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By: MindlessMarty, Filipe Rodrigues
Jan 15 2018 11:33am
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Welcome back to Ixalan! Last week the full spoiler of Rivals of Ixalan was finally revealed and if you like tribes such as Pirates, Vampires and Merfolk then you must be excited because these are adventurous times. After the dominance of mono-red and energy decks, this small set might just have brought some needed reinforcements for the tribal decks to arise.


In Ixalan Standard we already saw some potential for tribal decks such as RG Dinosaurs and Mono White Vampires but unfortunately, it always seemed these decks didn’t stand their ground with just Ixalan cards. However, we now have most wanted lords such as Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, Merfolk Mistbinder and Legion Lieutenant that combined with other powerful cards in the set such as Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Warkite Marauder might just have what it take to turn the tidal waves to better shores.


Let’s get talking about some ideas that might shake standard in Rivals of Ixalan. Please take note, that these are just guidelines as most decks will have to be hard-tuned in order to beat polished decks such as Ramunap Red or Temur Energy. (Manager's Note:  While this was prepared for publication, WotC announced some bans, Attune with Aether, Rogue Refiner, Ramunap Ruins and Rampaging Ferocidon were all banned, read about it here!) Some of these ideas are of course better than others, but some are just a stretch to try and show the potential of Rivals of Ixalan and what we can achieve with these new additions from the new set. Anyway, I hope this article gives you some deck ideas of your own so you can playtest and come to some solid conclusions. Let’s begin then.


This deck seems cute but from the new tribes, Merfolk is the one I feel is capable of rivaling temur energy decks due to Merfolk's synergy and intrinsic value. Merfolk Branchwalker, Silvergill Adept, and our new lord, (Kumena, Tyran of Orzaca) all have value when they enter the battlefield, similar to what energy decks already provide. The Green-Blue color combination also has two spells energy decks have a hard time dealing with: Blossoming Defense and Unsummon.


Blossoming Defense offers protection of course and is hard to predict thus giving you an edge against early removal such as Fatal Push, Abrade and Harnessed Lightning. How bad does Longtusk Cub become if you can Unsummon it? And of course you still have Bristling Hydra and Glorybringer or even a (The Scarab God) to deal with but this deck could also use Essence Scatter to tempo your opponent out and deal with those kinds of threat. Watertrap Weaver also seems a good way to deal with creatures especially when in combination with Kopala, Warden of Waves to protect it. Something I found lacking in the tribe was a good finisher but this color combination also makes it possible to use Nissa, Steward of Elements that you can use as a card draw engine to generate even more value from your draws and of course use its ultimate to finish the game.


There are also other honorable mentions such as Deeproot Elite (which cost 1 mana too much than it should in order to become amazing) and Jadelight Ranger (How much Explore do you want in a deck? I don’t predict you can go bigger than energy creatures and huge dinos so I don’t feel it will be that relevant despite being one of my favorite new merfolks in the new set) but I was actually more sold on common such as Watertrap Weaver or Jungleborn Pioneer even.


Against Control and decks with wrath effects such as Settle the Wreckage and Fumigate you could also use Negate and Spell Pierce to protect your creatures. I think Merfolk might hold their ground this standard but of course, this will have to be tuned to become real.

Mono White Vampire Monument
- 60 Cards Total
4 Angel of Invention
4 Skymarcher Aspirant
4 Duskborne Skymarcher
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Skyblade of the Legion
3 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle

4 Oketra's Monument
4 cards
3 Cast Out
3 Legion's Landing

3 Dusk/Dawn
3 cards
4 Shefet Dunes
20 Plains
24 cards


I actually saw vampires 5-0 a MTGO league with a mono-white version similar to this. Don’t get me wrong, Rivals of Ixalan has some pretty good vampires such as the new lord, Legion Lieutenant and Champion of Dusk that might want me to change to a Black and White route. Be that as it may, I feel the 2 colour build would still be a pretty fair deck. The new vampire mythic, Elenda, the Dusk Rose didn’t charm me enough as I don’t see it holding its ground (How can you turn this card into something big?). I don’t think its time is now but we will always have Vona, Butcher of Magan for that build. Oh, and Sengir Vampire is still Standard legal of course.


Joking aside, I thought we could push the boundaries a bit and try to assemble a mono-white vampire monument deck such as the blue-white go wide version. This deck pretty much consists of using (Oketra’s Monument) to make your creatures as cheap as you can so you can make even more and have total control over the battlefield. This was a hard strategy to play against since Mono-White Monument has so many creatures. This made the control matchups very hard. Aggressive decks would also have a hard time against it since it has so many cheap blockers and could always refill with some more cheap ones and of course against energy decks, this was also good since most of their creatures don’t have trample and you could out-wide them with such a large number of creatures.


This seems very good in theory but in practice, i felt vampires could use a white finisher. Sadly, Angel of Invention is no vampire but it does the right job, since it can pump up your vampires, it has flying which is a key part of the deck since you will be beating your opponent mostly with creatures with 2 or less power and also can return from the graveyard, a special interaction this deck has with Dusk/Dawn. Oketra the True or Gideon of the Trials could also be used as finishers but they lack the interaction with Dusk/Dawn.


I used Legion's Landing as another one drop to go even wider but you could use Exultant Skymarcher instead for more power. Don’t forget Cast Out to deal with Planeswalkers but you can always replace with something else such as the new Bishop of Binding or something like Baffling End. This deck seems fun and I hope someone out there playtests this. If you do, please share the results. I will be doing the same.


This deck is all about going big and Dinosaurs were the closest we got to beat energy decks. This time around, Rivals of Ixalan provides great dinosaurs, mostly in green with cards such as Ghalta, Primal Hunger (the one I anticipate it will be the most played) and Polyraptor. Nonetheless, overall it seems we have much more powerful dinosaurs in white rather than green. I am talking about cards such as Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, Trapjaw Tyrant and I will include gold,green-white cards such as Siegehorn Ceratops. This really makes want to switch from the successful red-green build to perhaps a green-white one. Especially because we also have Atazocan Seer, despite not being a dinosaur itself, it can bring some value since you can always sacrifice it to bring back a threat from the graveyard.

We have so many powerful dinos from this set and the previous that I wanted to make the most greedy dino deck I could. Naya has access to every dino we could want, so I really tried to take it as further as I could. The problem with dinosaurs always seems to be mana as its color combinations aren’t the best for a solid mana base. This also gave me another idea i never saw anyone do and will for sure be more consistent mana-wise... “you know what? I have never seen a mono-green build…”


Since most of the dinosaurs are green, another possibility Rivals of Ixalan provides is to go all green on dinosaurs. We have so many now it is possible. So who knows? I am glad Rival of Ixalan provides so many possibilities to build decks with. Which will be the most successful tribe? Dinosaurs? Perhaps Pirates?



I really don’t know what is the correct pirate shell. Hostage Taker still seems the best pirate for me but the Grixis shell suffers again from being inconsistent. I made this decklist to go as aggressive as I could with pirates, unfortunately, the lords aren’t that great pirates and the deck always seem underwhelming when compared to the staple aggressive deck of the format: Ramunap Red.(Manager's Note:  See previous note.) 


To go grixis, however, could mean you could use the best pirates in my opinion which are Ixalan’s Hostage Taker and Admiral Beckett Brass. You could probably come up with a midrange deck with grixis pirates but they don’t seem to hold their value enough to out-midrange the energy decks. This would lead me to think maybe some sort of blue-red control or blue-black control might be the correct shell for pirates but I find it hard to give a tribal name to a control deck since it would have how many creatures of that tribe? 4-8? Don’t get me wrong UB Control was great and Ravenous Chupacabra seem it will be great reason to build it along with Hostage Taker and Kitesail Freebooter. Also, Dire Fleet Daredevil in a UR shell might be surprising as well in some matchups and my favourite pirate from this set, Warkite Marauder seems a great addition to many decks, probably even in Modern. I love pirates and would love to see them become a competitive deck, but I just don’t see it. Maybe it’s because of my eye patch...argh.


So there you go matey. I hope you don’t have to Walk the Plank this Standard and use all the energy you have to beat your opponent. It is still way too early to make any final conclusions, but I hope this article gave you some new ideas and perspectives on tribes as some of the decks presented here were probably more funky than functional.


I made this article not to set definite conclusions but to give you an entertaining read and push you to think against the hype. I am really glad Rivals of Ixalan was able to provide so many possibilities to build decks with and I hope we can see these cards make a change in standard.


Just because GR dinos wasn’t able to beat energy last Standard, doesn’t mean that with new additions such as Zetalpa, Primal Dawn and Siegehorn Ceratops this time it won’t be different. They will not be the same decks since maybe all it took to beat energy was some new cards and switch from red to white? Also, just because you see some lord, always wonder if you even need it, since a mono colored version can be more effective, such as the case for mono white vampires last standard. In conclusion, Ixalan indeed provides some adventure so don’t be afraid to go out there and explore. Energy and Ramunap red aren’t unbeatable! If there is a time to brew, it’s now. I wish you all the best playtesting and make sure to comment below your opinions and playtesting experience on what you think will be the best tribe and strategy to beat the meta.

May the force be with you...always!