23, Oct, 23

MTG Commander Hints Reveal the Return of Partner!

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Magic has been moving at lightspeed this past week. An enormous MTG Marvel crossover was announced, Play Boosters were spoiled to release in 2024, the new Fallout crossover got a First Look out of nowhere, and The Lost Caverns of Ixalan’s spoiler season starts tomorrow.

Even though the official spoiler season has yet to come, players already have a surprising amount of details already available for them to see. Aside from a few spoilers that occurred earlier on, like in the Ixalan First Look, an age-old tradition has given players some tidbits to think about.

This, of course, is referring to the teasers given out by MTG designers Mark Rosewater and Gavin Verhey before the release of a new set. Generally, Rosewater will discuss some new details about cards releasing in the main set and Verhey will talk about new cards releasing in the Commander product.

Some of Verhey’s hints, in particular, promise big things for The lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander decks! Let’s take a look!

The Return of Partner!?

Released in Gavin Verhey’s Good Morning Magic video was a quick overview of the four Commander decks releasing alongside The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. The matter of which these typal-based builds would be officially revealed was also unveiled so, if interested, we’d recommend checking this video out.

In addition to this quick overview, 12 hints about new Commander cards releasing in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan were announced. Of these, one mentioned the return of the infamous Partner mechanic:

“There are a ton of returning mechanics including: Coven, Persist, Proliferate, Retrace and… a new card with Partner!”

Gavin Verhey

For those who don’t know, Partner is an incredibly powerful Commander mechanic that allows for two Commanders to occupy your Command Zone as long as both have the Partner mechanic. This is similar to the Doctor’s Companion mechanic that released as a part of the MTG Doctor Who crossover just a few weeks ago. You can also use it to search for a particular card in your 99 should the Partner effect care about exactly one other card.

While this sort of Partner-esque thing has been done a few times, one constant remains the same: Partner has a requirement. If that weren’t the case, any solo Commander options would be strictly unoptimal. The Partner mechanic was the first way to enable multiple Commanders, but the requirement remained: Partner cards could either only Partner with a specifically listed card, or with another Commander with Partner, depending on what the card stated.

That’s why, when many players heard of the overpowered MTG mechanic returning, their first suscpicion was that this Partner would be a Parrot that could Partner with Legendary Pirate Commanders:

“The partner card has to be like a legendary parrot or something, probably one that can copy triggered or activated abilities too for that parrot flavor!”


As mentioned in Verhey’s video, one of the new Commander decks revolves around the idea of reanimating Pirates from the dead. Since Pirate typal is a theme for one of the Commander decks, the idea of a Pirate partnering Parrot is a charming one. I personally hope this is true so I can make a Ragavan EDH deck that, hopefully, would not be monocolored.

Mana Dork Power Creep?

Another rather startling hint that appeared in Verhey’s hints was the presence of a creature that only costs one mana. This startling creature, apparently, can tap for three mana:

“There is a one-mana creature that taps for three mana.”

Importantly, Verhey specifically states with these hints that not every detail is being included, so there’s a good chance that there is an underlying restriction or requirement somewhere. Generally, when we see an undercosted card like this, one of two things happen: either a requirement needs to be met for this creature to tap for three mana or the three mana can only be spent on a certain type of spell. Mishra’s Workshop, the infamous Reserved List land, is a good example of this. While the land can tap for three mana, it can only be spent on artifact spells. Considering all of the typal themes releasing in the Ixalan Commander deck, maybe the card can only create mana to cast a certain type of creature.

The Return of Flood Counters!

Flood counters are a rather niche mechanic in MTG that only appears on four cards. One of these cards appear in the original Ixalan block, but the most recent one was released just a few weeks ago in the MTG Doctor Who crossover. The oldest card that utilizes Flood counters released in Mirrodin 20 years ago.

Flood counters, typically, are placed onto lands and turn them into Islands. The Flood counters function slightly different case-by-case. For example, Quicksilver Fountain, the oldest MTG Flood counter card, has an effect that functions similarly to Blood Moon. Any land that Quicksilver Fountain puts a Flood Counter on turns into an Island and loses all other types.

On the other hand, Aquitect’s Will, a Sorcery that puts a Flood Counter on a land, gives that land an Island land type in addition to its other types. This functions similarly to Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

According to Verhey, a new Legend is coming that will put Flood Counters on permanents:
“There is a Legend that puts Flood Counters on permanents.”

While the card will likely be able to turn lands into Islands, its tough to say exactly what the Flood counters on this Legend will be capable of. The Flood of Mars, for example, in addition to turning lands into Islands, can also put Flood Counters on creatures and turn them into copies of itself. Bounty of the Luxa does something totally different, showcasing that, while the function of Flood Counters is mostly the same, this could mean anything.

Treasure Typal?

If anything has been made clear by all the Treasure support in recent years, the Treasure Token mechanic is one of MTG’s most powerful. Dockside Extortionist and Smothering Tithe, for example, are some of MTG’s most iconic Commander cards and both of them completely function around the Treasure Token.

One of the new MTG Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander cards, according to Verhey’s hints, will be able to turn them into something else:

“There is a card with an ability that contains, “Treasures you control are ________ in addition to their other types.”

Personally, I think that this card will likely give Treasures a basic land type. This would enable Treasures to add mana without them being sacrificed. Aside from some sort of card type synergy mattering, Treasures could also gain a creature type. The text, for example, could state that Treasures you control are 1/1 Saprolings, or something like that. This could make sense alongside the new Human Fungus Pirate legend that was teased but, obviously, this is all just speculation.

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Previews Start Tomorrow!

As a quick recap, here are all the hints in order from Gavin Verhey regarding new cards in the MTG Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander decks:

  • There is a one-mana creature that taps for three mana.
  • There is a card with both Populate and Proliferate
  • There is a colorshifted version of a popular Commander card from the last Ixalan block
  • There is a card that has an ability that begins, “Whenever you cast a noncreature spell that you don’t own”
  • There is a card named “The Indomitable”
  • There is a Dinosaur with the same exact name as its creature type
  • There is a legend that puts Flood Counters on permanents
  • There is a card that counts Devotion to white and black
  • There is a legend with the type Human Fungus Pirate
  • There is a card named Skeleton Crew
  • There is a card with an ability that contains, “Treasures you control are ________ in addition to their other types.
  • There are a ton of returning mechanics including: Coven, Persist, Proliferate, Retrace and… a new card with Partner!

While spoilers for the main Ixalan set start on Tuesday October 24, players may need to wait a bit for the full Commander decks to be spoiled. Until then, there should be tons of Ixalan content to enjoy.

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