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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Sep 27 2017 12:00pm
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I love this game. I love writing about it. Compiling lists about it. Evaluating it. Sometimes, I even play it. I'm an Accidental Player.

> summary <

 Lovely plumage! They're here, finally! Ixalan introduced (or actually, re-introduced) a creature type that a lot of players have been clamored for since years now: Dinosaur. And yes, they're actually bird-like, hence the feathers. They inhabit a plane that takes direct inspiration from Mesoamerican and South American history, and pre-Columbian folklore in general (which is curiously similar to what Warhammer Fantasy Battles did with its Lizardmen); and since we find ourselves in what amounts to circa 17th Century Caribbean and Amazonia, it feels natural for Ixalan to also feature Pirates, a tribe that's long been in need of a reboot. And of course, there's conquistadors too, which for some reason in this specific setting are played by Vampires; well, the real conquistadors were ruthless and bloodthirsty, so it might be fitting.

 Ixalan is the final block before the New New World Order kicks in (meaning it will have a follow-up small set next January, the last one ever – or at least until they'll decide to revert back to the old model), and it has a strong tribal theme, with Merfolk as the fourth tribe, and the same kind of asymmetrical distribution across the color wheel that we've seen for Commander 2017. The creature presence is subdivided into a smaller than usual number of types: only 29. For comparison, Kaladesh affected 47 creature types, Aether Revolt 41, Amonkhet 38 and Hour of Devastation 37.

 Mechanically, a lot of things are borrowed from previous blocks, like a new kind of transformer cards (none of which involves creatures), ships as vehicles (gone are the awkward times of Pirate Ship!), and pirate raids using the namesake mechanic from Tarkir.

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are listed alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 274 (+15 duplicated basic lands but including 10 cards only found in the planeswalker decks)
  • New cards: 245
  • New creatures: 145
  • Reprinted cards: 29
  • Reprinted creatures: 2 (Air Elemental, Rummaging Goblin)
  • Creature types affected: 29
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+43), Pirate (+39), Dinosaur (+38), Merfolk (+21), Vampire (+20), Shaman (+10), Cleric (+9), Soldier (+9), Wizard (+9), Knight (+8), Orc (+6), Scout (+6), Warrior (+6)

Archer: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 72, online: 67

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A pretty solid Archer here. It's a cheaper Giant Spider with only 1 power, but fight is a powerful mechanic for green creatures. Granted, a 1-powered dude doesn't kill much of consequence, but is still able to dispatch some strategic annoyance, and his butt makes him likely to survive the feat. Plus, with the amount of +1/+1 counter-based mechanics flooding the game lately, entering the battlefield in a larger capacity is not out of the question, him being Human and all.


Avatar: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 68, online: 63

 Related Tribes: Dinosaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Avatar tribe already introduces us to the Dinosaur tribe, although these are not really Dinosaurs, which are very mundane beings, as non-mystical as they get. Instead, these are the earthly forms taken by the Sun deity of Ixalan, and which happens to look like Dinosaurs. They seem to still care a lot about Dinosaurs, though, which are sacred beasts for the citizens of the Sun Empire (i.e. the Aztec-inspired dudes who battles against pirates and conquistadores).

 Anyway, these four fatties make up one third of the Dinosaur's rare/mythic quota (two thirds of the mythics), represent each of their three colors, and appropriately rank among the most larger-than-life specimens the tribe has to offer. The two rares are playable, but not memorable. Burning Sun's Avatar doesn't pass the Inferno Titan test and is even harder to cast. And while Verdant Sun's Avatar's ability is an improvement on both Orchard Warden's (it's not tribe-specific) and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice's (it doesn't need to wait for the next creature to drop in order to give you some life), it's still a curve-topper whose only function is lifegaining, and historically this kind of creatures have never amounted to much.

 Things get more interesting and tribal-related with Wakening Sun's Avatar, which provides a powerful one-sided wrath effect. It's a 8-mana hardcast-only deal, though, which puts it in the Reiver Demon/Hypnox territory, but I can see it played in Standard if Naya Dinosaurs ramp/aggro becomes a thing. And then there's there legendary three-colored Gishath, Sun's Avatar, which is over-the-top and seems designed specifically for Commander, not least because its ability looks pretty similar to The Ur-Dragon's from Commander 2017. Trample and haste make sure it won't have a hard time to connect and will do it right away, and if it's not dealt with, the result can turn into a win-more situation quickly enough. It doesn't seem exceedingly playable in regular formats, maybe it'll lead to some kind of Dinosaur reanimator?


Bat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 17

 Related Tribes: Imp

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is one of the Keepers, probably the worst of the bunch. But it's still a 1-drop flyer, I guess.


Beast: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 344, online: 339

 Related Tribes: Horror

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Explore is the new mechanic that's found on Pirates, but also Scouts, of course, plus a few other fella (it's a sort of enhanced Goblin Guide trigger). This right here is great flavor: the explorer ventures into the unknown, where the chupacabra is lurking, with dire consequences. Although, it's not exactly clear why your explorer would cause an enemy to suffer the consequences of his or her actions. But it's already overcosted as it is, and if you had to wait for an opponent to play an explore card, it would be utter garbage. Still, it's cool that they found room for other monsters of the Latin American folklore, given that Dinosaurs cast such a large shadow on the whole set.


Cleric: +9

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 350, online: 325

 Related Tribes: Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Clerics on Ixalan take the form of either the clergy accompanying the conquistadors or the priesthood from the Sun Empire. In the former case, they're going to be Vampires, in their new monowhite configuration and mostly caring about other Vampires. The most remarkable of these "Vampires matter" cards has to be Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle, because free 1/1 lifelinkers at each attack is amazing board development, and he's reasonably costed for a 2/2 with a strong ability that doesn't require activation. Bishop of the Bloodstained is more midrange and not exactly Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but his finishing blow can still be relevant. Same cost concerns for Bishop of Rebirth, but also the same kind of caveat about dismissing an ability that has the potential of repeatedly bringing back stuff from the graveyard (including Mavren Fein. Or, you know, Vampire Nighthawk). Every rule text that says "return to the battlefield" is always worth attention.

 The non-Vampire breed of Clerics also cares for a different tribe altogether (so all this doesn't really spell good things for the Cleric tribe proper). And that's none other than Ixalan's true poster boys, the Dinosaurs. Priest of the Wakening Sun is an early drop that gives you 2 life per turn while you wait to ramp into your expensive Dinosaur, and can double as a Dinosaur fetcher later. None of these functions is exactly a must-have, but they're also useful to some extent. Kinjalli's Caller is probably more so, however. For the same cheap cost, he (she? I can't tell) actually helps with that ramping, and blocks early attackers in the meantime. If Dinosaur tribal requires a little helper, it's going to be him/her. And being a common, it's going to be popular in Limited, where the Naya Dinosaurs archetype will certainly see play.


Dinosaur: +38

   

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 52, online: 51

 Related Tribes: Avatar

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Here we are, Ixalan's main course! (Honestly, pirates are cool and all, but the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie was terrible. WotC has a knack for coming up with stuff that the pop culture zeitgeist at large is on the verge of rejecting, like when they released Theros after Hollywood had already sunk Greek myths with the Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson aborted series). (Whereas the Jurassic Park franchise is still going strong).

 It's not all days that a new tribe enters the field immediately achieving Greater Tribe status (i.e. getting more than 50 members at once). And when I say "not all days", I mean it probably never happened before. The Dinosaur type had existed in the background for 12 years between 1995 (when Ice Age printed Pygmy Allosaurus) and 2007 (when the Grand Creature Type Update turned Pygmy Allosaurus into a Lizard). It was never really supported, and at times it seemed like WotC didn't want Dinosaurs to be referenced directly in the game at all. This has changed now, with all the fury of a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex: 38 freshly printed Dinosaurs, of which 9 rares and 3 mythic rares, plus another 14 retconned into existence, including the historically wronged Pygmy Allosaurus which at last gets its compensation (it's still bad, but at least now it can proudly say it's a bad dinosaur).

 So, how do these bird ancestors play as a tribal deck, either in Tribal Wars or Standard or elsewhere? Well, they're midrange for sure. There's a couple of faster Dinosaurs, but they don't seem enough to sustain a Dinosaur deck with a low curve. Maybe some of them could find home in other decks that don't care about Dinosaurs, though. Honestly, the tribal interactions between Dinosaurs is not even that substantial. There's a minor lord in Thundering Spineback, and those two Avatars, but that's more or less the full extent of their caring about being around their tribemates. With the major exception of Regisaur Alpha, which is one of the best Ixalan Dinosaurs and the tribe's answer to Broodmate Dragon in that it's two creatures, and sure, they don't fly, but one of them has haste and trample. And the other tone gives haste to any other member of the tribe, which could be devastating when you consider it could be follow up by an absolute terror like Carnage Tyrant. You can't counter it. You can't target it. You can't chump-block it. You can only kill it via board sweep or forced sacrifice. Carnage Tyrant is one of the scariest green beaters out there and at 6 mana, it might just pass the Titan test.

 The tribe's main mechanic, enrage, stems all the way back from Fungusaur, which has now been retconned as Magic's very first Dinosaur. Remember how Fungusaur would grow larger when damaged? Its descendants use the same trick with different outcomes, most notably Ripjaw Raptor's card-drawing (which, paired with a good body, makes it the most effective rage-prone dude) and Ranging Raptors's ramping. It goes without saying that enrage is easy to abuse via pinging or similar methods.

 Apparently, Dinosaurs aren't all about brute force and savagery, though, so we get two intriguing disruptors: Kinjalli's Sunwing, who's doing its best Thalia, Heretic Cathar's impression, and Rampaging Ferocidon, who looks perfect in a Red Deck Wins kind of build, what with its lifegain-hosing and menace on a decent-sized body. Another utility Dinosaur is Deathgorge Scavenger: not exactly Scavenging Ooze, but similar in function.

 Sun-Blessed Mount is a curious Dinosaur that represents their use as steeds for the knights of the Sun Empire, being able to fetch its own rider like the faithful mount that it is. And its rider happens to be a Dinosaur-themed planeswalker!

 Sun-Blessed Mount is actually an exclusive card only found in Huatli's planeswalker deck; however, the set contains a good number of noncreature "Dinosaurs matter" cards. The majestic reptiles come with their own fight-based removal, their own combat trick/alpha strike enabler, and most importantly their own version of Ancient Stirrings, which is what's bound to hold a Dinosaur tribal deck together.

  

 And Huatli herself gets a second, more versatile card that's an amazing Dinosaur token generator.

 A little statistics corner. The tribe's color breakdown sees them being evenly distributed across their three colors: of the XLN Dinosaurs, 15 are white (of which 11 monowhite), 14 are red (of which 9 monored), 16 are green (of which 12 monogreen), and 6 are multicolored (of which 2 Boros, 2 Gruul, 1 Selesnya, 1 Naya). The older repurposed creatures add 6 monored, 7 monogreen, and 1 monoblack now-Dinosaurs. So overall green takes the lead with 23 members, being the color that feels more immediately connected with the dinosaur concept.

 Anyway, poor Lizards! They were just ascended to Greater Tribe status and now they've been dragged back below the 50-member threshold, due to 12 of them being changed to Dinosaurs. Of these, Deathmist Raptor is certainly the most notable. Unfortunately not available online is the original Dinosaur itself, Ice Age's Pygmy Allosaurus (Fungusaur was from Alpha, but it always had "Fungusaur" as its type – in fact, there's not a single printed edition of Fungusaur showing its previous "Fungus Lizard" status, given that its latest print is from 8th Edition, when "Fungusaur" was still its own creature type). And by the way, if Allosaurus Rider is just a dinosaur-riding Elf (which is fine by me, otherwise most Knights should get the Horse type), then by the same logic Goblin Dirigible and Goblin War Wagon should be Goblins, not a Construct and a Juggernaut.

 


Druid: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 156, online: 152

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Dinosaurs, dinosaurs everywhere! Even the resident mana dork Druid, Drover of the Mighty, gets better when paired with Dinosaurs, giving him additional purpose. The other one, Ixalli's Diviner, is not directly linked to Dinosaurs (except in flavor: Ixalli is one of the three aspects of the sun god that use dinosaurs as avatars), but it's a semi-decent early blocker that helps developing your mana.


Dryad: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 33, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Jungle Dryads look fiercer, and Old-Growth Dryads is certainly a menacing 1-drop, being a 3/3 with just a Path to Exile deal as a downside. It might see play.


Elemental: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 376, online: 369

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Not good news for Elementals: they only get another forgettable Keeper (as far as "creatures with 8-mana activations" go, I liked ROE's Invoker cycle better – by the way, that Elf Shaman's totally riding a dinosaur), plus the member of an "explore matters" deck that will never actually exist. 


Fish: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 25

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This high-end Fish seems lethal, but is actually increasingly less lethal at each subsequent attack. Odd. Plus, having to count the total cards each time must be a pain in paper Magic.


Goblin: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 303, online: 289

 Related Tribes: Pirate

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: All these Goblins are a bit underwhelming due to their designs. Rigging Runner is not actually a 1-drop if you want to exploit its ability. Wily Goblin gives you one mana for later use, but costs you double red to begin with. At least Lighting-Rig Crew is an honest take on Lobber Crew. Could be good in Limited.


Golem: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 98

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: This is the only artifact creature in the set. They could have easily replaced it with a blank card, though.


Horror: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 187, online: 186

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I feel like Horror was the correct tribe for this thing. Why did it have to be a Beast, too? They're increasingly using Horror as an attribute, it seems, like a pejorative of the usual state of something.


Hound: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 65, online: 62

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Can a guard dog really be called a "keeper"? Anyway, this is a good member of the Keepers cycle, the activation generates a relevant effect and first strike gives it a function early on and helps it survive a bit, although probably not until you'll get to freaking 8 mana.


Human: +43

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2007, online: 1819

 Related Tribes: Archer, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Pirate, Scout, Shaman, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: We've come to this: there's now more than 2000 (two thousand) Humans in the game. Hooray?


Imp: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 34, online: 32

 Related Tribes: Bat

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Which element or characteristic of this Bat makes it an Imp? Is it the fact that it "withers fruit and flesh alike"? Is than an impish thing to do? Is it being impish to fruit?


Insect: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 154, online: 150

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Oh well, deathtouch (or the potential thereof) on a 1-drop dude is always welcome, I guess. It could have been worse.


Knight: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 210, online: 193

 Related Tribes: Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Let's see... tap three Vampires... create a Vampire... as long as you control a Dinosaur... if you control a Dinosaur... Man, is every tribe filled with creatures that only care about Dinosaurs and Vampires (and to a lesser extent Pirates)? That's beyond being a tribal set, that's obsession!

 At least Knights have two new members that do NOT care about Dinosaurs and Vampires (they're still Vampires, though). Bloodcrazed Paladin reads as more awesome than he actually is; sure, he could turn out as a surprise huge (vanilla) beater for 2 mana, but let's be honest here, most of the times he'll be a Grizzly Bears, if he's lucky. On the other hand, Vona, Butcher of Magan is legit strong, mostly in virtue of being a vigilant lifelinker cast in the same mold as Blood Baron of Vizkopa, although being also able to destroy stuff once in a while certainly boosts his street cred.


Merfolk: +21

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 179, online: 176

 Related Tribes: Scout, Shaman, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Merfolk had started to branch into green already back with Apocalypse's Gaea's Skyfolk (which was a flying Merfolk, no less. Not exactly what you would expect adding green entailed). But now Ixalan crosses another frontier: monogreen Merfolk! I'm not even sure why they exist. What's next, monoblue Elves?

 Anyway, Merfolk is one of the four major tribes on Ixalan, although it's arguably the least major. They traffic in +1/+1 counters, most notably with Deeproot Champion, which is a Thalia's Lieutenant triggered by noncreature spells, but looks like it's both in the wrong color and in the wrong tribe to be able to find room in any "noncreatures matter" deck. Shapers of Nature takes a page directly from the Simic playbook of cards like Zameck Guildmage, while more tribe-related is Vineshaper Mystic, which makes some sense in a Merfolk deck, but it's going to be outclassed by faster and better Merfolk. Herald of Secret Streams put a bow on all those +1/+1 counters by making their owners unblockable, but it's a bit too much on the expensive side to be really desirable.

 The new bona fide Merfolk Lord is Kopala, Warden of Waves, who shares cost and body with the best of 'em. Unlike those, however, her ability is not accompanied by a team boost. And it's defensive, certainly annoying for the opponent, while at the same time it doesn't guarantee survivability of your key players. Plus she's legendary, so you can't easily play a full set of her in Legacy or Modern Fish.dek. I can see her as a 1-of sideboard card against control, maybe.

 The other legend, as well as the tribe's new mythic, is Tishana, Voice of Thunder, which is a complementary of Prime Speaker Zegana. I feel like Zegana is easier to set up, though: you just need one big creature. With Tishana, you need a large number of separate creatures. Sure, in a Merfolk deck specifically, you're bound to have several small-ish creatures rather than any big one. But in general, one's more likely to control, say, a single 4/4 than four 1/1s. It's also baffling that Tishana has a higher casting cost. Yeah, she grants a limitless hand, and her stats can grow larger according to your hand size, while Zegana's are fixed once her ability has triggered. But all this seems more useful in Commander, where at the very least Tishana and Zegana can lead or follow the same genre of Simic creature shenanigans deck, like Momir Vig, Simic Visionary.

 Honorable mentions for a couple of fishy extravaganzas, namely Waker of the Wilds, who does some old school Animate Land trick that doesn't really feel right for Merfolk, and the Jace planeswalker deck exclusive Jace's Sentinel, which is actually not bad if there's a Jace around, as an unblockable 2/3 for 2.

 I feel like, if there's something here that could impact the already highly efficient Merfolk builds across the formats, we could find it only among the earliest drops available, either providing the most bang for their buck, like Kumena's Speaker, or a form of cheap evasion like River Sneak and Shaper Apprentice, or card advantage potential like Merfolk Branchwalker. Which is a Merfolk that lives on treetops. I don't even wanna know.

   


Orc: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 46

 Related Tribes: Pirate, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Orc on Ixalan is entirely a subset of Pirate. And, what do you know, they care for other Pirates, and not in the least for other Orcs. The rare, Ruin Raider, is the most attractive (in a metaphorical sense), because it uses the raid mechanic to perform a nice Dark Confidant scheme, and every time a card is compared to Dark Confidant, people is going to take notice. Maybe it should cost one fewer mana to truly be excellent; then again, you can easily cast it on turn 3, attack with your turn-2 drop, and instantly profit.

 There's also one mythic Orc (I mean, Orc Pirate), Dire Fleet Ravager, but I don't feel him at all, which I'm sure is only going to enrage him more. Like, sure, menace on a 4/4 is great to have, but we're talking 5 CMC here. And I'll never tire of pointing out that deathtouch is wasted on something that already has a pretty good chance to kill whatever blocks it or is blocked by it. And then we get to the allegedly mythic-worthy part of lowering everyone's life total. That's meh to me. Sure, you're likely the one who's running an aggro deck that features a 4/4 menacer (in the midrange). Still, I don't see how this is a serious strategy. Well, maybe it's not. It's an Orc Pirate, after all. Just look at his name: is he a ravager that belongs to the Dire Fleet, or is he the one who ravages the Dire Fleet? He doesn't even know, he's just angry!


Pirate: +39

   

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 59, online: 49

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human, Orc, Siren, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Before Ixalan, Pirate was a minor type, almost entirely represented by blue creatures from Portal: Second Age (with striking mechanics like "can't attack unless the defending player controls an Island") and some more blue creatures from Mercadian Masques (most of which had the same exact mechanic, an ETB trigger that forces the opponent to pay mana or sacrifice a permanent). Aether Revolt foreshadowed Ixalan by including two new Pirates, most notably Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. Now the tribe gets an unprecedented boost and a couple of flavorful abilities, i.e. raid and a nameless mechanic that, given certain conditions (ETB trigger, death trigger, attacking), creates Treasure tokens that you can then sacrifice for mana of any color.

 Being Ixalan's other centerpiece tribe along with Dinosaur, Pirate gets the very same treatment: 3 mythics, 9 rares and an overall bonanza of new additions to find the equal of which one has to go all the way back to Battle for Zendikar's Eldrazi vs. Ally face-off, or even further back to Kamigawa's Spirit invasion (plus of course Human in most sets, but that's never a boost to them, it's just the state of things).

 Unlike Dinosaur, Pirate is a class, so it encompasses several other tribes: it's mostly Human, but Orc and Siren get at least one good Pirate as well. It also essentially replaces Rogue (with the only exception of a reprinted Rummaging Goblin) as the resident collection of unsavory types.

 Let's have a look at the highlights, then. The legendary mythic, Admiral Beckett Brass, is a three-colored Pirate Lord with a secondary ability that also requires Pirates. It's not bad or anything, as stealing stuff permanently is indeed a powerful effect (and very pirate-like), but three colors aren't easy to handle, and setting up three Pirates connecting at the same time even less so.

 Definitely more appealing is the other legend, Captain Lannery Storm, a hasty 3-drop that snatches you some piece of Treasure at each attack (shouldn't it happen after the attack, though? Oh well), and then is temporarily boosted when you crack it. It's roughly the same kind of deal Tireless Tracker offers, and we know how much that one's being played, so we could be looking at a star player in the making.

 Also great, but possibly going to have a harder time finding a home: Hostage Taker, which combines removal-on-legs with card advantage through stealing, this time involving a less byzantine setup: you'll just have to pay the converted mana cost of whatever you've exiled.

 Compared to such rares, the other two mythics feel underwhelming. We've already seen how Dire Fleet Ravager's don't exactly look like a must-play, what with the symmetrical loss of life making only sense in dedicated aggro builds. And Rowdy Crew is even more perplexing. I guess its mythic status derives from the "draw three cards" bit. You know, like Ancestral Recall. Except Ancestral Recall didn't follow that up with "then discard two cards at random". I don't say it can't be a good bargain on occasion, but red cards that feature the word "random" inevitably belong to casual play at best. And what are the odds you'll even end up discarding two cards bearing the same type, for that less than exciting reward? This is kind of a whatever design.

 Similarly, Angrath's Marauders brings back red's established doubling damage routine. And I know, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight was a dual-colored mythic, but c'mon, do we even bother to compare the two texts? Granted, the doubling effect alone results in a savage beating, but if you have to pay 7 mana for it, getting little else in the process, you're better off just casting more stuff that deals regular damage instead. As far as mana-intensive cards go, I like Captivating Crew better. It gives you the chance to cast Act of Treason again and again. That's something. Coupled with a free sacrifice outlet, it becomes repeatable removal with lots of added value.

 Finally, we have to mention again Ruin Raider, aka Pirate Dark Confidant, but also Deadeye Quartermaster, which might won't see much play due to its cost, but it's nice to have a vehicle (cum equipment) fetcher in the game. One mana less and it would be on par with Trinket Mage, or at least Treasure Mage.

 Ultimately, I wonder if Pirate is another case where we shouldn't lose track of fast commons and uncommons that will surely populate Limited, but could even go beyond that. I'm thinking for instance of these two bad boys and girls, one providing early evasion and disruption, the other sheer firepower to the cost of boosting the opponent's mana later on (and not necessarily when it'll still be relevant):

 

 An uncommon 4-3 beater on turn 2 seems like it should spell a fast & furious Limited environment at least.


Scout: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 122, online: 115

 Related Tribes: Human, Merfolk, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Of course Scouts explore, but none of these seems to be very successful at it. The rare one feels somehow worse than most of the others. I also want to take this opportunity to say that explore would have been way more enticing if it was Coiling Oracle's ability. Which is a common. Just saying.


Shaman: +10

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 343, online: 337

 Related Tribes: Human, Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Most Ixalan Shamans are Merfolk, and those are mostly designed for Merfolk tribal, using "Merfolk matter" mechanics. Not the rare ones, though, which are comprised of the slightly underwhelming but still powerful mythic card-drawing engine Tishana, the noncreature lover Deeproot Champion, and the weird land-animator Waker of the Wilds, all of which we already discussed

 A few Shamans serve the Sun Empire, though. Among these, there's another good Dinosaur helper in Otepec Huntmaster. Giving haste to the big boys, on top of ramping them, is hardly irrelevant. Of course, we're talking of a very specific application. Ixalli's Keeper is maybe the best member of the Keeper cycle, because it culminates in an Overrun, and that's something you definitely want to have access to in late game. Of course, the opponent will know and prepare for it. Probably by killing your Keeper before you get there. Last but not least, Tilonalli's Skinshifter is a very unusual red Shaman with the ability of a blue Shapeshifter. It's clear it wants to attack along a Dinosaur. And thanks to haste, which no blue Shapeshifter could ever aspire to have, it might surprise your opponent doubling down on some threat out of nowhere. It's a nasty little fella that looks fun to play with. Just make sure it won't get that one damage that'll just kill it when it'll revert to its puny self at the end of turn. Yeah, such grim fate might not be easy to avoid.


Siren: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 12

 Related Tribes: Pirate, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: After a more ambiguous start with M10's Alluring Siren, Theros block had correctly established Sirens as the bird-like, or harpy-like, sea demons of Greek mythology, rather than mermaids (unfortunately some languages, including Italian, don't differentiate between the two types of mythic creatures). Now Ixalan brings them back in the same form, except... wait for it... they're Pirates! Everybody's a Pirate! Except the Dinosaurs, of course.

 That some of them would befriend the sailors they were supposed to lure to their doom makes some sense (does it?), and the rare Dreamcaller Siren even asks for a Pirate companion in order to tap two permanents while descending upon the battlefield in a flash. The 1-drop uncommon Siren Stormtamer might be the more likely to see play, though. Compared to Cursecatcher, Judge's Familiar and Mausoleum Wanderer, she only counters what targets you and your stuff. But one, she does counter abilities too; and two, hey, it's an actual Counterspell (or better, either a Negate or a Stifle), not a Force Spike!


Soldier: +9

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 590, online: 530

 Related Tribes: Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Lot of unmentionable filler in the Soldier slots, a la straight up functional reprints of Grizzly Bears. And they're mostly Vampires, because they represent a more organized attack force. Some of them ask for your life and they don't deserve it. The unimaginatively named Legion Conquistador is a mix between Squadron Hawk and Llanowar Sentinel. Could be the only one worth a look.

 Then again the one non-Vampire Soldier, Tocatli Honor Guard, is also the most attention-grabbing, being Torpor Orb on a stick. Cost and body make him efficient enough, and it feels like Hatebears lists can't wait to at least put him in their sideboards.


Trilobite: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 1

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: A Trilobite is a prehistoric marine arthropod, sort of an ancient crab. And now it's also something Planeswalkers unleash upon each other, because, why not? And it's one of the Keepers (and even a decent one at that), because, sure, a trilobite that works as a keeper, nothing strange in that. Oh well, at least it's not a pirate.


Vampire: +20

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 184, online: 174

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Knight, Scout, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So, at the end of the day, which ones of these Vampire conquistadores are worth considering for your regular Vampire deck? Vona, Butcher of Magan is definitely the most powerful card of the bunch, and Bishop of Rebirth boasts an impressive graveyard interaction. But I'd go with Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle for his Vampire-fueled token generation, but also Sanctum Seeker, because that massive Drain Life adds up fast.


Warrior: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 602, online: 583

 Related Tribes: Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: A lot of the Ixalan tribes are entirely contained inside another. Case in point, all Ixalan Warriors are Merfolk. Mildly noteworthy are just River Sneak, although it's strictly for Merfolk decks; and Herald of Secret Streams, if you feel like building around +1/+1 counters, which is a more Warrior-friendly mechanic (cfr. Bramblewood Paragon).


Wizard: +9

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 621, online: 598

 Related Tribes: Human, Merfolk, Orc, Pirate, Siren

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Merfolk Wizards do some unoriginal bounce & tap numbers, and then there's the ineffable Dire Fleet Ravager, and Kopala, who's a Merfolk Lord. All in all, the best Wizard in the set might just be the counterspell on legs Siren Stormtamer. At least she does something Wizards are expected to do.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW
(click on them to go to their main tribe)

  

   

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THE KEEPERS
(click on them to go to their main tribe)

  

 

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS