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.)
Blood Sun is a confusing card, though it is an effective one. Drawing a card makes it very appealing as a hoser, and there are a lot of lands this effectively shuts down. It makes fetchlands (like Polluted Delta) completely blank, and renders all the flip lands from this block into glorified mana fixers. This looks powerful and wide-ranging enough to be worth exploring in multiple formats.
Once you hit 7 mana, 7 more mana isn’t usually what you need, but this is a powerful effect that can set up explosive plays. I don’t know what to do with this, though I will keep it in mind.
Much like all tribal cards, the value of this is predicated on how good other Pirates are. This by itself is a solid incentive to be of the swashbuckling tribe, as a 2/2 for 1 is a great deal. Keep a lookout for more Pirates, and maybe you can assemble a crew.
Dire Fleet Daredevil
Speaking of Pirates, here’s another daring one (I guess “daring” is in the job description). The reverse Snapcaster Mage might not be quite as powerful as the original, but there’s a lot of room below ol’ Snappy, and this is an exciting card. A 2/1 first strike brawls pretty well in the early game, and late game this should put you up a card against most decks. This is the type of card that could easily jump between sideboard and main deck, depending on what spells are being played, but is quite strong and worth testing in a variety of decks and metagames.
Etali, Primal Storm
I’m not sold on a 6-drop that needs to attack to be good, but this does draw up to two cards and a bunch of mana. If you can get the storm count to two or more when you attack, this is an extremely powerful card.
Mogg Fanatic is back, and even gets a reference in the name of this card. This is a nice little beater that can take out opposing creatures, and is an easy way to fill your Pirate quota. If there aren’t many 1-toughness creatures in the format, this loses a lot of its luster, but I can easily imagine metagames where this is a heavily-played card.
This Phoenix rises from the ashes quickly and cheaply, making it a premier Constructed threat. It shrugs off most removal, and puts a ton of pressure on your opponent, while also being incredibly good in combat. Rekindling Phoenix faces steep competition at the 4-drop slot, but still looks like a card that will make an impact.
Shake the Foundations
A cantrip sweeper is exciting, and even though this is a very small amount of damage, it still replaces itself. That makes it worth looking at, and a card that could easily shake things up in a metagame infested with X/1s.
Even if you imagine that ascend is always on, this is a pricey way to assemble an army. It might be a good bit of sideboard tech out of something like U/R Control, but is too expensive for aggressive red decks unless the format slows down considerably.
Top 3 Red Cards
What red lacks in depth, it makes up for in strength. The red cards that are good are very good, and all three of these cards seem like exciting additions to Constructed. Blood Sun probably has the most cross-format appeal, though the Phoenix is likely to impact Standard the most. Either way, red made out like a Pirate, especially for a small set.