Ixalan Review – Green Cards

raise-your-standards

Hi everyone.  Welcome to the fifth 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 Green 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…

 

Ancient Brontodon

Ancient Brontodon

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  The fact that this is a completely vanilla creature with no keywords (like trample) really hurts the playability of this card in Standard.  This could see play in a ramp deck, but there are likely to be better options to ramp up to.

 

Atzocan Archer

Atzocan Archer

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  The obvious way to get value from this creature is to have it fight an opponent’s creature that has a toughness of 1 when it enters the battlefield.  The not-as-obvious way to get added value from this is to have it fight one of your own small dinosaurs when it enters the battlefield in order to trigger its’ enrage ability.  Neat design.

 

Blinding Fog

Blinding Fog

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  I like this card in a deck with Electrostatic Pummeler and, a way to make him unblockable.  But Blossoming Defense is better for that deck.  Maybe we’ll get a new turbo-fog deck from this card, but with it costing 3 mana, I’m not too hopeful.

 

Blossom Dryad

Blossom Dryad

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  With the new lands that transform from enchantments and artifacts in Ixalan, this card can shine.  But for 3 mana, I’m looking for something better than just a 2/2.  This could see a little play, but it’s hard to imagine this being a 4-of staple in many decks.

 

Carnage Tyrant

Carnage Tyrant

Rating:  5.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Gee, this card just has it all.  You can’t counter it and you can target it with removal, so the only way to get rid of it is with some sort of sweeper.  And some sweepers can’t even handle this card.  This card is a powerhouse, and once cast it should help you win the game in a turn or two.  Trample on this is also amazing because your opponent can’t just chump block it.  And if your opponent does manage to have enough blockers to kill this card, you’re likely removing 2-3 of their creatures, so he’s kind of like a mini-sweeper of his own.  This card is amazing and will definitely see a lot of play.

 

Colossal Dreadmaw

Colossal Dreadmaw

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Compared to Carnage Tyrant, this guy just feels wimpy, but believe me, he’s anything but.  A 6/6 for 6 mana is what we’d expect to get, and this also has trample, which can be a huge factor in winning a combat race.  This card is great and should see play, especially early on at FNM’s where he’ll be a placeholder creature until you can trade for your playset of Carnage Tyrants.

 

Commune with Dinosaurs

Commune with Dinosaurs

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card reminds me of both Oath of Nissa and Attune with Aether.  Both cards saw a lot of Standard play, and both were used to help smooth out a player’s mana.  I expect that will also be true of this card, and if it’s drawn in the late game, the ability to find a dinosaur will be more relevant.

 

Crash the Ramparts

Crash the Ramparts

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  As far as combat tricks go, this one certainly packs a lot of punch.  There aren’t a lot of combat tricks played in Standard, but this one might see some fringe play simply due to the fact that it provides trample to the creature it’s buffing.

 

Crushing Canopy

Crushing Canopy

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card might see some sideboard play, as it’s a very versatile card.  I don’t expect it to be a main deck staple, though.

 

Deathgorge Scavenger

Deathgorge Scavenger

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Being able to get a bonus by removing an important card from your opponent’s graveyard is a great ability.  Also having this trigger when it enters the battlefield is a nice bonus as well.  This card has a lot of potential and I expect it to be played quite a bit.

 

Deeproot Champion

Deeproot Champion

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Not only does this card work well in a tribal merfolk deck, but his best pal Winding Constrictor can help this guy become super buff.  I expect to see this played a lot in Standard.

 

Deeproot Warrior

Deeproot Warrior

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If you want to play an aggressive tribal merfolk deck, this is the merfolk for you.  When you attack, your opponent will need to block with a creature that has 3 power if they want to kill this warrior.  So, they’re likely to let this go unblocked for a couple of turns until they can profitably block it.  It’s not great in the late game, so I don’t expect this to become a staple card.

 

Drover of the Mighty

Drover of the Mighty

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Tribal dinosaur decks love this card, as will some ramp decks.  It’s not often that we’ll get a 3/3 that can also tap for mana, so I’m expecting this to see a decent amount of play.

 

Emergent Growth

Emergent Growth

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Here we have a card that really plays into green’s ability to destroy an opponent’s creatures with their own.  This card is really only good when your opponent only has one big creature that you can’t deal with otherwise.  Otherwise, since they get to choose which creature they block with, they can just choose their worst as a sacrificial lamb.  While this card serves a purpose, I don’t see it getting any Standard play.

 

Emperor’s Vanguard

Emperor’s Vanguard

Rating:  4.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Being able to explore multiple times in a game is what makes this card so good.  As I’ve said before, I think explore will be a good ability allowing you to consistently make land drops or to filter the other cards in your deck.  This card must be answered when it comes into play, otherwise things can get out of hand fairly quickly.

 

Grazing Whiptail

Grazing Whiptail

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Dealing with flyers can sometimes be a problem.  Dinosaurs do have some other flyers, but not in green.  Since this card has reach, it’s a way to deal with other flyers if you don’t have any yourself.  This should do a fine job, but it’s not a card I think you’ll see often in the main deck.

 

Ixalli’s Diviner

Ixalli’s Diviner

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  For 2 mana, I’m looking for a creature that at least has 1 power.  This card doesn’t guarantee that, so I don’t think this will see any Standard play.

 

Ixalli’s Keeper

Ixalli’s Keeper

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Since green is typically the color of ramp, this card has a little bit better of a chance of being able to use its sacrifice ability.  It’s not a lot better than the other keepers in the cycle, but it might see a little bit of play.

 

Jade Guardian

Jade Guardian

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  So, assuming there are no other creatures on the battlefield when this enters play, getting a 3/3 with hexproof for 4 mana isn’t bad.  Find a way to give this evasion and you have a card that can wreak havoc on your opponent that is very difficult to deal with.  I think a lot of people will try brewing with this card.

 

Jungle Delver

Jungle Delver

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If Walking Ballista taught us anything, it’s that it costs 4 mana to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature.  This card reinforces that.  But unlike Walking Ballista, this card has nothing that it can do with those +1/+1 counters if it gets targeted with a removal spell.  I expect this could see play as an early drop in a tribal merfolk deck and possibly alongside Winding Constrictor in a new B/G +1/+1 counters deck.

 

Kumena’s Speaker

Kumena’s Speaker

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Here’s another good option for the 1-drop slot in a tribal merfolk deck.  While it’s not a great card by any stretch of the imagination, it is playable and I would expect it to see play as a possible early drop in tribal merfolk decks or possibly in Temur decks.

 

 

Merfolk Branchwalker

Merfolk Branchwalker

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  The possibility of getting a 3/2 for 2 mana could mean this card sees a little play.  Since I think exploring will be good, here’s another valuable tool for that kind of deck.

 

New Horizons

New Horizons

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  In a deck dedicated to +1/+1 counters, this could see some play.  Otherwise, I don’t think you’ll want it as playing it is pretty dependent on having a creature in play to get the counter this enchantment provides.  This does combo well with Blossom Dryad, though, so there could be a deck built that features both of those cards.

 

Old-Growth Dryads

Old-Growth Dryads

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  I’m not a fan of this card, as I never like the thought of helping my opponent out during a game.  Even though this is a 3/3, the tempo loss you receive from them being able to play cards a turn sooner than normal offsets any extra damage you might be able to push through in the early turns.  The only place I can see this being good is in a deck that uses a lot of Threaten-like effects to take control of your opponent’s creatures.  But even in a deck like that, you have to be careful of their attack back the next turn.

 

Pounce

Pounce

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Standard already has Prey Upon which doesn’t see much play, and now we have Pounce, which does the same thing.  Maybe with all of the big dinosaurs in this set, this will see a little play.

 

Ranging Raptors

Ranging Raptors

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  A lot of the removal in Standard is damage based, so there’s a pretty good chance that when this card dies it will replace itself with a basic land.  Or you can try to set up some ramping by pinging this yourself with small damage spells or Walking Ballista.

 

Ravenous Daggertooth

Ravenous Daggertooth

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Gaining 2 life when this creature block or is blocked seems okay, but not over the top.  I don’t think this will see much play outside of a tribal dinosaur deck.

 

Ripjaw Raptor

Ripjaw Raptor

Rating:  4.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  When combined with cards like Rile or Walking Ballista, this card is great.  It also blocks well, which should allow you to stop your opponent’s attacks until they can find a way to deal with this card.  Everyone knows how powerful straight up card drawing is, so it should come as no surprise that this will see a lot of play in Standard.

 

River Heralds’ Boon

River Heralds’ Boon

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  In a tribal merfolk deck, this card will be amazing.  Getting 2 counters, potentially on the same merfolk creature, for 2 mana is great.  And even outside of a merfolk deck, this card could see a little play.

 

Savage Stomp

Savage Stomp

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Outside of a tribal dinosaur deck, this card is still good.  Getting the +1/+1 counter and fighting an opponent’s creature for 3 mana is good.  But, doing it for 1 mana in a tribal dinosaur deck is amazing.  This is the best fight card of the set and should see play in Standard.

 

Shapers’ Sanctuary

Shapers’ Sanctuary

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Standard is all about threats and removal.  If you’re able to draw a card the majority of the time when your opponent tries to play their removal on your creatures, you can quickly gain card advantage which can allow you to continue making your land drops on schedule and playing additional threats.  I think this card is very powerful and has a lot of potential to be a key player in Standard.

 

Slice in Twain

Slice in Twain

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  While Creeping Mold doesn’t see any play in Standard, this could because of the fact that it allows you to draw a card.  It’s not likely to see play though since Appetite for the Unnatural destroys the same things for a mana cheaper.

 

Snapping Sailback

Snapping Sailback

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  When I look at this card, I don’t see it as a 4/4.  I see it being flashed into play where it can immediately block a smaller creature, triggering its enrage ability to become a 5/5.  The fact that this can potentially grow bigger turn after turn says to me that this will see play in Standard.

 

Spike-Tailed Ceratops

Spike-Tailed Ceratops

Rating:  1.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  I can see how the ability to block an additional creature could be good, but in my opinion it’s better to bring the offensive rather than being so defensive.  I don’t see this getting a lot of play, but it could show up in some sort of tribal dinosaur deck that’s more on the controlling side.

 

Thundering Spineback

Thundering Spineback

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  While this is a good card, it’s a tad bit on the expensive side coming in at 7 mana, and giving your other dinosaurs +1/+1 when most of them are already sizeable seems like a win-more ability.  I could see playing 1-2 of these in a tribal dinosaur deck though, as one of the cards at the top of your mana curve, especially if you’re mostly green based.

 

Tishana’s Wayfinder

Tishana’s Wayfinder

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Getting a 2/2 for 3 mana is subpar, but this becomes a 3/3 if you find anything other than a land when you explore.  I’ve said it before (and will probably say it again), explore is a great mechanic.

 

Verdant Rebirth

Verdant Rebirth

Rating:  1.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  There’s no situation where I would want to have this card in my hand.  This is basically planning to fail, which isn’t something I want to do when I’m playing Magic.  Don’t look for this to see any play in Standard.

 

Verdant Sun’s Avatar

Verdant Sun’s Avatar

Rating:  3.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  Here’s another good top end for a heavily green based deck.  When this creature enters the battlefield, you’ll immediately gain 5 life.  That’s great, considering that this costs 7 mana so you’ve probably taken a bit of damage by the time you’re able to play this card.  And then, every additional creature you play or creature token you create will help gain you more life.  I think this will see some play, as this is the kind of card some deck brewers love.

 

Vineshaper Mystic

Vineshaper Mystic

Rating:  2.0 ()

Overall Thoughts:  This card is similar to Rishkar, Peema Renegade.  If you only have 1 other merfolk in play you can always target this creature.  It’s much narrower than Rishkar, though, since you can only target merfolk with this ability.  For that reason, this will shine in a tribal merfolk deck but likely won’t see play elsewhere.

 

Waker of the Wilds

Waker of the Wilds

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If you have a way to protect this creature, you’ll have someplace to put your extra mana for the rest of the game.  The nice part about her ability is that you can continue to target the same land, growing it bigger and bigger over time.  You’ll avoid the mana hit you’ll take if that creature gets destroyed by doing this.  Or you can go the other route and create a bunch of smaller creature-lands and swarm your opponent in the late game.  Either way, this card looks like it’ll be a lot of fun and I think some brewer might be able to create a powerful deck with it.

 

Wildgrowth Walker

Wildgrowth Walker

Rating:  2.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  If there’s a deck created that makes the most out of the explore ability, this creature will be in it.  By combining this with the other creatures that are able to explore more often than just when they enter the battlefield, you can create some truly large creatures over time.  While I’m not much of a deck brewer, it’s effects like this that make me want to try doing it.

 

Growing Rites of Itlimoc / Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun

Growing Rites of Itlimoc

Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun

Rating:  3.5 ()

Overall Thoughts:  While I think the land side of this card is very powerful, it could be a little tricky transforming the enchantment into the land.  If it were simple, Oketra the True would be a lot more popular than she currently is.  Also, the enchantment doesn’t transform until your end step, so you aren’t able to get the benefit of the extra mana until the following turn (barring any flash or instant shenanigans).  Overall, I still think it’s a good card and will see plenty of play in Standard, it’s just not as good as it’s been hyped to be.

 

Wrap-Up

So, that’s my take on the Green cards in Ixalan.  What do you think of my evaluations?  Did I get it all right, or did I totally miss something along the way?  Let me know by leaving a comment, or by contacting me on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg) or by emailing me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.

We’ll wrap things up tomorrow when we look at the Multicolor cards, Artifacts, and Land cards.  Be sure to come back for that.  I’ll see you then!

Mike Likes

Comments

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

Comments are closed.