Taking A Swipe At Rivals Of Ixalan: Part 4!

It wasn’t long ago that Ari Lax trounced Shaun McLaren in the finals of a Pro Tour. With that heartbreak in mind, McLaren aims to get his revenge in the best venue possible: in Taking a Swipe! All is fair in love and war! Which cards are you in love with?

Ari Swipes Right:
This is some speculative approval. You need to be able to trigger this a
couple times without help to make it worth it. The odds of Dominaria or Core 2019 containing painlands is reasonably
high. If that happens, this is a solid two-drop that grows rapidly and can
attack as a 3/3 on the first turn in midgame scenarios. That’s certainly
good enough.

If there’s no painlands, whatever. Everyone will forget this card exists
and me guessing wrong will easily disappear with it.

Shaun Swipes Left:
I’ll admit you’ve got style, Paladin of Atonement. The atonement theme of
taking damage and then regaining the life later works well on the card. The
issue is there are about a million better two-drops that don’t take as much
work to get going. Paladin of Atonement is slow and high maintenance.
Nothing’s going to make me sing a different tune, or in this case a
different tone.

Ari Swipes Right:
Vigilance seems like a really minor boost to grant, but it matters most in
creature mirror spots that are most likely to see you get the city’s

So how good is a locked by type Glorious Anthem? People were playing
Mono-Vampires because of Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle so I assume even more
incentive doesn’t hurt. I don’t expect a full set as the three-drop and
non-creature slots are contested, but at the least that is fine.

Oh, and costing a single white mana is huge as long as our manabases are
this terrible. Unclaimed Territory is required to cast one-drops, and it
sure wouldn’t cast actual Glorious Anthem.

Shaun Swipes Left:
In the famous words of George McFly: ” I’m your density.
” but in this case probably not. I’m not a big fan of narrow tribal cards
in general, and this one doesn’t even seem particularly good. Kind of a
weird card from the perspective of Standard since as a white enchantment it
really only works well in Vampires, due to color restrictions. Maybe
there’s another home for Radiant Destiny out there somewhere.

Ari Swipes Whatever Dude Which Isn’t One Of The Three Choices

I’m already sick of people talking about this card. Wow it kills a thing.
Guess what? A 2/2 is largely stupid, except when The Scarab God says it
isn’t. Flametongue Kavu had four power, Shriekmaw had discount mode and
evasion and three power. This is a stupid bear. Remember how mediocre at
brawling Servant of the Conduit is?

Ravenous Chupacabra is fine, but people are losing their minds over a
four-mana sorcery speed kill spell that doesn’t even add a full card of
value. Or hit planeswalkers.

Shaun Super Likes And Is Good At Following Directions But Is About To
Make A Bad Pun:

This ain’t no chump-acabra. This card is real good. Solid unconditional
removal attached to a decent body. Remember Shriekmaw? Me neither because
Ravenous Chupacabra is all I need. The Scarab God and God-Pharaoh’s Gift
are practically drooling right now.

Ari Swipes Left:
Also over it. I’ve been burned by this style of card too many times. Four
power of flying just isn’t that great anymore.

I guess it’s fine at pressuring planeswalkers and blocking. Maybe we will
see this a sideboard option for control decks once Glorybringer stops being
so darn great at the same things.

Shaun Super Likes:
Rekindling Phoenix is a home run, flavorfully and power level. It flies, it
bashes for four damage, it returns with haste, it blocks, it practically
does it all. Slow removal like planeswalkers or Ravenous Chupacabra is
going to have a tough time taking down the Phoenix, but it’s unlikely to be
oppressive since you can exile it or remove it from the graveyard.

Ari Swipes Left:
Bident of Thassa was never really the crowning piece of Mono-Blue Devotion.
Getting into a spot where you can connect with their face profitably is
much more important than getting rewarded for connecting. Just play a
four-drop that makes them deader or leave open counter magic for the Settle
the Wreckage that is going to kill you.

Shaun Swipes Right:
Seafloor Oracle could be a thing. Seems like the perfect top end for an
aggressive Merfolk deck that’s interested in evasion, which is pretty much
what Merfolk decks should be. Bident of Thassa was an important card in
Standard and Seafloor Oracle could be as well. The issue is that the floor
on this card is pretty low when you cast it and your side of the
battlefield is otherwise empty, and it’s easy to remove if your opponent
sees it coming and is prepared.

Ari Swipes Right:
Similar to Radiant Destiny, the city’s blessing ability is best on stalled
battlefields where ascending is easy. Past that, Skymarcher Aspirant is an
Elite Vanguard with a relevant type. These have been playable for years, so
a good ability makes it almost certain.

One thing worth noting is this card will get way worse once midrange decks
sideboard in sweepers to clean up your permanents, so consider sideboard
plans that let you shift your deck away from it.

Shaun Swipes Left:
A one mana 2/1 just isn’t really doing it for me, and I’m not exactly
smitten by the Vampire tribe in general. It seems real difficult to get the
city’s blessing, especially if your strategy involves a one mana 2/1. At
any point where you’re getting the city’s blessing from Skymarcher Aspirant
you’re probably pretty unhappy to be at that point in the game since you’re
probably an aggro deck.

Ari Swipes Left:
This is a five mana 2/2. It takes multiple turns to start doing stuff. If
it dies, it leaves around only nonsense value.

I do hope I end up owning a ton of these, but that’s because I want to open
them in every draft and easily win.

Shaun Swipes Right:
Tendershoot Dryad could end up being a force to be reckoned with. A Verdant
Force, that is. The main appeal here is that you get a Saproling on each
upkeep, not just your own, which adds up quickly. Spitting out a Saproling
each turn will mean you have the city’s blessing in no time. Tendershoot
Dryad essentially demands an answer and can win the game by itself if it’s
left unchecked. Tendershoot Dryad could be an interesting juke card in
control or ramp decks that would be unexpected out of the sideboard. Might
not be good, but I definitely like its style.

Ari Swipes Right:
Despite looking like yet another untap-to-win threat, The Immortal Sun has
a secret and important immediate game impact that makes it a really potent
finisher: Players can’t activate planeswalkers’ loyalty abilities. Not only
does this mean you get a virtual Hero’s Downfall on any planeswalkers a
midrange opponent spent time deploying, their best counterplay to a slow,
grindy threat is their own grindy threats that no longer work.

Yea, Abrade is an issue, but I’m willing to overlook that. At some point it
won’t be, and then The Immortal Sun will be really good.

Shaun Swipes Right:
What do you get for the person that has it all? The Immortal Sun because it
does it all. Draws cards, pumps your team, reduces card cost, and even
potentially hoses your opponents’ planeswalkers. Great to ramp into, great
as a singleton copy near the top of your curve, potentially even helpful
for some sort of combo deck since it reduces costs. The real question is
“Where does this card even fit?” since it does so much different stuff.
Probably midrange of some sort. The other question is, “When does Abrade

Ari Swipes Right:
Wizards of the Coast aka Michael Majors literally just made a Qasali
Pridemage that attacks better and doesn’t get picked off by stupid
damage-based removal. If you don’t like Thrashing Brontodon, you’re failing
a lot of basic card evaluation tests.

Shaun Swipes Left And Fails Ari’s Basic Card Evaluation Test:

Maybe it’s just because I’m comparing it to Reclamation Sage, but I’m ready
to start trashing the Thrashing Brontodon. The best part of Manglehorn,
Viridian Shaman, etc. etc. was you got to keep the creature! Thrashing
Brontodon obviously has a bigger body, but it’s so much worse when you
actually want to destroy an artifact or enchantment. It even costs an extra
mana to activate! What a rip off! No wonder Dinosaurs went extinct. Don’t
get me wrong, the card is definitely playable, but I don’t love it.

Ari Swipes Left:
I have a longer rant lined up for this, but the gist of it is that Rampant
Growth isn’t a payoff for playing Dinosaurs. It’s not distinctly better
than Drover of the Mighty. It definitely isn’t better than Otpec
Huntmaster, which does have a super huge payoff of chucking Dinosaurs at
their face. Thunderherd Migration is just a card, the old Dinosaur cards
weren’t quite enough, and the new ones certainly don’t add enough to push
them over the edge.

When you’re looking for something that makes you play a bunch of a card
type, it better actually provide you something powerful and unique.

Shaun Swipes Right:
I’m picking up good migrations. Rampant Growth is a pretty good card; it
just so happens to be restricted to Dinosaur decks. If you’re running in
the neighborhood of twelve or more Dinosaurs, then Thunderherd Migration is
going to be pretty appealing, and even in the times where you have to cast
it for three mana it’s still fine.

Ari Swipes Left: I
have no idea why I would want all my lands out of my graveyard in Standard.
In Modern, I can just cast Splendid Reclamation and not just through the
hoop of killing my own creature. I’m not even sure I want to jump through
that hoop in Standard.

Maybe some whacky Sneak Attack or Corpse Dance-style card with limitations
will come along, and then there will be some whacky Flashback stuff to do,
and then all of the sudden World Shaper is an important card. I’m not going
to worry about it until then.

Shaun Swipes Left: I
liked Splendid Reclamation quite a bit, and it never really amounted to
anything. World Shaper is like a Splendid Reclamation that you have less
control over, but comes attached to a body and can even help mill you more.
My initial impression is that I don’t think the effect really works for
value and it’s fast enough to combo with. It just seems clunky.

Ari Swipes Right:
Now, if you want a real payoff for graveyard shenanigans, I’ve got one for
you. People have been fiddling with Reanimator decks in Standard ever since
Liliana, Death’s Majesty was printed, but none of the huge targets were
quite there. Or I guess none of them fell into the range of good enough to
dedicate a strategy to but reasonable to draw in your hand.

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn is much closer. Eight mana versus the ten of Ulamog,
the Ceaseless Hunger is a huge drop, and this kills real fast. Even if you
aren’t able to build a true Reanimator deck, it might even be good enough
for God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks with Search for Azcanta as a little boost up
to hardcasting it.

Shaun Swipes Right:
Indestructible is a good ability. God-Pharaoh’s Gift is where I’m looking,
since Zetalpa, Primal Dawn would still get benefits from all its ridiculous
text. If you reanimate it, then you’re looking at four attack, flying,
double strike, vigilance, trample, indestructible, and haste! It’s starting
to look more appealing than Angel of Invention, although Angel is probably
still the better card for the deck. They do work well together though since
Angel keeps you from dying and pumps up Zetalpa to smash your opponent very
dead. It’s also not that difficult to hard cast, especially if you have a
flipped Search for Azcanta, so I could definitely see it appearing in Gift