Earlier this week Matt Tabak unveiled some details on Ixalan’s four factions battling across the plane for the lost treasures. These groups are constantly battling each other over the location and control of the lost city of gold, Orazca. Today we’re going to take a look at each faction and see where we’ve come across these groups before elsewhere in the multiverse.

The Sun Empire (WRG Warriors & Dinosaurs)

The first faction and likely the most popular of the warring groups on Ixalan is the Sun Empire, a group of warriors who, according to Tabak, “have learned to command terrifying dinosaurs on the battlefield.” Their keyword mechanic is Enrage which triggers when the dinosaurs are dealt damage.

First let’s acknowledge the fact that Dinosaur has never appeared on a black-bordered Magic card as a creature type. In all of Magic’s history it has appeared once, on an Unhinged card called [casthaven]Old Fogey[/casthaven]. This card was a silver-bordered joke about old mechanics, featuring phasing, cumulative upkeep, echo, fading, banding, protection from Homarids, snow-covered plainswalk, flanking, and rampage.

What’s most important though is now [casthaven]Old Fogey[/casthaven]’s ability to band with other dinosaurs will make it a force to be reckoned with when you mix it with Ixalan’s dinosaurs in your silver-border-legal Commander decks, right? No? Moving on…

Even though dinosaurs are new to Magic, the color combination made popular by the Naya shard of Alara, White-Red-Green, has featured 22 creatures in the past. Many of them, like [casthaven]Meglonoth[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rakeclaw Gargantuan[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Woolly Thoctar[/casthaven], would fit right in alongside the new Naya Dinosaurs. In fact, if a planar portal were opened from Naya to Ixalan, the Sun Empire might not even notice.

Then again, if Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, waltzed into Naya, I bet the denizens would probably take notice. This brings us to the most important question of the day: If Naya and Ixalan were connected, who would win in a fight, Gishath or [casthaven]Godsire[/casthaven]? I’ll let you [casthaven]ponder[/casthaven] that while we move on to the next faction!

The Brazen Coalition (UBR Pirates)

Unlike dinosaurs, pirates have made appearances elsewhere in the multiverse, going as far back as [casthaven]Ramirez DePietro[/casthaven], scourge of the Legends expansion. Of the 20 pirates in Magic past, however, DePietro is the only one who has a color identity that is both blue and black. 17 of the pirates appear in blue, while [casthaven]Smuggler Captain[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Kari Zev, Skyship Raider[/casthaven], represent black and red respectively.

With precedent for piracy across the Grixis colors of the multiverse, Admiral Beckett Brass is proud to lead this ragtag band of miscreants to glory and fame and gold on Ixalan. The Brazen Coalition’s mechanic is Raid and it triggers if you attacked with a creature earlier in the turn. That should work nicely with Mirage’s [casthaven]Kukemssa Pirates[/casthaven], Homeland’s [casthaven]Reef Pirates[/casthaven], Kaladesh’s [casthaven]Skyship Plunderer[/casthaven], and Portal’s [casthaven]Talas Warrior[/casthaven].

I’m not going to tell you how to build your own Brazen Coalition commander deck with Admiral Brass at the helm, but the multiverse has a lot to offer an ambitious seafaring planeswalker like yourself. While you start trying to remember where you put your foil Kari Zev, let’s move from the ships and into the waterways of Ixalan themselves with the next group.

The River Heralds (UG Merfolk)

While the multiverse runs rampant with merfolk of all shapes and sizes, we haven’t come across to many that identify as both blue and green in our travels. And, when we do, they’re always just a small portion of a larger tribe that is often very much a blue collective, not surprisingly.

We’ve seen these Simic-like merfolk before on Shadowmoor, Theros, Ravnica, and Dominaria. Some, like [casthaven]Prime Speaker Zegana[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Vorel of the Hull Clade[/casthaven], are dominating figures within their communities, while others like Wistful Selkie and Kiora’s Follower prefer to serve among the ranks of their peers.

Ixalan’s merfolk will very much follow in the mystical footsteps of their brethren across the multiverse. Tishana, a leader of the River Heralds, is poised to maximize the use of loyal UG merfolk like [casthaven]Cold-Eyed Selkie[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Thrasios, Triton Hero[/casthaven]. Will the sea-dwelling wizards and shamans be able to hold off the sea-faring pirates? Only time will tell…

The Legion of Dusk (WB Vampires)

Last, but certainly not least, are the Legion of Dusk, a tribe whose strategy, as Tabak informs us, “revolves around the manipulation of life. If you choose to serve the Legion, you’ll find yourself paying life for powerful effects, regaining that life via lifelink and other abilities, and ultimately draining the life from your foes.”

The multiverse is home to six other half-moon-cookie-colored vampires and amazingly they all line up with the mechanical flavor of the Legion of Dusk, if not the treasure-seeking flavor of Ixalan. Though it’s safe to say that the [casthaven]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Tithe Drinker[/casthaven], both residents of Fiora, would be happy to seek out Orazca’s gold.

Then there’s the life draining side of the clan, best seen perhaps on one of my favorite legends of the multiverse: [casthaven]Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter[/casthaven]. Lifelink? Check. Sacrificing your creatures to the vampire master? Check. Paying Vish Kal’s blood price to drain your enemies? Check and mate.


Why yes, I think those will be nice additions to the multiverse’s growing Legion of Dusk. It remains to be seen if Vish Kal will remain the only legend at the head of this force, but I highly doubt it and look forward to seeing a new blood-sucker take his throne.

Rich Stein is super excited for the new warring factions of Ixalan and can’t wait to see what Commander brews start popping up as more of the set’s legends appear.

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