WOOO! It’s that time yet again, where I dive in head first and get amongst all the delicious spoilers that have dropped for the newest Magic: the Gathering set. This time, Rivals of Ixalan comes on through like a BAT OUT OF HELL! So get ready for pre-release weekend on January 13-14!
Explore is back again, proving that the “Scry” related keyword is it’s best cousin yet. Few can argue that this “semi Scry” is a solid keyword that continues to impress us.
HULK GETTING ANGRY! Enrage is back again and it’s still… interesting, I guess? Look, Enrage is fine, but previously it didn’t feel like anything you would want to BUILD around. That’s all about to change, check out further down for that one 😛
Raid returns because Pirates, so more attacks for pure VALUE!
It wouldn’t be Pirate season without Treasure making a return! Treasure has been VERY good in limited allowing more off-colour plays than… Ahhh a Gemstone Mine, I guess?
LEGENDARY LANDS RETURN! One of the most exiting mechanics is things that do stuff and turn in to legendary lands, and they make a triumphant return. See below for some of the coolest new lands you can discover!
Orazca has been FOUND! PRAISE THE SUNGOD! Bask in The Golden City’s blessing, my child. When you have ten or more permanents, you gain Ascend and it triggers a whole bunch of extended effects on your cards. An example is Timestream Navigator, a vanilla creature to start with, but as soon as you Ascend she busts out to give you an extra turn! She ahh, she’s maybe not going to see my list, but she’s still cool!
FORERUNNER OF THE LEGION
I’m always intrigued to see creature tutors on creatures, especially when they also turn out to be “fake lords”. Yeah, I said it. This Vampy searches up a Vampy for you, chucks it on top of your deck and when you play a Vampy, it gives target creature +1/+1. I want to point out the curve cost here of three, that’s not terrible at all. But we will have to see if this breaks through in Standard though, as I fear it’s just not good enough to make it there.
Speaking of the three curve, this is why the Forerunner might end up a simple footnote. Radiant looks like a solid option for the GO WIDE OR GO HOME strat of token decks. The only drawback if you need to have then permanents before this activates and that could be enough to keep this card down. I don’t think so, though. Having played against a lot of token decks in the current standard, I don’t think this is impossible to trigger by turn four or five, but isn’t that then just a win more?
Oh how far we have come, Savannah Lions! This is very much a Savannah Lions, but when Ascend turns on, it gains flying. Something that White Weenie always desperately wants is late game threats and fliers, this at least flies, right? I feel this could be the start of something great.
RELEASE TO THE WIND
I love the thought that an entire BUR deck will exist in standard, comprised of cards that either copy your opponent’s best creatures, steal their cards or play their best cards from the top of their decks. It might not be a tournament level deck, but the trolling is REAL. As for RTTW, this might see play to get additional ETB/cast triggers from your OWN permanents. I know, what a novel idea! Exiling and replaying your Torrential Gearhulk? GRAND.
NEZAHAL, PRIMAL TIDE
Oh see, this is why I haven’t made it to the pro-tour, right? I love big dumb stuff that will likely never be a thing in Standard. However, Control decks do love them some un-counterable and hard to kill creatures. Nezahal nets you a card whenever an opponent casts a non-creature spell, can’t be countered, gives you no maximum hand size and for the small cost of discarding three cards it can exile and save itself from death. I think I’m sold.
No, not the WWE Irish wrestler. Hornswofggle has been essentially turfed by a number of players for being “just as bad as Cancel”, except they aren’t really reading the card as well as they should be and aren’t apraising it correctly. All the current three mana counterspells cost two blue and one generic to cast, you can’t easily splash them as an off colour. Hornswoggle not only wants you to cast it off colour, but also provides a treasure token to go with it. However, Hornswoggle only counters creature spells and that might be the bigger issue. I think this will see some sideboard play though.
DEAD MAN’S CHEST
Yo ho, YO HO! A pirate’s life for me. As I was saying above, I love the idea of playing my opponent’s best cards, and Dead Man’s Chest is certainly on point. The amazing thing here is that its based on your opponent’s creature’s power, and the effect lets you play ANY of those spells that were removed. The only downside here is that you can’t use lands that were exiled and you have to have a good target.
This should be an auto include in Vampy decks. It comes in tapped, but that’s not such an issue. He also keeps coming back time and again. We have seen this style of card in previous standard to a degree and I’m sure this will make a splash in our current standard.
Pirates may not seem too scary, but chuck this on a 4/3 Wanted Scoundrels on a clear field and smash face for a cool ten damage. You can bet I will be brewing with this to see what silly things I can do.
DIRE FLEET DAREDEVIL
Remember how I said I love stupid flashy cards? I don’t think this is that stupid. When played against any number of decks in the current format, this should net you some value. Especially in a control match up if they are tapped out, snagging a Voraska’s Contempt seems good. The downside is that you have to play the exiled spell THIS turn and this creature doesn’t have flash.
FORERUNNER OF THE HERALDS
The Forerunners are all fairly good, they all do a semi tutor for specific tribes and have great additional effects. This one though, it just gets real big and I’m really struggling with mono green cards here. Don’t get me wrong merfolk are looking strong, but there are so many now that chuck +1/+1 counters on that I have trouble seeing the Forrest for the trees.
AZOR, THE REVELATION ON A STICK
Sphinx’s Revelation didn’t need a reprint, but I’m sure this will make a lot of Sphinx wanting folks happy. Using this as your commander will likely draw you a fair amount of unwanted attention, but be damned if this Sphinx isn’t cool. The biggest thing he does though is NUKE the next turn and doing a mass silence. Built in protection so that you can untap with this in play? SIGN ME UP.
ZETALPA, PRIMAL DAWN
Okay look, I’m more of a Johnny than a Spike. I want to do stupid stuff and try and win doing something really dumb. Zetalpa screams to be put in a Voltron deck and abused. All you need are some robot pants to make her Hexproof, and you fear nothing and conquer ALL WHO OPPOSE YOU!
I can’t help but feel this will actually end up as a new cube or commander card, rather than be a standard powerhouse. I just don’t see any combo decks in standard that are really looking for something like this or how to even apply this to anything other than a control deck that really wants to save it’s hand. In commander, however, a certain LOCUST GOD is going to have a stupid field day. Sure there is a load of commander decks that will love this because it’s not unusual for a lot of Blue X commander decks to draw a whole mess of cards.
Maybe play Nekusar and target your opponent, eh?
This may be my all time favourite tokens card I have ever laid eyes on. Mostly because of how very trollish it can be on your poor unsuspecting opponent. Nice Marit Lage token you’re about to generate there, sorry, did I say you? I meant ME! Kicker paid Rite of Replication tokens? MINE! Crafty has so many implications for commander from stealing Planeswalker tokens for Loyalty or +1/+1 counters, this card os pretty sweet.
FORERUNNER OF THE COALITION
When is a tutor a bad thing? When its over costed and under-powered. Forerunner is close to trash, but that second line of text certainly makes up for it. “Whenever another Pirate enters the battlefield under your control, each opponent loses 1 life.” making this a great card for draining out the blood of your opponents.
Oh yeah so those annoying Aristocrats decks never died, they never faded away and now they get a new tool to add to the mix. I also really love that this isn’t tied to a tribe at all.
ETALI, PRIMAL STORM
What’s funnier than playing a 6/6 and finding a way to give it haste and indestructible? When it turns sideways and plays everyone else’s cards. Playing this (not even as a commander) in some sort of BR Reanimator deck just sounds good. Maybe even Sneak Attack it in, Aggravated Assault for an extra combat and lol all the way home, happy as a bridge troll. Just me? oh.
PATH OF DISCOVERY
Explore has been fairly under-rated by a lot of the community and yet, it is a really good keyword. Imagine that in your elfball deck, you got to scry each time you played one with the potential of making it a little bigger. Let me show you the Path to that sprawling utopia. In fact, a number of (COUGH ATRAXA) decks will simply eat this up.
AZOR’S GATEWAY//SANCTUM OF THE SUN
Sphinxes are tricky magical creatures and I’m not surprised they have special gateways. This one is a little vulnerable, if I’m honest, but janky enough for a Jimmy brewer like myself. Simply exile five or more cards with different casting costs and then flip it over, gaining five life. Then you transform it in to a land that taps for X mana of one colour, where X is your life total. This is fine, right? NOTHING you could abuse this with at all. Not like you are going to dump all that mana into say, Sphinxes Revelation, Nissa, Steward of the Elements or a Drain Life, or even right?
STORM THE VAULT
UR artifact decks aren’t big in standard and I can’t think of anything that would make this viable in standard, but I can tell you right now, this goes straight in my Breya deck for sure. It flips into Tolarian Academy and if that isn’t on your radar, you haven’t been paying as much attention to totally busted stuff you can do with near infinite mana.
JOURNEY TO ETERNITY (is the name of my 80’s hair metal band)
Enchant a creature you don’t want to die, someone kills it and you get to bring it back from the very BRINK of death and have it enter the battlefield again? Yeah that sounds fine. But then Journey transforms and all of a sudden, you have a land that can tap for ANY colour of mana or BG3 tap to reanimate a creature? Meren just got a new Commander toy.
Well, that’s all from me today, folks! Wanting to check out the full spoiler for Rivals of Ixalan? We gotcha fam, click HERE.
Let us know what cards you’re most looking forward to brewing with! – Chesh