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More new cards from Magic: The Gathering’s next set, Rivals of Ixalan

How the new ‘Ascend’ mechanic adds to the game

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Twice a year, Wizards of the Coast creates two new worlds for Magic: The Gathering, the original collectible card game, and releases them as four new sets of cards. The next set, called Rivals of Ixalan, arrives on Jan. 19.

Polygon had an exclusive sneak peek at the first of those cards just last month, including the latest iteration of Planeswalkers Vraska and Angrath. Today we have new cards to share from the set, along with the original art used to produce them.

Sun-Collared Raptor
Zoltan Boros/Wizards of the Coast
Zoltan Boros/Wizards of the Coast

In September of last year, Wizards introduced players to Ixalan, a Mesoamerican-inspired world. In Rivals of Ixalan, players will see cards focused around four major factions including the Legion of Dusk, a group of powerful vampires, the Brazen Coalition’s swashbuckling pirates and the River Heralds, an ancient merfolk with shamanistic traditions.

Today’s new card reveals focus on the Sun Empire, which fights with steel weapons as well as ferocious dinosaurs.

Sun-Crested Prerodon
Lars Grant-West/Wizards of the Coast
Lars Grant-West/Wizards of the Coast

But Wizards is also sharing the first new details on one of Rivals of Ixalan’s newest mechanics. They’re calling it “Ascend.”

”Creatively it represents the players building up their armies and empires in order to conquer part of Orazca, the golden city, and gain its blessing and power,” said Ben Hayes, lead designer for Rivals of Ixalan. “In-game, the way this plays out is through cards that get stronger when you get up to a threshold of 10 permanents (creatures, lands, artifacts, enchantments, planeswalkers) on your battlefield.

“In addition to Ascend, Rivals of Ixalan also has plenty of new exciting cards for anyone who wants to boost up their tribal decks from last set.”

More details on Ascend can be found on the official Magic blog.

Resplendent Griffin
Sam Rowan/Wizards of the Coast
Sam Rowan/Wizards of the Coast

Wizards’ efforts to create two new worlds every year involve the talents of a skilled team of game designers as well as artists from around the world. Since 1993 there have been nearly 80 expansions to the game. Since 2015, they’ve arrived at retail on a quarterly basis matched as paired sets called blocks. Rivals of Ixalan will be the second and final set in the Ixalan Block. The next expansion, called Dominaria, has not yet been revealed.

In addition to invigorating the playerbase of Magic: The Gathering, these new worlds have also been converted into free sourcebooks for Dungeons & Dragons. You can download Plane Shift: Innistrad, Plane Shift: Zendikar, Plane Shift: Kaladesh and Plane Shift: Amonkhet right now and start using them in your campaign today.


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