Top Modern Cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Ben Fraley
November 14, 2023


On November 10th The Lost Caverns of Ixalan was released, a set with multiple new cards that are actually very strong for Modern. In this article, we will go through some of the new cards and their impacts on 3 different decks in the current meta. In my opinion, this set could have a significant impact on the power of these decks.


Cenote Scout & Tishana's Tidebinder

Cenote Scout (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan #178) Tishana's Tidebinder (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan #81)

Merfolk is a deck that doesn't struggle for good cards but it does struggle for good non-two drops. The deck has an incredible overabundance of two-drops, almost every card in the deck is a two-drop. The few exceptions are Aether Vial, an iconic modern artifact that allows you to power out your two drops, Svyelun of Sea and Sky, a merfolk god from Modern Horizons 2 designed for the deck, and Tide Shaper, a one-drop with kicker for 1 mana which makes it effectively a two drop, as you almost never want to cast Tide Shaper without kicking it. The deck often features some number of Force of Negation which is a generically good counterspell to protect your board of 4 two mana creatures. Even one of its best lands is effectively a two-mana 2/2. Mutavault costs 1 mana to activate and become a 2/2 which when it attacks means it can no longer produce mana, effectively costing two mana. 

These two cards are two relatively good merfolk that may be able to see play in the deck. Tishana's Tidebinder is a 3 mana merfolk that can counter a fetchland, Fury trigger, Yawgmoth activation, or planeswalker ability and shut them down permanently! This in combination with Force of Negation and Aether Vial powers up the deck's ability to play on its opponent's turn. In my opinion, the deck needs more one-drops than 3 drops so while I do think it will see play, I see it more as a 1-2 of in the main deck or just 1-2 in the sideboard. 

Good thing the deck needs one drops because Cenote Scout is a common 1 drop for one green mana. It has significantly less text than the Tidebinder but in my opinion, has a real chance of competitive play. The one-mana 1/1 explores when it enters the battlefield, providing either card selection or card advantage. 

From the MTG Wiki, “If a creature you control explores, you reveal the top card of your library. If the revealed card is a land … put that card into your hand. If it's not a land card … you put a +1/+1 counter on it. Then, you decide whether the nonland card goes back on top of your library or into your graveyard.”

Orcish Bowmasters (The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth #103)

If Cenote Scout is just card selection you get a one-mana 2/2. Merfolk frequently has no turn 1 play and as a result, is held back from its most powerful play patterns. Recently in the metagame, a great example of seeing a strong card release that filled a hole in a deck's curve is Orcish Bowmasters. Scam was a strong deck before but lacked a good second two-mana play. At certain points, it even resorted to playing cards like Blood-Tithe Harvester. Once it received the 5th-8th two drops it so desperately needed the deck quickly became tier one and has consistently received small but meaningful upgrades since then. Even in combination with Aether Vial the scout is great as when the vial is ticked up to one it can be vialed in making so even having both one drops doesn't inhibit the deck's power.



Spelunking (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan #213)

Spelunking is a rules nightmare to understand at first, but a powerful boon for Amulet Titan. The 3 mana enchantment both ramps and acts as an Amulet of Vigor but does not stack. For example, while two Amulet of Vigors will make a bounceland produce 4 mana, two Spelunking will not and a Spelunking plus an Amulet of Vigor will only cause the land to untap via the Amulet Trigger or enter untapped via the Spelunking. Overall the enchantment is very powerful, while I am no amulet titan expert, I can tell you having more amulets, even if they don't stack, is very good. Some people have gone as far as to say that Spelunking is so good that the deck should begin to cut Azusa entirely.


Sunken Citadel

Sunken Citadel (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan #285)

Sunken Citadel is another card that likely will slot right into Amulet Titan. Lands that produce more than 1 mana are this deck's bread and butter. Though this only produces two mana to be used for abilities on lands the deck that uses 30+ lands and many of them having activated abilities is a very clear inclusion. Sunken Citadel can be used to pay for Tolaria West, Boseiju, Sunhome, Slayers' Stronghold, Mycosynth Gardens and some lists that are going all in on the Citadel are running Castle Garenbrig which in combination with the Citadel effectively turns both lands into Sol lands (lands that produce two mana). While in most decks a land coming in tapped is a downside, Sunken Citadel coming in tapped is what makes this card especially playable as it triggers Amulet of Vigor. I think Sunken Citadel will see play but I am unsure if the 4 Citadel 4 Castle lists will dominate as I fear they may negatively affect the deck's flexibility.


Molten Collapse

Molten Collapse (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan #234)

Lastly is Molten Collapse. This is a clear upgrade to Dreadbore and in my opinion significantly better than Terminate. In BR scam Terminate serves as a removal spell, but much more commonly is a blank piece of cardboard to be pitched to Fury or Grief. Moving from instant speed to sorcery speed does make it worse in some scenarios, however, its increased flexibility at shoring up terrible matchups far outweighs any downside that comes from the slot becoming a sorcery. In almost every bad matchup Molten Collapse can provide blowout two-for-ones. Against Hammer, it can kill both a Sigarda's Aid and a Puresteel Paladin or a Hammer and a Stoneforge. Against Scales, it can kill both their Hardened Scales and Zabaz or Ballista. Against Amulet Titan it can kill both an Amulet and a Dryad! The card is nuts, this is not some small upgrade but instead is largely indifferent in matchups where the Terminate wasn't great and significantly improves the deck's bad matchups.