Lost Caverns of Ixalan Cards I’m Excited About for cEDH
At the time of writing, preview season is well underway, but the full set hasn’t been revealed yet. Still, there are at least ten cards I think have some application in cEDH, so let’s go over them:
First up, Get Lost. White has a lot of versatile removal with minor drawbacks, but I think this is in an interesting place. In general, removal spells that give your opponent something are a lot less punishing in Commander, and two map tokens are very slow and low impact. The most significant drawback of this card is that it puts two additional artifacts onto the battlefield, which means Dockside Extortionist will be that much stronger, but you can play Get Lost in decks with Dockside Extortionist to make your own Dockside stronger, which can actually be really important. I think this card is most likely to see play in decks that are attempting to win by looping Dockside as a way to help guarantee that you’ll have a sufficient Dockside count, but when you draw it when you’re not prepared to try to win with Dockside, it’s still a versatile removal spell that’s pretty close to on par with Resculpt, though with considerably different strengths and weaknesses.
The Everflowing Well
The Everflowing Well is a niche card I don’t think will see play in many decks–maybe no one else will play it in cEDH, but I’m very interested in any artifacts I can find that draw more than one card for Jhoira, Ageless Innovator and this offers card draw at a decent rate when you don’t actually have to spend mana for it. I don’t think flipping it matters that much–Descend 8 is in reach, but doesn’t happen early, and I’m both not really looking to cast permanent spells and don’t have that many permanents I would cast where making another permanent a copy of it temporarily would really matter that much. Getting an extra land incidentally is kind of nice, but really, I’m just interested in a Divination that mills two that I can cast by tapping Jhoira.
Ward 1 is weirdly relevant–mana’s tight and no one likes to spend mana that they don’t have to, and when you kill Kitesail Larcenist, you might get your thing back, but so do your opponents, so it’s possible no one wants to be the one to actually use a card on it. I think a decent portion of the time that you exile commanders with this, players will just sacrifice them to get mana and use the mana to recast them, but that takes their turn and increases their commander tax, which pairs really well with either having more removal or blinking Kitesail Larcenist.
With this card I’m not exactly sure which decks want it, but it seems like a pretty strong utility creature–that might be a bad enough fit for the format that it sees little play, but it could end up being strong with commanders like Tymna the Weaver and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician that like evasive creatures, or especially with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, which specifically likes evasive Pirates.
Tishana’s Tidebinder’s a little on the expensive side, but stifles are pretty strong in cEDH, and rarely played, and this one takes advantage of the fact that creatures are significantly harder for blue decks in cEDH to interact with than noncreatures, which means that it’s more likely this can resolve to stop a Thassa’s Oracle trigger, maybe even in a turn when Ranger-Captain of Eos was sacrificed. It’s also really good at turning off a wide range of commanders–I was about to list them, then I realized that because it both removes all text and counters both activated and triggered abilities, it really shuts down basically every commander that comes to mind, and it doesn’t offer the controller an easy out like Kitesail Larcenist does. Overall, I think this card’s pretty interesting. I like it most in decks with green, where you can potentially find it with Chord of Calling or get value out of the body with Gaea’s Cradle, but I can imagine a lot of reasons to consider this card.
The Ancient One
I love commanders that only cost two mana, and Dimir is a pretty good color pair. Dimir struggles with having a backup way to win the game outside of Thassa’s Oracle, but winning is always much easier when you have a mana sink in the command zone that you can use to convert infinite mana into a win. The Ancient One isn’t the best mana sink, since it requires colored mana and doesn’t increase the size of your hand, but you can use it to set up a Thassa’s Oracle win or if you want to play something like an Eldrazi Titan that loops your deck, you could use it to mill out the rest of the table.
There are very few Dimir Commanders with reasonable abilities that let you convert mana into a win–The situation’s so dire that Oona, Queen of the Fae was a reasonable option despite being pretty horrible without infinite mana, while The Ancient One is at least good at enabling Fierce Guardianship and Deadly Rollick.
Altar of the Wretched
I’m not sure if Altar of the Wretched, a card from the commander set, is good if your commander isn’t The Ancient One, but paying three mana to sacrifice your two mana commander to draw eight and mill eight in a deck that wants to get Descend 8 is pretty incredible, and Altar of the Wretched can even bring itself back from your graveyard to do it again later if you need to. These two cards go together so well I think it meaningfully increases the relevance of The Ancient One as a potential commander.
Bartolomé del Presidio
Despite Bartolomé del Presidio’s legendary status I’m not so interested in this one as a commander. Free sacrifice outlets are always good, and this is one of the best ever as it only costs two mana, can block, can sacrifice artifacts in addition to creatures, and gives you something that’s always relevant. This is a huge upgrade to Tayam, Luminous Enigma, where it replaces the extremely embarrassing Bloodflow Connoisseur. I’m not sure how many other competitive white/black decks are looking for a sacrifice outlet, but this is a fantastic option if any are. Also, it’s worth noting that the ability to sacrifice artifacts is particularly strong just because sometimes you need to have fewer artifacts to avoid losing to Dockside Extortionist.
Kutzil, Malament Exemplar
Kutzil is mostly a more expensive and less effective Grand Abolisher, but Grand Abolisher is one of the most popular white creatures in cEDH, so that’s not necessarily a bad starting point. Kutzil is also a potential card advantage engine, though there aren’t necessarily that many competitive decks that regularly have creatures with power greater than their base power. The deck that uses this best uses it extremely well however, and that’s Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Sisay itself will have greater than base power when you control Kutzil, so you’ll generally be able to attack and draw a card, and Kutzil is also most of a Grand Abolisher that you can search for with Sisay. Tayam is another deck that might consider Kutzil, but it’s far more impressive with Sisay.
Chimil, the Inner Sun
Chimil, the Inner Sun offers a very powerful text box, but I think very few decks are interested. If you’re playing Mishra’s Workshop, this might be reasonable, but I’m mostly just interested in it as a card for Jhoira, Ageless Innovator. Six mana is a great sweet spot of cards that are really high impact but reasonable to get into play quickly with Jhoira, and both making spells uncounterable and discovering every turn sound fantastic
I expect this to be a very popular card in casual Commander in all sorts of tribal decks, but tribal decks aren’t that popular in cEDH. However, Magda happens to be one of the decks I think is best, and Roaming Throne is incredible in that deck as that deck is looking for an artifact dwarf to win with Clock of Omens, which this is, and it also doubles Magda’s treasure generation. Four is a lot of mana, but you can sacrifice treasures to cast this and immediately recoup them with your additional triggers, and Ward 2 is a very good ability. I’m sure there are other tribal decks that will find a way to use this, or maybe someone will just play it with a commander with a lot of triggered abilities like Niv-Mizzet, Parun, but Magda is likely the best home for this card.
Overall, I don’t see anything that I think will be a widely played staple, but there’s a good mix of potential new decks, cards that fit very well in specific decks, and some flexible cards that offer different options to a wide variety of decks. Not bad for a format as strong as cEDH.