Insider: Parsing the Ixalan Leak (Commander)

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Welcome back, readers! As I alluded to last week, this week's article will touch on the Ixalan spoilers we got a couple weeks ago. While I certainly don't condone people leaking WoTC trade secrets, it's public now and we will likely see some speculation based off of it. That being said, we want to be ahead of the game.

While everyone else is focused on Hour of Devastation, I'm going to jump ahead to Ixalan; mostly because we have a lot of the rares spoiled and they (along with mythics) tend to be the cards that cause spikes the most.

I also feel that there is a plethora of information for this article so I will be splitting it into different segments, with today's focus on the Commander format. I choose Commander first because 1) It's my current favorite format to play; and 2) A lot of our more recent spikes are due to Commander, meaning there is a healthy and strong demand from a large playerbase.

The biggest factor on Commander card spikes is usually related to new commanders (we saw this with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, The Gitrog Monster, and Omnath, Locus of Rage). Not every new legendary creature sparks a sudden demand for a new deck. There are plenty of sub-par ones that end up ignored (poor Munda, Ambush Leader), but we seem to get a really fun build-around-me general almost every set now.

A lot of the set is still missing from the leaked sheet, but we do have a good number of the rares. Let's look at the legendary creature options and what decks might be built around them. For each one I'll provide Mythic Spoiler's estimated guess of the actual text.

Mynea Frian, Dark Apostle


Legendary Creature - Vampire Cleric
Whenever one or more nontoken Vampires you control attack, create a 1/1 white Vampire creaure token with lifelink.

First we have a legendary Vampire Cleric. This is interesting because Vampires have been predominantly black and/or red throughout Magic's history. The ability is cool, but being mono-white, your only Vampires from previous Magic sets will be ChangelingsĀ with no further tribal synergy.

This one would have been pretty cool if it was Mardu or black-redĀ (where it would have had to compete with Olivia Voldaren), but as it currently sits I don't see a lot of people flocking to this one. This card could have been a really cool commander, except its color limitations honestly make it pretty bad.

Kopala, Warden of Waves


Legendary Creature - Merfolk Wizard
Spells your opponents cast that target a Merfolk you control cost 1 more to cast.

Abilities your opponents activate that target a Merfolk you control cost 1 more to activate.

Next we have a legendary Merfolk Wizard, this time in the color associated with those creature types. The abilities definitely push for a more aggro-style deck, and they only affect Merfolk so this might push for a mono-blue Merfolk tribal deck (though we have other options already).

This one I actually see having more potential in Modern/Legacy Merfolk decks than in Commander. While the abilities are geared towards targeted spells and abilities, in Commander the preferred method of creature destruction is en masseā€”so neither ability may prove all that beneficial in Commander.

It is important to keep in mind that because the image is blurry, the numbers (specifically the exact cost it taxes spells and abilities) are still somewhat uncertain.

Admiral Beckett Brass


Legendary Creature - Human Pirate
Other Pirates you control get +1/+1.

At the beginning of your end step, gain control of target nonland permanent controlled by a player who was dealt combat damage by three or more Pirates this turn.

Here we have our legendary Human Pirate commander. We have had the Pirate subtype in the past (most notably in Portal,Ā Portal: Second Age,Ā and Mercadian Masques), however, none of those options are particularly impressive. This one is in the Grixis color scheme, so it allows more options, and that second ability is pretty cool assuming you can trigger it.

I feel like if this type of deck does emerge, then cards that give some form of mass evasion (ideally unblockability or landwalk) may see increased demand. TakeĀ Bedlam, for example, which only has two printings (7th Edition and Urza's Saga). If it became a "must-include" for this type of deck it could easily jump above its current bulk price.

Foils of Bedlam are already much more expensive, currently sitting in the $15ish range. As of writing, there are only two on TCGplayer, which either means a buyout or extremely small supply (or both).

Gishark, Sun's Avatar


Legendary Creature - Dinosaur Avatar
Trample, vigilance, haste

When Gishark, Sun's Avatar deals combat damage to a player, reveal that many cards from the top of your library. Put any number of Dinosaur creature cards from among them onto the battlefield and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

A legendary Dinosaur Avatar. With trample, vigilance, haste, and you can cheat additional Dinosaurs onto the battlefield. The biggest thing holding this guy back? There currently aren't any creatures with the subtype Dinosaur.

We've seen creatures like Imperiosaur and Allosaurus Rider, but until now Dinosaur was never a supported creature type. The question is whether Wizards is intending to errata past cards, or leave them as is.

Either way, the majority of the playable Dinosaurs are likely to appear in Ixalan block (again, discounting changelings). To make us even sadder, both cards that could change all your creatures to Dinosaurs are not in Gishark's colors: Conspiracy and Xenograft. However, it is important to keep in mind that with Dinosaurs being a key component of the Ixalan block, it wouldn't be surprising to see some of them pushed.

Captain Lannery Storm


Legendary Creature - Human Pirate

Whenever Captain Lannery Storm attacks, create a colorless Treasure artifact token with "T, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool."

Whenever you sacrifice a treasure, Captain Lannery Storm gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Another legendary Pirate, though in this case its mono-red (which currently only has one other Pirate, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider). He is a 2/2 with haste for three that creates Lotus Petals. I actually think he's a reasonable support card, as red's ramp is almost exclusively tied to artifacts, and making repeated one-shot mana rocks isn't terrible.

The thing to remember is that you can store these up and use several at once. So if you can drop him on turn three you can have access to six mana (post-combat) on turn four, which isn't bad.

His second ability (getting +1/+0 when you sacrifice a Treasure) honestly feels a bit tacked on. If there are a lot of red Treasure producers in the block you could potentially turn him into a one-vs-one general whose goal is to ramp into Treasures and one-shot your opponent as fast as possible.

All that being said, that's a pretty big "if." I don't think many will build decks around him, but he might find a home as one of 99 (instead of as the commander).

Tiehana, Voice of Thunder


Legendary Creature - Merfolk
Tiehana, Voice of Thunder's power and toughness are equal to the number of cards in your hand.

You have no maximum hand size.

When Tiehana enters the battlefield, draw a card for each creature you control.

Our final legendary creature spoiled so far. We still don't know the CMC on this one, but the ability is quite powerful.

We basically have a cross between Regal Force and Maro. Based on the abilities and the coloring on the bars, this is mostĀ likely blue-greenā€”whichĀ is fantastic, as those are the two most powerful colors in Commander.

It is truly unfortunate that the card with the most promise is the one we have the least information on. That said, a few cards seem like obvious inclusions in a deck built around this commander:

If you can't tell, this is the one I'm most excited about and the one I see having the most promise. The biggest challenge on speculating off of this one is that many of the "obvious inclusions" for a deck based on this commander have several printings.

My pick for best speculation target for this general is Eternal Masters foil Regal Force, which is currently sitting in the sub-$6 range. Prior to its EMA printing, this was a $15 card.

Despite my general preference for buying the cheapest copy possible when speculating, there is a growing demand to foil out Commander decks. We've seen a lot of recent growth with Commander foils that hasn't taken place in their regular counterparts. On the same note, Prime Speaker Zegana foils aren't a bad pickup either (as the only option is Gatecrash and the foil is sitting around $10).

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