Rivals of Ixalan Preview: Admiral’s Order

You’re supposed to start the new year off strong, and do what you want to be doing in the upcoming year. In the case of the Pirates of Ixalan, that’s raiding, and that’s as good a new year’s resolution as any. Attacking a fresh year with vigor sounds like a good plan to me, and if you get a little plunder for your troubles, all the better.

Today’s preview card is one of the more intriguing rewards for raid, even as the card itself is pretty simple. Here’s Admiral’s Order:

At first blush, the raid part of the card seems very odd. Oh, so it’s a 1-mana counter in an aggro deck? Sweet, let me just enable it and counter…their combat trick? Raid means that this is only cheap during your attack or at the end of your turn, which is interesting timing on a counterspell. How is this going to play out?

First of all, 1UU for a counterspell is what we expect to pay these days for an unconditional counter, though we usually get a tiny bit of upside. That means that you get what you ordered here, and the raid part doesn’t need to be huge for this to be a solid Standard playable.

Countering combat tricks or end of turn removal will happen, and when you play this for 1 mana you are getting a huge edge. If you hit with a small creature and slam something sweet, the opponent now has to decide if it’s worth the risk to kill it end of turn, and either way you get some value. They waste a bunch of mana and play nothing, or they play into your 1-mana counter and the Admiral collects her dues.

Where this gets really interesting is in control matchups, because it does a great job against fighting opposing counters. Imagine enabling raid with some value creature, then instigating a counter war with a big threat. You now have 1-mana counters on your side, and the opponent is in a really tough spot.

This is a cool card with a lot of implications. Even if the raid part leads to some pretty specific timing needs, the combination of a solid counter on the front and really high upside when you do raid it means that you have a lot of gameplay out of a simple card. I like cards like that, and am excited to see how this impacts Standard.

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