Wallet Warriors: Ixalan Legendaries Review

Kilian Johnson
October 02, 2017
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Hey there Wallet Warriors! Welcome to my Ixalan Legend Review! (Specifically legends that can be commanders, still waiting on the rules change to let your planeswalkers lead your army)


Ixalan is a plane all about exploration and that is one of my favorite things to do when a new set comes out. I love finding new commanders and building decks almost as much as I enjoy actually playing commander. This plane has a heavy tribal focus which is great news for our format. Tribal decks can range from super budget and casual all the way up to highly tuned competitive decks, and at any end of the spectrum you will find players who love their tribal decks.


With a tribal focused set there come new legends for those tribes! Now let’s get to the metrics I will be grading  with.


The Rating Scales


I’ll be rating each legend based on a few factors. Each rating will be out of 10 and then I will have an overall rating. Keep in mind these ratings are highly subjective and coming from a budget and mostly casual perspective. The ratings are primarily to show my assessment of how fun these new cards will be.


As a Commander: How well I think a legend will do as a general of a deck. This is based on whether or not the card is a clear build around and how fun piloting it’s decks would be.

As Part of the 99: This is to accommodate the legends that may not fit exactly as a general but are still sweet cards in the format and will work better in the 99.

Tribal Strength: Normally this category is devoted to versatility. However, seeing as how this is a heavily tribal focused set, I felt it was necessary to examine how much support there is for the tribe in question when looking at a legend with obvious tribal synergies.

Budget Friendliness: This is how easily a legend can be built on a budget while still being functional and fun to play.

Overall: The rounded average of the scores

 

 

Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle

First up on the chopping block is Mavren Fein. To start let’s get it out of the way that this legend is not meant to be a commander. Ixalan is the first plane that we have ever seen mono-white vampires so there are not nearly enough of them for a full tribal deck. His ability is also not all that impressive. Vampires have historically not been very proficient at generating tokens so they’ll take anything they can get but i’m really sad that this card has so many restrictive words on it. It does not trigger for each of your vampires, only when one or more attacks. It also does not trigger for your token vampires attacking. With all that being said, this will still be a solid include in the 99 of an Orzhov or Mardu vampire deck because vampires desperately want more guys to pump.


As a Commander: 1/10

As Part of the 99: 5/10

Tribal Strength: 8/10

Budget Friendliness: 7/10

Overall: 5/10

 

 

Kopala, Warden of Waves

Next up is a card I am quite a bit more excited about even if my experience with Merfolk is much less than with Vampires. Kopala is a great addition to the Merfolk arsenal. Merfolk have always been about a middle of the pack tribe in commander even though there are a lot of powerful merfolk lords. These fish people lend themselves to an aggressive tempo strategy. Most of them attempt to abuse one of blue’s aggressive aspects, being very slippery and therefore hard to block. Some draw cards, and some counter spells. This type of playstyle is not very effective in a multiplayer format but I’m looking forward to all the additions Ixalan block brings. Kopala gives your Merfolk a bit more protection which is great and overall he is a fine leader and a great member of the 99 in mono-blue, dimir, or even simic Merfolk.


As a Commander: 6/10

As Part of the 99: 8/10

Tribal Strength: 6/10

Budget Friendliness: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

 

 

Captain Lannery Storm

Here we have our first look into the legendary pirates on Ixalan. Ms. Storm is not meant to lead her own army of pirates, we even get a hint of that in her title. The captain takes orders from the admiral but we’ll get to her later. The captain has an interesting ability in that she can ramp you and fix your mana just by attacking. The problem is that she doesn’t have any evasion on her own. However in a pirate deck you will be looking for ways to slip your pirates through the cracks and if you can get Lannery into the sky or just plain unblockable, she can be very effective. Now let’s move on to the real pirate, uh, general… poor word choice.


As a Commander: 2/10

As Part of the 99: 4/10

Tribal Strength: 4/10

Budget Friendliness: 8/10

Overall: 5/10

 

 

Admiral Becket Brass

Here we have a card that fits very neatly at the helm of a pirate fleet. Admiral Becket Brass has all three pirate colors, she pumps your pirates and lets you steal things when you connect with a few of them. These are all very relevant in commander, even if the last ability can be challenging to trigger. The biggest thing holding the admiral back is the number of pirates that exist. After doing a quick search there are 58 other pirates in her colors and only about 25 of them are half-decent in our format. That is technically enough to build a functional tribal deck but you really don’t have a lot of options. For now pirates will have to float around at the bottom of the barrel but with a few strong additions from Rivals of Ixalan, I could see the tribe sailing closer to the top.


As a Commander: 8/10

As Part of the 99: 7/10

Tribal Strength: 4/10

Budget Friendliness: 8/10

Overall: 7/10

 

 

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Oh baby, Gishath is an easy homerun as a dinosaur commander. He let’s you play all three dinosaur colors, is a giant dinosaur and lets you cast more giant dinosaurs whenever he hits anybody. Gishath is just a very powerful creature with tons of abilities that synergise with themselves. The haste and trample make it easy to wait until the right moment when you can summon Gishath and get good value off his combat damage trigger.


Unfortunately dinosaurs are a tribe that has even fewer options than pirates. At the moment I can see a hyper budget dinosaur deck being fun to play at a very casual table. A lot of dinosaurs don’t even have abilities but if they come crashing in with Gishath, you may be able to steal a win just by having lots of power and toughness on the table. I’m really hoping for some sweet additions out of the next set because if Gishath has a strong army at his back, he can definitely wreak a lot of havoc.


As a Commander: 9/10

As Part of the 99: 7/10

Tribal Strength: 5/10

Budget Friendliness: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

 

 

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

This is a card I am very excited about for some interesting reasons. Tishana fits right in with the long line of sweet Simic commanders. I love this card because of what I assume it will represent. She is a wonderful starting point for new commander players who happened to come across her at their pre-release or in a draft. She has very simple abilities that are clearly powerful. I’m excited for someone to get their hands on this card and immediately start thinking of all the great simic creatures they can put into a deck with her. She is also a self-contained “achievement” setter. As soon as you sit down to play a game with her you will be aiming to set a record of cards drawn with her, then almost immediately try to beat that record the next time.


I think she will be a solid commander, for new players especially, and also work very well in the 99 of a creature based strategy looking for some more card draw at the top end. For the tribal strength section here I am using the Merfolk tribe as the metric as Simic are the merfolk colors on Ixalan.


As a Commander: 7/10

As Part of the 99: 6/10

Tribal Strength: 6/10

Budget Friendliness: 8/10

Overall: 7/10

 

Vona, Butcher of Magan

And lastly, we have Vona. This is a card I am having some trouble getting excited for but I can definitely see my opinion shifting in the future. To start, the repeatable ability to destroy any non-land permanent is fantastic. Being able to get rid of problematic artifacts and enchantments is especially useful as those are the permanent types that can often fly under the radar when putting together a removal package in deck building. The two obvious problems with the ability is that it costs a lot of life to activate and, more importantly, you can’t activate it on other people’s turns. This second drawback is something I can’t seem to get over. Having your removal be at instant speed is practically a necessity for me these days. In multi-player games it can often be to your advantage that someone else has a large threat on the table, so long as they aren’t running it at you. Ideally you want to wait and see who someone will attack with their big thing before deciding to remove it, with Vona you don’t have this luxury.


I still think this card will be strong and tried out in a few different strategies, lifegain and vampire tribal to name a couple. Overall, I think Vona is good, but not great. However I’ll be interested to see how she plays out.


As a Commander: 5/10

As Part of the 99: 6/10

Tribal Strength: 8/10

Budget Friendliness: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

Wrapping Up


And there we go, If you’ve been looking through those legends you opened at the pre-release and wanted to build a sweet deck hopefully this article helped you to decide!


Thanks for reading, cheers!

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