Top 5 Rivals of Ixalan Cards that Might See Modern Play


Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, and Treasures! Rivals of Ixalan brings a lot of new powerful cards for 2018. Which ones will see play in Modern? This is our list of the Top 5 cards to watch out for in the coming months.

Hello Insight Readers! The Rivals of Ixalan spoiler season is finally over and we have plenty of new cards to play around with. Today, we will be focusing on Rivals cards that might find a home in Modern. Keep in mind that Rivals has a heavy tribal focus, so it is important to look at the tribal synergy of these cards in addition to their overall power.

As far as new mechanics are concerned, we are primarily getting Ascend, which is tied to getting ten permanents on your side of the field. Although this mechanic might be useful in Limited, it seems unlikely that it will be playable in a format as fast as Modern, where controlling ten permanents is unlikely to happen consistently in any given game.

Finally, the new legendary enchantment/land cycle seems underwhelming since they are either too narrow or slow to be Modern playable. Nevertheless, given the popularity and power of Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, free lands with powerful secondary effects are worth keeping an eye on.

So let's break down the list of the top cards that might see play at your Modern events:


Famished Paladin Admiral's Orders Vona's Hunger

Famished Paladin looks like a mono-white Watchwolf with a significant drawback, but can win the game on the spot when equipped with Viridian Longbow and Basilisk Collar. It remains to be seen, however, whether a combo like this is resilient enough when faced with the plethora of instant-speed removal present in Modern

Admiral's Order is potentially a one mana hard counter seems decent for main phase two plays in aggressive blue decks like Merfolk, Infect, and Grixis Shadow. It might also be worth trying in some sideboards, although it is competing with Stubborn Denial, which is a powerful one-mana counterspell used in a creature-based blue decks.

Lastly, Vona's Hunger is slightly worse than Tribute to Hunger, but carries the upside that it doesn't target players, so it might be a good Bogles hate card, provided that the deck continues to gain in popularity.

5. Silent Gravestone

Silent Gravestone

We're getting yet another one-mana artifact that interacts with the graveyard. It acts as a Ground Seal, but with the second effect of Relic of Progenitus at the increased cost of four mana.

It seems underwhelming as a graveyard hate card at first glance, with the only upside when compared to the Relic being that its ability is static. But it also protects the cards in your graveyard from pesky sideboard staples like Surgical Extraction and other targeted hate cards. This is a potential new tool for any deck that relies on the graveyard like storm and dredge, meaning we could see Dredge decks sporting better matchups post game one.

4. Direfleet Daredevil

Direfleet Daredevil

Welcome to Modern, Red Snapcaster Mage without flash! This card is a nice combination between everyone's favorite blue mage from Innistrad and Hostage Taker's ability.

In a metagame full of cheap removal like Fatal Push, discard, cantrips and direct damage this card might shine, using the best opponent's spell on them and leaving a 2/1 first strike body ready to block or attack, depending on the circumstances.

Not having flash and relying on your opponent graveyard is a huge drawback compared to Snapcaster Mage, especially with tier decks like affinity playing virtually no instants or sorceries. Regardless, the fact that it's a Human and that it gives you access to a watered down version of Snapcaster's powerful ability might give it a home in Humans, where you can use Aether Vial to effectively flash it in.

3. Warkite Marauder

Warkite Marauder

Speaking of Humans, this blue Pirate looks perfect for the new 5 color tribal deck that is gaining traction these days. For starters, a 2/1 flyer for two mana pairs well with Kitesail Freebooter and Mantis Rider as an evasive threat in the air.

Secondly, its ability allows you to ignore the biggest creature your opponent controls when deciding whether an attack is worthwhile. It stops large blockers like Death's Shadow and Tarmogoyf and gives you, along with Reflector Mage, another pseudo-removal creature to win the race against aggro and creature based match-ups.

2. Merfolk Mistbinder

Merfolk Mistbinder

Merfolk Mistbinder will likely convert any remaining holdout mono-blue Merfolk players into blue-green players. The deck showed up recently using a second color in order to add Kumena's Speaker and Merfolk Branchwalker but the addition of a two-mana lord with no drawbacks pretty much cements two-color Merfolk as the only Merfolk deck in Modern. That will mean a total of 12 lords playable on turn two alongside Merrow Reejerey, which is pretty huge it's really easy to boot to splash these cards through fetch-lands, Cavern of Souls, and Unclaimed Territory.

1. Blood Sun

Blood Sun

Finally, our top pick arrives. Blood Sun is probably the most exciting card when it comes to raw power level for Modern.

It is impossible not to compare it with Blood Moon for obvious reasons: similar name, same cost, and the same color. But there are significant differences as well. Blood Sun's biggest upside over Blood Moon is that it cantrips, so there is less of an issue when you draw duplicates.

Other than that, this card is not as oppressive as Blood Moon and it look like an attempt at creating a "fair" version of the powerful enchantment. Lets review why this card is still extraordinarily powerful and why you should care about it moving forward.

This card has numerous interesting rulings, from turning shock lands into dual lands to essentially making Glimmervoid a City of Brass that doesn't cost life. It most important property, however, is the way it interacts with fetch-lands. Fetches are completely useless with a Blood Sun out, making it a powerful card in a format where most decks run at least eight fetch-lands. Now that we know how it works, what decks might consider playing this card:

Tron decks may choose to play this card as a defensive measure against popular land destruction like Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin, though it does require splashing red for many Tron lists.

Prison Red decks may choose to run this as the cantrip effect makes splashing it less slow. The fact that so many lands beat it, however, makes it somewhat unclear how many the decks may choose to run.

Fetchless Storm: There are some UR Storm decks running zero fetches and boarding Blood Moon. Blood Sun is a potential main deck choice for them, as the fact that it cantrips can play into Storm's strategy, slowing down opposing control and Grixis Shadow lists that run a significant number of fetch-lands.

That concludes our discussion of Rivals of Ixalan in Modern. Thanks for reading the article and let us know in the comments if you have any thoughts or questions.

See you soon!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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RonePro(2018-01-20 12:42)

To: hoodyhoo66

Legion Lieutenant: if there is any BW Vampire deck to brew, this will be a 4-of no matter what.

First, thanks for the comment adn yeah I definetely see the Vampire Lord in a future Vampires deck, although there is a lot of competition right now for triabl decks in Modern

DanteMH(2018-01-19 23:38)

Nice article, but the honorable mention should have gone to Famished Paladin only. Even if Modern has much removal at the moment, it has a combo, so there's that. But the "only in your turn"-counter is just bad, one would play Stubborn Denial and Chart a Course over it everytime. Also, Vona's Hunger may be sweet against Bogles, but where is Bogles "on the rise again"? Gotta need a source on that.

I strongly agree with the rest, especially Warkite Marauder seems a tad scary in a deck that is already rather good equipped. Also, people will play Merfolk Mistbinder, but 12 Lords was already possible. In fact, with Phantasmal Image, you can now play 16 Lords, so I don't know why everyone is losing their minds - apart from the very stunning artwork of this card.

n0ksi(2018-01-19 00:35)

2. Merfolk Mistbinder new lord definitely would see some play in modern merfolks likewise
Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Easily can be trasnformed in U/G merfolks

hoodyhoo66(2018-01-18 20:55)

Great Article. Keep it up.
Don't you think the new Vampire lord can push the vampires into tier decks?

hoodyhoo66(2018-01-18 20:53)

Great Article! Keep it up. I guess you could mention the vampire lord as well, hence the vampires were always very close to enter the tier decks, but it was lacking cheap lord, now it doesn't.

magictroi(2018-01-18 20:40)

Warkite Marauder seems like a really nice card. Could see it in control decks.

JulieteGS(2018-01-18 15:01)

Direfleet daredevil is nice, i like it... Why my comment needs 50 caracters?!?! i want tell my opinion about a card... 50