Right before the start of HOU spoiler season, photographs of an uncut rare sheet were leaked. Wizards of the Coast were forced to reveal the cards leaked on said rare sheet early as a result, deviating from the usual flow of spoiler season reveals.
Ixalan consists of two known continents; Ixalan proper, a steamy tropical continent of swamps, jungles, mountains, rivers and marshes, and its eastern neighbor/rival of Torrezon, which is more Europe-esque. The four major factions of the plane are divided neatly between the two in terms of origin.
This being a plane in M:tG, naturally, Ixalan has various different groups of people who want to kick the shit out of each other for various reasons.
The Brazen Coalition
Originating out of Torrezon, the Brazen Coalition are an anarchic and unruly conclave of rebels who fled their homeland when the Legion of Dusk took control of the continent after a protracted (700-years-long) campaign of conquest. United, albeit barely, by their refusal to bend the knee to anyone and their hatred of the Legion of Dusk, the Brazen Coalition operates out of a vast floating city built from half-scuttled ships, known as "High & Dry". They predominantly support themselves by acts of piracy against the fleets of Torrezon, but the more unscrupulous members of their ranks aren't above preying upon the weaker members of their own faction. They're very interested in the idea of using the Immortal Sun at the heart of Orazca to destroy the Legion of Dusk and take back their original homelands.
The only mixed-race faction on the plane, the Coalition counts humans, orcs, goblins and sirens amongst its rank.
In case you haven't figured it out, this is the Pirate faction, the representatives of the mercenaries and thieves who profited from the Age of Sail by attacking cargo ships from other nations.
The Legion of Dusk
A theocratic monarchy of humans ruled by vampire priest-nobles, the Legion of Dusk originated in a mountainous province called Torrezon, before they forcibly renamed their entire continent after that original territory. Torrezon had been charged with guarding a powerful magical artifact, called the Immortal Sun, a charge they ultimately failed when a jealous neighboring king attempted to steal the artifact from it. This led to one of its guardian warrior-nuns, Saint Elenda, the Dusk Rose of Garrano, to develop a magical rite that transformed her into the first vampire. She went on a crusade to retrieve the Immortal Sun, but never returned, but the Rite of Redemption she created was used to create a ruling caste of vampire-saints, who went on to conquer their continent, in no small part to ensure a steady supply of "guilty" victims to feed their hunger for blood. This ultimate leads to their seeking out the Immortal Sun, which they believe can be used to create a new version of the Rite of Redemption that will grant them true immortality without the need for blood.
Except... it turns out that the history books had gotten a little creative over the centuries. It turns out that the Rite of Redemption was never intended to be a path to power and immortality, but a heroic sacrifice, a means to pursue greater humility and to enable an adherent to better serve humanity. Needless to say, when Saint Elenda finds out - because it turns out that she found Orazca, couldn't get past the traps, and so decided to set herself up as an eternal guardian for the city - she is pissed at what the vampires have turned into.
The Legion is the Conquistador faction, being the arrogant, ruthless, self-righteous band of conquerors who want to exploit the denizens of the New World (in this case to use them as livestock).
They're still the most popular faction on /tg/ at the moment, though, because, hey, they're still vampires in gilded armor who at least claim to live up to a noble religion based on self-sacrifice through damnation. They might literally be Lawful Evil by the D&D writeup of Ixalan in Plane Shift, but, as TVTropes says, "Evil Is Cool".
The River Heralds
The merfolk known as the River Heralds were the original dominant race of Ixalan the continent, where they warred with the humans of the Sun Empire. Despite being reduced to scattered, nomadic bands by the Sun Empire when it possessed the Immortal Sun, they are the current guardians of its resting place in the Golden City of Orazca. They currently exist in competitive tribal groups, or bands, each led by a single shaman (although, in D&D terms, their powers are more of a blend of druid and illusionist) called a Shaper.
As a once-mighty empire that fell from glory and reverted to tribal roots, the River Heralds are the Maya faction of the plane.
The Sun Empire
The dinosaur-taming humans of the Sun Empire are the current masters of Ixalan, seeking to reclaim the Immortal Sun that they once possessed and use it to conquer the world. They are also rather pissed off about the Legion of Dusk invading their lands and trying to use them as livestock.
Obviously, these are the Aztec faction.
The Sun Empire are basically the creator's darlings of the set; the only new planeswalker introduced in the set, Huatli, is a resident of the Empire, and the storyline ends with them reclaiming Orazca and making plans to counter-invade Torrezon.
So, what's the big deal with this Immortal Sun malarkey? Well, as usual, it all stems back to a couple of Oldwalkers fucking things up for everybody.
See, around 1300 years ago, the sphinx planeswalker Azor and the dragon planeswalker Ugin got together to discuss their mutual hatred for another dragon planeswalker: the infamously dickish Nicol Bolas. Determined to put an end to his long career of douchebaggery, they came up with what they thought would be the perfect plan: finding a suitably unimportant backwater world in the middle of multiversial nowhere (aka, Ixalan), they extracted Azor's planeswalker Spark and used it to create a powerful magical item, the Immortal Sun, which could be used both to forcibly summon a planeswalker and to turn an entire plane into an inescapable prison for planeswalkers. Ugin would go to Tarkir to lure Nicol into a confrontation, allowing Azor to know where to aim and thusly he could zap Nicol into Ixalan and trap him there. Then Ugin and Azor could use the Immortal Sun to free Azor from Ixalan and restore Azor's spark, leaving Nicol confined to Ixalan forever.
Naturally, it went completely tits up. Nicol had already been looking for Azor to kick his ass just because, and so he found out about their plans. On Tarkir, Nicol beat Ugin like a drum, kicking his ass so thoroughly that if it weren't for the assistance of a time-displaced planeswalker who sealed Ugin away in a protective shell of stone to recover, the Spirit Dragon would have died. Azor, meanwhile, was left stranded in Ixalan.
After a few decades, Azor got bored and decided to go back to his old ways of founding new lawful societies. And, just like all the other cultures he set up, they eventually turned into disasters. When he gave the Immortal Sun to a monastery in Torrezon to guard for him, it kicked off three centuries of civil war before Azor got sick of it and stole the Immortal Sun back, flying off to Ixalan. There, he gave it to the Sun Empire to guard, but they misused it as a tool for conquest, so he destroyed their empire and took what had been the heart of it, Orazca, as his new demesne, charging the River Heralds with guarding him.
Cue the present day, when Nicol Bolas sends the gorgon planeswalker Vraska to Ixalan to retrieve the Immortal Sun, having decided that it could be useful in his plans to conquer Ravnica. But, on Ixalan, she meets an unexpected face; an amnesiac Jace Beleren, who had instinctively planeswalked to Ixalan after nearly being killed by Nicol on Amonkhet. Together, the two find their way to Orazca, where they unravel Nicol's basic plot - to use the Immortal Sun to conquer Ravnica - and try to set up a counter-plan, involving Vraska becoming an unconscious sleeper-agent against Nicol.
In the wake of this, they go their separate ways; Vraska returns to Ravnica, where she makes her "successful" report to Nicol Bolas and is rewarded by being presented with Jarad, Guildleader of the Golgari Swarm, so she can petrify him and take his place as Guildleader, whilst Jace planeswalks to Dominaria in search of Gideon Jura. Oh, and Huatli, the Ixalani planeswalker leaves her home in the Sun Empire by planeswalking to Kaladesh, whilst the Sun Empire officially claims the Golden City of Orazca for its own and starts making plans to consolidate power on Ixalan-the-continent before counter-invading Torrezon.
Create a colorless Treasure artifact token with "T, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool."
Reveal the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand if it's a land. Otherwise, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature, then put the card back on top or into your graveyard.
An action word that triggers whenever a creature with it is dealt damage. As of this edit, the ability word is only found on Dinosaurs.
Returning from Khans of Tarkir, it checks to see if you've attacked before activating an effect. Associated with Pirates.
They're back after a block's absence! This time, they're usually used to represent boats, in line with the piracy and exploration themes of the set. They work the same as they did on Kaladesh: artifacts that temporarily become creatures when you "crew" them by tapping creatures that meet a specific total power.
Their fourth appearance in the game, after Innistrad block, Magic Origins, and Shadows over Innistrad. There are only ten in Ixalan, all of them rare. Five are artifacts, while the other five are enchantments, but all of them permanently transform into lands.
|Settings of Magic: The Gathering|
|Pre-revisionist:|| First Magic Sets - First Urza Block - Arabian Nights |
Legends - Homelands - Ice Age - Mirage
|Weatherlight Saga:|| Portal Starter Sets - Second Urza Block |
Tempest Block - Masques Block - Invasion Block
|Post-Weatherlight:||Otaria Block - Mirrodin - Kamigawa - Ravnica - Time Spiral|
|After the Mending:|| Lorwyn - Alara - Zendikar - New Phyrexia |
Innistrad - Return to Ravnica - Theros - Tarkir
|Two-Block Paradigm:||Kaladesh - Amonkhet - Ixalan|
|Never in a standard set:||Fiora (Where the Conspiracy sets take place)|