Hello friends and Ixalanians. Welcome to EDHREC’s final Commander set review of Ixalan – Gold Cards, Artifacts, and Non-Basic Lands! We have a lot to cover, so let’s set sail!
“Arrrgh, Welcome aboard me maties!” Ah, nothing like opening up our review with a cheesy pirate introduction. Okay, enough of the eye patch and peg legs, let’s take a look at the tight ship run by a well-aged and experienced commander, Admiral Beckett Brass. “Pirate Grandma” offers a +1/+1 bonus to all other pirates, allows for a Grixis deck build and has a knack for winning at BINGO on Wednesday nights. With these redeeming qualities alone, she is the perfect choice to lead our tribal buccaneer deck.
Admiral Beckett’s second ability, however, can be a bit arduous to pull off. Our elder marauder has an ability that allows us to steal a non-land permanent from a player, but only if three of our pirates deal damage to that player during combat. While seemingly impossible, there are ways to ensure we are able to pillage, plunder and bring back the treasure. Cover of Darkness is my favorite to sneak into the 99. Giving our pirates fear should help them slip past most defenses. Of course, we could also incorporate the help of a few stow-a-ways such as Archetype of Imagination or Sun Quan, Lord of Wu to ensure our raiding bandits return with bountiful treasure.
Here’s an unexpected uncommon to consider. Deadeye Plunderers gets +1/+1 for each artifact we control. They also have an activated ability that can turn mana into treasure which, in turn, increases their own power and toughness. While four mana for a treasure token seems expensive, the Plunderers get a bit more interesting with a Training Grounds in play. Throw in a Revel in Riches and you have a treasure finding engine capable of getting us a few steps closer to an alternate win condition. Deadeye Plunderers is a valuable must-have for Admiral Beckett Brass or as hired muscle in a Breya, Etherium Shaper or other artifact themed decks.
Who better to lead Dino-Tribal than one of the most infamous prehistoric reptiles from science class, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. While some Magic the Gathering™ tribes struggle for years to find a suitable Commander, Ixalan has given the dinosaur herds a king in the form of this feathered T-Rex. In fact, check out fellow EDHREC author Sam Alpert’s latest treatise about this little stomper!
Gishath, Sun’s Avatar makes his presence felt as soon as he enters the battlefield. As a 7/6 with trample, vigilance, and haste our opponents will not want to be on the receiving end of an attack from this ground pounding tyrant. When Gishath deals combat damage to an opponent we get to reveal that many cards from the top of our library and put all revealed dinosaurs into play. Deck building for Gishath will be extremely Timmy as we smash our Jurassic stack with dinos, ramp and of course, Xenagos, God of Revels.
Sure, Gishath costs eight mana, but our big, dumb dino deck should be able to wreak havoc if our opponents let him smash his way out of the command zone. With a surge of dinos cheated into play, it won’t take us long to catch up or turn the tides of kitchen table battles. Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear!
When Hostage Taker enters the battlefield it triggers a Banisher Priest-type effect that exiles a creature or artifact. At this point in the game, well-timed spot removal like Swords to Plowshares will meet the ransom requirements of the Hostage Taker and return the exiled card to its rightful owner. In the meantime, we have the option to cast the exiled creature or artifact card and have it enter the battlefield under our control. Permanently. Whether we are simply swiping a Sol Ring or persuading a creature to commit treason, Hostage Taker offers a unique and tide-turning method of dealing with troublesome permanents. The secret tech with this card is that we can target our own creatures or artifacts should the need arise. This pirate is an auto-include for copy/steal theme decks in addition to the expected service as part of Admiral Beckett Brass’s crew.
Wow, check it out dino-maniacs. Not only did the dinosaur tribe score a sweet Commander, but the tribal flavor gets extra spicy with a dino-themed planeswalker in Huatli, Warrior Poet.
Increasing the herd seems to be Huatli’s primary focus as the Dino Whisperer has a “0” activated ability that calls 3/3 dinosaurs with trample to fight by her side. When we are not activating Hualti to spawn reptilian combatants, we can increase our own life force by using her +2 ability to gain life equal to the power of target creature we control. This not only pads our ability to stay in the game but also edges her loyalty up a few notches in preparation to use her third ability. Hualti’s -X will clear the path of blockers and allow Gishath, Sun’s Avatar or our combat hungry strike force to stomp our opponents into the mud
With only three counters when she comes into play, Huatli, Warrior Poet is a bit light in the starting loyalty department for a five-mana Planeswalker. With that being said, her ability to tack on additional loyalty in pairs, protect herself with a dino-pet, and/or use all of her abilities the turn she comes into play makes her a versatile combat oriented token-producing planeswalker.
Our newest Simic merfolk is an astonishing creature of the sea with power and toughness equal to the number of cards we have in hand. Reminiscent of one of my favorite green draw spells, Shamanic Revelation, Tishana, Voice of Thunder allows us to draw a card for each creature we control when she enters the battlefield. If our board is loaded with mana dorks and tokens, we should see a tidal wave of options flood our hand. But, no worries about the tide going back out during our discard phase, Tishana gives us no maximum hand size allowing to keep all of the resources we have in hand.
Similarities and differences abound have already been discussed between Tishana, Voice of Thunder and Prime Speaker Zegana. Arguably, the two Simic powerhouses could, and should, co-exist together. If you are interested and intrigued about a Tishana, Voice of Thunder deck, EDHREC has you covered. Check out this week’s release of Commander Showdown for some Slippery Simic goodness!
Vona, Butcher of Magan is a formidable foe in combat sporting a 4/4 body with vigilance and lifelink. While fully capable of commanding his own Orzhov good stuff deck, this vampire knight should feel right at home as a repeatable Vindicate in life gain decks such as Karlov of the Ghost Council, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Edgar Markov or Oloro, Ageless Ascetic.
Great, glorious Golgari! Look who’s back! Vraska, Relic Seeker has earned herself an infamous reputation as a pirate not to cross paths with on the high seas of Ixalan. This six mana planeswalker is well worth sacrificing treasure or spending mana to have her on our side of the battlefield. She makes an immediate impact with her +2 ability that summons a 2/2 pirate token with menace to add to her crew. Vraska can also let her temper fly with her -3 that wreaks havoc on a troublesome artifact, creature, or enchantment after which, she collects the bounty in the form of a treasure token to be spent later.
In addition to charming pirates to do her bidding, the +2 activations will work her up to a hull-breaking ultimate. For -10 loyalty, Vraska outright punishes a player by reducing their life total to 1. Without a doubt, our opponents will not want to see the jolly roger of Vraska’s ship pointed in their direction.
As a 2/10 vehicle crewed by 4, opposing fleets will find themselves hard pressed to sink the Galleon. This armored vessel is on a mission of discovery, one that is simply fulfilled by surviving combat to arrive at its destination: Conqueror’s Foothold. An interesting place to wash ashore, the Foothold offers us a land that taps for a colorless mana in addition to a string of abilities reminiscent to the Staff of Domination. Tapping two and the Foothold activates its loot ability while tapping four and the Foothold allows us to draw a card. Should we have six mana available to pump into the Foothold we get to bring back any card from our graveyard to our hand.
Time will tell if the payoff to transform Conqueror’s Galleon into Conqueror’s Foothold is worth the time and effort as part of our deck’s strategy. While navigating the waters to flip this card might not be for everyone, the Galleon does warrant strong consideration for Karn, Silver Golem or a Depala, Pilot Exemplar vehicle deck.
At first glance, deck builders would definitely shy away from including an equipment that gives an opponent two creatures, provides a minimal stat boost, and offers no evasion. However, the Dowsing Dagger was created as a navigational device, not a weapon of malice. Ironically enough, combat damage must be done to a player in order to fulfill the destiny of this complex weapon.
Our best plan of action would be to put the dagger in the hands of a creature with evasion and let them lead us to the Lost Vale. Non-basically speaking, the Lost Vale is a splendid discovery for Commander decks that gives them access to a single land capable of producing three mana of any one color. While several decks could benefit from this find, White and Boros should be the best equipped (pun intended) to discover the lost valley tucked away within the continent’s interior.
Would you like to see a decklist that incorporates Dowsing Dagger along with a few more Ixalan flip lands? If so, be sure to check out my article from last week on EDHREC:
It is a distinct possibility that Spellslingers will seek out Ixalan’s Primal Amulet to help reduce the cost of their instants and sorceries. However, I would venture a guess that it is not the cost reduction they seek, but rather the arcane power found after charging the amulet with the essence of four spells. With the prerequisites met, the artifact will flip and reveal the Primal Wellspring.
When a spellslinger taps into the Wellspring to cast an instant or sorcery, he/she gets to unleash a second copy that spell upon the table. For the most part, Primal Wellspring is a land version of Pyromancer’s Goggles which is currently found in over 3,300 decks on EDHREC. Immediate benefits from the depths of the Wellspring will be visible to Commanders like Mizzix of the Izmagnus and Wort, the Raidmother but should also provide arcane greatness in Talrand, Sky Summoner and Kess, Dissident Mage.
While Relic of Progenitus is arguably the better option for graveyard removal in Commander, Sentinel Totem will definitely draw its fair share of supporters. With the potential to eradicate all graveyards on a whim and a slick scry 1 ability when it enters the battlefield, we will definitely see the Totem get its fair share of time on the battlefield.
A two mana artifact that searches out basic lands for three mana is a decent deck-thinning tool in addition to ensuring a land drop every turn. However, once we control seven or more lands, our compass transforms and lead us to the Spires of Orazca.
Approximately 15,000 decks on EDHREC have Maze of Ith lined up in their 99. The Maze is a fantastic defensive option that will thwart the attack of punishing voltron commanders not named Uril or Sigarda. Unfortunately, this ancient land from Magic’s 1994 expansion, The Dark, has always been hindered by the fact that it does not tap for mana. With Spires of Orazca, however, we are presented with a “fixed” version of Maze of Ith, that retains the defensive functionality but can also contribute to adding mana to our mana pool.
Adventure awaits as we plot a course to follow the Treasure Map. With each scry we are able to dig down and add a landmark, getting closer and closer to the buried treasure. Finally, “X” marks the spot as our land navigation skills pay off and we find the Treasure Cove. When we flip into this hidden land we are rewarded with three pieces of treasure that can be sacrificed at any time for mana or pawned off one by one in exchange for drawing a card.
It is good to see continued tribal support as Commander 2017 stretches into Ixalan. Vanquisher’s Banner is not a card-drawing powerhouse like Kindred Discovery, but it is a simple, on-theme, and effective card that provides tribal decks a static power and toughness boost along with a steady flow of resources everytime we cast a spell with the named creature type. Great card!
Whether a Maze of Ith has us flustered or a Cabal Coffers is out of control, targeted land destruction is a necessary evil to keep our friends playing an honest game. Field of Ruin brings with it a kinder, gentler feel to removing a troublesome land by allowing both players to replace their lost acreage. Of course, in a multiplayer game, the non-involved opponents will also be able to search out a basic land and put it into play. In this case, be sure to don your political hat and remind the other players that this kind deed brings with it a favor to be called in later.
Non-basically speaking, Unclaimed Territory becomes an auto-include to help meet the colored mana cost of our merfolk, vampires, dinosaurs, pirates or any other creature type relevant to our deck build.
That’s all I have for you today my EDHREC friends. Which Ixalan cards are you looking forward to smashing into your Commander decks? Did I miss any cards that you are excited about? If you had a pet dinosaur, what type of dinosaur would you want to own? And, what would you name him/her? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
On to the next!