Open the door, get on the floor Everybody walk the—
Welcome to the first part of my Lost Caverns of Ixalan Financial Set Review. This is looking like a really exciting set so far, and I’m itching to get deep into the previews and see what goodies we’re going to get to play within a couple of weeks.
Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan both have a reputation for being underpowered, but it has been one of the best sets for producing undervalued specs in the years since. The original Ixalan sets were full of large and splashy Rares with exciting “Typal matters” abilities, which led to some excellent long-term value. I’m hoping the same holds true here, and I’m hoping to find some gems hiding amongst the caverns and Dinosaurs of Ixalan.
As always, I’m going to go card-by-card through all the Mythic Rares and hottest non-Mythics over the coming weeks. Let’s start by taking a look at the highest-profile reprint that we’ve seen in Standard in quite some time:
Cavern of Souls
Market Price: $30.29
I never thought we’d see Cavern of Souls show up in a Standard-legal set again, but I’m glad it has. Cavern of Souls is a great card and very on-theme for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.
If we want to get a sense of what will happen to Cavern of Souls’ price tag going forward, we’re going to have to look back at its full price history. Luckily, that’s one of my favorite things to do! Cavern of Souls was first printed in Avacyn Restored, and it was a hit in multiple formats from the start. It bounced around between $10 and $25 during its first run in Standard, as you can see from this chart, showcasing its first two years in print:
Cavern of Souls was originally Rare — not Mythic Rare — so it was scraping up against the ceiling for expensive Standard-legal cards at the time. It wasn’t quite on the level of Snapcaster Mage, but it was pretty close. Cavern of Souls didn’t push control out of the format during its first run in Standard, but it did reduce the number of counterspells used and helped shape the Innistrad-block metagame.
As a multi-format all-star, Cavern of Souls wasn’t affected much by Standard rotation. It was a $15 card during rotation, but it immediately started gaining value over the following winter. By Spring 2015, Cavern was a $40 card. By Spring 2016, it was a $50 card. A reprint in Modern Masters 2017 dropped the price to $30 for a single weekend, but the card was back to $45 by the start of that summer. Here’s what Cavern of Souls’s chart looked like from rotation through the summer of 2017:
Cavern of Souls got a couple of additional small-scale reprints over the next few years, but nothing major. It was as high as $80 in 2018 before a reprint in Ultimate Masters caused the price to drop down to $50 for a few weeks in late December of that year. It rebounded pretty fast after that, though an appearance on The List and as an Expedition in Zendikar Rising both caused small, temporary price drops. By the spring of 2022, Cavern was a robust $75-$80 card. Here’s the chart from mid-2017 through the first half of 2022:
The past year and a half have not been kind to Cavern of Souls owners, though. A reprint in Double Masters 2022 didn’t seem to make more than a blip at first, and its price tag was still close to $70 a month or so after that set hit shelves. It was even still a $60 card as recently as this May, but a summer of extreme price erosion caused this venerable staple to tank, and it was down to about $45 before the reprint was announced. Today, Cavern of Souls is selling for just a touch over $35:
Cavern of Souls is one of the most resilient cards in Magic, but this is the first non-Masters, The List, or Expedition printing it has had since Avacyn Restored, over a decade ago. Print runs were a lot lower back before Return to Ravnica, and I wouldn’t be shocked if there were more Lost Caverns of Ixalan copies of this card printed than all other copies in the world combined.
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Market Price: $34.06
Even still, I expect Cavern of Souls to have a very high price floor. There are loads of Commander players who would love to own 3-4 of these for their “Typal Matters” decks, but haven’t been able to justify a $40+ price tag. My guess is that Cavern will end up in the $20-$30 range, but I doubt it’ll drop much below that. You’ll want to grab a copy during the holiday season if you’ve been holding out, as that will likely be the period of peak supply.
The Skullspore Nexus
Market Price: $18.37
As of this writing, The Skullspore Nexus is the hottest new card The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. With so much hype behind it, I wanted to take a deep dive into exactly what this card does, and why people are so into it. First off, The Skullspore Nexus has the same cost reduction mechanic—and mana value — as The Great Henge. That card was definitely underrated at printing because people underestimated how easy it would be to cast, and I expect the same will prove true here. While The Skullspore Nexus is technically an eight-mana Artifact, I suspect that it will often come down for 3-4 mana, if that.
So, what does The Skullspore Nexus do? Well, whenever your opponent kills a creature or wipes the board, you get a very large creature. Since the creature lacks any keywords, it’s unlikely to do much, but sometimes having the only presence on the battlefield after a wipe is all you need. You can also tap The Skullspore Nexus to double the power of a creature, which can let you kill out of nowhere in a green deck full of large trampling Dinosaurs.
Market Price: $24.97
Market Price: $47.66
Market Price: $43.61
Neither of these abilities is worth a card by themselves, at least not in a format with Commander’s power level, but this is definitely one of those spells where two abilities worth about 2/3rds of a card each add up. The fact that you can generally cast this card for just 3-4 mana makes it a must-play in Green decks that want to go big.
That said, I don’t think The Skullspore Nexus is on the same level as The Great Henge, at least in terms of raw power and flexibility. This is a very good card, but it’s far more situational. I expect it to remain one of the set’s main chase cards, and it will have demand, but I doubt it will hit the $30+ heights of The Great Henge. Once the set hits shelves and there are enough copies to go around, this has the look of a $10-$20 card to me.
Market Price: $16.34
I find it hard to believe that Bonehoard Dracosaur won’t see at least a little competitive play. This Dinosaur Dragon has flying, first strike, essentially draws you two cards per turn, and will often passively make you a 3/1 creature, a Treasure, or both. It’s a must-answer threat and an absolute mountain of card advantage. What’s not to love?
Well, Bonehoard Dracosaur has a few hurdles to pass. First, there’s no clear home for it in Standard right now. In fact, there isn’t a top deck out there that is even close to running a card like this. The format also has a lot of spot removal right now, so it’s hard to justify running expensive creatures that don’t do anything when they enter the battlefield. Bonehoard Dracosaur has a lot of competition in the eternal formats, and there are several dozen similar cards in Commander. Right now, it’s a powerful creature without a clear home.
Market Price: $79.31
To be transparent, the power level is here. Bonehard Dracosaur reminds me a little of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in terms of how much you can run away with the game if you stick it, and there are plenty of historical sets where this would be the unquestioned best card. I want to see a clear path to playability before I’m willing to drop $20+ on a card because this is a $7-$8 card if a top-tier home doesn’t materialize.
Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation // Temple of Civilization
Market Price: $35.04
Well, they did it. Less than a year after printing token doubler Mondrak, Glory Dominus, Wizards of the Coast has released its first-ever token tripler. While Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation costs two mana more than Mondrak, and it doesn’t work with non-Creature tokens, I still fully expect this to be a must-play in Commander builds that want to spam the board with as many Creature tokens as possible.
Market Price: $30.21
Market Price: $26.68
Market Price: $44.57
Since Mondrak is the best comparison we have, let’s look at that card’s price chart over the past year:
As you can see, Mondrak had an absurd preorder price, dropped to $30 on release weekend, rebounded a bit, and eventually settled in around $25. Demand has been robust at that level, and it’s nearly entirely due to Commander decks that will also want Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation. I feel confident that this card can maintain a price tag in the $10-$20 range, even if it’s slightly worse than Mondrak, and it’s one of the safest holds in Lost Caverns of Ixalan so far.
Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant
Market Price: $24.21
Oh mercy, this new Ghalta is a decent card. While Craterhoof Behemoth might win more games as an eight-mana green creature, Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant lets players live the dream of being able to drop all their big beefy bombs onto the battlefield at once. You don’t even need to cast Ghalta — you can reanimate this Dinosaur as early as turn one or two, and then go nuts. There’s not even a Sneak Attack clause where you have to sacrifice your creatures afterward — you just get them.
I don’t have much to say about Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant because this is quite likely to be the second best-selling card in the set after Cavern of Souls. The Skullspore Nexus is awesome, and Ojer Taq is going to be great for go-wide token players, but Ghalta might just be the most Timmy/Tammy card ever printed. If you want a copy or two, snag them on release weekend. Demand is going to remain strong on this one for many months to come.
The Enigma Jewel // Locus of Enlightenment
I’m not interested in the craft ability part of The Enigma Jewel. Nine mana plus four or more nonland cards with activated abilities is so much, and the payoff will be merely okay most of the time. I definitely think this will see some play in Planeswalker-based Commander decks, but it’s far from a must-play based on the craft ability.
That said, The Enigma Jewel may have legs as a mana rock alone. Granted, it comes into play tapped, and you can only use the mana on activated abilities, but anything that looks even a little like a Sol Ring will be worth considering across every single format. The Enigma Jewel could see play in Modern or Pioneer based on that alone, and it has the upside of being the best card in the set.
The risk is too much for me to recommend The Enigma Jewel until I see a decklist or two, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. If you start to see rumblings of The Enigma Jewel making waves in early testing, you’ll want to buy in immediately.
Saheeli, the Sun’s Brilliance
Market Price: $10.17
Saheeli, the Sun’s Brilliance is the exact kind of card I love to play. She’s fairly costed, has a simple ability, and is deceptively powerful. Brudiclad builds will love this new Saheeli, as are Obeka, Daretti, and so many other popular Commanders. Kiki-Jiki-style cards are nearly always more powerful than they look, too.
That said, I just don’t think the power level is there for Saheeli to become a new staple or anything. The fact that you can’t use her ability the turn you play her makes her a lot worse than Kiki-Jiki, and the same applies to additional activation cost. She’s just too slow and far too vulnerable to basically any removal and disruption. Fun card, but a future $2-$3 Mythic Rare.
Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might // Temple of Power
Market Price: $11.72
To date, Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might is the most popular new Commander in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. It’s another take on a Mono-Red Burn Commander, and this one works best when you have a board of pingers or spells that deal small amounts of damage directly to opponents.
As with all popular new Commanders, I’m on the prowl for potential secondary specs. Cards like Manabarbs, Roiling Vortex, Urabrask, Rampaging Ferocidon, Zo-Zu the Punisher, Chandra’s Incinerator, and Burning Earth are on my radar as we move closer to set release. If you’re interested in building around Ojer Axonil, or you like this sort of speculation, now’s the time to act.
As for Ojer Axonil itself, its future price tag will depend a lot on whether it can break into competitive constructed or not. There are definitely metagames where a midrange Red card that can keep coming back would see a ton of play, though I’m not sure we’re there in the current iteration of Standard. Thanks, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse! I think this is a long shot, but Commander demand should keep this card in the $3-$4 range, so any amount of constructed play could catapult Ojer Axonil into the top tier of Mythics in the set. Keep an eye out.
Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal // Temple of the Dead
I want to like Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal, but cards like this rarely amount to much. Five mana without haste or an enters the battlefield ability is just never going to cut in any competitive constructed format, especially since discard is far worse later in the game. Aclazotz will probably see some Commander play, but most folks dislike playing with or against dedicated discard decks, and there are far better Commanders for those who want to go that way. Aclazotz might lead to some Bat Typal shenanigans, but that shouldn’t keep this card above the $1-$2 range, regardless.
Huatli, Poet of Unity // Roar of the Fifth People
Huatli, Poet of Unity can come close to winning the game all by herself. If you can get Roar of the Fifth People online, you get six power of Dinosaurs, a bunch of mana, the best Dino from your deck, and a massive boon to your attack. All of this comes on a card that’s just three mana to play — and it replaces itself with a Basic Land from your deck. That’s fantastic.
Unfortunately, I think demand for Huatli, Poet of Unity will be fairly limited. Naya-colored Dinosaur decks in Commander will run this, but that might be it. I suppose Huatli could pop up in Standard if the metagame shifts a lot, but it’s likely too slow and niche for that format. It’s hard to believe that a card with this much power will end up as a $2 Mythic Rare, but that’s the most likely scenario.
Moving on to a couple of the most popular new Rares, we’ve got Get Lost. White often gets powerful Instant speed spot removal that also gives the opponent something in return, and this is the most recent iteration of that. At the moment, it directly competes with Fateful Absence, though I think Get Lost is better. The fact that your opponent can only use their Map tokens at sorcery speed makes them worse than a single Clue most of the time, especially if you’re pressuring them at the same time.
Market Price: $8.68
Market Price: $72.28
Market Price: $12.26
In terms of value, the real question is whether Get Lost cuts Pioneer or not. It’s definitely going to be tested in that format, and it has an $8-$10 upside if it ends up being a staple there. I’m likely to hold off and wait, since the current price is already quite high, but don’t take that as me panning the card. Get Lost is likely to be a Standard staple at the very least, so if you can snag a set at a price that makes sense for you, go for it.
Amalia Benavides Aguirre
I adore Amalia Benavides Aguirre. For one thing, it’s just really nice to have a lady with glasses on a card? My glasses feel like a big part of my aesthetic, and I wish more people used them in fantasy art. It’s a crucial representation!
More importantly for this column, however, I think Amalia Benavides Aguirre has legs in both competitive constructed (especially with Wildgrowth Walker) and Commander. In competitive formats, Amalia can get out of hand fast, especially since the Ward ability allows you to protect her. You’re probably never reaching 20 power, but does it matter? That’s a ton of card advantage, regardless. In Commander, Amalia slots nicely into a bunch of existing Orzhov decks, and is a unique Commander in her own right. I expect she’ll see play all across the board. I’ll be snagging a few copies on release day for sure.
Oh, hey, it’s Jace and Vraska’s ship! No, like, their literal ship. It’s really nice to see this little piece of lore pop back up again, but I don’t think The Belligerent will live up to its hype as a card. The mana value is too high and specific, especially considering the crew cost. Folks who love the original Ixalan story or just want to build a fun Pirate Typal deck will snag The Belligerent, but this is closer to a $1 Rare than people seem to think right now.
Will Bedrock Tortoise finally give Green enough gas to compete with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and its ilk? I’m not sure. There are a lot of powerful Green midrange cards in Standard right now, and most of them see exactly zero play. Bedrock Tortoise has the right cost-to-power and toughness ratio, though, and I’m optimistic. I think Wizards of the Coast wants Timmy/Tammy-style decks to shine after this set drops, and if that ends up happening, Bedrock Tortoise will likely be part of why. I also expect this card to have a backstop of demand from folks who want copies for their Toughness Typal decks in Commander.
Will this be enough to keep the price in the $5 range? Perhaps. Again, this is probably best-case for the card, while it has every likelihood of dropping down into bulk Rare range instead. Feel free to snag a set if you’re a believer or you want to try to make green work in the new format, but the risk/reward calculation isn’t there for me.