Hidden Gems Rivals of Ixalan Commander Cards
You know the drill, folks— six Rivals of Ixalan commander hidden gems I think would be great inclusions for Commander decks. I try and avoid the big mythics and splashy face-of-the-set rares in Hidden Gems columns (you’re probably all sick to death of Blood Sun talk anyway) in favour of things I think might go a little more unnoticed.
PALADIN OF ATONEMENT
Look, all I’m saying is that if you pair this fine gentleman with something like Necropotence, Phyrexian Arena, or other minor ping effects, you can sit there behind a nice big beater and eventually cash him in to get all your life back.
Note especially—and this concept is going to come back again later—he triggers on each upkeep, so he’ll grow off of combat damage as well as your own Arenapotence effects. If you usually play against a punisher deck that likes slowly draining you, he becomes an especially good choice. And he’s only two mana!
I have zero expectations that this lady will succeed in Standard, unless Revel in Riches decks become a thing. However. If you have That Token Player in your meta, she’ll absolutely put in work.
There’s one thing to keep in mind, however—if you have a tokens player going infinite at instant speed, Crafty Cutpurse will not stop the combo. They will simply keep iterating their loop on top of the Cutpurse’s position on the stack. She’s best used against sorcery-speed combos, or even ahead of their combo turn, if they’re a combo player—ideally, you’ll get to just steal some tokens and beat ‘em down with them until they’re not in a position to go off at all.
Let’s ignore the vampire thing for now and focus on the card advantage.
Mind Rot puts you up two cards off two mana, but it only hits a single player. Arterial Flow puts you up six cards off three mana, assuming the usual four-player pods. It’s the first time we’ve seen this effect on a CMC under 4, and if I’m about to pull off a big turn, I’d absolutely love to be able to drop an Arterial Flow beforehand and maybe let some counterspells and other answers drain out.
DEAD MAN’S CHEST
This one comes with two lessons.
First—never rely on your opponent to make the choices you expect, or to do the things you want them to do. You’ll end up with cards sitting dead in your hand and long nights staring out the window, sipping a glass of something with the living-room lights off behind you as you watch the endless unforgiving rain drench your hopes and dreams and wonder what could have been.
The second lesson is to never underestimate the contents of your opponents’ decks. People usually put good cards in their decks, and even if you can’t cast them, a card you steal from their Dead Man’s Chest is a card they don’t have access to.
You’ll want to make sure this is on a creature with at least 3-4 power, because about ⅓ of what you hit will be lands—but once you’re there, you’ll usually be able to get at least one or two decent hits off of their library.
Remember that note from before about triggering on each upkeep? Yeah.
One of the most famous green cards from early Magic tournaments was Verdant Force. This avuncular fellow was the gift that kept on giving, pumping out two blockers per turn cycle, and his effect remains powerful.
Tendershoot Dryad fiddles with the numbers a bit—at 5 CMC, you get much bigger 3/3 Saprolings springing forth from a much smaller body. Five mana is a lot easier to hit than seven, so I’m definitely looking at this if I want any kind of blockers at all.
ARCH OF ORAZCA
Well, yes, in a couple of ways it is. But consider: Arch of Orazca doesn’t take up a valuable nonland slot. And it’s repeatable, I don’t have to cash it in. I would love to have this in control decks, especially in ones with lots of permanents like Breya artifact-combo lists or Talrand permission decks.
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Come back in two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on all things Magic—and in that particular edition, one of his favourite pastimes, Baseless Speculation™!