Rivals of Ixalan Mechanics

Posted in Feature on January 1, 2018

By Matt Tabak

Senior editor. Game designer. Writer. Bon vivant. Matt wears many hats inside Magic R&D, but they're hard to see as he's so tall.

Good news, Planeswalker! Your adventures on Ixalan have led you to the once-lost city of Orazca. Incredible riches, unthinkable power, and a crazy little artifact called the Immortal Sun—all within your grasp. But finding something isn't the same as keeping it, and now the real fight begins. Rivals of Ixalan gives you even more tools to secure your discoveries once and for all. Let's dive in.

Time to Ascend

Rivals of Ixalan features one new keyword: ascend. Ascend unlocks different bonuses on different cards if you have the city's blessing. That's a fairly unusual description for a Magic ability, but then again, ascend is a fairly unusual ability. What is the city's blessing? How do you get it? Let's check out Dusk Charger.

The city's blessing is a designation that the ascend ability can give you. The city's blessing isn't a permanent or emblem, and nothing can destroy it or otherwise interact with it. It's just something true about you. It doesn't do anything by itself, but different cards will get bonuses if you have the city's blessing. For example, Dusk Charger gets a nice boost to 5/5 if you have the city's blessing.

If ascend is on a permanent, it constantly checks to see whether you control ten or more permanents. The moment you do, you get the city's blessing. This doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to. It just happens. But the permanent with ascend has to be under your control to check. If you control ten permanents, then go back to eight, and then you cast Dusk Charger as your ninth permanent, you won't get the city's blessing just yet. Ascend always looks at the current game state, not the past.

Ascend also appears on instants and sorceries, such as Secrets of the Golden City.

The ascend ability on an instant or sorcery works slightly differently. In this case, the ascend ability checks if you control ten or more permanents only once, as the spell resolves. Spells with ascend also do other things. Those instructions appear after the ascend ability, so they'll happen after the check. This means Secrets of the Golden City can give you the city's blessing before determining whether you'll draw two or three cards.

When checking if you control ten or more permanents, count every permanent you control, including lands and tokens. Don't forget Auras and Equipment, even if they are somehow attached to permanents you don't control. Don't count counters, though, as they aren't permanents.

Once you have the city's blessing, you keep it for the rest of the game. Nothing can take it away from you. If you lose all your permanents after gaining the city's blessing, well that sucks and you're probably going to lose, but you'll keep the city's blessing! For example, if you control eight permanents but have previously received the city's blessing, you'll draw three cards as Secrets of the Golden City resolves.

Multiple players can all have the city's blessing at the same time. With all the warring factions on Ixalan, the Immortal Sun hops around like a hot potato, but possessing it even briefly leaves you forever changed. Gaining the city's blessing doesn't impact any other player's current blessing status.

Although the city's blessing isn't a permanent, token, or emblem, we've created a printed card to use as a reminder. Okay, it's really to show off to your opponents, but you do you.

Return to Adventure!

All four featured factions from Ixalan are back in this set, along with the mechanics and abilities that made them famous. If you need a quick refresher, well, here's a quick refresher.

Enrage

The rampaging Dinosaurs of the Sun Empire make unparalleled mounts and battle companions. Many of them have enrage abilities, which trigger whenever the Dinosaur is dealt damage.

Raid and Treasure

The Pirates of the Brazen Coalition are still at it, looting and plundering their way across the seas. Raid abilities apply if you've attacked with one or more creatures earlier in the turn. Treasure tokens also return; those are artifact tokens you can sacrifice for one mana of any color.

Explore

The explore ability pops up on a few cards in Rivals of Ixalan. When a creature you control explores, you reveal the top card of your library to see what it found. If it's a land card, you put it into your hand. Otherwise, you put a +1/+1 counter on the creature and the card can go either into your graveyard or back on top of your library.

More fantastic double-faced cards that transform into lands with their gorgeous map frame, woohoo!

Ah yes, in case you're wondering, there are more fantastic double-faced cards that transform into lands with gorgeous map frames. Woohoo!

If you need more information about any of the Ixalan mechanics, I recommend checking out the Ixalan mechanics article.

Unrivaled

The closing of the Ixalan block brings everything to a head: quests for power, shifting allegiances, and the fate of an ancient artifact that holds within it the destiny of entire worlds. The events of Rivals of Ixalan promise to shake everything up, including your favorite decks.

Hold on—it's going to be a bumpy ride. Have fun at the Prerelease!

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