Happy new year everyone!
A ton of interesting spoilers have been revealed for Magic’s upcoming set, Rivals of Ixalan. I wrote an article a little while ago on the first spoilers that we got our eyes on, which you can read here. Since then, the spoilers we’ve seen have given us a much better idea about direction of Rivals of Ixalan. Let’s jump into some of the most important spoilers so far!
Flavor-wise, this is a slam dunk. It’s a large Sphinx like the other important Azorious creatures and disrupts the opponent’s ability to cast spells. The cool part of this card is that it even has an old favorite, Sphinx’s Revelation, tacked onto it!
Unfortunately, in practice this card is quite poor. Normally, with a powerful ability like this one, having some built-in protection is a dream. Unfortunately, the activated ability on this one requires a significant amount of mana being poured into it for it to have a significant effect on the game. It also likely means that you won’t be using your turn for anything else, which more than likely means you spend two turns just to get a Sphinx’s Revelation off, not exactly something that control decks want to be doing. Additionally, the protection built into it has two windows where the opponent can use instant-speed removal, the end step where Azor is cast and the following turn before Azor attacks. So all things considered, this card isn’t very good in my book.
I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out in what circumstances this card would be good. 5 mana is a lot, but it’s a mana cost where planeswalkers that have an immediate impact on the board have seen play. When you compare this card to what I call the “Planeswalker mold”, it fails. The mold of a planeswalker that will see Standard play looks something like this:
+1 Draw a card.
-3 Destroy target creature.
-8 Win the game.
5 starting loyalty.
This card has the same mana cost but already lower loyalty, so it’s behind the curve. The +1 ability on Angrath is worse than a straight draw 1 in most situations, as the opponent discarding the worst card in their hand is worse than an average card in your deck, while the 2 life is inconsequential in the short term. The -3 ability could possibly be better than destroy target creature, as you get to steal a creature and keep the beatdowns flowing. Stealing a large creature gives this card more flexibility, but in more situations than not you would rather the simple destroy target creature ability. Lastly, the ultimate on most planeswalkers is a version of “win the game”, but with flavor and different ways of going about it. For this card, the ultimate, which requires that you use the mediocre +1 ability a staggering 4 times, doesn’t guarantee much of anything. I’d be shocked if this card saw play.
This one is even harder to analyze, in my opinion. Cards that break the traditional rules with planeswalkers tend to be either too good or quite poor. The general theme of Huatli is creatures matter, but specifically a lot of creatures matter. The ultimate is quite a powerful ability that drowns your opponent in card advantage if the game goes on long enough. Unfortunately, the only way to reasonably put counters on Huatli is through the +1 ability, which already wants you to have multiple creatures in play. The -1 is disappointing in my opinion. Sorcery-speed pump effects are rarely worth it, and this one is usually less valuable than the +1 ability, which better protects the planeswalker.
I think this one is very close to being playable, but I think its somewhat disappointing way of protecting itself (through adding more counters) isn’t good enough for Standard. I could definitely be wrong, though.
I’ll keep this one brief. Time Walk is a very powerful effect in the right situations. That being said, it’s not worth playing a 1/1 for 2 mana that you have to sacrifice and pay 4 extra mana in the late game. I think this card could be decent in limited, but I would be shocked if this card saw constructed play.
8 mana is a lot, so normally if you’re paying that sort of mana for a creature, it should be winning you the game. Unfortunately, this card doesn’t quite do that. A 5/5 that does nothing when it enters and requires other cards to do much of anything isn’t exciting. I’m frankly surprised this card is a mythic.
This one is pretty interesting, and definitely hard to evaluate. A 5/5 for 5 is a decent rate, and it certainly makes combat extremely awkward for the opponent. That being said, I’m not sure this card will be good enough. Let’s compare it to what we currently have access to. The best comparison we can currently make is to Angel of Sanctions. Angel of Sanctions has seen some play here and there in Standard, especially in sideboards. This sort of effect is valuable, but turns these creatures into lightning rods for the opponent’s removal. Angel of Sanctions has built-in recursion attached to it, making it not as vulnerable to the opponent’s removal spells as other of these effects. When this effect is on a 3 mana creature as we’ve seen in the past, the opponent frequently trades even or sometimes down on mana to deal with it, making the temporary removal spell worth it. This creature doesn’t do either of those things well, as it’s expensive and has no recursion. Unfortunately, I don’t think this card will see play.
Of all the mythics we’ve gone through in this article so far, I think I’m most excited about this one. Midrange red flying creatures have proven their worth in Standard before many times. Those that don’t have haste generally have to have some built in extra value attached to them. Fortunately, I think this card has that! When the Phoenix dies, it leaves behind a creature that either has to be removed by the opponent (guaranteeing that the opponent 2-for-1’d themselves), or the Phoenix comes back the following turn (essentially another 2-for-1) with haste! I would be surprised if this card sees no play.
I discussed this card in my last article (which you can read here). You can read my full explanation there. Long story short, this card does a lot of things that makes it excellent in a slower limited format, but unlikely Standard playable.
This one is really exciting to me, but it certainly needs the right shell around it. 2 mana for the initial investment is very low, and a 1 mana investment for 5 turns isn’t that ridiculous. Additionally, it helps you filter through cards while you’re pumping mana into it. On the back side, you’re guaranteed at least 6 mana the turn it flips thanks to the 5 mana it gives you. The one issue is using the incredible amount of mana it gives you on the back end. I would guess the best place for this is a Metalwork Colossus style of deck. Regardless, I think we’ll see this in Standard at some point.
This card is my favorite of the Mythics revelaed so far. Merfolk was looking for just a little bit of support in Standard for it to be a very playable deck in Standard, and I think that this creature could just be it. 3 mana is a decent mana cost for aggressive tribal decks. 4 toughness for 3 mana is similarly excellent in a format where Abrade, Lightning Strike, and unrevolted Fatal Push are some of the most favored ways of dealing with opposition creatures.
The 3 abilities on this creature are each relevant in their own ways. Unfortunately, the first ability is somewhat unremarkable in my opinion, but it’ll become relevant more than we assume. The middle ability is likely the best. Cryptbreaker was an extremely powerful card in Standard that was only kept in check by cheap removal spells. If Merfolk act similarly to zombies, where they flood the board with aggressive creatures, Merfolk could very well act like the Zombies decks of old. An aggressive deck that can make excellent use of creatures that have been outsized on the board is a recipe for success. The final ability, which is a little less exciting to me, is another way of ensuring that Merfolk can outsize any opponent’s board if given enough time. All of this combined makes a creature that demands a removal spell any time it’s played, which is frequently a recipe for success.
A+ name, no doubt, and I think this card could see play too. 4 mana is somewhat expensive, but it requires that you put some work into it. A 1/1 for 4 that makes a 1/1 isn’t a good rate. A 2/2 for 4 that makes 2 1/1s is decent. But a 3/3 for 4 that makes 3 1/1s is an excellent rate. Using multiple removal spells on the opponent’s creatures is something that B/W decks are already interested in doing, but having this creature survive long enough can be a little difficult. If we get a reasonable sacrifice outlet and a synergistic deck based around it, this could be an absolute all star. We’ll just have to wait to see if that’s a possibility in this new format.
Well those are all the Mythics we’ve seen so far! I for one am really really excited for Rivals of Ixalan, and I can’t wait to see the new spoilers every day. I think we’re about to see some great new Standard decks.
Until next time,
Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spellsnare_
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spellsnare