Hands on with Ixalan

This past weekend we all got our hands on Magic’s brand new set, with the Ixalan Pre-Release. Dinosaurs, Pirates, Merfolk, and Vampires prepared to flood the Standard meta as players everywhere cracked packs for some Sealed fun. Like many others, most of us here at Master of Magics were in attendance at our local LGS, Patriot Games Sheffield. I went along to compete in a 2 Headed Giant event with my friend Kenny on Saturday afternoon (after Abbie had won her event earlier in the day). The event was a blast, and we got to see some crazy stuff happen (like an unblocked Gishath, Sun’s Avatar revealing two Raging Swordtooths and a Burning Sun’s Avatar). Today I am going to give you my first impressions of the set – how it plays, how the tribes synergise, and what impact it could have on Standard. So let’s head into the jungle and go Dino hunting.

First of all, Ixalan is a ton of fun. Not only is it a tribal set, which is always going to get me excited, but the mechanics of the set play so well together. The returning double face cards, Raid and Vehicle mechanics are always exciting, but the new Enrage and Explore mechanics can be either very solid or utterly broken. Cards such as Ripjaw Raptor and Emissary of Sunrise are prime examples of these new key words in action, and proved to be very powerful in the games where they saw play. But it’s not only the mechanics that make a set, and the general power level of creatures and non-creature spells is particularly high compared to previous releases.

In our pool of Pre-Release packs we managed to open some good/great cards in W/B and U/G, as well as a Vraska, Relic Seeker. As a result we crafted some fairly competent Merfolk and Vampire decks, splashing the Vraska in with the Merfolk. I ran out the Vampires while Kenny took charge of the fish-men. I would have loved to have got my hands on some giant angry lizards, but in sealed you got to play what you open, and we opened good. Not only did I get my hands on a Legion’s Landing with some other token generators in the form of Queen’s Commission and Call to the Feast, but also a copy of Sanctum Seeker (which is utterly busted in 2HG). I also played with a ton of very strong removal with multiple copies of Pious Interdiction and Contract Killing, as well as Walk the Plank, Ixalan’s Binding and the truly blow out Settle the Wreckage. Things where also looking great for Kenny with synergies like Deeproot Waters and Vanquisher’s Banner, to complement tempo cards like Tempest Caller and River’s Rebuke. With such power how could we lose?

Well, we did. In a mirror match no less. We came out of the gate strong, getting our opponents down to five life before they managed to stabilise. They then milled out most of Kenny’s library with a Fleet Swallower. It was a heck of a game though and could have easily gone our way. In game two we played against two three colour decks, Pirates and Dinosaurs of course, which went much better for us. We took some early damage at the start of the match, but quickly turned it around with a blanket of removal and tempo spells. Turns out giant Dinosaurs die just as easily as any other creature, who knew! We gained back a boatload of life thanks to my tokens, then we finished the game off with Kenny’s flying fish-men. We didn’t get to play a third match as it was getting super late and most teams dropped after the second round. But despite that everyone had a ton of fun. I did manage to play some friendly games later on, and I still have my Vampires sleeved up for such occasions.

So, what are my first impressions of Ixalan limited? 100% a home-run. The right level of power mixed with great flavour, Ixalan plays out very well. It’s not just a tale of Dinosaurs and Pirates, as the Vampires and Merfolk also have a ton of power and synergy too. In fact when I draft Ixalan, I would be tempted to try and drop into one of these tribes and just avoid everyone else fight over giant reptiles and scurvy dogs.

As for Ixalan in Standard? Well I was very keen on brewing some tribal decks, and after finally getting my hands on the set, I can’t wait to get started. Samuel and Seb have been hard at work with Dinosaurs and Pirates over the last few weeks, and I will be putting some Vampire and Merfolk decks ready for a future articles, so check back next week. But what ever you desided to run out in the coming months, I have a feeling Ixalan will have an explosive impact on Standard. If you have enjoyed this article and would like to read more, then please like and share on social media as it really does help us grow the site. But until next time remember, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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