Ixalan Review – Blue Cards

raise-your-standards

Hi everyone.  Welcome to the second article in my series of reviews of the cards in the upcoming Ixalan expansion.  Today we’ll be taking a look at all of the Blue cards.  In this article, I will discuss these cards as they relate to Standard play.  My system uses number ratings ranging from 0 – 5 to gauge how well I think the cards will perform Standard play.  I will offer some pros and cons for these cards and give my thoughts and rating on the card for Standard play.  Please keep in mind that these ratings are based on my opinion only and may differ from your opinion.  (If you have a different opinion, please sound off in the Comments section below and let me know your thoughts.)

How My Rating System Works

5.0:  Format All-Star.  This card is a total Bomb card.  For those that aren’t familiar with this term, it basically means this card will win you the game if left unchecked for a turn or two.  These cards tend to be hard to defend against and can turn a game around in a hurry.  Some cards that are bombs in limited may only be a mediocre card in constructed play.  This card will see a lot of play in top tier tournament decks or will be the lynchpin of a top tier deck.

4.0:  Above Average Card.  This card is great.  It can be played in multiple decks and will have an impact on the game every time.  These cards can change a game quickly, get you back in the game, or shift the tempo of the game.  These cards are usually vulnerable to some type of removal (or are a removal spell themselves), but they make up the majority of cards found in major tournament decks.  This card will be a good support card in a top tier tournament deck.

3.0:  Average Card.  These are generally good cards, and many of them will be the majority of cards found in a tribal deck.  Cards in this category are usually similar to other (higher-ranked) cards but cost 1 mana more or have a drawback in some manner.  In Limited play, these are the majority of your deck.  This card will likely be in a fair number of top tier tournament decks and will generally be interchangeable with other similarly-rated cards.

2.0:  Niche Card.  These cards serve are very narrow function and are usually meant for your sideboard.  They could be removal spells that only remove 1 type of card, or cards with mediocre stats that have an ability that helps against opponents playing a certain color or strategy.  In Limited play, these cards are put in your deck if you have no other options and need the card to reach your 40-card minimum deck size.  For Constructed play, you will rarely play this card unless it’s from your sideboard or you want to be “cute”.  This card will only be seen in select decks that are usually trying to play around with a specific ability or in tribal decks.

1.0:  Will Rarely See Play.  The worst of the worst.  These cards are rarely played (if they’re played at all).  These cards generally have bad stats, cost too much mana, or have basically no impact on the game when they’re played.  Overall stay away from this card if possible.  This card will likely not see any tournament play.

And now, on to the cards…

 

Air Elemental

Air Elemental

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This hasn’t seen much play in Standard for a while, and I expect that to be the case again this time.

 

Arcane Adaptation

Arcane Adaptation

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This seems good for a tribal deck of any kind, even if it does slow your tempo down.  I’d expect this to see quite a bit of play.

 

Cancel

Cancel

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Cancel seems to be always legal in Standard, and yet never seems to get played.  That’s probably going to happen again this time.

 

Chart a Course

Chart a Course

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Drawing 2 cards for 2 mana seems good, and the drawback isn’t hard to work around.  Aggressive decks will likely have attacked and therefore won’t have to discard anything, and control decks typically have cards in their hand that they don’t mind discarding.  They’re happy with card filtering.

 

Daring Saboteur

Daring Saboteur

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card has the problem of only having a 1 toughness, but I’d expect it to be in a deck with cards that can buff it.  After all, you’ll likely want to deal more than 2 damage if you’re making this unblockable.  This is great in a tribal pirate deck and looting is always a prized ability.

 

Deadeye Quartermaster

Deadeye Quartermaster

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card can be quite good in a deck alongside the new Jace and Heart of Kiran.  I would expect this to be seen searching up a vehicle more often than and equipment, though, since the equipment in Standard has been very underpowered.

 

Deeproot Waters

Deeproot Waters

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Getting something for free by simply doing what you’d normally do during a game of Magic is great.  And, since the tokens have hexproof, they’re safe from most of the removal, not counting sweepers.  I think this card will be brewed around quite a bit.

 

Depths of Desire

Depths of Desire

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Since we currently have Unsummon in Standard, the only place I can see this card catching on is in those decks that are actively trying to create Treasure tokens.

 

Dive Down

Dive Down

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card teams up well with Blossoming Defense in a tribal merfolk deck to basically grant hexproof whenever you want it for very little investment.

 

Dreamcaller Siren

Dreamcaller Siren

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card is very versatile.  You can flash it in as a surprise blocker if your opponent attacks with a flying creature, or you can flash it in prior to combat to potentially tap a couple of possible blockers.  The fact that it can tap nonland permanents (not just creatures) is what I find interesting.  The only thing that I can immediately think of to tap would be a vehicle that hasn’t been crewed, and that could be a nice ability to have.

 

Entrancing Melody

Entrancing Melody

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Permanently gaining control of an opponent’s creature is very powerful.  And since a lot of creatures in Standard have aggressive stats for their mana costs, you can take control of many juicy targets.  Or play a ramp deck and take your pick of any creature your opponent controls.  Also, don’t forget that creature tokens have a 0 CMC, so any creature brought into play with God-Pharaoh’s Gift or The Scarab God is a nice choice to take that will only cost you 2 blue mana.

Please Note:  I was incorrect that the eternalized tokens created with God-Pharoah’s Gift or The Scarab God have a 0 CMC. They are, in fact, copies of the original creature, which would include the original CMC.  This would bring my score down to a 3.0.

 

Favorable Winds

Favorable Winds

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  There’s quite a few good creatures in Standard that have flying.  Also, since this only costs 2 mana, it can make a pretty big impact for such a small investment.  Maybe Aeronaut Admiral and a fleet of flying vehicles could see play?

 

Fleet Swallower

Fleet Swallower

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  I’m almost certain I’m giving this a higher rating than I should just because I love the interaction between this and Fraying Sanity.  I really want to see a mill deck take over Standard.  Let’s make it happen!

 

Headwater Sentries

Headwater Sentries

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Even in a tribal merfolk deck, this card isn’t very good.  I don’t expect it to see much play.  For 4 mana, I’m looking for a card that packs a bigger punch than this creature does.

 

Herald of Secret Streams

Herald of Secret Streams

Rating:  4.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This merfolk is the real deal.  Since +1/+1 counters are relevant for the merfolk tribe, you can create an army that your opponent cannot block.  And the synergy this has with Walking Ballista is amazing.

 

Jace, Cunning Castaway

Jace, Cunning Castaway

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Originally, I didn’t care for this latest iteration of Jace, but as time has gone on, I think he might just be okay.  There are a few different ways to get unblockable creatures in Standard, and in conjunction with Jace you can loot your deck quite a bit.  And if you manage to make multiple copies of Jace, you could be looting a lot.  Just be careful not to deck yourself in the process.  Also, the -2 loyalty ability makes a fairly resilient token that only dies when a spell targets it and not an ability (as other past illusions had done).  So, you can make an Illusion and then use your Key to the City to make it unblockable (which could loot you a car on future turns).  I think Jace will see a good amount of play.

 

Kopala, Warden of Waves

Kopala, Warden of Waves

Rating:  4.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is a terrific card.  Usually cards that grant a bonus for a tribe don’t affect themselves, but Kopala does.  So, once he’s in play, all merfolk, including him, are a little more costly to target with spells and abilities.  So he doesn’t suffer as much from having a 2 toughness in a land where 3 damage spells are all around.

 

Lookout’s Dispersal

Lookout’s Dispersal

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  While we may have just lost Convolute from Standard, it’s back in Lookout’s Dispersal.  If this card sees any play, it’ll be in a tribal pirate deck, where you can get a discount on its casting cost.  Even then, it’s not likely to see much play at all.

 

Navigator’s Ruin

Navigator’s Ruin

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Even in a deck where my plan is to win by milling out my opponent, I don’t see playing this card.  If I’m attacking, I’d rather focus on winning through combat damage.  I don’t expect to see this played in Standard.

 

One With the Wind

One With the Wind

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This goes well in a deck playing Favorable Winds, but otherwise I don’t expect to see this in Standard.  It’s too easy to get 2-for-1’d with auras like this.

 

Opt

Opt

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  There’s been a lot of hype about this reprint, and that’s why I think it’ll see a good amount of play in Standard.  It’s also very good, helping you find a card you need for only 1 mana, or bluffing that you have a removal spell and then using this at the end of your opponent’s turn.

 

Overflowing Insight

Overflowing Insight

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If this sees play, the decks that play it will only have 1-2 copies of this in them.  The fact that this draws you cards at sorcery speed is what makes this so bad, because you’re basically giving up a whole turn to draw cards that you won’t have the mana to play until next turn.

 

Perilous Voyage

Perilous Voyage

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  There are a lot of things that you can return to your opponent’s hand that will allow you to scry 2, but my favorite has to be a treasure token (or other kind of token your opponent has), as they have a CMC of 0.  However, I wouldn’t only focus on the benefit of scrying this can provide, since it can also return your opponent’s largest creature to their hand if you can target it.

 

Pirate’s Prize

Pirate’s Prize

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  For those decks that want treasure tokens, this card is for you.  For other decks, Glimmer of Genius is a better choice.

 

Prosperous Pirates

Prosperous Pirates

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Here’s another good choice for a tribal pirate deck or a deck that wants a lot of treasure tokens.  Otherwise, 5 mana for a 3/4 isn’t a good deal.

 

River Sneak

River Sneak

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is a nice creature to be buffed up by +1/+1 counters in a tribal merfolk deck.  She also plays nicely alongside the new Jace.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she found a home in a deck or two in Standard even though she dies to any removal spell.

 

River’s Rebuke

River’s Rebuke

Rating:  4.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is a great card for control decks.  Removing everything your opponent has except for their lands will be crippling for some opponents.  This is a fantastic way for a control deck to reset the board in their own favor after the early game has played out.

 

Run Aground

Run Aground

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This effect is too expensive and too limiting to allow this card to see play in Standard.

 

Sailor of Means

Sailor of Means

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Outside of a tribal pirate or treasure based deck, this card has no home.  Maybe it could see play in a control deck as an early blocker, but I’m not counting on it.

 

Shaper Apprentice

Shaper Apprentice

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Don’t look for this card outside of a tribal merfolk deck.  Even there, it will be okay, but not great.

 

Shipwreck Looter

Shipwreck Looter

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Looting is a very powerful ability, so there’s a chance that this could see play outside of a tribal pirate deck.  But not much of one.

 

Shore Keeper

Shore Keeper

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Even the potential ability to draw 3 cards doesn’t make me like this card.  Being able to kill absolutely nothing that it blocks makes this card see no play in Standard.

 

Siren Lookout

Siren Lookout

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Being able to explore pushes this up a half notch for me, but I’m still not thrilled to have a 2/3 flyer for 3 mana.  I think it may see some play, but not widespread.

 

Siren Stormtamer

Siren Stormtamer

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If you want a card that’s guaranteed to soak up your opponent’s removal spell, look no further.  This should see a lot of play for that reason alone.  It also has a lot of synergy with other pirates and flying creatures currently in Standard

 

Siren’s Ruse

Siren’s Ruse

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is a nice way to get another crack at an enter-the-battlefield trigger of a pirate you control, or to reset an attacker you just used in order to serve as a blocker.  I see a lot of potential uses for a card like this.

 

Spell Pierce

Spell Pierce

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is definitely a good card to use against God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks or decks abusing vehicles, but it’s pretty narrow.  I think it’ll see a fair amount of play, mainly from the sideboard.

 

Spell Swindle

Spell Swindle

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This is a very expensive counterspell, but I could see running a couple of copies in a control deck, as it can fairly well pay for itself with the treasure tokens you get.

 

Storm Fleet Aerialist

Storm Fleet Aerialist

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  As long as you can trigger the raid ability on this card, this is a very good creature.  I’m really seeing the beginnings of a flying pirates deck coming together.

 

Storm Fleet Spy

Storm Fleet Spy

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card is subpar unless you trigger the raid ability on it.  Drawing a card simply for attacking once is great though, so I expect it’ll see a decent amount of play.

 

Storm Sculptor

Storm Sculptor

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  I like that this creature can’t be blocked, but I don’t like that I have to have another creature in play when I cast him, otherwise I have to return him back to my hand.  It’s also a little risky if I only have 1 other creature, since I’ll need to return this card to my hand if the other creature were destroyed after I cast this card.  It’s still a risk I’m betting many people will take, so I’d look for a bit of play for this in Standard.

 

Tempest Caller

Tempest Caller

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  What better way to set up a massive strike than this card.  Get a few creatures on the battlefield, cast this, and attack with everything else.  Or, do this multiple times with cards like Siren’s Ruse.  That sounds like fun to me.

 

Watertrap Weaver

Watertrap Weaver

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This frigid fish-person likely won’t see play outside of a tribal merfolk deck.  The ability is a powerful one, though.

 

Wind Strider

Wind Strider

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  For 5 mana, I’m hoping for a bigger creature than a 3/3.  The flying is nice, and so is the flash, but I don’t think those 2 abilities are going to allow this to see any play outside of a tribal merfolk deck.

 

Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Search for Azcanta

Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Rating:  4.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card looks fabulous in a control deck!  It allows you to dump your top card into your graveyard prior to your draw step if you don’t need it.  It’s also pretty easy to flip, since you’ll probably be playing quite a few counterspells.  Then, once it transforms, it helps you find whatever instant, sorcery, enchantment, etc., that you might need at the time.  I don’t usually play control decks, but this card makes me want to start.

 

Wrap-Up

And there you have my thoughts on the blue cards in Ixalan.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Let me know by leaving a comment, or by contacting me on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg) or by emailing me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the third part of my Standard review of Ixalan.  I’ll be taking a look at the Black cards and I hope you’ll join me.  I’ll see you then!

Mike Likes

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Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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