Welcome to another exciting edition of Magic: The Gathering Top 10. This time, we are looking at the small set release of the Ixalan block: Rivals of Ixalan. This set looks to be building off the success of Ixalan while trying to fill in some of the gaps that are clearly missing substance. Rivals of Ixalan features plenty of cards sure to shake up the standard format as well as become EDH staples. Without further ado, these are what I suspect to be the Top 10 cards in Rivals of Ixalan.
Standard was looking for a lord, and it wasn't Metallic Mimic. For the unaware, Ixalan focuses on four tribes, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, and Pirates. A lord is basically a low-cost card that can buff each other member of its tribe. Due to the lack of standard legal lords, Metallic Mimic became the go-to card, spiking in price, and seeing way more play than it should have. Now that we have proper cheap lords, I fully expect Metallic Mimic to drop in price, as it should, as it easily dies to almost all removal in the meta right now.
9. Enter the Unknown
It's like a green version of Opt. Explore is the sleeper keyword of Ixalan, being much more powerful and useful than anyone ever thought possible. Considering Green has the second best drawing ability of all five colors, and the best land playing abilities of all colors, Enter the Unknown is a match made in heaven. Due to the low CMC, this is an excellent card, as any higher would have made it near unplayable.
8. Tilonalli's Summoner
Don't ask me why, but I find this card phenomenal. Getting the city's blessing doesn't exactly seem difficult, but Tilonalli's Summoner seems to make it even quicker to reach. Her ability reminds me of Chandra, Flamecaller's +1 ability to summon elementals with haste. The difference here is Tilonalli's Summoner's elementals can stay on the battlefield after a battle. The biggest downside is the CMC for a 1/1 with no haste. It's highly likely she'd be offed before she ever is able to activate her ability. Still, I find it a fun card, and one that will certainly go into many EDH decks.
7. The Immortal Sun
More of an EDH sideboard than anything, it is still a card EDH players have needed for a long time. The Immortal Sun is a Pithing Needle on a global scale, with the added bonus of buffing your creatures and making your spells cost less. Everyone has that one friend who decides to play a SuperFriends Atraxa deck, and this will easily be their biggest fear come game time.
6. Etali, Primal Storm
Easily the best of all the Elder Dinosaurs, Etali combines a frightening, potentially overpowering ability, with a low CMC. In standard, every card counts, and Etali can take away an opponent's most important card and use it against them just by attacking. It's crazy that Etali doesn't have to deal damage for this effect to trigger. Etali will obviously benefit in multiplayer games where he can stack his ability to multiple players.
5. Journey To Eternity / Atzal, Cave of Eternity
In the 25 year history of Magic, it's hard to find a new card that you know will become a staple in the EDH format. For every Sol Ring, there 1000 Overflowing Insights, a/k/a cards that are made for EDH but will see almost no play. Journey To Eternity is not that card. I fully expect to see this played on every Golgari colored deck until the end of time. First off, the actual enchantment is great (being able to instantly have any creature you control return to the battlefield after death) but the flip side of the card is where it gets interesting. Most Golgari decks run off the graveyard, and you are constantly discarding your own cards to make your own creature and commanders stronger. While there are plenty of cards in the game that let you return creatures from the grave to your hand or to the battlefield, none let you do it on a consistent basis. For only 5 mana, being able to constantly bring back any creature from your graveyard would make a Timmy player proud.
4. Azor, The Lawbringer
We've been waiting for this guy for a long time. The creator of the Azorius Guild and the Guildpact on Ravnica, the identity of Azor has been a mystery for well over a decade. Finally, here he is, the best Azorius Commander ever printed. It's almost a shame how Azor outclasses the current leader of the Azorius guild, Isperia, but considering he conceived the guild in the first place, it makes sense lore-wise. This guy just screams Azorius, from his built-in Sphinx's Revelation, or how he detains a player during their next turn, Azor was worth the wait.
3. Azor's Gateway / Sanctum of the Sun
Sometimes you don't have to explain why a card is good. Any card with “X” in its CMC instantly becomes one of the best cards in your deck when paired with this card. Couple this with Fireball, Axis of Mortality, or Azor and go to town. Finally, it has no color identity, which is something we should thank Wizards for. The only drawback is that getting to actually turn Azor's Gateway into Sanctum of the Sun might be a little difficult and without careful planning might be impossible to achieve in the late game.
2. Rekindling Phoenix
Red decks are always sorely lacking in flyers, so having 4/3 for only 4 mana that can potentially return for free is a blessing and easily one of the best cards printed in this set. Rekindling Phoenix is powerful in standard, EDH, and might even see some modern play. The weird thing about Rekindling Phoenix is that the token it produces upon death can be copied using other token generation cards like Anointed Procession. This can mean an easy bounce back for multiple phoenixes to the battlefield, or an extra layer of protection in case your opponent offs one of the tokens. In the ultra fast paced state modern is in, making your opponent chose between dealing damage to you or wasting a spell on a lowly 0/1 token could be the difference between winning and losing the game.
1. Blood Sun
This here is the money card. This is where all you investors need to rev your engines, jump in your car, and buy out your local LGS. Blood Sun is so good, it's going to see modern play. We haven't really seen many cards come out of recent sets that have made the transition to modern, but this will be one of them. Considering the price of Fatal Push, an uncommon card is about eight dollars a copy, expect this Rare card to be even more. Get in early, because Blood Sun is sure to creep up in price. There really is no reason to even explain why it's as good as I'm making it out to be. This shuts down any opponent who is running fetch lands while making dual and shock lands all the more powerful in the process. Buy this card. Or, it might end up a 50 cent bulk rare, who knows.