Here at TheEpicStorm.com, we aspire to corner our little niche of a niche format in a niche card game. There will be other Rivals of Ixalan set reviews, by more ambitious authors, who aspire to expound on multiple cards and their applications, in multiple decks, across multiple formats. Here at TheEpicStorm.com, we aim to be a little more focused. And so I present to you: the first ever set review strictly focusing on the impact Rivals of Ixalan cards have the on The Epic Storm.
Oh, what a difference 1 CMC makes. If this were 1BB, it would probably unite TES and ANT into one streamlined archetype. Thank god it's 4 CMC and we can keep pestering Bryant about which deck is better.
One of the most interesting aspects of Mastermind's Acquisition is that it is a clauseless tutor and wish, allowing the deck to search up sideboarded or maindecked answers or mana. This means we may see more decks with sideboarded Ad Nauseam, Empty the Warrens, or Cabal Therapy. If played, it also allows for a silver bullet suite of sideboard answers with little downside - whether it's Abrupt Decay, Thoughtseize, Defense Grid, Telemin Performance, or even Dread of Night. The versatility is unprecedented.
While TES is not in the market for a 4 cost tutor effect, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the card will have limited applications in ANT (or even create an alternative grinding station build). It provides a way around Surgical Extraction, another tutor, and utility without branching into Rite of Flame & Burning Wish territory. The big unknown is whether 4 CMC is worth the added flexibility - my gut is that the cost will limit how widely applicable Mastermind's Acquisition is, but the card is sweet.
This protects from Surgical Extraction, Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mage into that already binned Flusterstorm. I was initially pretty excited when I saw Silent Gravestone (so macabre of me) - it's a one mana and colorless Ground Seal! I think the card will see legacy play, but I don't think it is as good as my initial reaction. Ground Seal has two distinct advantages: it cantrips, and it dodges Kolaghan's Command. If the metagame shifts such that the grindy Deathrite Shaman decks don't play Kolaghan's Command, or Surgical Extraction becomes more popular this may be good enough. That said, it is possible that this finds more play in ANT, where the graveyard is a more important resource to protect.
Another sweet legacy playable card. The most likely application is giving delver decks an answer to Marit Lage and Rishadan Port, which they struggle against. It is unclear whether Blood Sun will be a regular choice, or more of a niche metagame call. The card could also see some play as Blood Moon number 5 & 6 in certain prison or stompy decks. While worth noting, Blood Sun likely has little impact to storm strategies, as it really doesn't interact with cards we care about, and is clunky. If Blood Sun does become ubiquitous it may drive mana bases to play additional duals over fetchlands, thus making legacy even more expensive.
Finally a card to break Abjure! This card is a trap. It says, “if you have a way to sacrifice or destroy me, then draw a card fewer than the number of cards in hand” (remember Induced Amnesia and whatever you use to destroy it each cost a slot). That means you are likely trying to assemble a two card combo to draw maybe three cards. It's a lot of set up cost for very little gain, especially when cards like Painful Truths exist.
Hasten young storm troopers to pre-releases around the globe! Go with head high and chest out. Go secure in the knowledge that whatever deficiencies loom in your knowledge of this limited format, you are not daunted. For you know with great certainty, that two drop vanilla creatures and merfolk and dinosaurs aint got shit on your knowledge of Legacy Storm. So when that child across the battlefield out tempos you with well timed raid triggers, look down your oily nose and scoff. For their raid triggers pale in comparison to the OG mac daddy of raid triggers – Xantid Swarm.