Sunken Citadel
10, Jan, 24

Elite Ixalan Utility Land Showcases Multi-Format Versatility!

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Article at a Glance

At this point, it should come as little surprise that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has had an immense impact on various Constructed formats. Even simple uncommons like Deep-Cavern Bat and Dauntless Dismantler have made their presences felt, from Standard all the way down to Vintage. Some cards, like Geological Appraise and Amalia Benavides Aguirre, completely revolutionized the Pioneer metagame, showcasing just how strong this set was overall.

One of the powerful aspects of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan that doesn’t seem to get quite as much recognition, though, is the set’s Lands. Routinely seeing competitive play, these cards aren’t to be dismissed, however, they’ve commanded little attention. This might have something to do with Cavern of Souls stealing the limelight since the moment it was spoiled.

Upon release, Lands like Restless Anchorage and Hidden Volcano largely flew under the radar. Now, however, Restless Anchorage is an awesome inclusion in Azorius control in Pioneer, and Hidden Volcano sees play in dedicated Calibrated Blast combo decks in Modern.

Today, we are going to focus on another Land that hasn’t gotten the praise it deserves. This card is none other than Sunken Citadel, which sees a massive amount of play in Pioneer and Modern. Despite entering the battlefield tapped, its ability to tap for multiple mana, albeit restrictive, certainly makes up for it in a variety of different strategies.

Turn Two Land Destruction

Field of Ruin

Likely the most powerful usage of Sunken Citadel is in conjunction with Field of Ruin and Demolition Field. In general, Field of Ruin and Demolition Field are used to help interact with opposing utility Lands, like Hall of Storm Giants in Pioneer or Urza’s Saga in Modern. In a format like Modern where players are utilizing a Fetchland and Shockland-focused manabase, you may even be able to run your opponent out of basic Lands.

Having the opportunity to use Field of Ruin or Demolition Field as early as turn two is a game-changer in multiple matchups. For instance, you can blow up opposing Tron Lands on the draw before your opponent can assemble Tron and land a massive haymaker. For decks like mono-black Scam (shown above) or mono-black Cabal Coffers, the combination of Sunken Citadel and either Field of Ruin or Demolition Field provides an efficient way to revolt Fatal Push on the fly.

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Gaining a Mana Advantage

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx | Theros

Even though Sunken Citadel enters the battlefield tapped, it more than makes up for this early mana disadvantage when built around. In both Pioneer and Modern, there are multiple ways to get a mana boost on subsequent turns after playing Sunken Citadel. In Modern, Sunken Citadel will sometimes show up in mono-black Cabal Coffers decklists where, when used alongside Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, it can net you an additional mana as early as turn three.

For example, if you have all three of these Lands out on turn three, you can use two mana from Sunken Citadel to activate Cabal Coffers to generate three black mana. With access to four mana instead of three, the door is now open to play cards like The One Ring or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse ahead of schedule.

In a similar vein, in Pioneer, Sunken Citadel pairs quite nicely with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Castle Garenbrig out of mono-green Devotion. Since the banning of Karn, the Great Creator, mono-green players have been forced to adapt. Without a combo aspect available for the deck, mono-green players must consistently win via combat.

As such, cards like Voracious Hydra and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider have made their way back in many mono-green decklists. Between Sunken Citadel and Castle Garenbrig, playing Vorinclex ahead of schedule is rather trivial, even without sticking a copy of Elvish Mystic or Llanowar Elves.

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Additional Synergy with Utility Lands

Boseiju, Who Endures

One extremely important and underrated synergy with Sunken Citadel in play is the chance to discount the cost of activated abilities of Land sources not in play. Sunken Citadel can produce multiple mana to be used towards Channeling any of the five utility Lands from the latest Kamigawa set. For a deck like Calibrated Blast combo in Modern, this is essential.

The focus of this deck is to use Calibrated Blast to deal a ton of damage to the opponent by revealing cards with extremely high mana value, such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. As a result, this archetype can’t afford to utilize many cards with low mana value, other than Calibrated Blast itself. Therefore, the deck relies a ton on utility Lands for interaction. Getting to use Boseiju, Who Endures or Otawara, Soaring City a turn early can be the difference between winning and losing.

Furthermore, given that a single copy of Calibrated Blast isn’t always enough to cross the finish line, especially if the opponent avoided taking much damage off their manabase, cards like Ramunap Ruins play a vital role. Sunken Citadel works well here, too. From Ramunap Ruins in this deck to Castle Locthwain out of mono-black Scam and beyond, Sunken Citadel has a surprising number of decks it can slot into.

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Combo Elements

The World Tree

Sunken Citadel’s printing also opened the door for a neat Gruul Scapeshift combo deck in Pioneer to emerge out of nowhere. This goal is to use Scapeshift to find four copies of Sunken Citadel and The World Tree. Now, with these cards plus two more Lands in play, you can activate The World Tree, tutor for Purphoros, God of the Forge, Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might and a handful of other God Creatures to put into play and win via Purphoros triggers. Having access to a playset of Sunken Citadel makes this combo significantly easier to pull off.

In Modern, we already mentioned Sunken Citadel’s role in Calibrated Blast combo decks, but thanks to another Land from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, Sunken Citadel is even more important than you might think. This new Land is Hidden Volcano, which you can sacrifice to Discover 4. Discover 4 guarantees you to hit Calibrated Blast in some capacity, either by revealing Blast itself or Throes of Chaos, which will Cascade into Blast.

Hidden Volcano adds some extra redundancy to a combo that is a bit of a glass cannon. The only issue is that it is rather slow, but with access to Sunken Citadel, this becomes much less of a concern. It’s amazing just how many decks can make use of the extra mana that Sunken Citadel can produce, making it a much more versatile card than we initially thought. Sunken Citadel is yet another multi-format all-star from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, a tremendously powerful premier set overall.

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