Ixalan Standard Set Review: White

It’s that time again where we delve into new cards for Standard and evaluate them for Standard play. Today we’ll be covering the White cards from Ixalan! Every day this week, Gathering Magic will have a set review article up, so make sure to check back in daily to familiarize yourself with the playability of the new cards in Standard.

Before we begin reviewing the cards let’s go over some things. I will not be reviewing cards that I believe will not see play in Standard. For example, cards like Encampment Keeper and Paladin of the Bloodstained will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and me saying, “This is just a Limited card” repeatedly get old real fast. However, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the set. Let’s go over my grading scale for Standard.

RATINGExplanationStandard Examples

0 — Will never see play in Standard. (0 ratings are not listed).
1 — Unlikely to see play. (Dubious Challenge)
2 — Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card.(Authority of the Consuls, Deadlock Trap)
3 — Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Attune with Aether, Abrade)
4 — Format staple, sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Torrential Gearhulk, Glimmer of Genius, Glorybringer, The Scarab God)
5 — Standard all-star. When building a deck, you keep this card in mind. If you’re playing this color you have this card in your main deck or at the very least, in your sideboard. (Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Hero’s Downfall, Snapcaster Mage)


Adanto Vanguard
2 — I had to keep reading this card over and over because it's so strange. A 2-mana 1/1 is awful, but it's a 3/1 when attacking and is hard to kill because of its ability. It's also a decent blocker. Suit this Vampire up with something like Cartouche of Ambition and you're really going places.
Ashes of the Abhorrent
2 — Good option as a Sideboard card, especially in the Crested Sunmare decks.
Axis of Mortality
1.5 — Very cool ability but this is more for Commander or some sort of crazy combo with Phyrexian Unlife or Angel’s Grace. Though it does also combo with Adanto Vanguard (or other vampires that have you pay life) putting your opponent at four or less life.
Bellowing Aegisaur
1 — I know, Walking Ballista. It's not good though. It's "each other creature." So, you need two of these in play alongside a Walking Ballista to combo kill your opponent. While Walking Ballista is a solid creature on its own, this dinosaur is not and the combo is too easily disrupted to get my seal of approval.
Bishop of Rebirth
1.5 — A mini Sun Titan that just gets creatures is interesting. You'll want to be bringing back creatures with enter the battlefield abilities like Champion of Wits or . . .  Champion of Wits. Playing into Glorybringer or Chandra, Torch of Defiance isn’t where you want to be. If you can find strong enough ETB abilities on creatures for the Bishop to bring back, then you'll want to consider her. Not doing anything when she first enters the battlefield hurts though.
Demystify
1.5 — This Standard format seems to have better options to destroy enchantments in the Sideboard. I'm not liking something as narrow as Demystify. If we were in Theros, that would be a different story.
Duskborne Skymarcher
2 — This is a solid 1-drop if a vampire deck becomes a thing. I don't believe we have enough vampires to make it a viable strategy just yet, but this is one I would expect to see in a Vampire tribal deck if one starts taking off.
Goring Ceratops
1 — 7 mana for a 3/3 is not where you want to be, even if it has a strong ability like this. It's just too vulnerable as a 3/3. Cards priced this highly need to do more. Think of cards like Craterhoof Behemoth, Angel of Serenity, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, or even Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh.
Inspiring Cleric
2.5 — It's not doing anything fancy, but it has a respectable body with four life attached. I can see this being a consideration in the sideboards of control and/or midrange decks for the hyper aggressive matchups. I can also see it doing a Kitchen Finks imitation without persist for White midrange decks.
Ixalan's Binding
3 — Competes with Cast Out. Some control or midrange decks might want access to this to stop powerful permanents like The Scarab God, Planeswalkers, or even a big creature like Torrential Gearhulk forever. I don't expect this card to see play as more than a one- or two-of in decks, but it's definitely something you should consider.
Kinjalli's Caller
2.5 — As close to Elvish Mystic as we're probably going to get. Kinjalli’s Caller has a great body to block early aggression as well as letting you play you dinosaurs a quicker. A turn three Ripjaw Raptor or a turn five/six Gishath, Sun’s Avatar is powerful.
Kinjalli's Sunwing
3.5 — This is very much like Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Thalia had more power and first strike but Kinjalli’s Sunwing has evasion in flying, isn't legendary, and doesn't die to Shock. Seems like a reasonable creature to play in a Oketra’s Monument deck, especially since it works very well with Dusk // Dawn.
Legion Conquistador
3 — I have a tough time believing this won't see play. A 3-mana 2/2 that lets you draw up to three cards? I'm already sold, but team that up with an Oketra’s Monument and you're really getting somewhere. This allows you to play more non-creature spells in your Oketra’s Monument deck and not feel too bad because Legion Conquistador will do an excellent job at refilling your hand with creatures.
Legion's Landing
3 — A 1/1 lifelinker for one isn’t amazing, but it’s also not terrible either. Legion’s Landing is an okay card throughout the entire game, but when it becomes Adanto, the First Fort, you’ve really got a powerful land. Think of Westvale Abbey and how good it was against control decks. This costs less to activate and doesn’t cost you life. In fact, it gains you life instead. I would want this land in any White deck I play. Too bad control can’t make effective use of it but I’m sure midrange and aggressive White decks will. The fact that it can just flip the turn it comes into play is powerful and scary. This is a sweet flip card.
Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
2.5 — A different and weaker Monastery Mentor for a vampire deck. This is a creature I would expect to see play in a Vampire deck if one starts shaping up. Keep in mind that Mavren triggers off himself when he attacks.
Priest of the Wakening Sun
2Priest of the Wakening Sun is a decent option for Dinosaur decks, especially in the sideboard. It is more likely to see play if dinosaurs need help against aggressive strategies or in a ramp/dinosaur hybrid deck where you're really going to want to find your Gishath or Wakening Sun’s Avatar after you’re done ramping. This priest allows you to essentially play more copies without having to clog up your deck while helping you get to the mid / late game with incremental life gain. The fact that you can use its ability as soon as it comes onto the battlefield is another plus.
Queen's Commission
2.5 — This alongside Call to the Feast, Anointed Procession, and Hidden Stockpile is powerful. No more Gideon, Ally of Zendikar hurts, but if that can be replaced with a different anthem then B/W/x tokens will be viable. I'd look toward Sam Black for something like this because he tends to like a ton of small interactions that just overwhelm the opponent inch by inch.
Sanguine Sacrament
1 — If you really want this type of effect you should be playing Approach of the Second Sun or even Oketra’s Last Mercy. Not feeling this one.
Settle the Wreckage
3 — This will be a staple in the format. It's an instant speed board wipe that deals with hexproof creatures, creature lands, attacking Planeswalkers, and vehicles. My opponent can have as many lands as they want if I'm exiling The Scarab God, Bristling Hydra, Carnage Tyrant, or a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.
Sheltering Light
2 — I see this as a White Blossoming Defense. If I was playing an aggressive deck I'd consider this card, especially if I had a creature that would easily take over the game by itself if it lives. Possibly like Vona, Butcher of Magan, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, or Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle.
Slash of Talons
1.5 — Desperate Sideboard option for an aggressive White deck. It acts as a bad Shock, but White aggressive decks have also played Sunlance in the past just for cheap removal.
Territorial Hammerskull
2 — You'd be surprised at the creatures aggressive decks tend to play. I think of a different Ahn-Crop Crasher when I see this card.
Tocatli Honor Guard
2 — Sideboard option in Standard if you want to stop something with a powerful enter the battlefield ability or one that has a negative enter the battlefield ability. This creature will get more play in older formats as a Torpor Orb on legs.
Wakening Sun's Avatar
2.5 — I like Wakening Sun’s Avatar in my big dinosaur deck. Especially as a bullet if I'm playing Priest of the Wakening Sun. Even in a big non dinosaur ramp / tap out control deck it’s a decent option.

Top 5 Best White cards in Standard

  1. Kinjalli’s Sunwing
  2. Ixalan’s Binding
  3. Settle the Wreckage
  4. Legion Conquistador
  5. Legion’s Landing

White got a handful of playable cards. Nothing as powerful as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar but that’s totally fine with me. I’d rather have three to five solid options instead of one powerful card you must play. The top 5 cards in White are great in aggro, midrange, and control decks alike. It does look like White gained quite a bit from Ixalan. I’m most excited for trying to find a home for Legion’s Landing in a control deck. Maybe a {W}{B} Midrange/Control shell? We’ll see!

Well, we’ve reached our end. Again, make sure you come back tomorrow for more set review. Tomorrow we will be going over the blue cards!

Thanks for reading,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter


Ixalan is now available for Preorder! Pick up sealed product and singles as they're posted!

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