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Exploring the Lost Caverns of Ixalan

More Lost Caverns of Ixalan cards have been previewed, and so far it's been a chore to keep up with this set. Each card has so many words that it's overwhelming to take it all in at once.

Let's take a look at some of the cards that stand out as Constructed contenders.

Dusk Rose Reliquary

We'll start out simple with a reskinned Bone Shards type of card. Dusk Rose Reliquary is mana efficient and provides an effective way to get rid of large threats, whether it's artifacts or creatures, while sacrificing something yourself. With map tokens, clues, treasures, and various small creature tokens, Dusk Rose Reliquary is easy to reliably use, and most importantly, it's a solid bullet out of any Karn, the Great Creator sideboard.

I expect Dusk Rose Reliquary to see a lot of play across almost all formats. This is not a staple that will be played in all-white decks but will be in mostly proactive decks that have lots of game pieces lying around where its secondary cost is trivial.

Pugnacious Hammerskull

This is a cool card. A 6/6 for three mana seems overwhelming, and it's going to be quite the card to draw in multiples. Pugnacious Hammerskull is similar to Rotting Regisaur in that it will pack a huge punch upfront and demand an answer or run away with the game entirely.

While this card feels only okay at a glance, the more playable dinosaurs for Constructed there are, the more solid this card can be. I could see a world where we see this alongside Rotting Regisaur in some sort of Golgari deck with both or either The Great Henge and Fight Rigging. Rotting Regisaur has that huge drawback of losing you an extra card when killed on your upkeep, but Pugnacious Hammerskull will never lose you extra cards, which makes it an interesting three-mana threat.

When we take a step back, Pugnacious Hammerskull looks power crept from the days of old MTG, but it's a reasonable card to print these days.

It's too early to tell if this card will have much of an impact on Standard because its supporting cast makes a difference, but the power level is there, and it's also the kind of card that will dominate in a format short on reliable removal to kill it. I'm interested to see where this one goes.

Resplendent Angel

I'm not going to say much about this beloved reprint other than it seems like an obvious attempt at juicing up the EV of packs. The set currently appears light on angels, and Resplendent Angel grew in popularity when Pioneer Angels was heavily represented.

Quintorious Kand

Quintorious Kand is one of the coolest cards I've seen in a while. It has so much going on with it that I'm excited to give it a try. I suspect Quintorious will be a bit niche, but we are introduced to the discover mechanic in a big way.

Discover seems like a more careful method of reprinting cascade, where the discover numbers are higher, like the four we see here, making it more difficult to abuse to cast cards like Living End or Crashing Footfalls.

Quintorious can either be cast and immediately plussed to make a 3/2 for battlefield presence and to protect itself, or it can replace itself immediately with a minus to discover something to also protect itself. Quintorious fits into that same category of card that many five-mana planeswalkers do, a five-mana resource engine that if unchecked will slowly run away with the game.

Both its static ability and ultimate are underwhelming, as its ultimate doesn't play well with discover. You want to hit the highest casting cost possible with discover, and its ultimate wants you to focus on using cheap burn spells to utilize the free mana and the static.

Discover is unlikely to break any formats since cascade is already a thing in Modern, and Pioneer and Standard would have a difficult time abusing the mechanic, especially because, unlike cascade, these spells have to resolve to get the effect.

I'm not super bullish on Quintorious, but it will likely find a place here and there to fill in as a top-end value engine in small numbers out of sideboards.

Palani's Hatcher

Palani's Hatcher looks strong, but I've been made a fool before by Regisaur Alpha. Palani's Hatcher is a perfect dinosaur to put in a deck along with Pugnacious Hammerskull. It provides tokens that are dinosaurs whether hatched or not, and unless killed before combat you're getting three power of haste damage immediately.

I am going to fall for it yet again and say that this is a solid and playable five-drop even by today's standards. It's five mana for eleven power when things go well, and when things don't go well, you're still left with egg tokens ready to hatch with the next copy cast.

Glimpse the Core

Two-mana ramp is back in Standard! I'm disappointed and would love to see the return of actual Rampant Growth so we could fix mana with it, but this is a step in the right direction. Glimpse the Core will provide meaningful ramp in one- or two-color decks, but the cost of taking turn two off in today's environment can be punishing if you're not doing something explosive at the top end. The extra use case of resetting a cave can turn Glimpse into a solid way to get a card back with the cycle of discover lands, specifically Hidden Nursery in green, but that's likely more of a Limited thing than anything we'll see in Constructed.

With how Standard feels right now, Glimpse will likely be sparingly played since we don't have many reliable reset buttons. Perhaps a deck using Farewell would benefit the most from loading up on ramp-type effects and resetting the board. Getting specifically basic forest cards is limiting this card enough to a spot where it isn't good enough, but there's a chance we see it show up eventually.

I'm happy to see them take the step and put more two-mana ramp into Standard, as I think faster mana makes Magic more fun, and with how powerful three-mana cards are these days, Rampant Growth won't hurt anyone.

Tishana's Tidebender

Tishana's Tidebender is an interesting card, mostly in Eternal formats where fetchlands exist. The Tidebender has a lot of utility outside of countering a fetch ability, as it can turn off the most annoying artifacts or make Sheoldred, the Apocalypse just another cold body on the battlefield. I'm looking forward to the first judge call when a Tishana's Tidebender is drawn in the draw step and there's conversation about clearing the stack with Sheoldred in play.

I expect this card will see some play in actual merfolk decks and potentially in wizard decks such as what we see in Arena Historic.

Again, this is a relatively solid card, but it's by no means a staple card and would likely only see play in decks that are mostly blue that don't have great ways to interact with permanents that resolved already. However, this creature does play nicely with counterspells, so I expect to see it played occasionally because of its overall utility against permanents in decks that are playing a large amount of countermagic.

Aclaztotz, Deepest Betrayal

I've never been a big fan of Baneslayer Angel-type creatures, but I absolutely love this one.

Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal, is a powerful flying lifelinker that can stabilize against aggressive decks while also emptying their hand or drawing you cards. Aclazotz plays nicely with Liliana of the Veil, which is Standard playable. It's a nice creature in the face of a Raffine, as the opponent will be forced to discard fewer lands because of the static ability that would create bat tokens.

Most importantly, Aclazotz is a sticky threat in that if it dies, it comes back as a land to give you a mana jump, but it's easy to transform back as any player can have one or less cards for Temple of the Dead to turn back into Aclazotz.

While I'm not sure every black deck wants copies of this, it will place nicely in low numbers in any deck that is playing Liliana of the Veil in big numbers since it's the kind of card that will perform better in low-resource games.

I'm excited to try this one out.

That's it this week. Next week we'll flesh out any remaining interesting cards that I have the appropriate level of reading comprehension to fully grasp. See you then!

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