Rivals of Ixalan has just been spoiled and that means it's time to prepare for a new limited format. Now you (yes, you!) can help rate the vampires and merfolks of Ixalan for limited. If you haven't already had your chance, you can contribute right now by following the links to rate the cards here.
Incredibly, the limited playing community has submitted over 45,000 individual card reviews for the community set review. It's always humbling to see how much you guys are willing to share and discuss the new cards and limited format. However, this does not mean we always agree - in fact, when this many Magic players compare notes, you know there's bound to be some disagreement. As an example, even the least disagreeable common in the set, Goblin Trailblazer can provoke some controversy:
As you can see, even for a fairly straightforward common, some limited players value this common higher than others. Overall, there's a strong consensus though that Goblin Trailblazer is an above curve common, a C+, but some players think Rivals is the prefect set for a cheap red menace creature and think it's a B or even an A-. Some players think Goblin Trailblazer isn't going to do enough and rate it as a D+.
Who's right? We'll see in the coming weeks. However, with some cards the community just can't agree at all. Today, we'll look at the 8 most controversial commons and uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan. I'll start by discussing what makes the card controversial, then offer my take...
...which, given these cards, is guaranteed to be controversial.
8. Flood of Recollection (Community Grade D+)
The controversy: This is the cheapest we've seen a blue style regrowth in a long time. And the ability to recover powerful card draw and removal spells have some players thinking this card could be solid.
However the lack of a clear "spells-matter" deck have most players thinking Flood of Recollection will only make the deck every so often and the average rating is a D+.
What I think: Most decks in limited have a very limited number of non creature spells, and Flood of Recollection is going to be hurting for a target. Occasionally, a draft deck might hit a heavy spell theme, but in a world of tribal synergies, it's hard to see where that deck is going to come from in Ixalan.
In rivals we're fighting dinosaurs and flipping enchantments into lands - not resolving big back breaking spells. Heck, the best card draw in the set comes attached to a big sphinx!
7. Evolving Wilds (Community Grade C+)
The controversy: Typically Evolving Wilds is viewed as a solid draft card - and this time is no exception. The community, on average, rates Evolving Wilds as a solid C+, but some players think Rivals of Ixalan is especially friendly to the venerable fetch land, and have it rated in the B or even A range.
Between splashing for a third color in Naya dinosaurs or Grixis pirates, or helping support a color intensive bomb rare, is Evolving Wild even better than usual?
What I think: Ok, first things first, this might officially the closest I will ever get to playing legacy:
Fetch land + brainstorm? That's crazy cube talk. So Evolving Wild does have that going for it. However, if there's really something unique to Rivals of Ixalan that makes Evolving Wild especially good, I don't see it.
I predict Evolving Wilds will just be it's usual solid self.
6. Gruesome Fate (Community Grade D)
The controversy: In general the community isn't high on Gruesome Fate, and it gets a pretty solid D. The controversy comes from a subset of players who are much more eager to throw this at an opponent.
And if Rivals of Ixalan is prone to clunky huge board stalls, opponents might be meeting a Gruesome Fate more frequently than the community would have guessed.
What I think: If there is a super aggressive go wide deck Gruesome Fate will have a home. However, it's hard to find many cards at common that let you do that in Rivals of Ixalan.
Still, if you do find yourself rolling in copies of Queen's Commission give Gruesome Fate a second look.
5. Sea Legs (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Sea Legs is just your standard combat trick, pseudo creature removal, um... thing. It's going to be interesting to see how often you find just the wrong combination of creature types on the battlefield to make Sea Legs a dead card.
The community can't quite decide what to think of Sea Legs, and it shows in the solid wall of players who think this is anything from an above average card to a card that will rarely make the maindeck.
What I think: I quite like cheap, instant speed interaction. Especially if Rivals of Ixalan is as an agressive format, giving creatures their Sea Legs will be an important part of blue's arsenal.
Although, before the format is done, I am guaranteed to give my opponent's creature an extra two toughness by accident.
However, despite that, I imagine Sea Legs will find just enough ways to help my creatures dodge burn, or nerf an opponent's evasive threat, or mess with combat to win me over.
Ravenous Chupacabra did not make the list of controversial cards (at least not in the conventional sense), and is instead the most highly rated common or uncommon in the history of the limited community review (a record that stretches back to Fate Reforged).
I just wanted to take a quick break from the list to highlight the challenge this card presents, a challenger that as a community I feel we can rise to meet. Namely that Ravenous Chupacabra is a horribly unwieldy name for a card that we as Magic players are going to be seeing a ton.
The Death Dog needs a pithy nickname: Nekracabra? Bone Sucker? Mexratal because chupacabras are from Mexico? Wordsmiths your community needs you!
...ahem. And now back to the list.
4. Strength of the Pack (Community Grade C+)
The controversy: Overrun has been a limited bomb for a long time, but it's younger sibling Overcome failed to make as big an impact in Amonkhet limited:
The question before the community is will Strength of the Pack thrive or flail in Rivals of Ixalan? Will the permanent pump provided by Strength overcome the higher price tag? The community pegs Strength of the Pack at an above average C+.
What I think: With three creatures out you might think a good heuristic is to think of Strength of the Pack as 6 power and toughness of hasty board presence. And while that's sort of a true, it undersells Strength of the Pack. Turning an outclassed 2/2 into a board busting 4/4 is more akin to getting a new 4/4 than it is to getting two additional power on the power.
Strength of the Pack has obvious downside. Drawing this on an empty board is abysmal, but the power it provides for breaking open stalemates or topping a curve makes Strength of the Pack a gamble worth taking.
3. Blazing Hope (Community Grade D+)
The controversy: Blazing Hope is one odd card. Given the right circumstances it can, for a single mana and at instant speed Exile any creature in the game.
Err... well almost any creature in the game.
Regardless, the restriction is a big one, and nothing is going to feel worse than being at 3 life and staring down a pair of two power flyers with Blazing Hope in hand. The community see this downside and is mostly down on Blazing Hope, rating it in the D range. However, some players hold out hope that Blazing Hope might just be better than it looks.
What I think: It might be that games come down to big creatures and races enough that Blazing Hope can hold its own in the maindeck, but I'm not hopeful.
I've got Hope pinned as a potentially powerful sideboard card that can deal with an opponent who's deck includes a few unreasonably huge creatures.
2. Mist-Cloaked Herald (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Some players love this little unblockable Merfolk, but the community consensus is that Mist-Cloaked Herald is a below average card with an average grade of C-.
So does the Merfolk deck need a cheap evasive threat, or is Mist-Cloaked Herald too small and fragile to get there?
What I think: I'm hard pressed to ever want a creature who's main appeal is it's ability to turn on the good ole 20 turn clock, and that's actually all Mist-Cloaked Herald has going for it. In addition a 1/1 is just about the most abysmal thing you can hope to topdeck late in the game.
Maybe, on turn one, and backed up by enough +1/+1 counters or lords, Mist-Cloaked Herald may do enough to earn a spot. However, even under the perfect circumstances, I feel like Merfolk can still find better options.
1. Enter the Unknown (Community Grade C-)
The controversy: Is explore worth a card? That's the main question that Enter the Unknown is asking, and the community is split. Up until now, Explore has mostly been on creature cards, and in that case whatever half of Explore showed up, you always got something, even if it was an undersized creature and an extra land off the top of the deck.
However, Enter the Unknown up the stakes for whiffing. If you want the extra land drop, you might not have a creature, and if you need the counter you might end up with an extra land. There are plenty of board states where one half of this card is pointless and correspondingly the community is more pessimistic on whether it's worth Entering the Unknown.
What I think: Here's a challenge for you. Construct in your head the limited game state where you rip the top of your deck and go "Yeah, baby, Enter the Unknown!"
So that's it, the 8 most controversial common and uncommons in Rivals of Ixalan. What cards am I wrong about? Where is the community misjudging the cards? Do you have a better read on the environment? Let us know: rate the cards yourself.