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

Nick Wolf • November 9, 2023

Resplendent Angel by Victor Adame Minguez

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

Worth Their Weight in Gold

Come adventurers, it's time to spelunk.

But we here in the Reprint Review only adventure in well-trod caverns, familiar and safe and cozy. We need not the thrill of discovery, but instead we prefer the welcoming embrace of the known. So maybe adventure isn't the right word. 

We can still enjoy The Lost Caverns of Ixalan (LCI), however; while there's plenty new among the cards that comprise the main release the associated Commander decks, we're seeing a higher-than-usual number of reprints as well, so while the more daring among us devote time and brainwaves to learning words like "Descend" or "discover" and phrases like "craft with four or more nonlands with activated abilities," we'll be charting a course to stiller waters. 

In fact, there are so many reprints this time around that just one article would not do them justice. To get specific, there are 11 reprints in the main set, 24 "Special Guest" reprints, 20 "Treasure Trove" Boxtoppers, and 244 reprints across the whole of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander. For now, we'll delve into the first two categories. Let's get going.

And as always, dollar amounts cited are as the time of this writing and in USD, other formats are assumed not to exist when discussing playability and cost, and deck stats are courtesy of our older and less handsome sibling site, EDHREC.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Cavern of Souls

Did we need it?

We might as well get started with a banger, and that's exactly what Cavern of Souls is in the world of reprints. It's been quite some time since we've seen a card like this printed in a main, draftable set. Lately, cards like Cavern were reserved for premium sets or exclusively as the carrot to incentivize purchasing a Secret Lair, and always in "Booster Fun" treatments. For those out there who prefer their Magic cards to look like Magic cards circa 2018, you can rejoice in Caverns of Ixalan's bounty. 

Technically, this is the 21st printing of Cavern of Souls, but that's misleading. Eight of those 21 printings are happening right now, in LCI. While there's the "normal" bordered version with art by Alayna Danner, there are also seven "Neon Ink" versions that can be found in Collector Boosters, each slightly varied in color. And before that, Caverns popped up in Tales of Middle-earth Commander under the alias "Paths of the Dead" (including one version that was serialized), and before that, we saw a trio of versions from Double Masters 2022. It's also been in a few other Masters sets, made an appearance as a Zendikar Rising Expedition, and was briefly on The List. Despite all that, you'd still be hard-pressed to find a copy for under $40 before The Lost Caverns of Ixalan's release. 

Unfortunately, being printed in a main set might not mean quite as much as it used to. As we learned recently, draft boosters don't sell nearly as well as set boosters, so the idea that players and stores cracking packs worldwide might deflate the prices of some of the chase cards in a new set might not hold as much water these days. Still, I think that Cavern will become the most affordable as it has ever been, and that's definitely a good thing.

Did we want it? 

If you're a fan of jamming a bunch of the same creature type into a deck, and you get irrationally angry at opponents who say "uh, I have a response," data indicates you want a Cavern of Souls. Any deck can play it thanks to its status as a land not specific to color, but because of its price tag and its usefulness waning as creature types in your deck get more diversified, it's only seen in around 5% of EDHREC-logged lists. That's still 166,211 decks, and assuming everyone is only playing the original Avacyn Restored version for the sake of simplified math, that's roughly $6.6 million in Cavern-bucks. 

As you might expect, type-themed decks are the ones that make the most use of Cavern, so similarly focused commanders are featured heavily: topping that list are legends like The Ur-Dragon, Winota, Joiner of Forces, Sliver Overlord, Edgar Markov, and Giada, Font of Hope. But really, if you want to make damn sure your favorite creature resolves, you can play a Cavern and I wouldn't judge you. 

In short, we wanted more Caverns out there in the world, and seeing it in LCI is the quintessential "good" reprint.

Gishath, Sun's Avatar

Did we need it?

When the original version of Gishath debuted the last time we visited Ixalan, it was an instant hit. Dinosaurs were all the rage, and there weren't many as big and with as many keywords and text as Gishath. Because of its popularity, the alpha dino has surpassed the $30 mark for the Ixalan version (nearing $70 in foil), and its Secret Lair version, Gishath, Sun's Avatar, will run you around $40. Returning in Ixalan's second go-round (and featuring Zack Stella reprising his role as Gishath's artist), the LCI Gishath is already much more affordable at $17, and that number is likely to drop further. 

For players wishing they were able to get their hands on Gishath the first time around for their dino decks, LCI is the gift that keeps on giving.

Did we want it?

As a commander, Gishath is seen at the helm of 12,407 decks, good for less than four-tenths of a percent of all decks on EDHREC. That said, it's currently the most popular Naya commander (thanks in no small part to its impending return), edging out Atla Palani, Nest Tender and Rin and Seri, Inseparable, and appearing roughly four times as often as the other giant Naya dinosaur, Zacama, Primal Calamity. And if you're curious, Johan is the 36th most popular Naya commander. Don't pretend you weren't wondering. 

The numbers don't lie. If they were going to reprint one legendary dinosaur, Gishath was the best call. EDHREC lists 17,427 decks as "Dinosaur" decks, and 71% of them are Gishath.

Resplendent Angel

Did we need it?

I'm not an angle player, so I suffered a bout of acute shock when I learned the one and only printing of Respendent Angel, from Core Set 2019, was $25, and that's not even as expensive as it had been, as, earlier this year, the card hit $45 for a hot minute. It's the most expensive card from Core Set 2019, in fact, beating out Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, Nexus of Fate, Crucible of Worlds, and Scapeshift by a considerable margin. Resplendent Angel was a prime reprint candidate, and it's nice to see it in a main set and not dangled in front of Angel fans to entice them into spending money on a supplementary product they probably don't need.

And even better, if you're not one of those people who put the "Fun-damentally opposed" into "Booster Fun," you get a pretty neat version of Resplendent Angel to jam into your deck.

Did we want it?

Speaking of Angel players, they're who ponied up to get a copy four years ago, as outside of that strategy, we don't see Resplendent Angel much. The price likely had an impact on that, though there is a small contingent of life-gain decks also making use of it. Overall, we see Resplendent Angel in 1% of all decks that can play it, or 19,337. The vast majority are Angel decks, with 5,946 led by Giada, Font of Hope. And there's also Liesa, Shroud of Dusk, who is both an Angel and a life-gain commander, if only that you need to gain a bunch of life so she doesn't kill you.

We might not see Resplendent Angel too much in Commander, but with the prohibitive price hopefully about to become less of a barrier, maybe that'll change soon.

Growing Rites of Itlimoc

Did we need it?

Like one-bedroom apartments in metro areas of North America, the "poor man's" version of something is too rich for most these days. Growing Rites of Itlimoc is likely the closest that the average Magic player will get to knowing the joy of tapping a Gaea's Cradle, but the "budget" option needed its own budget option since it debuted in the original Ixalan. Spiking at $35 a few years ago and settling at around $14, Growing Rites of Itlimoc priced itself out of the reach of cost-conscious players pretty quickly, and that's not even counting the Treasure Chest version of Growing Rites of Itlimoc currently going for double that price. 

Thankfully, with the reprint here in LCI, Growing Rites is finally sub-$10 again, and hopefully will fall in price enough to be cheaper than a medium Peppermint Mocha.

Did we want it?

Growing Rites of Itlimoc is a pretty popular card despite its higher-than-necessary pricetag. EDHREC has it logged in 68,381 decks, or roughly 5% of decks that can play it. That's good enough to sneak into the list of the top 100 green cards in Commander, settling in currently at 96th place. Expect that number to rise as more copies start circulating. If you're curious what kinds of decks make the most use of Growing Rites, it's Elves, albeit in a variety of flavors, from Lathril, Blade of the Elves to Marwyn, the Nurturer and Yeva, Nature's Herald. It also pops up in Squirrel decks led by Chatterfang, Squirrel General and in Merfolk decks behind Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca (another key reprint we'll talk about soon).

Treasure Map

Did we need it?

If the first four reprints we've discussed were solid accessibility reprints, Treasure Map would be considered more of a "flavor" reprint. We probably didn't need more versions of Treasure Map out there in the wild, as the original version from Ixalan is only about $3. There is, however, also a cool Treasure Chest version of Treasure Map that'll get you for around $10. At least if you were among the dozens that were clamoring for a borderless version of Treasure Map, look no further than LCI. Despite all that, we didn't need a new Treasure Map, but it's like they say: it's better to have a Treasure Map in a main set based on the plane of Ixalan and not need it, than need a Treasure Map on a return in a main set based on the plane of Ixalan and not have it.

Did we want it?

People like Treasure tokens, and people like putting bespoke counters onto things, and Treasure Map does both. We see it in 30,586 decks, good for 1% of lists that can play it (which is all of them, since it's colorless). Not exactly a Commander staple, but it's a fun card, albeit one that was outclassed on the Treasure-making front pretty much immediately after it debuted.

As one might predict, the biggest fan of Treasure Map is a Pirate, as the card is played most frequently in Admiral Beckett Brass decks. It also pops up pretty often in Magda, Brazen Outlaw lists as well as in lists led by some largely unknown legend called "Prosper, Tome-Bound." 

Chart a Course

Did we need it?

Now in its fourth printing, sort of, Chart a Course makes its return to Ixalan with new art, new flavor text, and new overall cave-ness. Interestingly, as of this writing the LCI version of Chart a Course is more expensive than the original version as well as its two reprints in Jumpstart and in Mystery Boosters, so I guess you can call this a not-great reprint. We were doing so well earlier in this article. 

Did we want it?

In decks that expect to attack with regularity, Chart a Course is a strictly better Divination, but even a strictly better Divination isn't really that great in Commander. Still, we see Chart a Course appear in around 2% of decks that can play it, or 25,843 lists total. Like Treasure Map, its inclusion seems largely theme-based, as the top commanders using Chart a Course are Admiral Beckett Brass and the partnership of Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator/Breeches, Brazen Plunderer.

Sorcerous Spyglass

Did we need it?

Another reprint here in LCI that debuted in Ixalan, Sorcerous Spyglass has seen a much more detailed history than the cards we've already discussed. Counting various promos, the LCI printing is the card's 10th, and we've seen three different border treatments and four different artworks. Unlike all the versions that precede it, however, LCI's Sorcerous Spyglass is unique thanks to its status as an uncommon, seeing a downshift from rare for the first time. Despite seeing play briefly in non-Commander formats rumored to have existed in times past, the only version of the card that is more than a dollar is the Secret Lair Sorcerous Spyglass

Did we want it?

To the surprise of no one, niche cards that hose one card in one player's hand don't make much of an impact in Commander. Currently, Sorcerous Spyglass is logged in 2,484 lists, of the 3.1 million on EDHREC that can play it. For context, its closest analog in Pithing Needle sees play in 16,850 decks. 

Those bold enough to sleeve it up use it most frequently in Urza, Lord High Artificer decks, a commander famous for being so broken that you don't have to care how pointless an artifact is in order to play it without much thought.

Thrashing Brontodon

Did we need it?

Remember when we had to play Sylvok Replica if we wanted to sacrifice a creature to take out an artifact or enchantment? And don't even get me started on Capashen Unicorn

Thrashing Brontodon never topped any price lists, but it's been a solid card since it appeared in Rivals of Ixalan in 2018. None of the versions of the card are more than a dollar, and that includes the awesome borderless version of Thrashing Brontodon painted by the eminently talented Sidharth Chaturvedi. So maybe we didn't need it -- this is the ninth printing, after all -- but damn it, it's a cool card. And it's the second-coolest thing in Magic that thrashes, behind only the Wumpus.

Did we want it?

We see Thrashing Brontodon in 20,788 decks as per EDHREC, good for around 1% of lists that can play it. Maybe that number could be higher if people played more removal, maybe not. Maybe people can't see past the Dinosaur-ness of the card, reflected in the fact that nearly 53% of the lists that play the card are Gishath, Sun's Avatar, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, or Zacama, Primal Calamity. Who knows. 


Did we need it?

Abrade has been around since Hour of Devastation, released in 2017. It was immediately a hit in some of those other formats, but in Commander, it never really hit the heights of primo red removal like Chaos Warp or Vandalblast. That's not to say it isn't popular, but the price of the card never blew any doors off, and now, with 14 printings, you can find pretty much any taste in card treatment reflected in a version of Abrade. All of them, except for the Secret Lair Abrade, are less than a buck.

Did we want it?

We mentioned that Abrade is no Chaos Warp, but it's closer in usage than you might expect. Of the top 100 red cards on EDHREC, Abrade is ninth, and sees use in 11% of all decks that play red. That's 169,946 lists. Maybe people should play less removal.

Dead Weight

Did we need it?

Dead Weight is either a high-pick draft removal option that debuted in Innistrad way back in 2011, or what I call my dog when I calculate now much I spend on kibble. The newest version (the card's sixth) breaks away from the "character chained to something heavy" art trope and enters into the "being a metaphor for a group project" art trope. There's no copy of the card that costs more than a dime, by the way.

Did we want it?

Surprisingly, Dead Weight is only played in 1,393 decks. Sure, it's not amazing in Commander by any stretch of the imagination, but one would assume that there's a commander out there that could make use of it. Maybe the numbers just haven't quite caught up to Eriette of the Charmed Apple yet?

Rumbling Rockslide

Did we need it?

This is the second printing of Rumbling Rockslide, and a card I am now only discovering exists. Its first printing, in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, can be purchased from your favorite LGS for a penny. But hey, if you're really into caves, consider this new version an upgrade. 

Did we want it?

There are 576 Commander players out there who play Rumbling Rockslide. I'm sure they have their reasons. One of those reasons is Imodane, the Pyrohammer, who takes it from completely ignore-able to mildly interesting.

And Now, a Special Guest

As per the description on the Mothership, Special Guest cards are borderless reprints of "fan-favorite cards" that'll appear in non-foil in the slot where cards from The List can also appear in Set Boosters. The ones that can be opened in Collector Boosters will be traditional foil. There are 18 different such reprints, and one will seven different colors.

What are the Special Guests for LCI? Let's take a look:

There are some pretty great cards on that list, and if you're a fan of the Booster Fun look, you're likely already thinking of upgrading. Maybe you'll buy Collector Boosters to do so, but I guarantee that if you do, you'll only ever open Star Compass.

Most of the selections here make sense showing up in a release associated with Ixalan, with a bevy of Pirates, Merfolk and Dinosaurs. Some are only tangentially related to the themes of the plane, like the aforementioned Star Compass or Mephidross Vampire, and some are straight up head-scratchers, like Lord Windgrace or Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist. Some are seeing their first reprints, like Mephidross Vampire, Rampaging Ferocidon, Underworld Breach, and Polyraptor, and some have been reprinted nearly as many times as Sol Ring, like Ghalta, Primal Hunger or Lord of Atlantis. 

And then there's Mana Crypt. Given the Neon Ink treatment, there are seven versions of Mana Crypt that can be opened, each with the same Dominik Mayer art but accented with a different hue. If there's going to be a "best" card to open in terms of money, it'll be Mana Crypt, as the "regular" (read: not neon) Special Guests version of the card is around $250 at the time of this writing. That puts it ahead of several of its previous reprints in various Masters sets by a pretty good margin, but still behind the $750 or so you'd have to shell out for the Kaladesh Inventions version, still the gold standard, as it were. 

At the end of the day, Special Guests are a little added incentive to opening packs, much like the various masterpieces were before it. The immortal adage of "just buy singles" certainly applies here, but I can't deny that it's definitely exciting to crack a pack to find a card like these Special Guests. Just don't let it go to your head.

A Natural Conclusion

In terms of raw value and playability, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan presents us one of the best collections of reprints in recent memory, topping even some sets designed to give us reprints. And we haven't even scratched the surface.

Be sure to check back here at Commander's Herald for Part II of the The Lost Caverns of Ixalan reprint review, as we've still got a lot -- like, a lot -- of reprints to go over from the Commander decks and Treasure Trove Boxtoppers. At this rate, the next main set might as well be a straight one-for-one reprinting of the Reserved List. No? Fine.