Top 10 Standard Cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan by Mogged
16/11/2023 · 7 min read
In today's article, I will be analyzing the top 10 cards from the Lost Caverns of Ixalan set for Standard play .
All evaluations will be conducted within the context of the format. Cards such as Wedding Announcement, Wandering Emperor, Make Disappear, Go for the Throat, Sheoldred the Apocalypse, Virtue of Persistence, Sunfall, and Cut Down have significantly influenced the format.
I will use them as benchmarks to compare how the new cards from the set interact with these established ones.
These cards didn't quite make the list because they lacked sufficient impact in some aspects, but they could prove to be better than they appear.
Aclazotz Deepest Betrayal
The god cycle seems mostly unplayable to me, primarily because this is a Wandering Emperor format, which renders their recurring ability irrelevant. However, Alazotz checks some boxes that other gods don't.
- It’s easy to flip compared to most other gods
- It’s a good blocker versus pressure because of lifelink
- It has a triggered ability on attack that gets something back which makes it acceptable versus Emperor
Malcolm , Alluring Scoundrel
This card might be underrated. Malcolm fits well into current archetypes such as Esper Legends and Esper Midrange, and pairs well with Make Disappear, Faerie Mastermind, and Virtue of Loyalty. The ceiling on this card isn't very high, but it offers a lot of utility and seems to align with the top cards the format already has.
The Kitesail Larcenist reminds me of the Brutal Cathar. Having the creature as a treasure token isn't much different from having it exiled; the opponent is still likely to trade with a removal spell. However, this card has decent stats and a ward ability, which is bound to be relevant when you are playing with creatures that must be killed. There are a few additional tricks, such as targeting your own creatures, but mostly, it is very valuable for blue to have a removal-like effect when you don't have access to white or black.
I believe this cycle of manlands is not particularly powerful, with the exception of the vents and the anchorage. Essentially, I see these cards as flood insurance, and the vents are able to fulfill that role since they can also help filter you out of those situations. This is exactly where you want your manlands to be. Most of the time, you activate them when you have nothing else to do, which is a situation where you might have wanted to turn a land into a spell through its looting ability.
Top 10 Card
#10 Cavern of Souls
We already know that this card is powerful from Magic's past, and I think it might change the format. This is primarily because it renders Make Disappear a really bad card against creature decks. Previously, Make Disappear was very popular because it was still good enough even against creature decks like Soldiers. However, now, because of Cavern of Souls, if enough tribal decks like Merfolk show up, the balance of the format will be shifted.
#9 Tishana’s Tidebinder
There aren't many triggered or activated abilities that you would care about countering most of the time, but there is definitely a lot of upside when you do counter them. Tidebinder is vulnerable since it succumbs to almost every removal in the format; therefore, I don't expect it to perform well against Sheoldred decks. However, it excels in certain situations, such as countering an Invasion of Zendikar, an Atraxa entering the battlefield trigger, or perhaps an Emperor's -2 ability. Additionally, it synergizes well with flash-themed cards, which have been a staple of the format.
#8 Restless Anchorage
The best manland of the cycle, it's in the correct colors to play at a slow pace and provides selection through the map token, which is exactly what you want from this kind of effect. It may also be a way to deal with planeswalkers, assuming Restless Anchorage fits into a more controlling deck.
#7 Subterranean Schooner
This kind of card enters uncharted territory, but let me tell you that it circumvents nearly all the popular removal options the format has seen so far. Go for the Throat, Cut Down, Lightning Strike, Ossification, and Sunfall prove ineffective against it. I believe that having a crew cost of 1 makes it incredibly easy to activate, as even creatures like Raffine, Scheming Seer or Mirrex can do the job. Beyond possessing 3 power, the reward includes some form of card advantage or selection, which I equate to the explore mechanic.
#6 Cenote Scout
This is a very good enabler for creature decks, and possibly also for midrange decks. It is rare to find a one-drop that isn't embarrassing in the late game, and this card is also a Merfolk, which is significant. Traditionally, tribal decks can't function without a solid one-drop, and this card might make Merfolk decks viable.
#5 Molten Collapse
Upgraded Dreadbore, this card is excellent. The color combination may be somewhat limiting, but in my opinion, it makes Rakdos viable again, as you have unconditional removal along with an added chance to destroy random noncreature tokens such as maps, treasures, and blood.
#4 Sanguine Evangelist
The Wedding Announcement is widely recognized as the best card of the format, and Sanguine Evangelist appears to be the best card to pair with it. Sanguine Evangelist holds a strong position in Standard, as it is threatening enough due to “battle cry” to warrant removal, yet it also leaves two tokens behind. It performs well against removal and synergizes well with your own interactions. There are some very obvious WB/WUB and potentially WU builds featuring this card that will likely emerge immediately.
#3 Bitter Triumph
This card is just too versatile for many kinds of strategies, either enabling reanimator decks or providing unconditional removal for midrange or aggro decks. I certainly view it as an upgrade to Infernal Grasp, and I think every black deck should include some number of Bitter Triumphs. This would diversify their removal options beyond Go for the Throat and add planeswalker removal for decks that have difficulty threatening them with pressure.
#2 Trumpeting Carnosaur
The problem with ramp payoff cards is that they are uncastable for the larger part of the game. Trumpeting Carnosaur offers what those cards rarely ever do: it turns into cheap removal when you need it. This kind of effect is very powerful when paired with a high-risk, high-reward card like its hard-cast mode. Additionally, there is a bonus for discarding itself for a reanimation target, such as Cruelty of Gix, and for enabling descend, as it is a permanent. This is the kind of big midrange card I like to build around, and it can help red midrange regain its spot in the metagame.
#1 Warden of the Inner Sky
This is guaranteed to see play, as it is an upgrade to already popular decks. Warden of the Inner Sky has the correct types and pairs very well with Resolute Reinforcements and other white weenie/human/soldier-type cards, plus pillars of the format like Wedding Announcement and Knight-Errant of Eos. These white decks can sometimes just hit a stalled board, which makes the Warden's tap ability very relevant. One-drops that must die are rare, and I think the power level of this one is very high for Standard.
My view of the set is that, similar to newer sets, it goes very deep, with probably around 50 Standard-playable cards. Sometimes their effects are very long and complicated, which makes them hard to evaluate without sufficient practice. However, I think the set will have a bigger impact than the average set in what is now a three-year Standard format, which seems defined and stale.
Stay tuned, as I will be showcasing new Standard decks using these cards very soon!