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Magic: the Gathering – Ixalan

Pirates, Dragons, Merfolk and… Sea faring Vampires? THIS is Ixalan. The 76th set in Magic: the Gathering releases this weekend around the world, are you ready to take up the fight with the Pirates? Stomp face with Dinosaurs? Protect the hidden city with Merfolk, or sail the high seas with… Why are some Vampires pirates? Oh man, I need to read up on my MTG lore.
 

SOMETHING OLD SOMETHING NEW – The mechanics of Ixalan

ENRAGE


Enrage triggers when a creature you control with the keyword takes damage from any source (yes, even Infect as it is still “damage”). Our cute little friend here, Ripjaw Raptor, is a little sadistic and likes it when you deal it damage and rewards you with a card. Okay, that may be the creepiest explanation, but it’s true.
One reliable way to make sure your Dinosaur is dealt damage is to ram it into smaller opposing creatures, however Ixalan does hold a few sneaky ways to help get the enrage bonus without having to jam a Dino in your opponent’s face. Enrage abilities will trigger even if the Dinosaur is dealt lethal damage, but I would not recommend trying this. Dead Dinosaurs tell no tales.

RAID

Raid abilities care in some way that you attacked with a creature during your turn. Each one is different; be sure to read each bonus carefully so you know what you’re getting. Naturally, it’s usually better to cast creatures like Deadeye Tormentor in the postcombat main phase.

Raid abilities don’t care about how many creatures you attacked with. If you charged in with four creatures and then cast Deadeye Tormentor after combat, its ability would trigger only once, not four times. Raid abilities also don’t care about what happened to the attacking creature. Maybe it survived combat, maybe it didn’t. Maybe it got bounced. Maybe it changed controllers (that traitor!). As long as you attacked with it, that’s good enough for a raid ability.

 

TREASURE


Each Treasure is a colorless artifact that you can “cash in” for one mana of any color by tapping and sacrificing it. Treasure is both the name of the token and its artifact type. Several cards in this set create Treasure tokens, giving you a way to offset or “invest” in what may be a more expensive card, but then gives you an amount of Treasure that you can use when needed.
The biggest plus with Treasure, is that the artifact sacrifices for any colour of mana, means it can also lend to splashing colours or mana fixing. Treasures are going to make Standard VERY interesting.
 
 

EXPLORE

If a creature you control gets to Explore, you reveal the top card of your library. If the revealed card is a land, put that card into your hand and place a +1/+1 counter on that creature. If it’s not a land card, your creature comes back without finding new land, you still put a +1/+1 counter on it. Then, you decide whether the non-land card goes back on top of your library or into your graveyard.

With explore, when the ability resolves, if the creature is no longer on the battlefield, it can still explore. You still follow all of the steps above, except the +1/+1 counter will not go on the creature. Because it is dead. Dead dead dead.

 

VEHICLES RETURN


Nothing about how Vehicles work has changed since their last appearance in Kaladesh.
A vehicle starts out as just an artifact, and not a creature. This artifact won’t usually do anything until you CREW it with the required power total of creatures.
How to activate crew: Tap any number of creatures you control with a total power equal to or greater than the crew cost on the vehicle. The vehicle will then become crewed and change to an x/x artifact creature, as printed on the card. Remember, crew is not a tap action, so even a creature with summoning sickness can crew a vehicle.
 

DOUBLE FACED CARDS

The rules for double-faced cards remain unchanged and If you knew how double-faced cards worked before, you’re almost ready for these new ones. The twist is that a number of them are lands with a new map-inspired frame. Transforming a permanent into a land isn’t the same as playing a land. Conqueror’s Foothold doesn’t enter the battlefield, so it doesn’t count as your land play for the turn.

Remember that transforming a tapped card to its other face doesn’t untap it.

If double-faced cards are new to you, each double-faced card has a front face and the permanent starts on the battlefield with this face up. If an ability instructs you to transform the permanent, you turn it over so its other face is up. Whichever face is up tells you what that permanent is and what it can do.
You can’t play any double-faced cards with their back faces up. While a double faced-card isn’t on the battlefield, it has only the characteristics of its front face. So, if a spell lets you search your library for a land card, you couldn’t find Conqueror’s Galleon as it’s an artifact.

PLANESWALKERS OF LEGEND

All planeswalkers past, present, and future will have the supertype legendary. They will also be subject to the “legend rule.”

The “planeswalker uniqueness rule” is going away. This means you can have Jace, Unraveller of Secrets out AND Cunning Castaway in play at the same time. Yeah, you can play LOLJACEMONOTRIBAL in Modern. Yup, that’s a thing now.

Though I do have some bad news for fellow commander players. Planeswalkers STILL can’t be used as commanders unless the card says so.

Now, on with the show!

HOT PICKS FOR STANDARD

DIRE FLEET RAVAGER


Hi ho, hi ho, something something sea shanty. This Pirate looks like the top end of hell for any good Pirate deck and will close out games fairly quick. Grixis Pirates seems like a solid contender as a Tempo deck with plenty of removal.
The best part is that he eats a third of your opponent’s life, so if your plan isn’t coming together very well, you can still use DFR to close out the game in one or two swings.
The other point I want to mention, is DFR has Menace AND Deathtouch. So no matter what your opponent blocks with, no matter how BIG, DFR will slay it. Slay it good.

FATHOM FLEET CAPTAIN

Are you seeing a pattern here? Another Pirate with menace? Oh it’s true, it’s DAMN true. Fathom Fleet Captain is one of the beast 2CMC creatures we have seen in Standard for a while and believe it or now, Ixalan has a few of them.
The Captain here, however, is fairly unique in the fact that you get to pay 2 if he attacks and you have ANOTHER pirate to create a 2/2 pirate with Menace. So going wide sounds like a thing to do with Pirates then. Mix that with all of the removal in Grixis and you have a fast paced powerhouse.

 DREAMCALLER SIREN


On the other side of Pirates, is Blue. It looks as though a number of the Blue cards in Ixalan are meant to be somewhat aggressive, and this weirds me out. Who knew you were supposed to be aggressive in Blue instead of using it to stop your opponent from playing cards and milling them into oblivion.
DS is really interesting as it somewhat clears the way for your ground pounders to mostly go unblocked if you control another Pirate. But it has flash, so it can also save you from taking damage. I think this will see standard play, but is there perhaps a UR counterburn deck on the cards?

 

HERALD OF SECRET STREAMS


You have no idea how much I WANT Merfolk to be a deck. I’m looking through the set, and I think they’re close, but not quite there in standard.
That being said, Herald cares not for super or sub types, he cares not for your petty ways, he will continue with his friends and there is nothing you can do…
Unless you can stop him and his friends from getting +1/+1 counters, I guess? Either way, this should see play in some really wicked and dirty decks. Hey, Walking Ballista has +1/+1 counters, right?

PTERADACTYL


DEAR WIZARDS, I REALISE THIS NEEDED A GREAT NAME FOR THAT AWESOME ART, BUT WE ALL KNOW WHAT THIS IS.
We’ve seen this effect before and while it has been more powerful in the past, PTERADACTYL is nothing to be sneezed at. Nothing says UW Control more than a not unplayable flier that makes sure potential blockers come in to play tapped.
The stats are a little lack luster, but don’t let that fool you. PTERADACTYL is decent and should see play in the main oh annoying control UW decks.

HAMMER OF BOGARDAN 2


Hammer’s slightly less efficient baby brother is back with most of the same stats, but a little different.
Redoubled Volley1RRSorceryRedoubled Volley deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
Raid – 3RR: Return Redoubled Volley from your graveyard to your hand. Activate this ability only if you attacked with a creature this turn.
So this is a top end mana sink and I’m NOT 100% sure how good this really is. HoB was exactly the same except you could pay to get it back with no need to attack. Keep you eye on this card, I feel it could be a thing.

HOT PICKS FOR MODERN

CAPTAIN LANERY STORM


I have a fence, if I fits, I sits. CLS is a solid three drop with haste, meaning I wouldn’t mind dropping this on turn three with a Fatal Push or Lightning Bolt up. However, as a 2/2 for three CMC she may not even see play.
She even pumps if you sacrifice artifacts to her and generates a token when she attacks that helps you either splash off-colour cards, or simply enough mana for a some removal.
It’s possible she might be able to assist on closing out a game fast, but time will tell as she is still only a 2/2 and if my mind keeps coming back to those low stats, I want to say she will make it, but I just don’t know 100%.
 

KOPALA, WARDEN OF WAVES


I’m not a Merfolk player, but I can tell you six ways from Sunday just how good and versitile they can be in Modern. Kopala goes down the same path, thought she may be a tiny bit expensive at UU1.
That slot is currently reserved for Vendilion Clique, and I can’t see this replaceing that anytime soon. Though I could be wrong. on the other hand, this MAY make for an amazing sideboard card vs the format.
I really wanted to include Merfolk in the standard section, but I don’t think there is quite enough tribal in this set to make it the powerhouse it is destined to become.

HOT PICKS FOR COMMANDER

VANCE’S BLASTING CANNONS//SPITFIRE BASTION


At 4CMC, this enchantment should be fairly easy for a Red X player to get going as it’s only three spells, however more of interest is the requirement is a MAY ability. This means that you don’t have to flip it until you really want to, if that’s your jam. The plus here is that it gives you access to another card every turn
On the flip side (hahaha get it? I’m great),  it turns in to a legendary land that produces a single Red mana, fairly lame if you ask me. But then for 3CMC, it turns into a more expensive Lightning Bolt, but it has no downside to it. Reusable three damage? I rate it.

ARGUEL’S BLOODFAST//TEMPLE OF ACLAZOTZ


Okay look, getting down to five life and surviving until your upkeep is a bit of a stretch, I know. But at 2CMC, this little odd combo card may see play in competitive 1v1 commander with Axis of Mortality. Two mana and two life to draw a card is actually not that bad, but use this at your own risk.
On the flip, however, this card REALLY shines on. Sanguine Blood combos well with a black graveyard reanimator style deck, sacrifice a huge dumb demon to gain a bunch of life and burn an opponent for the same amount.

SEARCH FOR AZCANTA//AZCANTA THE SUNKEN RUIN


All the enchantments! SfA lets you effectively mill for answers, crazy. Its amazing with getting you to Threshold because you’re milling hard and fast, it switches on all your sweet Flashback cards and turns on your Baby Jace.
On the flip, and ignoring the mana ability, it becomes a slightly more expensive and strictly better version(because you get to do it every turn) of Impulse.
 

GROWING RITES OF ITLIMOC//ITLIMOC CRADLE OF THE SUN

And then we have one of the most hotly discussed and debated cards in all of Ixalan, the budget Gaea’s Cradle. On the front face, you get to look at the top four of your library to find a creature, reveal it and put it in your hand. It digs and you profit.
But then, once you have four or more creatures out (in green? Easy) it flips into a functional Gaea’s Cradle with UPSIDE. If someone wipes the board, Itlimoc still taps for a single green. I don’t want to think about this in a Gruul Tokens deck with an X spell finisher.

AXIS OF MORTALITY


I love stupid cards. I love politics in Commander, Axis is no different as it will allow you to game your opponents and choose who lives, and usually who dies. Life swapping when you get low enough sounds like a really scary and fun prospect.
 
 
 
 
 

JACE JACE JACE JACE JACE JACE REM.


Oh Jace, how thou hast fallen from grace and thy name been forgotten, how thy…. What are you doing? Stop that. STOP MULTIPLYING,. WHO FED JACE AFTER MIDNIGHT!
Going infinite with Jace sounds like a pretty cool concept. Simply play Doubling Season, Jace and then ultimate him for two non legendary Jace. Doubling Season then triggers on the new Jace… Jaces… hmm, is it Jace?
Do this as many times as you want, then use the un-used copies of Jace to -2 create a 2/2 illusion, this triggers twice so you get two 2/2 illusions and then…. Well, do you want to build a snow maaaaaan? Do you want to go infinite with Jaaaaaace? Yeah, you do. You REALLY do.
That’s it from me, I hope you can get along to your friendly local game store and have a bunch of fun, we will be streaming the midnight p[re-release from Next Level Games Moonee Ponds at 12am AEST over at twitch.tv/MTGAUStream – Find your FLGS HERE
PRERELEASE PACK CONTENTS

It seems there is nothing funky and cool this time, sorry to disappoint you. No build-your-own-thopter or foil Zombie token.

  • 6 Ixalan booster packs

  • Randomized date-stamped premium promo card

  • Spindown life counter

  • Insert with deck-building advice