The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Set Review - Minotaur Review

Minotaur Reviewer • November 10, 2023

<b>Brass's Tunnel-Grinder by Cristi Balanescu

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

Cave Beef Hits Different

Well, looks like we're back to Ixalan, ready for another round of adventure, and of course Treasure.

Since we were last here, our good friend Angrath was leading a bunch of Pirates trying in vain to go home, and I'll be honest, I was half expecting to find him trapped here again. I imagined him walking through an Omen Path, only for it it close behind him and him roaring in frustration. Not because I don't want our bovine dad to finally be happy, but that it would be poetic and hilarious.

In any case, we're back to the world of clashing Dinosaurs, Vampires, Pirates, and Merfolk, this time journeying to the centre of the earth to the land of the lost, and while it seems those creature types aren't the main focus this time around, there is still a lot of exciting stuff for us to dig into.

As always, this review is targeted toward the formats of Pioneer and EDH, but by all means, you're welcome to apply my thoughts to other formats.

Now let's get into the review and explore some caves!


Bitter Triumph

It's no secret that, ever since Dominaria, Standard will regularly print a black two-mana kill spell with a restriction or a downside. These have included:

Bitter Triumph, however, is particularly unique in that it can also destroy planeswalkers, when most instant-speed "destroy target planeswalker" spells cost at least three mana. This is massive for Minotaur decks in Pioneer, as it helps us to be better equipped to handle planeswalkers, where before we usually relied on combat damage. This allows us to focus our board state on dealing lethal player damage and not divide our army during combat.

The other critical piece to this card is its cost. With this, we get to choose to either lose three life or discard a card, and in my experience playing Minotaurs in Pioneer, neither of these are often a downside.

In Pioneer, Minotaurs are often the aggressor, so our life total is usually pretty high. Therefore, it's not a big deal to lose three life to remove a threat or a potential blocker, and at the same time Minotaurs often want to discard cards, meaning this can facilitate what we already want to achieve. The only downside here is if the spell is countered, as the cost has to be paid for the spell to be placed on the stack.

Therefore, I strongly do not recommend playing this card if you know your opponent in playing a control-style deck.

Bloodthorn Flail

I'll start by saying for the record: this card might be a trap. When I look at this card, I see so much potential in Pioneer and even EDH for different reasons, but including this might just dilute Minotaur decks and leave them weaker for it. Let me explain.

In Pioneer I see this as a one-drop that's relevant at any point in the game. Usually, one-drops are very hard to come by in Minotaur kindred decks, so I really don't mind playing this turn one. However, Minotaur decks typically run more red sources of mana, so it might not be playable on our opening turn, but if we can play it, then this card can become a powerhouse, as it can buff all our early Minotaur cards at the cost of discarding a card, which we want to do. Additionally, because this card is so cheap, it can also be played later on as late game buff to squeeze in a little bit more damage.

In EDH, though, this is just a source of free discard, and when self discard can be a very powerful effect, this Equipment is very exciting. As an example, if I have a madness card in my hand, I can discard it for its effect whenever I want instead of waiting for a spell that can cause me to discard cards.

I really want to try this card out, but I'm trying to be careful and not force this card into a deck if I think it doesn't belong.

Souls of the Lost

I like this collection of ghosts a lot for EDH, namely for how big this can get. Most Minotaur decks in EDH are saturated with permanent cards, be they lands, artifacts, or our Minotaur creatures, so as the game progresses, after a number of combat trades or board-wipes, our graveyard is going to be loaded. I can see this easily entering the battlefield as a 15/16, or even a 30/31 for just two mana. Additionally, the additional cost of discarding a card or sacrificing a creature isn't that big of a cost for Minotaurs. The discard part is self evident, but with Sethron, Hurloon General we're likely to have a Minotaur token hanging around to be sacrificed, so when this massive Spirit enters the battlefield, people will remember who their dealing with.


Brass's Tunnel-Grinder

This card is really exciting! Namely because it's a wheel effect that impacts us, plus a card on top. While in EDH wheel effects can be great to disrupt our opponents' hands and plans, it can also backfire if they're playing a deck that cares about the graveyard. With the Tunnel-Grinder, it only impacts us and will entirely refresh our hand to dig for better cards or answers to the board state.

Then in EDH, it's not unreasonable to descend every turn with discard synergies or even just combat, so it shouldn't be hard to flip this. And the flip side is just bananas!

Essentially, every turn we can discover into another Minotaur or a useful spell. This allows us to easily rebuild a board, or accelerate our position to become a threat. At the very least, it'll become difficult to ever fall behind as the game progresses.

Dreadmaw's Ire

This pump spell is uniquely positioned in red for Pioneer. The first comparison I think of is Barge In. That card is particularly useful to aggressive Minotaur Pioneer decks, as it gives all non-Humans trample. This allows a massive swing during combat after blockers are made.

Dreadmaw only gives trample to one creature, though. However, if that creature connects with an opponent then we can destroy an artifact.

So to me, Barge In is clearly a better one-mana pump spell. However, depending on the state of Pioneer, it might be more usefully to remove artifacts, so it's really a meta call. Even with that, I still think Dreadmaw's Ire is a card to keep in your back pocket when brewing. You never know when a Dinosaur is needed to do a Minotaur's job.

Inti, Seneschal of the Sun

Oh Man, Oh God, Oh Man! This is everything I could have wanted for a creature with a discard payoff.

So let's break this down. Whenever you attack (not when this attacks) we discard a card, then give an attacking creature a +1/+1 counter and trample, and whenever we discard, we exile the top card of our library and can cast it for this turn.  ALL FOR JUST TWO MANA! *mind explosion GIF*

This is just insane on so many levels.

For starters, he's a two-mana creature, so in Pioneer he isn't competing with all our Minotaur lords in the three-mana slot. Then he incentivizes both discarding strategies and combat, which we want in Minotaur kindred. Then he gives us an exiled card to play to make up for the lost card advantage, which is important as it won't shut down Neheb, the Worthy's "heckbent" ability.

Inti might be riding a dinosaur, but he's running with the bulls for sure. A certified Beef Boy in my book!

Zoyowa's Justice

I really don't know what to make of this spell. On the one hand, it's a way to remove any problematic creature or artifact through its "psuedo Chaos Warp" effect. However, its effectiveness all depends on the type of deck an opponent is playing.

For example, let's say we're in a Pioneer match and our opponent is playing an Izzet Phoenix deck. If we cast this on an Arclight Phoenix, our opponent will discover a card with four or less mana, but in a Phoenix deck, they're far more likely to hit a draw spell or counterspell than a Phoenix or Ledger Shredder, so we gain an advantage.

However, against a Mono-Green Devotion deck, if we target a Polukranos Reborn, they might get another Polukranos, an Old-Growth Troll, a mana dork, or Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner. In this case, we really haven't set them back at all.

In a way this spell is reminiscent of Tibalt's Trickery without the combo potential, and combo was the only reason people played Tibalt's Trickery.

So, maybe this card can find a home, but I really don't know at this point without some testing.

Multicolored & Lands

Molten Collapse

Looks like Dreadbore has become just a bore.

Seriously, though, I've often used Dreadbore in my Minotaur decks as efficient creature and planeswalker removal... but this card is strictly better without a question.

For one thing, they cost the same, and they're both sorceries, but if we descended that turn then we can also blow up one-mana artifacts or enchantments, such as:

So at this point there's no reason you should ever play Dreadbore again, if you even were to begin with.

Cavern of Souls

Do I even need to talk about how great this card is? Every kindred deck in existence is rejoicing for having a reprint of this land, and also adding into Standard and Pioneer after 12 years since its first printing.

Obviously this is huge for Minotaurs, as counterspells are one of the biggest obstacles against us. I can't tell how many times I've played Bloodrage Brawler, spending all my mana and then discarding a card, only for a counterspell to be played against it.

So, I'm a big ol' happy camper to finally be able to tell the Blue Player "Ah ah ah, not so fast, Buster!"

Restless Vents

This is a very simple land, but one I like a lot.

While this land may just turn into an Insect, it's at least something we can always keep in our pocket for a big attack or at least allow us to do something if we're running out of gas.

It also has some utility in a Sethron deck as he gives Minotaurs menace. That means we can have the Vents here jump into the menace attack without issue, especially if we have Labyrinth Raptor in play.

So as far as tapped duel lands go, this isn't half bad.


Paleontologist's Pick-Axe

This EDH card has some interesting utility. At the start it can be used to dig trough our deck to find Minotaurs or answers for the board state while also facilitating discard synergies. Then in the later part of the game we can craft this with any number of cards in our graveyard (such as a powerful Minotaur, or a lord card). Then on the flip side, as long as we have a creature on board we can turn it into a clone of the creature used to craft with the pick-axe. Essentially this means our best creature will never go away as long as the artifact remains, which is very good for us and a huge problem for everyone else in the pod.

Progenitor's Icon

A mana rock that can give Minotaurs flash? I'm in! Sure, Vedalken Orrery will give everything flash, but this is a mana cheaper, and ramps for us. Plus in my experience, Minotaurs aren't really equipped to make the  use of Vedalken Orrery, but this Icon, I think, has a bigger potential to use flash, while keep use up in mana.

Roaming Throne

If you thought Inti was good, this just takes things to the next level.

For one thing, this costs four colorless mana and is a 4/4 while also slotting into any creature type deck. But the real kicker is that this spidery Golem will double any triggers from the chosen creature type source. And there are so many triggered abilities with Minotaurs!

Any of these above creatures just get insanely better when their triggers are doubled.

This Roaming Throne can just completely take away a game in EDH, and I know it won't just be Minotaurs sitting atop this throne.


And with that, we rise from the depths below. We survived and all the richer for it.

With all these riches in hand, I can't think of a better place to spend than Ravnica. I hear the Karlovs are throwing a party to die for.

Until then, be sure to check out the other set reviews found on the Commander's Herald for other perspectives on this new set.

See you later.

Hello everyone! I'm the Minotaur Reviewer. Hardcore Minotaur enjoyer and casual Johnny/Timmy Simic Hybrid. You may know my most from my Minotaur Set Reviews which started on Reddit. When I'm not jamming MTG I like to play Guild Wars 2, Duelyst 2 and Lufia the Legend Returns