MTG Rivals Of Ixalan Preview: Our Exclusive Look At Four New Cards


The Rivals of Ixalan release for Magic: The Gathering is just around the corner on Jan. 19, and Wizards of the Coast has sent Player.One four new cards to reveal. We also had the chance to talk with Ben Hayes, the lead designer on Rivals, about what players can expect from the new expansion.

First up, the cards!

Rivals Of Ixalan Card Reveals

Dinosaur Hunter_EN_HRR
Dinosaur Hunter could be a dangerous card for Dinosaur decks to go up against Photo: Wizards of the Coast
Pitiless Plunderer_EN_HRR
Pitiless Plunderer takes full advantage of the new Treasure mechanic Photo: Wizards of the Coast
Sea Legs_EN_HRR
Sea Legs is a good Pirate trick to make you stronger or your enemy weaker Photo: Wizards of the Coast
Buccaneer’s Bravado_EN_HRR
Buccaneer's Bravado is a red Instant that can make a Pirate a much more powerful creature Photo: Wizards of the Coast

All four cards are Pirate-related, and some deal with Dinosaurs, an intentional decision from Wizards. Those two tribes haven’t been featured as much in years past, so Hayes thinks there’s greater potential to do something new.

“There’s just more design space to explore when you compare them to something like Merfolk, where we’ve already made over 100 cards of the tribe,” Hayes told Player.One. “That said, all of the tribes are integral to the gameplay of Rivals of Ixalan and have synergy and interplay with each other, and with the new mechanic Ascend, in a variety of ways.”

Tribes are more important in Rivals compared to previous Ixalan releases because it’s the end of the block. This means Wizards is striving to get every gameplay idea out now. “In some ways, Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan had to divvy up the share of tribal cards we wanted to print between the two sets,” Hayes said. “With Rivals, you’re seeing 100 percent of that concept, whereas before you were only seeing part of it.”

The new cards above suggest Pirates are a sneaky group with multiple tricks. Hayes says the aim was to make players feel more in character when playing a Pirate deck. Treasure is also a similar inclusion, added to provide more of an identity to the tribe.

As for tournament play, Hayes thinks the “hate cards” found in Rivals will be smart inclusions in constructed decks. “Essentially, they’re a safety valve against certain types of cards becoming too prevalent and dominant, and to give players options for how to tune their decks against such threats,” he said. “If Dinosaurs are running rampant, or your friend is constantly beating you up with their Dinosaur deck, then you might go to these types of cards for support.”

Hayes wouldn’t say where the Pirates or Dinosaurs came from in Magic’s story, but did give a simple reason why Pirates are returning to the game after such a long time: “Because they’re awesome!” Hard to argue with that logic.

Rivals of Ixalan will officially release on Jan. 19.

So what do you think? Are you excited about any of the cards revealed above? What type of deck do you want to build once Rivals has released? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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