Thursday, 26 October 2017

Ixalan Highlander Set Review


Get rowdy! In the realm of Rogue Refiner (but not the plane). Not bad as just a value creature which nets you a card. You can work the Crew a bit harder and get more value though. Put them in a midrange dredge deck, make your graveyard huge and have a high chance of discarding two cards of the same type because dredge gives you more control over what you draw.
Even simply playing a higher count of a certain card type improves your Crew.

Roooooararragghh! The dudes in the art are fucked.
Super Thrun basically. Devours control decks.
Pretty excited to add this to my Scapeshift deck. That deck suffers against counterspells and Carnage Tyrnant rips counterspells to shreds.

You know it, I know it.

Passable hate bear dino. Stops Splinter Twin, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Copy Cat, Alluren. Also stops you dying on the spot to Flash combo, although if this is in play they'll just go for Titania + Sylvan Safekeeper instead. You'll still get a few pings though and possibly be able to burn them out.
The pings help a bit when you're grinding against planeswalkers.
Turns off Grove of the Burnwillows + Punishing Fire.
I'd only play this if your local metagame has a couple combo decks to hate on.

Needs to go in a super aggro deck because it's really bad at blocking. A weakness of super aggro decks is their weakness to sweepers, so the indestructible is very appealing.
Works well with Death's Shadow.

The best card for Highlander from the set in my opinion. Deals with Gaea's Cradle, Tolarian Academy, Mishra's Workshop, Maze of Ith, Dark Depths.
Some other bonuses: Two landfall triggers. Combos with anti-search effects like Aven Mindcensor.
Obviously you'll need to play a few basics to ensure you can find one.

On the low end of the power spectrum but it's a flexible one-drop and that counts for a lot. Grinds ok. The graveyard hate is handy against most decks, e.g. messing with delve, Snapcaster Mage, etc; can even win the game in some matchups.
'Two mana, tap, get a counter' is below rate. Drawing a land however, is good. Kind of a mini Tireless Tracker.

If there's a Merfolk deck, it's probably UGx after Ixalan. Kumena's Speaker is a good beater for non-Naya aggro decks (since Naya has access to enough good one-drops to push this out).

Generally inefficient. You're spending two mana to turn off a card your opponent hasn't invested mana into yet.
This card isn't great but some decks struggle against certain card types and are still happy to have an inefficient answer, e.g. mono blue control against planeswalkers or mono black against artifacts.
The situation where this shines most is against decks which heavily rely on a single card, e.g. Time Vault.
Seeing their hand is a strong effect, even if you don't see anything worth naming.

Roooarrr! Dinosaurrr! Better than Thragtusk, albeit two colours. Gonna be a powerhouse in Standard. Green Sun's Zenithable. Worse than Titania but still quite strong. Gives you good value in almost every situation where you can cast a five drop.


Two mana is a large tempo loss for not disrupting your opponent or adding to the board. You'll need to be playing supplementary cards which regain that tempo. You also want to aim for the long game to get the most out of Azcanta. You'll take a turn off here and there to impulse, then spend the next two or three turns regaining that tempo but eventually you'll overcome your opponent. Since you're aiming for the late game you'll need answers for all kinds of threats (creatures, lands, planeswalkers and artifacts), very tricky to do.
Obviously this performs better in graveyard conscious control decks. I'm thinking Emrakul, the Promised End since this helps in play and if milled is one of few appropriate enchantments.
Be aware that main deck yard hate is a thing, so don't expect this to always flip.

Only good if you're cheat casting. Mizzix's Mastery perhaps. The card I'm keen to try this with is Dream Halls. I really need to bust out that deck again. Basically you cast Dream Halls and draw your deck.

Shout outs Nathan Brewer. One more lord for the people of the sea.
hmmm that ain't many. Merfolk probably still aren't playable but eventually there'll be enough.

Playable aggro beater. Much easier to cast than other 3-power haste creatures, e.g. Boggart Ram-Gang, which I've been happy playing.
Only two toughness so she will trade down often.
Bit of colour fixing, which is handy. You'll probably be playing one-mana instants like Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push, so being able to tap out turn three and use the treasure to remove their blocker, is efficient.
She might edge into an aggro deck on the back of artifact synergies.

Players have tried Quirion Dryad. It's been close. Acts something like a Tarmogoyf in dedicated spell decks. Unfortunately, decks designed to abuse cards like this, receive diminishing returns from pay-off creatures.

Very win-more but still good enough. Provides some protection against sweepers, which is nice for aggro decks. However, you'd rather leave a creature in play post-sweeper than get one in hand.

I haven't got any sweet combos for you unfortunately but one day this'll be part of one. Best I can think of at the moment is Wirewood Symbiote. Maybe it could set up a win with Goblin Recruiter or Dwarven Recruiter?

Big dumb dinosaur gets there! Not really much worse than Reality Smasher. Thundermaw Hellkite is better but why not play both?! Only a single red, so easy to cast off Mana Vault, Mana Crypt and Ancient Tomb. I think Graham King's big red deck will play this.

This card excites me. Is there a way to ping it a bunch of times early? Seal of Fire is ok. Razorfin Hunter?
Decent sideboard card in ramp decks against aggro.

Might get a spot in the hyper aggro RB deck which has done pretty well in the hands of Jeremy Neeman and Dillon Kikkawa (good luck in Alberquerque dude!). One power is pretty bad at attacking into a Trinket Mage though.
Goes in most three-colour tribal decks but there aren't many of those.

This little fella is a stretch, even for the fringe category. It's just such a unique effect that I couldn't shake it from the list. I know the card Akki Rockspeaker exists, so goblins that ETB generate mana, are on the radar. Maybe there'll be some kind of Food Chain/Lightning Crafter/Birthing Pod Goblin shenanigans deck, who knows?


Hard to evaluate. Defends himself poorly, hence the sideboard allocation. Good to bring in against decks with very few creatures. You also want to be playing small creatures of your own; ideally going one-drop, two-drop, Jace, for max lootage. That's a tall order for a heavy blue deck.
Infinite with Doubling Season.

Anyone familiar with the Static Field ability of the Sorceress in Diablo II?
This card is fringe sideboard. Only good against decks which aren't trying to aggro you out. I'm imagining versing a control deck, they counter and remove your first four threats and then Dire Fleet Ravager comes down and they lose seven life. This is a pretty unique card. I'd love to see an opponent gain 'infinite life', where they choose something like "One billion life". If you have Dire Fleet Ravager and a recurring blink effect "One billion" is not enough.
This card's name is really bad. Not only is it long and generic, it also uses 'Ravager', confusing it with the iconic Arcbound Ravager.

Too slow to maindeck. Excellent in proactive decks post-board against slow decks. When I say 'proactive' I mean you can play most of your cards onto an open board, i.e. not counterspells or lots of removal.
Blue Moon has a lot of trouble against enchantments. Their answer is to either race or bounce plus counter. 
The flip-side is pretty unbeatable for any noncombo deck.

Awesome ability but only one-power and therefore not a good enough attacker to main deck. Pretty good against Birthing Pod decks and some combo decks.

In the realm of Threads of Disloyalty. More synergistic in blue decks with all the instant/sorcery synergies, e.g. Snapcaster Mage and Delver of Secrets.

Fringe sideboard yard hate. Some decks really want the cantrip effect that comes with some of the yard hate artifacts. Others would rather curve out proactively and have yard hate with a zero mana activation cost. In that category, Sentinel Totem is third to Grafdigger's Cage and Tormod's Crypt. If the deck is white, then it's worse than Rest in Peace and Wheel of Sun and Moon. If the deck is black then it's worse than Leyline of the Void and Nihil Spellbomb. If the deck is green then they already have Scavenging Ooze. So I can really only see this in the sideboard of artifact decks or mono red proactive decks, even then it'd need to be a heavy graveyard metagames to play Tormod's Crypt, Grafdigger's Cage AND this.

Just another big dirty six-drop planeswalker. Take your pick of them really. Most of the time they get played cause people just love them, but in some control decks and ramp decks I like them. Vraska is almost impossible to kill, so if you can disrupt combo decks enough and survive to six mana, then game on.

For my Commander 2017 set review, I listed Kindred Discovery as playable in Elves. This is practically the same card for that tiny tiny narrow corner of playability that I've theoretically constructed. This works well in my Contruct tribal deck that I featured in that article.
Kobold tribal? Maybe one day.

My favourite card from the set, just for the art, definitely not the power level. Imagining the chirp noise this thing would vocalise as it runs off with a delicious egg, cracks me up.
I have this listed as fringe playable for mono red sligh. One-toughness for Skullclamp and does a respectable amount of damage if you burn away any blockers. Once you add another colour though, the amount of better two-drops pushes this little guy out.

I like this in the infect deck or the double strike deck. You may not have seen them before but they're possible and can definitely steal wins. No need to play removal in those decks if you can just fly over blockers and outrace like Roadrunner verses me.
If wizards print more cheap hexproof creatures (unlikely), this could go in boggles.

That's it for this set review! I've been slow with this one because I've started back at full-time work, which has been bitter sweet sweet, that is, much more sweet than bitter. So many sweet brews I'd like to try, but no time.