September 8, 2017

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Daily Dose of Ixalan – Exploring new mechanics

Welcome all to another edition of the Daily Dose of Ixalan, where today I’ll be talking about one of the new mechanics from Ixalan.

One of the first things that I want to see when a new set releases is what mechanics will be in the set. Will there be any returning mechanics? Will there only be new mechanics? How will these mechanics interact with existing cards and other mechanics in the format? These are all questions I ask myself when I start to see those first preview cards start to appear. Today I’m going to be looking at the new mechanic, Explore.

Whenever a creature explores, the following happens: (Reveal the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand if it's a land. Otherwise, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature, then put the card back on top or into your graveyard.)

This mechanic is a combination of a few things we have seen before. If it seems a bit wordy and complicated, don’t worry, you aren’t alone in thinking so. Here's another way of putting the Explore mechanic. Scry 1, if it’s a land you must draw the card, if not, this creature gets +1/+1. I know, it’s still a little confusing. But, the bottom line is that either way you're getting something cool out of it. You get either a free card draw of a land, or card selection plus a larger creature.

Let’s look at one of the new creatures that has this mechanic. Here is Emperor’s Vanguard.


You get a four-power creature for four mana to start off with, which is respectable. Empreror’s Vanguard doesn’t come with any evasion built in, so you might need to do a little work before you're able to explore. If you can connect though, you can either start to build your mana base, or make this creature larger. It would have been nice if it had trample so that your opponent isn’t able to block with a smaller creature. Since this creature does have an Explore trigger if it deals combat damage your opponent isn't likely to allow it to get through for damage. Emperor's Vanguard will become a lightning rod for any removal your opponent has in their hand.

Do you know who else likes to explore? You guessed it, Pirates! Here is another new explore card, Deadeye Tracker.


Some players might just like the ability if it only targeted two cards for removal from your opponent’s graveyard. Be wary that you probably won’t be able to use this ability early in the game though. But, once it does get going you should be able to use this ability over multiple turns to gain card advantage. Since there don't appear to be any graveyard themes in Ixalan, it probably won’t be rated as high for Limited play. It would have been nice to be able to remove target cards from any one graveyard and not just your opponent's. This would have put this card at a slightly higher level for me.

The last card I want to have a look at today is a card that doesn’t have the Explore mechanic itself, but will take advantage of when any of your other creatures use it. Here's Wildgrowth Walker.


To start off with, Wilgrowth Walker gives you a 1/3 for two mana, which isn’t bad on defense. But if you can explore even once while this card is on the battlefield, you'll gain major value. Every time a creature of yours explores, you will gain three life, get a +1/+1 counter, and either another +1/+1 counter or a land into your hand. Wildgrowth Walker makes every one of your creatures that explores that much better. All the cards and +1/+1 counters are great, but don’t think any less of the three life you gain. This might be a card that you look to sideboard more copies in when playing against an aggressive deck. There aren’t quite enough creatures previewed with the new Explore mechanic to see just how great it can be yet.

So, what are your initial thoughts on this new mechanic? I believe it will provide an incremental advantage throughout the game, and if left unchecked could become a major source of card advantage. However, there are times that cards with eEplore will never get to activate their ability, making them have less value.

Thanks again for joining me on the Daily Dose of Ixalan and join me tomorrow as I continue into the world of Ixalan and all it has to offer!