The Lost Caverns of Ixalan’s spoiler season is finally coming to an end. After some waiting, we have seen all of the new exciting typal Commander decks releasing in just a few weeks time, some powerful new spoilers, creating turn three infinite combos, and cards that can tutor gigantic dinosaurs into play for just four mana.
The Lost Caverns of Ixalan looks powerful, primed to affect some constructed MTG formats and, hopefully, change them for the better. Despite all the outlandish statements made by Rosewater during his teasers, including an artifact that deals 1000 damage, one small line of text had players excited more than any other: MTG is getting its first Capybara!
Despite MTG’s 30-year history, it took players all 30 of those years to finally gain access to an adorable water pig. No one’s really expecting the MTG Capybara to be competitively viable, but the card isn’t all that bad either. Let’s take a look at Basking Capybara!
Look at this cutie! Basking Capybara is not the second coming of an infinite combo or anything like that, but it’s heckin’ adorable! As stated by WhitBear, this creature is truly “OP (oblivious and precious).”
While Basking Capybara may not be doing much in competitive MTG, it does appear to be quite capable in Limited. A two mana 1/3 isn’t much to pay attention to, but a 4/3 is way above-rate, and could be good enough for competitive play in formats with shallower card pools. Unfortunately, Basking Capybara’s downside does, likely, designate it for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Limited.
Notably, Basking Capybara is a common, too! If players can unlock the MTG Capybara’s potential in Limited quickly and consistently, Basking Capybara could be a force to be reckoned with in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.
Thanks to Descend 4, the great power of this noble creature can only be recognized once four or more permanent cards are in your graveyard.
Fortunately, pulling off Descend 4 is not as hard as you might think. In a constructed shell dedicated to milling cards, Basking Capybara can easily become a 4/3 by turn three. Doing that while keeping an aggressive curve with other options, however, may be a bit tough.
Enabling Basking Capybara in Limited
Getting Basking Capybara online by turn three in Limited is… ambitious. Descend is a core mechanic in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, so there are cards available to help develop your Descend payoff progress. The biggest enabler may not be a card as much as it is a core mechanic.
Explore, a returning mechanic from the original Ixalan block, was wildly popular in the MTG community. Creatures that Explore care about the top card of your library. If it’s a land, you add it to your hand. Otherwise, you get a +1/+1 counter and can put the top card of your library into your graveyard.
Decks built around the Descend mechanic will have incentive to mill permanents seen with Explore. Of course, players may want to draw these instead but, fortunately, Descend 4 isn’t too difficult to enable. Between some Explore triggers and a few permanents naturally dying on your battlefield, players dead set on unlocking their Capybara’s inner power should be able to do so.
To help enable Descend payoffs further, blue has a few milling effects. Inverted Iceberg and Waterlogged Hulk both enable Descend while, once their mill effects are no longer needed, transform via Craft into threats. Song of Stupefaction, while not being a great piece of removal, also helps enable Descend effects.
One interesting enabler may be Confounding Riddle. This uncommon may be powerful enough to see constructed play. Similar enablers are already seeing play in Izzet Phoenix lists, and, while this is a tad bit more expensive than Picklock Prankster, the added flexibility provided, combined with the ability to counter a spell when needed, could make this a more powerful alternative.
Confounding Riddle, however, may be too slow for limited. Counterspells don’t always do enough in Limited but, if you aren’t being pressured, the other ability can, potentially, dump three permanents into the graveyard.
Simic Keeps Capybaras Strong
If you want to enable Basking Capybara’s power as consistently as possible, Simic definitely seems like the colors to look at. Not only do these colors embody the Explore mechanic, but a lot of mill effects in blue help enable your Descend payoffs as consistently as possible.
If Explore ends up being a major enabler to your descend plan, Nicanzil, Current Conductor serves you as a build-around uncommon that turbocharges your Explore payoffs. Notably, this uncommon is also appearing in the Explorers of the Deep Commander deck, which was announced to see potential delays.
Secondly, having a lot of cards in your graveyard also enables Craft. You should have no end of permanents to enable your Craft synergies. That said, the intricacies between Craft and Descend are rather interesting. If you’re not careful, utilizing the Craft ability willy-nilly can shut off your more costly Descend checks, losing you the game later on.
Either way, I am very excited to start drafting some Capybara-focused Limited decks. MTG Capybara typal may be a bit of a pipe dream at the moment, but that doesn’t mean players will be unable to have the Capybara-infested playing fields they may desire.