If you haven’t gone through the entire Rare Review Series, I urge you go straight to it to help guide you on what I think is a great investment, will see a lot of play (or not), or a money trap.
So we’re done with the solid colors so it’s time to hit the gold cards and later below, on the artifacts of Rivals of Ixalan! Let’s get right on it!
To be honest, I think Angrath fails the basic Planeswalker test – can it protect itself. Yes you can steal a creature and take it down at the beginning of the next end step but it has to be a small critter. You also can’t do it more than once without ticking it up back up. The first and the last ability already signals Angrath’s inclination towards a control shell. The -3 ability looks negligible since you’re already playing RB colors – there are a multitude of ways to kill creatures more effectively.
Angrath attacks the hand, drains for 2, and punishes the opponent for having a lot of cards in the graveyard so playing Duress, Harsh Scrutiny, Doomfall, Torment of Scarabs, and other discarders looks to be a promising shell. At a minimum, Angrath would have dealt 8 damage before it can activate his ultimate, and by the time you can play Angrath, you already have killed a creature or two, or the opponent may have already played an Attune with Aether so technically dealing 12 more damage is not impossible.
Before you lose your minds over Azor, I think we are all in agreement that this creature wreaks of control. A 6-mana 6/6 that flies is a decent finisher late game, silences the opponent from playing anything that attempts to kill Azor the next turn which allows you to untap your mana and have your counter magic defenses up again plus, he draws you a bunch of cards and gains you a bunch of life when you attack with it. Similar to Ajutai back in Khans, cards like this will definitely see some play. Whether it dominates the meta or not, I think we need to keep an eye on Azor nonetheless.
With the printing of Azor, it gave renewed value to cards like Noxious Gearhulk and the new Chupacabra from RIX that kills creatures with creatures. Since Azor only stops instants and sorcery it might be good to have options like these, not mention Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding will also be a must-have in the sideboard if Azor keeps popping up in the top tables.
Basically if a UWx player untaps with Azor, the opponent will definitely fall behind rather quickly if he doesn’t get passed counter magics in an attempt to remove Azor. If you like UW, buy him.
Elenda looks promising in EDH but I’m not totally sold by its power in constructed. I can’t remember a good 4-mana 1/1 if my life depended on it while I’m writing this entry but Elenda doesn’t look like it will save my life anytime soon. The vampire tribe doesn’t need another 4 drop to compete with Sanctum Seeker and Twilight Prophet which are better cards to if you plan to close the game quick or go for the long game.
So now we have a second Huatli and she switched colors notoriously known for token generation and I think she’s going to be a great addition to the Abzan Tokens deck. The deck tries to get to critical mass by getting Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession on the battlefield and start making 1/1 servos. The problem is that don’t have access to card advantage especially if their attempts to assemble their combo pieces get answered. This is where Huatli, Radiant Champion shows her greatest potential. Ideally she can tick up once and get to at least 8 loyalty counters to ultimate the next turn and every time you sac a creature to Hidden Stockpile, you not only scry but also draw a card. I think Huatli gives the token deck some good mileage, but unfortunately I don’t see other decks she can be useful in. And because of that, I’m not 100% in on this card yet.
The brewer in me would like to see Huatli more in a Bant merfolk list utilizing the unblockable fishes to deal large chunks of damage. Deeproot Waters looks like a great way to go wide and access to blue gives you ways to protect Huatli as well.
I see Kumena getting sold for quite a hefty price and I think he’s worth his weight in gold… so far. His cost and body size is really good, dodges a good number of removal. He’s a great way to get back up on hand size and supports the go-tall strategy which merfolk extremely needs. The only problem is that a straight UG list might not be enough because of the lack of removal – either splashing Red or Black might get this archtype over the line. In dual commander, allowing your general to go through combat is really good that’s why commander players are willing to pay a premium for a foil Kumena.
My verdict, Kumena is a good creature. Together with Kopala and non-merfolk support creatures like Metallic Mimic might make this dude great.
Protean Raider sounds like a mean card and he sure is. Imagine attacking with a 1/1 and then suddenly you get a 3-mana Glorybringer or a Bristling Hydra, or even an Azor! This card gets me so excited that I think a UR pirate list might be the tempo archtype we are all waiting for. I’m sure Captain Lannery, Kari Zev and the rest of the crew will welcome Protean Raider with open arms!
I think WotC purposed screwed the color of this dinosaur from RW or RG to WG to force us to go Naya. This was the 2-drop that RG dinosaurs desperately needed to go tall super fast. RW has Relentless Raptor which was good but unfortunately we didn’t get enough quality 2-drop for RG.
I would compare Siegehorn Ceratops to Longtusk Cub for the dinosaur lovers because it can grow extremely huge extremely fast with the right support card. Longtusk though wants to get through while Siegehorn wants to get blocked/damaged. Cards like Walking Ballista looks like a great way to make this synergy happen. A Blossoming Defense can also bridge the gap from 2/2 to 4/4 early on and I think once it’s a 4/4 already, it won’t die to anything but Fatal Push and a turn 5 Fumigate. I really want to break this card.
If Gishath didn’t see play, I doubt Zacama would either. Though he is technically free to cast, I don’t think a Naya player will need 9 mana to close the game. I would also prefer the elder dinosaurs of each colo more than Zacama. I’m quite sad that RIX’s mascot will not see as much play as compared to Kumena and Azor, but I hope some Timmy player brews a way to cheat this guy in early and start going nuts.
Hadana’s Climb is card learned to like the more I see the decks that will benefit this enchantment. BG Constrictor decks will gladly splash blue to get free counters all around, and the potential to double it with a Snake out is crazy. When flipped, it suddenly makes Verdurous Gearhulks and Bristling Hydra an instant win condition because an 8-ower trample/hexproof and flier is no laughing matter. I am personally ordering a couple of these at $4 each.
I already built a deck with this card here because it’s my favorite card from RIX. The condition to flip it I think is the easiest among all the flipcards from the set. It’s ability is also the most back-breaking in the right shell. Extending your threat count from the graveyard immediately puts you ahead in the attrition game and I think at $5, this is worth ordering a playset of.
At first I thought Path of Mettle was difficult to flip but I forgot that Bomat Courier, Kari Zev, Ahn-Crop Crasher, Relentless Raptors are all legal. You can easily flip his on turn 3 which effectively ramps you to 5 mana on turn 4. A shock each turn after flipping would convince plenty of Ramunap Red players to splash some white just for that. Would it replace Ramunap Ruins? Maybe not, but having redundancies will definitely help. Worth ordering? If you like cards like these, go ahead!
Essentially Profane Procession is a do-nothing enchantment on Turn 3 which makes it a bad card on your opening hand. However if you draw this late in the game with tons of mana to spare, you basically have a Safe Haven or a Helvault that you can open like a Christmas gift. You can also exile more than 3 creatures by stacking the flip ability and pay the 5-mana activation before it checks. This trick depends how much mana you have but all I’m saying is that you can have more than 3 creatures tucked underneath Profane Procession.
Next to Journey to Eternity comes Storm the Vault in my top-5 flip lands in RIX. It’s good to take note that you actually don’t need to swing with creatures to flip this. You can play artifacts on the first few turns and drop Storm the Vault. If you have 3 artifacts by the time you drop his, you can flip it at end step and have enough blue mana to play our counter spells. Whether its Treasure Tokens, Servos or Thopters, flipping this to Vault of Catlacan will definitely advance your game which might be enough to leave your opponent behind early in the game.
This card is already at $9 and I can understand why. It’s an early drop which is great, it fixes your draws, and rewards you with life and ramps you like crazy. A control player’s dream come true, I think this is still worth its pre-order price. However, I think Abrade will now see more play if Azor’s Gateway appears often even outside control shells. I think this card can be played by any deck as a 1-off.
Take note that Golden Guardian has to fight a creature YOU control and it has to die, so before you get all excited for the second coming of City of Traitors or Ancient Tomb with color – you have to understand that Golden Guardian needs to be built around. Definiely having of them makes things simpler but also take note that both have to be alive with the ability activated. Therefore activating one Golden Guardian to fight another Golden Guardian who hasn’t been activated only flips one of them. Nonetheless, I think this is a solid card at $1 and there are a lot of things it can fight without killing the challenging creature. The upside is that if you do get to flip this, you now have a means to close the game inevitably if your opponent is not running any land destruction. I am getting 4 of these and jamming them into an WB Anointed Procession deck and let this dude fight my Gonti, Gifted Aetherborn, and other deathtouch creatures like Bonepicker, Tetzimoc, then use GPG and Refurbish to go the long game. Why settle for 1/1 cats and servos if you can get two 4/4 golems a turn?
That’s it – I’m done with all the ares of Rivals and I hope you enjoyed the Rare Review Series! Let me know if you like this series by commenting below!
Have fun, and I’m excited to brew new stuff once Rivals hit the shelves!