As we saw with the release of Wilds of Eldraine, premier sets can feature a lot of powerful cards and multi-format staples. We may be at a time in MTG where sets like Modern Horizons II and Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth have a high percentage of format warping cards, but that doesn’t mean that premier sets can’t be impactful. Additions like Sleight of Hand and Monstrous Rage to Pioneer as well as Virtue of Loyalty and Mosswood Dreadknight to Standard helped shape the metagames of both formats.
Meanwhile, combo pieces like Agatha’s Soul Cauldron and Beseech the Mirror continue to see play in Modern and Legacy, showcasing that even cards from premier sets can have immense impact on formats with deeper card pools. The question is, will The Lost Caverns of Ixalan deliver in a similar manner? Only time will tell if The Lost Caverns of Ixalan holds up the same way, but there definitely appears to be some strong cards for Constructed play.
Today, we are going to be going over what we believe to be the best cards for Constructed play in the set. With all spoilers having finally been revealed, it’s time to get a glimpse of what the most powerful cards in the set are. Keep in mind that this list is speculative, but we will continue to update our rankings as players get a chance to make use of all the cards this set has to offer. With that in mind, here are the top 10 MTG best cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan for Constructed.
#10 Restless Lands
The cycle of Restless Lands has now been completed, and in similar fashion, we expect these cards to see at least some play, though mostly in Standard.
Man-Lands have historically been pretty powerful. Cards like Shambling Vent were all-stars back in the day in Standard. Unfortunately, for formats beyond Standard, there’s a big emphasis on Lands being able to enter the battlefield untapped.
As the card pool widens and cards become more powerful and efficient, it often becomes increasingly important to interact on the early turns when necessary. There’s a reason that man-Lands like Hall of Storm Giants and Den of the Bugbear have had immense success in Pioneer compared to the Restless Lands. Additionally, in Standard, the most popular multi-color control deck makes better use of tri-color Lands with basic Land types, such as Spara’s Headquarters. This helps make Leyline Binding a reliable and cheap removal spell.
Still, Standard midrange decks like Golgari midrange that are in the market for man-Lands and can afford to play some tapped Lands do make use of the Restless cycle. As such, it’s quite likely that at least some of these Lands see consistent Standard play, though none in particular stands head and shoulders above the others. As a result, we are grouping them here on the list.
#9 Cenote Scout
Cenote Scout is a rather unassuming card, but its sheer efficiency coupled with its relevant Creature type gives it a solid chance to see Constructed play. In both Standard and Pioneer, the Merfolk archetype has fallen short. In Standard, there simply weren’t enough pieces. However, there were some standout Merfolk such as Vodalian Hexcatcher that showed up in earlier sets.
With the release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and the emphasis on Merfolk in the set, there’s a reasonable chance that Merfolk will be a solid choice in the format. If so, Cenote Scout will almost certainly be a huge part of the deck. One-drops are super important alongside Merfolk “Lords” and Cenote Scout is a strong one to boot. If you reveal a non-Land card with Explore, you essentially end up with a one-mana 2/2 plus some card selection, which is a great deal. If you reveal a Land, you end up with a one-mana 1/1 that drew you a card, which is also great.
In Pioneer, this can be played alongside Kumena’s Speaker for some high-powered one-drop density. It’s possible Merfolk still won’t have what it takes to be a top tier Pioneer deck, but Cenote Scout is a large upgrade, nonetheless. Cenote Scout’s potential to revitalize the Merfolk archetype in Standard and/or Pioneer earns it a spot on the list.
#8 Helping Hand
Helping Hand is a solid addition to Standard, Pioneer, and Pauper alike. While the card is certainly worse than Unearth at what it does, having this effect in white is huge. Not to mention, Unearth is not legal in Standard or Pioneer, giving Helping Hand additional opportunities to shine.
In Standard, Helping Hand seems like a solid addition to decks like mono-white aggro that have a high density of elite three-drops. Getting to return Adeline, Resplendent Cathar or Extraction Specialist can be quite strong. Getting to make that play for only one mana and cast multiple spells on the same turn can be backbreaking for the opponent. Similarly, returning Raffine, Scheming Seer can help close a game for Esper midrange decks.
In Pioneer, Greasefang, Okiba Boss is a prime target to return, helping the powerful yet somewhat fragile combo deck have an easier time beating cards like Rending Volley. In Pauper, there are already white-based Squadron Hawk decks that utilize Recommission, and the upgrade from two mana to one mana in that slot is substantial. Helping Hand isn’t the flashiest card in the world, but it does its job well and for cheap, earning it a spot on this list.
#7 Subterranean Schooner
Subterranean Schooner is blue, not colorless, but the resemblance to Smuggler’s Copter is uncanny, nonetheless. Both cards are three-power Vehicles that cost two mana, have Crew 1, and provide value when they attack. Being blue and not having Flying definitely restricts the range of homes the card can show up in, hence why it isn’t higher on the list. Still, the power level is there, especially for Standard.
Currently, the primary removal spell in Standard is Go for the Throat, which notably can’t hit Artifacts. A 3/4 on turn two is extremely difficult to block profitably, and getting to Explore is a solid bonus. Crew 1 is easy to accomplish, and getting to potentially grow the Creature that Crewed it can help that Creature get into the red zone on subsequent turns. In Pioneer, the existence of Fatal Push and Portable Hole makes this a tough card to maximize. As long as a blue Creature-centric deck exists in Standard, though, there’s a good chance Subterranean Schooner is a big part of it.
#6 Trumpeting Carnosaur
Trumpeting Carnosaur is a classic example of a card whose playability is increased by its versatility. At six mana, the card is an absolute beating when it hits the board. A 7/6 with Trample is something the opponent is forced to deal with, and thanks to the Discover 5 ability, you could easily end up with even more power on board. The issue is, six mana cards are hard to come by, even in Standard. Cards like Etali, Primal Conqueror have an even bigger impact on the game for only one more mana.
The difference, though, is that Trumpeting Carnosaur isn’t just a six-drop. You can use it as a removal spell earlier when necessary. This greatly increases its opportunity to see play in Standard. This ability also gives it a unique chance to show up in Legacy Mississippi River decks.
Mississippi River utilizes Creative Technique and a bunch of cards with Cascade that cost six or more mana. The goal is, in conjunction with Lands that can tap for multiple mana at a time, to Cascade into Creative Technique and ideally win the game on the same turn.
The strategy is effective, but a bit fragile. Cards like Archon of Emeria that limit the number of spells you can play in a turn can be devastating. Well, Trumpeting Carnosaur helps solve that problem, since you can pay three mana and discard it to kill Archon. The downside is that Trumpeting Carnosaur is worse against Force of Will, since it needs to enter the battlefield for the Discover ability to happen. Regardless, it could easily see play at least out of the sideboard along with Mirrorshell Crab, and the value it generates in Standard is undeniable.
#5 Amalia Benavides Aguirre
Amalia Benavides Aguirre is a strong card for multiple reasons. First, the card is simply good on rate, especially in a Standard environment. A two-mana 2/2 that can grow and forces an opponent to pay three life if they want to kill it is quite the aggressive beater. The key is having ways to gain life to allow Amalia Benavides Aguirre to grow and generate value. Luckily, there are solid ways in Standard to make this happen. We already see some Azorius Soldiers lists utilizing Lunarch Veteran, which synergizes extremely well here.
There may also be a decent Vampires deck in Standard, making use of cards like Markov Baron. If that weren’t enough, Amalia Benavides Aguirre also combos exceptionally well with Wildgrowth Walker. If you have any way to gain life or Explore, you will start a chain reaction. When you Explore, you gain life from Wildgrowth Walker, causing Amalia to Explore, and so on. Once Amalia reaches 20 power this way, you can destroy all other Creatures and attack for lethal. This combo is definitely worth trying in Pioneer and getting to use Lurrus of the Dream-Den in Historic is a nice bonus.
#4 Molten Collapse
Molten Collapse is an extremely strong removal spell. Right off the bat, the card does what Dreadbore does, at minimum. However, you are also given the option to destroy cheap non-Creature, non-Land permanents. This is great for decks like Rakdos midrange in Pioneer that have historically had rough times dealing with Rakdos Sacrifice. Having the option to blow up Witch’s Oven to break up Cauldron Familiar loops is great.
Not only that, but if you Descend, you can actually choose both, letting you also kill a problematic Mayhem Devil or Fable of the Mirror-Breaker token. Descending is notably easier for Rakdos sacrifice than Rakdos midrange, thanks to the likes of Witch’s Oven and Deadly Dispute. It is still possible for Rakdos midrange to trigger Descend without going to combat with cards like Bloodtithe Harvester and Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger.
In Modern, Fetchlands make Descending trivial. Molten Collapse will have to compete with Terminate for Rakdos decks in Modern, but the versatility of Molten Collapse is no joke. Molten Collapse is a great upgrade and should see extensive Constructed play.
#3 Get Lost
Cards like Fateful Absence and Destroy Evil have seen reasonable amounts of Pioneer play, and Get Lost is a great upgrade over both. Generally, giving an opponent two Map tokens is worse for them than giving the opponent a Clue token in many instances. This is especially true for decks like Azorius control that can limit the opponent’s ability to stick Creatures.
Additionally, like Destroy Evil, this card can hit Enchantments, too. Being able to answer otherwise problematic cards like Enigmatic Incarnation for two mana is great. Two mana is also perfect in conjunction with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, which lets you untap two Lands when you use its +1 ability.
In Standard, Destroy Evil sees lots of play given the dominance of four-toughness Creatures and Enchantments like Wedding Announcement. I expect Get Lost to play a role here as well, especially for control decks to cleanly answer opposing copies of The Wandering Emperor.
#2 Tishana’s Tidebinder
Tishana’s Tidebinder is one of the few cards on this list with significant potential in Modern. This card seems like a slam dunk for Modern Merfolk decks, and likely will make a splash in Izzet Wizards alongside Flame of Anor. This card functions similarly to Nimble Obstructionist, allowing you to counter activated or triggered abilities, except the ability comes stapled to a 3/2 body as an enters-the-battlefield effect.
In a format like Modern that is so dominated by Cascade triggers and Evoke Elementals like Fury with insane enters-the-battlefield effects, Tishana’s Tidebinder seems priced to find a home. In addition, once you counter an activated or triggered ability of an Artifact, Creature, or Planeswalker, that card loses all abilities for as long as Tidebinder stays in play. This means that you can effectively shut off The One Ring by countering the “Protection from everything” ability, then preventing the opponent from putting burden counters on it to draw cards.
Similarly, you can respond to activations of Planeswalkers like Karn, the Great Creator, rendering them useless. Tidebinder may show up in Standard and Pioneer as well, helping against cards like Leyline Binding. Tishana’s Tidebinder has multi-format potential, earning it a spot high up on this list.
#1 Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls is not a new card to MTG. It has had quite a major impact on Modern and Legacy, giving typal decks a big advantage against Counterspells. Decks like five-color Humans in Modern and Goblins in Legacy have made great use of this card. Even Amulet Titan often runs some number of Cavern of Souls to help make sure Primeval Titan can hit the table. The reason that Cavern of Souls is on this list, despite being a reprint, is that it is now legal in Standard and Pioneer and is now on Arena.
Any typal deck in Standard or Pioneer is going to utilize this card. Getting to slam Adeline, Resplendent Cathar in the face of Make Disappear with no fear can be game-breaking. Cavern of Souls also fixes colors for typal decks, meaning archetypes like Azorius Spirits in Pioneer can easily cast both Mausoleum Wanderer and Skyclave Apparition when necessary. Cavern of Souls is an exceptional upgrade to the likes of Unclaimed Territory from original Ixalan block. It should see lots and lots of play in Standard, Pioneer, and Historic throughout its existence, earning it the top spot on the list.
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