Some of the best cards in Rivals of Ixalan are fairly obvious, but the set has some interesting cards outside of those that will obviously see some play. Let’s take a look at some of the cards that piqued my interest.
10) Arch of Orazca
There are a ton of utility lands in Standard at the moment, so Arch of Orazca may not see much play, but this card would be one of the best possible lands in a draw-go style control mirror, say between two U/W Approach decks. Field of Ruin keeps it in check, but with Search for Azcanta around, Arch of Orazca could be a way to overload Field of Ruin.
9) Crafty Cutpurse
Crafty Cutpurse is an interesting token hoser, and after we saw how powerful Wizards thought Rampaging Ferocidon was, maybe Crafty Cutpurse is next on the chopping block? I kid, I kid. But some of the most powerful decks left in the format have token makers. God-Pharaoh’s Gift has its namesake card and cards like Champion of Wits, where you can steal a huge creature and trigger. Abzan and Esper Tokens decks are still left untouched and you could have a huge game-swinging turn with Crafty Cutpurse. It’s pretty narrow, but with eternalize creatures, The Scarab God, and token decks running around, Crafty Cutpurse could be a sweet bullet for the sideboard.
8) Azor, the Lawbringer
Azor lines up poorly against both Ravenous Chupacabra and Hostage Taker in that it won’t shut them off with its triggered ability, but Azor lines up well against other removal as you can slam it against a tapped out opponent and then untap with counterspell mana up. It’s also an awesome way to bait and switch your win conditions with Approach decks, or act as a top-end finisher in God-Pharaoh’s Gift, which can also put it in play off of the Gift and give you a Sphinx’s Revelation turn. One attack from Azor, the Lawbringer can close out a game and it has some ability to protect itself, meaning that there are probably spots in the metagame where this card would hit the sweet spot.
We first saw PGO add Essence Scatter to Temur Energy because it was the only clean answer to both Gods and value creatures like Rogue Refiner. Hornswoggle is more expensive, but also nets you a Treasure, meaning that you invest your 1 mana for a mana to be used later, at any time. What I like about Hornswoggle is that it still cleanly answers the Gods and value creatures, but also lets you play a Torrential Gearhulk a turn ahead of schedule. On turn 5 you can cast a Gearhulk, flash back a Hornswoggle, and then again get additional mana. The added Treasure can also be used to trigger revolt for Fatal Push. I’m not sold on Hornswoggle, but I think it’s worth a try in Torrential Gearhulk control decks.
6) Tetzimoc, Primal Death
I have a rule. Whatever the best card is in a Limited format, it probably translates well to Standard even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. This has held up fairly well over the years and Tetzimoc is flat-out busted in Limited. For 1 mana a turn you can pick off their curve one creature at a time on lay away. By the time you get to 6 mana, you slam this down, wipe the board, and have a 6/6 deathtouch to rumble with. If the format becomes a slow, grindy midrange fest, Tetzimoc might find a place to break open the battlefield.
5) Trapjaw Tyrant
I’ve been disappointed by 5-mana white mythics before,( *cough* Crested Sunmare *cough*) but Trapjaw Tyrant is much better against Harnessed Lightning, a card that I still think will see play despite Rogue Refiner and Attune with Aether getting the axe. Trapjaw Tyrant also plays well with Savage Stomp and Reckless Rage, turning those cards into 1-mana 2-for-1s. With Ripjaw Raptor as well to gain value off of those cards, that sounds like an interesting shell for a 3-color Dinosaur deck.
4) Pirate’s Pillage
Pirate’s Pillage is both a way to filter and draw cards, but also ramps you to something big, like Gishath Sun’s Avatar or Wakening Sun’s Avatar. Or even God-Pharaoh’s Gift. I like the prospects of playing Pirate’s Pillage in a Dinosaur ramp deck as it will both dig you to a big creature and help you cast it, but it can also be huge in a God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck casting the Gift on turn 5 and putting a reanimation target directly into the graveyard. I think I know what I might experiment with first after the Pro Tour.
3) Profane Procession
On an empty battlefield, Profane Procession can easily take over a game on its own. Once you have the time, Profane Procession will provide you with inevitability against slower creature decks and has the ability to take over games single-handedly. Profane Profession exiles creatures, so it’s an excellent trump to The Scarab God in a slower matchup. You’re not going to want to play a lot of this card because its effect can be redundant, but having the ability to draw one in these kinds of matchups might make Profane Procession a high-powered sideboard 1-of.
2) Vona’s Hunger
It wasn’t too long ago that Vizier of Many Faces was used to trump Carnage Tyrants, a card that might see some more time on the battlefield. Vona’s Hunger is an edict effect we were lacking in Standard to efficiently deal with the uncounterable hexproof nightmare. Vona’s Hunger will also be a great card later in games with U/B Control when you can get the city’s blessing and 2-for-1 your opponent, killing two of their three creatures with one card. I think Vona’s Hunger is playable in a world where Carnage Tyrant sees an uptick in play. I’m sure that we’ll see a copy or two of this down the road in Standard decks.
1) Reckless Rage
4 damage for 1 mana is a solid deal. On top of that, you get to trigger enrage. The downside is, of course, that you have to have a creature in play that can survive the 2 damage, which pushes you to build your deck in a specific way. Savage Stomp will also play well in similar decks, giving you some redundancy to build around these removal spells and the better enrage creatures. I’m pumped to try these decks out but I suspect we may not get to see all of these tribal decks shine until after rotation, if at all.
What cards do you think could be good that no one’s talking about?