The prerelease of Magic's next set, Lost Caverns of Ixalan is approaching! We continue our review season, analyzing the best cards from the new expansion.
Today, we ranked the ten best cards for Magic Arena's Explorer format. If you're interested in a more in-depth look at it for Pioneer, you can check out my full review.
Before we start our Top 10, let's discuss some of the cards that were candidates to make the list, but were left out for some reason.
Deeproot Pilgrimage is a step on the right path to making Merfolks a viable strategy in the format. Amplifying the board while attacking with your creatures is an excellent method of maintaining pressure and securing blockers.
But Merfolks still lacks enough synergies to work on Pioneer, and as Explorer doesn't have the combo with Kiora's Follower, this enchantment doesn't stand out as much as other new features.
Inti, Seneschal of the Sun has potential in Boros Pia's lists, an archetype that does some good in Explorer, but suffers from the absence of Chained to the Rocks. Its abilities interact well with the deck's proposal, and its increase in power and evasion make a huge difference with Prowess.
Abuelo, Ancestral Echo protects itself and helps protect your other creatures and/or reuse its ETB effects.
It is also in a right type to find some space in the Spirits variants, but it doesn't seem useful enough to throw the archetype back to the top of the Metagame.
The Restless Lands are the first cycle of allied manlands on Explorer, but they compete with the lands from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms in usefulness, as those from the old cycle are much more efficient as threats.
Some of them will see play, but since the ones from Wilds of Eldraine had little presence in the Metagame, I don't have high expectations about their impact on Explorer.
The Ten Best Lost Caverns of Ixalan Cards for Explorer
10 - Kellan, Daring Traveler
Kellan, Daring Traveler is a human with a decent body and whose ability offers card advantage or top filtering.
As it is on a relevant creature type in the format, it is possible that it will find space as an efficient two-drop alongside other creatures and become another means of maintaining pressure and resource parity on a single card.
9 - Volatile Fault
Volatile Fault is a more versatile variant of Field of Ruin for proactive decks that don't care as much about losing land drops. Today, Explorer does not have any archetype where this card is necessary, but its inclusion opens up broader possibilities for dealing with manlands and other troublesome lands that might show up in the future.
8 - Amalia Benavides Aguirre
Amalia Benavides Aguirre enables a new combo in the format alongside Wildgrowth Walker, where any explore and/or life gain trigger will start a loop until Amalia has 20 power and destroys the other creatures, having a clear path to inflict lethal damage.
7 - Tishana's Tidebinder
Tishana's Tidebinder is the best merfolk Lost Caverns of Ixalan has brought. Despite not interacting directly with its tribe, the ability to counter and block abilities from creatures, artifacts, or Planeswalkers makes it a decent Sideboard option against some of the most prevalent permanents in the Metagame.
6 - Bitter Triumph
Bitter Triumph becomes the cheapest black Planeswalker removal in the format, and its concession cost is easy to take advantage of with decks like Greasefang, Okiba Boss, or is negligible in games where they are more present, as against Control.
It's likely to replace Sheoldred's Edict and the like on sideboards, but it doesn't seem to have a place in the maindeck today.
5 - Dreadmaw's Ire
Dreadmaw's Ire mixes combat trick, evasion and artifact hate in a single card for a very low cost.
Boros Heroic and/or lists with Prowess should be interested in this card in the Sideboard to deal with Witch's Oven, Esika's Chariot and artifacts found by Karn, the Great Creator, despite Reidane, God of the Worthy already doing a good job against Rakdos Sacrifice.
4 - Bonehoard Dracosaur
Many players compare Bonehoard Dracosaur with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse since it generates an increased advantage for each turn it is in play, while generating a lot of pressure with its body. It's a very interesting card design, which mixes elements of Planeswalkers into powerful creatures.
However, Sheoldred's advantage in the Metagame lies in its mana cost in an opportune slot, in addition to the fact that it interacts with a recurring principle of the game - there is no way to avoid Sheoldred's impact without destroying her, and if you don't have an answer, she will punish you.
The new dragon has similar advantages, but offers an entire turn cycle to make a difference, in addition to not having the same micro-interactions that the Phyrexian praetor has. It is certainly a powerful card, it should see play in decks like Gruul Sagas, or even Rakdos Midrange, but it seems like an exaggeration to call it the "new Sheoldred".
3 - Get Lost
Get Lost will fit into almost every circumstance where Fateful Absence is used today, as well as having the advantage of dealing with Wedding Announcement, Rest in Peace and other pesky enchantments with the same slot we use to destroy creatures or Planeswalkers.
I emphasize that, while it offers more advantages than its predecessor, the 'upgrade' comes with a cost: Map tokens are more beneficial for go-wide strategies and/or those in which 1-for-1 exchanges still put pressure on the board, as they can be used both to filter the top and to increase the clock in play.
2 - Cavern of Souls
The most discussed and hyped card of the new expansion, Cavern of Souls was once a Modern staple and now arrives at Explorer as an excellent support against counterspells.
While it can be used in any typal strategy, and even in lists that need to protect a specific creature, the highlight of the new land is that it enables, with even more consistency, the multicolored variants of Humans, which now have sixteen to twenty lands that generate mana of any color to diversify the mana base. We can expect players to test new variants of the archetype, alongside Jodah, the Unifier, in the coming weeks.
1 - Molten Collapse
Molten Collapse may not seem that important in Pioneer, but Explorer lacks Dreadbore as an efficient, multicolored two-mana removal against creatures and Planeswalkers. Furthermore, the new card is more comprehensive in the current Metagame, as it deals with permanents like Witch's Oven, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, Portable Hole and Pithing Needle.
Its ability isn't as easy to trigger in Rakdos Midrange (tokens don't count towards Descend, so we're at the mercy of discarding cards and/or sacrificing Bloodtithe Harvester), but the fact that it's the improved replacement for Dreadbore already guarantees space in the best deck of the current Metagame.
That's all for today.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
Thanks for reading!