Magic’s newest expansion takes us back to the Dinosaur and Pirate infested plane of Ixalan, this time delving deep into the ancient caverns beneath the ground. A new set means new cards, and we’re kicking off our review with the multicolor cards that serve as signposts to let you know what direction each color pair is trying to build in.
Last time we covered the multicolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this primarily but not exclusively with an eye for Commander play.
Marcy: BEHOLD, GRANDPA. Anyway, the +1/+1 counters are negligible to what this card does, because you’re likely using this to re-animate something obnoxious like a Portal to Phyrexia or similar disruptive non-creature bomb to the board earlier than you are likely meant to play it. There are already a few re-animator shells in Standard and quite a lot of them are White or Boros so I think this has some possibilities for use. I think outside of Standard, I could see it getting used in very annoying and obnoxious ways to re-animate even scarier things.
Loxi: Quintorus’ pose here is hilarious. Interestingly making enchantment creatures from non-enchantments might have some fun use-cases. I don’t think it’s reinventing the wheel from other reanimator cards too much, but it has a pretty solid price point for a sweet effect that can be a good mana dump if you’re in a pinch.
BPhillipYork: This is a pretty nice reanimator, fun times reanimating hugely expensive artifacts like God-Pharaoh’s Statue or ridiculous enchantments like Omniscience. There are a few enchantments or artifacts that become much better if they are suddenly creatures. The X thing is mostly meaningless, but if for some reason you wanted your enchantment to also be a big fattie and you have a ton of mana, go hog wild.
Marcy: Really solid artifact hate card here. 2 mana gets you an annoying body that you’ll need to get rid of or all your artifacts of various types are going to enter tapped, making them harder to utilize, and then honestly for a single W mana you can wipe the board of 0 CMV tokens. And right now in Standard alone there are a LOT of token generating artifact decks. I see this one getting a lot of play outside of Standard too.
Loxi: Absolutely rad stax piece and a seriously powerful tool in a hatebears deck. Something big to consider is the impact this has on Treasures: stalling a turn for some Treasure generators that make them untapped normally can be a huge smack to the face. Obviously, this one is a bit meta dependent but is a sweet card nonetheless.
BPhillipYork: Another solid hatebear for white, love the add on to remove all artifacts at X or less, nice way to really slow down Treasure decks, but generally just tapping down artifacts isn’t going to be significant enough to be worth a deck slot, unless you know your meta to be quite artifact heavy. Though a quite useful piece in something like a Selesnaya dorks + land ramp sorceries deck that wants to completely shut down artifacts, and slots in alongside Collector Ouphe and Null Rod.
Marcy: This is a really odd mana-rock in the sense that you are getting White mana, but can only use it for artifacts, which probably only matters in specific edge cases for artifacts that care about colored sources. The second ability, though, is certainly the more interesting one, which allows you to exile artifacts you control–including this one–to re-animate something bigger from your graveyard on your turn.
Loxi: I really like this for decks like Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle, and while I think “white artifact reanimator” is somewhat niche, this card pulls enough weight to see play in the decks that will want it. Just make sure you have enough actual artifact spells/activations to make sure this will infrequently be dead on board.
BPhillipYork: This is really kind of a strange card, but it’s a neat one. 2 for an ETB untapped mana rock is fine, though it’s limited to artifact spells. Where it could be really useful is in some kinds of decks that copy things and then exile or sacrifice them later, since the token will have a mana value it can be used to bring back and artifact, and it would’ve gone away anyways. So something like a Boros reanimator shell, but focused on artifact creatures with ETBs.
Marcy: Can’t wait for people to go ‘get lost’ every time they cast this card. I will be one of those people. This card is honestly kind of insane removal? You can remove creatures, planeswalkers, OR enchantments at instant speed for 2 mana and frankly the usual ‘upside’ of white removal kind of sucks. If your opponent is playing Super Friends or some version of Control that relies on Enchantments like Wedding Announcement, this card is even better than other options for White instant removal right now.
Loxi: There are a lot of white removal spells, but this one is up there with the best. I’d generally rate this one around where Generous Gift is: it can’t hit lands or artifacts, but it’s cheaper. Map tokens aren’t necessarily bad to have but they do still require mana to activate, so I think that being better or worse than a 3/3 kinda depends on the deck of the person you target. Overall, a sweet removal spell. I won’t be cutting any of my current spot removal for it, but I would slot this in place of them with no sweat if needed.
BPhillipYork: Extremely good card that should be an auto-consider for decks that include white. It’s flexible instant speed interaction, and map tokens aren’t great.
Marcy: I think in Limited this could be useful. There are maybe a few edge cases where you might want this card in other decks that run White and have small creatures, but I think it being Sorcery speed is a little underwhelming on the already small target pool it has. Still, it can get you a Brutal Cathar or Thalia, so maybe it’s not bad overall.
Loxi: As far as Commander goes, this one might be a bit short. I think these effects are quite powerful, but unless you’re bringing back a key combo piece in cEDH this probably isn’t worth it.
BPhillipYork: This is a bonkers card really because many many powerful creatures have powerful ETB effects and are cheap. Dockside Extortionist is first among them, but also Thassa’s Oracle. So just, whatever, it’s a good card.
Marcy: I actually really like this card because it would feel amazing to Flash this in on your opponent after they do some sort of board wipe like Depopulate, Sunfall, or Farewell and see if your opponent suddenly has another spot removal for a huge beater, but the other effects are quite nice too. Getting rid of someone’s Graveyard is quite important in current Standard, as there are a lot of Graveyard interactive decks, and even just a quick Gain 2, Scry 2 on their End Step off a 3/1 body is nice.
Loxi: The graveyard hate is what seals this one for me, having graveyard hate on a body for aggressive decks is always fantastic, and with two good typings this will pretty consistently be a good play, even if you don’t want to wait to get the most value off the first ability.
BPhillipYork: It’s modal which is neat but it’s just neat good enough modes. Like the exile graveyard can be incredibly disruptive to reanimator type decks. But the other modes are just kind of meh. So I guess good for Cat decks.
Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation / Temple of Civilization
Loxi: Obviously, this card is powerful. Let’s face the facts: doing triple of basically anything in Magic is going to have some weight to it. In reality, this is competing with Mondrak, Glory Dominus for commander space. They both have 3-cost protection, although Mondrak’s is arguably more proactive and in my opinion, a touch better. Ojer Taq triples, but Mondrak only doubles, however Mondrak hits ALL tokens. Ojer Taq only hits creatures. What it really comes down to is if you have enough noncreature token generation to warrant doubling those too. I prefer Mondrak because I think it makes for more interesting and diverse lines of play by adding some artifacts into the mix, but Ojer Taq is probably superior if you’re all-in on creature tokens.
Marcy: Oh, great, this certainly won’t have any annoying consequences in any format, even if this card is very expensive. I hate to even consider what happens if you get this card and Mondrak on the field, and I feel like getting Ojer Taq to stick with Jinny Fay is just game over. The other side of the card is… fine? I guess? It is interesting that you can keep bringing Ojer Taq back, which has interesting consequences for Commander.
BPhillipYork: I mean, whatever? Triple tokens? Sure great. Win more. Potentially hilarious, but it costs 6 mana, so for that much I’d say it underperforms. But it’s flashy.
Marcy: I think the Banner effect here is nice, but otherwise kind of a whatever card.
Loxi: Alright if you can reanimate loop it, but you can do better than that in most decks.
BPhillipYork: Thankfully all mechanics are now deciduous, but at least it includes reminder text. This is not really a relevant card for commander other than: Aristocrats, Clerics, or Aristocrat decks, which are like 90% of all Orzhov decks, statistically.
Thousand Moons Smithy / Barracks of the Thousand
Marcy: White Artifacts seems like a potentially fun deck to mess around with here. 4 mana to get a body seems like a lot but I doubt you’d playing this to get a 1/1, and mostly, it seems like an easy card to transform as well, which is good because this land is quite strong as well, just endlessly generating bodies off of your other spells.
Loxi: White artifact control sometimes has a hard time pulling through to a win without a big combo, so having an alternate win condition with Big Gnomes™ is a pretty sweet deal. It’s pretty easy to enable too. I will be jamming this in Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle for sure.
BPhillipYork: Well sort of a ticking clock for building a massive… Gnome… army. Which to be fair is a pretty fun wincon.
Unstable Glyphbridge / Sandswirl Wanderglyph
Loxi: This card does a lot, and even just the board wipe side is solid. If you’re in artifacts, I think this is one of the better wraths you can play. If you have a super fast meta or a lot of Elfball-esque players, it might miss a key pieces now and then, but I think the ability to gain even more value post-wipe outweighs that.
Marcy: This is some removal spell for sure. 5 mana gets you selective removal that might leave your opponents with nothing, and then the following turn for another 5 mana you can get a creature that is very frustrating for your opponents to deal with, forcing your opponents to make unfortunate choices when it comes to how they want to spend their turn, and since it is an artifact creature, protects it from quite a lot of removal.
BPhillipYork: This is a bad card. It’s potentially kind of a one-sided board clear, especially vs like bad fattie decks, and then it recurs but doesn’t generate its trigger?
Warden of the Inner Sky
Marcy: A conditionally growing Weenie that can easily become a problem, there are a lot of ways to generate tokens in Standard, and there’s certainly ways that this could see play in Soldiers, although I’m unsure if it beats out Hopeful Initiate (if only rotation wasn’t literally a YEAR FROM NOW).
Loxi: Sweet card, I don’t think it’s made for commander.
BPhillipYork: Funny, and I’m sure this will do something maybe in standard, but it’s too slow to get a sort of fattie. The real power of it is probably the ability to keep scrying over and over if you have tons of artifacts somehow and are digging but since it’s sorcery speed it’s just.. meh.
Akal Pakal, First Among Equals
BPhillipYork: “each players…” is just a danger sign for cards in commander. If you can set up ways to reanimate artifacts, like Goblin Engineer or Ghostly Flicker then this is potentially a huge card draw engine, that also helps you get the artifacts you want into your yard to keep reanimating them.
Marcy: I was pretty high on some of the cards in White, but for Blue, at least in Standard, I don’t really think this guy does anything of note or use at the moment.
Loxi: It’s a fine draw engine if you have enough artifact ETBs on other turns, but I wouldn’t build around this just to enable it.
Braided Net / Braided Quipu
Marcy: Wow, now this card is for sure a possibly really annoying piece of control. 3 turns of tapping down something valuable your opponent wants to use and then flipping it for card draw is great, and in a lot of late game cases, 4 mana to spend to draw potentially a lot of cards is really scary. I don’t even really know if your deck needs to run a lot of other artifacts to get a ton of value from this; you aren’t really playing it for the draw. In Limited, 3 turns of inaction might be enough to just win your the game, also.
Loxi: This is a really sweet control tool, but I do fear it’s a bit slow for Commander. I agree with Marcy for sure though- this could totally brick someone out in Limited, so keep an eye on it there.
BPhillipYork: On the one hand this is a bad to mediocre card, on the other hand I remember Merseine from Fallen Empires and the first tournament I ever won (I did not use Merseine). Drawing is cool but 3 + 2 + 4 to draw a lot of cards is way too much mana and way to slow unless it’s like “draw your whole deck and win territory”.
BPhillipYork: Fun way to to create hordes of Merfolk for a bargain price. There’s also almost certainly a way to break this, for example something that makes all your creatures artifacts, Clock of Omens, and a copy of Deeproot Pilgrimage will net you infinite hexproof Merfolk.
Marcy: A Merfolk Generator for 2 mana? I am curious to see how or where this gets used, but I could certainly see it in Commander. There aren’t really a lot of Merfolk decks in Standard and I don’t think LCI fixes that.
Loxi: Slam this in Merfolk and watch as you make…Morefolk.
Eaten by Piranhas
BPhillipYork: Nice. Really nice way to remove a commander but not allow your opponent to just recast it. People really really hate when you do this, but it’s a super good way to shut down decks that totally resolve around their commander. It being a 1/1 means people should just ignore it as it keeps attacking or whatever (granted in 120 turns your opponent will win, barring intervention and if they have a way to reshuffle, but that’s the risk you take).
Marcy: Flash soft removal isn’t too bad, especially since you could use this in Limited to get rid of some big bomb threat or thing you don’t want to–or can’t–get rid of. I don’t think it has much life otherwise, though.
Loxi: Unless you’re really strapped for removal in mono blue or can recur this, I would probably run other removal since they can probably chump block with this and remove it pretty swiftly.
Loxi: This is a really fun Pirate, the effect is awesome but a good, evasive creature can pull a lot of weight in the usual decks for the archetype.
BPhillipYork: Wow. Really really solid Pirate, at an extremely cheap price point for potentially destroy all your opponents commanders once. Or powerful artifacts. Really kind of a bonkers 3 for 1, and ward 1 on top to protect it.
Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel
Marcy: Seems like a fun card to Flash in and then get some hits in with, and could certainly help shift tempo in your favor by letting you loot off of evasive hits early in the game, but getting up to 4 counters without this thing getting killed seems hard, and I’m not sure what type of deck you’re playing where hitting 4 counters and then casting a card for free wins you the game.
Loxi: Malcolm is back, and while maybe not as powerful as the last iteration this one is still up there in strength. Being able to freely cast cards is pretty powerful, and I think where this will really shine is in decks that can Proliferate up the count of those chorus counters to let him start ripping spells early.
BPhillipYork: Potentially really gross, you can get this out and pump it and then dump out huge costly permanents like Temporal Anchor.
Ojer Pakpatiq, Deepest Epoch / Temple of Cyclical Time
Marcy: The Ixalan gods all seem pretty interesting, and I could see this one finding a few cases of being used. However, only the front side of this card really seems useful, which is kind of frustrating because the back side of it doesn’t really do anything for at least 3 turns (unless you can get the counters off faster). Rebound isn’t really a mechanic in Standard right now, but a spellslinging deck in UR might find some ways to turn this into a wincon. Mono U might like casting free draw card spells off it as well, but probably not enough to get into Mono Blue Tempo.
Loxi: I think this is a really fun way to play the traditional cantrippy control deck in blue, almost similarly to Lier, Disciple of the Drowned in that you want to run less counterspell-esque effects and more things that are proactive so you can get that double-value off the rebound. I may personally give this one a try just because it seems like you could make a pretty cool control deck with some unique effects from big splashy instants.
BPhillipYork: This is just massive card advantage. 4 mana is affordable for spellslinger decks that just want to free copy spells effectively.
Marcy: Really cheap crew cost gets you a solid body and gives you value. The vehicles in this set are pretty decent, so far.
Loxi: Not really great in commander, but a pretty sweet cheap vehicle. Notably a good use for 1/1 tokens if you have a deck that makes them en-masse.
BPhillipYork: Cool vehicle I guess.
The Enigma Jewel / Locus of Enlightenment
Marcy: Okay, I know we joked about needing a PhD in English to read cards last time, but does the Crafting text on this card not read VERY weirdly for the way WotC usually parses things? Anyway, if you can find some way to cheat this thing’s transform cost, I think there are some wacky combos you can do here. If not, I think it’s too slow.
Loxi: This is a really cool card, but you have to jump through hoops to actually build out a combo with this. Maybe my brain is just not nearly engorged enough to figure this one out, but I think there are much better and faster ways to assemble a combo than this.
BPhillipYork: This can easily turn many many things infinite. If you have this and Clock of Omens then you can untap infinitely. Doesn’t necessarily win you the game alone, but can easily set you up for it. Also neat with cards like Asmodeus the Archfiend. That being said, its an investment of 10 mana (okay technically 8 since you can tap it for 2 to then activate it’s ability but really) so it should do something.
The Everflowing Well / The Myriad Pools
Marcy: Oh, this card seems really fun. I think there could be some interesting ways to use the ability of the land part of this card, and Descend 8 in some decks, even Mono Blue Tempo, is really not hard to reach if you’re filtering out excess lands and even some of the creatures being used. I think outside of Mono Blue, I could see UW control running this, and certainly in other formats, maybe this has legs.
Loxi: The big selling point here is that this is a pretty easy card to enable and has a decently low cost of entry. Of course, you have to play enough permanents in a blue deck for this to be worth it, but in something like The Mimeoplasm this is a slam dunk card.
BPhillipYork: Really solid card for what it is, and duplicating things is often the easiest way to make a combo go off.
Marcy: Permanent Stifle (as long as this creature doesn’t die) at Instant speed is actually pretty nice. I do have to admit, though, the one obvious caveat here: It dies to, you guessed it, Cut Down. Still, there really aren’t many Stifles in Standard and having it attached to a Merfolk might see it get used in Merfolk decks in other formats, as you aren’t required to run Stifle itself for it. Also, it isn’t on cast, but Enter the Battlefield, meaning it can even be Aether Vial’d.
Loxi: Wow, this is a BRUTAL hate piece. Not just does this stall a combo, but you can shut it completely down until you find another answer to it (or the rest of the table does). I love this card, and I think this will probably be a staple card for Merfolk in all but the most aggressive of strategies.
BPhillipYork: It’s neat to shut someone down, but holding up 3 mana to counter an ability is dangerous in a 4 player game, though you can just dump it if you really need.
BPhillipYork: Solid, and can be sort of asymmetric since if you control no other creatures. For 6 mana you’ll want to be reanimating this.
FromTheShire: Fleshbag Marauder and its derivatives already see a ton of play in board control sacrifice/reanimator loops, and this clears your opponents’ boards even faster. Very nice.
Marcy: Not the worst bomb in the world in something like Limited, but 6 mana for a 6/6 that might accidentally kill itself is a little underwhelming.
Loxi: If this was on a slightly cheaper body I might be interested, but it just seems a bit pricy.
Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal / Temple of the Dead
Marcy: I think this is the most whatever God in the set. It requires you to attack to get value out of it, is only a 4/4 flyer, and while discard/draw is nice, I’m not really convinced it matters that much. Also it would be very funny if you just never had the ability to transform him back again because of the conditional factor.
Loxi: I do like the attempt to make a commander for forced discard that doesn’t seem super oppressive or un-fun to play against, but I think this might toe a bit too much on the side of safety. I appreciate them trying to mess with some of the design space for discard, but it’s tricky to make a commander that’s fun and interesting for it that doesn’t end up being hated, since the nature of discard is pretty brutal to go up against.
BPhillipYork: Solid card, obnoxious, decent reanimator target, though it’ll draw fire since people hate discarding and are horrible at threat management.
Bloodletter of Aclazotz
FromTheShire: Wound Reflection and Archfiend of Despair are wildly popular cards because they’re great, and while this has the downside of only triggering during your turn, it has the upside of not being a delayed trigger, and it’s a third copy of the effect for your deck. Excellent.
Marcy: The 3 Black required to cast this really kills the card for me, but if you manage to stick this and have a Sheoldred on the board, your opponent is going to just die.
Loxi: This is one of the cards ever. It’s really cool if you have a bunch of drain or combat, but a bit unexciting. Two great types will find this a home in a lot of decks that can handle the casting cost easily though.
BPhillipYork: Well, it’s damage / lifeloss doubler, for 4 mana it’s okay.
Bringer of the Last Gift
Marcy: Been kind of a while since we’ve had a big Demon card like this. Not sure it’s really any good, as it gets around ETB and instead has to be cast to do it’s thing. But, could be a very nice late game board wipe if you really need it (unless your opponent has a lot of great stuff also in their Graveyard already, and then, well, oops).
Loxi: So, it’s like Living Death but worded a bit differently on a body. If you like that card, this is solid too, just in creature form. 8 Mana is quite a bit, but if you have more synergy with having this on a relevant creature, go nuts.
BPhillipYork: Well this is big and swingy haymaker card, totally hilarious with an It That Betrays or a Mayhem Devil in play. Obviously for 8 mana though it’s a huge investment, and the cast trigger makes it pretty worthless if you don’t hardcast it, though there are still ways to cheat something like this out.
Corpses of the Lost
Marcy: So really the play here is to just keep bouncing the card back to your hand, making Skeletons, growing Skeletons, and repeating, but I’m unsure of this is actually worth all of the work to do instead of just letting it sit on the battlefield. (Or playing at all, really. Skeletons aren’t really a thing in Standard).
Loxi: Well, this sends shivers down my spine. I think this is way too much effort than it’s worth but it’s absolute gas for a Skeleton typal deck (I own a paper Skeleton Ship goofy deck, and this is getting slam dunked in that).
BPhillipYork: What… well skeletal support is okay I guess, Skeletons mostly known for recurring themselves or regenerating, returning it to your hand and recasting is strictly a non-starter in commander, so this is probably for 4-of formats.
Preacher of the Schism
Marcy: A fun little card that gives you variable amounts of utility, except for the fact that he has to attack to get the value, which always puts the card in danger of getting killed or traded off. Still, making a blocker that gains you life or getting you a free draw is still good value, especially if you’re doing Vampire tribal, which is quite possible in current Standard in WB.
Loxi: I’m always a fan of these cards. Encouraging the ol’ reliable tactic of “spreading the love” and laying the beat on those who are deserving and getting profit for doing so is just plain fun, and in this case it’s pretty nice! Deathtouch helps to keeps him safe from any scary blockers and he can be a pretty sweet value engine if you’re holding a lead. Solid card.
BPhillipYork: Solid enough creature for a meandering life gain / drain based deck, or a Vampire, Cleric, or Aristocrats deck, which is 90% of Orzhov decks.
Queen’s Bay Paladin
FromTheShire: A twist on Sun Titan for Vampire decks, it’s limited to that tribe but it’s also a slam dunk in every one of them. Fantastic, love seeing this kind of support.
Marcy: I mean if you’re going for Vampire tribal, this is a pretty good ETB body to try and end the game with. Otherwise, not much else really going on here.
Loxi: It’s a pretty decent recursion engine if you have the life to play around with. It fits well with the theme of Vampires, so if you have no other recursion I think it’s a good inclusion. I don’t know if I’d go clearing and space for it though.
BPhillipYork: Decent way of reanimating fat Vampires, though it doesn’t allow for endless recursion it will also let you return some really big Vampires. 5 mana is pricy but you can 2 for 1 reanimate this, which is solid enough.
Souls of the Lost
Marcy: “Remember me, Eddie? When I dominated your format, I talked just, like, thisssssssss!” – Tarmogoyf
But seriously, they made a better Tarmogoyf. Why would you do this. Are you stupid? The only ‘downside’ is this is just ‘your graveyard’ and not ‘all graveyards’.
Loxi: Hey, you ungoyf-ed the goyf. You can’t just do that.
If you’d like to know if this card is good, google Tarmogoyf and just click around for a bit.
If you already think this card is good, let’s face it, you’re in the boomer magic club. Come on in, the water’s fine.
BPhillipYork: Well it’s potentially really really fat, and a dangerous beater if you mill a ton into your hard. But it has no evasion so it can be easily chump blocked.
Marcy: I’m not sure if this replaces Evolved Sleeper in the 1CMV body spot in Mono Black, but this is actually pretty good and can grow very easily.
Loxi: The removal aspect of this is a nice touch for a solid tempo creature. I can see this slotting into Rakdos Goblins or even Rogue decks, since it has a bit of inbuilt evasion. It’s a pretty clean design, and the buy in cost is cheap as chips.
BPhillipYork: For 1 mana it’s a lot of abilities, both a Goblin and a Rogue that will probably get bigger and bigger and also has an evasion ability and will probably trade 2 for 1, but it’s kind of a slow clock.
Loxi: The top effect is really neat, but this really get’s interesting on the lower half. This is a really, really good payoff for Wheels decks with black. Nekusar, The Mindrazer, meet your new spooky friend.
BPhillipYork: Wow, well it’s another Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in practical terms.
Marcy: Sort of tutoring but not, and sort of draining but not, this card is 4 mana and, uh, why are you playing this and not Sheoldred? Yeah.
Tarrian’s Journal / The Tomb of Aclzotz
Marcy: Oni-Cult Anvil decks are going to be looking to make a comeback off of this. Sac your little construct, draw a card, make another construct, drain your opponent. I don’t even know if I care about anything else this card does.
Loxi: Really good for slow sacrifice engines, the sac-and-draw is never a bad thing.
BPhillipYork: Pretty solid, sorcery speed really hurts its ability to defend your permanents from being targeted with interaction, but really the ability to reanimate is a powerful one, and it’s just a nice aristocrats source of sacrifice and draw.
Marcy: Mass Black Removal is back on the menu finally, and it seems like a fairly easy one to get off at values that Black is going to want to get around (in Standard, that’s mostly 4 or 5 toughness). 1 more mana than Path of Peril, and more versatile, if you have the Graveyard to support it.
Loxi: In the right decks, this could very well be the best sweeper in mono-black. I don’t know if it’s good enough to always edge out Toxic Deluge, but assuming you can reliably get that X value up by filling your graveyard, I prefer this to Damnation since it can kill indestructible creatures.
BPhillipYork: -X/-X is just really powerful since it overrides protection and regeneration and hexproof and indestructible and it’s definitely a potentially asymmetric board clear.
Curator of Sun’s Creation
Marcy: Oh, this could have some funny consequences. 4 mana is kind of a lot, though, and I don’t know if Discover is a game winning mechanic in Standard, so maybe a pass.
Loxi: Too expensive, but double discover can add up pretty quickly.
BPhillipYork: Probably too expensive, but fun if you just want to keep discovering. Hopefully you annoyingly shout EUREKA! over and over.
Marcy: If you’re going for Dinosaurs, this isn’t a bad auto-include. It certainly benefits from when you start dumping bigger threats onto the board, and in Limited, might be enough to get you over the top. In Standard, I’m not sure it’s worth edging out some of the mana dorks you can run at 2 CMC, though.
Loxi: I prefer this in limited or 60-card formats to commander, but over there it’s a solid body that can lay the beatdown on some fools when you start to come in with the big guns later.
BPhillipYork: Well for Dinosaur decks it’s whatever. Do like the art though, has big meme energy (the one with the bad cat mural and a kitten, don’t pretend you don’t know).
Marcy: This is really solid. I think in Limited this could be a game winner, and even in Standard there’s some ways this could help you get over the top. The fact that the exiled cards are still playable AND give you value is really nice, on top of the 5/5 double evasive body you get from it.
Loxi: DINOSAUR DRAGON…NICE. Anyway, this card is pretty fantastic. No complaints for stats and keywords, and some impulse draw to boot. Generating extra tokens is just frosting to me, and I think this is a sweet card for both Dinos and Drags.
BPhillipYork: This is really really strong for decks that want to cast from exile, and just a solid source of pseudo-draw and also ramps or generates hordes for you. It’s weird how pushed Dragons are getting.
Brass’s Tunnel-Grinder / Tecutlan, the Searing Rift
Marcy: Kind of a nice Wheel effect that gives you more value later, but I think this one is probably not for Standard play, except in perhaps re-animators that need discard outlets.
Loxi: If you play either a red-based artifact deck (Daretti, Scrap Savant is drooling here) or even a wheel deck that runs a good chunk of permanents, this one is sweet. I really like this in artifacts, though, this has great synergy to keep your ‘yard full of gas and then get tons of value later.
BPhillipYork: Potentially bonkers if you figure out a way to keep untapping it, one of the few transforming cards in this set that sets itself up to transform, though it’s still going to take you 3 turns unless you have a way to get counters faster.
Breeches, Eager Pillager
Loxi: I wouldn’t jump at making this a commander, but he’s a fine support piece. Extra card advantage and treasures just for doing normal pirate stuff is fine by me. Caps out when you’re attacking with two buddies, but that’s still a lot of stuff each turn.
BPhillipYork: Wow. Pirates is such a strong creature type. Just so good and utilitarian in Pirate typal decks.
Marcy: Well, it sure isn’t Ragavan. I just don’t think there’s enough Pirates in Standard to make this card work.
Dire Flail / Dire Blunderbuss
Marcy: I mean even if you don’t flip it, +2/+0 for 2 total mana (1 to cast, 1 to equip) isn’t bad. Boros Equipment has been trying for a while, so I think there’s a possibility to see it get tried out here.
Loxi: Neat, but unless you really want to spam equipment for cheap (See: Valduk, Keeper of the Flame) this one is a bit lackluster to me. It’s fine, just nothing to write home about.
BPhillipYork: Too expensive but funny.
Hit the Mother Lode
Marcy: Really wanna see a funny Revel in Riches deck use this. Otherwise, don’t think this card does anything in Standard, or Limited, and maybe not even in Commander?
Loxi: This feels like it could be a hilarious dunk or a waste of mana. Who wants to Gamble?
BPhillipYork: Pretty sure what you really want with this is the Treasures, and it’s about dumping something to the top cheap, and getting a ton of treasure at once to support something like Galazeth Prismari.
Inti, Seneschal of the Sun
Marcy: Oh god please WotC monored is already so annoying, please for the love of god. Making your Monastery Swiftspears or Phoenix Chicks grow on turn 2 and then discarding lands or things you don’t need to filter your deck? Insane value card in Mono Red.
Loxi: That first effect is a doozy for aggro, but what catches my eye for commander is that second block of text. If you’re in a self-discard deck, say like Chainer, Nightmare Adept, this is a great cheap source of card advantage that can help some of your beatsticks get through when you need to. I don’t particularly like this as commander since I believe that archetype is so much better with access to black, but it’s a rad card nonetheless.
BPhillipYork: Solid card, and the ability to exile playable cards off discards is good. Really kind of bonkers good, when you consider cards like Conspiracy Theorist or Containment Construct which really lets you generate mad draw and value.
Marcy: I think this is maybe the first vehicle I’m not that high on for Standard purposes, except that sometimes Mono Red does hit a wall where it can’t get through creatures like Sheoldred, so 5 damage to a creature that then gives you a 5/5 next turn might actually be worth playing around with, and it crews very cheaply as well.
Loxi: Burn boat burns butts bodaciously. Booombastic.
BPhillipYork: I love the excess damage mechanic, and this is great, in part because it’s not a creature, so you can do something like Earthquake for 3 and generate a ton of creatures, and usefully not kill your excess damage trigger source.
Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might / Temple of Power
Loxi: Adding to the list of viable burn commanders, I think this one is a fun one. It’s unique from something like Torbran, Thane of the Red Fell since this really only helps for small damage burns, but it has a threshold to get waaaay scarier than Torbran with some power buffs. My #1 commander from the set for personal interest, and let’s be real, this guy looks straight out of Age of Sigmar. Gas.
BPhillipYork: Super dangerous card, absolutely a gamer winner in combination with Pyrohemia or something like that, ping 1 for 4 will end the game pretty quickly.
Marcy: LET’S GO LESBIANS. Sorry, was there text on this card? Uh. Anyway, kind of fine as a card. Probably not a card you need to run or want to run except maybe in Dinosaur ramp decks, and even then I’m not sure. Love the art though!
Loxi: The flavor here is awesome, but the practicality of artifacts and Dinos is a little questionable. If you do happen to have both, this is your card for sure.
BPhillipYork: Super fun for Dino decks. Not sure there’s a lot of Dinosaur / Treasure and artifact synergy, but more treasure to cast more Dinosaurs is good enough.
FromTheShire: I mean all the synergy you need is that this makes attacking with your cheap Dinos ramp you into your expensive ones which is great. If you get a few extra tokens off of mana rocks and utility artifacts, nice bonus.
Marcy: 4 damage is so much damage, oh my word. This card is about to make Wandering Emperor flash-in against Mono-Red so not worth it. I kind of hate this card because mono-red is so powerful already and this is a REALLY strong card on early curve for Red. Please for the love of God rotate cards, WotC.
Loxi: This Dinosaur dislikes blue players. Do you? You may get along well.
BPhillipYork: That’s fairly mean as a group slug card. Like really, 4 damage adds up quickly, and it’s a solid 4/3 on top of it.
Marcy: A Six mana Conditional Cascade for something 5 CMC is honestly pretty scary, but I also like that you can use it as burn early if you really need to get rid of a Planeswalker or creature that is screwing up your board.
Loxi: Not bad, but I don’t know if it jumps out at me enough to want it over other Dinos.
BPhillipYork: Well it’s a big fat (really fat too be honest IMO it’s not very good art) Dinosaur with a non-channel channel ability. Solid if you’re cheating it out in various ways (hatching from an Egg or whatever).
Marcy: Oh, this card is going to do really funny and very chaotic things and I am here for it.
Loxi: Chaos Warp is a staple of Commander for a very good reason – it’s an answer to whatever you need in red, even if it sometimes still drops something decent on board. Red has so much direct damage that having a silver bullet for anything you can’t melt is invaluable. I don’t think this replaces Chaos Warp, but this provides a very similar answer that I anticipate will be very valuable, especially if you’re mono-color.
BPhillipYork: Well this is a good example of reds non-damage interaction, it’s solid enough though with an element of random danger since they may get something even better, but that’s fairly unlikely in commander and you should probably auto-consider this.
Marcy: The conditional Hexproof is really nice, as is the assigns damage trigger, so I wonder if we’ll see some meme style Defender decks again in Standard.
Loxi: Another similar effect to the classic Attack with Big Butts cards. Sun Tzu’s Art of War informed me of this tactic. It helps out with some protection, so I’m all for it if you need more of that action.
BPhillipYork: Well that’s a big tortoise. Also more sources of toughness for power is like whatever, hexproof for your creatures is fun.
FromTheShire: This card is potentially Real Damn Good in Standard, I have seen some preliminary Caves lists being played that seem like they’re either going to be a fun, against the odds style budget deck, or a pretty powerful real actual deck. After Bat Colony makes you 3 1/1 flyers, this fetches your Cavernous Maws, Forgotten Monuments, and Sunken Citadels, growing those flyers when each one enters, especially if you’ve gotten 2 or more Bat Colonies into play. Later in the game you can switch to the counters mode to push through big damage out of nowhere, especially if you’ve swept the board with Calamitous Cave-In, or do two of the modes and deal with a random pesky enchantment. Spelunking makes your Caves enter untapped and pseudo reduces the cost of Confluence, and the life gain can be brutal for aggro decks. Finally you can repeatedly channel Shigeki, Jukai Visionary and Colossal Skyturtle to get Confluence back out of your yard and dump 9 counters on a hasty threat turn after turn.
Marcy: I gotta be honest, the focus on Caves is what kills this card for me, because I don’t know if there’s a case in which 5 mana to destroy 3 enchantments wins you the game (or, actually, gets you out of whatever is likely losing you the game).
Loxi: You know who would love this card? Cave Johnson, from Portal. In fact, he might be the only one who loves this card. This is a neat concept but boy, that’s a lot of mana. Sure, if you’ve got Caves go ballistic, but know you have both my respect and my concerns.
BPhillipYork: Too expensive, but funny to ramp out 3 caves. Are the caves good? Uh they are okay. So it’s fine. Fine. If you want midgame ramp or really need a lot of land triggers at once.
Marcy: Usually, Dinosaurs and ‘big’ creatures don’t have a lot of upsides, but that’s not how power creep in Magic works, so of course this card will hit the board and then likely refill your hand.
Loxi: Just when you thought he couldn’t get better. 10/10, all-star. Unironically, probably not too shabby in Commander either.
BPhillipYork: Solid fattie Dinosaur that draws you some cards.
Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant
Marcy: You’re never probably paying 8 mana for this unless you’re in Mono Green ramp, but this is a scary card if your opponent doesn’t untap and then just wipe your board, and, well, there are quite a lot of board wipes right now, which is a little deflating unless you can also give things haste. And even then, there’s a lot of ETB cards that are just as good at ending the game, like Etali.
Loxi: It’s a really scary card, but it feels a bit win-more to me. It’s certainly a fun and flashy way to close out the game if you have any sort of haste enabler though.
BPhillipYork: Funny. Well it’s a 12/12 that also lets you dump out your hand, so it could be included as a way to get your Craterhoof Behemoth out of your hand if your plan is to tutor cheat it into play as a wincon, also pretty fun if you are just hatching Dinosaurs.
Glimpse the Core
Marcy: I think maybe in Limited this is decent mana fixing, maybe in Commander it also helps you fish up lands you don’t have or need, Standard… I’m not sure. Caves aren’t really a ‘thing’, so it only really does one thing.
Loxi: If you have Caves, it’s a fine Rampant Growth-esque card. If you don’t…you might need to cave and put one in your deck.
BPhillipYork: Wow just another 2 cost search for a land, put it into play. So very very solid utilitarian for that. It’s probably the worst of the now 6 or 7 of these, but more is always great for ramp + thinning.
Marcy: Now this is a Dinosaur. Low toughness is about the only downside, but you get a 4 mana 5/3, it has ward to protect it or make direct removal very expensive, and it even gives you 2 mana ramp on your next turn. Great card, I expect it to be annoying.
Loxi: This is basically a mana dork with extra steps, but boy are those steps worth it. Generating mana while still being able to swing in is pretty fantastic. I can see an argument for this as a good mid-game card in a lot of green ramp/stompy decks, not just Dino Thunder.
BPhillipYork: Decent midrange 4 cost creature with multiple abilities, though it doesn’t measure up to Questing Beast or others of quite that ilk.
Marcy: If you’re looking to run Dinosaurs, I think this card is probably a must include, but ironically, the card below this one is better in almost every way.
Loxi: This is a Human Druid. This card should not be played with Humans, nor Druids. Have I mentioned this set has…Dinosaurs? Seems legit there.
BPhillipYork: Well it’s a 1-cost mana dork but only for Dinosaurs so run it in Dinosaur decks.
Marcy: Great mana dork even if you don’t care about Dinosaurs. You get a thick body for a mana dork at 2/2, you get free, non-conditional color fixing, and you can also hate on graveyards.
Loxi: This is such a sweet card. A mana dork with utility, but allowing you to hate out other graveyards while providing some recursion for your own is a hell of a package for two mana. This should probably be a new staple in Dino Dash.
BPhillipYork: Well it’s a graveyard hatebear which is decent in a reanimator environment, also lets you get back a dead Dinosaur and serves as a dork.
Marcy: So, you could just get a 1/1, but there’s a few good ways to maybe play this at variable X sizes, although I doubt you’re going to want to dump all of your mana into it. Possibly good in Limited, probably not great anywhere else.
Loxi: Merfolk with a tactical headlamp, nice. It might be nice if you want to put a bunch of stuff in your graveyard and still want the Merfolk synergy, but it might get pricy quickly.
BPhillipYork: Too expensive it seems to me to be worth it.
Marcy: I think this card is going to be really difficult to deal with in Limited, because your opponents likely don’t have a great answer on turn 4 for a 6/6 that isn’t ‘bad trade,’ but even in Standard, I think you could get this out and have it not get stunned very easily. Just a reminder, Topiary Stomper is a Dinosaur.
Loxi: Not quite a commander card, but I personally always have enjoyed the “overstatted creatures with a drawback” cards like this. It’s fun to see people work around maximizing the viability of them, especially in limited. Some of the cheap Dinos that are a bit meh gain a lot of power in a limited deck when they can enable this guy.
BPhillipYork: Um, well it’s a 6/6 for 3, but in commander who cares?
Sentinel of the Nameless City
Marcy: Maybe a good body in Limited but not really something that I feel is a must include in basically any deck. A lot of the green ‘create token’ creatures that you want to run create things like treasure tokens right now, and I’m not sure an Explore token is worth the 3 mana that doesn’t ramp you.
Loxi: Unless you want the artifacts on board for some reason, this is probably just ok. It’s fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to include it in a deck.
BPhillipYork: Um, map tokens aren’t very good, so this is not very good.
Marcy: Explore on steroids in the sense that you get a permanent buff to your lands, such as triomes and other conditionals, no longer coming into play tapped down. Sure, it is 1 more mana, but right now in Standard there aren’t many cards that do this anyway, and 3 mana on turn 2 in Green is actually not hard; scary card.
Loxi: Untapped lands can be cool, but I would rather just run some other three-cost ramp spell unless you’re balling out on taplands.
FromTheShire: In addition to being a house in the Caves deck I mentioned earlier, this is super powerful in Amulet Titan style decks taking advantage of untapping bouncelands.
BPhillipYork: When things you control enter play then untap that’s potentially abuseable because they are triggers that can be doubled, but when they just enter untapped it’s just really kind of bad.
The Skullspore Nexus
Marcy: I really like that this is also another anti-board wipe card, but there’s also ways in which you might sacrifice your own things to create one big token while reaping benefits from it. There are very easy ways to get 6 CMC off of a creature right now in Standard green, so I could see this becoming an annoying problem to deal with against mono-green stompy decks to start going over your board wipes or removal (as long as they don’t also hit artifacts).
Loxi: Expensive, but a good way to add some protection and finishing power in green. I think it’s priced a bit high, but any cheaper and this might seem like an issue. I dig it, but I’d be shocked to see it outside of really high mana curve decks.
BPhillipYork: One the one hand I remember Fungusaur and thinking it was good (it was not good), and this costs an insane 8 mana, but can be reduced to 2, and then it’s just kind of creating token power/toughness copies of what dies, which is kind of neat, maybe for decks that use the green sacrifice / tutor suite it gets your more value, and also lets you potentially make something really big, or let’s you one-shot people with your commander.
Next Time: Colorless
That wraps up our look at the set’s monocolored cards. Join us next time as we review the sets colorless cards, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.