Ixalan is here! This week, Ixalan was released on Magic Online, and we had the pleasure of exploring the format at the prerelease as well. While I’m going to miss Hour of Devastation, I’m excited to draft a new Limited format. This is my early take on the top 10 commons in Ixalan Booster Draft.
10) Tilonalli’s Knight
Tilonalli’s Knight is an aggressive 2-drop that plays well in both R/W Dinosaur decks and R/G Dinosaur decks. Not only that, but it has plenty of on-color Dinosaurs to help out. One important feature in 2-drops is that they don’t get bricked off by a slightly bigger creature as the game progresses a couple of turns. Tilonalli’s Knight can attack into 3-toughness creatures as long as you have a Dinosaur in play. Just be wary of your opponent removing your Dinosaur with the trigger on the stack and potentially making a favorable block to blow you out in combat.
9) Watertrap Weaver
Watertrap Weaver is a reprinted version of cards like Frost Lynx and Kor Hookmaster. Watertrap Weaver has the key creature type of Merfolk, and Merfolk is a pretty aggressive tribe in Ixalan. Watertrap Weaver can tap down a blocker, then force it to not untap, essentially clearing the way for two attack phases. In a format that can be about racing, having the tempo advantage of shutting off a creature for a full turn cycle is huge.
8) Deeproot Warrior
Deeproot Warrior is another aggressively slanted 2-drop that is difficult to block. Deeproot Warrior is excellent in Merfolk decks yes, but it can also just be a solid 2-drop in any aggressive green deck. The fact that Deeproot Warrior is a Merfolk is a huge benefit for cards like River Heralds’ Boon, Jade Guardian, and Vineshaper Mystic. This is a 2-drop I will be prioritizing as the format develops.
7) Unfriendly Fire
Unfriendly Fire is a solid removal spell that can also damage the opponent. Unfriendly Fire‘s biggest downside is, of course, that it costs 5 mana. In an aggressive set, a higher mana cost is punishing, but a card that kills large creatures and gives you reach is one of the better 5-mana spells you can find. I’ll take Unfriendly Fire early and prioritize them less as the Draft goes on and I have a better idea of what my deck is trying to do.
6) Territorial Hammerskull
Territorial Hammerskull is another aggressive creature that makes leaving creatures back to block nearly impossible for the opponent. Hammerskull gives creatures like Tilonalli’s Knight, Thrash of Raptors, and Pterodon Knight a bonus, but also plays well without its creature type in a deck like B/W Vampires by forcing through some of your lifelink creatures. Territorial Hammerskull is a premium 3-drop for a common, and I’d be happy to pick up a couple of these for any of my white aggressive decks.
5) Pious Interdiction
Pious Interdiction as a 4-mana Pacifism is clunky, but it does gain back some life for the potential tempo lost, and since the creatures in the format mostly have combat-based abilities, the fact that you don’t get to shut off the activated ability isn’t as relevant as it normally is. This is a card I take highly but may drop in ratings as the format continues and I have a better understanding of how to draft certain archetypes. In the beginning of the format I like to stick to the nuts and bolts of creatures and removal, and this is what white offers for common removal.
I’ll admit that when I first saw Pounce, I didn’t think it would be very good. Fight spells aren’t as good when you fall behind because it usually means your opponent has a larger creature. I haven’t had that experience as often with Pounce. It’s easy to pick up some big Dinosaurs and use Pounce on turn 5 or 6. Pounce is 2 mana and you can often find a good spot to play it. It also has one thing other fight spells don’t have—enrage, letting you trigger Ripjaw Raptor or Snapping Sailback.
3) Contract Killing
Contract Killing is a 5-mana removal spell that doesn’t discriminate. It kills creatures of all sizes and types. While Contract Killing does cost 5 mana, it gives you 2 mana back in the form of Treasures, and these Treasures can have added value by ramping to a 7-drop, or by allowing you to double spell later. The reason I don’t have Contract Killing even higher is because the format is pretty fast, so you’ll often end up killing creatures that cost 2 or 3 mana and won’t necessarily have something to sink your Treasure mana into. While I’m not over the moon first picking Contract Killing, it’s not a complete disaster either.
2) Vanquish the Weak
Vanquish the Weak is another black removal spell that can actually kill a fair number of the creatures in the format. The fact that it’s an instant pushes it up to the top of the commons for me, as the format has a fair amount of combat tricks and Vanquish can set you up for some nice 2-for-1s. It’s also important to keep tempo in this format, and you can do that with Vanquish the Weak by using it on a freshly cast creature from an opponent on their turn and then using your mana on your turn.
1) Firecannon Blast
I have Firecannon Blast as the best common at the moment, and that’s mostly because of its mana efficiency and versatility. It can kill a creature on turn 3 without triggering raid easily, and later in the game you can kill bigger creatures, like a Colossal Dreadmaw. Blast pairs nicely with evasive creatures to trigger raid so that you don’t have to make a chump attack to kill a bigger creature.
So far Ixalan has been a fun format to figure out. The one thing I noticed is that the power level at common is relatively flat, meaning that there is a tiny margin of difference in almost all of the cards, and since it’s a tribal format, your pick orders will change as soon as you know your lane. This is the baseline I’ll be using for my next few Drafts.
Are there any commons you like that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!