Welcome to the second and final installment of my Rivals of Ixalan financial set review! If you didn't have a chance to read part one, you can check it out here . Otherwise, let's get started with the cards I haven't covered yet:
Trapjaw Tyrant - $7
Trapjaw Tyrant is pretty stellar in Limited, and it's another good addition to your casual Dinosaur Pyrohemia deck, but I don't see how it gets there in competitive Constructed. It's a 5/5 that doesn't do anything unless your opponent has abysmal blocks or you're planning to use it as a blocker yourself in an attempt to take out two of their creatures at once. I guess it might end up in a sideboard somewhere, but I'm fairly comfortable calling it a future bulk mythic.
Slaughter the Strong - $3
It feels like everybody is sleeping on Slaughter the Strong. Three mana Wrath effects are no joke, and the reason most "punisher" Wraths fail is because they allow your opponent to keep their best creature. If you cast a Divine Reckoning or Cataclysmic Gearhulk, your opponent can just hang onto their Hazoret or Primeval Titan. Not so with Slaughter the Strong.
The fact that Slaughter the Strong seems good against the current Energy decks makes me feel like it has a shot to be one of the set's early breakouts. I could see a strong spike to $7-$8 with potential for more if it makes the not-unreasonable leap into Modern. For just $3, I'll be grabbing a set for sure.
Temple Altisaur - $1
Temple Altisaur is a fun addition to any casual Dinosaur deck, but it's not nearly powerful enough for Standard. Future bulk rare.
Warkite Marauder - $3.50
Warkite Marauder checks a lot of boxes for me. A 2/1 flier for 1U is a reasonable inclusion in a tempo deck as long as it has a strong ability, and getting to Ovinize your opponent's best creature at the start of combat is quite powerful. I don't think Warkite Marauder's utility is limited to Pirates, either-it's a strong two-drop in any sort of aggressive blue deck, meaning that it could end up finding a home later on in the format even if it busts right out of the gate.
My only worry is that I haven't heard a lot of excited pro buzz surrounding Warkite Marauder. Perhaps it's not quite as good as it seems…or perhaps everybody is keeping quiet about their favorite new piece of tech. I'll probably be targeting this one in trade at the Prerelease regardless, since it has $10-$15 upside if it ends up breaking out.
Nezahal, Primal Tide - $2
Nezahal, Primal Tide is awesome, but it costs seven mana. From a competitive perspective, seven is just a whole lot more than six. I expect Nezahal to show up in a sideboard or two as a control finisher, but this is a future $1 card without much Standard upside. I've heard a lot of comparisons to sleeper hit Pearl Lake Ancient, but that card had flash and it was a mythic rare. That means that the Ancient was more likely to be a good control finisher and more likely to be valuable after it broke out. Grab Nezahal at bulk rates in a month or two if you like long-term causal holds, but I wouldn't plan on it being a Standard staple.
Crafty Cutpurse - $1
When I first saw Crafty Cutpurse, I thought it was targeted Modern hate that could allow Splinter Twin back into the format. I was wrong; it only shuts the combo off for a turn, which isn't good enough. I might be able to find a home for Crafty Cutpurse in some of my Commander decks, but it's probably going to end up being one of those reactive utility cards that rarely makes the final cut. It's a future bulk rare unless the Standard format makes a startling move toward mass token generation.
Release to the Wind - $1
I guess there's a small chance that you'll be able to do enough weird tricks with Release to the Wind to make it viable in a Hostage Taker deck or something, but I just don't see it. Why not just play another threat instead of wasting three mana and a card on this? Future bulk rare.
Twilight Prophet - $8
I'm not sure where Twilight Prophet slots into the metagame. I can't see it being good in Energy or Approach, and it seems too slow for Mono-Black Aggro. Maybe Vampires wants this, but I don't think that deck is going to be midrangy enough. Unlike most of the other ascend cards, Twilight Prophet is just a straight-up brick unless you've got the city's blessing.
I don't want to dismiss this one entirely-there's a ton of raw power here-but I just can't help but feel like it's going to slip through the cracks. I'd be into it if the gamble was cheaper, but for $8 I can't recommend buying.
Dire Fleet Poisoner - $2.50
If Pirates are good in Standard, Dire Fleet Poisoner is going to be a big part of why. I've heard rumblings of some interesting test lists running around, and this card is already up fifty cents from the start of the week.
The only issue I have with Dire Fleet Poisoner is that it does require a few other Pirates in your deck in order to be good, but you could probably get away without a straight tribal plan. The fact that it's only going to be good in one deck puts a $7-$8 cap on its potential, but I'd grab these ASAP if you want to mess around with Pirates or any sort of U/B or B/R tempo deck this spring.
Mastermind's Acquisition - $2
Diabolic Tutor does see play from time to time, and the fact that Mastermind's Acquisition can wish for your sideboard tech makes it marginally more playable. I can't really see this having an impact in the current Standard metagame, though, and it's a bit too slow for Modern. It'll probably drop to $1 in the short term, and I'll be looking to re-evaluate it a couple of sets from now.
Champion of Dusk - $1
I'm not sure Champion of Dusk will scale well, and you aren't going to want too many copies of a five-drop anyway, but I could see a Standard Vampires deck running a couple copies of this one at some point. That deck should have ways to gain life, too, so this card might not sting as much as it seems like it will. There isn't a lot of financial upside here, but it could end up in the $2-$3 range if everything works out. It's probably going to be $0.50-$1 rare regardless, though.
Tomb Robber - $1
Tomb Robber seems terrible on the surface, but it's a pretty decent discard outlet in casual Madness and Reanimator decks. It's not good enough for Legacy or Modern, but if Dominaria brings a solid reanimation spell or two, we might have a playable Standard card on our hands. I bet it'll hit bulk over the short term, but I'm going to snap up a couple of copies when they're 50 cents.
Blood Sun - $12
Awesome, okay, here we go.
Let's talk about Modern first. Blood Sun shuts off a lot of cards that hurt Tron decks without actually hurting Tron lands, which makes me think it has a good shot at being a new sideboard staple for the non-Eldrazi Tron decks. It's good against Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, creature-lands, Ghost Quarter, and fetchlands.
If Blood Sun does end up being good enough in Modern, it might push Tron away from Eldrazi while pushing Scapeshift down a peg. If it sees a ton of play, it might push the format a little further toward shocklands and away from fetchlands, too. I also wonder if it might show up in some sort of new Amulet Bloom variant-Blood Sun is unbelievable with bouncelands, though it's actively bad with Amulet of Vigor and most of the other cards that deck likes to run. Perhaps someone will develop a forked combo build with two different ways of going off?
In Legacy, Blood Sun could revitalize City of Traitors decks, perhaps also giving them access to Scorched Ruins and Lotus Vale. I'm not convinced any of this is powerful enough, but if you're buying the latter two cards at their post-spike price, you should probably be snagging City of Traitors, too. I know it's a $150 card, but it's actively amazing in Legacy already so there's no chance of you losing a bunch of value if Blood Sun busts. And if Blood Sun does make waves in Legacy, I guarantee you that City of Traitors will be a part of the deck. If any of this happens, City of Traitors will hit $250-$300.
What about Blood Sun itself? Well, it's a $12 rare that probably isn't going to see any Standard play, so I can't really recommend buying right now. I do think it'll end up seeing some Eternal play, but I'm thinking it's a $10-$12 card over the short term. Grab yours now if you want to mess around with it, but Blood Sun will probably make you a lot more money if you can figure out what other cards are going to jump in price because of it than by snagging these at current retail.
Dire Fleet Daredevil - $8
Oh, hey, it's (kind of) a red Snapcaster Mage!
The lack of flash and the fact that your opponent's graveyard is a much worse place to grab spells from than your own hurts Dire Fleet Daredevil, but there's a pretty large gap between "not as good as Snapcaster Mage" and "not a good Magic card." Also, Dire Fleet Daredevil's first strike is not an irrelevant part of the card. Snapcaster Mage is a bit of a speed bump while this is a reasonable attacker.
Dire Fleet Daredevil will sink or swim based on how many cheap instants and sorceries are floating around in Standard and Modern. There are going to be metagames where this card is great, and some where it isn't. I suspect that Dire Fleet Daredevil will be up there with Blood Sun in terms of iconic cards from Rivals of Ixalan, but it's still an $8 rare that hasn't proven itself yet. I'm too cautious an investor to speculate on any non-mythic rare that pre-orders over $5, but there's certainly a shot that this is a $20 card for a while. If it shows up in a number of decks early on, I'll snag a playset as it shoots its way past $10.
Wayward Swordtooth - $5
I can't tell if Wayward Swordtooth is great or if it's a trap. A mana accelerant that can also swing for five seems like exactly what Standard Dinosaurs needs, but boy oh boy are the worst-case scenarios bad. Turn 3 is a bit late for Explore, it takes your entire turn to cast, and you might never get to attack or block with your Swordtooth at all.
Financially, fading Wayward Swordtooth is an easy call. Even if the card is good, it isn't going to see play outside of a single Standard deck, which gives it limited upside. I'd be interested at $1, but at $5 you're paying for efficacy that hasn't been established yet. Stay away for now.
Zacama, Primal Calamity is a nine mana card. Maybe there's a hyper-ramp version of Standard Dinosaurs that wants a few of these at the top of their curve, but that would be above and beyond what they deck has been trying to do during most of Ixalan block. I can probably talk myself into this card if I squint enough, but the fact that it's selling for $8 means that I don't really have to. Unless Dinosaurs are a tier one deck and this ends up being a much more important spell than I think it is, this is a $4-$5 card long-term.
Path of Mettle - $4
There's a W/R Aggro deck in Standard that could technically run this, but it's more or less a tokens deck and Path of Mettle eats tokens for breakfast. I'm just not seeing it: Path of Mettle's initial ability isn't great, and you have to jump through a couple of hoops for a medium reward. I'm thinking this one ends up in the bulk bin.
Hadana's Climb - $3
I like Hadana's Climb much more, since it plays really well alongside some of the all-stars in Temur and Sultai Energy. Longtusk Cub? Winding Constrictor? Bristling Hydra? Walking Ballista? These cards are already good, and this deck is already playing blue and green. I'm not sure if the slots will be there for Hadana's Climb-those lists are fairly tight right now, and this card might not be necessary-but this is the sort of card I could imagine showing up in force next week if it's even a tiny bit better than we think. I'm gonna nab a few copies at $3.
Profane Procession - $3
Profane Procession might be super slow, but it is repeatable removal attached to a win condition. I don't think the format is going to be grindy enough for this to be viable, and Profane Procession should hit the dollar bin soon enough. Best case, this is a $5-$6 staple in an Esper Control shell, but I don't think that's a particularly likely outcome.
Siegehorn Ceratops - $2
I don't love any of these enrage Dinosaurs, but at least Siegehorn Ceratops is just two mana. The format probably doesn't have the fixing to support this as an easy turn-2 play, and it's competing against all-time two-drops like Longtusk Cub right now, but curving this into Savage Stomp is pretty darned sweet. Ultimately I don't think the enablers will be enough to get us there, but $2 is a cheap enough gamble if you disagree with me.
Protean Raider - $1.50
The fact that you need to trigger raid is probably enough to keep Protean Raider away from most competitive games. The card is just so bad if you are behind and can't profitably attack. If Pirates end up being U/R or Grixis, this might be a sideboard consideration against Dinosaurs or something, but I doubt this card stays above $1 for long.
Azor's Gateway - $10
I don't really know what to make of Azor's Gateway. You're not going to flip this very often outside of Commander, but do you really want to? Late in the game, the front side is going to be more valuable a lot of the time anyway.
There's a small chance that this colorless looting effect is just a lot more powerful than we think. Remember when we all underestimated Sigiled Starfish? This is a very different card, of course, but it's also a colorless two mana mythic rare. These are the types of cards that hit $30-$40 and become Eternal staples if they're a little better than the consensus opinion.
The thing holding me off from enthusiastically endorsing Azor's Gateway is that I haven't seen a ton of Constructed buzz surrounding it. If that changes, I'm going to snag a bunch of these. It's a stone cold Commander staple, so the price floor should remain pretty high-this isn't dropping below $5-$6 no matter what. I'm just not confident enough that it'll be competitively impactful to endorse buying at $10…yet. Maybe when Abrade leaves the format?
Golden Guardian - $1.50
Speaking of hoops to jump through, Golden Guardian's hoops are covered in flames and you're not going to be happy when you emerge on the other side, covered in flames, only to find that you've earned…a way to make 4/4s for four. Bulk rare.
Awakened Amalgam - $1
At what power and toughness does Awakened Amalgam become playable in Standard? 6/6, maybe? 7/7? At any rate, yours isn't going to be that big most of the time. Bulk rare.
Arch of Orazca - $1
Arch of Orazca would have been good in Oath of the Gatewatch Standard, where the card advantage would have been good alongside a way to generate colorless mana. This is still playable in a mono-colored deck, though, and any halfway reasonable non-basic land is worth speculating on at just $1. I don't expect Arch of Orazca to become a major player in the format, but I'm going to snag a set just in case. If a land does break out, it invariably ends up spiking pretty hard.
Key Commons and Uncommons
I always recommend buying whatever commons and uncommons you need as early as possible. While most mythics and rares tend to lose value after the pre-order period, the set's best commons and uncommons tend to climb in price while the "misses" remain stable. Everyone assumes that they'll open enough packs to get whatever commons and uncommons they need, but that never actually happens.
Here are the uncommons from Rivals of Ixalan currently selling at a premium:
Most of these cards are selling between $0.49 and $0.99, with only Merfolk Mistbinder as high as $1.50 right now. I'd grab whatever you think you might need for your tribal decks, especially Merfolk-both Silvergill Adept and Merfolk Mistbinder are likely to jump in price once decklists start coming out. Legion Lieutenant and Silvergill Adept are almost certain to gain value as well. I can't imagine Ravenous Chupacabra remaining a $0.50 card for long. Skymarcher Aspirant and Daring Buccaneer are about as strong as one-drops get these days.
The commons are a bit less exciting, but there are few worth discussing:
You don't need to buy a set of these or anything, but it's worth noting that they're worth a small premium over the other commons in the set right now. Sort them out of your draft chaff just in case.
Rivals of Ixalan seems like a stronger set than Ixalan was, though you wouldn't know it by looking at the mythic rares. All three planeswalkers are probably going to be role-players at best, and beyond that there are a lot of splashy legendary things that are unlikely to make much of a Constructed impact. If one or two of the mythics do break out (Rekindling Phoenix? Azor, the Lawbringer? Azor's Gateway?), there's a chance that it'll make a strong run toward $40 due to the relative paucity of value in the other mythic slots.
Otherwise, expect the set's best rares to hold their value more than they would in an expansion with good mythic rares, Masterpieces, or expensive dual lands. Blood Sun, Dire Fleet Daredevil, and Jadelight Ranger seem to be the three most hyped cards right now, and I like them all. I'm also fairly bullish on Deeproot Elite, Dire Fleet Poisoner, Hadana's Climb, Slaughter the Strong, and Warkite Marauder.
Other than Blood Sun, which is already over $10, I'd suggest grabbing most of the rares and uncommons you need from Rivals of Ixalan now. The prices are all fairly reasonable, and Standard only has room to grow over the next few months. Either Rivals of Ixalan will shake up the format, or WotC will ban a couple of things from Energy and fix the format that way. Regardless, you're better off getting in now while the prices are still pretty low.
This Week's Trends
In Standard, Search for Azcanta has slowly been ticking up for a couple of weeks now. It has become both a Standard and a Modern staple at this point, so we can probably expect it to end up in the $18-$20 range for a while. If a whole lot of other value doesn't materialize out of Ixalan thanks to the emergence of new decks or a major format shift, it could go even higher.
Beyond that, the Standard market is still pretty tepid. Metallic Mimic is still ticking up, alongside some of Ixalan's better Dinosaurs, Merfolk, Pirates, and Vampires. Most of the expensive Standard staples, like Chandra, Torch of Defiance and The Scarab God, are either flat or still dropping off a bit. Most of this movement is light and tentative, though. Expect the Standard market to really start shifting next weekend.
Two older uncommons saw massive price spikes this week: Pyrohemia and Resplendent Mentor. Pyrohemia is a combo with all the new enrage Dinosaurs, and Resplendent Mentor goes infinite with Famished Paladin. Both cards should end up stabilizing in the $5 range-they're not good enough for Modern, but they're really fun on kitchen tables and in Commander.
It's worth noting that the next B&R update is coming on January 15th. They've already said that Modern isn't going to be touched until after the Pro Tour, so the real question is whether or not they're going to deal with energy in Standard. Will they let Rivals try to defeat it, or will they ban a couple of enablers right away? I'm leaning toward the former, but a Standard ban wouldn't surprise me at all. Stay tuned, and make sure you're ready to sell your excess Energy staples right away if WotC makes a move.
Lastly, we've received word that Masters 25 will not be WPN exclusive. What that means is that it will be on the shelf at Target and Wal-Mart again, just like Iconic Masters. This will likely lead to lower secondary market pack prices and lower overall singles prices, just like with Iconic Masters. Pay close attention during preview season and sell your reprinted cards ASAP if possible.