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By: ricklongo, Rick Longo
Sep 28 2017 12:00pm
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Welcome to the best time of the year for draft aficionados such as myself - and by that I mean a new block has just arrived.

As far as settings go, Ixalan won me over immediately. Dinosaurs and pirates are both long overdue to make a big splash in Magic, and getting both at the same time, in an Aztec setting with vampire conquistadors to boot, seems like way too good to be true. It all fits together incredibly well, too; it's one of those things that may feel a bit weird at first, but look extremely obvious in hindsight.

The cards themselves, however... well, let's say I wasn't exactly thrilled about them. The set seems a tad under powered (which is to be expected after the state of Standard for the past year), and four seems like an extremely low number of tribes for a tribal set. I'm eager to be proven wrong, however - so let's get to it.

Some initial thoughts on the format, and especially on Green-White Dinosaurs as an archetype:

• I thought as much before the set's release, but it's obvious now that there's a lot of support in order to make players able to cast late-game haymakers. Drover of the Mighty is truly insane, and Kinjalli's Caller is pretty excellent as a turn-one play, especially since this set doesn't seem to have as many 3-power early drops as the last couple of blocks.

Belligerent Brontodon can be awesome, but that comes with a few caveats. For example, cards like Raptor Companion seem much more suited for the white-red dino archetype than green-white. I reckon I'll still play them if I get them most of the time, but this is important to keep in mind when you decide which cards to prioritize as you draft.

• Interestingly, powerless defensive bodies like a 0/5 can be actually preferable to something like a 1/4 a lot of the time, since enrage is a pretty powerful mechanic, and not dealing damage to attackers is sometimes key.

• Speaking of, fight cards are downright filthy with enrage creatures. This one should be obvious, but it doesn't hurt to remember.

And that's all I have for today. Thanks for reading/watching, and see you soon.

-Rick
@ricklongomtg on Twitter

5 Comments

A while ago, we were talking by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 09/29/2017 - 06:17
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A while ago, we were talking about the likelihood of a Brazilian setting, and I think this is as close as it'll get. I mean, it's mostly Mesoamerica, but there's Amazonian stuff in there too, and that's yours, no? And conquistadores were Portuguese, too. By the way, looks like part of your European ancestors were vampires. :) I take that as a political statement – although a pretty easy one, who would ever defend conquistadores? They made sure not to use actual Spanish and Portuguese names, though, which would have been a bit too disrespectful.

Haha, tell me about it. The by ricklongo at Mon, 10/02/2017 - 10:17
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Haha, tell me about it. The clothing and costumes are definitely nothing like the actual indigenous peoples of the Amazon (which is to be expected, since the main inspiration seems to be the Mayans and Aztecs), but I'll take it!

And yeah, I'm still pretty awestruck as to how perfectly everything fits together in the setting. Vampire conquistadores has to be a genius idea with a genius execution here.

And they're white, too. I by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:20
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And they're white, too. I always like when they disengage white from the idea of "good guys". White is lawful, not necessarily good. In fact, it can be pretty evil, they have inquisitors, jihad and stuff. Our world tells us organized power can be the ultimate evil.
They struggle more in depicting black as good. I guess Sorin is sort of a good guy? And Liliana was a good guy for a minute, I suppose. (Or was her joining the Gatewatch entirely self-serving?)
They've an easier life using red for chaotic good, and green can also easily comes off as neutral evil, or at least true neutral.

By the way, I saw the videos, by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:24
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By the way, I saw the videos, and boy, this Limited format doesn't look very dynamic, a lot of vanilla (or essentially vanilla) bodies piling up and staring at each other across the board until one side reaches critical mass. I hope the next drafts you record (please do not disappear until January!) will prove less stalling-prone.

I'm currently planning to by ricklongo at Mon, 10/02/2017 - 17:26
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I'm currently planning to record one featuring Vampires, as I found them to be an awesome tribe so far (and with a bunch of ways to overcome those stalled boards). I have been moving, so no drafts for the last few days, but I'll be back at it tonight.

About Sorin, here's something interesting: when he first showed up monoblack in Zendikar, he was definitely what I would call a 'good guy'... maybe more of an antihero, but still. It's when he got white added in that the story started to show him as this ruthless, pitiless, extremely cold character, even if his motives were 'good'. The one in which we get to flash back through Nahiri's story and what happened between her and Sorin... man, that was some heartbreaking stuff. Almost made me understand her unleashing a flying tentacled monstrosity on an unsuspecting plane as a means of vengeance.