The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Set Review - Reprints Pt. 2

Nick Wolf • November 14, 2023

Akroma's Will by Antonio J. Manzanedo

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied & Shards | Enemy & Wedges | cEDH | Reprints | Minotaur | Budget

Into the Dark Beyond

Hello, friends and adventurers, and welcome back to the The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Reprint Review. If you need to catch up on the first half of this two-part expedition, head below:

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Set Review - Reprints Pt. 1

All right, welcome back. We've seen plenty of reprints already in the main set of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan (LCI), as well as the newly formed Special Guests subset of cards. Today, it's time to head over to Commanderland to see what's new (and by new I mean old). 

In the associated Commander decks (LCC) releasing alongside LCI, the decklists contain something like 48 new cards never-before-seen, which leaves many, many slots to fill with delicious reprints, and we've got our pick of the litter this time around, as there are 246 reprinted cards across each of the decks of LCC. Beyond that, there are also 20 Borderless Box Toppers providing us new art and flavor for 20 well-known and (mostly) well-played artifacts from years past. 

Like the Reprint Reviews before it, when discussing monetary impact, we're quoting USD at the time of this writing, and when discussing impact on Commander, we're utilizing statistics from EDHREC. So let's get into it. First up, the Commander deck reprints.

The Best Presents are Impossible to Regift

Exquisite Blood

Did we need it?

Known for being the expensive half of a two-card combo with Sanguine Bond, Exquisite Blood sees its first sealed product printing in LCC, and fifth overall after the original version in Avacyn Restored, a Secret Lair, and a few appearances in Jumpstart. None of the first four printings can be found for less than $30. Will that change now that a copy is guaranteed to become yours with the purchase of the "Blood Rites" Commander deck? Probably.

Commander finisher in plenty of decks since it debuted in 2012, Exquisite Blood has maintained its price pretty consistently in that decade, eventually rising to become the third-most expensive card in Avacyn Restored, behind only Cavern of Souls (also just reprinted) and Avacyn, Angel of Hope. For reference, on most price lists, Exquisite Blood even edges out Craterhoof Behemoth. So yes, seeing Exquisite Blood here in LCC is a welcome sight, and hopefully, thanks to its inclusion, many new players will have the chance to ask "wait, is this a combo?" at Commander tables moving forward.

Did we want it?

Despite that $30ish pricetag, we see Exquisite Blood in more than 75,000 decks, good for 5% of all decks that can play it. That's a pretty good showing for a five-mana enchantment that doesn't do anything on its own besides delay the inevitable. Commanders that enjoy the flavor of Exquisite Blood fall into two predictable camps: the life-manipulators, like Dina, Soul Steeper (3,010 decks), Liesa, Shroud of Dusk (4,186 decks) and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (5,050 decks), and the blood-drinkers, like Edgar Markov (6,700 decks) and K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth (3,473 decks). 

That's not even mentioning that it's in 60% of all Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose decks, a number that would probably be even higher were it not for the price. At the end of the day, Exquisite Blood is likely a nonzero number of Commander players' favorite card of all time, and it's certainly a good thing that there will be more copies floating around. 

Black Market Connections

Did we need it?

Black Market Connections returns for the first time since its printing in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate only 17 short months ago. Despite only being around for a little while, BMC has hit heights of $20, and the temptation to sell contraband, buy information, and hire mercenaries has proven to be overwhelming for Commander players with a lack of impulse control, and this time around, we get new art featuring people made out of an alleged teen-favorite beverage.

Black Market Connections is a perfect example of a "proactive" reprint, as, in its short life, it's proven to be very popular and very powerful in Commander, and the longer we went without a reprint, the more difficult to obtain it would become for the average player, and that's the opposite of what we want. We have ABUR Duals and Mox Diamonds if we want to flaunt our wealth (or age) around other players, we don't need a card like BMC pricing itself out of reach for the majority. 

Did we want it?

Once upon a time, there was only the Black Market, and you had to make the connections yourself. Nowadays, people play Revel in Riches because they have no need for illicit purchasing, but Black Market Connections is still handy to have in your back pocket, in case you find yourself in need of luxury ice cubes. In a Magic card context, however, the cardboard version of Black Market Connections was an instant hit as soon as it released last year, and it's now seen in 9% of all decks playing black (113,928 decks). 

Obviously that means it's pretty universal, and the card itself can fit into most strategies without too much effort. For sheer numbers, we see the card most frequently in Sheoldred, the Apocalypse decks (2,794), Marneus Calgar (2,081) and the combo of Burakos, Party Leader and Folk Hero (2,022). By percentage, it's in a whopping 76% of all Nalia de'Arnise decks logged on EDHREC. Those shapeshifter tokens are really good at being skilled in a number of D&D-related jobs. 

It's a great card and a great reprint.

Akroma's Will

Did we need it?

Another first-time reprint, Akroma's Will debuted in Commander Legends from November of 2020, and in the intervening three years reached a price of around $16 for a regular copy and nearly $30 for a full-art borderless version. With a reprint here sporting borders, the price of that full-art version likely won't change much, but a "regular" copy will become more affordable soon enough. That's great news for players who love knights in full plate mail riding giant jungle cats. 

It still plays second fiddle to the real star of its cycle in Jeska's Will, a card printed twice and still more expensive than Akroma's Will printed once. At least both are miles ahead of the rest of the five in Szat's Will, Sakashima's Will, and Kamahl's Will, three cards I had to look up to remember whose will they were even depicting. Hopefully next time around we get a Davvol's Will; that dude could use a win.

Did we want it?

Akroma's Will is a great card if you're in the market for some evergreen keywords because it offers a ton of them for a pretty small investment. The closest white gets to a game-ender in a creature deck (until Moonshaker Cavalry came along, at least), Akroma's Will is utilized in 127,848 decks, or around 9% of all decks playing white. Most of those decks feature creatures, as one might expect, with a significant number of those creatures being Angels led by Giada, Font of Hope (5,368 decks). 

Branching Evolution

Did we need it?

If Primal Vigor is the combo meal, Branching Evolution is like ordering just a hamburger, except in this case, it's actually more expensive to go a la carte with your +1/+1 counter-doubler. Of course, Branching Evolution isn't symmetrical, which might have something to do with that value. Only printed in 2020's Jumpstart, Branching Evolution has a pricetag fitting for a powerful strategy-enabler that existed in only a single supplementary set, running you nearly $20 for a copy. As of this writing, the LCC version is only half that, and it features new art, too. It's another solid reprint.

Did we want it?

Only 3% of decks running green make use of Branching Evolution, but the ones that want it really want it. We see it most often in Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, included in 47% of lists. It also pops up frequently in Skullbriar, the Walking Grave decks (2,032), Zaxara, the Exemplary decks (2,842), and Ezuri, Claw of Progress decks (1,549). Like many of the reprints we're talking about today, the price might have something to do with the frequency the card is played in Commander, so as the price falls, we'll probably see its usage rise. In other words, we wanted more Branching Evolution out there in the wild.

Chandra's Ignition

Did we need it?

Chandra's Ignition is an example of one of those cards that was powerful from the moment it was printed, but it took awhile for players to really see its value in Commander. Originally printed in Magic Origins way back in 2015, Chandra's Ignition spent a considerable time in bulk boxes the world over, going for roughly 25 cents until 2019. From there, it jumped quite a bit, first to $5 around the time of the release of War of the Spark, then it crept ever higher, topping out where it is now at $11. 

That's 100% the gift of Commander, and it doesn't help that since 2015, it's only ever been reprinted once, in the Heads I Win, Tails You Lose Secret Lair full Commander deck from last year. So in short, I hope you already sold your extra copies, because it's not going to stay at $11 much longer. 

Did we want it?

If you're playing red and can reasonably make a high-powered creature, or one with lifelink, deathtouch, or infect, Chandra's Ignition is worth its weight in gold. That said, we only see it in 4% of all decks playing red, or 56,757 lists. Most commonly, it's in 70% of lists led by the partner pair of Okaun, Eye of Chaos/Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom (no surprise there, considering the aforementioned Secret Lair deck. Beyond that, it's used often in Xenagos, God of Revels decks (2,161), The Howling Abomination decks (1,372), and, one of my personal favorites, Juri, Master of the Revue decks (1,238). 

Xenagos, God of Revels

Did we need it?

Speaking of Xenagos, the god-king of loopholes and satyr scorned is seeing a reprint in LCC as well, for the first time in a non-fancy border. Since it debuted in Born of the Gods in 2014, Xenagos only returned as a Jason Engle constellation in a Secret Lair in 2020, and as one of those fuzzy foils from Commander Legends that same year. If you're a border/art purist and weren't interested in those reprints, rejoice, as you finally get a new not-new version in LCC. That's a good thing, since the original Born of the Gods as well as the Commander Legends versions were around $10, and the Secret Lair was twice that.

Did we want it?

Xenagos, God of Revels is the 191st most popular Commander on EDHREC at the moment, which doesn't sound terribly impressive until you remember that there are 2,042 cards that can be your Commander as of the release of Lost Caverns of Ixalan. That puts it in the top 10% of most popular Commanders today.

Its impact is even more evident in decks that include it in the 99. on EDHREC, 33,767 decks include a copy of Xenagos, most often in Ziatora, the Incinerator decks for obvious power-related reasons.

Apex Altisaur

Did we need it?

We've been talking dinos for the past few weeks, so there are likely some of you out there who are sick of it by now (we get it, you love Pirates), so we'll keep our discussion of the thunder lizards to specifically Apex Altisaur. Originally printed in Commander 2019 and nowhere since, the Altisaur fought its way up to an around $10 price. People love double-digit power and toughness, and people love fighting things with massive Dinosaurs, and Apex Altisaur checks both of those boxes, and now, thanks to a reprint here, more people will be able to bring belligerence to new heights.

Did we want it?

Despite its overall coolness factor, $10 and nine mana means Apex Altisaur can't go in every deck. Of decks playing green, it shows up 2% of the time, good for 27,420 decks. The vast majority of those decks are dino-related in some way, with Gishath, Sun's Avatar (covered at length here) and Atla Palani, Nest Tender leading the charge. Expect a new leader for Apex Altisaur in newcomer Wayta, Trainer Prodigy.

Descendants' Path

Did we need it?

Making its first non-Secret Lair appearance since it debuted in Avacyn Restored in 2012, Descendants' Path is back with new art and hopefully, a renewed awareness of it among Commander players. The original version goes for around $8, good for eighth-most expensive card from AVR, while the feline-centric Descendants' Path goes for around $30. This new one will not be that expensive.

Did we want it?

Only 1% of decks playing green are running Descendants' Path, which is a shame because it's an excellent card. It can't go in every deck, of course, as the creature-specific nature of the ability restricts it to certain themes, but at the end of the day it's an enchantment that might give you stuff for free, and judging by the decks that are using it, those free things are likely going to come in the form of Slivers or Dragons.


Did we need it?

Bloodghast is back, and this time, it's wearing a pretty neat version of a morion. Bloodghast is more known for its impact in non-Commander formats, which might be why the price has always been pretty steady at $9 for the original Zendikar version, its Iconic Masters reprint, and the Secret Lair version. After staring at Daarken's version for 14 years (which at one point was over $20, by the way), it's hard to accept a depiction of Bloodghast that's less a ravenous monster and more of just a guy wearing armor. Still, the new reprint in LCC will bottom out that unnecessarily high price, and that's great for Vampire players who never wanted to pony up the ten-spot to get their own version.

Did we want it?

Speaking of Vampire players, they're definitely represented in Bloodghast's stats on EDHREC, with Edgar Markov leading the way. But it's Bloodghast's knack for returning to life that keeps it in the 99 of most decks, from 58% of Zimone and Dina decks playing it, to Braids, Arisen Nightmare, Anhelo, the Painter, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician decks most seen employing its services. It can be an important card in those strategies, so it's good to see more copies soon to be floating around, even if they do feature art of just some guy.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander Lightning Round

We've covered around 5% of the total number of reprints across these Commander decks, and my fingers hurt from typing. Let's speed things up a bit:

  • Timestream Navigator: Winner of "Most Elaborate Hat" in 2018 when it first showed up in Rivals of Ixalan and now here again in 2023 with LCC. That $8 price won't stick around for long.
  • Metallic Mimic: Another "first ever reprint (if you don't count Secret Lair)," we first met Metallic Mimic in Aether Revolt, and it's been a mainstay in creature theme decks ever since.
  • Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca: The king of the fish people first joined the party in Rivals of Ixalan, and since then it's become the most popular Merfolk commander (5,565 decks), and it's not even close (next highest is Svyelun of Sea and Sky at 1,548 decks). Shoutout to the 26 players still rocking Prime Speaker Zegana, I see you.
  • Elenda, the Dusk Rose: Went from moderately played to obsessed over, thanks to a rule change in 2020. The Rivals of Ixalan legend was around $8 before that change, then spiked at nearly $45 before settling slowly down at its current price. Hopefully it'll fall even further now with a new reprint.
  • Kindred Discovery: Debuting in Commander 2017, the new version in LCC is already the eighth reprint.
  • Thassa, God of the Sea: First time seeing the original Thassa since it showed up in Theros a decade ago (except, and say it with me now, a Secret Lair). Another candidate for the "is currently around $8-9 but will hopefully now fall in price" category that many of these reprints represent.
  • Port Razer: A Commander Legends debut brings us to its first reprint here. And there's not even a Secret Lair-shaped asterisk on that statement.
  • Pitiless Plunderer: Once one of the top five most expensive cards from Rivals of Ixalan as an uncommon, some time on The List and an absolutely awesome Special Guests version coming alongside LCI/LCC has lowered that price considerably.
  • Ripjaw Raptor: Showing up in a box set like Game Night 2019 will do a number on your singles price, as the dino from Ixalan can attest. 
  • Vanquisher's Banner: Another Ixalan stalwart, the Banner has seen more than just one reprint, unlike the Raptor. We've seen it in glorious brown border in Time Spiral Remastered, multiple Commander releases, a Secret Lair, and now, LCC. Despite all that, it still hovers around $5.
  • Twilight Prophet: The Rivals of Ixalan Vampire saw its first true reprint in Commander Masters, as well as a Secret Lair depicting a figure tossing their own eyeballs into the ocean, which is pretty neat. It's curious why they didn't stick with the SL art here (or commission a new piece entirely), all things considered.
  • Herald of Secret Streams: Nice and simple - from Ixalan to LCC, and nothing in between.
  • Rhythm of the Wild: Here's a weird one. This is the second reprint of Rhythm after it debuted in Ravnica Allegiance, the first being Neon Dynasty Commander. Both those versions had the same art, but here in LCC the card gets new art. However, instead of something fitting the theme of Ixalan, it's art of Domri and the rest of his Lost Boar Boys again. Strange.
  • Runic Armasaur: The first time we've gotten a new version of the Armasaur since Magic 2019. 
  • Windfall: First appearing in Urza's Saga in 1998, Windfall's been around. Over the years, we've seen now 12 versions, but oddly only two artworks - the kids at science camp and the lady with the money shovel. Interestingly, the version here in LCC is the money shovel lady, but with the Barrin, Master Wizard quote from the original version as flavor text, a combo that before now never existed.
  • Sorin, Lord of Innistrad: Outside of the Duel Deck named after him where he tries to murder Tibalt, this is the first time we've seen this particular Sorin since Dark Ascension. It's never exactly been a bank-breaker, but it's cool to see Commander decks giving new life to forgotten planeswalkers.
  • Alchemist's Refuge: Originally from Avacyn Restored, Alchemist's Refuge was also seen in that incredibly cool Secret Lair with all the black-and-white lands, as well as a foil-only print in Mystery Boosters. 
  • Blade of the Bloodchief: Woke up in Zendikar, made a pitstop in Commander 2017, and woke up here in LCC. Fitting, for a very Vampire piece of Equipment.
  • Damn: I've been told that if you don't overload this and only cast it for the two black mana, it's actually called Dang. 
  • Zacama, Primal Calamity: Zacama doesn't really have the bite it used to, price-wise, after multiple reprints including a very cool Judge Promo and a very devisive Secret Lair version.
  • Reliquary Tower: Reliquary Tower's been around since 2009 when it was part of Conflux, and since then, we've seen many, many reprints. All together, there are now 29 versions of Reliquary Tower, including eight different arts and several border variations. There's a Tower for all moods, is what I'm saying.
  • Coralhelm Commander: For a card with Commander right there in the name, we don't see this one much. Maybe that's because this is the first reprint since Rise of the Eldrazi in 2010, and because it's not very good.
  • Surgespanner: First time seeing this particular fishman since way back in Lorwyn, in 2007.
  • Stonybrook Banneret: A welcome sight, since we haven't had new art for this since it debuted in Morningtide in 2008.
  • Sol Ring, Command Tower, Arcane Signet, Exotic Orchard, Swiftfoot Boots, Swords to Plowshares, Cultivate, Evolving Wilds, and Beast Within: One day, we'll get Commander decks without these cards as auto-includes, and that will be one weird-ass day.

Box Toppers Ahoy

Before we head back into our caveholes to explore the depths of these new Commander reprints, we've got one more category of cards to discuss. Along with the release of Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander, we're getting 20 "Borderless Box Topper" cards, all but one of them reprints. These cards, according to Wizards of the Coast, are found one each in non-foil in Draft and Set Booster Displays and in foil if they're opened as a Collector Booster box topper.

Now, you might be confused, as I was, considering that these cards have the LCC expansion tag in the bottom-left corner there. But no, you don't get them in Commander decks, only in booster boxes.

So which treasures comprise the trove?

Quite the collection of doodads we've got here. Chalice of the Void leads the pack in terms of monetary value, as despite the original from Mirrodin and five other reprints before this one, it's still around $70. From there, we see a few other valuable artifacts make the list, like Chromatic Orrery, Coat of Arms, Amulet of Vigor, and newcomer Chimil, the Inner Sun.

Looking at the list from a reprint perspective, there are a few interesting choices. This is the first reprint of Coercive Portal in any form since it first appeared in Conspiracy, for example, and outside of a stop in Commander 2017, the first reprint of Fist of Suns.

The Sky Takes Flight and the Earth Trembles

Over two articles we've managed to discuss nearly 100 reprints, which I would wager is a record. Even more impressive is that through all that, never once did I mention that LCC contains the 12th version of Zetalpa, Primal Dawn in five years. 

So what do you think? Is the value there to buy a Commander deck this time around? Or will you be saving your money in order to buy booster boxes for a chance at that sweet Treasure Trove Chalice?

Until next time, spelunkers.