It’s about that time again where Wizards of the Coast has kindly sent us the next box set for Magic: The Gathering. This new set, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, released on November 14 for Magic: The Gathering Arena and launched late last week in physical form. This set had me instantly attracted to it as there is a possibility of finding cards based on Jurassic Park characters and locations. I was super pleased to have scored a card of my favourite JP character, but that’s not the main draw of this set. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan brings merfolk, pirates, vampires and dinosaurs to a perilous new adventure filled with treasure, glory and rivalry.
Four rival factions descend into the caverns of Ixalan, racing to be the first to uncover the source of Ixalan’s power. There’s the Dinosaurs of the Sun Empire, The Brazen Coalition of Pirates, the Legion of Dusk and the shamanistic Merfolk. There is a commander deck for each faction available for collectors. My media kit sent from Wizards of the Coast consisted of 6 collector boosters, three set boosters, a prerelease pack and a collector’s bundle box. Opening a heap of the boosters revealed probably the highest percentage of foil cards that I’ve had in any of the previous sets this year. I usually don’t mind the odd foil here and there, but this time they were the majority and in doing so, it made the regular cards stand out much better in the deck stacks.
Mixed in with the cards were the chance of getting some of the next Universes Beyond collection and these are themed after Jurassic Park/Jurassic World. I scored a card for Dr Ian Malcolm, my favourite JP character of course, as well as the Ravenous Tyrannosaurus, Hunting Velociraptor and some land cards depicting recognisable locations for the mountains, plains and and island land card depicting one of the terrifying underwater scenes from Jurassic World. Finding these cards has me wanting to watch the movies all over again.
Other cards in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan revealed some full-art land cards exploring the beauty of the Ixalan plane and its inhabitants. I really liked these designs as they stood out from regular land cards well, and I was fortunate to have at least one each of the five full-art land cards. There were also a heap of cards depicting legendary creatures and artifacts representing civilization beneath Ixalan telling the stories of ancestors, different cultures and the mysteries of the cavernous depths below.
Three new game mechanics were also introced with The Lost Caverns of Ixalan – craft, descend and discover. The craft mechanic, seen on the Kaslem’s Stonetree card, transforms artifact cards into powerful new items when paying mana, and exiling the required components such as a cave. The discover mechanic allows players to exile cards from the top of their library until they find a non-land card of equal or lesser value to cast for free, or put into their hand, as seen in the Hidden Nursery and Hurl into History cards. Discover always comes with a number, and that number tells you the mana value you’re limited to. Finally, there is the descend mechanic will trigger effects based on the number of permanents put into your graveyard.
Descend 4 and descend 8 abilities care about there being at least four or eight permanent cards in your graveyard. Fathomless descent abilities are very similar, but rather than specifying a required minimum number of permanent cards in your graveyard, they just get more powerful the more you have. You can see with the Frilled Cave-Wurm that you would get +2/+0 as long as there are four or more pemanent cards in your graveyard. I also got Starving Revenant where whenever you draw a card, if there are eight or more permanent cards in your graveyard, the target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.
If you love reading into the lore behind these sets like I do, similar to the last release we covered with Wilds of Eldraine, there are six well written and engaging episodes of written story lore. Being a more of a Magic: The Gathering collector rather than a player, I really appreciate being able take a deep dive into the lore, story, characters and setting through these written episodes. After reading through each episode, I can then paint a much better picture when I look through the cards I have unveiled.
Magic: The Gathering – The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is out now and is available to purchase in Draft Boosters, Set Boosters, Collector Boosters, Commander Decks, Prerelease Packs, Bundles, and Gift Bundles. For more information on The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, visit the official website or jump into Magic: The Gathering Arena. Thanks again to the wonderful people at Wizards of the Coast for this media kit.