By Niels Viaene

What about Ixalan?

The more attentive among you will have noticed there was no article on the top 10 cards for Gentry from Ixalan, and that is because, honestly, I just couldn’t, for the life of me, reach 10 cards. Rivals of Ixalan has been released now and I had high hopes, it just seemed like so much of the themes that were introduced in Ixalan wer missing just that little bit of oomph to make them work in Gentry. And Oomph we got, maybe even more oomph than anyone dared ask for.

Before we delve into the gold mine that is Rivals of Ixalan, lets highlight a few cards from the previous set.

Favorable winds created a new archetype around itself, be in in mono blue or splashing white or black, someone sleeved up a deck like this and realized it is crazy aggressive, consistent and versatile.

Ruthless Knave was a dream come true for Hidden Stockpile decks and if it weren’t for people already being prepared for Stockpile, this archetype would have surely swept through our metagame with this addition.

Legion Conquistador and Adanto Vanguard stepped in to fill the void Thraben Inspector left in Oketra’s Monument decks. These have now become more resilient to removal thanks to these two additions.

Charging Monstrosaur and Raging Swordtooth stepped in to lead Dinosaur decks into the meta as the only Ixalan focused decks that were seen in multiple months.

And finally, we have Opt and Spell Pierce giving blue decks better options to control the board and smoothing their draws while black got their good old Friend Duress again to fight all that interaction on the stack.

That is 10 poweful cards that I felt too boring to talk about sso the article never came. (I am lying, I did not realize Adanto Vanguard is that good, I just thought it would be a funny gimmick thingy with Saving Grace)

And then there are tons of cards that could have spawned interesting decks but just did not have the support they needed. Cards like Bishop of the Bloodstained, Dire Fleet Captain, Grim Captain’s Call, Ixalan’s Binding, Lurking Chupacabra, Marauding Looter, March of the Drowned, and many more were lacking support or had better alternatives in other rarities or sets. Most of cards like this are just waiting for the right cards to be build around or for rotation, when Ixalan will be the oldest set in Standard.

Then came the Rivals…

Before we even start with talking about the awesome goodies in this set I need to make a special recognition for Highland Lake, Foul Orchard, Stone Quarry, Forsaken Sanctuary and Woodland Stream. These cards are cornerstones to our format and because of the Planeswalker duel decks these are always commons in Gentry, but that does not mean they are easy to get by. Now you can at least get this set again without needing to go back all the way to Shadows over Innistrad to get your fix. The fact these are printed again makes me hopeful the remaining five will be featured in a future set too…

The Rivals did not come suddenly, there were Forerunners, heralding the coming of crazy things to come. In Gentry, tutor effects to maximize the impact of your rares and mythics are very valuable and here we have a bunch of critters that search for your scariest Dinosaur, your meanest Vampire, your most sheltering Merfolk or your greediest Pirate while giving extra effects when your target and their friends enter the battlefield. All of these will likely be featured in most tribal focused decks, combined with…

The Captains. Ok, they don’t have captains in their name, or “lord” which is the term most people use for creatures that buff others with their creature type. This set of four are most likely candidates in your tribal decks. Cherished Hatchling is least likely to be played as Dinosaurs are quite cramped on uncommon slots, but they are also the most played tribe in Gentry currently. I have a feeling they will lose that title but I am not sure to who exactly yet.

We mentioned Favorable Winds earlier. It gave birth to a deck that is full of cheap flying creatures. Before Rivals splashing was almost a neccesity, as staying in mono blue limited your good choices for flying creatures. Not anymore! With Siren Reaver they get the most aggressively costed flier they dared ask for since it is one of the most aggressive decks in the format and they should have an easy time enabling raid. Kitesail Corsair pops up in the meantime to give you more aggressive blue options in a common slot. Going mono blue suddenly does not seem that hard anymore…

All this talk of Tribal decks and aggressive strategies would make a control deck shiver just a few weeks ago but no more! With Ravenous Chupacabra and Golden Demise they have been handed very powerful tools to fight back creature strategies of varying plumage.

Silvergil adept and Raging Regisaur are solid additions to their respective tribes, and powerful enough to push away other uncommons that some might have considered a lock for any deck in the dinosaur of Merfolk tribe. Daring Buccaneer and Buccaneer’s Bravado, in the meantime, firmly shape the base for a Black Red aggro deck that has plenty of options in the Pirate’s bunk to select recruits.

Interesting cards to build around and to support existing archetypes are Curious Obsession, Dusk Legion Zealot and Deadeye Brawler. All of them are capable of generating a constant stream of card advantage when put in the right environment.

And then, lastly, is the card I am personally most excited about: A card that fits into the durdliest of decks, that is ready to torture opponents into seemingly endless games they refuse to concede because the unobtainable victory seems so so so close, so close they can almost taste it. But there is an ever returning nuisance keeping them away. That nuisance is Oathsworn Vampire, which, when coupled with Bontu’s Monument, becomes an unstoppable force. Combine this with a sacrifice outlet and Pitiless Plunderer to go infinite. You can currently use Defiant Salvager or Yahenni, Undying Partisan. It might be too cute, but I am a sucker for combo decks so expect me to wield Vampires and Monuments in the future (Muhahaha, now I can turn up with Oketra’s Monument + Adanto Vanguard and trick everyone…)

Is that all and anything that is good or playable in Rivals of Ixalan? No, it is definitely not. There are tons of other solid additions to Gentry, but they are simply too generic to talk about. Do you think I missed something important? Let me know in the comments.

May your tribes prosper,

Niels

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Niels Viaene came into contact with Magic first through the Kazz & Zakk starter set in 1996, but it wouldn’t be until 2000, around the time Prophecy came out that he actually started playing magic thanks to his nephew. Niels’ Magic career has been a roller coaster up to now, including Grand Prix Paris 2009 top 8, Pro Tour San Diego 2010 top 8, becoming a L3 Magic Judge in 2015 and managing the community effort that is the League of New and Beginning Magic: the Gathering Players, the birthing ground for Gentry since 2012. All this comes from a deep love for the game that is far from diminishing.

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