Magic’s newest expansion takes us back to the Dinosaur and Pirate infested plane of Ixalan, this time delving deep into the ancient caverns beneath the ground. A new set means new cards, and we’re finishing off our review with the colorless cards of the set.
Last time we covered the monocolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this primarily but not exclusively with an eye for Commander play.
Matzalanti, the Great Door / The Core
Marcy: 3 mana looting that then turns into a land that can generate huge amounts of mana, especially in decks that put a lot of things into your own Graveyard. I think this is a great include in most Commander Decks also, because you can easily get this trigger and then you have a 100 card singleton deck to work through that will start giving you more and more mana.
Loxi: Being naturally colorless helps this a lot, as it can realistically slot into quite a few archetypes. From permanent heavy Wheels & Cantrips to Graveyard decks, there are a lot of things that can benefit from this type of effect. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s surely strong enough to be worth a utility slot. Even just looting every turn isn’t bad for 3 mana if you get it down early.
BPhillipYork: This is definitely a dangerous source of huge amounts of mana, that isn’t particularly hard to flip. There’s plenty of ways to tutor out artifacts, ways to fill your yard for permanents (did search lands need to be even better?) and plenty of ways to fill your yard with permanents, Surveil and Hermit Druid and many many others. So it’s a potentially dangerous combo piece that can also be used for funsies to pay for big “cares about colored mana spells” or just as fuel for finishers like Torment of Hailfire. It’s pretty decently balanced though, 3 and 4 is 7 mana, so it’s not really even anywhere near cEDH inclusion territory unless it’s a specific shell built around this as a combo piece to win.
Marcy: We’re just getting really specific Panharmonicons now I guess. This is fine, and maybe useful in decks that require specific creatures but are thinly spread out (such as for Throne of the Grim Captain, but overall this isn’t a terrible card in decks that care about creature types. For example, it would double your Brutal Cathars in Soldiers. Not the best, no the worst.
Loxi: This will be really nice to let some typal decks that don’t have as much natural support have a power boost. It’s solid for a lot of the powerful types of creatures too, but I think most of them will pass over it in favor of other cards. Doubling down on triggers can be good, but it really depends on the deck. My brain jumps to Elementals as being a really strong contender for this, but anything with a lot of triggered abilities can go nuts with this one.
The Millennium Calendar
Anyway, uh, boy this sure is a card that exists. I am going to be transparent: I didn’t think this card was a thing in Standard, but oh god was I wrong. I was so wrong. I have died to this thing quite a bit lately, because if your deck does not have any way to deal with or interact with artifacts, you are likely just going to lose to this card. It feels ridiculous to say it, because yes, hitting 1000 SHOULD be so ridiculously high, but it really isn’t. And, actually, I haven’t died to that. What I keep dying to is this card and All Will Be One, but there was one game that I would have lost to it hitting 1000 counters if I didn’t scoop instead. This card is scarier than it seems for sure.
Loxi: This just plain rules. My one comment is that…does this not suck to keep track of? Like, have fun breaking out your literal calculator to keep the tally of this. I fear that might keep it from seeing too much play in paper, but it’s so fun that I could be dead wrong. Big number go up is the best part of magic, and this one makes BIG big number. Hilariously, won’t kill people that infinite combo their life total up to an absurd number, so I really hope to hear some story of this not being enough damage to knock a player out.
Marcy: This card is nuts if you can get it onto the board early, and kind of not great if you can’t and have to cast it. A 7 mana 3/3 that generates bodies is fine, but cards like Myrel cost way less and generate 1/1s way easier and way cheaper than this does.
Loxi: I’m not a Gnoblin, I’m a…7 mana 0/0. In all seriousness, this card is actually pretty great in every way but the cost. I’m with Marcy, this falls into the category of “you have to cheat it out” to get value. If you’re playing a deck that really pumps out mana, you might be able to get away with just jamming it, but I think you have to really be able to jack up it’s power for that to be worth the effort.
Throne of the Grim Captain / The Grim Captain
Marcy: The irony that you need 1 of each type of creature in LCI and thus need to run multiple colors to make this card work is probably what turns it from scary into a meme, in my opinion. Still, it is 2 mana to cast, and allows you to mill yourself, so ironically the biggest thing stopping you from transforming it quickly is going to be having the 4 creature types at your disposal (at least in Standard).
Loxi: The payoff might be nuts and a fun “quest” deck to assemble this, but it’s a pain for something that still can eat a board wipe. I usually hate that argument, but this is a bit telegraphed. 2 mana to mill two every turn is naturally pretty decent for a mill deck, but I’m a bit on the fence on if I’d run this just for that.
Marcy: Boros Equipment might like this card. I do like that it grows and gives vigilance, and the cost isn’t that high. Might not be that good, but seems at least fairly costed.
Loxi: A bit slow, but cheap enough that it can put in some hurt. I’m more interested in the artifact part of it, as it might give you a decent backup plan in some decks like Emry, Lurker of the Loch and is a HOUSE in Syr Ginger, Meal Ender
Marcy: I have seen a few Cave decks. They seem like there’s a niche for them, and if so, you need this card, but I don’t know if Caves will become as scary as Gates were.
Loxi: The mouth of the cave. Nice. Wizards hittin’ dingers with these puns.
Marcy: Since this set tends to like to mill a lot of things, either for yourself or your opponent, this is a nice way to fix your mana in decks that might accidentally toss their own lands into the Graveyard and screw up your color mixture.
Loxi: I love that they tacked on the Cave part there. I’m getting a bit of a laugh at the Cave subtheme of this set. That aside, this one’s pretty decent. I don’t know if I’d want this though, only because I usually would prefer Thespian’s Stage which fills a similar role and more frequently will have more targets unless you’re really milling the hell out of other players too.
Marcy: While these Caves will be in Standard for a while, I’m just not sure I see them as being so important or valuable to run yet over the Fastlands or Slowlands that we already have, unless you are specifically going for a Cave deck.
Loxi: It’s neat, but still probably not enough to push my interest in Caves.
Pit of Offerings
Marcy: Graveyard hate that also generates you mana-fixing? Not a bad card for certain decks, probably not worth it in decks that aren’t interested in messing with graveyards or don’t care about fixing their mana bases. I think this is one of the more playable Caves in a deck that doesn’t need it, but maybe wants very soft, uninterruptable Graveyard hate.
Loxi: Eh, if it didn’t enter tapped I’d probably be more interested, but that’s a bit of a nail in the coffin for it.
Marcy: Eh. I think the Grixis one is better. Still, UW control tends to not run creatures, and this at least gives them a body in a pinch.
Loxi: I actually quite like this one. If you want to play at instant speed and have some mana to dump in an artifacts deck, just smack a player without flying defense and get a free artifact. I’m all for it.
Marcy: 4 mana for a 3/3 that gives all your other creatures an Anthem effect is probably enough to run this is go wide decks for sure.
Loxi: If your board is big enough, an extra anthem can push you into dangerous ranges of damage quickly. It’s a sweet tool to have in your back pocket.
Marcy: This is fine but I don’t really know if it’s worth bothering with in your Dinosaur decks. I think they’ll win on their own.
Loxi: This one is probably my least favorite of the new manlands. Probably not worth 4 mana.
Marcy: I might put a few of these into my Dimir mill deck and see how it goes, but for 4 mana I could also just play Jace or Terisian Mindbreaker from my Graveyard, but it also is a solid back-up plan or extra body for sure. Just a reminder, also, if you’re going for a Descend heavy deck, you can target yourself, which makes this slightly more attractive even at the 4 mana cost.
Loxi: MILLMANLAND. Also a bit expensive, but it having deathtouch and a pretty sizable body compared to the others is actually not the worst. I probably will snag one for my own mill deck if it’s cheap, so I think that says enough about my opinion of it. Remember: the opportunity cost of a card like this is basically just “is it better than a tapland?” because realistically, this won’t compete with most duals that can use their mana immediately.
Marcy: Most of the Restless lands have made a few waves in Standard in some decks, and this one seems like it could very likely find some use there also. It is fairly inexpensive, and allows you to loot off of its evasive attack.
Loxi: Sweet, rummage around a bit in a pinch with a bit of evasive action. All of these lands are honestly pretty solid, and besides the Gruul one I think a pretty good case can be made to run them.
Marcy: Not bad overall for mana fixing in Limited if you get it, the second feature is actually pretty good if you are playing a specific color and want some extra ramp for something using abilities that require mana.
Loxi: It’s interesting, I was trying to look around for cards that might benefit from this, but I’m at a bit of a loss for specific big synergies. I don’t think it’s bad, I think it’s just very dependent on naturally having enough lands with activated abilities. There aren’t a lot of ways to artificially give your lands activated abilities with costs, so if you have enough to warrant it’s inclusion, go nuts.
Marcy: Worse Field of Ruin; they get a land, you get a token.
Loxi: Not my favorite of these, but I’m a big proponent of putting a targeted destruction land in every deck, so if this gets more people to slap one in their 99, I’m for it.
That wraps up our look at the latest set! Join us next time as we return to regular content. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.