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.)
Constructed has advanced past 3 power for 2 mana being exciting by itself, but adding a good protection ability makes this interesting. It’s not great against aggro, given that it blocks as a 1/1 and costs you 4 life if they block, though I can see it backing up a white beatdown deck as another aggressive 2-drop.
Ashes of the Abhorrent
This is purely a sideboard card, and a niche one at that. It’s not a wide-ranging graveyard hoser, as it doesn’t stop cards like Narcomoeba, Ichorid, or Nether Shadow, but it does shut down Cabal Therapy, Phantasmagorian, Dread Return, Conflagrate, and other things like Snapcaster Mage and Torrential Gearhulk. That’s not likely enough, but you never know.
It’s not a big mystery that this is sideboard-only, and quite mediocre.
A 1/1 flyer for 1 in a relevant tribe that has a useful activated ability could get there, even if Vampires doesn’t look like it’s got everything it needs yet.
If this always had double strike, it would be an interesting way to make use of pump spells. Requiring a Dinosaur makes it tougher, and it might be hard to put all of the pieces together.
This does not come with everything and the kitchen sink, but it still might be a fine option against red decks.
Cast Out isn’t seeing a ton of play, and this is way less powerful, though the upside of sniping a key card and stranding the rest is pretty sweet.
The combination of an aggressive creature with evasion and an ability that prevents blocking is nice. For this to be playable, there would need to be a ton of creature decks battling, and for a 2/3 flyer to line up right against the removal. I don’t see that right now, given how many Lightning Strikes, Abrades, and Harnessed Lightnings are running around, but this might make it at some point.
It doesn’t seem too hard to get Legion’s Landing to flip, at which point you get a 1/1 lifelink and a token-generating land for just 1 mana. If you can reliably flip in the first few turns, this does a lot, and it can be a great addition to any low-curve beatdown deck. A creature that is also a land (and a land with an extra ability no less) is worth investigating, especially now that your 1-drops will no longer do the investigating for you.
Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
Assuming you get a Vampire right away, this isn’t the worst deal in the world. I won’t feign too much interest, but you could do worse in a 3-drop lord.
Priest of the Wakening Sun
The tutor ability is expensive enough that I don’t see it pulling its weight against control decks, and gaining 2 a turn isn’t going to do much there either. It could be a sweet sideboard card against aggro, so if there’s a midrange white deck full of Dinos, this could be worth a look.
Is this the new Elixir of Immortality? Probably not, but it’s a cute way to deck the opponent while you gain 30 life a turn.
Settle the Wreckage
Even if the opponent leaves creatures back to play around this, you’ve bought yourself a full turn at least. Add that to the ability to wipe the opponent’s board and you have a very real card. Giving them lands is meaningful, but the returns are indeed diminishing, and at some point this gains effective card advantage.
Gods Willing saw some play, though that could make a creature unblockable as well. This has potential if you have a deck that needs to protect critical creatures, even if being unable to stop bounce or exile effects does give me pause.
Wakening Sun’s Avatar
Eight is just too much to rely on, unless you are ramping absurdly well. I also don’t like that this misses on some big Standard threats, making me less inclined to root for the Dino in this particular battle.
Top 3 White Cards
White got a mix here—Settle the Wreckage is a solid addition to control, and Legion’s Landing to aggro, with Inspiring Cleric as a potential sideboard card for any archetype. That covers most of the bases, and gives white a few ways to impact Standard.