Previous Rivals of Ixalan Set Reviews
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Mind Rot isn’t too far from consideration (I even played it in my sideboard at Worlds one year), and adding a drain 2 makes it quite interesting. It is unfortunate that you have to have a Vampire out in order to get the kicker, but in a Vampire deck this could be a sweet way to win an attrition war.
Flavor Text: 5.0
That is all.
Champion of Dusk
Vampires does need a champion, and this may be it. If you can reliably draw 2 cards, it’s a big threat, and at 3-4 cards it becomes an awesome 5-mana play (assuming you have the life total for it). While it is hard to compete against Glorybringer and The Scarab God, the power level is here.
Luckily, there are enough good discard spells right now that we aren’t coerced into using this one.
Dead Man’s Chest
This is a pretty neat design, but relying on the opponent to play a creature, then being able to kill it, then caring about playing nonlands off the top of their deck—that’s just too much to ask.
Dire Fleet Poisoner
Flashing this in on either offense or defense seems profitable, and it seems like a nice addition to a Pirate deck that looks to play at instant speed. It makes attacking with Pirates much stronger, and can brawl well on its own. If there is a lot of midrange combat going on in the new Standard, I’m on board for this.
Dusk Legion Zealot
The only thing better than a Vampire is a free Vampire, and Dusk Legion Zealot can help tribal decks hit critical mass at low cost. This gets especially spicy if there are a lot of 2/1s running around, or if you have a good way to get extra value from having a 1/1 Vampire in play. A 2-mana 1/1 that draws a card isn’t exactly visionary, but it has always played well, especially in a relevant tribe.
I like having access to Infest, and an Infest that sometimes only hits the opponent just opens the door for aggro decks to play this. That’s a nice intersection of flexibility and power, and I’m looking forward to having access to this. I’m not saying that we are entering a golden age of Standard, but having powerful targeted answers helps (targeted at aggro—I know this doesn’t literally target).
There’s something to getting a critical mass of 2-power 1-drops, and black is well on its way. It’s not grasping at straws to say that there’s an aggressive black deck out there, as it already existed and the bannings just made it more viable. Plus, blocking is for chumps anyways.
Diabolic Tutor has been a fringe playable before, and letting you access your sideboard is a nice plus. If this sees play, I’ll be happy, as unlikely as that is. Maybe some mastermind can figure out a way to make it worth paying 4 mana for a card.
Moment of Craving
This is efficient enough and comes with a nice life gain rider, making it a good option for removal. Killing a 3/2 and gaining 2 is great against Mono-Red, and this takes care of Bomat Courier and Soul-Scar Mage efficiently. Two of these can even kill Hazoret, which may actually come up.
This is missing a few key elements from being a Bloodghast-level of recursive threat, but anything that comes straight out of the graveyard is worth noting. Gaining life isn’t too hard—it’s more the mana cost on this that I take exception to.
I know Patrick Sullivan loves this card, but I’m still wary of how big a footprint it may end up having. I don’t think a 4-mana kill spell with a 2/2 attached is going to make a ton of decks obsolete, but it does put a lot of pressure on big creatures to either have haste or generate value right away. It’s cool when cards like Azor see play, and this makes the format more on the side of Glorybringer, Hazoret, and Torrential Gearhulk than any of the Elder Dinosaurs or whatnot.
As for where this will show up, it seems like a very good sideboard card against decks that care about attacking on the ground, and a solid main deck option in the right metagame. It also combos nicely with The Scarab God, a card that is already no slouch.
Tetzimoc, Primal Death
For the purposes of Limited, I wish this was a mythic. I don’t see it doing much hunting in Constructed, but good lord does this thing end games of Limited.
Chupacabra Bait: 4.0
This is the kind of card that the GOAT steps on, though I don’t think this quite gets there in any world. If the ascend was always on, maybe it would see some play, but having to wait on the payoff is rough.
If you can reliably get the city’s blessing, this card has a ton of power. It feels like a sideboard card for games that stall out and involve a lot of creatures, or a spicy 1-of for a blue-black control deck.
Top 3 Black Cards
Between these and Champion of Dusk, black did just fine in Rivals. There are a lot of possibilities here, and these cards help a variety of decks.