Rivals of Ixalan: Playing to Your Weaknesses – Green
NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, after a lot of feedback I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
Green was a very good source for both merfolk and dinosaurs in Ixalan, and after seeing some of the rares that Rivals of Ixalan dropped on us, the color seems like it’s going to make a splash once more. It’s my belief that both dinosaurs and mefolk will be neck and neck as far as power levels are concerned, but how close? In today’s article I’ll go into the color’s offers in more detail. If you want to read up on Ixalan’s green cards first, you can check in this link.
I’m rather happy with the new merfolk cards in this set, and I think they’ll do nicely in the already formidable archetype. Swift Warden gives you a combat trick that lets you save a merfolk from death, but also acts as one itself. Flashing in to block a creature or adding extra damage to a board for a lethal strike your opponent wasn’t expecting for are all worthwhile effects. Limited all star of merfolk decks.
Jungleborn Pioneer is definitely a card I’d want to play if I opened that new merfolk lord, but even without a buff I think she’s worth having as part of your deck. Two bodies with one card is always good value. Jadecraft Artisan benefits mostly from his typing, but the ETB effect also makes him worth playing. UG merfolk has a lot of tempo and flying effects, and the Artisan will let you take advantage of those sudden openings in an opponent’s defenses
The last of the cards in the Forerunner cycle is Forerunner of the Heralds. Search up your merfolk lord or something that makes a bunch of merfolk tokens, and watch this Forerunner get out of control. If your opponent doesn’t take him out early, he’ll become incredibly difficult to get rid of and turn into one of your best beaters.
Swift Warden – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Jungleborn Pioneer – RATING: 3 Stars
Jadecraft Artisan – RATING: 3 Stars
Forerunner of the Heralds – RATING 3.5 Stars
There are still quite a few finishers in green, but Rivals of Ixalan gives dinosaurs a bit more to work with this time by throwing in some snazzy abilities. Thrashing Brontodon can destroy any artifact or enchantment, so if you need to destroy a Search for Azcanta it’s your boy. A 3/4 body for 3 mana also makes him a well balanced warrior, good for both offense and defense.
Crested Herdcaller isn’t too scary as a 3/3 trampler, but putting into play what amounts to a copy of itself makes it very similar to Regisaur Alpha (sans the haste). Decent body and good effect. The other card in this group I’d like to talk about is Knight of the Stampede. It’s a simple blocker but also doubles as a mana dork of sorts. Finally all of those 6+ mana dinosaurs that were sitting in your hand for countless turns can be played! ALl of these card are great for dinosaur decks.
Thrashing Brontodon – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Crested Herdcaller – RATING. 3 Stars
Knight of the Stampede – RATING: 2.5 Stars
The other category of dinosaurs are those with enrage. In the last set we got the dino that searched for basic lands, the dino that gained us life, and the one with flash that got bigger when damaged. Rivals of Ixalan gives us a few more. Overgrown Armasaur is one of my favorite because not only does it replace itself when it dies after an attack/block, but because it is so easy to ping multiple times for effects. The others all tended to be at that 2-3 toughness range and always worried me, but Armasaur lets you block and ping if you want and get lots of bodies on the board.
Cacophodon is a good blocker, and seems like it would work great with those new cards that become lands. Being able to untap cards like Winged Temple, Aztal, or Gold-Forged Garrison after it blocks so you can use their abilities again (sometimes before blocks!) is some next level tech. The only draw back is that you need lots of effects to activate this ability at will. Cherished Hatchling isn’t an Enrage creature per se, but basically you could read it as “Enrage – play your dinosaurs with flash and they fight creatures when they enter the battlefield.” If you got the mana and the strong dinosaurs, this could be a wicked good card. Late game it blocks with 6+ mana on the board, dies, then you flash in 2+ dinosaurs that let you wipe their board and create a huge tempo swing the following turn. I like it better in draft, but it could be good in the right limited deck.
Overgrown Armasaur – RATING: 3 Stars
Cacophodon – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Cherished Hatchling – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Green doesn’t have much in the way of playable spells this time around (hopefully you can open a Savage Stomp or Pounce in your Ixalan packs!), but here are two you should keep your eyes open for in limited. Hunt the Weak is in its who-knows-how-many iteration but at least in this set it makes sense from a flavor perspective. Make your big dinos bigger, activate their enrage trigger, and kill an opponent’s creature (hopefully). What else can you ask for (aside from Savage Stomp instead)?
Some people aren’t too impressed with Thunderherd Migration, but if you get a good pool of dinosaurs, you’re going to want to play this. Most likely you’ll have a splash of either red or white and will want to be able to play those cards rather consistently. If you don’t have Evolving Wilds or Traveler’s Amulet, you’ll definitely want this for your 3 color deck. Not for every pool, but has its uses.
Hunt the Weak – RATING: 3 Stars
Thunderherd Migration – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Other Cards that Will See Play
- Giltgrove Stalker – matches up well against vampires and pirates, also a nice target for buff spells like auras or +1/+1 counters.
- Orazca Frillback – Glass cannon vanilla creature. Filler but not horrible.
Coming Up Next
Seems like a lot of the good green stuff is at rare this time around. It sure does have a lot of huge bombs, but some unassuming creatures like Tendershoot Dryad will steal the show if you’re not careful. As we get ever closer to the finish line, it seems like once again merfolk decks are going to cross first. I really like dinosaurs as they have the largest board impact, but merfolk are simply better at going over, under, and around your defenses thanks to various tempo effects in green blue as well as power boosters like Merfolk Mistbinder.
Only a few more cards remain in multicolor and artifact, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish this series by the end of Monday night. I’ll have my first opinions of the limited format from the pre-release weekend, as well as some sample decklists and results. I hope you all did well during the pre-release and will continue to do well in this season’s drafts and other sealed events. If you have any comments or suggestions about Green cards in Rivals of Ixalan limited, be sure to leave them down below! Thanks for reading and check back soon for the final article!