Welcome back to RogueDeckbuilder.com!
Boy howdy it has been quite some time since this site has seen some love. Before we get into the swing of things I have some housekeeping I would like to address with everyone. I am a new contributor here on the RogueDeckbuilder.com. Dwelling in the backwoods of the Ohio River Valley, you will often find me lurking about in Kevin’s livestreams or you can even contact me on Twitter. FatalAryia is my default screen name anywhere you can think to find me, and I welcome feedback and criticisms while I work on getting into my stride.
This article is the first in a series (hopefully) of opinion pieces that I will be doing for Kevin. Some of these will, like this one, be followups to videos on his channel; typically card spoilers, deck techs, and most things related to the game and its cards directly, however if there is any topic I feel worth writing about, you’ll probably see my opinions getting blogged here. I am a draft and commander player primarily, although I have a reasonably sized collection of Modern cards. A disjointed amalgam of staples and assorted jank pieces for every fringe deck I have ever conceptualized or witnessed in my tenure with the game. No, I do not have an MTGO account, all of this is in paper. Deck building is my favorite aspect of Magic, though I am Far // Away from being anything close to an expert. Especially lately, I’m more of a filthy casual with strong opinions in it for the fun. I do have a fairly decent eye for cards that have the potential to completely alter the course of modern however. I called both Amulet of Vigor and Lantern of Insight months before their pro tour victories, and Worm Harvest is an absolute monster of a card that the community at large will one day have to reckon with. Mark my words. With all that out of the way, “Onwards,” I say! Let’s finally get into this.
I hope that everyone’s Rivals of Ixalan prereleases went well, I unfortunately had to miss my own, but there are only a handful of times you get invited to an open-fire pig roast; the kind with the whole pig, so can you really blame me? (That question is rhetorical especially if you are a vegan.) So, to celebrate and to kick off 2018, we’re delving into Kevin’s mind to see just what are the top 10 cards (of this set of 196) he thinks he can continue to “go rogue with.” Consider this your primer of cards you can expect to see ruining your net deck’s shot at the top 8.
Top 10 Brew Cards from Rivals of Ixalan – Published January 7th, 2018
#10 – Bass’s Bounty™
Check description in the original video and help me meme this, eh?
This may be the lowest on the list, but the implications around this card are huge. As a whopping 6R sorcery spell, Bass’s Bounty™ is the epitome of jank. A fact that has been impossible to remiss by both our host Kevin Crimin and his rival, the King of Jank; Seth (probably better known as Saffron Olive). The jank energies radiating off this card was so intense that the “Jank Off” competition emerged was created as an attempt for our Champions to stabilize the lingering radiation and close the rift in space-time. Or something to that effect. A contest of speed, wits, and nondescript win conditions, both brewer’s seek to build the best deck that exploits this card; it’s like the Rogue Brew Master Competition, except not dead and inaccessible to the unwashed masses. So what can you expect from this card?
Well… On curve it provides you seven artifact tokens for seven mana. A fair exchange rate, especially since those artifacts can also double as mana if needed. However unlike other ramp cards, I don’t think you play Bass’s Bounty™ for the mana ramp. You play it because you want artifact tokens and lots of them. Because the spell scales, green is a strong color to play with it to get out more lands out faster, especially in a format like commander where you can literally strip your deck of every land with the plethora of rampant growths. Other artifact mana and creature mana is a detriment to casting this spell unless you have a specific combo in your win condition, like Marionette Master. To speculate on what Kevin is doing without going into too much detail (because of course he’s going to use this card)… Marionette Master comes out the turn before you cast Bass’s Bounty™, this sequencing offers an immediate win condition once you resolve both cards. You only need five artifacts if your Marionette Master is a 4/6. So if you can find a way to cast Bass’s Bounty™ with only five lands, you can expedite the turn you win without compromising the win condition. SaffronOlive has not been nearly as transparent with what his plans are for this card. This may be due to the fact that Team Rogue Deckbuilder has already claimed what is likely the most competitive card to combo with Bass’s Bounty™. And yet I wouldn’t underestimate Seth just yet, he wasn’t crowned King Jank arbitrarily. Team Goldfish has home field advantage here.
Does a color-shifted Boundless Realms have what it takes to make it in constructed? Is Kevin’s Marionette Master just the card to break it? Which brew will come out on top? Who the hell is even keeping score anyway? Regardless, you can count on seeing this card in many RedX artifact decks in commander for years to come. Have fun with that.
#09 – Hadana’s Climb//Winged Temple of Orazca
Energy is dead; Long live Evolve
Rumors whispering on the wind tell me that the next on our list believes that Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista aren’t done quite yet in standard. Next up on the list, Hadana’s Climb is one of the easiest of the flip lands to trigger in Rivals and because of that it is easily one of the most competitive. Whether you go with simic merfolk or sultai value or something a bit roguer, there is a lot of flexibility to this card. The fact that it flips on combat instead of upkeep is probably just what this card needed to avoid the dreaded label of “do nothing” enchantment. Though trust me, there will be plenty of ways out there to do nothing with a card like this. Personally I’m excited for the reality where this card becomes #1 in standard. Maybe then Solemnity could actually see play. Though maybe not… That card was an utter failure in standard. Modern has done well with it though and maybe Hadana’s Climb could do well there too.
The Simic Evolve shell seems like a good starting point to slot in this card; on color, uses counters… The problem in the past has been that Evolve is effectively a worse Death’s Shadow without offering much utility to really stand out as anything but a budget option. Hadana’s Climb//Winged Temple of Orazca offers new avenues for the deck to explore and maybe if Evolve can run a powerful card like Stubborn Denial along side the one shot potential of the Temple, maybe that is enough to change things.
Of course this card has commander potential and EVERYONE loves to bring up Ezuri, Claw of Progress so no. I won’t. I refuse to give that card any more attention. Instead I’ll just remind everyone that The Mimeoplasm and Vorosh, the Hunter exists and leave it at that. Who plays Sultai for Voltron anyway? Not enough people in my experience. Maybe YOU should.
Creates tokens, draws cards, fills graveyard? You SURE this is supposed to be an uncommon?
I was quite ashamed at how few uncommons made it onto Kevin’s list. Uncommons are the backbone of our entire civilization. They shape strategies, build archetypes, they give decks direction and reasons to be. A lot of the best cards in Magic find their roots as humble uncommons. At #8 Pirate’s Pillage being the only uncommon is just confirmation that Rivals of Ixalan really didn’t deliver with all that many quirky uncommons for the rogue minds. A lot of them just seemed… obvious… Two mana vampire and merfolk lords and the four mana pirate lord. Gee, I wonder where I’m supposed to play with these…
I guess not everything can be a Cloudblazer or Renegade Rallier, but value based uncommons are the spices that make constructed Magic a unique experience. They are fun cards to hunt down in a draft when you don’t know what you want to do. Haunted Dead and Lashweed Lurker in Eldritch Moon defined an entire season of drafting for me, the best I’ve done since Rakshasa Gravecaller and Youthful Scholar in Dragons of Tarkir. But Rivals of Ixalan… Most of the uncommons are either “fixed” versions of old cards, too entangled to set mechanics, or good and I’m glad they exist… But meh… Not my hype. Guess dinosaurs would be the best place to have fun uncommons this season… Or black… Black has New-krattal and a recursive vampire. But I’m supposed to be talking about Pirate’s Pillage. So yeah… Let’s do that.
Pirate’s Pillage is like a better version of Pore Over Pages, which is in turn like a fixed Frantic Search. The thing that stands out about Pirate’s Pillage is that the mana can carry over until the next turn, making it like a slower Frantic Search but with ramp potential for the next turn. Pore Over Pages is actually quite good late game if you are playing commander with a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. One of the benefits of always running Frantic Search in commander btw. So you lose out on that same turn mana ramp but it offers a resource for later turns. So yeah, much better on curve than its blue counterparts.
#07-5 Green/White Tokens
Kevin decided he would lump all of these together to talk at length about reviving green/white tokens, as if people want to relive Call of the Conclave and Voice of Resurgence. I’m not all that keen on talking at length about what you can do with them because if you literally just read the three cards listed below in tandem, you’ll just see what everyone sees and risk something inside you bursting from the sheer value. This easily could feel like some sort of legacy elf combo once the ball gets rolling. If only Cryptolith Rites existed still… Maybe you could build your own with Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Honestly, these cards are something of an issue I’m starting to become concerned of as time goes on. Sure it is fine and all to have this deck reemerge in standard, but as these cards bleed into a format like commander? Green/White specifically has a whole host of cards that are just “no duh” staples, and it really stagnates the format the more Mirari’s Wake, Verdant Force, and Kavu Lair clones are printed. Not saying that every iteration is a mistake or that the format doesn’t benefit from Fecundity or Heartbeat of Spring, it’s just that when there are so many “good” cards that all basically say the same thing, all of a sudden it’s like you aren’t even playing a singleton format, and it isn’t like these cards are overly spikey like black tutors often become, so Wizards seems to have very little apprehension when it comes to just reprinting these effects with almost as much regularity as Duress.
I dunno, these cards used to excite me, but I think I’m just burnt out from watching green/white dominate my playgroup for about a year and a half. I’ll just give each card a one sentence quip and we all can just move on from here. and Strength of the Pack… So yeah, there is that.
Huatli, Radiant Champion
Gideon, Champion of Justice upgrade… Just in case you weren’t convinced that there is some sort of RtR block throwback going on here.
Another sweet high mana 2/2 that I can’t play in my Alesha, Who Smiles at Death EDH deck.
Path of Discovery
I wonder if you jammed every single “EDH Staple” green enchantment into the same deck if the cards would just implode from all the “do-nothing” redundancy?
#04 – Path of Mettle// Metzali, Tower of Triumph
Akroma’s spirit lives on; far into the modern days of MtG.
The splurge of keywords that defined this particular angel, both in red and white versions, along with the fact that it is Akroma’s Memorial that often becomes the premiere win condition of countless Boros token strategies, is it any wonder that a sub archetype around keywords would emerge within this aggressive color pairing? Keywords matter. Odric, Lunarch Marshal is one of the first cards that really got the gears turning on this idea but yeah, considering the amount of criticism around red/white not having much else to its identity besides hyper aggro, it seems as if the design space for Boros will continue to expand on into this realm of crowded rules textboxes. Personally if it means more cards like this, I’m eager to see where this leads.
Has anyone else noticed how many keywords end up on creatures in each color? The top three colors with the largest keywords-to-creature ratio has to be white, red, and green, right? I’ll make a note to do the math on that some day. But yeah, Path of Mettle is a weird enchantment that cares a whole awful lot about what makes a card special and punishes those that are vanilla. Muraganda Petroglyphs is most displeased.
Anyway it is a neat little removal for all the random X/1s without the typical red/white keywords coupled with a boggle-wrecking flip side that absolutely could make it playable in a modern R/W tempo deck.
This is the only transform card that actually “transforms.” No dying. No flickering. Just flips.
What is Azor doing on Ixalan? No seriously… I was half joking when I said that there was some intentional throwback to RtR going on. I overlooked Vraska’s appearance in the last set because the story that put her on Ixalan was actually pretty good and having a familiar face was just what was needed to juxtapose the rebooting of Jace’s character with his old self. But now I’m just wondering just how much Ravnica is in the Ixalan block. Anyway Sanctum of the Sun is broken. I cry a little every time I exile a card in EDH, but maybe this makes it worth it. The real moral conundrum is whether or not Oloro should get a payoff as powerful as this.
“The Seed of a world’s evil.”
I. Love. This. Card. Two lands I sought out real early on when I first started playing Magic are High Market and Volrath’s Stronghold. Lands that play with my graveyard are great because it is a slot in the deck dedicated to supporting the strategy while still being a land drop. Journey is as close to a spiritual successor to Stronghold as this set is going to get as it immediately reanimates something for effectively six mana. The difference between the effective three mana investment to the 6 is what kind of deck you’d be building around the card though. For example, Stronghold is really good in cheap value and attrition decks whereas Journey will want to be played alongside big hay-makers that can generate a cost reduction with big creatures. It is also instant speed, so you are absolutely capable of catching an Emrakrul, the Aeons Torn Blightsteel Colossus, or Worldspine Wurm before it shuffles back into the deck.
Because of this, I am sure that all the rumors about Sakura-Tribe Elder and Fulminator Mage getting played with this in modern is more than just mere rumors. It is too unique and powerful of an effect in the format to not see play somewhere. I have high hopes for this little aura.
“This card is my bae.” – Kevin Crimin
The more I hear Kevin talk about EDH, the more I come to understand that there is some sort of kindred spirit in the type of cards that draw us to the format. The end results of his decks tend to be far more brutally explosive as I intentionally build infinite combos out of my deck (unless they are incredibly convoluted), but Thada Adel, Aquisitor, Neheb, the Worthy, Nath, the Gilt-Leaf are all commanders I’ve tinkered with in the past and his reaction to Etali was practically the exact same as mine. Etali is amazing; worthy of the #1 slot. True to its name, Etali is really good at racking up your storm count by getting you up to three free spells from your opponent’s library. Choosing it also gives you the privilege of red, which means Relentless Assault effects abound in your color. If you are so bold as to run Aggravated Assault with Sword of Feast and Famine, you’re probably going to be the scum of your table, but at least everyones’ cards will get played.
Personally, I will probably try playing Etali in my mono red snow deck. I have a few flex slots for top end creatures and one of the deck’s goals is to play Aggressive Mining for the sheer smug factor, therefore anything that allows me to work around missing land drops, like casting stuff for free, becomes quite handy even if it comes from my opponent’s deck. Some might even argue that it is better when the spells aren’t your own.
So that was longer than I originally intended. Wow, that about does it. In conclusion, Rivals of Ixalan is a fun set that does well with exactly what it set out to be, a strong token and tribal set. There are a lot of new tools that can excite many people in many formats. Withholding tribal stuff, there is not a lot of innovation in the way of new archetypes, but from ascend to the flip lands, this set is making a big push towards turning some of the classics on its head.