Hello everyone! Spoiler season came quickly this year, and I’m super excited to dive into my favorite rares from the set!

I expect this list to be very contentious, but this set has so many sweet rares! Lets get right into it.

10. Profane Procession

 

This is the type of card that has the potential to be great, but could also end up being unplayable. I’m including it at number 10 because I’m sure that we can build a strong shell with the cards we have now, and adding another set in a few months can’t hurt.

Profane Procession is a card that admittedly, does nothing for three mana. However, once you are able to stabilize, Procession puts in a ton of work. After a Fumigate or something of the sort, Profane Procession is able to answer most threats your opponent will deploy. Granted, the card has issues with Planeswalkers, which control decks already suffer from. It may not be the best card, but it does have the potential to serve as a win condition after a decent amount of time.

I think Procession is far from a slam dunk, but could be great alongside cards like Walk the Plank, Vraska’s Contempt and Fumigate in the upcoming Standard environment. Who knows, maybe it can even do work in an Approach of the Second Sun deck!

9. Bishop of Binding

Rivals of Ixalan pushes the tribes introduced in Ixalan to the max. I think Bishop is a great example of a card that could serve as the top end to an aggressive Vampires deck, as it fills two vital roles. Firstly, Bishop of Binding acts as removal, which is crucial around turn 4 or so, after your opponent deploys something like a Hostage Taker or even a tribal Lord of some kind. Secondly, the card also helps push through damage, which is crucial in decks like Vampires. Need your opponent dead? No problem, Bishop can pump your flyer. Want them to make a bad block? No worries, it can pump your 1/1 token. When it comes to combat, Bishop is great, provided it has a good card under it. Some of the time, this card will be downright bad, but I think that the ceiling is high enough that I’d want to give it a spin.

For an example of something great to hit with Bishop, lets go on to my next choice!

8. Ghalta, Primal Hunger

As one of the first cards spoiled for this set as a promo, Ghalta, Primal Hunger drew some criticism, but also praise from many players. I think the card is bad on the surface, but if we give it the right supporting cast, it can do a ton of work. For example, envision this scenario.

You play a Drover of the Mighty turn two, and follow it up with a Wayward Swordtooth and an extra land on turn three. Now, you have four lands, nine power, and Ghalta can be cast, even without you hitting your fifth and sixth land next turn! While this scenario is certainly not going to happen every game, there are other ways to get Ghalta out quickly. The fun part about this card is that it doesn’t even have to go into a Dinosaur deck, as we can simply play a deck with a critical mass of high power/low cost creatures which can help us power Ghalta out quickly.

I think Ghalta has a ton of potential, and I think we should all be watching the top tables for this card at the next Standard tournament.

7. Warkite Marauder

At first, I wasn’t excited about this card, but after playing a couple of matches with it, I’m sold. Being able to make your opponents best blocker into a Frog each combat step is an extremely powerful ability. This allows you to get in with your creatures each and every turn, unless your opponent holds back more blockers. Both of these are net positives for the deck we’re trying to play, and the fact that Warkite Marauder has evasion makes it even better.

If there’s a good blue Pirate deck out there, you’d best believe Warkite will be flying into the forefront of the format.

6. Seafloor Oracle

Seafloor Oracle has a decent body, which is only made better by the fact that it is a Merfolk. Oracle is a great four drop, and if played alongside unblockable Merfolk or something such as Herald of Secret Streams, it can be backbreaking for your opponent. Oracle has the potential to gain you consistent card advantage, and if you are able to connect a couple of turns in a row, the balance will swing heavily in your favor. I think we will see a ton of this card if Merfolk becomes a Tier 1 strategy.

5. Champion of Dusk

Champion of Dusk essentially fills the same role in Vampires as Seafloor Oracle does in Merfolk, but instead of incentivizing your opponent to block, it gives you a ton of cards in one fell swoop. The life you lose is almost negligible, as your deck likely has a ton of life gain in it just by virtue of being a Vampires deck. By turn 5, you should have at least two other Vampires, and a 4/4 that draws you three cards as it enters will help you keep the train rolling for multiple turns.

Solid body, solid effect, solid tribe, A+.

4. Dire Fleet Daredevil

Daredevil is a fantastic Magic card. Not only does it exile a problematic spell your opponent could flashback with Torrential Gearhulk or an Aftermath card, it also allows you to cast it! When playing against a red deck, this could easily flashback something like a Lightning Strike or a Shock, which is a great deal for a card that is also a 2/1 first striker. Daredevil attacks and blocks well, and has a great upside. What’s not to love?

I think this card is fantastic in a deck with Warkite Marauder, where it kills literally any blocker they leave behind. Overall, I think Dire Fleet Daredevil will play an important role in any Pirate deck that ends up doing well in Standard.

3. Deeproot Elite

As the list comes to a close, we get to the cream of the crop. Deeproot Elite has the potential to make each of your Merfolk bigger on entry, making it a virtual Lord when played on turn 2, but also gives you the option to jam all of your counters on a single Merfolk, which is frequently going to be unblockable. Couple that with something like a Seafloor Oracle, and your opponent is going to be dead in no time.

Deeproot Elite will be fantastic alongside cards like Deeproot Waters, which will help boost your creatures while also providing a huge board. I think this card will be amazing in Merfolk, and can’t wait to get my hands on a playset.

2. Tendershoot Dryad

I think this card is sick. Actually, I started the article with it at sixth place, but I’ve talked myself into placing it here because I think it can do a ton of work. Literally as I write this, I realize that you get two tokens per turn cycle, and this card has gone up two more spots. Wow. What a day everyone.

At first, I thought it’d be too hard to get ten permanents by turn five, but then I realized that Tendershoot Dryad helps itself out! With just a couple of creatures, by the time you can cast this card, it will pump its tokens within a single turn. If we play it alongside something like Anointed Procession however, it will pump out FOUR 3/3 tokens every turn cycle. If that doesn’t get you excited to play this card, I don’t know what will. Granted, it does get taken out by just a measly Shock, but we do have access to cards like Blossoming Defense and Dive Down in Standard right now, so I think Dryad could easily be a mainstay, I’m just not sure exactly where yet.

Dryad can win the game all by itself in just a few turns, and that is exactly what I am looking for in a five mana rare.

1. Jadelight Ranger

Jadelight Ranger is a great Magic card. On average, it will be pretty close a 3/2 that gets you a scry and a free land for three mana, and I think that’s already a card I’d play. Couple that with the chance of it coming in as a 4/3 with two scrys or a 2/1 that draws you two cards, and I’m certainly jamming this in my deck. All of this doesn’t even cover the fact that it’s a Merfolk, which increases the value of the card by a ton. Even if we don’t see a good Merfolk deck in Standard, I have zero doubts that we will be seeing Jadelight Ranger popping up all over the place!

Well, how do you think I did? How does your list compare to mine? What did I miss? Is the answer secretly just Attune with Aether?

I hope everyone enjoyed this article. See you all next week!

Riccardo Monico

If you’re looking for a Limited-focused look at the most exciting and flashy cards from Rivals of Ixalan, read this article from Jonah Gaynor.

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