The preview season for Lost Caverns of Ixalan has come to an end. With it, the Cards Realm team begins our review season, where we evaluate the best cards from the new expansion for the most famous Magic: The Gathering formats.
Today, I open the season with a review of the ten best cards of the new set for Modern!
The Ten Best Lost Caverns of Ixalan Cards for Modern
10 - Wail of the Forgotten
3-for-1 effects for just two mana should be at the top of the list of the best cards in a new expansion. However, Wail of the Forgotten requires abysmal concessions to unleash its full potential, and none of its effects are exceptional enough to explain the deckbuilding compromises required to run it.
Having eight or more permanents in your graveyard is not an easy task in almost any of the decks in the format today, even with Fetch Lands, and these usually run Murktide Regent to feed on the graveyard.
Therefore, Wail of the Forgotten is a powerful card when enabled, but with a condition that greatly hinders its viability in Modern.
9 -Inti, Seneschal of the Sun
Inti, Seneschal of the Sun has a huge potential to surprise players. Modern is a format that already has good discard interactions to enable its trigger with Street Wraith, Burning Inquiry, Goblin Lore, The Underworld Cookbook.
Having a 2/2 body for two mana and a triggered ability that offers a resource trade while granting a power boost and Trample to a creature means Inti also guarantees a means going over Orcish Bowmasters.
Its weakness, however, is that its trigger works when the player discards one or more cards, which makes it impossible to efficiently use effects spells to discard multiple cards and generate a huge card advantage, which could even bring old decks, such as Hollow Vine, back to the format.
8 - Stalactite Stalker
Stalactite Stalker is a one-drop with the potential to grow exponentially as the match progresses. Add Fetch Lands and Mishra's Bauble on subsequent turns, and you have a 3/3 or 4/4 with Menace as soon as the third turn. Furthermore, the new creature is a Goblin and interacts with some of the archetype's proposals in the current Modern, in addition to having an ability that allows you to double it as removal against another threat on the battlefield.
Its weakness lies in the fact that it is still a 1/1 for one mana that does very little without external interactions, and while we put in a 2/2 for one mana on the first turn, our opponent can start the game with a 4/ 3 that removed two important cards from our hand without the same concessions we are forced to make to get the most out of the new Goblin.
7 - Dauntless Dismantler
As a hate piece, Dauntless Dismantler isn't the most innovative and lethal creature in its category, as Kataki, War's Wage is more damaging to these archetypes, but its activated ability is strong against certain segments of Modern and Legacy cards.
While we don't have the original artifact lands in Modern, and the ones from MH2 are indestructible, Dauntless Dismantler can handle tokens from Urza's Saga and/or other permanents, in addition to Inkmoth Nexus for just one mana, and also deals with Colossus Hammer, Shadowspear, Esper Sentinel, and The Ozolith for three.
For two mana, on a relevant creature type and with a decent body, Dauntless Dismantler is a decent Sideboard option for some archetypes, if the Metagame demands more specific artifact hate.
6 - Bitter Triumph
Bitter Triumph is excellent for decks that don't care about life loss, or even benefit from it, like Death's Shadow, where the new removal can replace Dismember, or enter the Sideboard, in the spaces that currently belong to Sheoldred's Edict, since there are few targets in Modern where sacrificing stuff really matters.
5 - Get Lost
Get Lost is one of the best removals released in the last year, and one that just won't have as much space in Modern because the main archetypes that would care about it already resort to the interaction between Fetch Lands and Triomes to play with Leyline Binding, which is more comprehensive at a potentially lower cost.
Therefore, the strategies that may be interested in the new removal are those that don't run Triomes and/or a four-color base to function, that is, archetypes that are currently below the 1% Metagame metric, such as Stoneblade, Mono White Aggro and similar that require a comprehensive and low-cost response.
4 - Tarrian's Soulcleaver
Tarrian's Soulcleaver is an improved version of Blade of the Bloodchief, and expanding it's trigger to artifacts can guarantee space in some Urza's Saga decks, especially Hardened Scales, as it can trigger good interactions with this equipment.
But Scales, today, is a strategy that already struggles to get slots for all the new features that have arrived in recent releases, and the new equipment has little immediate impact if we compare it to the other Urza's Saga targets, such as Shadowspear. It deserves some testing inside and outside this strategy due to his explosive potential, but it wouldn't be surprising if we don't find it on competitive lists.
3 - Tishana's Tidebinder
For a plane where merfolks were a central theme, Lost Caverns of Ixalan doesn't bring much support for the archetype in Modern. Tishana's Tidebinder is probably the best card for the tribe.
Its ability allows you to respond to Fury, one of the most problematic cards for go-wide strategies in the format, in addition to working against other important staples today, such as The One Ring, Orcish Bowmasters, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Primeval Titan, among others.
Its cost is a bit undesirable for Merfolks, as the main plays with Aether Vial tend to be in two mana, but with Svyelun of Sea and Sky, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner and, in some lists, Merrow Reejerey and Glasspool Mimic, it is possible for Tishana's Tidebinder to have its space in the maindeck or sideboard.
2 - Echoing Deeps
The big attraction of the new land is its potential to copy Urza's Saga after it has been sent to the graveyard, which guarantees more threats for the opponent to deal with, while it also generates mana on its own, and we can use it with conventional means to then return it to the hand with a Bounce Land and copy another card into our graveyard.
Its use is specific and doesn't seem to have the potential to affect multiple decks, but being present in one of the main competitors in the current Metagame puts Echoing Deeps in a great position in our Top 10.
1 - Molten Collapse
As mentioned in my individual card review, Molten Collapse offers a huge 2-for-1 potential in Modern, in a Metagame where several one-mana artifacts and enchantments are present, and where the best deck in the format is a archetype that has ease of putting cards into the graveyard.
However, the spell also suffers from the limited space in the strategies where it fits: Rakdos Evoke needs Terminate to deal with potential combos involving Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or Primeval Titan, and there isn't enough room to play with many copies of a sorceryl in the current Metagame.
Therefore, Molten Collapse is likely to become a one-of in the Rakdos Evoke maindeck, may gain more space in archetypes such as Jund Saga, and will have more potential in Sideboard slots of the format's main decks, where the 2-for-1 trade against Hammer Time, Hardened Scales, and others makes a lot of difference while it is also another removal against Murktide Regent, Fury and other bigger creatures present in Modern.
Just like Wilds of Eldraine and March of the Machine before it, Lost Caverns of Ixalan brings only a few specific additions to the format, with a small portion of them having the potential to grow in Modern. This effect is largely due to the power creep that Modern Horizons II had compared to the rest of the game in recent years, to the point that a card needs to be excellent, or find very specific situations to make a difference in the competitive environment.
Its impact seems smaller than the previous set, which is largely because Agatha's Soul Cauldron was extremely beneficial for a dozen archetypes, and there doesn't appear to be a similar enabler in the new expansion.
Thanks for reading!