Ixalan in EDH: Our Current Mythics

Ixalan in EDH: Our Current Mythics

A lot of cards we're seeing feel sub-par, but that doesn't mean they're unusable.

I would like to start off by saying that Ixalan has disappointed me so far. The first impressions I’m getting is just underwhelming, and I still haven’t determined whether that’s because I set the bar too high, or because it’s in all honesty just plain bad. As of this writing, exactly eight mythics have been spoiled: these can be broken down into one Planeswalker, three legendary creatures, and four miscellaneous others. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that there are at least seven more mythics coming our way, and hopefully at least one of them will be more impressive than what we have right now.

Jace, Cunning Castaway

Again, hopefully, the cards we haven’t seen will be more impressive; or, more specifically, I hope Vraska doesn’t end up being as terrible as this Jace is. Personally, I hate Jace from a story perspective, but a lot of that billows out onto the cards as well. I doubt that Wizards will ever run out of ways to use Jace, but I feel like it’s time to take a break from this blue walker. If we saw less of him, he could come back as a stronger card. Strength is one thing this card is lacking. The plus relies on a big if. You don’t get any benefits unless you make a connection with your opponent. You can be swinging away, but if your opponent has enough blockers to just trade creatures, then you gain nothing other than the loyalty counter from activating it. There isn’t a situation where I’d want to pay three mana just for the 2/2 Illusion, and the ultimate just brings us more ‘if’s. If this card were to find its way into EDH, it would be in Superfriends exclusively for the infinite token combo it gets with Doubling Season. One combo isn’t enough to make waves in EDH. In the coming months, it may find a home in Standard, but it isn’t anywhere near being the new EDH staple.

Admiral Beckett Brass

I’m absolutely torn with this card right now. I want to love it so much, but I’m not quite there yet. When Ixalan is done and we’re off to the next plane, I’m sure there will be a lovely deck waiting for it to helm, but right now it’s a pirate without a treasure trove of useful cards to stand beside. He’s a Grixis 3/3 for four, which is already a good start, and then he has a creature subtype specific anthem to him. This screams themed deck, and I cannot wait to start seeing these to start showing up to my FNM. The triggered ability amuses me, but I don’t think it’ll be relevant too often due to Unblockable being a traditionally Merfolk ability, and considering we have Pirates and Merfolk in the same set, it’ll probably go to the Merfolk. I do believe it’ll be funny when it does happen; I just don’t count on it being often. My only problem with him is that virtually all Pirates will be coming from Ixalan, which means the card pool to choose from will be very narrow. I hope players won’t mind being forced to use mediocre commons and uncommons in a format where ‘good stuff’ is a type of deck.

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

There is not a card that has let me down more than this one. We’ve heard of Dinosaurs for months now, and it was obvious that they’d fall into part of the Naya spectrum, so I was ready for some serious beat down dinos. This is the exact card that makes me think ‘maybe I set my expectations too high because a lot of people seem to be fawning over this, but I can’t bring myself to even want to build it. An eight drop for a 7/6 with three keywords is very impressive, yes, I understand that, but the problem is that it costs eight. Think of the triggered ability; this is an aggressive card, it wants to come out swinging, but it’s not going to come out until late game. Your opponents will see it coming from a mile away; they know that as soon as turn eight comes, you’ll be dropping that beast to put your deck into action. Why would you run Gishath if you’re not running dino-tribal? There’s absolutely no chance that they’re not sitting on a counterspell or a kill spell. Considering Carnage Tyrant another mythic Dinosaur that has both ‘can’t be countered’ and Hexproof, it’s an absolute shame that those abilities didn’t go to Gishath. I’d trade Vigilance and Haste for even a little bit of protection any day.

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Of the three Legendaries we’ve seen so far Tishana has my vote for most potential. Prime Speaker Zegana is already a powerful commander that focuses on having something big, now we have a version that likes to go wide. A friend of mine is in the process of foiling out his Prime Speaker Zegana, so my opinion might be swayed a bit, but I definitely think Tishana will be a solid Commander. What gives her a leg up over Gishath is that she doesn’t need to hit the field at a specific moment in gameplay, and she doesn’t need to stay there to be effective. In the wake of a board wipe, even if you wait for two turns and draw only two or three cards, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for you. The more the merrier though: drawing closer to or beyond ten cards could be devastating to your opponents. While she may not be the most impressive when compared to all of the potential commanders in Magic’s history, I do expect to see her played a few times.

Rowdy Crew

There’s nothing much to say here other than this card is terrible. Discarding at random is never pleasant and is only ‘okay’ when you don’t care about a single card in your hand, and if you don’t care about a single card in your hand, then why are you playing any of them? There stands the argument that there are decks built to abuse the graveyard, or that there are cards that rely on discarding, but there are better ways to do it than this. Discarding without a choice of what goes is a dangerous game to play. Beyond just that, does it matter if you get the shared card types anyways? Casting this card on turn 4 and netting the two +1/+1 counters isn’t going to be a game ender. Save yourself some time and keep this out of your deck, you’ll be replacing it if you try it anyways.

Star of Extinction

Let’s break this one down: Day of Judgment costs four mana, Stone Rain costs three mana, so Star of Extinction costs seven mana. Do I think this card is good? No. Do I want to run it? Yes. Will I run it? No. This card is funny in a flavorful way, and I think I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t printed. It’s not fantastic, but it’s leagues and bounds above Rowdy Crew (which I don’t think would even cost a quarter at rare level). The first effect is alright, by turn seven you could be knocking out a Shrine to Nyxthos, Thespian Stage, or an Alchemist’s Refuge, but I usually frown upon land destruction. Land destruction for seven would give me a decent laugh at least. There’s not much else to say here other than players who run Stuffy Doll or other damage-matters cards will like it.

Boneyard Parley

I love janky cards, and this card gets me excited for Ixalan. Things to note: the creature cards don’t have to be from your own graveyard; the card does not exile itself; the phrase ‘up to’ means there doesn’t have to be a full five targets; anything you don’t choose goes to the graveyard to be picked again later. I am absolutely hyped for this card. I know some people may find it unimpressive, but I think this will be fun to play. If you do decide to run this card, there will always be a use for it. Worst comes to worst you’re reanimating either one big baddie because your opponents tried to sway you from picking it, or you’re reanimating four creatures to go wide. The card’s drawback comes in the mana cost, but for the effect, you’re getting it’s not too much of an issue.

Carnage Tyrant

Well, if it isn’t the card we mentioned earlier. Carnage Tyrant has all the protection in the world but is otherwise fairly vanilla. If Dinosaur Tribal is going to be a deck, expect to see this in every single one. It’s certainly not a game winner, but it’s still a solid card. A 7/6 isn’t something to scoff at, but this card falls into the trap of ‘could I be running something better’. I feel like if this card is put into a deck that runs green, there’s a lot of things that could simply fill the slot better. Not every card can be perfect, but I at least feel like this card is deserving of the mythic title (unlike another rowdy bunch we’ve already talked about…).

So far Ixalan has yet to impress me, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the set can’t change my mind. There are at least seven more mythics coming, and I’m excited to see them. One thing that I really want to see is another Legendary Creature for each tribe. Considering the fact that we have yet to see a multicolored Legendary Vampire, I expect one to be spoiled soon enough. One thing I do expect to see is one more absolutely terrible mythic, and one that’s absolutely insane. We still have almost three weeks until release, which is plenty of time for Ixalan to sway me!

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

He was here. We were better for it.

Rest In Peace to one of the greatest minds of our time. Most of us can only hope to contribute even a fraction to our human earth’s identity, knowledge, and culture as this brilliant man. Nobody knows how many almost-known secrets of the universe silently pass with him, and sleep for centuries until another generation rediscovers the paths he started — a legacy the icons of scientific discovery have continuously left before him, and surely will after. Condolences with his family and friends, to whom he was not a great explorer of the unknown or a symbol of resilience and excellence against all odds, but merely a man who they loved.

To the people like me, the bullied childhood nerds relentlessly assaulted with accusations and otherness with their only crime being relentless curiosity, the overambitious kids from less-than-promising backgrounds, the very-flawed very-human questioners restlessly Wondering and wandering and longing to understand Everything, the ones so used to being underestimated they can’t tell which inner voice is self-doubt and which is a memory... people like Hawking have always been bright shining lights in the dark.

I want to ask note, briefly, with respect to my own privacy - as someone like me, who was told at a young age I was going to die, and felt at a young age that my body was trying to, and was surrounded by open-ended evidence that a diagnosis would define me and put a loud limiting countdown on my life, Hawking’s defiance of medical odds mattered. He did it for himself, not for all of us, but it mattered.

And as someone who watched her own mother be diagnosed with a short life expectancy, plagued with excruciating pain, and told to expect decay of quality of life and function for as long as Time was endured... Hawking’s story mattered. He outlived a death sentence with shining colors - how man can say that?

My mom being told over and over she had less than 6 months rings in my ears all the time. The first time was 5 years ago, when I was just 17, and I’ve never stopped feeling lost. I’ve never stopped feeling like another shoe is about to drop. I’ve never stopped feeling like at any minute, I could lose everything. I’ve never stopped feeling on edge. I’ve never stopped having the thought creep in as fall asleep at night, like we are all counting the days of borrowed time. Any missed call freaks me out. Any time away from home freaks me out. Any conversations not spent laughing and distracted freak me out. Silence and stillness and seriousness freaks me out. Doctors, hospitals, sickness, closeness, rain-checks, the list goes on.

But I’ve also understood a lot of things in mortality that you can’t have a theoretical knowledge of. You have to feel it. Optimism. Emptiness. Stillness. Grief. Preparatory grief. Dread. Inevitability. Shutting your mind off consciously just to enjoy a moment. Enjoying the moment. Sunlight on your skin. Hugs you don’t want to let go of. Voices you’re scared to forget. Looking at the world around you to see what is missing in you. What it means to memorize the way an ocean sounds, or what the air feels like. What it means to run. What it means to heal. What it means to need someone, and to need something. To take an internal audit of your own life and know what you’ll sacrifice for what or who, what your life-or-death priorities are. What it means to hope. To seek a purpose. To cling to stories like fables and religious anecdotes. To collect examples of people who have Survived This as proof you can present to the other side of your own mind that’s crippling itself with What Ifs. To see someone do something and start to believe you just might make it.

I don’t remember when I latched onto Hawking’s story, or others like him. (I’m a girl with campaign quotes from Jared Padalecki tattooed on both wrists, so clearly I’ve seen some stuff, and clearly I’ve felt some stuff, and clearly I’m not above or averse to shamelessly finding my own heroes).

I know SH didn’t seem the type to appreciate a certain brand sentimentality, especially the spiritual kind. (If I had ever written a letter, and I didn’t, I wouldn’t have dared mention my private convictions about destiny, unwavering as they’ve been - especially the last decade, and the last 5 years.)

Instead, I’ll say this: he got his diagnosis and his sentence, and he said “not me” and went on to live, ferociously, a full lifetime. And that was enough. And it wasn’t enough. He made a business out of the extraordinary. He went on to change the whole world.

Who laughs now? Who doubts in looking at his legacy, as we all think in eulogies, that he did exactly what he set out to do?

I don’t know if he was happy, if he had regrets, if he was troubled by his quality of life. All I know is what the people said, and his rejection of that, and that he did it on his terms.

And when you’re laughed at, and maybe feeling cursed by whatever idea of God or Universe or random chance you believe in, you feel out of control until you take control. No one gives your life back until you take it back. If you do. He did.

You stare death and agony in the face, and if you beat that - what can stop you? He made the Universe confess to him with a hand and a mind.

Imagine what’s possible when you decide “impossible” can always, always be followed with “until now”.

RIP Mr. Hawking. I didn’t know you. I don’t understand half of your work, though I’ve tried. I don’t know if you would have laughed at me, and my silly ideas about things, and the false equivalencies I draw between our lives under the loose justification of “heroes” and “inspiration.”

I don’t know if you loved having a world of witnesses in your struggle, or if you even packaged fame and life-with-challenges that way in your worldview. But for what you did, what you shared, how you lived, and how you allowed so many eyes on your legacy, I thank you and I honor your memory.

I know that this sounds as if I have made this event somehow about me, which it is not. My intention is rather to say, this is a life he has touched, and utterly unremarkable in an army of admirers but completely remarkable all at once. Like each of us in our momentous insignificance in Sagan’s pale blue dot.

We are better for his presence and lesser for his absence. What more can each of us hope the world will say at the end of our lives?

He was here. We were better for it. May he find peace.

Cover Image Credit: cnn.com

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7 Golden Reasons To Watch 'Tangled: The Series' No Matter How Old You Are

Does a really enticing mystery not already make you want to watch?!

Before I even start, I want to get something out of the way: I am not too old for this show. Literally no one on this good green Earth is too old for this show. No matter your age, gender, or if you're even one of those heathens who didn't like "Tangled," Disney Junior's new show "Tangled: The Series" just finished season one, and I'm constantly googling when season two will hit the TV.

I don't care it's a Disney Junior show! It's well done, has a great cast and a fabulous story line! I love it! Die mad about it! Because there's literally no possible way I won't stand on a soap box and defend my position, here are seven reasons you should catch up on this show before season two comes rolling along.

1. They solved a diversity problem.

One of the few complaints "Tangled" got was their utter lack of diversity. The entire cast was white, with absolutely no people of any other ethnicity or color.

"But wait!" you cry. "Surely there wasn't any other race in this most likely European country at the time?"

Well, my uneducated friend, while Europe was almost entirely white, there were people of color there. We just don't like to talk about it because it was a pretty ugly scene for those unlucky few because you know, racism.

But now we got Lance, a black man who was Eugene's childhood friend and honestly, one of my new favorite characters. And one little thief girl who is Asian and her adopted ginger sister. This sounds bad, but it's actually an adorable episode.

2. The new characters don't suck.

One problem with shows like these is that the introduced characters are often just god-awfully cringe. But not in this case!

There are three new characters that are really important. Cassandra, Rapunzel's lady in waiting/bad-ass warrior woman and the adopted daughter of the Royal Guard captain. (Who quite honestly, is kind of a better girl power model than Rapunzel. Her hair is dark, cut short, often messy, she doesn't have perfect blue eyes, plus she doesn't have a perfect hourglass figure like Rapunzel. Best of all, she doesn't need no man to be happy and a bad-ass.)

Lance, who I discussed before, is Eugene's childhood friend. Though at first annoying and kind of a jerk, Lance becomes endearing and quite hilarious as time goes on.

Finally, there's the 14-year-old alchemist, Varian, who...well, I'll have to explain him somewhere else...

3. The old cast plays the characters.

A problem that often comes up with shows that continue on from movies is casting. However, here it's no issue, because the people who played the original cast return for the show! It's amazing to hear Rapunzel and Eugene back just as they were.

4. Good music

While we of course need our basic cheesy songs, the music of "Tangled: The Series" is actually really, really good!

5. A legitimate, interesting mystery

Those who only see the commercials may wonder "Wait, why is Rapunzel's hair back?"

Well, my friend, that's only a small part of this large, intertwining Gravity Falls-style mystery. Yeah, you heard me. This mystery is comparable to "Gravity Falls."

Who is the secret society bent on finding the Golden Sunflower? Where are these scary black rocks coming from? What is Rapunzel's dad hiding?

Buddy, we're through the first season, and we got way more questions than answers!

6. The show is actually really funny.

What? A Disney Junior show with actual humor?

Yes! I know! There have been several times where I snicker, and as the jokes go along, turns into actual gut-splitting laughter. And let me tell you, TV shows, especially cartoons, have to work hard to make me laugh.

7. Varian

Yep, we're back to the 14-year-old alchemist who gives this show a dark, foreboding feel more reminding of "Gravity Falls" than "Sofia the First."

Without major spoilers, the best I can tell you is that while Varian at first starts as a happy kid who's just eager to meet Rapunzel and her friends, an incident sends him down a dark road to revenge, which spirals quickly into a dark insanity.

Let me tell you: there's actual risk of death by impalement in several scenes. There's even been several implications that not everyone is going to make it out alive.

Despite this, it's impossible to hate Varian. He's just a kid, after all. In the episode "Snow Day," we see his strained relationship with his father and the hole left in the family from his dead mother. And no, we don't know how she dies. But let's just say if you saw the final episode of season one, you might be with me in thinking rumors of her death have been greatly exaggerated...

While many may scoff when they see commercials for "Tangled: The Series" just know that I'm probably the harshest critic of everything I watch. And if I'm bouncing up and down in anticipation...

Well, chances are so will you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedias Common

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