Ixalan Set Reviews

Limited:

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands

Limited:

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands

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Previous Dominaria Set Reviews

Limited:

White | Blue

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.

Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Glorybringer. The Scorpion God. The Locust God.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Archfiend of Ifnir. Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. God-Pharaoh’s Gift.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Sunset Pyramid. Angler Drake. Sand Strangler.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Open Fire. Ambuscade. Gravedigger.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Desert of the Mindful. Oasis Ritualist. Oketra’s Avenger.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Unsummon. Puncturing Blow. Naga Vitalist.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Tah-Crop Skirmisher. Harrier Naga. Counterveiling Winds.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Moaning Wall. Khenra Eternal. Without Weakness.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Defiant Khenra. Disposal Mummy. Djeru’s Renunciation.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Forsake the Worldly. Chandra’s Defeat.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Solemnity. Luxa River Shrine. One with Nothing.)

Blessing of Belzenlok

Limited: 1.5

This is a run-of-the-mill combat trick, though it will have its legendary moments. I’m lukewarm on this in a deck with no legends, and would probably play it if I had two to three brawlers (plus a desire for combat tricks to begin with).

Cabal Evangel

Limited: 1.0

I’m definitely not an evangelist for 2-drops, and this is a particularly boring one. If your curve needs this, maybe, but I’d be unhappy to run it.

Cabal Paladin

Limited: 1.5

I dislike the 4/2 for 4 stat ratio enough that I’d try to avoid running this if at all possible. In an aggressive deck with 6+ ways to trigger it, it can be damaging enough to be worth it, but I bet it gets played way more often than it should.

Caligo Skin-Witch

Limited: 2.0

I’m a big fan of this, and especially like having extra copies to side in against slow decks. It’s a 3-for-1 when you kick it even if one of the cards is just a 1/3, and the effect is powerful enough to be worth 6 mana. If the format ends up being slow, this could easily go up in value.

Cast Down

Limited: 4.0

Even if this can’t kill some of the biggest and baddest creatures in the set, it’s still a hyper-efficient and fairly wide-ranging removal spell. Remember when this used to be a common?

Chainer’s Torment

Limited: 1.5

This is my pick for one of the most controversial cards in the set. It looks bad on first blush (you need to be the aggressor, it’s weak to bounce/removal), but I can see it really putting the nail in the coffin if the opponent is on the back foot. I really want to get my hands on this, but I’m not super high on it to begin with.

Dark Bargain

Limited: 1.5

I feel like I’m going to want one of these in most of my black decks, but multiples aren’t appealing, and I don’t think it’ll be hard to pick ’em up. 4 mana isn’t exactly a bargain, even if the effect is strong enough to justify it. I like when my card draw helps me hit land drops (i.e., 3 cost or less) or buries the opponent (draw 3-4 cards). Dark Bargain doesn’t quite do either, though I am still interested.

Deathbloom Thallid

Limited: 3.0

The Thallids are in full bloom, and this is one of their most pungent flowers. I would play this in any black deck, and be even happier if I had Thallid synergies. It trades off easily, provides a little value when you do, and is cheap enough to play offense or defense. Take this early and often.

Demonic Vigor

Limited: 1.0

If you have a deck full of creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities, this gets a little more interesting, but it’s not powerful enough to be worth the risk of encountering a bounce spell or removal in response to casting it. Plus, the opponent can sometimes just ignore the creature, which makes this a lot less effective as well.

Demonlord Belzenlok

Limited: 4.0

Demonlord Belzenlok is enormous and leaves you up at least one spell and perhaps more, all for the reasonable cost of 6 mana and a little bit of life. Unless you are getting beaten down badly, this is going to be great, and I’d be happy to take it every time I open it. These are the kinds of bombs I find fun to have in the format—it’s a great card, but isn’t soul-crushing (despite that being flavorful for a Demon). Sometimes it’s a 2- or 3-for-1, but it’s no Tetzimoc, and for that I’m thankful.

Divest

Limited: 1.0

I hate cards that become dead after the first 5-6 turns, and targeted discard frequently does. I might side this in against expensive targets, but I don’t want a card in my main deck that’s a 1-for-1 when it works and misses completely when it doesn’t. Even in the best-case scenario, you spent 1 mana and they spent 0.

Dread Shade

Limited: 3.5

Even taking into account how color-intensive this, I still think it’s worth building toward. You don’t have to be mono-black, but you should heavily bias towards black, and if you can end up with around 2-3 black cards this will be a card your opponents dread. After all, if you can cast it, it threatens to be a 6/6 at minimum.

Drudge Sentinel

Limited: 1.5

Drudge Sentinel is a bit too pricey for my tastes—I remember when the Drudge only charged a single black mana, but I guess inflation applies everywhere. It just costs a lot to keep this ability up, making it a poor defender, and it doesn’t attack for enough that it’s a real threat. There’s a minor upside of putting Auras on this and bashing, but that doesn’t seem like it’ll come up all that often.

The Eldest Reborn

Limited: 3.5

I’m a big fan of this Saga. It may be a little deceptive, because sacrifice one creature and discard one card aren’t traditionally that great in Limited, especially on turns 5/6, but the combination here works out very nicely. Getting three cards, two of which affect the board directly (them losing a creature and you putting the best dead creature into play) is a great deal for 5 mana, and this is definitely enough value to get me interested.

Eviscerate

Limited: 3.5

Good, clean removal is always at a premium, and this easily nabs the award for second-best common in the set (I haven’t gotten to the first yet, if you have any guesses). This is even splashable, making it that much better to take early. You won’t get passed many of these, and there’s no limit to how many I’d play.

Feral Abomination

Limited: 1.5

Deathtouch is not the most impressive ability on a 5/5, as there’s also the mechanic of “dealing 5 damage,” and that is quite effective at killing creatures. This does punish double-blocking, and if you need a 6-drop, this is an option, if not a great one.

Final Parting

Limited: 0.0

You just can’t pay 5 mana in Limited to gain access to your best card—the difference between that and your average card is not worth such a huge cost. It is funny that it’s Diabolic Tutor + Entomb in both effect and mana cost, but as amusing as that is, I’m still not playing it.

Fungal Infection

Limited: 3.0

This is a solid bit of value, and very similar to the legendary Skulduggery (that card really overperformed). Ambushing a blocker is one of the primary use cases here, but winning a combat and having a 1/1 left over is perfectly acceptable as well. I’d always want one of these, and might slam two depending on how the format shapes up.

Josu Vess, Lich Knight

Limited: 4.0

A 4-mana 4/5 menace is far enough above the normal curve already, and adding a very powerful kicker is just a bonus. Don’t get me wrong—you’re summoning the army of the damned maybe 5% of the time, if that, but Josu does the trick without it.

Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood

Limited: 3.0

7 mana is a lot, but this does take over the game if you get to untap with it. You do have to be red to really get the benefit, so treat this as a gold card. Don’t go nuts over this either—it’s worse than a good common removal spell, even if it’s a big rare finisher.

Knight of Malice

Limited: 3.5

I didn’t even realize during my Knight of Grace review that this gets bigger if you control a white permanent, which shows you how good this text box is. It’s cheap, powerful, and efficient, and a card I’m happy to take early.

Lich’s Mastery

Limited: 0.0

Meme potential aside, I’m just not into this. It’s expensive, doesn’t add that much effective life (since you won’t have tons of cards in your graveyard), and requires other cards to even do anything. Leave the liching to the experts (I’m willing to offer myself as a sacrifice).

Lingering Phantom

Limited: 1.5

The floor on this is pretty low (it’s an under-statted 6-drop with an ability that may never come up), but the ceiling is pretty high too. I can imagine seeing this as a control deck and groaning, as my hand of double Eviscerate is just blank, so there is some value to be had here. I think I like this as a sideboard card against control or a finisher in a control deck with very few creatures (and enough artifacts to bring it back).

Phyrexian Scriptures

Limited: 4.0

Wrath with suspend 1 doesn’t seem like it would be what you want, but adding the ability to keep your best creature dramatically changes the calculus. Plus, you can try to draft other artifact creatures, though that doesn’t seem necessary—the card will be great either way. The last ability is flavor text, but that’s okay. The first two do enough of the carrying (kind of like me and EFro when we teamed with Cheon).

Rat Colony

Limited: 1.0

I don’t want one of these, much less multiples. I’m glad this doesn’t gain toughness, because a pack of these could really be a plague on the format, and we’ve done that dance before. As is, these are too vulnerable to be worth building around, and will only make the cut if you are really short on 2-drops.

Rite of Belzenlok

Limited: 3.5

Flavor: 0.0

Look, you can’t have Rite of Belzenlok, which presumably summons the Demon himself, and also have Demonlord Belzenlok in the set doing something completely different. What’s going on with that? As for the game play, this card looks really strong to me. It summons a 6/6 for 4 mana, even with a two-turn delay, and gives you plenty of chumps to feed to it. It is weak against bounce, but otherwise looks quite good, and you can even throw the tokens in front of attackers if you need to.

Settle the Score

Limited: 3.5

This is essentially Eviscerate, and that card is great. It’s on balance a tiny bit worse, as BB cost outweighs the upside of exiling, but the difference isn’t big enough to warrant a different grade.

Soul Salvage

Limited: 1.5

I want exactly one of these in all of my decks (assuming I have at least 14 creatures). It’s not a high pick, and it won’t salvage a bad Draft, but a solid 2-for-1 is a good way to make sure you have a passable late game.

Stronghold Confessor

Limited: 3.0

As long as you don’t misclick and cast this for 1 mana, you’ll do pretty well when you play this. A 3/3 menace is a solid body, and the emergency mode of playing a 1-mana chump blocker is an upside.

Thallid Omnivore

Limited: 2.0

In a creature-heavy deck, this is very threatening (sadly, there are no actual Threatens to pair with it). I like this as a finisher for tokens decks or a way to fill out your curve, as the base stats/cost aren’t embarrassing either.

Thallid Soothsayer

Limited: 1.5 // 3.5

Thallid Soothsayer can be part of a very powerful engine, though it’s rather lackluster on its own. Unlike Thallid Omnivore, this is a true build-around, and in a deck that can generate a lot of tokens this can bury the opponent in card advantage.

Torgaar, Famine Incarnate

Limited: 1.5 // 3.5

Torgaar is a card you need to do a little work for, but isn’t out of the question even in a normal deck. If your opponent is light on removal/bounce, running this out on turn 4 or 5 sounds like a beating, and Torgaar will end the game quite quickly. Then again, if they do answer it, you probably lose, making it a bit of a feast or famine situation. Torgaar seems sick in Saproling decks, and is a very scary card to face down—a 7/6 that nugs you for 10 is not what you want to see early (or at any point, really). Plus, even sacrificing one creature makes this castable later, so it doesn’t even have to be completely all-in.

Urgoros, the Empty One

Limited: 1.5

6 mana for 3 toughness is a rough ratio, since the difference between 4 and 3 toughness on blocks is immense. You may wonder why this is losing so much ground compared to a 4/4, and that is why—this trades for a 3/2 or dies to 3-damage effects. I do like that this gets a card no matter what when it connects, and I would run this if I needed a finisher, but I wouldn’t prioritize it.

Vicious Offering

Limited: 3.5

This may seem like a high grade for what is essentially Moment of Craving, but adding the ability to trade your worst creature for something big is a huge boon in the late game. This is good early, solid late, and all around a great piece of removal (though it is worse than Eviscerate, even if they are close enough to get the same grade).

Whisper, Blood Liturgist

Limited: 1.5 // 3.0

If you have token-makers and creatures with good ETB effects, this is more a shout than a whisper, but in the average deck it’s a bit costly. The reward is here, especially since you can do this in response to removal or after blocks, but I wouldn’t play this without doing some work to enable it.

Windgrace Acolyte

Limited: 2.5

You don’t have room for infinite 5s, but this is a solid body and gains a few life, making it an acceptable way to spend your mana. Plus, it enables a minor self-mill theme, which every now and then will help out.

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

Limited: 1.0

Flavor: 5.0

Mmm, delicious frog-maggot-demon flavor. Yargle is the number one meme card in the set, and despite not being good, is awesome. If you have some ways to grant evasion, maybe this deals some damage, but don’t go Yargling and expect it to crush your opponent.

Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering

Limited: 1.0 // 4.0

Now this is a build-around. I’d play all sorts of mediocre legends to make this work, as you will win the vast majority of games when you cast this. It kills their best creature and gives you something awesome, and is well worth trying to set up. I’d want 4+ legends, and ideally they are on the cheaper side, but that seems doable.

Top 5 Black Commons

5. Stronghold Confessor
4. Fungal Infection
3. Deathbloom Thallid
2. Vicious Offering
1. Eviscerate

Two great removal spells and some solid creatures? I am in, and black seems like it’s going to be in a really good spot. It’s also got some nice bomb rares, which never hurts.