Ixalan Videos: White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor & Artifacts | Rares Part 1 | Rares Part 2
Belligerent Brontodon – 7 mana is a lot to pay for a one-sided 4/6 Doran, the Siege Tower (though it’s effectively a 6/6), especially since we can get a 6/6 trample for 6 cmc at common in the same colors. While this is playable, and potentially good, it does impose deck restrictions: you don’t want to pay 7 mana to make some of your creatures worse (such as Raptor Companion.) Here are the cards you’re probably going to want to include in your deck: Kinjalli’s Caller (0/3), Skyblade of the Legion (1/3), Territorial Hammerskull (2/3), Shining Aerosaur (3/4), Looming Altisaur (1/7), Bellowing Aegisaur (uncommon 3/5), Ixalli’s Divinier (0/3 or 1/4), Grazing Whiptail (3/4), Wildgrowth Walker (uncommon 1/3), Atzocan Archer (uncommon 1/4).
Call to the Feast – This card is the most effective go-wide card in the WB Vampires archetype, giving you three vampires. Queen’s Commission and Paladin of the Bloodstained each give you 2. If you see this mid to late in your draft, it is probably a signal that WB Vampires is open.
Deadeye Plunderers – 5 mana is too much to pay for a 3/3, and 4 mana is a lot to effectively put a +1/+1 counter on this guy (Verdant Automaton! Or really, Jungle Delver), so you should try to make sure you have a lot of other pirates in your deck that generate treasure tokens. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be very hard, since there are plenty at common in black (Dire Fleet Hoarder) and blue (Sailor of Means, Prosperous Pirates). There is an inherent awkwardness with this card, though: usually you will want to be using the treasure tokens quickly in order to generate a tempo advantage, but this card incentivizes you to hold onto your treasure tokens. This is going to lead to some tough decisions.
Dire Fleet Captain – This is usually going to be only a 2/2 on t3, since there aren’t too many 1 drop pirates that you want to play in this format. But after t3, this creature has the potential to get fairly big: it’s easy to get it to be a 3/3 and even a 4/4. Try to pair this card with creatures with evasion, like Kitesail Freebooter or Headstrong Brute.
Marauding Looter – Looting is very powerful in a slow format, as it’s going to let you dig to the spells that will let you break through the board stalls. Usually, the cost of looting is a full card: you have a Merfolk looter, his body is irrelevant, and he doesn’t do anything except activate his tap ability every turn. For this card, his body is priced efficiently (4/3!) and there is no cost to loot: sure, it requires you to attack, but I don’t really think of that as a cost at all since that’s probably what you should be doing anyways. It’s going to be hard to lose games where you get to pair this guy with an evasive creature like Siren Stormtamer or Storm Fleet Aerialist. In those games, you’re going to be able to find the removal spells or creatures that you need to beat your opponent. I’ll be taking this card very highly in drafts.
Raging Swordtooth – A 5 mana 5/5 is exactly where RG wants to be. The body is going to be bigger than anything in the other colors: we saw that the biggest bodies in the other colors were Glorifier of Dusk (4/4), Anointed Deacon, (5/3 when attacking), Deathless Ancient, (4/4) and Air Elemental (4/4). You’re going to be able to force your opponent into uncomfortable situations where they will have to consider double-blocked (which risks the danger of being blown out by Sure Strike or Crash the Ramparts.) It’s a mana cost that fits nicely with the ramp cards available to RG (New Horizons and Blossom Dryad.) All of this, and there is a reasonable chance that this creature kills something when it enters the battlefield. Sign me up!
Shapers of Nature – I’ll admit it, I love to durdle. And this card is the champion of durdling. It’s priced efficiently as a 3 mana 3/3. It is a late-game mana sink. It synergizes very well with all of the other UG cards that generate counters, and there are a lot of them: all of the Explore creatures, Jade Guardian, Wildgrowth Walker, Vineshaper Mystic, River Heralds’ Boon, Savage Stomp, New Horizons. While you don’t have to look very far to find counters, this is by far the best way to generate additional advantages from those counters, so I would pick this card very highly in drafts. It has the potential to absolutely take over games.
Sky Terrors –
Cobbled Wings – I could see bringing this in from the sideboard in a slow matchup as a way to break through board stalls. It’s possible the format is slow enough to put this in your main deck, though I’m going to wait a few weeks to find out.
Dusk Legion Dreadnaught – Vehicles are back, and they seem like they’re priced correctly this time. 5 mana for a 4/6 vigilance crew 2 is a reasonable rate: it’s not too pushed like Renegade Freighter or Untethered Express. There is a lot less artifact hate in this format, so there aren’t going to be too many removal spells that kill this thing. Definitely look to pair this card with Deadeye Quartermaster. I’ll want to play this in most of my Pirates, Vampires, and Merfolk decks, and maybe in some small percentage of my Dinosaur decks.
Elaborate Firecannon – You’re paying 6 mana to cast Shock, then you’re paying 4 mana and discarding a card to Shock again. There might be some edge cases where I’ll bring this in from the sideboard against certain decks, or maybe even as a win condition in a super grindy matchup, but I’m not putting this in my main decks and I’m not drafting it highly.
Gilded Sentinel – 4 mana for a 3/3 with no relevant abilities or creature types. I don’t see why you would play this card ever.
Hierophant’s Chalice – In a deck that wants ramp cards, this is going to be what you put in your deck when you don’t draft Drover of the Mighty, Blossom Dryad, or New Horizons. You’d prefer to play those cards, but you’ll play this if you have to. Don’t draft this early, get it late.
Pillar of Origins – This isn’t a pure mana rock, since you can only cast creatures spells of the chosen type with it. I’d want to have at least 8 to 10 creatures of the same type before playing this card. In decks with enough creatures, this is going to be one of the better cards in your deck.
Pirate’s Cutlass – 3 mana (and then 2 to equip) to give +2/+1 isn’t great, but you might want a card like this to put on your flying Blue pirates. I’ll definitely look to include one of these cards in my deck if I have the Deadeye Quartermaster. I’ll probably want to play at least 6 pirates in my deck to play this card, though it’s also fine with some of the unblockable creatures.
Prying Blade – This is very overpriced for its stats, so I’m going to want to make sure I’m able to trigger the ability on this card. The additional 1 power will not help your Vampires, Merfolk, or Pirates rumble with Dinosaurs, and you don’t need the extra power if you’re running Dinosaurs. I’d consider playing this card in a grindy matchup when I have cheap creatures with evasion, such as Siren Lookout, Storm Fleet Aerialist, or River Sneak.
Sentinel Totem – Constructed card, pass.
Sleek Schooner – Crew 1 is awfully cheap, but the stats aren’t otherwise impressive for this card. I’ll put it in any of my non-Dinosaur decks, but there’s a good chance it’s going to trade off for mana parity.
Field of Ruin – You don’t really want to play this card unless it’s Sealed and you have no way to beat your opponent’s rare legendary lands.
Unclaimed Territory – I’m a big fan of this card for the Naya Dinosaurs and Grixis Pirates decks. It’s not really necessary for the Vampire and Merfolk decks, since they’re usually going to be two colors anyways (just like you don’t want to pick a rare dual land highly even though it is in your colors – it only marginally increases the consistency of your mana base).
Unknown Shores – I’ve never been a fan of this card in any format. I’ll play it if I have to, but I’m going to do my best to avoid putting it in my deck. That said, the format might be slow enough for you to include this in a Grixis Pirates deck.