Ixalan: Set Overview
I'm gonna have to be honest with you. When I first heard about Ixalan, I was skeptical. I like vampires, I like pirates, and I LOVE dinosaurs, but how on earth do you you fit those things together? Until spoilers began, and we got to see the set, I expected some cartoon disaster.
Thankfully, I was wrong. I am absolutely stunned by the visuals of this set, and the mechanics to come with it. I can't wait to draft it, and get all of my commons to update my game play. Without further delay, let's get started.
I had quite a hard time narrowing this choice to a top 5. There is so much new stuff to work with, that it's almost impossible to digest everything without missing something. However, with a lot of time, and considering several different archetypes, five have been chosen.
Glorifier of Dusk: Life points may be one of the most underused resources in the game. Black decks have always utilized this, but white cards are most prominent for lifelink. With this new wave of white vampires, utilizing life points as a resource has become easier.
Belligerent Brontodon: The EDH beloved Doran has entered the Pauper scene. Although a higher cost, utilizing otherwise useless creatures, such as Yoked Ox, can give you a strategy that will maintain tempo and strength throughout the game. Besides, it's green. You have ramp.
Deadeye Plunderers: Remember our friends from Kaladesh? Dig through that box of draft commons, and get ready. Between equipment, mana rocks, and servo / thopter tokens, you have huge opportunities with a general that grows as large as your board state.
Shapers of Nature: A choice between either beefing up your creatures, or drawing cards? Hard to say no to that. Several strategies can be utilized here, including Merfolk tribal. Sets from the past year have utilized counter removal mechanics, and this will be a great way to fuel that fire.
Sky Terror: A 2-drop 2/2 flier with Menace is not a common thing to occur. I feel quite comfortable saying this will certainly be a new candidate for the Voltron scene. Although Boros does not always perform well in Standard EDH, this aggressive advantage will see a redeeming light for the color pair.
This is what was picked as the top 5, but I encourage you to search through all of the uncommons that Ixalan has to offer. There are plenty more great weapons that can be at your disposal.
With a new block, comes new mechanics, and and these are a lot of fun. As fun as they will be in limited, there's a lot of fun to have in the format.
Enrage: Here is a nifty mechanic which says "Whenever the creature is dealt damage, something happens." Whether the creature is bolted, blocked, or blocking, you receive some extra utility. This will vary from card to card, but will always give you something.
I particularly like this card, in the event of a stale mate. With several variations of Grapeshot existing in the format, dealing damage to your creature is actually possible, and sending damage to your opponent as well.
Explore: Here is a mechanic that is pretty solid overall. Creatures with "Explore" have an ETB (Enter the Battlefield) effect that allows you to look at the top card of your library. If it's a land, you draw it. If not, put a +1/+1 counter on the creature, and scry.
Although not the cheapest spell, the added bonus of either card draw, or beefing up your creature, is certainly nice. With counter manipulation in the format, this mechanic should see some play among the 99.
After looking over the entire set, I chose a handful of cards from each color that struck me as noteworthy, and could see some well deserved play in the format. Whether replacing something in a previous deck, or becoming a part of a new strategy, these are all definitely worth a peek.
PDH is a format where Commander damage is quite a potent beast, in respect to Standard EDH. The chance to throw in a stinger for 2 during combat could be the difference between danger and safety.
Here we have two pieces that are a part of strong blue strategies; Cheap card draw, and bouncing creatures. A 1-drop for a scry and a draw is just awesome, and shouldn't ever be ignored. Storm Sculptor is definitely going to see some play. As well as that bounce effect that we love, being unblockable is just some more goodness that blue really didn't need to be ahead.
It looks like a new potential auto-include has entered. Costly Plunder may be my favorite new common from this set, and I am eager to have more cheap card draw options. Skulduggery is a nice piece, where many creatures in this format will be quite small. A potential removal, and a quick beefer is great.
I particularly like this card for a few reasons. First, card draw in red for a 1-drop. Second, our brand new Enrage mechanic. I'm quite excited for this card, and it will find a home in several of my decks.
I love playing for so many reasons. Let me sum it down in one sentence: Blow stuff up, and make your stuff big. New Horizons and Crushing Canopy capture the essence of that with ease. PDH is far more vulnerable to creatures with flying, so this is great. Ancient Brontodon is just massive, and I can't wait to cast it whenever my opponent's Ulamog's Crusher thinks they have the game.
With so much new options for the format, I am quite pleased that my gut feeling about Ixalan was wrong. This is shaping out to add some real great stuff to the format, and I can't wait to see it all in action. Do you agree with our highlights? What commander are you most excited to see in action? Be sure to get brewing, and bring more great ideas to a growing format.