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.
Cancel isn’t a particularly strong card in this format, and letting you cast it for 1 mana during your combat step doesn’t make me admire it all that much more.
Paying 4 mana for two 1/1s with hexproof is below the bar, so to make this good you need to care about the fact that they are Merfolk and have use for the activated ability. My guess is that more than half of Merfolk decks fit that description, making this a solid card. The unblockable ability does hand you a good late-game plan, and getting some Merfolk to block with and amp up your tribal synergies is a decent package, all told.
The flavor on this card is great, until you steal a Dinosaur token all of a sudden. The joke is that you steal Treasure tokens, though it does work against anything. When this card is good, it’s unbelievable, especially when you slam it in response to something like Queen’s Commission or the enrage on a Raptor Hatchling. Stealing Treasure is solid too, and if this manages to hit, you’ll be very happy. Of course, it will also be a 2/2 for 4 many games, which is a real downside. It’s also kind of brutal when you pass with 4 mana up and they don’t play a token-maker, so keep that in mind when playing with this. High-upside cards do tend to trick people, and this is about as swingy as it gets. It’s an excellent sideboard card, even if you don’t end up maindecking it.
You don’t need to have a single Merfolk in your deck for this to be good. Bouncing their biggest creature and crashing in is well worth 3 mana if it doesn’t cost you a card, and it just gets better from there. If you do have Merfolk, this is straight-up Repulse, which is an excellent card. I like this card, and doubt I’ll be passing it often.
Adding +1/+1 to Curiosity is a big game. The extra stats will let your creatures get by theirs more often, and when you have this ability, you want to attack every turn anyway. Plus, if attacks aren’t bad, sacrificing this after getting a card or two out of it isn’t the end of the world.
This raid trigger is pretty brutal when you’re ahead, making this a card that snowballs easily. It also rewards you for having decent evasive creatures, and is big enough that it is still passable to cast it without raid. This is good, and will make the cut in any blue deck that has decent attackers (which should be all of them in this format). Auras took a hit here, what with Crashing Tide and Deadeye Rig-Hauler, which is something to keep in mind.
Expel from Orazca
A 2-mana bounce spell that turns into Time Ebb later in the game is a fine card, though I don’t expect to have the city’s blessing all that often in decks that want bounce spells.
Flood of Recollection
This a Constructed plant more than anything, as you don’t really get funky combos going in Limited. You have to have enough spells to give this consistent targets, and spend a 2-mana premium to cast one again. Unless you’re completely spell-flooded, I don’t think that’s very realistic.
The best part about this card is the name, by far. As for the effect, I’m still not that thrilled about paying 3 mana to counter a spell, and this is even restricted to creatures only. At least you do get a Treasure out of the deal, making this a pseudo-ramp card, and playable in decks that don’t have the best curve.
Paying 3 mana and a card to get to loot away the rest of your hand is an ability I’d rather forget. This just isn’t worth it in Limited, even if the dream is to use enchantment removal to kill it later.
This is a solid aggressive 2-drop that should fly in any deck, regardless of tribe. I guess blocking is not back on the menu.
By the time you get the city’s blessing, decking could be a real concern, and playing a 4-mana Howling Mine is not something I want to do in the meantime. Don’t play this.
I really want to call this unplayable, but in my heart of hearts, I know it isn’t. Aggro Merfolk decks will be happy to run this, and I’m sure that U/R Raid decks with Swashbuckling will too. One day, blocking will be legal again.
The classic sideboard card is still going strong. I like having a Negate in the sideboard of every blue deck.
Nezahal, Primal Tide
7 is a lot, but you get what you pay for with Nezahal. When it’s primal time, your opponent will be forced to give you multiple free cards, and Nezahal is big enough to win most combats and has an ability that helps it dodge removal. I’m okay paying 7 mana for a finisher with this many abilities.
Release to the Wind
Release to the Wind is a strange card. You mainly want to use it to flicker your own stuff, but in a pinch you can remove opposing creatures from combat or stop something from blocking. Sadly, it doesn’t do any of these things efficiently, and paying 3 mana and a card for this isn’t really what I’m looking to do.
River Darter is a fine filler creature for Merfolk, and might shine in some matchups. I’m not excited about this, but it’ll make the cut often enough to take it 6-8th pick.
I’m brainstorming ways to use this, and the most common cases are to set up explore (regardless of which side you want) or to crack Evolving Wilds and shuffle away the two worst cards in your hand. It’s also fine to just cast, as it’s essentially a 2/2 that draws a card for 4 mana. All of that together makes this a pretty sweet card, if a little slow.
Sailor of Means
Another reprint, another card that looks about the same. Ascend makes this a little more appealing, but it hasn’t changed in value all that much (unless the format ends up drastically different).
I love the flavor on this card, and actually think it is quite good to boot. In a Pirate deck, it’s a solid combat trick—making your 2/2 into a 2/4 when it battles their 2-drop is a nice tempo swing. Even outside Pirate decks, it can win combats and permanently shrink evasive creatures. This is a good deal for 1 mana, and 1-mana tricks were very good in the prior format.
The floor on this is high, since all it takes is one Merfolk hit before it’s paid for itself. Playing this with 1/1 unblockable Merfolk is a great place to be, and makes all the aggressive Merfolk much more appealing. I like tribal build-arounds that look like this, and hope there are plenty.
Secrets of the Golden City
As much as I want to like this, costing double blue means that it won’t help you hit your fourth land drop as often as a plain Divination will, and getting to 10 permanents isn’t trivial. Sadly, the secret to the golden city may just be “don’t play any Secrets of the Golden City.”
This is a fantastic deal at 2 mana and still castable at 5, making it a high priority for any Merfolk deck. I wouldn’t play this outside Merfolk, but would slam it if things are looking fishy.
I assume the format is aggressive enough that just about every blue deck is into this. A 4-mana 3/2 flyer is slightly behind the curve, but passable, and a 3-mana one is great. That makes this a fine card, and one I’m happy to play every time.
This looks like a Gray Ogre to me, and not a whole lot more. I’m not banking on having the city’s blessing, and especially don’t want to play a card that is bad before I have it.
Soul of the Rapids
Soul of the Rapids is a little too pricey for me, though it could be a powerful sideboard card against a removal deck (if such a thing exists). I suppose if you are really short on 5-drops, this could fill in the hole, but that sounds like a rapid path to an 0-3 to me.
Spire Winder, on the other hand, is priced to move. It’s a decent-sized flyer for 4 mana, and every now and then gets a nice bump in the late game. No deck needs this, but most blue decks would be happy playing it.
If you need a 2-drop and/or Merfolk, this is a passable defensive play. I’m not going nuts over this, but I’ll cast it before the format is done.
Look, I’m not one to step on your dreams—the goal of using this with an empty library is a noble one. I’m here to give my opinion on the power level and use of the cards, and this has a low power level and no good usage. The fact that Timestream Navigator is a blank before 10 permanents just kills it, and it doesn’t even do all that much when you do get there.
Warkite Marauder is exactly what aggressive decks want. It can strip flying from anything that could block it, while also enabling other creatures to get in by negating their best defender. That is a great deal for 2 mana, and I’m happy to fly this kite in any deck.
This is solid (or maybe liquid) removal, and you will happily play as many as you get. Double blue does make your mana base a little worse, but that’s a small price to pay for unconditional removal.
Top 3 Blue Commons
Deadeye Rig-Hauler is interchangeable with Crashing Tide, and could easily be ahead of it, depending on how the format plays out. Either way, blue got some excellent commons, and all of them slant aggressive (bounce, evasive 2-drops, and removal).