EDHREC Rivals of Ixalan Set Review — White

Here it is, spoiler season once again! Hopefully everyone was able to process the spoilers that came out rapid fire this time. A whole set packed into just five days is quite a bit to take in. But we do what we always do, get hyped! For Rivals of Ixalan the EDHREC powers that be decided to let the whitest writer instill his wisdom upon whomever would welcome his thoughts on the color white. Rivals of Ixalan seems loaded to the gills (merfolk pun) with Commander gold. Not the gold cards though, we have someone else covering those. Here we’re going to dig into the white cards though, so let’s get to it! As always, I’ll only cover the cards that we think will have much effect on the format. Will we miss a card or two? Certainly, but that’s the fun part in finding the overlooked gems.

Bishop of Binding

Bishop of Binding
Let’s start this off with a disclaimer: I have an Edgar Markov vampire tribal deck myself. And I love it. It puts pressure on everyone to play quickly and makes sure that games don’t drag on. So I MAY be a little extra skeptical/hyped on certain vampires. This one I really like though. Bishop of Binding fills the role of Banisher Priest with tribal relevance AND pumps a lucky bloodsucker during combat. Since he can target himself with his triggered ability you don’t have to worry about suiciding him in either. The bishop is kinda squishy outside of combat, but if you’re playing any sort of bounce effects it gets pretty neat. Would play.

Blazing Hope

Blazing Hope
I’ve seen some people excited for this card and I don’t really get it myself. Yes, 1-mana instant speed removal is good, but with Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, or even Dispatch for certain decks I don’t think the conditional removal is worth it. For some 60-card formats you may take a gander at it, but starting at 40 life means you have to be losing or about to lose for this to do much. Pass.

Cleansing Ray

Cleansing Ray
You probably only play this if your buddy keeps crushing you with his vampire deck.

Famished Paladin

Famished Paladin
Combos with Resplendent Mentor, so it’s worth mentioning. Life gain decks are no joke, so look for this to appear at the casual tables near you soon. Sunbond and all sorts of other combos seem waiting to be found with this one.

Forerunner of the Legion

Forerunner of the Legion
We’ve seen this type of cycle before. The harbingers from Lorwyn block now add to their legion of tribal tutors. Being able to search up any vampire from your deck is sweet. The secondary ability on this track star might be the worst one of his Rivals of Ixalan companions, but it’s still gravy on top of the fluffy biscuit of finding himself a buddy. I’ll definitely be making room for this one.

Imperial Ceratops

Imperial Ceratops
Budget-y Doran, the Siege Tower decks will probably pick this up. Having a bigger butt and not dying to a strong breeze compared to Ravenous Daggertooth means that dinos have a better way to get this effect too.

Luminous Bonds

Luminous Bonds
Hey look, another Pacifism! Now before you get uppity about me mentioning another common that is a slightly worse version of something we’ve already seen, just remember that PacifismArrestPrison Term and even Faith’s Fetters are all played in over 2,000 decks reported to EDHREC. Is it a great card? Meh. Will you play against it when you sit down with a middle schooler playing their first deck with every card they own? Yup. Plus, Brago, King Eternal loves these effects.

Paladin of Atonement

Paladin of Atonement
Another “life gain matters,” vampire eh? For a two-drop he’s not bad, but the upside is definitely limited since it’s once each upkeep. I can’t help but feel like this is too much work for the payoff. I’ll kindly pass on this one.

Radiant Destiny

Radiant Destiny
I’m kinda torn on this one. On one hand, it’s a tribal anthem, and that’s not bad at all. There’s a payoff if you can trigger Ascend and gain the blessing of ye’ olde township to give them vigilance. The big question for me is are there enough white tribal decks that want this effect in white? I think there are some folks that like it, I think I’ll have to try it out before I make a final judgment. It’s either going to be super blah, or it could be bonkers.

Skymarcher Aspirant

Skymarcher Aspirant
My my my, look how far we’ve come since Savannah Lions. I like one-drops in Edgar Markov, but I don’t know how much further this card gets into singleton formats beyond the super aggressive vampire tribal decks.

Slaughter the Strong

Slaughter the Strong
This card…man. It’s such a unique effect that I don’t even know how to analyze it. Another toy for Doran, the Siege Tower maybe? If you build your deck right this could be an absolute bloodbath in your favor. It feels like it’s a bit of a fail since it’s not a power of five or less though, but my mom was an English teacher, so what do I know? Anyways, the card. Yea, I still dunno. Which means I’m going to get blown the heck out until I start playing it to mediocre success for myself.

Sphinx’s Decree

Sphinx’s Decree
At first I thought this was instant speed and got really worried for a second because Isochron Scepter is a thing. But thankfully I realized what really was going on. It’s not nearly as abusable as Orim’s Chant, but if you’re playing someone that wants to sling spells then it’s probably pretty sweet. If you’re the type of player who wants to play this, you probably have a sleeve all ready to go in your Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck that is all about making sure the fun doesn’t happen.

Temple Altisaur

Temple Altisaur
Dinosaur decks are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE this jewel. Throw a bunch of enrage enablers into a deck with a bunch of dinos that want to get fussy and watch the fireworks go off. Pyroclasm away! Hour of Devastation? Yup! This card is so fun. Heck, you can Blasphemous Act with reckless abandon! If you’re playing a dinosaur deck this feels like a sure thing.

Trapjaw Tyrant

Trapjaw Tyrant
If you combine this with the card I just got done praising (Temple Altisaur for those lazy folks who don’t want to scroll up 2 inches…) then it’s probably going to be VERY hard for opponents to keep much of a board presence, creature wise. Anger of the Gods to blow up the little things, enrage trigger to clean up the fatties. Unless your opponent pockets some non-damage removal for this guy then you might be able to trap quite a few victims betwixt this guys jewels.

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
After you’re done reading the novel of keywords on this, come back and finish the rest of my thoughts. Remember Chromanticore? Wizards decided to take the jumble of everything going on all at once down from eleven to like, a solid eight. Odric, Lunarch Marshal is happy to see all the keywords you’ll ever need on a single creature. Soulflayer too I guess. And of course, as with all of these high toughness dinosaurs lately, Doran, the Siege Tower yet again, has another stupid scaley bird lizard thing to play with. Probably not a great commander since mono-white doesn’t have the greatest ramp ability, but plenty of decks will love having this type of keyword soup on a stick.

And there we have it! White all wrapped up and ready for you to prerelease. What cards are you most excited to play with here? Did I miss any of the lower rarity cards you think might break in or did Vampires get all the paper peasant pleasure? Let me know in the comments! Thanks everyone!

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Selesnya, Naya, Temur, Ink-Treader...whatever you want to call it. Matt knows a good creature-combo deck when he sees it. He is the only EDHREC writer that was sad to see Leovold go. Outside of EDH plays Legacy and Modern and got his first career Pro Point at GP Louisville. Matt lives with his wife and two dogs, but no cats because cats are terrible.