Previous Rivals of Ixalan Set Reviews
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Silkwrap was a decent card in its day, and this is likely a bit better. A 3/3 trample is going to be slightly worse than the average creature you hit with this, and at the end of the day, this is unlikely to leave the battlefield anyway. Cheap removal is always a nice addition to Standard, even if the value of this varies wildly depending on the metagame. Missing Hazoret, The Scarab God, and Glorybringer is a big deal, but this gets most everything else.
Bishop of Binding
Sorry Bishop, but you’re no Chupacabra. It’s nice that this threatens to attack for 5+ and is a Vampire, but letting the opponent get their creature back is too big a drawback.
The white Death’s Shadow isn’t quite as dangerous, though this is a powerful effect. There’s an extremely slight chance this makes it into some Esper Death’s Shadow lists in Modern, though unseating Path to Exile seems really hard to do. In Standard, this needs a lot more than hope, as it just doesn’t do anything for too large a portion of the game.
Both Vampires and enchantments would need to completely overrun the format before a light shines on this, but stranger things have happened. This is flexible and efficient, if the metagame shapes up in a very odd way.
OK, fine. I called this True-Name Nemesis in my Limited review, but I may have been exaggerating a little. This dies too easily to removal, and the upside of being a great blocker doesn’t make up for that.
There are a lot of playable Vampires these days, and getting random lifelink damage in here and there isn’t that implausible. I don’t know that the deck is hungry for a random 3/3, but this could play like Adanto Vanguard #5-8 if so.
Forerunner of the Legion
Vampiric Tutor this is not in Constructed, as the set of Vampires you have access to aren’t worth spending a card and 3 mana to get. There’s a shot of some kind of Vampire token deck playing this as go-wide enabler, because if you can make 2 Vampires a turn this is like a 4/4 for 3.
Martyr of Dusk
How good this is will depend on a couple factors. The most important is how the material it gives you interacts with the other cards in the format. If a 2/1 can reliably trade for a card, then this is decent value, and if a 1/1 also nabs a card, it’s great. You’d want to face off against a lot of 2/2s and 2/1s for that to happen, which isn’t exactly where we are at. The second factor is how much you get paid off for playing Vampires, as there are a couple reasons to do so. I like this card, and think it’s the sort of card that can easily show up if the circumstances are right. It’s cheap enough that I can imagine it being a reliably early drop against an aggro-filled format.
My evaluation of the card has almost nothing to do with ascend, as vigilance is a small enough bonus that I don’t think it really matters. What this does do is give you a good pump spell if you are dedicated to a single tribe, and that can be worth 3 mana.
A 2/1 for 1 that doesn’t suck in the late game is a rare find, and this could be one of the cards that makes the Vampires tribe hit critical mass. This may even see play regardless of its creature type, as it could fit very well into an aggressive white deck of any kind.
Slaughter the Strong
While this does kill a lot of creatures for only 3 mana, it leaves behind enough to get you dead if you were already behind. I guess the idea is to have one or two small things in play, kill everything but one of their creatures, and still be in good shape? Setting that up sounds like a good way to get slaughtered yourself, though maybe this is a potent sideboard card. Note that it does kill Hazoret, though the rest of the deck probably murders you anyways.
The stats here aren’t bad and the ability is quite powerful. Is that enough to get past the risk of playing a 5/5 for 5 that doesn’t affect the board right away and just dies to removal, or is it a trap? I’m guessing trap, but maybe this comes out of the board against decks that have trouble with large creatures.
Top 3 White Cards
I’d love it if a white aggro deck got there, especially a tribal one, as that is a lot of what white has to offer. Baffling End is a nice addition to control and aggro alike, so no matter what, white doesn’t walk away empty-handed.