Top Commons and Uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan (P2)

by Zen Takahashi on 19 January 2018, Friday

Zen Takahashi


Top Commons and Uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan (P2)

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 this provides you with some direction in an unexplored format. 

In Part 1, I went over White, Blue and Black. Today, in Part 2, I will be finishing off the series by covering Red and Green. 


Red's Top 3 Uncommons

1) Reckless Rage


Reckless Rage

In a format as tempo-orientated as Ixalan block, a four-damage removal spell for one mana can be. Being able to cast a four-drop and Reckless Rage on their big creature on turn five will likely swing the game hugely in your favor.

However, having to deal two damage to your own is a significant drawback – which means Reckless Rage will mainly be for the Dinosaurs deck where you have bigger creatures that do not mind taking two damage. In fact, it could even be an upside in these decks as it helps trigger Enrage. 

2) Daring Buccaneer 


Daring Buccaneer

Goldmeadow Stalwart is back – but in the form of a Pirate!

If Rivals of Ixalan is as 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 nature of the games.

However, Daring Buccaneer is a two-drop for one mana, so it helps swing back the tempo even if you are on the draw, while also pressing the advantage even further if you are on the play. The card is similar to Grasping Scoundrel, but it can block other two-drops and is not vulnerable to the various creature answers in the format. 

3) Charging Tuskodon


Charging Tuskodon

While I do think Charging Tuskodon is a good card, it seems like red's uncommons are relatively shallow for this to be the third best uncommon. Nonetheless, Charging Tuskodon is a decent five-drop as it represents eight points of damage on its own.

However, a 4/4 body can be handled with reasonably easily via a bigger creature or double blocking, so you ideally want to build around the card.

You can do so with various tricks or auras – it is extraordinarily powerful with One with the Wind, as that is twelve damage in the air with each attack. 

Red's Top 3 Commons

1) Bombard 



Wizards is trying to push removal in this set by printing efficient removal spells, as can be evidenced by the fact that every color has a solid removal spell in common. As this format has many high impact creatures such as Territorial Hammerskull and [[TAG_CARD_NAME= Annointed Deacon"]], having a cheap answer to these creatures at instant speed is crucial. 

2) Mutiny 



Mutiny is not like any other removal spell I have played with before, so it is slightly harder for me to assess. As explained previously, due to the format being tempo orientated, any removal spell immediately grabs my attention. 

It seems like Mutiny will almost always kill their second largest creature – which means it will most likely not answer their best creature.

However, in a "board-presence-orientated" environment as Ixalan, I think you would be happy to pay one mana to deal with their second largest creature at any given moment. 

It mainly seems excellent against Dinosaurs, as they have high power creatures like Frenzied Raptor and Orazca Frillback, which allows you to turn Mutiny into a straight up one mana removal spell. Since the green based Dinosaurs deck are also slightly slower, being able to use Mutiny to kill their four or five would be a massive tempo gain that would often win you the game. 

3) Buccaneer's Bravado


Buccaneer's Bravado

Buccaneer's Bravado is essentially a Temur Battle Rage for the Pirates deck. It works especially well with the flying creatures or any creature with an aura attached – where it can quickly represent as much as eight to ten damage on its own.

Overall, Rivals of Ixalan has fewer tricks than Ixalan, so your opponents may play around them less compared to when the format was triple Ixalan – which increases the value of tricks. While I do think the card is borderline playable in a non-Pirates deck, it is much worse than the other tricks you could play. 

Green's Top 3 Uncommons

1) Forerunner of the Heralds 


Forerunner of the Heralds

Forerunner of the Heralds looks to be the best of the Forerunners.

Since you get to search a Merfolk with it, it is guaranteed to be at least a 4/3, which is a reasonable rate for four mana, but it has the potential to grow further as you play more Merfolk creatures. There are also a decent amount of high impact Merfolk creatures to fetch for like Vineshaper Mystic and Swift Warden.

If you have multiple Forerunner of the Heralds, you can even build around it by playing cheap Merfolk creatures, so you can chain Forerunners then cast the one-drop to grow them all very quickly. 

2) Crested Herdcaller 


Crested Herdcaller

Six power for five mana is a healthy rate, and it coming on two bodies is even better – especially as there is a decent amount of spot removal in the format now.

A lot of the Dinosaur cards also rely on you controlling another Dinosaur – and having it come in two creatures makes it harder for your opponent to get rid of all the Dinosaurs. The 3/3 size is also well positioned in the format as you can roadblock most two-drops and trade with nearly all the three-drops and most of the four-drops in the format. 

3) Swift Warden 


Swift Warden

Void Grafter was one of my favorite cards  Oath of the Gatewatch, and Swift Warden is basically that but for Merfolk instead.

While there is a decent amount of removal in this format, a lot of it is relatively clunky and sorcery speed, so Swift Warden can be a big tempo swing as you protect your creature. Merfolk also has a +1+1 counters theme and being able to protect the big creature that you loaded +1+1 counters on can be. As discussed previously, a 3/3 is also well-positioned in this format, and flash makes it a good surprise blocker even if you do not use it as a protection spell. 

Green's Top 3 Commons

1) Hunt the Weak


Hunt the Weak

Hunt the Weak has become green's staple removal spell over the last couple of years. While it is the worst removal of the set's cycle of common removal spells in each color, green traditionally lacks removal so any you have access to go up in value. 

Hunt the Weak is also slightly better now as there are tricks in Rivals of Ixalan, and overall the format does not have too many instant speed removal spells. The card works exceptionally well with the big Dinosaurs or with Merfolk where the +1+1 counter matters. 

2) Jungleborn Pioneer 


Jungleborn Pioneer

Three power and three toughness for three mana is a decent rate, and coming in two bodies is even better. Both creatures are also Merfolk, which helps with triggering cards such as River Sneak. The token also has hexproof, which makes it a friendly target for putting +1+1 counters on it.

3) Hardy Veteran 


Hardy Veteran

A two-mana 2/4 attacker is tricky for any two-drop or three-drop to block, which means Hardy Veteran should get in for a bunch of early damage. As a 2/2 blocker, it also can trade with most two-drops, which often happens when you are on the draw.

Overall, this is one of the most solid common two-drops in the format – as it attacks and blocks well, which is exactly what you want out of an early creature. The only downside is that its creature type does not matter for any tribe. 

Signing Off

Although most people disliked Ixalan draft, I enjoyed it, as I loved the fast pace and dynamic games that come in a  format. I may be wrong, but looking over the set thus far, it seems like the addition of Rivals of Ixalan will keep the format aggressive – so I am looking forward to drafting this format!

Once I have played with the new cards, I am sure many of these rankings and evaluations will change, but this can act as a good initial guideline. If you want to read Part 1, you can click here.

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter

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