Top Commons and Uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan (P1)

by Zen Takahashi on 17 January 2018, Wednesday

Zen Takahashi


Top Commons and Uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan (P1)

Hello everybody! 

As I have done with the last few sets, I will be covering what I believe are the best commons and uncommons for each color in Rivals of Ixalan. This is written in the perspective of drafting, but a lot of it will hold true for sealed as well. I expect many of my initial evaluations will be off, but hopefully, this provides you with some direction in an unexplored format. 

In today's Part 1 I will be covering White, Blue and Black, and in Part 2, I will be rounding it off by discussing Red and Green. 


White's Top 3 Uncommons

1) Baffling End


Baffling End

In Ixalan, white was missing an efficient, cheap removal spell, but it has now finally gotten one in the form of Baffling End. Since the games in this format snowball a lot, with creatures such as Territorial Hammerskull getting out of hand, it is essential to have access to cheap removal. An excellent trait about Baffling End is that it checks the creature’s converted mana cost, instead of power or toughness. This means that it can deal with creatures even after they have had an aura placed on it – as opposed to a card like Vanquish the Weak where you only have a small window.

One problem with Baffling End though is that it is susceptible to enchantment removal like Demystify and Cleansing Ray – both of which will be commonly picked sideboard cards due to the presence of enchantments in the format. 

2) Majestic Heliopterus


Majestic Heliopterus

Majestic Heliopterus is the Imperial Aerosaur of the set – although it is more narrow as it only with others Dinosaurs, it is likely better than Imperial Aerosaur in a Dinosaur deck.

Between Frenzied Raptor and Orazca Frillback, there are now two three-mana 4/2 Dinosaurs at common. While they are fragile on the ground, casting one of them into Majestic Heliopterus is a powerful curve – that is six power of flying creatures on turn five! 

3) Forerunner of the Legion 


Forerunner of the Legion

Vampires was the best tribe in Ixalan, and it seems like it may be in Rivals of Ixalan as well – and the Forerunner is an excellent addition to any Vampires deck!

Anointed Deacon has always been the essential card in Vampires, and with only one Ixalan pack, it is unlikely you will pick up many copies of them – so the Forerunner helps in finding them for you. The Forerunner’s second ability to pump up creatures is also useful, especially as there are many Vampires with lifelink, so giving them extra power is an excellent way to win races. 

White's Top 3 Commons

1) Luminous Bonds 


Luminous Bonds

Over the last few years, we have seen three-mana Pacifism effects be reprinted multiple times – often with different names. It is clear that Wizards thinks that this type of card should be a staple in limited, and I mostly agree with this.

There is not too much to say about this card – it is a solid removal spell that I expect will be the best white common and you would be happy to pick it early. It may even be better here than in previous sets due to the more significant presence of auras in this format. 

2) Exultant Skymarcher


Exultant Skymarcher

Flying creatures are at a premium in this format, as evasion is useful in any format that has a lot of ground creatures. Since there are many big Dinosaurs, early creatures that will not get roadblocked later in the game are powerful. The sizing on Exultant Skymarcher is also great – a 2/3 blocks most two-drops in the format.

Also, it is also a Vampire, so it works well with various tribal synergies – specifically Anointed Deacon

3) Divine Verdict 


Divine Verdict

Similar to Luminous Bonds, Divine Verdict has become a limited staple over the past few years. It is worse than Luminous Bonds, as it is more expensive and easier to play around, but it is still a hard removal spell – which I value highly in this format due to the presence of auras. One significant advantage it has over its enchantment counterpart is that it is much better against combat tricks – though leaving up four mana is a large cost. 

In the past, you could also play around Divine Verdict to some extent. However, I think that is less of a case in this format, as the games tend to snowball so you cannot afford not to be attacking or blocking with your best creature. 

Blue's Top 3 Uncommons

1) Silvergill Adept


Silvergill Adept

Merfolk was one of the more heavily supported archetypes in Ixalan, and it seems like that will continue to be the case in Rivals of Ixalan. In Ixalan, Merfolk had Merfolk Branchwalker as their premium uncommon two drop – and now that has been upgraded to Silvergill Adept!

As a pure two-for-one, I expect this will be the best two drop in the archetype, and it could even be played in non-Merfolk decks if you have some number of Merfolk creatures. 

2) Siren Reaver


Siren Reaver

In an aggressive deck, which there are many of in this format, this should be a three-mana 3/2 flying a majority of the time – a great price! As I explained before, I highly prioritize flying creatures in this format.

This card will be right in any aggressive deck, but it will be at its best in Pirates, especially Blue-Red, as the card pairs nicely with Buccaneer’s Bravado – threatening to deal eight damage in the air in one swing. 

3) Riverwise Augur 


Riverwise Augur

A four-mana 2/2 is a pretty weak rate, especially since creatures grow relatively large at four and five mana in this format – but a Brainstorm effect is powerful. I may be overrating this card though, as there are very few shuffle effects in the format.

What I like about Riverwise Augur is that it is a Merfolk and the Merfolk deck usually has high impact cards like Vineshaper Mystic and River Heralds' Boon that you wish to dig for.

Blue's Top 3 Commons

1) Kitesail Corsair


Kitesail Corsair

Kitesail Corsair is my early bet for the best common in the set, as the card is like a blue Gust Walker – attacking for two points in the air every turn! Welkin Tern has traditionally been a strong common in blue, but Kitesail Corsair is even better as it can block ground creatures – which is vital in this format as you often want to trade off your two-drops when you are on the draw. 

Also, Kiresail Corsair is even a Pirate! This helps with tribal synergies, but also provides a reliable way to turn on raid – which is the keyword for the Pirate tribe.

The one downside to Kitesail Corsair is its one toughness – which is a liability in this format as there are multiple ways to deal with one toughness creatures. Dual ShotSkulduggery, Shake the Foundations and Fanatical Firebrand are often encountered.

2) Waterknot



Although it is not as good as Luminous Bonds, it is as close to an unconditional removal as you can get in blue.

Personally, I rate this card reasonably highly, because I like any unconditional removal in this format as explained before, and it also provides Blue-Green Merfolk with removal – which was an issue in the past for that archetype. 

3) Crashing Tide 


Crashing Tide

Similar to Waterknot, Crashing Tide provides Merfolk with a way to deal with opposing creatures. In combination with Watertap Weaver, you can gain some serious tempo on your opponent.

Although Drag Under was decent, I think that being able to potentially cast it at instant speed makes Crashing Tide much better – especially since this format has a lot of auras and tricks, so you can blow your opponent out with it. There is also a decent amount of aura removal spells, such as Waterknot, Luminous Bonds and Pious Interdiction. Crashing Tide saves your creatures from those auras.

Black's Top 3 Uncommons

1) Ravenous Chupacabra 


Ravenous Chupacabra

Ravenous Chupacabra is likely the best uncommon in the set – as a four mana unconditional removal spell is decent in Limited on its own, but this even comes with a 2/2 body!

The card is a straight two-for-one, and there is not too much more to say about it. It even interacts nicely with blue bounce spells such as Crashing Tide, as it lets you recur removal spells. 

2) Sadistic Skymarcher 


Sadistic Skymarcher

As mentioned previously, flying creatures are great in this format, and Sadistic Skymarcher represents a four-point life swing in the air – which is an incredible rate for three mana.

It also works excellently with auras due to lifelink, and it is a Vampire so it can be pumped up by Anointed Deacon to become an eight-point life swing for each attack! While Sadistic Skymarcher will be at its best in a Vampire deck, even at four mana, the card is decent. 

3) Forerunner of the Coalition


Forerunner of the Coalition

Although it is not as powerful as some of the other Forerunners since there are less high impact Pirates, it is still pretty powerful. It also becomes much better if you open a bomb rare like Hostage Taker

It also has one of the more powerful abilities of the Forerunners – as draining life is a potent way to deal the last few points of damage when the board stalls, which may happen once bigger decks such as Dinosaurs can stabilize the board. 

Black's Top 3 Commons

1) Impale 



As previously discussed, I think unconditional removal is excellent in this format – and I am happy to pay four mana for it.

I think that in a vacuum, this is better than Contract Killing, as five drops can be relatively clunky – but with the presence of Ascend, Contract Killing may be better as the Treasure tokens add to your permanent count. 

2) Moment of Craving 


Moment of Craving

If Rivals of Ixalan is as an aggressive of a format as Ixalan, which I think may be the case, then the format will continue to be relatively disadvantageous for those on the draw due to the snowballing nature of the games.

Moment of Craving is the perfect card for this scenario – as it helps you deal with their two-drops while also gaining you some life, which helps mitigate some of the tempo they gain on you by being on the play.

It can also kill many of the evasive creatures in the format such as Siren Reaver and Sadistic Skymarcher. Since Moment of Craving gives -2-2 instead of dealing damage, it can additionally be used as a combat trick. 

3) Grasping Scoundrel 


Grasping Scoundrel

Due to the aggressive nature of Ixalan, the black one drop creatures, such as Blight Keeper and Skittering Heartstopper, proved to be playable cards. Grasping Scoundrel is likely the best of these black one drop creatures, as it represents a two-power attacker for one mana – which allows it to trade up to most two drops.

Also, it is also a Pirate, which allows for various tribal synergies. The only downside is its one toughness, which as explained before, is a liability in this format due to the multiple ways to deal with one toughness creatures. 

I hope you enjoyed this article as I went over what I believe are the best commons and uncommons for White, Blue, and Black in Rivals of Ixalan. In my next article, I will be finishing off the series by covering Red and Green.

Please check out Part 2 here if you like!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 

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