Insider: Parsing the Ixalan Leak (Legacy & Modern)

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Welcome back, readers! Last week I covered the Ixalan leak from the Commander perspective.Ā This week I'll cover it from Legacy and Modern perspectives (I don't have anywhere near the knowledge to discuss Vintage). As always, when it comes to eternal playability there are several factors to be concerned about:

  1. Does it fit into an existing archetype?
  2. Does it create a new archetype?
  3. Does it pitch to Force of Will? (Blue as a color tends to be overpowered and thus played disproportionately in Legacy and Vintage.)

Now I don't think it's worth your time or mine to go over every rare, as many have no hope of seeing any eternal play. But we do want to look at some that have potential. So with those factors in mind, let's look at what we have spoiled so far. Like last week, I'll provide the (supposed) text of the card below for readability.

Evaporating Melody


Gain control of target creature with converted mana cost X.

Evaporating Melody is interesting. Many powerful eternal creatures have low CMCs simply because one needs to establish a board presence or clock quickly in faster formats. So this card could easily steal something relevant for 3-4 mana.

It's also interesting that we don't tend to get permanent creature control in "non-enchantment" form, hailing all the way back to the original Control Magic. This has only happened once before in Dominate, and Evaporating Melody is a strict upgrade.

We don't typically see Dominate showing up in any Legacy sideboards, but in Modern an instant-speed control effect has never been available. Threads of Disloyalty was a $25+ card back in the spring and summer of 2014, so there was a demand for this type of ability in Modern. I could also see it showing up in some Legacy sideboards as a fantastic answer to Marit Lage (nothing like paying two blue at the end of the turn to steal it from your opponent). It is blue and pitches to Force of Will as well.

Shaper's Sanctuary


Whenever a creature you control becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, you may draw a card.

Here we get a green one-drop enchantment that gives you something back when your opponent targets your creatures. While this isn't as good as Leovold, Emissary of Trest, few things are. This card does have some potential in an Enchantress deck as it both triggers a draw off an enchantress and gives you a card back should they try to kill your enchantress. I don't put this high on the list of eternally playable, but it's not terrible so it's worth mentioning.

Sunbird's Invocation


Whenever you cast a spell from your hand, reveal the top X cards of your library, where X is that spell's converted mana cost. You may cast a card revealed this way with converted mana cost X or less without paying its mana cost. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

A six-drop enchantment that does nothing when itĀ comes into play may seem like a stretch, but hear me out. Cheating on mana has proven time and again to be broken, from alternate casting costs to the delve mechanic. The fact that this allows you to play from your deck (as opposed to your hand) means that it also provides card advantage.

While I don't have a lot of hope on this one, I'd keep it on your radar as it is the type of card that seems very combo-centric. There could be a deck that plays this card and then starts going nuts.

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.

As I mentioned last week, I think this card is more playable in eternal formats than as a commander. There is also some debate as to whether the second ability taxes your opponent by 1 or 2 mana (it's very blurry).

Unfortunately, as a three-drop Kopala is competing for very few spaces in deck. It certainly won't replace Merrow Reejerey, which forms part of the core 12-lord package. Merfolk already has Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, which arguably does a better job of protecting your creatures as it's a guaranteed counter instead of a tax, but Kopala is a Merfolk so it gets the bonuses from the lords. I still think Merfolk players will prefer Kira, but I'd be remiss in my duty if I didn't at least mention this one.

Scuttle the Wreckage


Exile all attacking creatures target player controls. That player may search his or her library for that many basic land cards, put those cards onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle his or her library.

At first glance this looks like a bad Wrath of God as your opponent gets mana out of it, except that in both Modern and Legacy basic land use is often slim to none for most decks. Hitting only attacking creatures is another knock against it, but it also exiles to get around regeneration and indestructibility.

The other big problem with Scuttle the Wreckage is simply that control as an archetype is lacking in both Legacy and Modern now. The Top banning struck at the oneĀ major control deck across bothĀ formatsā€”so eternal control cards are not in super high demand right now. If this ever gets near bulk I'd definitely pick up a few playsets.

Ashes of the Abhorrent


Players can't cast spells from graveyards or activate abilities of cards in graveyards. Whenever a creature dies, you gain 1 life.

We continue to see white get the solid hate cards and again in two-drop enchantment form. It is interesting that for this one they simply took the text of Grafdigger's Cage and focused it on graveyards, then slapped on a little life gain. I personally would rather play Grafdigger's Cage most of the time. However, if I was playing a deck that cheated creatures in from the deck (with Collected Company, for example) I might prefer this over Cage.

Deeproot Champion


Creature - Merfolk Shaman
Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Deeproot Champion.

This one actually looks like a potential star, especially for decks that are mostly blue (in Legacy) or three-color midrangeĀ (in Modern). Unlike Tarmogoyf, you have to build this one up each time if you want it to be powerful. But if you play a lot of cheap cantrips and can get it out early, it does a pretty good Goyf impression. I don't think it's better than Goyf (not by a long shot), but it's one I'll be keeping my eye on.

Sorcerous Spyglass


As Sorcerous Spyglass enters the battlefield, look at an opponent's hand, then choose any card name. Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities.

So we have a Pithing Needle that costs twice as much, but lets you see the opponent's hand. I'd say in most eternal formats, if you know what you're playing against, you can choose the correct card with Needle 90% of the time. At first glance, this seems significantly worse.

The one benefit of the Spyglass is you get to see if your opponent has it first, which means you might be more tempted to hit something else just to blank a card in their hand. In Legacy that's often irrelevant because they'll just cast Brainstorm, put the now "dead" card on top of their deck and then shuffle it away with a fetchland.

I could see this card being a lot more relevant if, say, the Grishoalbrand decks made a big comeback in Modern. Yet even then I'd rather just play Needle since they can go off on turn two, which races your Spyglass on the draw. Needle, on the other hand, can come down turn one naming Griselbrand and the problem is solved (unlessĀ they draw an answer).

Vanquisher's Banner


As Vanquisher's Banner enters the battlefield, choose a creature type. Creatures you control of the chosen type get +1/+1. Whenever you cast a creature spell of the chosen type, draw a card.

At first I brushed this card off as five mana is really high for eternal formats. Paying this much for an anthem is obviously overpriced, but the second ability is quite powerful in a tribal deck.

One of the biggest challenges with Modern Elves is that unlike their Legacy brethren they lack repeated card draw (whether in the form of Elvish Visionary plus Wirewood Symbiote or Glimpse of Nature). These extra cards allow the Elf player to recoup after a wrath effect (which tribal decks are often weak to) and help generate the critical mass a synergy-based deck needs to function.

So far we haven't seen the pseudo-Glimpse, Beck // Call, make it in Modern. This is mostly due to mana cost. While Kobolds decks can jam Glimpse turn one, Elves typically waits until turn two or three, in order to have enough extra mana to cast creatures. Even at two mana, BeckĀ already becomes too clunky, to say nothing of a five-mana effect.

I don't see a Modern Elf deck reliably casting this card until turn three, so the amount of "extra mana" they have will be limited. Ideally they'd go turn-one mana dork, turn-two Elvish Archdruid or Heritage Druid plus double Nettle Sentinel. Then turn three they could cast Vanquisher's Banner with a little open mana, but likely not enough to go off. So the power level of this card would be based on how often the deck could cast it on turn three and survive until turn four to go crazy.

To make matters more complicated, the deck doesn't have a lot of room for higher-mana cards and currently those slots are occupied by 4x Collected Company and some number of Chord of Calling. It's also important to note that this card only triggers the draw when you cast a creature (not when one enters the battlefield) so it doesn't trigger off of CoCo.


The set honestly doesn't look super exciting for eternal formats so far, but of course we haven't seen much. The mythics are often the cards with pushed power level, and most of the leaked cards appear to be rares. (The pictures are grainy enough that it's hard to be certain of how many).Ā To draw any further conclusions we'll have to wait until the official Ixalan spoilers start in the fall.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Parsing the Ixalan Leak (Legacy & Modern)

    1. Agreed…they are definitely similar. It is important to remember Quiron Dryad was eternally playable back when the Miracle Grow deck was a thing (of which Dryad was the grow). Giving it another pseudo 4 copies is something to simply keep in mind. But I do agree that it’s unlikely…in fact the e whOle set seems unlikely to have a big impact…except Solemnity…I think that one is unique enough that it’s hard to guess whether it does something or not.

  1. “Itā€™s also interesting that we donā€™t tend to get permanent creature control in ā€œnon-enchantmentā€ form, hailing all the way back to the original Control Magic. This has only happened once before in Dominate, and Evaporating Melody is a strict upgrade.”

    This is a bit inaccurate. Confiscation Coup, Evangelize, Exert Influence, Govern the Guildless, Kefnet’s Last Word, and Welcome to the Fold. There may be more that I missed.

    1. Good catch. For some reason my mind blanked on newer stuff. It seems important to remember that the other options you listed aren’t nearly as mana efficient, but still should have been caught so I apologize for that.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.