Ixalan Goodness

Ready or not, Ixalan is coming. While the complete set isn’t out yet, I can’t help myself. I want to brew! I’ll be honest, when I first heard of Ixalan and what it was about, I wasn’t that excited. Pirates and dinosaurs are cool but we just came from a plane where Nicol Bolas wreaked havoc on an entire plane and he disbanded The Gatewatch. The lore to this plane wouldn’t be able to hold a light to Amonkhet. Alongside that, the cards we were seeing didn’t get me excited. Dinosaurs are cool and all but we had Eldrazi and they are the ultimate big bad threat. Thankfully things changed quickly when wizards started showing us all these flip cards and the powerful lands they transform into. Sunbird’s Invocation peeked my interested followed by Primal Amulet. Those cards alongside Opt got me hyped. So here we are now. Today I’ll be covering four fun brews for Ixalan from Sunbird’s Invocation Control to Primal Amulet Control.

Unleash the Power of the Sunbird

So, Sunbird’s Invocation is worded so that if you cast Approach of the Second Sun and find another Approach of the Second Sun in the top seven cards of your library, you win the game since they both get cast. That’s super interesting and this is where I want to start with the deck.

Game 1 is all about trying to keep the battlefield as empty as possible. You have a ton of removal and some countermagic to help you do that. On turn five you have Hour of Devastation to help you keep everything spick and span. Then the dream would be to resolve a Sunbird’s Invocation into an Approach of the Second Sun that finds another Approach of the Second Sun so you win the game.

Speaking of Sunbird’s Invocation . . . 

Let’s talk about this card. So, for six mana, you aren’t getting anything right away, that’s a huge drawback. Even with Approach of the Second Sun, at the very least you gain seven life. However, untapping with this card is game over in the right deck. Compare this to something like Maelstrom Nexus or Rashmi, Eternities Crafter. Both those cards only trigger the first time you cast a spell. Sunbird’s Invocation is so much more than that. It triggers off every spell in your hand AND you’ll get to pick which spell you want out of whatever you reveal. It’s less random and better than the Cascade mechanic. Sure, Approach into Approach is game over but also Torrential Gearhulk into Hour of Devastation that wipes the board leaving you with a 5/6 creature that will also let you Glimmer of Genius all at end of turn is absurd . . .  And that’s just with one Sunbird’s Invocation out.

This may not be the perfect deck for Sunbird’s Invocation, but I believe it’s a good start. It honestly may be better equipped in a deck that also plays four Chandra, Torch of Defiance so that you can ramp into it faster without having to play any ramp spells.


The next deck I want to look at is {U}{B} Control. This deck got popular and was the go to control deck toward the end of this Standard season. We do lose Grasp of Darkness, which is huge, but we gain Vraska’s Contempt and Walk the Plank. Let’s see what it could possibly look like in Ixalan Standard.

The big pickups here are Opt, Spell Pierce, Walk the Plank, and Vraska’s Contempt. Walk the Plank is not the kind of removal we want to be playing but it’s a necessity because we really need a turn two removal spell. Overall, it’s worse than Grasp of Darkness since it’s not Instant speed and doesn’t kill Hazoret the Fervent. We will also get hit by Glorybringer before we can kill it with Walk the Plank. It’s not all bad though, we do get to kill big dinosaurs with it and gearhulks. I’d like to play Murder over it but we also lose that come rotation.

Spell Pierce is fine in this deck. Overall, it’s bad for control decks because it empowers tempo decks so much. Temur can now just play Spell Pierce over Negate and get a better affect. The big pickups are Opt and Vraska’s Contempt. Opt will insure we hit land drops early while digging us into our answers or threats later in the game. Working at instant speed allows us to hold up countermagic and other removal. Vraska’s Contempt is the best card this deck gained. A resolved Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or almost any other Planeswalker was hard to deal with in control decks. Not anymore thanks to Vraska’s Contempt. Hero’s Downfall was extremely efficient and you wanted a playset in all your Black midrange/control decks. Vraska’s Contempt is very much like that, especially since it can also exile Gods like Hazoret, Rhonas, or opposing Scarab Gods. It is a bit slower than Hero’s Downfall, but the lifegain makes up for that abit.

As for the Sideboard, Hostage Taker is very interesting. Artifacts are nearly impossible to deal with in Blue and Black but Hostage Taker not only allows us to deal with an artifact but also gives us the option of just having it ourselves if we can cast it before our opponent can kill our Hostage Taker.

{U}{B} control looks to be a solid option for control fans come Ixalan. Let’s look at another {U}{B} deck but one that focuses on putting big creatures onto the battlefield instead of controlling the game.

Back from the Dead

The loss of Ishkanah, Grafwidow will sting a bit, but some lists didn’t even run Spider Mom. I haven’t seen any powerful reanimation target in Ixalan. The best one is Wakening Sun’s Avatar but it triggers only if you had cast it from your hand. It’s all right since we still have one of our best targets in Noxious Gearhulk. Gearhulk removes their biggest creature threat while also gaining us some life. Grasp of Darkness rotating means that it will be harder to kill this Black gearhulk as well. Losing Oath of Jace isn’t a big of a hit as it appears to be thanks to Chart a Course.

With Chart a Course, we can still get rid of big creatures from our hand during the early stages of the game while using it as a “draw two cards” for 2 mana mid to late game with Champion of Wits, a Liliana token, or even Noxious Gearhulk. Chart a Course is an upgrade from Oath of Jace, especially since we’ve lost the incentive for delirium.

The other new card is Search for Azcanta. The frontside of the card is better in this deck then most other decks since we do want creatures in our graveyard and this can help put them there. Getting threshold or seven cards into our graveyard is easy with Chart a Course, Champion of Wits, and Strategic Planning. When Search for Azcanta flips it ramps us by becoming a land. Not only does it become a land but it will also Impulse for {2}{U} but only letting us get an Instant, Sorcery, or a Planeswalker in this deck. I’m totally fine with that since finding a Liliana, Death’s Majesty off Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin is essentially finding a creature because our graveyard will be filled with creatures by that point. After testing, it may be right to play more copies of these but I’d be wary since they are legendary.

Primal Rage

The last deck I want to look at is one that tries to abuse Primal Amulet. It’s a control deck but not your traditional control deck. No Blue mana here!

Rakdos colors aren’t typically known to be control colors. However, right now these colors have some of the best removal spells in Unlicensed Disintegration, Vraska’s Contempt, and Hour of Devastation. These cards work wonderfully well when paired with Primal Amulet. Primal Amulet alongside, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and The Scorpion God give the deck some card too.

This deck is all removal and hand disruption and Primal Amulet fuels all of this. Once Primal Amulet becomes Primal Wellspring we can easily start burying our opponent in card advantage or simply kill them with copied Unlicensed Disintegration or Ribbons. In fact, if we control two Primal Wellsprings and use both to cast Ribbons from our graveyard it will put two copies of Ribbons onto the stack. This will easily kill the healthiest of opponents. In case we can’t get or Primal Amulets we can still win off Chandra, Glorybringer, and The Scorpion God. The Scorpion God is the biggest God of the three, recurs just like them, and slowly kills creatures over time while drawing us cards. There’s no creature that it can’t kill over time in combat, that’s very flavorful.

Thaumtic Compass insures we hit land drops early, turns on the three damage for Disintegration, and ramps us when it flips. Then it turns into a Maze of Ith that adds mana. If our opponent struggled to deal us damage through all our removal then they are sure going to have an extremely tough time overcoming Spires of Orazca.

This is a {B}{R} Deck I’m excited to try out!

Well friends, we’ve reached the end for today. Hopefully these decks have gotten your brew juices flowing. Make sure to tune in next week for more Ixalan goodness!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ali Aintrazi
@Alieldrazi on Twitter

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