck.
Best MTG M21 cards
- Chandra’s Incinerator: The gift that keeps on giving
- Teferi, Master of Time: It’s not a phase
- Grim Tutor: Is this what you were looking for?
- Containment Priest: If you weren’t cheating this wouldn’t happen
- Azusa, Lost but Seeking: Have you considered playing more land?
- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Everything is nothing
- Eliminate: “That dies to removal”
- Stormwing Entity: Deceptively cheap, horrifically big
- See the Truth: Pure value
- Conspicuous Snoop: A goblin chameleon
That’s where this list comes in. Not only have we picked out the best MTG cards in M21, we’ve explained why we think they all deserve to be here. Each card brings something a little bit different to the game - while not all of them are good in every format (we're already put together a separate draft guide for M21), all of them are good in at least one. Here are the ten best cards in Core Set 2021.
1. Chandra’s Incinerator
The gift that keeps on giving
A six-mana 6/6 is the standard rate; there’s nothing to write home or anywhere else about. Thankfully, Chandra’s Incinerator costs less to cast if you inflict non-combat damage to your opponent. That means you could quite easily only be paying one mana for a 6/6 - and that’s definitely worth shouting about.
Not only that but while in play, Chandra’s Incinerator effectively doubles your damage spells by copying any non-combat damage done to an opponent and allowing you to then use that to strike down creatures or planeswalkers they control. It’s absurd.
2. Teferi, Master of Time
It’s not a phase
The star of Core Set 2021, Teferi has been a thorn in the side of anybody playing MTG for a fair while now. His planeswalker cards nearly always make an appearance in high-level Blue or White decks, and it can be a little miserable if you’re not into that. Well, bad news for people not into it, because this is yet another excellent Teferi card.
His abilities let him draw and then discard a card, phase out a creature you don’t control, and take two extra turns. They’re not ridiculous on their own, but the issue is the bit of text that comes before all of that. It tells you that you can activate his abilities not only at instant speed, but also during every turn, not just your own. This means that Teferi generally gets more powerful at twice the normal speed of any other planeswalker, letting you take extra turns far more frequently than is generally considered polite.
3. Grim Tutor
Is this what you were looking for?
MTG at a competitive level is all about removing as many variables as possible. You want to turn RNG into a well-behaved puppy, and that’s not always an easy thing to do. Thankfully, cards that let you find a card you want help you eliminate this issue massively.
Grim Tutor is an extraordinary card because, for only three mana and three life, you get to put whatever card you want from your library into your hand. That means it can be whatever you need it to be whenever you need it to be. Perfect card selection is hard to come by, but Grim Tutor is pretty damn close.
4. Containment Priest
If you weren’t cheating this wouldn’t happen
While some Magic: The Gathering decks lean towards being fair and playing some good old-fashioned MTG, others are far more focused on breaking as many rules as possible, without actually breaking any rules. These decks often place obnoxiously expensive creatures into play without casting them - great fun to play, but horrible to play against.
Containment Priest is a card that puts a stop to those styles of play. It’s a two-mana 2/2 with Flash that exiles any creatures that would enter the battlefield if they weren’t cast. It’s an excellent way of making MTG fair again.
5. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Have you considered playing more lands?
Azusa, Lost but Seeking is a three-mana 1/2. That’s not very impressive, but she also lets you play two extra lands each turn. That means that you can very quickly end up with significantly more land than is fair, allowing you to easily make some powerful moves early on (like, say, playing an eight-mana planeswalker on turn four).
She’s not a powerful card on her own, but she’s probably the best support character around. You want Azusa on your side of the field if you’re playing any big planeswalkers, creatures or anything else.
6. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Everything is nothing
Ugin is fairly unique as a colourless planeswalker. He’s a reprint, but we try not to hold that against him. For the low, low cost of eight mana (that’s not a low cost), you can basically win most games on the spot.
While it is a lot of mana to put into one card, his abilities are more than worth the investment. For starters, he comes in at seven loyalty, which makes him tough to kill. His first ability lets him deal three damage to any target, including killing off your opponent if needed. His second ability lets you exile any permanents with colours in them if you want to, and his ultimate gains you seven life, draws you seven cards and allows you to place seven permanents onto the battlefield. Nobody survives that.
“That dies to removal”
Stuff dies to removal - that’s the whole point of having spells that can permanently get rid of troublesome cards. Without removal, we’d all just be playing gigantic creatures and laughing while nobody attacks for fear of retaliation. Sure, that’s fun, but it doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
While there is a fair bit of decent removal in Core Set 2021 (Grasp of Darkness, Shock), Eliminate is a staggeringly good card. The main reason for this is that a lot of the older MTG formats, namely Modern and Legacy, use cards that don’t cost much mana. Having an instant-speed spell that can destroy both creatures and planeswalkers that cost three or less mana is an incredibly potent answer.
8. Stormwing Entity
Deceptively cheap, horrifically big
On the face of things, Stormwing Entity is a bit like Chandra’s Incinerator, which is to say it costs too much mana for far too little. However, this card, much like Chandra’s Incinerator, shouldn’t ever cost you it’s true mana cost of five. Instead, it’ll likely only ever cost you two mana, because if you cast an instant or sorcery first, it costs three mana less.
On top of that, it’s not only a flying 3/3, but one with prowess, which means it’ll get bigger for a turn every time you cast a non-creature spell. Plus, it even lets you Scry 2 whenever it enters the battlefield. It’s just a very powerful effect for two mana, and you’ll never pay more than that if you build your deck around it.
9. See the Truth
Card draw is important, if not completely essential, in MTG. Having more cards than your opponent usually means you have more options - and the more options you have, the higher your chances of winning are. See the Truth isn’t always card advantage; in fact, the standard casting only draws you one card, which means it’s closer to card selection.
However, if you cast See the Truth from anywhere other than your hand - let’s say the graveyard thanks to something like Snapcaster Mage - then you get to draw three cards. That’s an absurd amount of value for only two mana, and that’s not including the fact that you’ve probably already got some value from it by casting it in the first place.
10. Conspicuous Snoop
A goblin chameleon
Goblins are rapidly becoming one of the more powerful tribes in MTG. Thanks to a mix of synergy, low cost and an ever-increasing amount of card choices, you’d be silly to overlook them. In this case, Conspicuous Snoop is the latest addition, and it does an awful lot for a very low cost.
For only two Red mana, this little Goblin Rogue allows you to cast Goblin spells from the top of your library. That’s good in and of itself, but it’s not the only thing that this card does. It also gains the activated abilities of whichever goblin rests atop your humble deck - which means that it can serve as an extra copy of whatever you want it to be, without having to invest the mana first. It’s very powerful thanks to the other goblins available.