Returning to the Fold: Thoughts on the Ixalan Release


By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

As the release of Wizards of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering Ixalan nears and the spoiler card information is fully released, everything I’m discovering about it is hardly exciting. Set one offers a bit of cool narrative, but I’m still not entirely sold in this mixed genre realm. Plus, the news on the incentive promotion cards for Friday Night Magic changing to token cards next month is more of a deterring factor. Because these participation bonuses are not shiny, I’m not as inclined to participate.

The Davy Jones in me thinks the plunder is slim. The last set drained my funds so I can pick up duplicates of certain cards. Ixalan offers very little I truly want to play with. While Sorcerous Spyglass and Revel in Riches are two nice cards, the appeal of fighting dinosaurs is not all that hot. I still feel going Land of the Lost should be its own entity. I do not mind the vampire pirates as much (I was hoping for a few lich types inspired from Pirates of the Caribbean), but I have a burning question: just how much sunblock are they wearing to in order to cross the sea to arrive at a new world? The folklorist in me is appalled by the fact these members of the undead can cross water. This fact goes against tradition.


While checking out the lists in hopes to find a few cards to update my Rime of the Ancient Mariner themed deck, there’s not a lot of cards which stand out as usable. The spyglass can help, Captivating Crew can offer assistance and Dark Nourishment offers food for thought, and that’s it! The horror theme has been done to death in this game, and while I understand the designers were steering clear because the last set was zombie heavy, they should have at least have four or five cards designed to sate the necromancer in me.

I’m more interested in the creatures the second set, Rivals, may have. This later collection may well explore Mesoamerican cultural traditions better. The current set certainly is teasing at the possibilities and is featuring the art to show this jungle world is colourful. I hope more gods will appear.

This game’s version of translating the search for El Dorado to seeking out fabled Orazca is a good idea and hopefully, plenty of artifacts and a “stealing” mechanic will emerge. There will no doubt be a card called the Immortal Sun, rumoured to be as powerful as the Ark of the Covenant.

While this part of the narrative is one that I want to read about, I do not think this card game is well suited to provide Indiana Jones style adventures. I’d rather go off to play the classic Atari 2600 video game Montezuma’s Revenge. While a new mechanic is introduced where players can “explore” their deck, I feel more is needed to realize this world proper. Where’s the sacrifice or ability to cultivate the land to reap the rewards? This initial set is only an intro to a world, and I feel the next one is where the gold is at.


Ixalan is missing a spiritual component. I’m wondering who these various creature civilizations are worshipping? According to the MtG Wiki, a city is vaguely named after the mythical Quetzalcoatl — he deserves more than a passing reference. This game’s resident necromancer Liliana Vess could use a new chum if only the Mayan death lord Yum Cimil was translated over.

I can easily boil down why I’m not as fond of this particular release when compared to others, especially when the Amonkhet block did a better job of bringing various aspects of The Book of the Dead alive. The cultures from this historical region move in agricultural and astronomical cycles. None of this detail absolutely appears in the cards being offered in this set. They are more centric towards pirates craving booty and dinosaurs still roaming the planet. Hopefully, the next subset will correct this problem. One easy fix is to see Nissa Revane come looking for Jace, who is lost in space and looking for answers to his identity.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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