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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Sep 21 2017 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  It's the prerelease this weekend so it means it's time for the Ixalan Sealed Set Review.  Today I'm going to be going over all the cards in Ixalan and the mechanics it brings to the table.  I can't wait to play with the cards and see what they do and how the four "factions" play out in Limited.  For reference there are four major tribes in Ixalan: Pirates, Dinosaurs, Merfolk, and Vampires.  Normally sets like these are split evenly within the colors but here we have UG, WB, UBR, and WRG.  Each color shows up twice within all four tribes but two have 2 colors and 2 have 3 colors.  It's a concept that hasn't been done in awhile so we'll see how it all plays out.  But first let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - Ixalan Sealed Set Review
  • 9/28 - Ixalan Prerelease Pool #1, Ixalan Prerelease Pool #2, Ixalan Sealed League #1, Ixalan Sealed League #2
  • 10/5 - Ixalan Draft League #1, Ixalan Sealed League #1 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos
  • 10/12 - Ixalan Draft League #2, Ixalan Sealed League #1 video, Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos

We're diving headfirst into Ixalan and I couldn't be happier to finally leave the plane of Amonkhet.  I did a lot of losing there and hopefully it stays on that plane.  Let's start off on a good note and take a look at Ixalan.

Ixalan Card Rankings

  • A - Bomb
  • B - Premium removal, good mythic/rare/uncommon
  • C - Okay mythic/rare/uncommon, most commons
  • D - Bad mythics/rares/commons, sideboard cards
  • F - Unplayable cards

This scale is meant to give a card a letter grade based upon what you would expect an A/B/C/D/F card to look and play like.  A's are cards that win the game on the spot, that produce an immediate impact and must be dealt with quickly otherwise they will win the game for you.  Cards such as (Gideon, Ally of Zenidkar) and Pack Rat are examples of A's.  B's are cards that are quite strong but do not necessarily win the game outright.  They help you win the game or are powerful pieces of removal.  Fatal Push and Winding Constrictor are examples of B's.  C's are filler cards that go in most Limited decks, or higher rarity cards that don't have a high impact on the game.  Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is an example of a C.  D's are either bad cards that aren't unplayable, or sideboard cards that have narrow effects but are strong in the right situation.  They fact that they are so dependent on the right situation means they are less reliable than other cards you can play.  F's are unplayable cards that make your deck worse for having them in your deck.  Fog is a classic example of an F.

The purpose of this scale is to see how good a card is on its own, not how good it is with or against other cards because you won't always have those cards to go with it.  Furthermore, I do have to admit some bias towards this scale.  Generally speaking I like decks that go a bit longer in sealed deck and since longer games tend to happen, I view the cards towards that lens.  Aggressive cards will have a lower grade and grindier/lategame cards will have a better grade.  That isn't to say that pools/cards that are aggressive are bad, it's to say that I feel slower decks have more of an advantage due to how powerful their spells can be.  Of course a fast format is going to dictate those viewpoints change, but that won't be clear until the games play out.  If that happens then rankings will change and cards will get better/worse.  Until then let's try and keep an open mind and explore the world of Ixalan.

Ixalan Mechanics

Enrage

Enrage - Whenever this creature is dealt damage, do X.

Enrage shows up on Dinosaur cards and happens whenever that Dinosaur takes damage.  All of the triggers are beneficial effects: gain 2 life, draw a card, get a +1/+1 counters, etc., so you don't mind if your creatures takes some amount of damage.  In fact, you want to find ways to get your creatures to take damage, either through incidental spells (like Rile), or a fight effect (Savage Stomp comes to mind).  Most of the creatures with Enrage are playable, so you don't have to go out of your way to play a creature with it.  It's pure upside on a creature, so don't go out of your way to play them if you don't want to play the creature.

Explore

Explore - Reveal the top cards of your library.  Put that card into your hand if it's a land.  Otherwise, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature, then put the card back or put it into your graveyard.

Explore is a mechanic that allows you to reveal the top card of your library for a bonus.  You either get to draw an additional card if it's a land, or you put a +1/+1 counter if it isn't and then have the option to put the card you reveal into the graveyard.  Because you're able to give your creature +1/+1 the initial body is going to be smaller than you'd want, but all these creatures have upside attached to them.  There are some that are worse than others so you have to be picky here unlike the dinosaurs which all have good stats for their cost.  Explore creatures seem weak, but the upside is there to make you play them and value off them no matter what.

Raid

Raid - If you attacked with a creature this turn, do X.

Raid is a trigger that happens after you've attacked with a creature that turn.  In Khans of Tarkir, Raid was a mechanic that was an ETB on creatures and it only triggered once but in Ixalan you have mostly continuous Raid triggers that happen at your end step.  These will only trigger if you attacked with a creature that turn, and it doesn't matter if the card was in play when you attacked; it just needs to be in play before the raid trigger on the card goes off.  Raid gives you a bonus for attacking, but you need to be clear about when you'd like to go to combat and do it every turn so you don't give up the fact that you have a raid card.  Your opponent can't stop it, but if they have a hint that you'd like to attack, they might use their removal or a trick preemptively so you have to think again about your attack.  Raid is upside but not every raid card is worth playing.  

Ixalan Sealed Set Review

Conclusion

The set looks really sweet and I love how the mechanics really bring to life the tribes of Ixalan.  I personally think Merfolk are the weakest in Ixalan, but it has access to green Dinosaurs which will make those decks a bit better than they normally would be.  Even with the high casting cost I like the Dinosaur tribe and think if you're able to get to the late game you should be able to dominate with your expensive threats.  The Pirates and Vampire are the two tribes that are going to get under you and beat you before you can play big creature after big creature.  I like Pirates a bit better than Vampires since I find the lifegain theme to be a bit suspect, but time will tell.  What do you think?  What's the best tribe in Ixalan?

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  Disagree with a rating or how I analyze the cards?  Let me know and we'll have a civil conversation about it.  I'm always looking to improve and see other viewpoints on cards/gameplay.  I'll be back next week with a lot of Ixalan so be on the lookout for that.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I post all the videos I make for this column early, plus additional content solely for the channel.  

Thanks for reading/watching!