Ixalan is well on its way to being completely spoiled, and beyond the pirates and dinosaurs, what sticks out to me is the high power of the mythic rares we've seen so far. It's important to figure out how to best use these cards, whether it is in Standard, Modern, Commander, or beyond. Today I'll work on doing that by analyzing what exactly these cards do, where they fit, and how we might make the most of them. I've ranked them in order of their likelihood to see Standard play, but more important is the details behind the rankings.
Boneyard Parley can Reanimate creatures from both graveyards, so it has a lot of power, and it's always going to at least Reanimate one creature you really want, but the seven mana to play it is hardly better than just casting a creature in the first place. The biggest draw to reanimation historically has been cheating on mana cost and getting a huge creature into play ahead of schedule, and Boneyard Parley doesn't really accomplish that. It's a suitable replacement to the Ever After that is rotating out of Standard, but that card didn't see much play in the first place. It looks like a fun card for casual play, but it's not going to cut it in competitive formats.
I have a hard time seeing Overflowing Insight making an impact in Standard when blue already has two other very good top-end cards, Pull from Tomorrow and Torrential Gearhulk. Both of these options are more flexible throughout the game, especially as instants compared to the sorcery Overflowing Insight, so I think that leaves it out in the cold.
Overflowing Insight does seem strong in Commander play, and it's the the perfect kind of card to abuse with effects that can play spells for free, like Narset, Enlightened Master, but I don't see much competitive potential.
Tishana, Voice of Thunder has a lot of abilities but none that make it look like a great Standard card. It would be a good top-end in a deck that floods the battlefield with creatures and can generate a lot of mana, possibly as a payoff for a Growing Rites of Itilmoc deck, but that doesn't scream competitive.
In Modern and Legacy Tishana, Voice of Thunder competes with Regal Force, but it could be reasonable alternative in a deck that can easily make blue mana because it can hold onto extra cards past seven and potentially be larger than a 5/5, and triggering from non-green creatures as well means it's better in decks that aren't monogreen. Its most likely home is in Commander as a payoff for creature decks and possibly as a Commander itself.
Admiral Beckett Brass is useful as a lord creature for Pirates, but its ability to gain control of permanents seems a bit "win-more", since any game where you have the card plus three Pirates hitting the opponent is likely to be a victory anyways. There's also the issue that three-mana decks become much more difficult with Ixalan, so it's likely the best Pirate decks will be restricted to two colors, which leaves Admiral Beckett Brass on the sidelines. I see the legendary creature as being tailor-made as a Commander for Pirate decks, where it will enable Commander players to include all of the best Pirate cards across three colors.
Star of Extinction is an effective battlefield sweeper that should destroy every creature in play, but its seven mana cost means it's not really competitive compared to cheaper options like Hour of Devastation or Fumigate. Destroying a land as well is certainly nice, but creature lands leaving Standard means the best targets for this will be either lands enchanted with Gift of Paradise, or ideally the new cycle of legendary enchantment flip cards that transform into lands. The power of this new land cycle means that Star of Extinction could have some potential use in Standard, so I am not completely counting it out, but the burden is on it to prove itself.
Star of Extinction does seem fun in Modern where it could combine with Boros Reckoner or Stuffy Doll to kill the opponent, and we'll certainly see these combos come up in more casual play.
Dire Fleet Ravager generates value when it enters play by taking a large chunk of the opponent's lifetotal, but the ability being symmetrical is a liability if playing against another aggressive deck. Beyond that, it's a large threat with Menace and difficult to profitably stop because of deathtouch, so it's going to take both blockers down with it. I could see it being played at the top-end of a Pirate deck, but weakness against cards like Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance and it generally being a bit too small for the cost means it's a longshot.
Jace, Cunning Castaway is one of the most high-profile cards in Ixalan, but it's not as obviously powerful as its predecessors. The +1 ability of turning creatures into looters for the turn is useful, but it's not overwhelmingly strong because it's never really going to amass card advantage, just an increase in card quality. What seems like the primary ability on the Planeswalker is the -2 ability to generate a 2/2 Illusion Token. 2/2 creatures with a drawback for three mana aren't exactly constructed playable, but leaving behind a Planeswalker is a nice upside if the opponent can't immediately destroy it. A couple turns later the Planeswalker can generate another token, so eventually it will generate the advantage necessary to make it a strong play, but a lot has to go right.
I can see Jace, Cunning Castaway as a roleplayer in Standard, but it seems that Wizards made an effort to ensure this Jace isn't as broken as some of its predecessors. One place that it looks very fun and potentially powerful is with Anointed Procession, which can double the effect of the ultimate ability and then double the effect of each of their -2 abilities, so it will convert into eight 2/2 tokens.
Huatli, Warrior Poet has a lot of potential in a dinosaur deck where all of its abilities will be useful. Creating a stream of 3/3 dinosaur tokens is a very solid go-to ability, even if it doesn't generate loyalty. The +2 ability to gain life will often be weak, but against aggressive decks in racing situations it will be great, and that could be relevant given that the top deck initially is likely to be the very aggressive mono-red deck. What's really interesting is the -X ability, which not only can destroy opposing creatures or turn off blockers, but can be cashed in on one's own creatures to trigger the Enrage ability on dinosaurs like Ripjaw Raptor and Raging Raptors.
Vona, Butcher of Magan looks like the kind of card that can completely take over a game if it's unanswered. Tapping to destroy any nonland permanent is extremely powerful, and while seven life is quite the expense, Vona, Butcher of Magan helps pay for it itself by being a four-power lifelink creature that will gain back over half the cost. Adding vigilance to the mix allows the card to attack and use its ability on the same turn, so once any relevant blockers are cleared out it will effectively be destroying permanents for just three life, all the while killing the opponent.
Being a Vampire makes it even better because of the tribal implications, but Vona, Butcher of Magan looks effective in any deck that can cast it. I like its Standard prospects, and while Modern is probably a stretch, it's going to be a casual favorite and a card to build around in Commander.
Wakening Sun's Avatar has a very powerful effect of sweeping the battlefield, and it reminds me very much of Myojin of Cleansing Fire, which destroys everything else while remaining in play itself. Like the Myojin, Wakening Sun's Avatar has to be cast from hand to activate the sweeper ability, and that's very restrictive, especially when the most obvious place to put the card is next to Gisath, Sun's Avatar. That said, Wakening Sun's Avatar could find a home in the same deck as Gisath, Sun's Avatar as an additional top-end card to cast, especially because it would leave the rest of its controller's dinosaurs in play and theoretically only sweep the opponent's side of the battlefield if they aren't playing dinosaurs themselves.
Rowdy Crew hasn't seen much love, but I see a lot of potential for this mythic pirate. Its ability to gain counters is going to win games, but I think it's best analyzed without this ability and the assumption that it will just be a 3/3 with occasional upside. Drawing three cards and discarding two comes with card advantage locked in, so it's somewhat like a Rogue Refiner, but the loot ability can potential upgrade a weak card in hand to a better one. With careful play and deckbuilding, Rowdy Crew will often effectively generate two new cards, and that's a big deal for a red deck that's hungry for them.
Rowdy Crew is poor when holding powerful cards like Glorybringer, so it will be best suited at the top-end of a low-curve aggressive deck. It's also potentially excellent alongside God-Pharaoh's Gift as a way to fuel the graveyard and power up Gate to the Afterlife, and that could be relevant given that the deck almost completely survives rotation. It does compete with Hazoret, the Fervent and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, so it's not really ideal for the current build of Mono-Red, but it will find a home somewhere.
Gishath, Sun's Avatar is the king of Ixalan's dinosaurs. Sitting at the top-end of a dedicated dinosaur deck will allow it to generate a massive advantage if it connects with the opponent, so it's the sort of card worth building around. Eight mana is certainly a lot to pay, but it's worth the cost if it can connect. It has been discussed as a possible replacement for Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as the new best thing to ramp into, and with plenty of strong cards to ramp into dinosaurs I Foresee this being the case. Dinosaurs seem pushed in power level and are slated for competitive Standard play, and Gisath, Sun's Avatar is going to play a role in that.
There's a high bar set for six-mana Planeswalkers in Standard, but I believe Vraska, Relic Seeker sits somewhere between Elspeth, Sun's Champion, which defined Standard during its tenure, and Sorin, Grim Nemesis, a competitive Planeswalker that was at various times part of top decks during its run in Standard. One advantage Vraska, Relic Seeker has over those Planeswalkers is its higher loyalty, and it gets even higher over time with its +2 ability compared to their +1. Creating one 2/2 token isn't as good as three 1/1 tokens from Elspeth, Sun's Champion, but on the flipside its -3 ability is more efficient and effective than the -X ability of Sorin, Grim Nemesis. The potential to be cashed in to destroy two cards in a row over two turns is strong, as seen with Karn Liberated in Modern, and the ability even has the upside of creating a treasure token. Its ultimate ability isn't extremely appealing, but it will almost beat an opponent by itself and will likely win the game, so it' comparable to the game-winning ultimate of Elspeth, Sun's Champion. It all combines to create a very competitive Planeswalker that looks like it will be a part of Standard if it can find the right home.
The Ixalan mythic that looks the most promising for Standard is Carnage Tyrant. Its abilities jump off the page, being an uncounterable hexproof threat that leaves the opponent with little recourse besides casting a sweeper or deploying blockers. Its stats, a massive 7/6 body, even avoids the Hour of Devastation that is one of Standard's most important sweepers, and it's going to take quite the defense to actually stand up to it in combat. It even comes with trample, so chump blocking isn't an option.
Carnage Tyrant also benefits from being a dinosaur, so you can be certain it will be at home in all sorts of Dinosaur decks. It will fight with Savage Stomp, be given haste by Regisaur Alpha, ramped into by Otepec Huntmaster, and put into play by Gishath, Sun's Avatar.
Carnage Tyrant is a perfect way to fight against control decks, so it could be in the sideboard of any sort of green deck. I could even see Carnage Tyrant making its way into Modern as a bigger and badder Thrun, the Last Troll. It would be a great tutor target for Summoner's Pact, for example, in an Amulet Titan or Titan Breach deck.
Ixalan's mythics bring a handful of great cards to Standard and plenty to look forward to for the casual crowd. When mythic rares were first created they were said to be intended as big, splashy cards and not focused on competitive staples. Wizards went against that by making many of the most important Standard cards mythics and created Standard formats with decks much more expensive than anything that had seen before. It looks like things have started to come in the other direction, so hopefully Ixalan is a sign of things to come. There are still a few more mythics left to be spoiled, so stay tuned to TCGplayer.com for details!