Shuhei Nakamura’s Limited School -Rivals of Ixalan-

Shuhei Nakamura

Shuhei Nakamura

Translated by Tsubasa Tomita

Hello, it’s Shuhei Nakamura.Today I will talk about Rivals of Ixalan draft.

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Alright, let’s start.

* Basics

Meta’s Basic Numbers

From the Ixalan meta, we have tribe themes continue and has increased its speed.

Especially the 2 drops have lots of options. Each color, we have around 2 cards of 2 drops and some are strong enough to compare with the top tier 2 drops from the past. (《Kitesail Corsair》, 《Goblin Trailblazer》, 《Hardy Veteran》 etc. After, following up with a 3/3 on turn 3 will be the basic move you will want to take.

Kitesail CorsairGoblin TrailblazerHardy Veteran

Removal have become more powerful in general, and each color has their mana cost cheaper by 1 mana. (《Pacifism》4 mana → 3 mana、blacks one shot removal 5 mana → 4 mana、Black instant removal 3 mana → 2mana、Red instant removal 5 mana → 3 mana).

Pious InterdictionLuminous BondsContract KillingImpale
Vanquish the WeakMoment of CravingUnfriendly FireBombard

In the other hand, if you look at the card effects in general, it has become weaker. In both good and bad, it has become a set for a limited format. You can see this especially on the cards above 4 mana. Also, there are basically no cards that can control the field as system cards.

The basic stats for your mana curve.

Mana cost Basic stats
1-2 manaPower 2 + X
3 mana3/2-3/3 or 2/2 with flying
4 mana3/3 or 2/3 with flying
5 mana4/4 or 3/3 with flying

If you look at this Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan draft, it might be easier if you think as if you subtract 2/3 portion of Ixalan cards from your pool and filling 2/3 of your pool with Rivals of Ixalan. Low mana cost cards are stronger as high mana cost cards are weaker. The mana curve then becomes high on the left side of the graph, making the cheap mana cards to trade each other, then they attack each other so they are not able to block, then it becomes a one-sided game going on the play.

For the removals, I said earlier that it has become 1 mana cheaper in general, but the meta has become to make players act one mana less so it still can be a card that makes you lose tempo.

Pirate's Cutlass

In addition, 《Pirate's Cutlass》 is now less in the packs, power does not go up as easy as the last environment. This leads to 4 drops that have only 3 power, and 4 toughness will work as a decent blocker. Several keys to this meta.


In a tribe aspect, vampires and Merfolks made with the parts you need are the best tribes to build, and in a little behind are the pirates. These 3 are seen often with the best build and with no doubt strong. For the dinosaurs, they are way behind and needs lots of cards that are uncommon and above.

Legion LieutenantMerfolk MistbinderDire Fleet Neckbreaker

These ranks apply when we talk about the decks that have all they need. Not including the uncommon lord for vampires and the Merfolks, nor the B/R Pirate 《Dire Fleet Neckbreaker》, in most of your drafts you don’t need to go for the tribe theme, just pick cards that are playable is your basic strategy.


Grazing WhiptailExultant SkymarcherSun-Crested Pterodon

Flying decks had a crucial problem with《Grazing Whiptail》, but the card itself will decrease with less Ixalan packs, cards that can stop flyers will also decrease, which makes the flying creatures attack go through more easily. Maybe the 《Sun-Crested Pterodon》 is being underestimated.


Example: 1 drop creatures and combat tricks.

Grasping ScoundrelSea LegsMoment of Triumph

2 power worth of 1 drop creatures are able to have more useful periods during the game.

As we can notice, size and system creatures are in a lack and importance of combat tricks has risen massively. 《Moment of Triumph》 is an underestimated card at this time. It can turn the game around in battle and life gain is an additional bonus I like. We want have in mind that we aim to aggressively make 2 actions in one turn.

Low Toughness

Kitesail CorsairGiltgrove StalkerMartyr of Duskゴブリンの先駆者

Colors other than black have decent 2 drops with 2/1 which makes 1 point removals more useful (we have a useful 4 drop in black 《Vampire Revenant》).

Fanatical FirebrandDual Shot

Not even 《Fanatical Firebrand》 but 《Dual Shot》 is also useful.


Squire's DevotionTilonalli's CrownCurious Obsession

Removal is weak, and it is an environment that creatures battle each other. Auras will be very useful. Problem is that an easy game winning card, 《One With the Wind》 will be seen less (Though there is a new monster card 《Curious Obsession》 that has gave birth…).

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