If you grew up in the '80s or '90s, surely you recognized the sights and scenes from the Ixalan block. It is seemingly where Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park collided to create a Mesoamerican-plane where our adventurous appetites can feast.
The Ixalan block ultimately only served the purpose of progressing the Gatewatch story arc, so, unfortunately, we did not get much insight into the dinosaurs or tribes that inhabit the plane. We also did not get much backstory on new characters we met from Ixalan such as Huatli, Warrior Poet and Angrath, the Flame-Chained.
When it was all said and done, I found myself wondering about the history of Magic's dinosaurs, pirates, Huatli's tribe, and Angrath. I can't help but think others may have similar questions and, hopefully, Wizards of the Coast plans to use Ixalan again in a future set.
One of the best things about the Ixalan block is the way the art on the cards depicts the plane. The setting of Ixalan is shown extremely well through the card art to the point where even the faintest imagination could find itself immersed in thoughts.
Additionally, Ixalan was a boon for EDH players. For many reasons, the Ixalan block goes down in my book as the first set to be clearly designed with a heavy dose of Commander in its blood. When looking back at Ixalan's predecessors and then looking forward to its kin, it seems to me that Ixalan was a testing ground for Wizards to create a lot of new cards for Standard while also appealing to the Commander crowd.
Since Ixalan was printed, we have had several Standard sets all with EDH in mind, not to mention Modern Horizons which the MTG community affectionately renamed to "EDHorizons".
All of this EDH love has given me plenty to write about lately. As you may know, last week I evaluated post-rotation Commander cards from Ixalan. This week, I'll be focusing on the second set of the block, Rivals of Ixalan.
The Watch List
There are few ways to get me more excited for a card in EDH than it being a cheaply-costed artifact that enables card-cycling with upside. Enter: Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun.
While the card doesn't see much play in Commander to date, it's a card I find exciting to build around and a darn good payoff when it gets transformed. This isn't an urgent card to acquire by any means. I suspect the price should stay low beyond rotation (especially non-foils), but it's a card worth monitoring and adding to your watchlist (especially if you'll play with it eventually).
The reason I am adding it to my watch list is purely based on potential. The "exile" clause specifically piques my interest; if we were ever to get a Commander that enables casting cards from exile, Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun would instantly become an engine in that deck.
Furthermore, Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun is already garnering a small amount of attention because of Atemsis, All-Seeing. While Atemsis isn't enough to push the price up by itself, it will be enough to raise the floor slightly.
Investment Plan - I
I am keeping a particularly close eye on foils of Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun, though I like copies of the non-foil as well. I just think the art is great and the foil looks amazing, but being that this is a flip card with Ixalan flavor, it should be fairly difficult to reprint (aside from maybe a "Return to Ixalan" promo set of some sort).
I'm targeting a price-point on NM foils at $6 and I like LP foils at $5 (I may actually grab one this weekend at GenCon if I find either condition at this price). If you like non-foils because flip cards with Ixalan flavor are going to be hard to reprint, I would suggest picking up copies at or under $1.50.
Did you say "taking turns"?
Timestream Navigator is such an intriguing card primarily because of the combo potential its ability offers - yes, you'd have to give it haste and that is likely Magical Christmasland, but it is interesting to brew around nonetheless. It is also a mythic and a relevant creature type - pirate - so any additional tribal support for them could make this card's price climb.
I've been trapped by purchasing copies of "taking turns" cards before, so this one isn't coming as a card I highly recommend, but add it to your watchlist and you can do worse than grabbing a couple foil copies at bulk pricing in hopes for its day in the sun.
Investment Plan - II
For Timestream Navigator, I'm hoping to get 1-2 foils if they get under $3. Rotation isn't going to be much of a factor for Navigator, but I am banking on a little supply coming into the market and pushing prices down just a touch more. I am more or less staying away from non-foils, though it's not a terrible card to grab if you can find any in bulk mythic bins.
Draw power in green has become increasingly available since Path of Discovery was printed. We also received Guardian Project in Ravnica Allegiance, and collectively these two cards create a nice package for green decks running a good number of creatures (roughly 22-25 to be really effective).
Path of Discovery foils are already thin in supply and the non-foil has quietly crept up to $1.50+. Some of this could be from fringe Standard play which makes it the perfect card to watch heading into rotation. If the prices plummet by 25-50%, these will make for a fine long-term acquisition.
Investment Plan - III
I will be watching Path of Discovery closely for about 4-8 weeks after rotation to see how its prices respond. If the card shows any sign of price weakness, I will likely hold off and wait until it bottoms out just above bulk pricing (figure sub-$1 non-foil and sub-$3 foil). It could very well be that the current $1.50 / $4 splits on non-foils and foils is as cheap as this card will be (barring reprint).
Interestingly enough, over the past two weeks covering the Ixalan block, I've mentioned three different pirates I'm adding to my watchlist. Perhaps I need to build a pirate-tribal deck in the near-future and this has been my subconscious just pushing that idea further on me. Regardless, Warkite Marauder is a really fun card in casual play - it is by no means a powerful or broken card, but its triggered ability on attack can be extremely effective in helping break through an opponent's defenses.
Investment Plan - IV
Warkite Marauder is a true penny stock and can be had in bulk pricing for both non-foils and foils. I am considering adding a couple of copies to my inventory and one for personal use in anticipation of building an eventual pirate-tribal deck. This card won't be dropping further at rotation, so I'd only really be considering Warkite Marauder if you think pirates will get more support in the future. I, for one, hope they do!
The four Dinos captioned above are some of my favorite cards ever printed. I loved dinosaurs as a kid, so this block appealed to my nostalgia for those reasons. I think Zacama will especially make for a great long-term speculative pick, but first, I believe these have room to fall further at rotation.
Starting with the biggest dinosaur of them all - Zacama, Primal Calamity - I have found Zacama to be an incredibly price-resistant card. I've been watching this card literally since it was spoiled and the price has done nothing but go up. In full transparency, I have needed a copy for my Gishath, Sun's Avatar deck for about nine months now and still haven't bought one because I am unwilling to pay $8-10 for it.
I'm waiting a little longer for rotation now hoping that copies of Zacama will find their way out of binders and into the hands of vendors. It's seen a fringe amount of Standard play and it doubles down as an incredible finisher in EDH decks that use Omniscience or Nahiri, the Harbinger. Knowing this, it is unlikely Standard will dent its price much but I have started to see signs of it decreasing recently. In fact, just this week while continuing my research did I notice it is sub-$10 now (first time that's ever been the case from what I can recall).
Rounding out the big four Primals on my watchlist are Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Etali, Primal Storm, and Nezahal, Primal Tide. All three of these see quite a bit of play in EDH already. For Ghalta and Etali, that play is mostly attributed to Dino tribal whereas Nezahal actually carved out its own niche elsewhere in various blue strategies.
I love acquiring small quantities of foils for all three of these once rotation hits. Dinosaurs actually see play in the current Standard meta, so rotation might impact them more significantly than previously mentioned cards. I also need to remind you that Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Etali, Primal Storm have promo prints which will significantly cap their upside.
That said, if you need copies or want to speculate, I would target the Game Day Promo for Ghalta at $4 post-rotation (NM if possible) and regular pack foils of Nezahal and Etali at $4 and $5 respectively (as an aside, have you seen Nezahal and Etali in foil!? They are stunning!).
It is worth mentioning Zetalpa, Primal Dawn and Tetzimoc, Primal Death as legendaries from the same cycle, though I don't have as much interest in picking these up, save for maybe one foil for my own collection. They became a bit more appealing because Morophon, the Boundless's printing made five-color Dinos possible, but not enough to dive into unless Dinos receive newfound support down the road.
Investment Plan - V
If Zacama, Primal Calamity hits $5-6 I can confidentially say I will be buying more than just the one copy I need. Given the various applications and existing playability in EDH, I predict in as little as six months from rotation Zacama, Primal Calamity non-foils will be back to $10+.
Nezahal, Primal Tide appears to be the most undervalued card of this cycle, given its capabilities in multiple different strategies. I think Nezahal's price could climb into the $6-8 range within 6-12 months. Conversely, I think Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Etali, Primal Storm will be slower gainers. However, I think the Game Day Promo Ghalta and pack foil Etali will still appreciate some because of their aesthetics.
The artifact we were all searching for in Ixalan is also the card I'll be searching for the most after rotation. The Immortal Sun has done nothing but climb since it was initially printed. If you were in on copies during the first few weeks of Rivals being on the market you've likely done very well. Similarly, if you rode the wave of hype when War of the Spark was first announced, you know non-foil copies were selling for as much as $30 at its peak.
Fortunately for us, the hype has faded, and with it so has the price. The Immortal Sun now sells for sub-$15 and dropping. The foils have held onto their $30+ price tag because of the existing presence Sun has in EDH and on various sideboards in Standard, Legacy, and Vintage.
That said, rotation will hit this card as hard as any from the entire Rivals of Ixalan set. I firmly believe that this is going to go to sub-$10 before longer-term ascending back to a mid-teens price-point. The card is simply too flexible and too good not to ultimately be a $15 card (until reprint). Be careful here, as the supply that is going to exit binders here in the next two months will flood the market first (we're already seeing it happen).
Investment Plan - VI
With The Immortal Sun, be patient in acquiring your copies. Add it to your watchlist and wait until the prices completely bottom out. Buylists are already soft on the card which indicates to me the demand has decreased significantly. The Standard meta already shifted away from The Immortal Sun being relevant, so copies have likely already been traded in as players open up their cash flows anticipating Throne of Eldraine. We'll see more of this happen before the bottom finally arrives, but when it does be ready to pick copies up for a long-term climb.
I am aiming very low - maybe it never even gets to these prices - but I'm thinking $6-8 for non-foils and $15-20 for foils. I estimate that within 6-12 months from rotation it will climb back to $15 for non-foils and $30 for foils. Be prepared for rotation and make sure to get your copies when they are cheap!
Ixalan is a really cool block that went under the radar for the most part, but it gave us plenty of fantastic role players and it added support for two new tribes to EDH (Dinos and Pirates).
Additionally, it is a new plane that we may get to visit again someday, so for those into MTG lore, let's definitely stay tuned to this. I am hopeful to learn more about what "Primal" means to Ixalan; why there are Dinosaurs in the first place; and why a card called Star of Extinction was printed but not explained in the storyline of Ixalan at all? If you have feedback on any of these questions, please reach out! I'd love to know what I might have missed on the lore side of the story.
This concludes my coverage of the Ixalan block as we approach rotation. Bear in mind that all cards I mentioned are purely for your consideration in an attempt to keep the game as cheap as possible. I am sure I missed some cards on my watchlists, so please feel free to reach out and let me know what I got wrong, right, or simply omitted. Find me on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming or on the QS Discord.
Until next time, cheers!