Rivals of Ixalan spoilers are starting to pour in, and I, for one, am really excited! I felt that Ixalan left us wanting more Merfolk, more Vampires, more Pirates, and more Dinosaurs, which is exactly what Rivals of Ixalan will provide. So far, we’ve only seen 7 spoilers (really only 6 1/2), but they give a really great indication of what’s to come in the set. In this article, I’ll be running through each of the spoilers and giving my opinions, as well as perhaps what they could indicate about the other cards we’re gonna see in Rivals of Ixalan. Let’s jump in.

The Immortal Sun

We’re gonna start off with the only Mythic Rare revealed so far, The Immortal Sun. And, frankly, I’m a little surprised that this card isn’t only a Rare. It goes against pretty much all of the guidelines that have been set for Mythic Rares. It’s not incredibly flashy, it’s more or less a hate card, and (unless we learn more) it’s not heavily tied to the story of the set. Let’s look at it from a constructed play perspective.

6 mana for any spell is a lot, so we better be getting a sweet deal when this card lands. Cards that cost 4 or more and do nothing when they enter the battlefield are usually discarded instantaneously, and I don’t think this card will be very different. On the turn when you play it, the only benefit you get is pumping your team +1/+1 and shutting down incidental planeswalkers that are already on the battlefield. This is not nearly worth 6 mana. While these types of do-nothing or do-little cards are usually unplayable, the ones that have an extremely powerful effect if left on the board can be playable. For The Immortal Sun, that comes in discounting all spells by one and drawing an additional card each turn. Unfortunately, that’s not enough, and you’ll still frequently get run over if you spend your turn 6 playing this card, as you need many turns to really gain a significant advantage. That being said, it’s much more viable in limited.

Verdict: Very likely unplayable in Standard, but potentially amazing in limited if the format is slow enough.

Tetzimoc, Death Primordial

Ooh, this one is interesting. Really hard to analyze properly, but interesting nonetheless. First of all, the same test we applied to The Immortal Sun should be applied here. Does this 6 mana card actually do anything when it comes down? The answer is…probably? While the enters the battlefield ability has the possibility of absolutely decimating the opponent’s board, it also requires that you pump mana into it even before you cast it. This card certainly can’t be your only action turn after turn and hope for that to be good enough. However, if you and your opponent are playing a midrange fight and you have a Tetzimoc that then destroys the opponent’s entire board, that’s quite powerful. What will really dictate if this card is playable or a bulk rare is the general speed of the upcoming format. As we stand, however, I think Tetzimoc could have a home.

Verdict: We’ll wait and see, but I have high hopes of it being playable, but not format-defining.

Storm the Vault

Tolarian Academy is a powerful card, don’t get me wrong. However, even a 4 mana Tolarian Academy effect without any hoops to jump through would require that you have artifacts in play as well as impactful places to use the mana you gain. That’s a fairly significant number of hoops to jump through. For Storm the Vault, the news gets worse. In order to get that Tolarian Academy effect, you’ll need to not only pay 4 mana for Storm the Vault, but have 5 or more artifacts by your end step. This means that you’re really only flipping Storm the Vault if you’ve dedicated your early turns to getting as many cheap artifacts into play as you can. As for the first block of text on it, you can only get one Treasure per combat, but that also demands that you play creatures to trigger it.

This is a pretty incredible number of hoops to jump through just to get a Tolarian Academy.

Verdict: Too many hoops to jump through means I don’t think this card will ever find a place in Standard.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

I can’t believe I’m about to say that a 12/12 is playable, but I think this one just might be. 12 certainly isn’t an acceptable amount of mana to pay for any spell in Standard, but the cost reduction should be in effect almost every single time you have this card in your hand. It’s obviously above rate if you can get 10 power in play, but even a modest draw of Drover of the Mighty into Ripjaw Raptor makes this card a 5 mana 12/12 with trample. There are enough beefy cards that you already want to play in the strategies that want this card that it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that a 12/12 that does nothing when it enters (a common theme so far) is what the doctor ordered.

Verdict: I’m even surprised at myself that I think this is playable, but the combination of easy cost reduction and damage-based removal spells makes it seem very possible.

Silvergill Adept

Silvergill Adept is one of the most valuable cards in Modern and Legacy Merfolk decks, as it’s a cheap Merfolk that replaces itself when it enters, letting those decks keep the fish flowing. In Standard, it won’t see play outside of a dedicated Merfolk deck, which hasn’t existed yet. However, I think Silvergill Adept could be a sign of even more powerful tools for Merfolk in Rivals of Ixalan. Give me a Lord effect and we’re cookin’ on gas.

Verdict: Needs more pieces, but it could end up being a critical piece of a dominant Standard Merfolk deck.

Captain’s Hook

This preview is very different from most preview’s you’ll ever seen done. We know the name of the card, exactly what it does, but we don’t know its mana cost. Therefore we can speculate wildly on what we want the mana cost to be as well as what we think it most likely will be. Firstly, this effect is really powerful. +2/+0 and menace for 1 mana is nothing to shake a stick at, and most of the time the drawback won’t be relevant, as you’re more interested in having a creature in play with +2/+0 and menace than having the correct creature having that boost. This card could potentially be a Standard all-star if it’s costed too aggressively. Let’s run through some mana costs to figure out where we think it’ll end up being.

Would it be good at 1 mana? Certainly. It would almost certainly be too good for Standard, so it’s unlikely that that’s the mana cost. Would it be good at 2 mana? Very likely. Repeatable pump and menace is a great reward for an initial 3 mana input. Would it be good at 3 mana? Now we’re probably getting to where it’ll be priced at. Doing nothing but casting an equipment on turn 3 is a recipe for disaster a lot of the time, but can be powerful as well. Would it be good at 4 mana? Unlikely, as the initial 5 mana input doesn’t get close to really rewarding you with the +2/+0 and menace.

Verdict: 1 mana: Too good. 2 mana: Very good. 3 mana: Likely where it’ll be, and potentially playable in the right decks. 4 mana: Unlikely to be playable.

Brass’s Bounty

Wow another unconventional ramp card! Unfortunately for Brass, I’m not sure the Bounty is very good here. 7 mana is steep. Very, very steep. Doubling up mana one time is a powerful effect, but this doesn’t gain value from mana producing creatures, meaning you’re forced into physical land ramp if you want to play this card. In a normal setting, this card isn’t playable.

However, the only place where I could see this card being played is in combination with a powerful Treasure payoff, which may very well be coming in Rivals of Ixalan. The only current payoff that we have is Revel in Riches, which is a rather unexciting card, but produces something close to a two card combo with Brass’s Bounty. Add in a couple of board wipes and removal spells and it’s possible that there’s something there. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.

Verdict: Needs support to be good, but is very likely unplayable.

Well, that’s unfortunately all of the cards that have been spoiled for Rivals of Ixalan so far. I’m extremely excited for the new set, and each new card spoiled could be the key that unlocks this Standard format. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Until next time,

Jonah

Modern bannings and unbannings are a constant discussion point among competitive players. In this article, Riccardo Monico goes over one card he thinks should be unbanned, and what a certain Modern deck might look with it in the fold.

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