Ahoy! Ixalan Commander Set Review

Ahoy, mateys! The tide has gone and the time is nigh to discuss Ixalan for EDH. I reckon there be plenty o’ good spoils this time ’round. As I review a carrrrd, I be mentioning where I see her finding her home. Grab your first mate, and let’s set sail!

Ashes of the Abhorrent

Ashes of the Abhorrent is an excellent card that will see play in various EDH decks because of its uniqueness as a partial graveyard hate spell. Ashes can stop some strategies in their tracks while not hurting others. It hoses most Protean Hulk combos, as well as Yawgmoth’s Will. Decks that also use the graveyard for persist or reanimation can make use of this card’s effect. If you want hardcore, dedicated graveyard removal, I suggest Containment Priest, Grafdigger’s Cage, and of course, Rest in Peace.

Bellowing Aegisaur

Hasta Ballista, baby.

This Dino gets interesting with Walking Ballista. While not reliable enough for many players, it’s an interesting interaction that pumps your whole team up arbitrarily large. I can’t leave a sweet Dinosaur synergy out of my review, can I?

Bishop of Rebirth

I still ain’t going to church, it’s a pirate’s life for me.

I believe this card is worse than Sun Titan but better than Order of Whiteclay. If you need redundancy of this effect, the Bishop is fine for casual decks.

Axis of Mortality

Axis is expensive and doesn’t impact the board. So automatically, this card will most likely be relegated to casual EDH. There, it serves as a rattlesnake effect to warn your opponents to be careful of attacking you too low, lest they be the victim of a life swap. Mirror Universe and Soul Conduit don’t see an awful lot of play, but this card is better. A fun, fringe card for sure.

Goring Ceratops

Those pretty feathers would look great in me pirate’s cap.

Naturally, this card is great in a Dinosaur deck, as well as passable in decks with big beatsticks. I like this card better than True Conviction, although it is more fragile.

Tocatli Honor Guard

Shiver me triggers?

A creature-based Torpor Orb effect. If you prefer to have a body strapped to the effect, this makes a fine addition, but you already have access to Hushwing Gryff. It can turn off a few pesky generals, but being a creature leaves it susceptible to board wipes.

Wakening Sun’s Avatar

Thar she blows! Up all the enemy creatures, that is.

A decent Dinosaur tribal payoff creature. My biggest gripe with this card is how poorly it works with generals like Mayael the Anima and Gishath, Sun’s Avatar.

Arcane Adaptation

There are many cards that synergize with effects like this and Arcane Adaptation is nothing new. Conspiracy and Xenograft are just a few so if you are looking for another copy of that type of card for combo consistency, here it is.

Chart a Course

Sail ho! That thar be a brand new card draw spell.

Chart a Course is a spell I predict to see in multiple formats. The rate is 2 mana to draw 2—the discard 1 is fine. It even comes with the bonus of not needing to discard at all if you have an attacker. While it may not be terribly splashy for casual EDH, for competitive and 1v1 Commander I think this spell will have a home in some decks. See Beyond doesn’t see any play so in order for this card to be utilized, the deck should have a good amount of cheap attackers. Ludevic, Tymna, and Thrasios decks usually play enough cheap creatures to turn this spell’s “raid” on. Additionally, decks that want a great discard enabler will appreciate Chart a Course.

Deadeye Quartermaster

She don’t have a peg leg to stand on.

Stoneforge Mystic this card is not. But along with Trinket Mage and Trophy Mage, this card could find a home if you have an important equipment/combo piece to grab.

Fleet Swallower

Captain Ahab aside, this creature should make for a fun addition to many mill decks. This Fish represents a massive number of cards milled when it enters-the-battlefield and combined with a way to recur it, it can demolish libraries in no time. Of course, you can’t rely on this creature alone because in most instances it will only mill half a library and rarely finish the deed. My biggest gripe for casual decks is that it doesn’t hit each opponent at once. I wouldn’t be surprised if this eventually saw play competitively as an enabler, targeting yourself.

Herald of Secret Streams

A great addition in Ezuri, Claw of Progress decks and also works well with Oran-Rief the Vastwood or Novijen, Heart of Progress.

Kopala, Warden of Waves

Kira can go swab the poop deck.

Kira, Great Glass Spinner will be better in any instance that isn’t Merfolk tribal. If you play with a group with more board wipes than targeted removal, this card may still sit on the sidelines.

Jace, Cunning Castaway

Planeswalkers that work well with Doubling Season are becoming quite boring to discuss. That’s about the extent to where I’d include this card.

Overflowing Insight

Expensive, splashy, and fun. Perfect for casual EDH. Would be nice to hit off of Narset, Enlightened Master, but I am just going to stick to Ugin’s Insight as that card is just a bit more castable.

Siren Stormtamer

Storm’s a brewin’.

A great addition to the Ludevic partner decks that are tier 1 right now in 1v1 MTGO Commander.

Dire Fleet Ravager

Avast! Me precious life—give it back.

Wizard? Sure, I guess that thing could be “wizardly?” This card makes for a fun, chaotic effect for an Inalla, Archmage Ritualist deck. It can get out of hand pretty fast, so make sure that you have a way to capitalize on this.

Raiders’ Wake

Another Megrim-style effect for decks like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf. Fun for casual EDH, but I don’t particularly think these kind of effects are powerful enough.

Walk the Plank

Time to feed the fishes.

A solid removal spell. Nothing flashy, but relatively unconditional. Not being an instant is a big bummer.

Makeshift Munitions

Goblin Bombardment this card is not, despite the artwork similarities. Purely casual and with little combo potential—it’s a pretty easy pass for me.

Sunbird’s Invocation

Polly want a cracker?

This card reminds me a bit of Maelstrom Nexus and the cascade mechanic. It can be fun if you are willing to commit the 6 mana.

Rampaging Ferocidon

Incidental damage like this isn’t terribly relevant in 30-40 life formats, but if someone is getting a bit out of control with life gain or token generation, feel free to bring this nasty little creature to the fight.

That there be one star I ain’t be wishin’ on anytime soon, ye hear?

A fun, flashy board wipe for casual EDH. Goodbye Gaea’s Cradle and everything that went with it. Combining this with Boros Reckoner or Stuffy Doll makes for some good times.

Deathgorge Scavenger

Best start believing in Dinosaur stories—you’re in one!

As good as I think this will be in Standard, there are better options in EDH. Scavenging Ooze is far superior and the Ooze doesn’t even make the cut much for me these days.

Verdant Sun’s Avatar

I shall call him “Maroon 5/5.”

I like how this card doesn’t just trigger off of Dinosaurs and I wish more creatures from this set weren’t so tribally restricted. It’s a cool casual card.

Admiral Beckett Brass

A fairly powerful and super fun reward for being a Pirate tribal deck. The Admiral is the right colors and the payoff is good enough to commit yourself to attacking with lots of Pirates. Making them unblockable or indestructible is a great way to get things to snowball out of control in your favor.

Belligerent Brontodon

Blimey! Seven mana?

With Assault Formation getting a downshift in Iconic Masters, as well as this card being uncommon, I think effects like this will be printed more frequently in Magic going forward. Doran, the Siege Tower enthusiasts eat your heart out.

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

I call him “Captain Crunch.”

Gishath is an incredibly splashy Dinosaur general and is quite different from Mayael the Anima and Marath, Will of the Wild. Toss your deck full of cost reducers, ramp, and Dinosaurs, and bring the beats. This card makes me wish Godsire was a Dinosaur.

Hostage Taker

Arrrr, mutiny!

Part Sower of Temptation, part Gonti, Lord of Luxury. I think Hostage Taker’s value goes up in a format like 1v1 Commander where you have less opponents to worry about killing it. 4 mana is pricey and you aren’t able to cast their general off it, making it akin to a Flametongue Kavu/Shriekmaw.

Jury’s out on this one still, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up.

Huatli, Warrior Poet

A bit too expensive and low impact for me. Pass.

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

I wrote an entire article talking about Tishana for EDH. She makes a great general for casual and possibly even competitive Commander. Her reward for amassing a huge board is terrific and she can help rebuild that board should anything unfortunate happen to it.

Vraska, Relic Seeker

That’s not scurvy that the crew has fallen ill with.

A solid planeswalker, but the competition gets steeper with each set’s release. Nothing about this planeswalker screams “powerful enough for 6 mana” to me, so I won’t be employing this Gorgon in my decks.

Vona, Butcher of Magan

Vona has great synergy with its own abilities. The effect is high impact enough and in multiplayer EDH you will reliably be able to hit someone for 4 points of lifelinking damage. This card saves you a lot of the trouble from playing Argentum Armor, and casting a virtual Anguished Unmaking each turn is a solid payoff.

Huatli, Dinosaur Knight & Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage

Throw the impostors in the brig.

Wow, that Jace name is awful. And for 6 mana, that’s not the only thing that’s awful. These planeswalker deck planeswalkers truly live up to their goals of not being Standard playable. And as I’d expect, you can do much much better in the vast world of Commander.

Legion’s Landing

Did you just build an Edgar Markov deck? Well here is a nice little addition for it and its countless Vampire synergies.

Search for Azcanta

I foresee this card being solid in 1v1 Commander. With numerous cantrips, fetchlands, and cheap spells, flipping this card should be trivial. As a control deck, you will have many turns where you pass with your mana open for counterspells. If your opponent doesn’t bite, you can simply activate this land for impressive card advantage. It is a great mana sink and, similar to Desolate Lighthouse, most decks that can play it, will. If you have a deck like Tasigur that fuels your graveyard quickly and early, this card can be even sweeter.

Growing Rites of Itlimoc

Set sail for Gaea’s Cradle.

Gaea’s Cradle is an absurdly expensive Magic card. As far as its power level goes, when it comes to EDH it’s worth every penny. But not everyone will have access to that card, so Growing Rites of Itlimoc serves as a fine substitute. I don’t love the fact that it can’t slot in for a land slot in your deck, and its front half isn’t worth anywhere close to 3 mana. Additionally, the fact that it adds a green mana regardless of your creature count is fine, but not exciting. I wish there was a way to have the front side be reduced somehow instead. My qualms aside, this card is certainly powerful and many decks will choose to run it alongside Gaea’s Cradle. My question is, what do you need all that mana for? I prefer to just go infinite instead, but to each their own. I embrace the printing of powerful spells like this and hope we see many more in the future.

Conqueror’s Galleon

Staff of Domination on a land, right? Eh, not exactly. While this card can be useful in a very long and drawn-out game, I don’t think it has the right numbers to be useful. The front side is completely awful as well.

Thaumatic Compass

I would play this card if you are in the market for a better Journeyer’s Kite. Otherwise, this is a subpar Maze of Ith. It’s a cool card that I expect to see play in some casual decks and because of its colorless nature, I am sure there will be places for it to work.

Treasure Map

Well, does it show the way to One Piece?

An interesting little card, the cost is somewhat low and the requirement to flip it is somewhat easy. I think of this card like an upgraded Sunset Pyramid and while it is cool, I don’t think it has what it takes for long-term use.

Sentinel Totem

A black spot for graveyard decks.

I am quite excited about this card for every 60-card format there is. Some decks will prefer Relic of Progenitus or Grafdigger’s Cage, but this card will show up. Giving you value up front and a free activation cost is a great deal at 1 mana. For EDH, I think I like Relic of Progenitus and Nihil Spellbomb more.

Sorcerous Spyglass

From the crow’s nest, I see my target.

This card is a fine secondary Pithing Needle. There are benefits to either one, but feel free to play one or both depending on what your metagame calls for.

Vanquisher’s Banner

5 mana is a lot for a card with minimal immediate impact (+1/+1 is fine but unexciting). The combination of the pump with the card draw effect means that with a little work you can recoup your investment. My biggest qualm with the card is that you only draw a card as a cast trigger, so it doesn’t work with tokens. Some tribal decks will want this, but most should pass.

Unclaimed Territory

A solid budget option to replace Cavern of Souls. You are better off with more solid mana fixing, though.

Field of Ruin

It takes a real scallywag to destroy lands.

Having your lands blown up in EDH sucks. Sure, when someone casts Armageddon that’s really bad, but having even one of your lands blown up is a feel bad moment. But if you are going crazy with a Gaea’s Cradle or Cabal Coffers, you really have nobody to blame but yourself. Luckily for everyone, Field of Ruin is a great option for players who need to keep a troublesome land under control, while not setting anyone back on resources (yourself included). This will never replace a card like Strip Mine or Wasteland in competitive formats, but for casual EDH it may be just the utility land you want.

Yo ho ho! We have reached the final destination on this ‘ere voyage. Much appreciation and gratitude be yers for undertaking this journey. What be yer favorite cards from Ixalan for your EDH decks? Let me know, me matey, and until the wind blows this way again, may the tide always being in your favor.


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