Previous Ixalan Set Reviews
White | Blue | Black | Red | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands
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.
I get it—this is huge, and dreams of smashing with ginormous Brontodons is very appealing. That doesn’t change the fact that this costs 8 mana, has no protection from removal, and does nothing if it gets bounced or killed. If you really need a ramp payoff, certainly nobody else will, and you can pick up ol’ bronty just fine.
I like the combo of a solid defender and a nice little ping ability. This will pick off 2/1s, stop 3/3 flyers, and can even trigger your 2/3 or 3/2 enrage creatures (being able to fight your own creatures is uncommon).
I’m not a big fan of fogs in general, and this can’t even save you from dying to an alpha strike (only prevents damage to creatures). It does protect your creatures from removal, but that’s not enough to blind me to how bad this is.
As long as your curve has a decent amount of 5+ drops, this is a fine addition. In a beatdown deck, I’d leave it by the wayside, but otherwise I’m in.
Apparently this is a lot more mythic than Scaled Behemoth, but I guess being uncounterable and getting trample goes a long way. Regardless of the rarity symbol, this will cause carnage, as it’s impossible to stop except via combat, and big enough that it’s hard even with creatures. It’s nice being able to tap out and slam this, and know that almost nothing can go wrong.
This is slightly worse than Carnage Tyrant, mainly because of the worse stats and the lack of great abilities. It’s still a perfectly acceptable finisher, and a card I’ll play multiples of in a ramp deck. It doesn’t even sound bad to play one in a red-green beatdown deck, as a 6/6 trample is no laughing matter for the opponent.
Commune with Dinosaurs
In a deck with 10+ Dinosaurs, this provides a good amount of flexibility. A 1 mana spell that can find you lands or threats, depending on what you need, is valuable. The price is that you need Dinosaurs, or this becomes a glorified land, but once you pay that price this is a good addition. It also has what I assume is a playtest name that somehow slipped through, but that doesn’t affect game play.
Crash the Ramparts
Crash the Ramparts lives up to its name, as it will let you crash through for the final points of damage effectively. It’s expensive enough that you don’t get a ton of value in the early/midgame as you end up spending your whole turn on it, so I wouldn’t prioritize it. You want one of these to finish things off, but aren’t going to feel too bad if you don’t get it.
Two sideboard cards in one—hooray. This is mainly for flyers, but it’s nice that it can also hit enchantments if need be.
Deathgorge Scavenger is oozing with value. It’s a 3/2 that will often gain 2 life right away, and can attack as a 4/3 or gain additional life over the course of the game. It’s not a bomb, since the buff isn’t permanent and it does require cards in graveyards, but it’s a nice value creature that you will always play.
Limited: 1.5 // 3.5
In the right deck, this could be one of your best cards, though green-based spell decks are few and far between. Most of the time this will play as a 1/1 that becomes a 2/2 or 3/3 eventually, which is fine if you are Merfolk and probably not good enough otherwise. I’d want 10 or more spells before I started really getting excited here.
While strictly a beatdown card, Deeproot Warrior does its job, and does its job well. It gets in without fear, and will be a sought-after part of any aggressive strategy. This is a good card to be aware of since it’s quite the on-the-board trick if you block with a 2/2. I expect its kill count to be high at the prerelease.
Drover of the Mighty
This may seem like a mighty high grade, but a mana Elf (Druid) that becomes a relevant body later is a really big deal. Cards that are great on turn 2 and still solid later are prized possessions, and this works well even in non-Dinosaur decks.
Your opponent can toss their worst creature in front of this, making it an expensive and slow removal spell. It’s also susceptible to bounce and other instant-speed interaction, making me skeptical that I’ll ever play it.
This hits pretty hard, as getting through even once adds a ton of value. It’s also a solid 4/3 for 4, so you aren’t even paying for the ability. I’d take this, and I’d prioritize ways to get it through once I had it.
Grazing Whiptail is the definition of solid playable. A 3/4 reach for 4 is a good defender and decent attacker, and it’s even a relevant creature type.
I’m reasonably happy with this no matter what the outcome is. Explore is a powerful mechanic, and an 0/3 that draws a card or a 1/4 with “scry” is certainly worth 2 mana (though I wouldn’t run this in aggressive decks).
Alongside other 2/2s for 2, this is fine if that’s what you’re in the market for. The ability costs a ton, so you really are just playing this because you are keeping your curve in mind.
I’m actually in for this. It’s a 3/3 hexproof for 4 at worst, and there are plenty of Merfolk that could use +1/+1 counters. I also like that Mark of the Vampire and One With the Wind give you some sick combos, allowing you to build a gigantic Jade Golem if that’s what you want to do.
Here’s a secret: Don’t play Jungle Delver. It’s too small and the ability is too expensive, even in a Merfolk deck.
In blue-green, this is a fine playable, but outside of that I think I’ll pass. I don’t want my 2/2 relying on having other creatures in play, as a 2/2 isn’t even that good once the game gets to turn 5 or 6.
I really like the cost and stats on this one. Every deck will gladly play as many of these as they can—even control. It doesn’t count as branching into aggro if your 2-drop draws you a card, right?
Gift of Paradise ended up being a bit better than it looked, and this does have more of an effect on the board. That said, you do need to be a serious ramp deck before this does what you are looking for.
This is an aggressive rating, but it’s for a reason. I do think it’s possible that this fits into an aggro deck, but it seems horrendous to me. Compare this to Wanted Scoundrels, for example. A land is a little better than 2 Treasures early, but the main difference is that they get the land when you play this, not many turns later when it dies. Playing this on turn 1 seems like an easy way to lose the game, as the opponent just plays a 3/2 on turn 2 and trades, or a 4/4 on turn 3 or 4. Where it might be good is on turn 3 or 4, alongside another drop, but that seems too situational to count on. Maybe this will grow on me as the format goes on, but my initial impression is that this is quite bad.
The common fight spell is usually pretty good, and having enrage synergies (plus large creatures) means this doesn’t disappoint. Take it, play it, and be happy you have it.
This ranges from good to great, and it’s very hard to imagine the Raptors doing worse than getting a 1-for-1. Most of the time it’ll trade and pick you up a land, which is fantastic, and if you can trigger the ability yourself you will feel like a clever person indeed.
As someone who is also always ravenous, this gets a pass from me. It’s not a bad card by any stretch, but a 3/2 that trades and gains you 2 life isn’t a high priority. You also don’t get the life when you need it, so it’s not going to save you in many close games.
Now here is a Raptor that actually belongs in the Hall of Fame. This would be awesome without the enrage ability, and it punishing the opponent for blocking or pointing damage to it seems absurd. I’m definitely slamming this.
River Heralds’ Boon
Limited: 1.0 // 3.5
I really like this in Merfolk decks, and think it’s unplayable outside of them. Getting two +1/+1 counters at instant speed is a giant beating, as you will win combat and be left with a bunch of value. You can spread the counters out or put them in the same place, and combined with +1/+1 counter synergies and hexproof Merfolk, this becomes awesome.
The name is perfect here, as this is both savage and a stomping. If you can play a 4-drop Dinosaur and eat their 4-drop on turn 5, you are almost assuredly going to win, and this even has nice enrage bonuses. This is playable outside of Dinosaurs too, so taking it early can never go wrong.
I don’t know how this format is shaping up exactly, but I’d be shocked if this wasn’t purely a sideboard card. It looks like a very good one since some decks will just get owned by it, but drawing it on turn 5 against a deck with only a few interactions seems too bad to risk.
Slice in Twain
Green has its sideboard game on point.
If your opponent attacks into this, you get to snap them off and keep a 5/5. If they are clever and play around it, you aren’t even punished, as you get to drop this end of turn and just attack on your turn. A card that’s a blowout when it works and still very good when it doesn’t is a good card.
This won’t actually block very many additional creatures because I won’t be playing it often. It’s kind of a dorky vanilla dude, and you can do better.
7 is a lot of mana, so I’m not over the moon about this, but it’s still going to be great when you ramp into it. It’s an engine all by itself, and is a legit way to finish the game in a ramp or control deck.
Explore cards are still good.
I have to admit, I’m curious about this card. It’s a mediocre way to save a creature, as you have to re-cast it (though that does re-trigger enter-the-battlefield abilities). But it not only is a 2-for-1 when it works—you can effectively cycle it by just firing it off. I think that adds up to enough value that you should almost always play it, and I can see moving up the rating after playing with it a few times.
Verdant Sun’s Avatar
I like how much life this gives you, as it basically stabilizes the board all by itself. It laughs at bounce, and makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to win a race.
Given that this can target itself, it’s at worst a 2/4 for 3, and often much better than that. This is a real reason to draft Merfolk, and is good even if you don’t quite get there.
Waker of the Wilds
This effectively draws you a card every time you activate it because lands in the late game are often a resource you have tons of. A 3/3 for 4 that makes 5/5s and 6/6s is awesome, and this is one of the better cards you can open.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In a deck with 5+ explore cards, I’m willing to play this. It’s not the worst fail case in the world when you miss, and a 2/4 that gains you 3 is already worth plenty.
Top 5 Green Commons
I don’t know how often you can actually end up in Merfolk, because River Heralds’ Boon is easily the 2nd best common if you can reliably cast it for 2 counters. Otherwise, green has a decent mix of defensive and aggressive cards, though it looks overall more aimed at ramp/defense.