Lost Cavern of Ixalan: An Elves All The Way Down Review

Magic: The Gathering‘s latest set is a return to the exciting plane of Ixalan. A Mesoamerican-inspired world with added Dinosaurs. I really enjoyed our previous visit to the plane and was quite excited to return in Lost Caverns of Ixalan. I wasn’t doing reviews back then, but the old block provided a few cards we’ve played in Elves over the years.

However, there is one glaring issue with an Elves All The Way Down Review of an Ixalan set: there aren’t any Elves. Now, normally this isn’t too much of an issue. I can often pull together a list of utility and support cards that Elves could play. This time, unfortunately, that’s going to lead to quite a short article. At least I get to enjoy me some new big dinos when I’m not playing Elves.

As always, this review focuses exclusively on a card’s application in Elves decks across Magic‘s many formats. If you think there’s a cool card for your Jurrasic Park theme deck in Commander, this isn’t the review for that. (That card’s still cool though, whatever it is.) The rating given at the end of each entry is out of five Trees and applies to whichever format the card suits best.

The Elves

As mentioned above, Lost Caverns of Ixalan doesn’t contain any Elves.

Everything Else

Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar

Kutzil, Malamet Exemplar could make for an interesting silver bullet. The important ability here is the first one, turning off interactions on your turn. This stops removal and/or counters from messing up your plans. Combo versions of Elves might be particularly interested in that kind of effect. Classically, Elves haven’t used these kind of effects to prevent interaction. Instead, we normally opt for protection spells, like Heroic Intervention or Selfless Spirit. What those other effects don’t provide, however, is 3/3 body with another upside.

Drawing a card for attacking in with a wide board when we have a lord out is powerful. It keeps cards flowing without neccessarily having to commit more to the board. Being able to do so while knowing your opponent can’t mess you up with spells is great.

Over all, Kutzil is an interesting sideboard option for silver bullet lists. It might not be winning any awards, but it’s a new tool to add to the tool box.

Roaming Throne

So, I guess Roaming Throne counts as an Elf while it’s on the battlefield, so Lost Caverns of Ixalan does have an Elf in it.

The Throne has a lot of people excited for their favourite Typal Commanders decks. Doubling things gets people very hyped up. (Source: Doubling Season still costs as much as it does, despite recent reprints.)

While I’ll give Roaming Throne a try out in EDH Elves, for sixty-card formats, we don’t have the luxury of playing a card like this. Against any competent deck, if we spend four mana getting this out and then have to do another thing to get a payoff, we will get dismantled. Sure, we could double a Shaman of the Pack trigger, but we can also do that by casting a second Shaman.

Roaming Throne will go live in Commander, where it will flourish.

Cavern of Souls

I don’t tend to talk about reprints in these reviews. However, I’m making an exception for Cavern of Souls. Not only is it the most important card in the set for Elves, it’s also a card from my early days of playing competitively.

Cavern was a mainstay of Modern Elves for the longest time. It was Quirion Ranger getting added to Modern that finally phased it out; Cavern isn’t a Forest, after all. Even then, it still enabled some truly nonsense five-colour Elf variants that we’ve tried on stream. It’s probably the best of the five-colour ‘choose a creature type’ lands.

This reprint of Cavern brings it into multiple formats. Its original printing was a single set too early to make it into Pioneer. Now, that’s not a problem. All of the Arena formats – Historic, Explorer and Standard – also benefit from the reprint. This is huge.

Cavern isn’t as big a deal as it was back when it was first printed. The colour-fixing component of the card can be provided by many other lands that have been printed since. The uncounterability, however, hasn’t been matched. That means, if whatever meta you’re playing in is lacking in control decks, you might want to stick to Secluded Courtyard. If you expect any counterspells at all, you want Cavern of Souls.

At this point, there might be enough five-colour lands for Elves on Arena that we can try out decks similar to the five-colour brews we’ve played in Modern, but in Explorer or Historic.

Parting Thoughts

Normally, at this point, I talk about my thoughts about the set overall and what its impact on Elf decks might be. However, you can find pretty much all of that in the Cavern of Souls section.

I can’t complain too much, though. I’m still unreasonably excited that we have a return to Lorwyn confirmed. We’re even returning to Ravnica next – the plane that gave us Deathrite Shaman. So, regardless of my disappointment from this set, we’ve got some good opportunities for Elves on the horizon.

As always, I’ve been trying out some of the new cards on stream, so if you want to see some of them in action, head over on a Thursday evening (UK time). Always happy for new viewers in chat to talk about these new cards with. If you’re interested in previous sets, you can find all of our older Elves All The Way Down reviews here.