"Pirates vs. Dinosaurs" is the theme of the newest Magic: The Gathering expansion, Ixalan. This is the first of the two sets in the Ixalan block, which includes 269 brand new cards. This will also be the final two-set block, and in the future all sets will be standalone.
Ixalan is also the first set to be presented in the next digital product from Wizards of the Coast -- MtG Arena. So it's a really special set for all involved, as it will launch the whole new era for Magic: The Gathering designers and fans alike.
The overall power level of Ixalan relies enitrely on giant Dinosaurs, but it looks like other types of creatures also have something to offer. So let's dive into this unusual blend of cards and figure out which of them will dominate the Sealed format in the coming months.
Ixalan will be released digitally on Spetember 23 and in print form on September 28.
The Druids are back, and they're bringing dinosaurs with them. This little creature becomes a real threat on board if you already control a dino -- and if you don't, then it gives you an extra point of mana, which is basically a win-win situation.
Even if you can't play a dino prior to Drover, you can play it on turn three and attack for three. This card will instantly make green color the one to look out for when constructing your Sealed deck.
Here is a reprint of an effective spell from the Theros block that can either kill a creature with 3 toughness, or finish off opponents that managed to protect themselves from dying with a wall of creatures.
In any case, if you're playing red in your deck, you wish you had a copy of this card in it, or even a few. This is a strictly better version of Open Fire from the previous Hour of Devastation set that is one mana more expensive, which will definitely result in a more aggressive meta this time.
At first glance this is clearly a dragon creature, but after a closer inspection you will notice that it's actually a flying dino. Besides the low cost of only two mana and its Flying and Menace abilities, this card also activates all the dino synergies. A terror in the skies, indeed.
With this card the white-red decks will feel really confident in Sealed, even against a bunch of more powerful non-flying creatures. Even if you get unlucky and draw it late in the game, the fact that it has Menace makes it really hard to block for both flyers and creatures with Reach.
Removal spells are equally impactful in both Constructed and Limited formats. Cheap removal spells are especially valuable, as they can provide an advantage at the most desperate moments, and can overturn the whole situation of the match-up in your favor.
Walk the Plank is exactly the kind of card that can remove almost any creature (except Merfolk) for just two black mana. So unless your opponent drafts exclusively a Merfolk deck, which isn't something that would be possible to achieve in Limited anyway, then grab this spell and use it for the win.
This Common sorcery is nowhere near as good as any other similar Constructed spell -- but taking into account that you can potentially deal 6 damage for three mana, this card is already an auto-include in any Limited deck.
Although Firecannon can't deal damage to players, it can easily kill any big dino that's protecting an opponent's side of the board. It does mean that you may need to sacrifice a creature of yours, but that's the kind of thing that you've got to do in order to stay alive and eventually win the game.
Cards like Cartouche of Strength and Ambuscade turned out to be some of the most powerful spells in the previous sets of the Amonkhet block. Those spells allowed players to buff their own creatures and fight opponent threats as a kind of removal effect.
Savage Stomp does the same, but costs much less if you cast it on a dino. Also, it can damage your own creature in the process and activate its Enrage mechanic (if it has one) for even more damage during the attack step.
Golden cards usually tend to be more powerful than their mono-color counterparts, and Shapers of Nature is the proof of that. This 3-mana Merfolk creature is the definition of a Limited bomb.
Apart from its very potent 3/3 body, it can consistently buff up itself or other creatures -- and if you need cards, it can draw them for you for another three mana. This is exactly the kind of deal you want to sign up for when constructing and playing a Sealed blue-green deck.
If you keep thinking about constructing that white-red aggro deck, then consider Imperial Aerosaur as your next choice. It is another flying dino, just like Sky Terror, that buffs any one of your creatures on board and gives it flying.
This could potentially win you the game and push forward that much desired damage that otherwise wouldn't be possible without the flying ability. If you see Aerosaur in your Sealed pool, make sure to take it ASAP.
This enchantment is an easy choice for your white control deck in Constructed -- and while in Limited you rarely see many copies of the same card, Ixalan’s Binding will work there just fine as a removal for four mana.
It's not as strong as Cast Out with its fancy Flash mechanic, but as a spell with a sorcery speed it will do the job. It also has more power to stay on board in Limited, since almost nobody ever drafts enchantment removals in this format that mostly relies on creature power.
Card draw is considered one of the most powerful abilities in any format you play, and usually it's also quite expensive. Here we have a card that can draw more cards whenever it receives damage, which means that it will draw you at least one additional card.
Taking into account its mana cost and stats, this turns Ripjaw Raptor into a premium Sealed card. Although it is a Rare card, if you do see it in your pool, just take it without too much consideration.
Clearly this card was made as a finisher of any match-up, when you can just put down all of opponent's minions and hit for that lethal damage. Players who play Sealed regularly know too well how often the board stalls for many turns, when both sides of the table are filled with creatures but none of them can attack.
Now this problem will be solved -- and hopefully this card will turn out to be as effective as it looks. The only thing that it's missing is the Flash keyword, then it would have been A+.
Monstrosaur should have been a Rare card with its Haste ability and 5 points of toughness. But sometimes WotC does things that break the common rules of engagement in Magic, and that is exactly why this game keeps staying exciting year after year.
Now imagine casting a Savage Stomp on it for one green mana and giving it additional +2/+2 -- that's when your opponent's head will start spinning in rage! This is a contender for the most aggressive card in Sealed, and every red deck should have this dino monster around for some sneaky damage.
For five mana you get two creatures, of which the 3/3 dino has Haste and Trample. Plus, all other dinos that you play while Regisaur stays on board also gain Haste. All this leads to one and only conclusion -- this is the best Rare card in the entire Ixalan set.
You won't get it too often in your Sealed pool. But when you do, you can be sure that you will win at least one match-up with it. The power level is just so high on this card that there is no doubt it will be this meta's Glorybringer.
This colorful dino is going to dominate Sealed and Draft, so prepare for some crazy interactions. First of all, it has Flash that lets you play it whenever you want, making it extremely difficult for your opponents to play around.
Secondly, every time it gets damaged, it gets a +1/+1 counter that will only make it bigger and bigger. So the only way to remove it from the game would be through a direct Destroy effect, such as Walk the Plank. But that just means that if there is no such removal, then the victory is yours!
You don't want to draft more than one or two creatures that cost over five mana in your deck -- but if you have to, then consider Thundering Spineback. It's a dino lord that buffs the rest of your dinos, and even has the ability to spawn more dinos for another 6 mana.
Obviously, it's a late game threat that you won't have the chance to play too often. But when you have it on your field, it will give a significant boost to your other dino creatures with a great payoff.
Do you have any other suggestions for the best cards in this Sealed format? Be sure to leave your opinion in the comments below.