Ixalan Standard Set Review: Green and the Rest

All righty then! Today is going to be a doozy. We have a lot to cover, I’ll be going over all the green, multicolored, artifact, and land cards. Make sure you grab a snack or your favorite drink!
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 is redundant and not necessary. 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)

Check out the previous entries!
White | Blue | Black | Red

Atzocan Archer
2 — This is an option for Sideboards to kill X/1 creatures and then block on your opponent's turn. While not exciting, it can get the job done. It's a decent removal spell for Green decks.
Carnage Tyrant
3.5Carnage Tyrant is a fine card, but I'm not sure why it's carrying the price tag it is. I understand it can be hard to deal with but so can Bristling Hydra. In fact, I'm willing to say Bristling Hydra is harder to deal with because it comes into play earlier, even against control decks. Control is forced to Fumigate or Settle the Wreckage against Bristling Hydra most of the time and Carnage Tyrant gives control more time to find those answers since it costs six mana. Don't get me wrong, the card is solid. It's just hard to comprehend that a Wurm is basically the chase mythic of the set.
Commune with Dinosaurs
3 — Your Attune with Aether with an Impulse attached for dinosaur decks. If dinosaur decks become a thing, I expect them to adopt Commune with Dinos or Attune with Aether if they decide to go with an energy package. I really like that in the late game this isn't a dead draw like Attune with Aether can be.
Crushing Canopy
2 — A solid Sideboard card if Green has to start dealing with big fliers. Since Archangel Avacyn is gone though, I'm not sure we have one we need to kill.
Deathgorge Scavenger
3 — This ability is very subtle but it's great everywhere. Almost every deck uses the graveyard in some way. Even Ramunap Red has Earthshaker Khenra. Combine that with being able to choose if you want some life gain or to pump Deathgorge Scavenger and you got yourself a very versatile main deck worthy card.
Deeproot Champion
2.5 — This is bound to see play while it's legal in Standard. People loved Quirion Dryad and this is a better Quirion Dryad in the right deck.
Drover of the Mighty
3 — If you're not playing energy then this is your go to ramp creature, even if you're just playing one or two dinosaurs. Turning your ramp creature into a 3/3 beater that only costs you two mana in the mid-late game is a big upside.
Emperor's Vanguard
2 — Has card advantage built in, but it must connect. I do like it in Sideboards against decks with few to no creatures.
Growing Rites of Itlimoc
2 — I don't see a place for this in Standard. The most likely home for it is tokens because that's where Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun will shine, but the front side only gets creatures, not token producing spells. If it could find a land alongside the creatures then I'd have more hope for it. The deck is also insanely hard to build. You need the right number of creatures and token producing spells. Then, on top of that, you'll need some sort of pay off spell for Cradle of the Sun. I imagine your best bet is going to be Walking Ballista because it works with the front and backside of Growing Rites of Itlimoc. All that said, if it does find a strong home, that deck will be a powerful one doing very unfair things. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Kumena's Speaker
2 — Possibly sees play alongside Deeproot Champion in a {U}{G} tempo deck of sorts. Spell Pierce and Opt are powerful tools to have access to.
Merfolk Branchwalker
2.5 — A 2-mana 3/2 isn't exciting, but a 2-mana 2/1 that draws a card is. If you can somehow get this to regularly be a Silvergill Adept, then you're in business.
New Horizons
2.5 — Could see play over Gift of Paradise in ramp strategies if they are also playing creatures. Putting a +1/+1 counter on Drover of the Mighty or Ripjaw Raptor is pretty good.
Old-Growth Dryads
1 — It's a trap! Don't do it. A 1-mana 3/3 is good, but not at the expense of giving your opponent a land. The drawback is not at all worth what you're getting.
Ranging Raptors
3 — Holy ramp dinosaur batman! This card is great in dinosaur, ramp, and midrange decks alike. I love everything this card is doing. Trade in combat and get a land from my deck? Is that you Solemn Simulacrum?
Ripjaw Raptor
4 — This is Courser of Kruphix and Tireless Tracker. I know it doesn't look like it on the surface but it is. You're going to learn to hate this card because it's great at offense and defense and it's very hard to remove. Five toughness means it won't die to Glorybringer or Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
River Heralds' Boon
2 — If there is a Merfolk deck, I'm sure we will see River Heralds’ Boon be a part of that deck.
Savage Stomp
3 — The Dinosaur deck apparently builds itself. Savage Stomp with Ripjaw Raptor or Ranging Raptors is just gross. Utterly and powerfully gross.
Shapers' Sanctuary
2Electrostatic Pummeler decks don’t like you removing their creatures, but I believe Blossoming Defense is better than Shapers’ Sanctuary and you must decide on which one you'd rather have access to.
Verdant Sun's Avatar
1.5 — An okay Sideboard option for ramp or big Green decks, but I'd rather play Sifter Wurm, especially since you can't really play multiple 7-drops if you're trying to gain life. Sifter Wurm is also great at fixing the top of your deck.
Waker of the Wilds
2 — Eats Lightning Strike and the ability is okay at best. However, it's much better out of the Sideboard against control decks if you're playing few creatures to begin with. For example, if a Bounty of the Luxa Fog deck becomes a thing, Waker of the Wilds would be solid as a sideboard option for that.
Wildgrowth Walker
2.5 — Merfolk explorer deck? Eh? Explore once and you've replaced the card. More than that and you're not only going to generate value but damage.

Top 5 Best Green Cards

  1. Ripjaw Raptor
  2. Carnage Tyrant
  3. Ranging Raptors
  4. Deathgorge Scavenger
  5. Savage Stomp

Ha! The top five best Green spells are all dinosaur based, how cool is that? Well, there you have it, if you want a successful dinosaur deck, make sure your base Green because all the tools are here. A quick note on Savage Stomp, Savage Stomp has a lot more upside but it’s also a lot narrower than these other cards. A well timed Savage Stomp can just end the game, it’s a very powerful card.

All right, next up we have multicolored cards!

Admiral Beckett Brass
1.5 — Hard to play and it's 4-mana for a 3/3. Sweet Commander creature but seriously doubt it will see any play in Standard.
Call to the Feast
3 — Great way to trigger Legion’s Landing and plays well with Anointed Procession and Hidden Stockpile. {W}{B} Tokens anyone?
Gishath, Sun's Avatar
3 — Gishath is the top of the curve for a dinosaur deck and it's a good one. A ringleader ability for dinosaurs whenever it connects? Where do I sign up, captain?
Hostage Taker
4{U}{B} decks have a hard time dealing with artifacts . . .  Until now. I like Hostage Taker more than Gonti, Lord of Luxury and that's saying something. Faceless Butcher that can also hit artifacts and make the card yours that turn or the next? Where's the downside?
Huatli, Warrior Poet
3 — I like to see Huatli as a {W}{R} Garruk, Primal Hunter that's not only easier to cast but her 3/3 tokens also have Trample. Her ultimate might not seem like an "ultimate" but when you activate it, it will most likely end the game just the same. Especially if you have some enrage dinosaurs laying around.
Raging Swordtooth
2 — I like this as a Sideboard option against X/1 and/or token decks. It's also a very solid enrage enabler.
Regisaur Alpha
3.5 — Only reason Regisaur Alpha is not a four is because of Glorybringer, which it competes with. Regisaur Alpha is still a solid creature that I expect to see across the table. It also deals 14 damage on turn five if you copy it with Saheeli Rai. Is it time to dust of your Saheeli Rai? Probably not . . . 
Tishana, Voice of Thunder
1.5 — Same as Admiral Beckett Brass, cool card but I don't see it outside of just being a Commander.
Vona, Butcher of Magan
2.5 — Great Commander and this one has a shot at seeing Standard play just because untapping with this Vampire is deadly. It destroys cards and gets you the life you'll need to start destroying cards. It can even attack and before blocks blow up the opponent's creature. The biggest drawback is being a 4/4, it's going to be difficult to untap with Vona, but if you can do it, she can insure your victory.
Vraska, Relic Seeker
3 — A 6-mana Planeswalker that can go straight up to eight loyalty? I'm interested. Now you're telling me her plus and her minus will protect herself? I'm on board. Vraska, Relic Seeker doesn't seem very fancy, but she will see play. She is a threat that can also answer any other threat except a Planeswalker, that's good enough for me, even if she does cost 6 mana.

Top 5 Best Multicolored cards

  1. Hostage Taker
  2. Regisaur Alpha
  3. Huatli, Warrior Poet
  4. Vraska, Relic Seeker
  5. Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

With runner up, Call to the Feast, it was also up there. We have a ton of powerful cards this time in the multicolored section. We may not have as many of them, but the power of level of each one looks to be higher than average. Taste the rainbow!

All right, ready for some flip cards? Next up is artifacts!

Conqueror's Galleon
2.5 — The flipside of Conqueror’s Galleon is where I want to be, it's just hard getting there in a big mana deck. If you can figure that out then it will make all that ramping worth it. Conqueror’s Foothold alone almost makes Hour of Promise worth playing. If you're ramping you can eventually start recurring board wipes like Fumigate or just removal spells like Vraska’s Contempt. The hard part is finding room for this in your ramp deck while balancing the ramp, removal, and creatures.
Dowsing Dagger
2.5 — Another balancing act. You'll want to play small creatures with evasion, most likely fliers and then have a suitable number of payoff spells to make transforming this dagger worth it. Maybe a {U}{G} Explore with Pull from Tomorrow?
Fell Flagship
2.5 — A card people don't know exists. If Pirates are a thing, then his will be a great anthem card for the deck.
Primal Amulet
2.5 — There will be a deck that will abuse this card and the only thing that will make that deck not become insane is Abrade. I've already toyed with this card and I can tell you from experience, it's a blast to play with Primal Wellspring!
Sentinel Totem
2 — Competes with Crook of Condemnation but I'm down with having more choices for graveyard hate. I don't ever see that as a terrible thing, especially since graveyard strategies tend to do busted and crazy things.
Shadowed Caravel
2 — Ex-plore the captain’s deck ship and maybe allow your explore deck to have a huge creature that dodges board clears. Viable? Maybe. Are you confused? Definitely. Only for the true Dora the Explorer fans.
Sorcerous Spyglass
2.5 — This is a better Pithing Needle for Standard since Standard tends to be a slower midrange format and you can afford to pay 2 mana instead of one. Being able to peek at your opponent's hand first means you could play it main deck, maybe alongside Whir of Invention? Build it and they will come.
Thaumatic Compass
3.5Thaumatic Compass is great against control and midrange decks alike. Control decks still must kill you with creatures and it's going to be very hard for them to kill you with one Torrential Gearhulk or even a Scarab God if you control Spires of Orazca. It will also buy you some time against Hazoret the Fervent. I believe this to be the best flip artifact and it's right alongside our next card . . . 
Treasure Map
3 — People are already playing Sunset Pyramid and this isn't too far off from that. They both draw you three cards over time but Treasure Map is slower. However, Treasure Map ramps you by becoming a land and basically gives you a Black Lotus when it becomes Treasure Cove. It really shines if you can start making treasures elsewhere and not just through transforming Treasure Map.
Vanquisher's Banner
2Vanquisher’s Banner has a ton of potential in a tribal deck, even in Standard. Turning all your creature spells into cantrips will bury your opponent. The trick is to just untap with it in play while finding a tribal deck that's good enough for Standard.

Top 5 Best Artifacts

  1. Thaumatic Compass
  2. Treasure Map
  3. Primal Amulet
  4. Sorcerous Spyglass
  5. Dowsing Dagger

At first glance, you’d think all these flip cards would be ranked higher. However, because of the liability of running into Abrade and most of these artifacts asking for very specific decks it’s much harder to work with them. It’s easy to look at a card and it’s transform side and see that it’s strong, it’s another to find the right deck for it.

Last, we have the lands!

Buddy Lands — 4

Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Glacial Fortress
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove

Rootbound Crag is clearly the best of these duals because of the dino, hello? Seriously, all these will all see play. They work fantastic with the cycle lands and they will be in mana bases for the entirety of Standard.

Field of Ruin
4 — This is also a staple in Standard. It's one of the best non-basic hate cards we've had in Standard, I like it a lot more than Ghost Quarter. It does suck that it destroys all these sweet flip cards but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Unclaimed Territory
2 — So hard to compete with Aether Hub, especially since Unclaimed Territory can't cast non-creature colored spells very well. Much better in older formats alongside Cavern of Souls for tribal decks.

The top five best lands in this set are all the duals and Field of Ruin for reasons stated above. No need to rank them because they will also vary in amount of play due to whatever deck is popular in that moment.

Well everyone, that’s it! Ixalan looks to bring a ton to Standard. It brings us many powerful and cool cards, especially in the multicolored and artifact section. Ixalan also shakes up the format! Not just with new cards but also kicking Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows over Innistrad, and Eldritch Moon to the curb. It’s going to be one of the biggest rotation in history.

I want to personally thank all of you who have read through my entire set review. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below. If you’d like me to approach future set reviews differently, feel free to leave suggestions too.

All right, time to get hype for Ixalan’s release, back to the brewing… brew?

As always, thanks for reading,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter

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