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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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.)

Adamant Will

Limited: 2.5

A combat trick that can also stop removal spells and doesn’t get blown out by opposing tricks is something you will almost always play, and this is a fine deal at 2 mana. The stats are good enough to take down bigger creatures, and the flexibility really sells this for me.

Aven Sentry

Limited: 2.0

I wouldn’t snap this off if I saw it in a pack, but I’m also going to play it more often than not. A 3-power flyer generally gets the job done, and the format would need to be very fast or linear to make this undesirable (and I don’t believe either is true).

Baird, Steward of Argive

Limited: 3.0

It’s not propaganda to say that this ability is extremely annoying for aggro decks, and even against midrange it will greatly impact their decision-making. It forces the opponent to choose between curving out and getting attacks in, and even if it falls off in the late game, it can save you a substantial amount of damage early. Baird is a great addition to any midrange or control deck, though I’m not that high on him for aggro decks.

Benalish Honor Guard

Limited: 1.5

A 2/2 that is sometimes a 3/2 is nothing to write home about, though it is worth writing a review of. This will basically play as a Grizzly Bears that occasionally hits for a bit more, and as such, is a typical replacement-level 2-drop. This isn’t a build-around, though if you have a ton of legendary creatures, maybe you bump it up a bit in priority.

Benalish Marshal

Limited: 3.5

While the casting cost is rough, this has a powerful effect at any stage of the game. You don’t need to play this on 3 to get value, and it actually isn’t necessarily the play you want to make on turn 3 anyways. Some of the cards in this cycle really want to get played early, but this isn’t one of them, and as such it’s one of the better triple-colored cards. If you can make a mana base with eleven white sources or so, you are in decent shape to cast this by the time you really want to (turn 5-6).

Blessed Light

Limited: 3.0

This is the bread-and-butter removal spell that white gets, and you’ll always play it, even if it’s not exciting. Hitting enchantments is a nice upside, and the first 1-2 of these will make your deck better (even if casting this doesn’t make you feel particularly blessed).

Board the Weatherlight

Limited: 1.0

I am not on board with this plan, as it would take around ten hits before I’d feel comfortable running it (that gives you about an 80% chance). You’re already paying 2 mana for card selection, not advantage, and the chance of missing is way worse than the slight quality upgrade you get with this kind of selection. Save this one for Constructed.

Call the Cavalry

Limited: 3.0

This is a solid addition to any deck, and gets even better when you factor in mass pump or sacrifice synergy. 4/4 worth of stats for 4 with a keyword is a great deal, and I’m running this whenever I have it.

Charge

Limited: 1.5

You really aren’t getting charged much for this, as 1 mana is as cheap as it gets. I wouldn’t want to run this in a normal deck, but once your creature count edges toward 17+ and you start making tokens, it becomes very appealing.

D’Avenant Trapper

Limited: 2.0

A creature with solid stats and a good aggressive ability is a welcome addition to any beatdown deck, and you don’t need that many historic cards to make this great. Getting one tap out of the deal is enough to make this good, and if you do end up with 8+ cards that trigger it, it could easily be one of the best cards in your deck.

Danitha Capashen, Paragon

Limited: 3.5

Even excluding the cost reduction on Auras and Equipment, Danitha delivers a beating. A 2/2 with three keywords is quite the threat, and your opponent will constantly fear her gaining an Aura of some kind. She locks up the ground early, chips in for a few damage (and a few life), and later makes the perfect target for any sort of pump spell. As is true with all legendaries, she also makes your historic theme better, which from here on out goes for any legend, to save me the trouble of repeating it (though it is a real bonus).

Daring Archaeologist

Limited: 3.5

This takes a little bit of work, but there are two separate build-around angles here, and both are worth digging into. First of all, this draws you a card if you have an artifact in your graveyard, making it a card advantage engine. Second, if you have a bunch of historic cards, this transforms from a mild-mannered archaeologist to an Indian Jones-esque combat machine. You can play this for either side, even if they overlap a lot, and I would be happy to take this early and see how it goes. This doesn’t belong in a museum—it belongs in your deck.

Dauntless Bodyguard

Limited: 3.0

This card is a sweet design, and I think it will play quite well to boot. It’s a 1-mana beater that is highly relevant if you draw it later, as it can protect whatever your best creature is. I like this even in a control deck, as I’m always in the market for early drops that are good at all points of the game.

Dub

Limited: 2.0

All right, I’m going to try and get it right on this powerful Aura, as I feel like I tend to undervalue these things. I will say that it’s hard to gauge exactly how formats play out, and how much removal there is, but the last couple sets have come with powerful Auras that ended up being high picks.

Once you turn something into a Knight, it becomes nearly unstoppable in combat, and hits for a couple extra damage. That’s enough to get me interested, and I think this is going to range from good to great in aggressive decks (even if you sometimes side it out against removal).

Evra, Halcyon Witness

Limited: 3.0

This card is very powerful, in that it can have a very high power. It mostly plays as a 4/4 lifelink, but if you get a hit in after switching, things really get going. I wouldn’t quite call this a bomb, because it is a 6-cost 4/4 that needs to live to get value, and really needs to live to hit twice to really go off.

Excavation Elephant

Limited: 2.5

It may be an artifact of past formats, but I kind of like the 3/5 for 5 statline, and the ability to draw a card later in the game is real upside. Once you have 3-4 artifacts that are likely to hit the bin, this is a card I prize, though before that it’s more suited for sieges than for digging.

Fall of the Thran

Limited: 1.5

If this is the best the Thran can muster, it’s no wonder they fell. Armageddon is great when you are winning, but this costs 6 instead of 4, and starts giving the lands back (though you do get first crack at spending the mana). Boom // Bust didn’t usually work out very well, and this is reminiscent of that—when you are winning, casting a 6-mana common creature is likely better than this, which doesn’t speak well of our first Saga.

Gideon’s Reproach

Limited: 3.0

There’s nothing wrong with Gideon’s Reproach, and it plays well in aggro and control decks alike. Granted, it’s a little better in control because they get to block before you cast this when you’re beating down, but this is a staple common and one you’ll always be happy to run.

Healing Grace

Limited: 1.0

Power creep is just out of control. In just 25 years, we went from Healing Salve to this. I guess that makes this the white Ancestral Recall? It’s not actually good, though if you have a lot of creatures that are of similar size to the opponent, or the game comes down to a race, it could be a good sideboard card.

History of Benalia

Limited: 4.0

3 mana for two Knights and a mini-Overrun is incredible value—some might even say mythic amounts (why is this a mythic?). I’d slam this and not even care if I had other Knights, though I would bias my pick order slightly toward them.

Invoke the Divine

Limited: 0.5

In a shocking twist, this gets a sideboard grade. It’s a fine offering out of the board, and it might make the main deck in Sealed (I’d need to play a little more to be sure).

Knight of Grace

Limited: 3.5

A 2/2 first striker for 2 would easily be a 3.0, and the extra abilities are quite nice. Against black decks, this edges toward a 4.0 in terms of value, so I’d slam this early and often. I also really like the “hexproof from black” design space—it does protection in a way that doesn’t feel totally hopeless. A 3/2 first strike that is immune to black removal is a beating, but can be overcome by enough power and toughness.

Knight of New Benalia

Limited: 2.0

Where a 3/1 for 2 lands is almost a test of how much I’ll like the format—when it’s great, it’s probably a bit fast for my taste. I’m guessing this comes in as solid playable, which makes me happy—board position will matter, but you probably aren’t just dead if you miss your 2-drop.

Kwende, Pride of Femeref

Limited: 2.0

Femeref may be proud of this guy, but I don’t think I would be. You aren’t going to end up with all that many first-strikers, and a 2/2 double-striker for 4 is nothing to write home about. He does combine well with pump spells, so there is that at least.

Lyra Dawnbringer

Limited: 4.5

I’d play this as long as I had three to four other Angels, and also if I had one to two, or zero. This is just Baneslayer Angel, and Baneslayer is a bomb. The only thing keeping this from a flat 5 rating is that it does die to removal/bounce, though lifelink means it brings you back even when you’re losing badly.

Mesa Unicorn

Limited: 2.5

Bishop’s Soldier ended up being very good, even in the slightly-slower world of Rivals, so I have high hopes for Mesa Unicorn. It’s no Mesa Pegasus (banding is unreal—don’t look it up unless you have a lot of time), but it’s good on turn 2 and good late with pump spells.

On Serra’s Wings

Limited: 3.5

I’m coming in high on this because of how much of a payoff it is. Often, it will be good even if you only get one hit in. If you can slap this on something and have it live, you likely just win the game. It does lose some luster in removal-heavy matchups, but I doubt I’d side this out unless they were packing some real heat.

Pegasus Courser

Limited: 3.0

Aggressive white decks will play this as a matter of course, and even defensive decks can get behind a 1/3 flyer for 3. This can play defense until it’s time to end the game, at which point it can get things over with very quickly. I actually like the stats on this a lot, as it makes it a much more interesting card than the 2/1 version.

Sanctum Spirit

Limited: 3.0

I could see giving this a bump if you have 5+ historic cards to discard, because a 0-mana protection spell is a huge swing. If you can imagine playing this on turn 4, and discarding a card after blocking their 3-drop, you really are getting into the spirit of things. In fact, I bet most opponents won’t attack into this or block when you attack, which makes this a high-value play even with no support (though the effect is lessened in games 2 and 3, assuming the opponent pays attention to your plays).

Seal Away

Limited: 3.5

A 2-mana Assassinate is sweet, and making it an instant is an enormous upgrade. This does lose a little luster in aggro, but it’s so efficient that I’m never turning it down.

Sergeant-at-Arms

Limited: 3.0

I love kicker. A powerful 6-mana play that you can also run out on 3 is great, and I am totally behind more of these being printed. This gets even better when you have go-wide support, but don’t get me wrong—this is great in any white deck.

Serra Angel

Limited: 4.0

Serra is a classic—she plays both sides of the court, and does so with power and grace.

Serra Disciple

Limited: 1.5

My guess is that you won’t have the density this requires to be good enough, since I’d want 10+ historic cards to be happy.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty

Limited: 4.5

In a nongreen deck, this is “just” a 4.0, but adding an insanely powerful late-game ability makes me very happy. The hexproof line is kind of flavor text because your opponent will want to kill this first anyway, but it can protect your creatures from situational removal that may not be able to hit Shalai. She’s plenty good regardless, and I shall be happy first-picking her.

Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle

Limited: 3.5 // 4.0

Teshar can be a whiff if you’re short on cheap creatures and historic spells, but I bet she’s a potent build-around if you see her early enough. Casting 0-mana Resurrections is a big game, and she generates a ton of value when left unchecked. If you can, try to save her until you can play her and a cheap historic spell in the same turn.

Tragic Poet

Limited: 0.5

A timeless tragedy and a perennial sideboard card, Tragic Poet hasn’t changed since the first printing nearly 20 years ago.

Triumph of Gerrard

Limited: 3.5

Triumph of Gerrard is a beating when you live long enough to see act 3, and at only 2 mana, is fast enough to make that possible. If your deck is creature-light, maybe skip this, but even in midrange or control I’d run this as a finisher if I had enough creatures.

Urza’s Ruinous Blast

Limited: 1.0 // 3.5

In a deck without support, this is literally uncastable. That isn’t good. In a deck with 5+ legendary permanents, it can be awesome, though it does get ruined if the opponent has sick legends of their own. My guess is that this isn’t worth going after from pick one, but can provide a good angle of attack in a deck that already has a few legends by the time you see this.

Top 5 White Commons

5. Sergeant-at-Arms
4. Call the Cavalry
3. Blessed Light
2. Pegasus Courser
1. Gideon’s Reproach

These commons are so interchangeable that I have trouble saying one is much better than the others. I think they are all context-dependent, and I could see taking any of these (or some not on this list), depending on what your deck needs. That’s not actually a great sign, as it means that white doesn’t have any real bomb commons, but it does at least have a bunch of solid ones. White also looks like it’ll be good at both attacking and defending, so at least it’s flexible.