Rivals of Ixalan Hot Takes: 01/01/2017

Hi there and welcome to a new series of updates that I’m going to be continuing throughout #MTGRIX spoiler season where I document my immediate impressions of the cards spoiled. So there is the caveat that this is very much a first look at these cards rather than detailed analysis and conditions around them could well change in the future. I’m also going to talk about Standard unless otherwise stated.

The energy mechanic is dominating Standard right now and is establishing a high bar when discussing a card’s playability, but could easily change thanks to a key printing or even a ban, so I’m going to keep these comments fairly general where appropriate.

Without wasting any more time, let’s get into the spoilers!

Journey to Eternity // Atzal, Cave of Eternity

journey_to_eternity_atzal_cave_of_eternity_rivals_of_ixalan

Ixalan’s take on double-faced cards is back, and between this and Storm the Vault it’s clear that we can expect the cycle to be a little loose, with the B/G offering coming in the shape of an Aura. This card screams combo and has some diverse applications, from grindy Aristocrat-style decks to those more focused on reanimating some busted creatures. I’m leaning towards the former, as you’re ideally going to be wanting to transform this as early as possible in order to minimise the risk of interaction. One card choice I feel could potentially make it with Journey is Thrashing Brontodon.

Thrashing-Brontodon-Rivals-of-Ixalan

You can enchant Brontodon with Journey and sacrifice it targeting the aura, and the 3/4 offers a decent rate whilst hitting some of the more popular cards in Standard like Cast Out, Search for Azcanta and God-Pharaoh’s Gift.

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca and Silvergill Adept

Kumera-Tyrant-of-Orazca-Rivals-of-IxalanSilvergill+Adept+RIX

I’m going to talk about these together, as it’s likely that if Merfolk is playable then both will feature. The archetype jumps out to me as having a huge amount of card velocity between Kumena, Silvergill and Merfolk Branchwalker, and I’m certainly interested in an aggro deck that can come out of the gates early and still be a force in drawn out board states. Kumena definitely lends himself to this with a varied suite of abilities that can allow you to go wide or use himself and a large unblockable threat to end the game. He’s definitely an upgrade from Vineshaper Mystic, but the question is which 3-drops you go for in what quantity. Those numbers are going to be quite meta-dependent, but I’m excited by the flexibility available when it comes to deckbuilding.

Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Angrath-the-Flame-Chained-Rivals-of-Ixalan

 

Angrath looks like another sweet planeswalker design that will suffer as long as Glorybringer is legal, but he does go up to 5 if immediately upcycled so I think he does have some merit. It’s a damn shame that you can’t keep opposing dragons locked down by exerting them.

He’s pretty reminiscent of Liliana Vess, but exchanges some power in control matchups for some utility in creature mirrors, so he’s perhaps more likely to see play as a random maindeck 1-of. Otherwise he’s one of the more novel Specter designs I’ve seen, and as a wincon he’s actually pretty consistent. The glaring problem is that he offers very little when you’re behind, and doesn’t actually add anything permanent to a board state, so I’m not bullish on Angrath.

Check back soon for more spoiler discussion!

@mellifluoresce on Twitter

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