Dinosaurs. Pirates. Battleships. Vampire conquistadors. Fish people. Zombies. Robots. Dinosaurs piloting Battleships / Skyships that pilot other Battleships / Skyships. Maybe a Zombie Robot Pirate Dinosaur. Or just a Pirate Dinoasur.
Yarrr, the possibilities are endless.
This is what the Standard environment will look like as soon as Magic: The Gathering: Ixalan drops. This set, the first of the second in this Meso-American inspired block adds a whopping 274 cards (no Masterpieces) to the existing metagame, introducing new types, and new rulings, new and returning mechanics- The new flagship mechanic is Enrage, where you get a generic evergreen effect if a creature with this keyword is dealt damage, and a returning mechanic in the form of Raid, where you get a generic effect if you attacked with a creature, regardless if it was successful or not.
Compared to Hour of Devastation (the previous set, which was by and large a disappointment), I’m wildly excited for this one, as it also marks the end of four sets’ life in the Standard format- Battle for Zendikar (the set in which I started my journey down this rabbit hole), Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. Sure I will miss slamming Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, a wildly busted Planeswalker ever since it was printed, but to be fair, I was getting bored of windmill slamming that on the table. Eventually all good things must come to pass, so the saying goes- the format at the tournament tables is a Wild West right now and hands are on holsters.
The story here seems to be set in a fantastical take on the Age of Exploration- so think fantasy Columbus, Pizzaro, Cortez, Blackbeard, and Francis Drake on an equally fantastical Aztec Empire where its people have apparently developed metalworking and the use of cavalry (unlike their historical counterparts). In this verdant jungle world the set’s actual storyline revolves around the planeswalker Jace (the stand-in for the typical M:TG player) who finds himself lost and unable to planeswalk away back home, due to something interfering with the magic.
As for the actual cardboard (let’s be honest- most don’t care too much about the story), the amount of spicy reprints is worth their weight in (metaphorical) gold. Opt and Spell Pierce provide new cheap spells that can be played on your opponent’s turn, whilst Lightning Strike can finish off your opponent who thought he was safe. Duress is a cheap and efficient way to look at your opponent’s hand and possibly strip away a vital piece in their plans- and that’s some of them. The new stuff is full of support for new types of decks that mainly focus on creatures that share an occupation or species- between pirates, dinosaurs, and merfolk, time will tell which one actually becomes competitive. And for those with already existing collections, the new stuff fits like a glove to a hand.
But between now and the release of this treasure trove of a set, I still have one more tournament to play, and then I may do a pre-release, or not, as I’ve been playing non-stop for more than is healthy.
Time to reel up the anchor and set sail!
Magic: The Gathering Ixalan will be pre-released on the 23rd- 24th September, before general release on the 29th.