Previous 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.)
This could punish 1-toughness creatures enough to hit the mark, and be a viable sideboard card against aggressive decks. It’s context-dependent, but the power is there.
Cards in this vein always seem like they get close but don’t quite make it, except as niche sideboard options (see Gaea’s Revenge). That may end with Carnage Tyrant, as it’s aggressively-costed and very powerful. There’s something about casting this and knowing the opponent can’t do anything besides tap out for a sweeper, which puts you in the position of being able to resolve another big threat. Some decks won’t be able to answer this at all, and as long as your deck can handle small creatures, there’s not much that really punishes you for playing Carnage Tyrant. It can also gain haste thanks to Regisaur Alpha and Otepec Huntmaster, at which point you’re talking about one of the best burn spells imaginable. This card was hyped a ton, but I actually think it’s going to deliver, and there are metagames where this could rule the jungle. If the metagame ends up super fast, this gets a bit worse, but it’s built to prey on midrange and control, and I believe it does.
Commune with Dinosaurs
Card selection at this power level is few and far between, with the caveat here being that you need to play a ton of Dinosaurs. If this works reliably, the effect is worth 1 mana, kind of like an easier but less powerful Traverse the Ulvenwald. With 16 Dinosaurs in your deck, you’re about 80% to see one, so I’d aim there or higher to really make this work.
This is a fine sideboard card, even if it won’t be crushing tournaments any time soon. If there are enough good enchantments or big flyers to kill, this could cover some bases nicely.
Here is the actual Kitchen Finks of the set. Deathgorge Scavenger comes in with 2 life attached, gains you 2 if you can get an attack in, and can attack as a 4/3 if necessary. It also can disrupt the opponent by gorging on their graveyard (though one card a turn is more like munching, really), making this a good deal for 3 mana. It’s also what looks like the most relevant creature type in the set, which is a bonus.
It’s been many years since Quirion Dryad was a Constructed powerhouse (R.I.P. the Japanese foil Dryad I used to play in Vintage), but widening the range to noncreature spells does go a long way. This is a sweet card, and could be a reasonable finisher in a spell-heavy control deck.
Drover of the Mighty
Werebear is back, and now cares about a threshold of one Dinosaur. Adding any color is a nice upgrade too, and this clears the bar needed when it comes to a mana Elf. Drover of the Mighty is a good way to ramp your mana and have a relevant body in the mid- to late-game.
The uses for this are pretty niche, but as a sideboard card against a deck full of 2/1s, you could do worse.
The Isamaru of Merfolk is a nice addition to older formats, where mana isn’t an issue and this can spearhead a more aggressive U/G version of the deck. I’m not sure if the mana gets there in Standard, but a 2/2 for 1 is a solid incentive to try.
This reminds me of Silvergill Adept, though with fewer conditions on casting. The ability is less powerful than draw a card, but explore is good value, and this being a 3/2 sometimes does make me think it has legs.
I don’t actually think this is good enough, because the drawback really is incredibly costly. Because of the popularity of Ghost Quarter and Wasteland, people play basics even in older formats, and ramping the opponent on turn 1 is a surefire way to lose. This is a good set of stats, but I’d rather just play a worse mana base and go with Wild Nacatl if that were what I’m looking for.
Combining Ranging Raptors with Savage Stomp is one of the more badass ways to ramp your mana, and leaves you with a 3/4 to boot. This also blocks ground creatures effectively, and trades at an advantage with damage-based removal. That all adds up to a good value creature, and one that is going to see play.
Ranging Raptors’ big brother is also a card that will make its mark on Standard, as it’s burly, efficient, and will leave you up a card in many exchanges. This is good to ramp out on turn 3 or to rip on turn 7, which makes it worth a slot.
Stomping the opponent with fight cards isn’t something you normally see in Standard, but the numbers line up right for Savage Stomp. Paying 1 mana to kill a creature, get a +1/+1 counter, and more often than not, trigger enrage, is a great deal. This has deckbuilding restrictions (you’ve gotta play a bunch of Dinos), but those are easy enough to meet, and the reward is there. This being popular does make instant-speed removal much better, so watch out that you don’t get owned by someone killing or bouncing your creature in response.
This is cheap enough to be a sideboard card, and powerful enough that it’s worth trying to fight control with it. I don’t think it’s going to shape Standard or anything of the sort, but it’s a good tool to have in your arsenal.
Verdant Sun’s Avatar
7 mana is a ton to ask, but it’s going to be pretty hard to lose to aggro after resolving this. The cost likely breaks it, but it is worth shining a light on how powerful the ability is regardless.
3/5 worth of stats for 3 mana is a good deal, and 2/2 of that could potentially have haste. Vineshaper Mystic is a reason to make a deck full of fish, and unlike other lords, doesn’t care if the opponent kills this after you play it.
This is cheap enough that I can see exploring this deck, since there are a couple of reasonably-costed explore cards across a few colors as well. If you trigger this twice, you got there, and that doesn’t seem impossible (though as a whole this strategy seems a little light on power).
Top 3 Green Cards
It’s the day of the Dinos in green, as all the best cards are in that tribe (including both Raptors, which barely missed the top 3 cut). Dinosaurs really do bring the beats, and they look like they will be a boon to various flavors of green midrange decks. Is this where I talk about whether WotC should have worried more about whether they should make Dinos good, and instead they worried about whether they could?