We will visit the untamed jungles of Ixalan once the first set of the Ixalan block releases at the end of September. Vraska the Unseen seems to have become a pirate on this world, trying to find Orazca, the city of gold, which has remained hidden for centuries. Jace and Vraska became enemies on Ravnica before. Now they might meet again under new circumstances, as Jace seems to have been defeated by Nicol Bolas and cast away to Ixalan, probably losing his memory in the process. It is time to join a pirate crew, saddle up a dinosaur, and claim Ixalan's most precious treasures!
Dinosaurs against pirates would already be enough of a theme for this set, but on Ixalan there is more to be found, like the always popular Merfolk for example. They rule the sea between all those islands, but they also like to swim up the rivers. The Legion of Dusk with their bloodthirsty vampires on the other hand prefer to stay on steady ground instead. So Ixalan has a lot to offer for fans of tribal mechanisms, but which mechanics get used in this set exactly?
On Ixalan we encounter a colorful mixture of new and well-known mechanics. Treasure tokens, Enrage, and Explore have not yet existed in this form, while Raid, Vehicles, and double-faced cards are already known from other expansions.
On Ixalan there are plenty of feathered dinosaurs. Some of them are even used by the warriors of the Sun Empire in battle, but it doesn't make sense to call such dinosaurs tame. They will always remain wild beasts, which are easy to enrage. Enrage is a triggered ability that is triggered whenever a dinosaur takes damage. This applies both to fatal damage and to any smaller amounts of damage, which, however, are of course preferable because of the repeatability. "You should not have angered the beast." Such and similar phrases will soon be heard by Magic players around the globe, shortly before they meet their demise.
Pirates are the second big topic on Ixalan, and what is a pirate's favorite past time? Drinking rum of course, but what else do they do? Raiding innocent people to steal their treasure is probably relatively high on their list as well. Raid abilities are only active if you have attacked with at least one creature on that turn. However, the effect you get for each raid ability varies from pirate to pirate.
Speaking of raids and treasures, Treasure Tokens are colorless artifacts that can be sacrificed at any time for one mana of any color, if you can't find any other use for them. You can end up with such Treasure tokens through various cards in the set.
Exploring the jungle and the search for Orazca, the golden city, is reflected in the new creature ability Explore. This ability allows a player to reveal and even draw the top card of their deck if it is a land card. Otherwise the exploring creature gets a +1/+1 counter and its controller can opt to place the revealed card in their graveyard.
On Ixalan there are also variants of the relatively new card sub-type Vehicle. The pirate ships may not be as impressive as the vehicles on Kaladesh, but they work the same way. They are basically useless without a proper crew to crew them, but you will probably find a few pirates willing to set the sails. In case of emergency, you can also use a few dinosaurs as your crew - which might be more fun anyway.
Compasses, treasure maps, pirate ships and some other legendary cards point the way to unknown shores on Ixalan. Some of these legendary objects tell their stories in the form of double-faced cards. The unique twist is that all double-faced cards in this expansion transform into land cards. These are lands with powerful effects similar to those on some of the best lands ever printed. These cards do not only come with a wonderful treasure map card design, but will also prove to be very relevant for Constructed.
With the release of Ixalan, the rules for Planeswalkers change a little bit. Instead of the slightly different "Planeswalker uniqueness rule", all Planeswalkers are now simply legendary, so that they function just like legendary creatures. This means that you still can't control two identical planeswalker cards, but for example two Gideons with different names, which was not possible until now.