Monday 18 September 2017

Ixalan Conclusions and Additions

While Ixalan is not a very powerful set it is a very impressive set. The Disney flavour of the set is a bit silly but I actually don't mind it. I like the way magic goes from dark and sinister art to colourful playful art and I like how the sets keep it well contained. Ixalan fits this well and card design trumps everything else in my books and for that Ixalan scores pretty highly. I love treasure, I just wish it wasn't so heavily priced onto cards so that there was more of it in cube. What I love more are cards like Chart a Course and Field of Ruin. Both of which are incredibly playable yet cheap and relatively simple cards that are pretty fair power wise. A super hard mark to hit. I also love the many ways, mostly on the transforming cards, that time has been used as a resource in magic to allow for incredibly powerful things on very cheap cards. A sort of pleasant middle ground on suspend where you don't get nothing for your initial investment but you do have to wait for your full payoff.

This set has no bombs, no Deathrites, Copters or Emrakuls. Nothing even close. This set also has very few useful one drops which is a shame but not the end of the world given how many cheap and juicy cards it has offered. Black got some much needed love and got more than most other colours for once. More over it got a couple of widely playable cards which will go a long way despite their low power. Red didn't get too much which is also well as it got so much from the last block and was already the best. Blue also did quite well out of this set, perhaps even better than black. Blue starting from a better place than black however will improve less as a result. I am adding nearly 20 cards to the drafting from this set and I expect upwards of five of the testing cards to prove worthy. That is more than most sets add to a cube but the most impressive aspect of that is how low powered the cards I am adding in are on the whole. I don't think any card rated above 7.5/10 and what with drafting cube viable cards now needing 6/10 or so to last in the drafting cube that implies great balancing. Another sign of great design. I hope they can keep this up and get some of the same quality in upcoming sets, ideally on a load of one drops!

I think the most powerful card in the set is Vraska but that is wildly tempered by being six mana and gold. I have rated the cards based on expected play for which loads of far less powerful cards have risen to the top. Field of Ruin and Settle the Wreckage are important cards that are needed in the cube and will slot right in. They will help out slower decks a good deal. Beyond that these cards will not change much fundamentally. I expect the transform legendary enchantments will involve some very nice play and deck building much like the origins flipwalkers. I look forward to playing with them but I don't anticipate new archetypes evolving from them. One last thing I like a lot about this set is how they managed to make the filler style cards so interesting. Lots of cards fulfilling simple roles in decks will actually lead to some great game play and choices thanks to the good design in Ixalan. This is useful and important given that most of the new additions would come under the heading of filler cards.

Quite a lot of stuff for the constructed elements in cube too but I don't expect much of it to be super significant. Vampires and merfolk got a bit better but don't shift hugely in their relative positions against other decks as a result of the new cards. The other Ixalan constructed cards are either generic dull redundancy for stuff or things that are pretty replaceable. Less in the way of new archetype cards or combo enablers it feels but it is so hard to predict those things, perhaps Ixalan will form loads of new combos! Arcane Adaption is the only one I really have an eye on at present.

Main Drafting Cube Additions (best to worst)

Field of Ruin
Search for Azcanta
Chart a Course
Settle the Wreckage
Seeker's Squire
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Rampaging Ferocidon
Jace, Cunning Castaway
Legion's Landing
Adanto Vangaurd
Kitesail Freebooter
Hostage Taker
Growing Rites of Itlimoc
Rigging Runner
Ruin Raider
Sorcerous Spyglass
Merfolk Branchwalker

Stuff to Test (highest potential at top)

Treasure Map
Arguel's Bloodfast
Spell Swindle
Daring Sabboteur
Captain Lannery Storm
Huatli, Warrior Poet
Ranging Raptors
Sailor of Means
Carnage Tyrant
Charging Monstrosaur
Ripjaw Raptor
Vance's Blasting Cannons
Deathgorge Scavenger
Deadeye Tracker

Notable things to put by for constructed cube play (no relevant ordering!)

Sentinel Totem
Kumena's Speaker
Shaper's Sanctuary
Deeproot Champion
Ixalli Diviner
Otepec Huntsmaster
Makeshift Munitions
Wily Goblin
Costly Plunder
Dire Fleet Hoarder
Bishop of the Bloodstained
Viscious Conqistador
Bloodcrazed Paladin
Sheltering Light
Kinjalli's Sunwing
Tocatli Honour Gaurd
Kijalli's Caller
Shaper Apprentice
River Sneak
Storm Fleet Aerialist
Deeproot Waters
Perilous Voyage
Arcane Adaption
Kopala, Warden of Waves
Deadeye Quatermaster
Siren Stromtamer


  1. I did give Search for Azcanta an 8/10 apparently but a 7.5 is probably safer. I think I slightly overrated all of the flip cards a little bit. I like them more than they are powerful and so I got a bit keen on giving them high numbers. I also took a bit of a punt on Spell Swindle, while I think it is good it is a high risk card and could easily be unplayable hence why I have it in the cards to test despite having given it a 6.5 rating. Pretty sure I overrated Ruin Raider a bit too now. It is just a bit awkward and a bit fair. I rated this based on how good Dark Confidant used to be, not on how good it is now. In terms of actual play I expect Ruin Raider to be a 6/10 at best.

  2. As always, excellent analysis. Thanks for all the effort you put into these. You planning on doing another podcast?

    1. Many thanks. I do enjoy the podcasts and hope to do more. I somewhat stalled on them by promising myself I would get a better mic for future ones and fell victim to my laziness. My laugh is also a travesty...

  3. I am curious about your take on River's Rebuke. In Ixalan I have found thst if you cast this with any sort of a board it sinpmy ends the game. Obvoiusly cube is slightly different but having the overloaded side of cyclonic rift for one less mana seems good. I plan to test...

    1. The card is certainly strong but between Upheaval, Cyclonic Rift, Crush of Tentacles and even to a degree Evacuation blue has a very wide range of these effects. While Rebuke is nice and straight forward with a decent all round ability I think all the others offer a significantly higher ceiling. Mostly it is about cube space for kinds of effects. In a bigger cube I might stretch to running this but in my 540ish sized on I am more than happy with just Rift and Crush performing this role for me.

  4. yeah i see that. I never tried crush, might be time to get that one in there