Previous Rivals of 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.)
Cherished Hatchling is cute, and has a powerful effect. The best use I can think for it is to flash in Dinos at the end of the opponent’s turn after they use a sweeper, which makes it a charming sideboard option. I don’t think you’re actually going to get many fights going with this, but stranger things have happened.
This card gets out of control quickly, and is flexible to boot. You can load up all of the counters on an unblockable 1/1, or you can spread them around to be less vulnerable to removal. If Merfolk ends up being a deck in Standard, I think Elite will be a part of it.
Enter the Unknown
There’s a joke about exploring multiple times here, but I’m above it. This doesn’t pay for itself often enough, and isn’t worth an entire card as a result.
Ghalta, Primal Hunger
This kind of cost reduction is no joke, and I can easily see Ghalta hitting the board for 2 mana. Big monsters that die to removal don’t often fare well in Constructed, but 12/12 is so monstrously large that you force them to have it immediately or die. Plus, I can empathize with the primal hunger part of the card.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s to not count out 1-mana Merfolk that look crappy. This comes bearing gifts, and any 1-drop Merfolk has outs to show up.
I thought we’d learned our lesson with Rogue Refiner, but I guess not. This is a hybrid card draw engine and big creature, and will see a ton of play in Standard over the next year. It reminds me of Tireless Tracker, and what it loses in long-game power it makes up for in efficiency.
Path of Discovery
This is probably not the way, but it does offer enough of a persistent advantage that I can see it being key in a grindy matchup. Making all of your creatures half-cantrips that are sometimes bigger is a powerful ability, and this pays for itself 3-4 creatures in.
This is mostly useful for bizarre Magic puzzles, but it is good at that.
Double-green is pretty brutal for a tribe that wants to be base blue, and I’d swiftly move up my grade if this cost 2G. The ability and body are both nice, but it’s just hard to imagine a Merfolk deck that has easy access to GG.
As easily as this dies, it’s obscenely powerful if it lives. I like the idea of this as a sideboard card against decks that have trouble removing it, and know that if it survives for any amount of time, you will run away with the game.
This is a Naturalize I’m interested in. This thrashes the opponent until they play something worth killing, at which point it can take one for the team. It’s a great combo of stats and cost, and has a useful ability at most points in the game.
Dino decks are back on the menu, as this gives them the 2-drop accelerant they sorely needed. The cost of playing a bunch of Dinos isn’t high when you consider all of the high-quality beasts running around, and this gives them access to an effect deemed too good for Standard (at least without jumping through some hoops).
If Amulet decks need more copies of Azusa, Lost but Seeking, they have my blessing.
Top 3 Green Cards
Green got a ton of action, and there were multiple great cards that didn’t crack the top 3. That’s a great haul for a small set, and green seems like it’s staying in position to be the top dog in Standard.