Welcome back, readers!
I got some positive feedback from last week’s article (which can be found here). Today we’ll continue this series and take a look at Rivals of Ixalan mythics that may be undervalued at this time. We will continue to use the same logical arguments for these sets that we used for Ixalan, which are listed below:
- There is a superior alternative currently available.
- There is currently a more powerful archetype that makes the card unplayable.
- The card lacks necessary support (either color or archetypal).
- The card has been misevaluated.
Rivals of Ixalan
- There is currently no better alternative option.
- The current Standard does include some black, however, it’s typically a splash color for removal as opposed to a main color.
- We haven’t seen a good ascend deck yet, though the mechanic does seem powerful (once you have it you can’t lose it, so it’s similar to an emblem).
- Despite seeing very limited play, this card is still sitting in the $8-ish range, which means there is currently still demand for it. I had hoped to pick up copies in the $4-$5 range (assuming they didn’t find a Standard home), so the current price does make them a bit less attractive. However, if this card ends up in a Tier 1 deck, it could easily be a $15-$20 card. With Golgari being one of the guilds in Guilds of Ravnica and the Golgari tribe tending to be one that likes to play a midrange style, the ascend mechanic would likely work well in this style of deck.
- UW Control currently has Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as its big bomb. Unfortunately, Azor isn’t nearly as good as Teferi.
- As stated above, UW Control already has Teferi as the finisher of choice; Azor seems like a poor replacement (and in fact Teferi can use its -3 ability to tuck Azor, whose ETB ability would normally protect him).
- UW Control is one of the top decks in Standard, so this card would have plenty of support if it found a home in the deck.
- This card feels properly evaluated, though I could see it as a sideboard card in UW Control decks if the format slows down.
- This is superior to Tishana for a UG Merfolk “top end” card.
- UG Merfolk is currently outclassed in Standard. It has a hard time beating multiple wrath effects from UW Control, and is too slow against Rb Aggro.
- There is a fair amount of support for a UG Merfolk deck, and this card spiked briefly to $25 after Rivals came out. If R/x aggro loses some of its dominance it would make sense for a midrange UG Merfolk deck to find a home in the format (as the blue would help fight against UW Control).
- I think this card has a lot of potential. While its current evaluation is heavily influenced by the current metagame, with a change in said metagame this could easily be a $12-$15 card. It is important to note that we will not see the Simic Guild until Ravnica Allegiance.
- Four mana for a 1/1 lifelink that replaces itself if it dies immediately doesn’t come off as extremely powerful.
- Orzhov Vampires is currently being held back by Goblin Chainwhirler. There aren’t a lot of playable anthem effects in Standard, which would make the tokens safe from Chainwhirler.
- There is a fair amount of support for an Orzhov Vampires deck, however, as stated above it’s underpowered.
- The card is properly evaluated. It seems most at home in a deck that can play it and kill multiple creatures quickly to buff its power and make sure that its death trigger is worth the mana investment.
- There aren’t any other Rakdos planeswalkers in Standard.
- This card sees some play in certain Grixis Control sideboards already; Grixis Control is probably Tier 1.5 at this time.
- This card has some support currently. The biggest problem is that Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a much more powerful dual-color planeswalker and UW Control currently has more support than Grixis Control. However, Guilds of Ravnica will include both Dimir and Izzet, so Grixis is likely to see a lot of additional support, whereas Azorius will not be out until Ravnica Allegiance. So we may see Grixis rise.
- The card is powerful enough; it just needs additional support cards to really find a home in Standard. I like it as a pickup at current prices, despite the fact that Rakdos won’t appear until Allegiance.
- There are no creatures that provide extra turns currently. However, there is Nexus of Fate, which is a safer, more consistent way to take extra turns.
- Currently Bant Turns is a powerful deck and arguably close to Tier 1 (if not Tier 1). However, in an environment ripe with Abrade and Unlicensed Disintegration, keeping a creature around for a full turn is difficult, especially since it requires the City’s Blessing to be anything more than a 1/1 for two mana.
- There currently isn’t any deck that tries to get to the City’s Blessing as quickly as possible. If the format slows down and/or shifts away from R/b Aggro being so dominant, such a deck might be able to come about.
- I think the card has been evaluated pretty fairly. It does seem like a fantastic sideboard tech against Bant Turns. They play almost no removal and games take a long time, so hitting the City’s Blessing shouldn’t be to difficult.
- While there isn’t any card that one would say directly competes with it, if you want to filter through cards for two mana, it seems Search of Azcanta is a better option (that doesn’t require continual mana input).
- This card seems like it would serve as a good option to replace Search for Azcanta, except control decks are the ones most likely to benefit from this card filtering and they can just play Search. If a non-blue-based control deck were to pop up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card on the list. The decks that are going to want something like this need to really desire the loot-like ability and consider the flip a nice benefit.
- This card doesn’t really have a ton of support at this time. If WotC printed something that allowed you to flip it without getting the five exiled cards with different CMCs, then it would be extremely powerful (but I don’t see that happening anytime soon). The flip side obviously wants you to have a fair amount of life, and the reprinting of Banefire does make me think if a R/x based control deck ever arose this could easily help fuel a game-winning Banefire.
- This card is difficult to evaluate because the flip clause seems difficult to reach. Arguably you only need to exile one land, and then cards with 1,2,3, and 4 CMCs. I would love to get a judge’s input on how the split and/or fuse cards would count with this ability, as if you could count both sides then you might be able to turbo-flip this card in Modern.
- While there is no direct alternative, the format currently has Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage as mass creature removal that also fall into roughly the same CMC slot.
- As I stated last week, the Dinosaur archetype is currently stymied by the power level of the R/b Aggro decks, particularly Ahn-Crop Crasher, which alleviates the danger of something like the enrage mechanic (which is best abused when the opponent is forced to attack into it).
- There is a fair amount of support for the Dinosaur archetype, though not a lot in white. This card’s double-white cost would likely require a deck that didn’t splash white, but there appears to be more support for Dinosaurs in Gruul colors.
- I think this card has been evaluated pretty fairly. The enrage mechanic as a whole seems like a fantastic solution to Goblin Chainwhirler especially, yet oddly enough we haven’t seen it show up despite Chainwhirler’s dominance.
- This is a pretty big disappointment for a four-drop multi-color planeswalker. Hautli can’t protect herself at all and comes in with relatively low loyalty. For four mana you can play Karn, Scion of Urza which doesn’t require both white and green, can protect itself, and also serves as card advantage.
- This card seems like it would be best in a token strategy as she has a relatively low starting loyalty and all her abilities favor having lots of creatures.
- Despite the fact that Selesnya is the color combination most known for generating tokens (and we have white Vampire tokens in Standard), there just doesn’t seem to be enough right now. I could see her in a deck with Tendershoot Dryad that tries to reach the City’s Blessing quickly with token creatures, but such an archetype currently doesn’t exist and X/1 tokens are especially bad in a world full of Goblin Chainwhirler.
- I think this card has been properly evaluated. It reminds me a lot of Gideon, Champion of Justice in that it looks like it could have potential, but it needs a lot to go right.
Ixalan Block – Notable Rares
So far I’ve reviewed two of the remaining four sets at rotation. While my focus has been on mythics (as being scarcer means their price ceiling is higher), I would be remiss if I didn’t include some honorable mentions from Ixalan block at the rare spot. For these I restricted myself to rares under $3—the price ceiling is far lower than mythics, so to see any significant gains we need a low buy-in.
This may be more of a pet card to me, but the flip side of this one is extremely powerful (six-mana Regrowth every turn…). I think the biggest problem is that the type of deck that wants to play with the flip side most is a control deck, which would have a difficult time flipping it in the first place due to the Crew 4 requirement.
I do think this is a solid medium-term Commander pickup, though. It can go in any deck, and some color combinations don’t have access to Regrowth style effects at all.
I have mentioned that UG Merfolk might prove to be a viable archetype in the new format (especially if R/b Aggro gets gutted as it’s expected to). Kopala serves as a pseudo Kira, Great Glass-Spinner except it’s the correct tribe. Kopala can certainly put a wrench in the plans of any deck planning on using targeted removal to slow down the Merfolk player.
I’ve been playing with this card some on MTGArena in a Jeskai Turns deck (instead of fogging I use Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Jaya Ballard to help me turbo out Nexus of Fate). Losing Chandra will hurt that deck a lot, but I do play a one-of Amulet in it and it has done some solid work (copying a Nexus feels dirty).
This also feels like a fantastic Commander card for the medium term. Typically only red or blue get the opportunity to copy spells, so providing this ability to decks without that color combination does seem powerful.
If a Gruul Dinosaur deck does occur post-rotation this seems like it would be an auto-include in the deck.
While this is nowhere near as powerful as Cyclonic Rift, if you are playing a blue control deck without white (which has all the wraths), then this could become the default “sweeper” of choice.
While this card’s current price is heavily influenced by Commander players already, it’s still a card with a lot of power behind it. Unfortunately in the current metagame you can easily die before casting it (if you’re playing against R/b aggro) or if you’re playing against UW they can use Teferi to tuck it.
One of my good friends brought up the fact that this card wrecks Modern Humans (if you can play it on turn two). While we’ve already had Torpor Orb, slapping it onto a body that can block small creatures doesn’t seem too bad. It’s a bulk rare currently, so I wouldn’t go buying a ton of them, but it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind when you need a cheap throw-in to even out a trade.
I’ve mentioned that we currently have no ascend deck in Standard (predominantly because it would likely be a midrange deck and currently the aggro and control decks are keeping midrange archetypes pushed out). This would likely be an auto-include in any such deck (though likely a one- or two-of), but it’s a powerful ability and one that can be used at instant speed if a game grinds out. I have seen it played in some control decks as a significant threat of card advantage against other control decks as well.
This card never really met people’s expectations, however, it does hose a lot of the Ixalan block “flip lands.” Many of these lands have cool and powerful abilities, so if any decks using them become powerful this does act as a good foil. It’s also near bulk status despite originally pre-selling in the $10+ range.
Another card whose current price is heavily propped up due to Commander players, this one isn’t that hard to flip (though we are currently lacking many good sac outlets in Standard). It would definitely serve as a great GBx midrange threat that would likely provide some good card advantage (especially with ETB creatures).
While I have to admit that paying eight mana to exile an opponent’s creature seems terrible, the fact that it can act as repeated removal is definitely something to consider. With Nicol Bolas, the Ravager finding a home in the Grixis Control decks, this card does seem like a pretty good out to him (since they likely can’t flip him before you have the mana to exile him).
While we haven’t seen any URx artifact-based decks take off, the power of this card is undeniable. After all, its flip side is an even better Tolarian Academy, which is banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.
If such a deck materialized, this card would likely help it do very broken things. Though at this point, given Kaladesh block was heavily artifact-based and no deck materialized yet, it is hard to imagine what Guilds of Ravnica block would have to include in the Izzet guild to make this card spike.