Exciting Rares in Ixalan

I was absolutely correct in hoping that Ixalan would be able to impress me; I’ve been absolutely blown out of the waters by some of the rares in the upcoming set. This article is going to focus more on the fun side of things instead of the strictly good, so don’t expect to see the poor-man’s Gaia’s Cradle on here. While some of these cards are in fact good, I’m specifically looking for things that are fun. Wizards has a good habit of making good and fun archetypes collide!

Sunbird’s Invocation

This card had me grinning before I even started to think of ways to abuse it. Wizards are very careful about wording cards that let you cast things for free, but I think that being an Enchantment that costs 6 saved this. With removal being a staple for the format, (generally) three other players to worry about, and enough mana to scrap the rest of your turn for non-green decks, this card definitely makes up for it in power. When running this alongside another color:

Green: If you’re running green, more likely than not you’re already running big creatures, so there’s almost no harm in running this card. Ramp may or may not nab you another ramp spell or removal, but hard casting Kozilek can probably dig deep enough to grab a second finisher.

Blue: Casting a counter spell will shift your deck a bit; be prepared to work a little more on-the-fly than usual. Since the ability is a ‘may’, you can dump everything to the bottom. Do remember that this trigger will clear the stack before everything else on it; if you really want to counter something, you can grab one using this ability and your opponents will be forced to counter both of your counters if they want their spell to clear.

Black: This color is a bit more wonky; decks generally use black as either a removal toolkit or for finishers like Sheoldred. Depending on what the rest of your shell looks like, you’ll have to judge for yourself whether this will help or hinder you.

White: Unfortunately, White gets the short end of the stick. Because White likes to stay in the CMC five or less range, you won’t be getting a real bang for your buck out of this. Casting a five drop will get you a five-or-less, which isn’t terrible, but could also end in a whiff more often than not.

Please do remember that this is a cast trigger, so even if your spell is countered, you still get the trigger. This card will leave grins on the lips of whoever is playing it, and groans on everyone else’s.

Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Do I think this card is flawless? No. Do I think it’s playable? Yes! It’s pseudo-scry for two mana, which is fantastic. I really appreciate the fact that as Delirium moves out, more graveyard-centric cards are able to move in, with this being one of them. It’s a very sensibly costed, with the drawback being you lose the card to the graveyard instead of the bottom of your deck, but still offers it every turn until you ultimately flip it. The backside continues the theme of sensibly costed. Pay three, filter, get a card. I think the beauty of the card comes in how ‘meh’ it is. Veteran players will look at this and think that it’s alright and pass it by, but newer players will love it. If you’re building a new player a beginner EDH deck, this would be a beautiful card to give them. It teaches them about the difference between what to put in the graveyard and what not to, and how important filtering is. For that reason alone, it’s really hard to hate the card. Not only that, but the rare symbol is in the middle of the card, which looks like the perfect place for it. At the time of writing, the red flip enchantment hasn’t been spoiled yet, and I’m very excited to see it.

Revel in Riches

This card is just plain funny, and very exciting. Mechanized Production was cute, Approach of the Second Sun was interesting, and this card gives me a very good feeling that we’re going to see a ‘you win the game’ card every block from here on out. I hope that this assumption is correct, because this right here is what makes me want to play EDH. At the moment, I only have one deck to use, and that deck is Approach of the Second Sun. In my personal opinion, which is one from someone who plays Approach of the Second Sun competitively, I think Mechanized Production/Revel in Riches/Hellkite Tyrant could become an insanely viable deck. There is so much support for this already; Mycosynth Lattice, March of the Machines, etc. It’s very hard for me to pass up this card. Grixis token duplication is something I’m very, very interested in building in the coming months.

Settle the Wreckage

This is a card that makes me think ‘this is so terrible, I have to play it’. It’s so hard to say this card is good, but I want to try it and see it in action. Because it says ‘player’, you can target yourself, which can lead to some interesting arguments about it. Some may say giving your opponents more lands is too risky while also say nuking your own field to get lands is equally bad. The problem with these arguments is that you’re the one who gets to decide how much you’re committing. You get to choose when to demolish your opponent’s field in favor of the lands, and you also get to decide how many creatures you want to remove off your own side of the field when you’re using it on yourself. It’s the pickiest Path to Exile we’ll ever see. It’s just really hard for me to judge this right now, but I already know it’s going to lead to something funny in the future. All I know at the moment is that I’d probably want an exile effect for the original Eldrazi Titans, and this card gives them their effects before it can even clear the stack.

Primal Amulet/Primal Wellspring

While Search for Azcanta was for new players, this card is definitely looking to be broken open by experienced players. Right off the bat, the number of charge counters is just the right number to make it feel like there will be an equal number of games where it either flips or gets destroyed. I already know for a fact that as soon as I get my hands on one, it’s going into my Approach deck (Note: It’s not for Approach itself, but for cards like Expropriate and Diabolic Revelation to help me get the chance to cast it). Casting something twice is usually a good thing, and casting things cheaper is never a bad thing. At this moment, I have yet to come up with a good way to absolutely break this card (Copying Time Stretch for no extra cost is amazing, but not completely broken), but I’m sure it’ll come to me eventually. Copying a Howl of the Horde with a Raid trigger into something cheat like Glimpse the Unthinkable would be absolutely hilarious, especially if you throw Strionic Resonator into the mix to copy the Primal Wellspring trigger (The end result of these four cards would be Strionic doubling Primal Wellspring, giving you three Howls, giving you six copies of Glimpse plus the original, milling 70 for 7 mana). Having this happen is outlandish and improbable, but we’re talking fun, not logistics!

Hostage Taker

While Primal Amulet doesn’t bring a combo to mind for me, this one certainly does. It always feels good to make a combo better, and this does it perfectly. Great Whale and Deadeye Navigator is already a powerful combo, but tossing in this card makes it even better. Personally, I use Duplicant with Whale/Deadeye to board wipe, but Hostage Taker makes it a permanent steal! On the surface, this card is just plain funny. It’s an Oblivion Ring with a little Psychic Intrusion tossed in, which is amazing on its own, but it also has a combo to slide right into! I already know I’m going to hate seeing this card in EDH, but it’s just like Sunbird’s Invocation; as bad as it feels to get your stuff stolen, it’s just as fun to steal it yourself.

I hope everything that did make it on the list sees play in a few decks, even if it’s just for newer players like in the case of Search for Azcanta. I’m not seeing a lot of hype for these cards, even though Sunbird’s Invocation and Primal Amulet are playable cards. Right now 138 of the 279 cards have been spoiled, which means we’re exactly half way to the end of spoilers. Unfortunately, with 13 of the mythics spoiled, we won’t be seeing more than a handful more of them, but I do hope to get a chance to put the light on some more fun cards for EDH instead of just the strong ones. Prerelease is right around the corner, and I can’t wait to start cracking packs! Until then, I’ll just be happy knowing Ixalan is looking pretty good.