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The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is upon us, and as we know, a return to Ixalan means that creature types matter. There's also a set mechanic based around the word "descend" (it's more complicated than just that), so you know that there's going to be some graveyard shenanigans. And what color loves the graveyard? Let's get into it, my black card lovers, it's time to review the offerings from Ixalan's latest visit.
We begin the mythics section with a character referenced on the backside of. Aclazotz is a massive Bat God and comes with a lot of text. Having mass discard on attack is solid, and what's more, if you're already in a dedicated discard deck, Aclazotz is likely to fill your hand up with more nonsense.
You'll be making a Bat token to chump with on crackback when your opponents are forced to ditch lands which helps you go in for a swing with confidence. It also gives your opponents incentive to discard cards they would need; not saying that lands aren't needed, but you get the idea. Let's not forget that your opponent who needs to cycle thatis also adding a Bat to the swarm.
The backside is at the very least a land that taps for black, which is such a high floor for a creature that dies. The ability to flip it back into a flying, lifelinking Bat God 4/4 with lots of upside is present though only likely to come up when in a discard deck, if I had to guess.
All said, that's where I think Aclazotz will find a home.decks, , and of course, my discard deck that loves to see and the like. However, its incidental token-making and hand disruption might lead to see inclusions in or , both decks I love. Speaking of token-making, this can be an absolute beating in a deck.
What it comes down to when thinking of your meta is whether or not any discard is going to help or hinder you. There are a ton of reanimation strategies out there so if you're giving this a whirl, make sure to go hard.
Oh, boy! It's like ayou don't have to wait to trigger for your turns.
This is a house for turbo-charging a game. Run it in any strategy and it's going to be a presence.hurts for more, means all your dying creatures deal two to your opponents, enters and even with just Gary and Bloodletter, that's 10 per opponent right there.
On a creature, this effect means reanimation strategies will be interested in it or, even better, clone strategies. What about any deckwould feel at home in? Turn your trigger into a real stroke of death. Can I interest players in a new toy? Encore the Bloodletter, and each one on their own will deal 16 damage, essentially. And that's just the Bloodletters! You might have a to follow up with or something, but either way, life loss around the table being doubled and doubled and doubled and doubled...that's a hell of a way to end a game!
This is a Set Booster exclusive card, and while there are bits and pieces of it that I enjoy, there's something about it that feels off. Maybe it's because it's an Altar without a free sacrifice ability like my beloved, , and , but I digress.
The enters-the-battlefield ability on this artifact is really solid for decks that meet the criteria of "having at least a big nontoken creature" and "wanting a full graveyard". I'm talking, , heck, even the goofball .
That said, the backside is a craftedvariant, and I'll just be blunt: I have never cared for that kind of design. Not for , , or . I maintain that the only really good one would be , and even then, that's as the commander. If I already control all these creatures that I would have to use to craft the Wretched Bonemass, why would I want to make them a fragile stack under one creature? This is why I think the front side alone might be worth a consideration. Not my speed. I'm sorry to the fans of this style.
This isfor an extra three mana on a flying 6/6. It's on a creature, which can matter for some decks like ones that want to companion their or if you want to use creature tutors, but I will say just playing is the way here. The ability is technically an ETB, but it only triggers if you cast . It does trigger when you use , , , , or because they all cast the .
Let's not forget this is a Demon, sowill love this for damage or a mass draw. So these would be the edge cases where I would favor Bringer over . I think it's just really cool to have this on a creature now. A card to keep an eye on.
I'm a little lost on this one. Decks that want Skeleton kindred shenanigans will snap this up, but really where my head goes is the third ability, which will allow you to cast this again, so you'll get another token and the enchantment entering to trigger Constellation triggers and such.
I don't see this being a big deal until we get a Skeleton commander, honestly. Door feel like the right homes for this? Potentially! This is a format where cards are picked by the player, so if this sings to your heart, go for it. However, I am underwhelmed.
Right out of the Commander precons, this Vampire is a bit of board wipe insurance for your Vampire kindred decks or your Changeling/kindred-kindred decks. Giving a board of nontokens persist brings them back a little weaker but surely triggers a few ETBs. I think this will have a home indecks easily and might earn its keep in an deck. I think this is so straightforward, there isn't much else to say!
Now we have partner Pirates in all the Grixis colors!
can get a job done over the course of a game. Francisco, much like and , triggers off of Pirates dealing damage to opponents, and not just combat damage. With that in mind, there's already some spicy tech for Francisco when you use something like , a card that impresses me more and more. Add or to the mix, and as long as you can get +1/+1 counters on the Bird, all you really need is a nonland card on top of your library and you choose to keep it on top and it's a big game over for your opponents. Shout out to @listenerelf on Twitter for pointing it out. Blew my mind!
This card is on the short list for cards I love in this set. As a graveyard player and reanimation lover,is a real chef's kiss of a good time. Don't get me wrong, exiling cards from your graveyard is definitely a cost, but four mana for any creature in your graveyard? And it's a cast trigger, so it'll work with ? Amazing. You can have a huge turn for eight mana and eight cards from your graveyard.
And if there's nothing worthwhile in your graveyard, you get to surveil every turn cycle. My, , and decks will all be trying this one out.
I go back and forth between "I feel like this didn't need the restriction!" and "This is still great with the restriction and all!"
Requiring a creature sacrifice is well within what I'd expect here. Tap, sacrifice a creature, get a? Yeah, that's way too powerful. That's turning a token creature into a , for god's sake! That said, keeping the mana restricted to Demon, Cleric, and Vampire spells means that it'll likely only see play in those kindred decks or in the odd deck where your commander happens to be one of these types.
The art on this card is absolutely stunning, though.
Three mana for a 2/4 deathtouching creature in relevant types is enough to raise any eyebrows. A Vampire Cleric that makes a 1/1 Vampire token with lifelink when you attack the player on the throne is enough for that mana with these stats. Add to that the fact that there's a good chance you'll be in a commanding position in decks that want this, with the most life or tied for it, and you'll get a card for your trouble? It's a fine card!is the obvious first commander to come to mind, but and decks are sure to find a slot for the Preacher. Maybe this is a new card for this or decks since they like the combat step as well.
You would have to be making some pretty great creature tokens for this card to jump out at you, but I can think of a few decks. It even gives you an Adventure to get you kickstarted with a decent token.
, , , , and come to mind for commanders, but , , , , , , and all come to mind for the kind of cards that would be in the 99 along with . Is this worth it in decks that only make small vanilla tokens? It could be as long as you can benefit from a creature of a certain type ETB or death!
Either way, it's cool to see a black card with populate.
As far as Vampire cards go, this is pretty strong. It's reminiscent of a creature I've been looking at brewing:. Whereas Olivia can reanimate any creature, is limited to the Vampire creature type.
Of course, in a dedicated Vampire deck, this Paladin should slot in nicely to bring back some haymakers that have been got with a. Just make sure it's not a creature you want to die, because finality counters replace death triggers with exile, which, if you know me, you know I don't like that much at all.
Does this card allow you to capitalize on some Vampire ETBs again, though? Yeah! And that's good enough for some folks. I think having a way to get, , or out again makes for a solid card, but it will of course be in Vampire decks like (did you expect me to say ?) and the like.
Now, this card right here, folks? This is what we call a banger.
takes a more focused page out of 's book. Where Tormod doesn't care what type of card is leaving your graveyard to reward you with Zombies, will only bless you with Scary Pirates if those cards are creatures.
The Skellies have another thing going for them which is that they've got a built-in way to reanimate themselves to play, albeit for six mana. It's a little expensive, but it's built-in and I think that's worth it. Coming from a guy who plays, I know I'll be popping this in the same deck. Which deck, you ask? , my pride and joy. That deck also has a small number of Pirates that turn into a more annoying card, because makes Pirates any time I reanimate a creature from my graveyard, or use , or escape, or encore, I'll be getting a Skeleton Pirate, which is just tasty.
The deck I anticipate seeing this pop up for most on EDHREC is going to be. With all those tricks to get creatures in and out of the graveyard, Syr Konrad will have the backup of the Bone Boyz to keep the graveyard dance going. All this without even mentioning the anthem for Skeletons and Pirates? Banger!
Some are shorthanding and calling this black, but the ceiling is higher than that. In a dedicated self-mill deck, this card will likely often be in the double digits for power and toughness. This is a big beat stick for two mana and a discard/permanent sacrifice.
For Commander purposes, I don't believewill be seeing much play outside of self-mill, aggro, or decks. might be the best spot for this card right now.
This little guy will grow on most of your turns, sitting there like a ticking time bomb for one of your opponents' creatures. A one-mana 1/1 with evasion in relevant creature types for kindred decks (Goblins and Rogues are very popular) would be enough for some decks! Having an onboard kill spell stapled onto this feels like a solid pick for any decks that like a two in one. Am I at all interested in this personally? Maybe I would be if I still had my. Once this gets big enough, you can also feed this and to the from the set boosters!
If you've got eight permanents in your graveyard, this is athat also gains you a life per card drawn. That's pretty sweet on a 4/4 for four. That said, the ETB is wild. The way this is worded, no cards are staying on top of the library. Sure, you surveil, but whatever you don't dump into the graveyard ends up in your hand and costs three life.
If you do hit the Descend 8 threshold (not to be confused with Threshold) before this enters the battlefield, each card will cost you two life a piece instead. This is a strange card.has been mentioned a few times times in this review, and I guess any commanders like it might be happy to see in the 99. If you encore one of these, you might be paying 12 life for six cards, but more likely, you'll be milling cards and then slamming the card draw spell you've been holding onto; draining each opponent for three life per card you draw sounds amazing. has a new toy to play with. Is this the year we see Nekusar wheels rise back to popularity?
This card is a solid role-player for decks that want creatures in the graveyard or those who don't mind trading some tokens for draws. Let's be real, there are a ton of basically "free" tokens that get made all too easily. Tap, sac, draw a card? Sign me up. It requires a tap to activation, so it's once a turn, which reminds me of. The big difference for me with is that the backside is a land that allows you to cast a creature from your graveyard. You won't get a death trigger out of that creature because it'll have a finality counter, but design has been big on ETBs for a long time now so this will be worth it. anyone?
Let's see this inor, better yet, decks. Ashnod lets you draw two cards per sacrifice to the Journal which is an incredible rate.
I don't know.
There are wrath effects you can control.doesn't feel like one of those. This is going into self-mill decks or decks that want to kill a board of creatures that are lower on the toughness scale. is a card, is a card, costs two more but that's a card, , there are other wraths. Even feels like you can control it better in the right deck.
I'm not too impressed with this one.
This is my Rule Zero pick for the set. If you want to put together a deck within the command zone and bring it to a table we share, my vote is yes. Go for it.
Its conditions are not easy to meet unless you've got the classics likeand , but they're doable. With three eligible Merfolk and five eligible Dinosaurs, you might have to rely on some Changelings as well. The mill two on the front can help you get the necessary pieces in the graveyard for crafting. Kindred-kindred decks might welcome this absolute house on the back end, but ultimately the hoops to jump through feel like a deck specially made for is the way to go.
Uncommons & Commons
This is a pretty cool kill spell, reminiscent of, but if you've got a madness deck, this is a slam dunk.
It's an echo because it's not as strong as the first one, but this Chupacabra can deal with pesky indestructible creatures if your graveyard is deep enough.
This isn't, but much like , is a solid card following in its footsteps. Map tokens can only be activated at sorcery speed, so it's not like this is going to be 2B to potentially draw three cards, but it is possible if it's your main phase. It's not a bad lil' common.
A quick little Pirate who wants to die for your Treasure.is the more flexible version of this, but gives you two effects for one death.
If you're going to have a creature blink in and out of play or dance around from graveyard to the battlefield and back, may I suggest a little Snail who'll send your opponents into topdeck mode.
I've mentioned I have adeck. Any card that makes three useful bodies, I pay attention. or and a reanimation suite put this card right in the pile of cards I need to test in my deck.
An edict effect on an artifact that doesn't require you to sacrifice anything is pretty sweet. The backside is innocuous enough, but combine it with more effects like this, like, and you'll have a real death-by-a-thousand-cuts situation on your hands.
A BOUNTY OF RICHES
Ixalan strikes again with really cool and interesting designs. There will be loads of cards to test out and try from this set for folks like myself who love the graveyard. What do you think? Are there any cards that you're stoked for? What about cards you'll be scared to see played against you? Sound off! Thanks 🙂