It’s almost here! It’s almost here! Ixalan’s full set reveal comes a little later today, and I cannot wait! Magic’s newest expansion looks like it’s going to be a fun set to play, and the story is off to a really promising start. I’m planning to do a larger flavor review once we have the full spoiler; but as a bit of an appetizer, today I’d like to look at two things: the Ixalan Story Spotlights and important characters who are not in the set but will probably receive cards in Rivals of Ixalan.

Story Spotlights

So, let’s start by going beat by beat with our five story spotlights to see what we can learn and what mysteries remain!

Jace is here, and he can’t leave. If you follow Jay Annelli’s detail-oriented speculation, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon might have something to do with it.

Vraska’s here, and she’s a pirate captain now.

Now things start to get interesting. There’s a bit of key information on this card. We learn that Bolas gave Vraska a magic compass to find something, and that following the compass results in Vraska’s crew getting wrecked by a merfolk ambush. Combined with the first Magic Story of Ixalan (which ends with Vraska finding the stranded Jace on a barren island), it seems likely that Jace is aboard Vraska’s ship and is involved in this shipwreck too. (Indeed, the rigging he’s climbing in the art of Jace, Cunning Castaway might be on Vraska’s ship.)

Bolas’s involvement in Vraska’s quest raises a lot of questions. In the Magic Story Podcast about Ixalan, Alison Luhrs says that Vraska’s story in Ixalan is an exploration of what she can be beyond what she was seemingly born to be (a gorgon, a killer) when someone believes in her. But whose belief in her is opening up new possibilities? Is it Bolas, who has presumably sent her here as a treasure hunter? Or could it be the memory-wiped Jace, who is clearly impressed when he first sees her on Ixalan, be the one who believes in her ability to be something else?

And Vraska’s magic compass winds up in the hands of Jace. He uses it to find at least the approximate location of Orazca. This raises a new slew of questions. Where is Vraska at this point? Do Vraska and Jace end up washing up ashore somewhere together, and Vraska decides to entrust Jace with the compass? Was this all part of Bolas’s plan? Given his apparent viewpoint that the Gatewatch is more useful to him alive than dead, did Bolas squeeze Jace’s mind just right to make the Living Guildpact jump to Ixalan and send Vraska with a compass he knew would lead her into an ambush, banking on Jace getting the compass and being unable to resist a puzzle?

The final Story Spotlight strongly suggests that Jace and Vraska are together all along, because…

Yup, that’s a nice cliffhanger for the first set. So, Vraska and Jace seem to become legitimate teammates over the course of the Ixalan story—more reason to suspect we get Vraska in the Gatewatch in Rivals of Ixalan. (Did Bolas see that one coming? Because I sure didn’t.)

I’m curious if the pillar opposite the waterfall is part of Orazca. it seems more likely to be a cliff—there seems to be a single bush growing out of it—but I would buy the coloring as gold. That would be a nice starting point, if Ixalan ends with the major factions all on Orazca’s doorstep. I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing how Jace doesn’t die here, though. (My early bet: he luckily falls into the outstretched arms of Huatli at the bottom of the waterfall.)

Waiting in the Wings

We’ve seen a lot of name-dropped legendary characters who clearly have notable roles in the story but are not on cards in Ixalan. Indeed, Admiral Beckett Brass is probably the only faction leader on a card. Let’s take a quick tour.

Adrian Adanto

Adrian Adanto appears to be the leader of the Dusk Legion, and he named the Legion’s first outpost on Ixalan after himself. Given his stature and the token creation theme of the fort he named after himself, I would expect Adrian to be black-white, to have some ability that makes more 1/1 lifelinking vampires, and to be a bit pushed as a potential Commander general. He might, however, have a design more akin to Admiral Beckett Brass, pumping vampires you control (taking good advantage of the token subtheme that runs through the set) and giving some advantage if you damage your opponent with vampires—riffing, perhaps, on the “edge” mechanics that early Ixalan design explored.

Arguel & Aclazotz

No, Arguel! Don’t go into the blood-smeared cave! You’re supposed to be fasting! This card introduces two characters: Arguel, a member of the Dusk Legion whose blood fast-induced visions bring him to an ominous temple, and Aclazotz, understood by locals as an evil god. Aclazotz is most likely a demon (bat-like wings have been a feature of other Magic demons), and he seems poised to form an alliance with the vampires of the Dusk Legion.

Arguel could be an intriguing character in this: will he become a thrall of Aclazotz, possibly even betraying some members of the Dusk Legion’s leadership in order to make the legion more amenable to Aclazotz’s needs? Will he just get eaten? I’m very curious to find out. (Also, the storytelling on these double-faced cards is amazing. Each one really captures the feel of discovering Ixalan.)


Kumena looks like he’s the leader of the River Heralds. The flavor text on Overflowing Insight indicates that the other factions are “his enemies.” He’s clearly powerful—draw seven cards for seven mana—and I strongly suspect that he’s the protagonist of the Search for Acanta (whose lost knowledge probably includes how to get to Orazca).

Another merfolk pushed enough for modern might be too much to hope for, but I could see Kumena being designed as a potential curve-topper or valuable cog for standard merfolk. I would look for him to have an ability related to card draw, and either to mimic Admiral Brass (boosting merfolk and perhaps drawing cards when a merfolk you control damages an opponent) or to be able to make more merfolk.

Emperor Apatzec

There hasn’t been any art featuring him released yet, but I would expect Emperor Apatzec of the Sun Empire to show up on a card too, with a dinosaur-related ability similar to Kumena and Adanto. Apatzec played a key role in this week’s Magic Story. As a shrewd ruler with an expansionist agenda, I’m really not sure what to make of him. He is kind in his dealings with Huatli and seems to be driven chiefly by the protection of his people, but there is a suggestion that he is being deliberately slow and manipulative in hesitating to declare Huatli Warrior-Poet. I could see him making a heel turn somewhere around the midpoint of the story out of greed, once he realizes that Orazca is, indeed, real.


Um, hey, we have another planeswalking pirate on Ixalan. Based on Angrath’s being described as mostly causing mayhem and burning things, some fans hit upon the ingenious theory that Angrath is actually a pseudonym adopted by Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Then we met Angarth in Wednesday’s Magic Story.

Sorry, Tibalt fans. We’ve got our first minotaur planeswalker on the way. And once this image dropped, Vorthos twitter immediately went, “Angrath? Hey, wait a minute, that sounds familiar…” Now, Angrath probably is not the original Tahngarth, Talruum Hero of the Weatherlight Saga, but Wizards has dropped playful references to past characters’ names recently
(see Rashmi and Mishra).

The key difference here is, we know that Urza killed Mishra; we don’t know what became of Tahngarth after the Weatherlight Saga. It would stun me if Angrath were the original Tahngarth (chief among their differences, Angrath seems to still have his skin and to be chaotic evil), but with Dominaria looming, I can’t help wondering if there’s some actual connection. Is Angrath some kind of alternative Tahngarth that burst into being and escaped during the events of Planar Chaos, a sort of combination of Mirri, the Cursed and Nicol Bolas, returned from the grave? Is he perhaps the son of Tahngarth or something like that? I’m eager to see whether this is a playful reference to a beloved earlier character or something deeper.

The Race to the Immortal Sun

The Immortal Sun seems to be the key to everything. Angrath thinks that it’s the way to lift Ixalan’s binding. Perhaps the prison on the plane was designed to contain the Immortal Sun and protect it from foolish planeswalkers. Maybe Ugin had something to do with that? That sounds like Ugin’s  kind of stunt.

Although the block is built around four tribes, by my count we have six or seven different factions racing for the Immortal Sun: Vraska (likely for Bolas), Jace, Huatli on behalf of the Sun Empire, Kumena on behalf of the River Heralds, the Dusk Legion, Angrath and his crew of pirates, and potentially a plane-bound crew of Brazen Coalition pirates. I’d expect to see every faction make it to Orazca’s doorstep for the start of the next set, setting off a big scrum as they race through the mysterious (and likely trap- and puzzle-laden) city to try getting the Immortal Sun first.

Get ready for a hint of an Indiana Jones vibe. I think both parts of this story are going to be a lot of fun!

Beck Holden is a Ph.D. student in theater who lives in the greater Boston area. He enjoys drafting, brewing for standard, and playing 8-Rack in modern. He also writes intermittently about actually playing Magic at

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