Ixalan is the tribal set, so it stands to reason that we would see some sweet tribal decks putting up results in Standard. We’ve got Dinosaurs roaming the plane, got Pirates, Merfolk, and Vampires. And, of course, we have… Cats?
Okay, so Cats didn’t get the most additions in the creature count, but it got a few extra tools that may make this a real deck moving forward.
A board full of Cats means that you’re going to have a giant Pride Sovereign that won’t be easy for most forms of removal to interact with. As the game progresses, you get two options to decide which is best for you. You can exert your Sovereign to create more lifelinking Cats, growing your creature in the process, or you can crack in for massive amounts of damage. Either way, you’re feeling really good about your position.
You also have a really strong Cat lord that comes along with a couple of kittens to pump. Regal Caracal offers a baseline of 7 power and toughness for just 5 mana, but in a dedicated Cat deck, it’s much more. While the tokens the Caracal produces already have lifelink, as do many other Cats, that’s not the case for all of them. This will pump your Pride Sovereign by +3/+3 for the three Cats that enter the battlefield, an additional +1/+1 for the Caracal’s ability, and give lifelink! Two Caracals in play at the same time will pump each of the other ones and give them lifelink… that’s 20 power and toughness in lifelink with nothing else in play!
Metallic Mimic offers you another Cat lord that can make sure all of your future Cats come into play with a little boost. It’s a great little 2-drop to keep your team powered and your tokens threatening throughout the game.
Speaking of powerful 2-drops, take a look at Adorned Pouncer. A 1/1 double strike for 2 is already a solid rate, but that’s before you factor in Mimic, Caracal, and any other pump spells. They deal with it? No big deal. You can bring the Pouncer back from the graveyard as a massive 4/4 double striker and have plenty of ways to make that even bigger (and lifelinking)!
Sacred Cat allows you to start your curve early with a little damage and life gain. Being able to embalm means that you’re getting value out of your 1-drop, and the pump spells and anthem effects work incredibly well with a lifelink creature.
Prowling Serpopard does work against countermagic, but that’s not exactly a huge presence in the format. At the end of the day, you have another Cat with impressive baseline stats. A 4/3 creature for 3 mana is a beating, even without curving a Mimic into a Serpopard into a Caracal.
Vanquisher’s Banner is a little on the expensive side at 5 mana, but the power level of both pumping your entire team and drawing a card whenever you play your tribal spells is outrageous.
Anointed Procession gives you a way to go crazy with tokens. Procession with Sovereign is amazing, but even with Caracal is simply awesome. It also works with embalm and eternalize for your other Cats!
Shaper’s Sanctuary is a tough card to evaluate. It makes spot removal spells look a lot weaker as you’re going to draw some extra cards to replace them, making sure that you’re always getting value, but it doesn’t actually impact the board. The jury is still out on that one!
Blossoming Defense provides you some additional protection and a pump spell, while Appeal // Authority is your big pump spell to completely swing games. If you go wide with tokens, Appeal is going to offer a likely lethal threat, often with lifelink, and sometimes with double strike! Authority seals that deal.
While you’re playing an aggressive deck, you can definitely play the late game. You have Sovereign making tokens and cards like the Banner to get late game advantage. If you don’t want to trade off in the early game, Ixalan has given you a nice one-sided Wrath effect in Settle the Wreckage!
The Cats are definitely on the prowl with some sweet tools, and a Cavern of Souls remix in Unclaimed Territory (without the uncounterable clause). Try them out right meow!