Table of Contents
The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is bringing a ton of super powerful cards into multiple formats across the board. They vary between removal, enablers, payoffs. They slot into existing archetypes but can also create their own.
Let’s see which cards are particularly worth paying attention to!
Molten Collapse is a premium removal spell that immediately resembles Dreadbore. However, it has a very meaningful upside of being able to hit 0-1 mana value noncreature nonlands if we trigger descent.
As far as I’m concerned, you do not need to consistently turn on descent to play this card. It’s very strong on its own and turning on the other mode is a very sweet cherry on top.
The most likely inclusion in Standard for it would be Rakdos Midrange, an otherwise unpopular deck.
It’s likely that the power of Collapse will bring the deck to the top tables and help dethrone Dimir and Esper Midrange piles.
In Pioneer, Rakdos Sacrifice sounds like the absolute best home for it.
Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls reprint does not affect Modern but it heavily impacts Pioneer and Standard!
It enables much better mana for creature strategies that desperately need early mana that’s untapped.
Five-Color Humans has been a deck already in the format with the mana being a bit wonky at times. Now, a full playset of a so-called rainbow land gets in, making the mana much smoother.
You can finally play the best assortment of all the Humans legal in Pioneer.
One deck I am particularly interested in with Cavern is a Standard Dino stompy shell. It’s a mix between ramp and aggro where you do want to close games fast but you also play much beefier threats and have a better staying power.
In this deck, Cavern provides mana but also uncounterability to your threats. Not getting your Etali, Primal Conqueror Disdainful Stroke-d is a great feeling.
Speaking of uncounterability, it’s possible that Cavern will slot into pure ramp decks just as a way to push their Atraxa, Grand Unifierand other payoffs through countermagic.
Coincidentally, both Atraxa and Archangel of Wrath share a subtype – Angel.
Now, let’s take a look at a Modern deck. Spelunking is a card that will be played in Amulet Titan where it acts as additional copies of Amulet of Vigor. They do not stack but it’s good to have Spelunking when you haven’t drawn an Amulet.
On top of that, there is an attached Explore effect that makes it even better!
Trumpeting Carnosaur is one of the best Dinosaurs in the entire set. I think it will slot into various Dino shells but also red-based midrange strategies.
However, it will mostly shine in Five-Color Ramp I believe. The ability to discard it and essentially cast Strangle is useful in the early game to stay alive. Then, you’re rewarded by being able to potentially hardcast it, discover 5, and cascade into Archangel of Wrath!
It’s also a trampling 7 power threat that closes games in 2-3 attacks!
If that wasn’t enough, it triggers Up the Beanstalk for that additional payoff-ness.
Tishana's Tidebinder might not seem that impressive but I think it very much is!
It’s a flash threat that works well with the overall Simic Merfolk playstyle so that’s a plus right off the bat.
Its trigger can Stifle opposing Planeswalkers very well which is going to shine in the face of cards like Liliana of the Veil!
However, the real value is in turning off opposing Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, as it makes it an ability-less threat – without the trigger or deathtouch!
Tidebinder might introduce a lot of tricky play in blue Standard decks.
The Ancient One
The Ancient one is an over-stated creature with a steep requirement to make it work. Let me show you two shells where you could actually turn into an actual threat.
This self-mill strategy wants to put cards into your own graveyard to enable multiple synergies. While we don’t want to spend cards purely to mill, we have got a lot of mill, whether purposeful or incidental.
You play a midrange-ish game while increasing the size of your graveyard and slowly enabling different bonuses throughout the game. Urborg Lhurgoyf becomes bigger, Writhing Necromass becomes castable, and, crucially, The Ancient One starts utter domination.
I cannot wait to spin my Tyvar and hit The Ancient One.
Another shell comes from the Early Access event by MTG Malone. He’d brewed up a shell with a super unique interaction in it.
While The Ancient one cannot attack or block unless the condition is met, it’s still a functional object on the battlefield that can be interacted with and…taken full advantage of!
Ob Nixilis, the Adversary has casualty X ability that looks at the sacrificed creature’s power! We can play turn two Ancient One into turn three Ob, sacrificing Ancient One.
Coincidentally, Ob’s ultimate ability costs seven loyalty and Ancient provides eight counters. The end result is that we can dome the opponent for 14 damage whilst keeping both Ob’s alive!
On turn three it won’t be lethal *yet*, so you can wait on the ults and just have two massive walkers or even ult on yourself to completely refill the hand.
Jeskai Dragons dominated Standard some time ago with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker in the format still where a couple of pro players broke it. They brought a jeskai midrange strategy built around Zurgo and Ojutai! However, it’s fallen off since.
With The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, I reckon it’s poised for a comeback thanks to Bonehoard Dracosaur!
It’s one of the strongest cards in the set and a card that’s going to win a lot of pre-releases.
It’s a combination of so many effects it’s difficult to list them all out!
It’s a flying 5/5 threat that wins in combat in the air thanks to first strike. It generates card advantage every single upkeep, punishing the opponent for not having killed it. It ramps you with Treasure tokens and applies even more pressure with 3/1 Dinosaurs. It truly does it all!
Its main downside is no enter-the-battlefield effect but thanks to Sheoldred, the Apocalypse we know that’s not necessarily a huge issue.
You wouldn’t want to walk it into a Disdainful Stroke though…
Cavern is an upgrade to this deck as well!