Name of Set: Rivals of Ixalan
Block: Set 2 of 2 in the Ixalan Block
Number of Cards: 196
Release Date: January 19, 2018
Languages Available: English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Rivals of Ixalan has arrived and the stakes are higher than ever. All four of Ixalan’s factions have finally arrived at the Golden City in search of The Immortal Sun. In addition, Jace has gotten some or all his memories back, putting his newfound friendship with Vraska in question. Who will come out on top? Will Nicol Bolas once again get what he wants from this scenario or will Jace’s unexpected appearance thwart his plans and put him on the backfoot as the story pivots to Dominaria? Only time will tell. For now, players have tons of new and exciting mechanics and cards to dig into in Rivals of Ixalan. Released on 19 January 2018, this expansion comes in a booster pack with an MSRP of $3.99 (est. 3,32€).
As with any main Magic: the Gathering expansion, Rivals of Ixalan brings both new and returning mechanics to new heights, while granting tribal players even more focused tribal support for their brews.
Ascend is the most important new mechanic in Rivals of Ixalan, granting players the city’s blessing when they have ten or more permanents on the battlefield. Once a player gains the City’s Blessing, they will not lose it until the end of the game. Many cards in Rivals will also gain extra effects when a player has the blessing. A powerful example of a card that relies on the ascend mechanic is Timestream Navigator. This card is cheap to cast at two mana and for the low cost of four mana and tapping, it secures its controller an extra turn. In addition, its extra-turn effect is reusable. It remains to be seen whether the city’s blessing is consistently obtainable in constructed formats, but all the cards that require the blessing offer powerful effects in exchange.
Dinosaurs are back in force with a brand-new cycle of terrifying Elder Dinosaurs. Ghalta, Primal Hunger is particularly terrifying, offering a powerful 12/12 trampler for as little as two mana, depending on the total power of your creatures on the board. The Black Tetzimoc, Primal Death offers an interesting one-sided board wipe that comes down at 6 mana. This offers black decks a potentially powerful sweeper, depending on how easily players find prey counters to acquire. Red gets a commander-friendly dinosaur in Etali, Primal Storm, who exiles the top card of each player’s library when it attacks, and can cast those cards without paying their mana costs.
The popular transform cards are also returning in Rivals of Ixalan. The most significant of these appears to be Journey to Eternity. This card reanimates any creature it enchants on that creature’s death. In addition, it transforms into a land that taps for any color and has the power to put any creature in your graveyard onto the battlefield for five mana. Storm the Vault is another exciting transform card, offering newer players a shot at playing with one of Magic’s oldest and most powerful non-basic lands, Tolarian Academy. These transform cards were a fan favorite in Ixalan and look to be just as popular in Rivals.
Ixalan was definitely a set that valued its respective factions. Rivals of Ixalan takes this concept and dials it up to eleven, offering many new powerful tribal cards across all four of its tribes. One new merfolk is Deeproot Elite, a potentially more versatile Metallic Mimic (for merfolk) that also counts as a merfolk in the hand. Merfolk are getting an exciting new legendary creature in Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Kumena can, for the low cost of tapping some merfolk, draw cards, become unblockable, and make +1/+1 counters. Vampires are also getting a new legendary creature – Elenda, the Dusk Rose, who costs four mana. Elenda is only a 1/1, but she gets bigger and creates 1/1 flying lifelinkers equal to her power when she dies, giving her some interesting utility for Commander fans.
Rivals of Ixalan is a fitting send off for the old-style two-expansion blocks, so get ready to pick a side and gain the city’s blessing in this exciting new Magic expansion.