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Building a New Standard

Happy Thursday MTG peeps,

Tomorrow, a brave new world will open up for Magic: the Gathering players at their local gaming stores.  Like thousands of other gamers, we'll be dropping by our local store, OMG! Games, here in Barrie, Ontario to have a fun-filled Friday Night Magic evening.  With the rotation of 2 blocks (four sets), the standard card pool just became a little bit smaller, but in our opinion, a whole lot more exciting.  

The newest set Ixalan, provides some incentives to build a list based upon the four tribes of Ixalan -
• Dinosaurs (Sun Empire)
• Pirates (Brazen Coalition)
• Vampires (Legion of Dusk)
• Merfolk (River Heralds)

We have ordered the above list in line of which tribes are expected to be the most powerful in the new standard environment.  Synergies and other tribal-based bonuses are great but may not be fully realised until the next set, Rivals of Ixalan produces additional support.  

For now however, the smart player (by way of example), may not be playing a tribal go-wide strategy with Orzhov (black / white) vampires but may be better served with a token-based strategy instead, utilising some of the new vampire spells which create tokens, such as Queen's Commission or Call to the Feast.  

There are some potential pitfalls of course.  For example, playing a Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle to create vampire tokens does force one to go 'all in' with vampire tribal, whereas it may be more prudent to look to previous black / white tokens lists prior to the rotation (some of which were not that bad), and simply update that with the goodies from Ixalan.  Examples again may be Servo Exhibition and Sram's Expertise coupled with Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession to double-down on token producing.

Whichever way you may be charting your course, it is typically rather important to set yourself up a strong board presence upon which to build as early on in the game as possible.  Another example used here is what one would love to see in an opening hand (or early card draws) should you be playing a Naya (white / green / red) Dinosaur decklist.

Playing Imperial Lancer turn one immediately followed by Nest Robber just seems sublime as you look to land four damage on the second turn.  As these two creatures become less relevant later game then you always have fodder for chump blockers.

Likewise, as Dinosaurs are relatively a tich more mana intensive, consideration should be given to mana acceleration early game.  Whether it is a 'man-dork' or a 'Banneret' (Morningtide reference) to reduce your mana cost.  The example here may be having Drover of the Mighty come down turn turn (which is a lovely 3/3 should you already have a dinosaur out) to tap for any colour - and / or - have an Otepec Huntmaster reduce your dino overhead by one.  The Huntmaster, also provides the benefit of sending a toothy hasty surprise over the fence.  Again, building your list for synergy (whether tribal or no), should be provided equal weight in most cases with designing with your opening hand in mind.

Happy Brewing Ixalan fans !



Ixalan Merfolk

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

A small number of Magic: the Gathering players we've be talking to have their focused on building standard decklists with Merfolk next week when the newest set, Ixalan is finally available in gaming stores.  Although there may not be very strong support to entice players to build with this (Allied color check lands, no clear traditional tribal lord), there is just enough incentive to give this a try.  Some brief examples - 

Deeproot Waters - a 2U enchantment which generates a 1/1 blue merfolk creature token with hexproof whenever you cast a merfolk spell.

Kopala, Warden of Waves - 1UU legendary merfolk which forces your opponents to pay 2 more should they paint a target on one of your merfolk.

Herald of Secret Streams - 3U merfolk warrior which grants an lovely unblockable abilities for your creatures with a +1/+1 counter on them.

Overflowing Insight, illus. Lucas Graciano

Other creatures from the two previous blocks not rotating out of standard may also assist - namely Metallic Mimic (to assist in getting those +1/+1 counters on), as well as Rishar, Peema Renegade (also brings +1/+1 counters to the party).

Although it is entirely too early to determine the success of a Blue / Green Merfolk build, it has given us enough promise of potential to forge ahead upstream with a list for the first few weeks of standard.  

Half of our enjoyment is contemplating and brewing up strategies, the other half is all about the storyline and flavour, which brings us to our next point - We have not had any mention of merfolk in the first three Magic Stories so far.  We do expect that this is to be corrected however, as soon as tomorrow's scheduled story, as River's Rebuke one of five Ixalan Story Spotlight cards.  This card's flavour text here - 
Carefully following the thaumatic compass Bolas had given her, Vraska blundered straight into the River Heralds' trap.
Updated with today's Magic Story 'The Shapers'.

For now however, we want to summarise a bit of Ixalan Fish Flavour for other merfolk fans.  As we all know, Merfolk is a creature type for a race of aquatic humanoids, and although this race is centered on the color blue, they have also shown up in white in Lorwyn, black in Shadowmoor and now green in Ixalan.  In fact, some Merfolk River Heralds of Ixalan are actually mono-green.

The Merfolk of Ixalan used to rule much of the continent of Ixalan, but their empire was eclipsed by the Sun Empire of the dino-riding humans.  Of the approximately 21 Merfolk, the following subtypes have creature cards -
scout (2), 
warrior (8) but also 
shaman (7) and 
wizard too (7). 

Presently the Ixalan merfolk live a nomadic existence within the dense jungle.   These Merfolk have a deep spiritual connection to nature, specifically the water and jungle are are able to 'shape' / animate and control both water and vegetation.  Central to Merfolk spirituality is the Great River, Primal Wellspring and the Deeproot Tree.

The merfolk of Ixalan are colorful and bright like tropical freshwater fish, and they use and wear jade jewelry, weapons and armor.  There is an indication that jade may be embued with magic.

There are Nine Tributaries and Nine Merfolk Tribes, each led by a master Shaper, who take their name from the river as well as some of the characteristics of that waterway.

Watertrap Weaver, illus. Josu Hernaiz

From the Magic Story (The Shapers) we know that most Merfolk believe it is their duty to keep the golden city of Orazca and the Immortal Sun hidden from trespassers, although there is some dissension.  

For now, here are a number of named Mefolk in Ixalan -

• Tishana, Voice of Thunder - the oldest among Merfolk Shapers who had instructed Kopala and other Shapers.

• Kumena - a Merfolk Shaper.  He is perhaps the most powerful among the nine Shapers, second only to Tishana.  He believes the only way to keep his enemies at bay is to use the Immortal Sun relic.

• Kopala, Warden of Waves - the youngest among the Merfolk Shapers.

Other Merfolk Shapers
• Falani - nothing yet known.
• Pashona - a Shaper with ability of foresight / future.
• Tuvasa - a Shaper with ability to control air / flight.



Ixalan Standard

Happy Friday MTG peeps,

Here in Barrie, Ontario we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather and with a record breaking humidex of 37ºC (about 99ºF) today, I fear that when winter does arrive, there will be no ice on Georgian Bay and we will receive an unholy roof-collapsing volume of snow fall.  Anywhoos, that is long off apparently - we should focus on the present.  

This weekend is the much anticipated Magic: the Gathering PreRelease for the newest set, Ixalan.  The best way to enjoy this weekend if you find yourself in Central Ontario (an hour north of Toronto) is to attend one of many scheduled Ixalan PreRelease events over the course of the weekend at OMG! Games, conveniently located off Highway 400, near Georgian College in the City's North end.  Expect air-conditioning, Pirates, Dinosaurs, Vampires, and Merfolk in this tribal-themed set.

Here at MTG Realm, we do love PreRelease and the chance of pulling sweet rares, winning prizes and most importantly, having fun, but today we want to yatter about the upcoming Standard constructed season starting next weekend during Friday Night Magic.  Over the last two weeks of official Ixalan previews, we have been imagining and contemplating the merits of a dozen 60-card decklists.  

Today is the day to see just how close we may have been in comparison to the MTG Professionals over at Hareruya. Here is this season's offering of innovative and exciting deck ideas - pop on over to this link for the full HareruyaWayfinder "Ixalan" edition from Kenji Tsumura and associates.

Deck 1 RB Pirates By Sebastian Pozzo

Deck 2 Grixis Tezzerator By Marc Tobiasch

Deck 3 Naya Dinosaurs By Marcio Carvalho

Deck 4 WB Tokens By Javier Dominguez

Deck 5 UW Approach By Martin Muller

Deck 6 GB Energy By Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Deck 7 UG Merfolk By Kenta Harane

Deck 8 Tishana Temur By Pierre Dagen

Deck 9 Grixis Pirates By Christian Calcano

Deck 10 RG Dinosaurs By Grzegorz Kowalski

Deck 11 Jeskai Monument By Riku Kumagai

Deck 12 GW Ramp By Kenji Tsumura

Deck 13 UR Prowess By Petr Sochurek



Ixalan Standard Merfolk

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

Wednesday ! Always a treat when Wizards of the Coast publish the next Magic Story for a new set.  To say we are giddy about the next Magic: the Gathering set Ixalan is a serious understatement.  The stories certainly fuel our excitement for the set.  Please do slide on over to today's story titled 'The Talented Captain Vraska' by the R&D Narrative Team linked right over here.  

The Blurb -
Vraska has never been happier. Finally able to be the leader she always knew she could be, she captains The Belligerent with the skill of the greatest of commanders. She had kept Jace Beleren alive initially to utilize his talents, but soon discovers that they make quite the team.

We definitely enjoy the story so far featuring amnesiac Jace, and finally learn what Vraska is doing the Plane of Ixalan.  Also of great (flavour) importance to us - as Vraska's home Plane of Ravnica has no large sea worthy of a proper ship, just how did Vraska pick up those sailing skills ?  Apparently if you are an Elder Dragon, you can transfer knowledge 'Matrix Style' - very cool !

Anywhoos - out today on the mothersite are the Ixalan Planeswalker Deck Lists.  These are great to quickly get into the game and be able to upgrade.  For more details, pop on over here.  Get these sleeved and boxed up with some Ixalan deck protectors / deck boxes from Ultra PRO, and you are ready to rock a Friday Night Magic event at your local gaming store.

Anywhoos - 
Here is something that we are working on now for the new standard season for Ixalan - Merfolk Go Tall, this will certainly need some more work and evaluation.
• Post-Ixalan Standard Constructed Merfolk. Go tall with +1/1 counters with Metallic Mimic, Vineshaper Mystic and Implement of Ferocity.

• Cash in with on those +1/+1 counters with Herald of Secret Streams and Armorcraft Judge.

Land (21)
4x Aether Hub
4x Botanical Sanctum
5x Forest
4x Island
4x Unclaimed Territory

Creature (29)
3x Armorcraft Judge
4x Herald of Secret Streams
3x Jade Guardian
3x Kopala, Warden of Waves
4x Kumena's Speaker
4x Metallic Mimic
4x Shaper's Apprentice
4x Vineshaper Mystic

Instant (7)
3x Blossoming Defense
4x Perilous Voyage

Artifact (4)
4x Implement of Ferocity

Sideboard (15)
3x Dive Down
3x Essence Scatter
3x Heroic Intervention
3x Spell Pierce

3x Unsummon



Ixalan B/W Tokens

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

On Friday, concluding the official preview season, the full Ixalan card image gallery went live over on the mothersite.  Since Friday, we here at MTG Realm, like many other gamers, we sequestered ourselves and went to the drawing board to create and develop ideas for standard constructed decklists.  At the beginning of previous standard seasons, we would attempt to update an existing 'tried and true' decklist, but with 4 of the 8 Magic: the Gathering sets rotating out of standard, there was perhaps only two or so good lists not adversely affected.  One suggestion is to build one of the 4 Ixalan tribes, but it appears that only Dinosaurs and Pirates presented strong enough options, with Merfolk and Vampires seeming weak, at least until improved support for those tribes are available in the next set, Rivals of Ixalan.

Early on in the previews, we were rather keen on Orzhov Black / White Vampires but were soon dissuaded from pursuing this.  One of favourite decks of all time was a Black and White Token strategy during the original Innistrad block with Intangible Virtue (Creature tokens you control get +1/+1 and have vigilance) at its heart.  When Aether Revolt was released we attempted to mimic a black white token list again, with Hidden Stockpile and similar synergies and again with Amonkhet's Anointed Procession.

In Ixalan, we are now presented with another opportunity to attempt a similar strategy with the combination of Legion's Landing and Call to the Feast.  With Anointed Procession and Hidden Stockpile still in standard constructed, is it enough to make this a serious consideration ?  There is no good anthem effect available at this time, so perhaps a gain and drain scheme but having something as as epic as Cartel Aristocrat and Blood Artist at this time is looking slim.  Perhaps we can hope for flooding the board early with tokens and dropping the opponent's life to critical before they land an incredibly large dinosaur.

Anywhoos, the above card images serve as a core to the yet to be developed list which might not get off the drawing board -
• Sacred Cat
 Anointer Priest
 Angel of Invention
 Servo Exhibition
 Hidden Stockpile 
 Start // Finish
 Anointed Procession
 Legion's Landing
 Call to the Feast


Ixalan Map

Happy Thursday MTG peeps,

Since first reading the J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit at a young and impressionable age, I have had a liking for any fantasy novel which supplied a map.  Tolkien's map of Middle-earth was referred to countless times as the book was read and re-read.  While some world-builder's may hold the opinion that this sort of thing detracts from the story or restricts the reader's imagination, I have always found that a little cartography improves one's vision.

Wizards of the Coast, although great map-makers on their Dungeons and Dragons side of the office wall, does not seem to approve of this on the Magic: the Gathering side.  It was indeed a surprise that with the next set, Ixalan, that they are doing a slow-roll preview with a map of Ixalan.  This perhaps was something the narrative team could not escape given the presence of Pirates, the search for treasure and a mythical lost city.

Although the full reveal of the Ixalan Map (linked right here) is another week or two out from being fully revealed, MTG Realm has come across an image posted by Jim on Tumblr.  More for our personal reference than you the reader - sorry to say, the full map and place names floated out from the Magic Story series are posted below.  It is my intention to update details as things progress.

Ixalan Map - Click to Embiggen

Ixalan has at least two large continents that are separated by the sea. Further north, travelers meet only unmelting ice.  For some reason, Planeswalkers can enter Ixalan, but can't leave.  


Ixalan, the western continent which bears the same name as the plane. Covered in vast jungles and rivers. It is home to large dinosaurs, that some of the natives managed to domesticate, and numerous secrets hidden within the forests.

• Sun Coast, the eastern coast.
• Pachatupa, capital city
• Tocatli, palace of Emperor Apatzec Intli III
• The Temple of the Burning Sun

Other Cities / Places

 • Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun
 • Lost Temple of Aclazotz, the bat-god
• Quetzatl
• Atzocan
• Pecatli
• Otopec
• Pachutupa
• Quetzatl

• Spitfire Bastion - a bastion created by Captain Ripley Vance in an active volcano (dang!)
• High and Dry - floating city base of the Brazen Coalition
  • "Useless Island" - Jace the Castaway lands here

• Miraldanor, the island stronghold of the Legion of Dusk
• Andanto, the first and strongest fort of the vampires
• Conquerer's Foothold
• Fort Leor
• Fort Dúrran

Lost cities Ancient ruins from the Sun Empire's heyday can now be found, overgrown and half-buried, in the depths of the jungle.
• Incalaquiampa
• The Deeproot Tree

• Lost Valley
• Orazca, the lost city of gold.
• Temple of Aclazotz
• Primal Wellspring, sacred springs infused with magical power.

Hidden coves hold pirate treasures stowed by captains long forgotten.
•Treasure Cove
• Azcanta
• Tonalixco
 • Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Torrezon is the name of the eastern continent. Ruled by an alliance between a powerful church and an iron-fisted monarch. 

Vampires dominate the continent after a series of wars with other realms. Refugees and exiles from the defeated nations fled to the sea and established the Brazen Coalition.


Ixalan Xocolātl

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

Happy indeed as today marks the second Ixalan story posted to the mothersite.  We suggest that before you look at today's Magic: the Gathering Ixalan previews, pop on over (linked right here) and read the story "A Question of Confidence' by the R&D Narrative Team.  This may have been initially titled 'The Third Aspect of the Sun' however.

The teaser for the story today - Huatli is a Warrior-Poet of the Sun Empire. Her talent in combat and creativity know no bounds, but when faced with a frightening encounter and an even more astounding vision, she must overcome discomfort to live up to expectation.

Nothing further on this, but we will share this image of the Sun Empire's Emperor Apatzec shown being rather cross with the quality of a cup of Xocolātl.  This Aztec Chocolate beverage is the ancestor of today's Hot Coco, but had a set of cajones (chilies) and the bitter tears of a Toronto Maple Leafs fan 

Anywhoos - 

Blake offered up an anticipated post of Ixalan tokens - and yes we're impressed with the great art again, and the clever linking of specific 'Treasure' token art to each tribe.  

Also of interest, Dan Barrett (@danisx0) WotC's Euro community staffer posted a FaceBook live stream as to what to expect for this weekend's Magic Open House event.  Our local gaming store, OMG! Games here in Barrie, is planning a great event to introduce new players to Magic: the Gathering.

Here is is quick round-up of all the new Ixalan previews out so far today.  

Brazen Buccaneers
Desperate Castaways
Dire Fleet Hoarder
Field of Ruin

Kinjalli's Caller
Lightning-Rig Crew
Raiders' Wake
Rigging Runner

Ruthless Knave
Tilonalli's Knight



Ixalan Tribal

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

There are a number of new (and one previously spoiled / now officially confirmed) Ixalan cards out today.  Before we get into into it, here is a brief summary of all the new Magic: the Gathering cards to be released into the wild at month's end.

Adanto Vanguard
Captivating Crew
Charging Monstrosaur
Dire Fleet Ravager (confirmed)
Imperial Lancer
Makeshift Munitions
River Sneak
Vicious Conquistador

Righto, if you've been following the MTG Realm blog for a good stretch, you will most likely know we have a thingy for Tribal.  This fondness may be a function of just when we came into the game - Lorwyn - a block which most definitively tribal in nature.  

We also do not count ourselves among good standard deck-builders and we admit that often we take an easy path by choosing a tribal 'Lord'.  Specifically a card which provides an advantage to playing with the same creature type.  Often this is basically a simple buff to power and toughness.

In the upcoming set Ixalan there are the four following 'tribes' - 
• Pirates (blue-black-red)
• Dinosaurs (red-green-white)
• Vampires (white-black)
• Merfolk (green-blue)

To date with just over half of the Ixalan set now revealed, there only appears to be two conventional 'Lords' as well as a handful of other cards lending some synergy to a creature type.  The following Ixalan tribes have a conventional Lord -

Dinosaurs - Thundering Spineback - Other Dinosaurs you control get +1/+1.

Pirates - Admiral Beckett Brass - Other Pirates you control get +1/+1.

Not to fear however.  Should you wander down the tribal path in the new standard constructed format, you will be very well served in securing copies of the following cards - 

Arcane Adaptation - All will be one.  This enchantment is a great equalizer.

Pillar of Origins - Mana rock to play any colour for the chosen creature type.

Vanquisher's Banner - Buff's P/T as will as given you a card draw - damn good.

Unclaimed Territory - same as the pillar, but in Land form.

We are certainly excited about taking tribal for a spin in this set and are hoping for additional support cards forthcoming this week.  We suggest that you may wish to Sam Stoddard's article today on the mothersite 'Developing a Tribal Set' to receive a better appreciation of some of the tricky and strategic work that Wizards of the Coast does to make tribal work in balanced and engaging game environment.



Ixalan Spoilers Monday

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

Unfortunately, not so happy for some, either recovering from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or marking the 16th Anniversary of the tragic terror attack.  Enough of that for now though as you are here for Magic: the Gathering news, spoilers, etc.  Anywhoos, since brevity is the soul of wit, let me wear briefs.

There is still some much Magic: the Gathering material to go through from the recent HASCON 2017 event.  One big piece of news is that they were drafting Iconic Masters over the weekend, and OH MY, does this look fun.  For the full list of all Iconic Masters cards coming out in November, pop on over to this link for the Iconic Masters Card Image Gallery.

Also of note, at HASCON 2017, the folks at Ultra PRO Gaming previewed a very lovely looking 'Relic Tokens', soon to be perhaps our favourite MTG gaming accessory.  The product release date is yet unknownm, but here is some info on this -
• 15 Collectible tokens in the set
• Dual dials to track Token Power & Toughness or other game mechanics (Loyalty, Energy, Poison, etc.)
• Pack of 3 Relic Tokens for an MSRP ~ $ 5.00
• Premium-Foil versions randomly inserted
Relic Tokens available - Dragon, Angel, Soldier, Beast, Goblin, Drake, Zombie, Cat, Snake, Insect, Wurm, Spirit, Tarmogoyf, Nicol Bolas, Gideon.

Next up - 
Lets get into some exciting Ixalan spoilers / previews.  As double-faced cards are the best vessel for a set's flavour / storyline, here are two of them now - 

Legion's Landing, W
Legendary Enchantment, Rare
When Legion's Landing enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 white Vampire creature token with lifelink.
When you attack with three or more creatures, transform Legion's Landing.
"I claim this land in the name of the queen." —Adrian Adanto of Lujio
Adanto, the First Fort
Legendary Land
(Transforms from Legion's Landing.)
T: Add W to your mana pool.
2W, T: Create a 1/1 white Vampire creature token with lifelink.
Illustrated by Svetlin Velinov

Dowsing Dagger, 2
Artifact - Equipment, Rare
When Dowsing Dagger enters the battlefield, target opponent creates two 0/2 green Plant creature tokens with defender.
Equipped creature gets +2/+1.
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may transform Dowsing Dagger.
Equip 2
Lost Vale
(Transforms from Dowsing Dagger.)
Tap: Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool.
The pirates had ventured into the interior for treasure. They found something far greater.
illus. Florian de Gesincourt

Other Ixalan previews out today include -
Snapping Sailback
Spell Swindle
Terror of the Skies

Trove of Temptation



Ixalan Previews 9-09

Happy Saturday MTG peeps,

We’ve been under the weather since Wednesday but are now back in the saddle and have a lot of catching up to do with a large volume of Magic: the Gathering news and previews.  

Official Italian previews have finished off week one of two.  The first Magic Story instalment, titled Jace, Alone is pretty much reminiscent of the true story of Chuck Noland, as played by Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  Great opening story of how Jace, his mind broken by Nicole Bolas finds himself without his critical memory intact on the Plane of Ixalan and discovered by Vraska who has summarised the situation quite perfectly with the question "Jace, what the hell happened to you?”.

Magic Arena is the next step being taken in Magic: the Gathering digital gaming.  The previews out for this are also including a number of upcoming Ixalan previews as well.

A number of very cool news and previews were revealed at HASCON.  The mix includes cards as well as absolutely gorgeous full art borderless lands for Unstable.  Other previews include Arena as mentioned above and some Ixalan previews.  We cannot go through them all, so here is just the Planeswalker for now.  We will fully catch up on Monday.

Previewed by Wizards of the Coast at HASCON.

Vraska, Relic Seeker, 4BG

Legendary Planeswalker - Vraska

+2: Create a 2/2 Black Pirate with Menace

-3: Destroy target artifact, creature or enchantment, create a treasure

-10: Target players life total becomes 1


illus. Chris Rahn # 232/279