Before I jump in to talking about the Skycrag and Praxis cards that fit into these shells, I would like to mention that in my previous article, when talking about mono Fire cards in category 2, I missed Groundbreaker. This was a grievous oversight, as Groundbreaker can be very important for decks with a lot of burn in them to ensure that the opponent doesn’t stabilize with a single Lumen Defender or what-have-you.
Anyway, back to our systematic approach to Markets.
The most popular Skycrag deck on ladder right now is Kennadin by a fair margin, and its Category 1 cards are Combustion Cell and Molot & Nokova. M&K is an interesting one for me, as I have not played with the card at all, but I hear enormous Aegis units that also clear the enemy board are good, and I am inclined to believe that.
For other Skycrag decks that could pop up from time to time, Vadius, Calderan Cradle, Iceberg Warchief, and Knucklebones could all be cards that make Skycrag tick. Arguably, even Mortar and Decimate are in category 1, though Mortar I would almost always rather just play in my main deck and not worry about using a merchant on it, especially when I could just run Obliterate in that slot, which is arguably more powerful and is also more flexible as it can remove a unit while still dealing damage.
For Praxis, Moment of Creation, Workshop Forge, Diogo Malaga, and Brenn, Chronicler of Ages could all be in Category 1.
The most popular Praxis deck on ladder right now is Praxis Tokens, though Praxis Midrange with Heart of the Vault is also somewhat common. The midrange deck almost always uses a Time market, not a Fire one, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to include Ixtun Merchant to increase access Heart of the Vault (which would be in Category 1 for that deck). The token deck’s Category 1 cards are mostly cards like Gearcruncher and would be in Mono Fire. However, the cards I mentioned are all engines that can power decks on their own, such as Arcanum Spells, Warp combo, or Diving Rod decks.
Narrow answers are plentiful in multifaction cards, and it can be very difficult to decide which Category 2 cards you want in markets generally.
For Skycrag, the two primary options I consider are Rockslide and Unexpected Results. The former both pops Aegis and answers multiple X/1s a la Grenadin, or even Oni Ronin or Winchest Merchant. The latter is primarily for decks that rely on specific spells or decks that are particularly weak to specific spells. For example, I have Unexpected Results in my Kennadin market not only to take Channel the Tempests away from my JPS removal pile opponents, but also to take away Hailstorms and Harsh Rules against, well, pretty much everything that might have them.
Praxis has two notable cards that I consider to be in Category 2, though they are both more broadly applicable than other cards I have put in this category. They are Purify and Shatterglass Mage.
Purify is of course one of the best removal spells in Fire or Time, because silence is so valuable and 3 damage is enough to kill almost everything up to 3 power, and if you are running Praxis it should probably be in your Market (though if you’re on a Time market, other silence options are reasonable). The same can be said of Shatterglass Mage, which is just an efficient unit on its own and is also an answer to any attachment, which makes it generally useful and a likely include in any Praxis market.
There is one more Praxis card I would like to give an honorable mention, mostly because it is so unique in its effect: Recombobulate. If you’ve never read that particular card, it costs 4FP, has Warp, and is a fast spell that puts an attacking enemy unit on top of its owner’s deck and reduces the cost of the top unit of your deck by the attacker’s cost. I am looking for the time and/or place I would ever want the card, as it is clunky and is not always nearly as effective as one might hope. However, the dream of putting an opponent’s Titan on top and following up with Heart of the Vault + Heart of the Vault on turn 6 seems so absurd that I have to try, despite the fact that I think it is unlikely ever to be competitive.
Category 3 cards are significantly less abundant in these two faction combinations than many others. There are a few that can be relevant, however.
Hunter’s Harpoon is a card that some people (read: Kaelos) [Editor's Note: Wooooooooow.] love to build around, but I also think it can give Kennadin or even Felnscar Scream a new angle. Scream’s flying units can get in repeatedly and draw multiple cards, while in Grenadin decks, Disassembler + Harpoon is a truly formidable engine for late-game card advantage.
Moment of Creation is a Category 1 card for Arcanum Spells, but in Praxis Tokens, it serves as a way to go super tall late in the game, which is unexpected from the primary go-wide deck in the format. Noble Firemane is also a consideration for Praxis tokens as a way to spend power repeatedly and overwhelm an opposing board of tokens. Waker of Ancients, the 2 cost 1/2 that gives 5 Strength units warp, is probably not worth a slot in a Praxis midrange market, as that deck often wants to spend its 5th market slot on a power card. However, if you really want to beat Removal Pile decks, you can play Waker to get additional high-value cards over time.
In closing, Ixtun Merchant (like all the merchants) is extremely flexible. There are options for deck cornerstones, powerful answers, and unique lines available to every faction that would want a Fire market.
I’ll stress once more that the important things to consider are what your deck wants, and in which match-ups. Do you want power? Do you need a plan B? Which threats are most problematic for you? What are your options for answering them? These all affect the cards you want in your market.
Next time, I’ll begin analyzing Winchest Merchant and Justice options.
Until then, may you always draw your merchants!