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The Top Ten Caves in Commander


Today I'm going to dive into another of the many new and interesting things about The Lost Caverns of Ixalan set, but it's not another new keyword or mechanic. I've been digging into those a lot over the past few weeks, but today I'm going to take you spelunking!

The theme of this set is exploration - specifically underground exploration. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan introduced a new land subtype - Cave. A lot of the set's cards are themed around underground exploration and a bunch of the nonbasic lands have the new Cave subtype.

I'm still a little surprised that they didn't make this into a Minecraft branded Universes Beyond set, but the last thing we need is another UB release. Ixalan was first introduced in 2017 and is a plane in the world of Magic: The Gathering. The first Ixalan set was dominated by four creature types - Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk and Dinosaurs. The Lost Caverns if Ixalan is less about creature types and more about exploration.

In honor of this new land subtype I'm going to walk you through my Top 10 Caves in Magic: The Gathering. Some of them are from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, but lands that represent caves or caverns have been around for a long time.

It's worth noting that I write about and play Commander, so my focus will primarily be on cards that are playable in that format.

Honorable Mention: Mycoid Maze

Twists and Turns // Mycoid Maze

If the enchantment Twists and Turns is on the battlefield, instead of exploring you scry 1 and then explore. That will happen when you play Twists and Turns, as it has an enter the battlefield trigger to let target creature you control explore. When you control 7 or more lands it transforms into Mycoid Maze. This cave taps for Green and can tap for three and a Green to let you look at the top 4 cards of the library. If there's a creature amongst those cards you can reveal it and put it into your hand. The rest go on the bottom of your library in a random order.

I like lands with abilities that don't require the land to be sacrificed, and this is an auto-include in any deck built around the explore mechanic. In a creature heavy deck this is usually going to put a card into your hand. In the mid and late game you'll probably have the mana to use it and still do something else on your turn. I also just really like the flavor of this card.

With that out of the way, let's dig into my Top 10 caves.

My Top 10 Caves

I never really thought about what my favorite caves in Magic were until The Lost Caverns of Ixalan gave us a big pile of caves to add to our decks. The lands on my list don't all have the cave subtype, so any land that cares about another land being a "cave" will only care about the new The Lost Caverns of Ixalan cave lands. That doesn't mean regular lands aren't worth a mention, nor does it mean they aren't a cave. They just aren't a "cave" (having the cave subtype). Even an easily forgotten tap land like the Red cycling land Forgotten Cave had a chance to be included in today's list.

10. Hidden Lands

My first choice is actually five lands - The Lost Caverns of Ixalan five land cycle of Hidden lands.

These lands enter tapped and tap for a mana of a specific color. You can pay four and a colored mana, tap and sacrifice them to discover 4. Discover is a little like cascade, and will let you cast a spell of mana value four or less off the top of your deck. If the nonland card you hit isn't one you want to cast, you can put it into your hand.

I don't love that these enter tapped, but I do love that every color gets to run them. I also love the chaotic nature of mechanics like cascade and discover.

9. Pit of Offerings

Pit of Offerings

My number nine pick is Pit of Offerings, a new The Lost Caverns of Ixalan cave. It enters tapped and has you exile up to three cards from graveyards. It taps for one colorless mana or one mana of any of the exiled cards' colors. Graveyard hate, even if it's not at instant speed, is a valuable thing to add to any EDH deck. The fact that this card can produce colored mana is what let Pit of Offerings make the cut.

8. Cave of the Frost Dragon

Cave of the Frost Dragon

Cave of the Frost Dragon is a "creature land" from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. It enters tapped unless it's one of your first two lands, and it taps to produce a single white mana. For four and a White it can become a 3 power, 4 toughness White Dragon creature with flying until end of turn. It's still a land.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has a cave land called Cavernous Maw that can turn into a 3/3 Elemental for two mana, but only if you control three or more caves. Having that ability be dependent upon having other caves is what kept Cavernous Maw off my list.

7. Zoetic Cavern

Zoetic Cavern

Zoetic Cavern is a land that can be played face down as a morph creature. For two mana you can morph it into a land that taps to add one colorless mana. Morph cards represent a fun wrinkle to add to an EDH deck. While Zoetic Cavern might not be incredibly powerful, if you play other morph cards in your deck you can keep your opponents guessing as to what it is until you transform it. If it leaves the battlefield before transforming, you do have to show your tablemates what it was in order to confirm that it was actually a morph card.

6. Promising Vein

Promising Vein

Promising Vein is another The Lost Caverns of Ixalan cave. It can tap to add one colorless mana and you can pay one mana, tap and sacrifice it to tutor a basic land to the battlefield tapped. This is a great card for landfall decks, and it can help you to hit all of your colors if you've got cards you can't cast stuck in your hand.

5. Echoing Deeps

Echoing Deeps

Echoing Deeps is an LCI cave that taps for a colorless mana and has a neat enter the battlefield trigger. It enters tapped and you can have it enter as a copy of any land card in a graveyard, except it's a land in addition to its other types. If you are running this with land removal like Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter, or Strip Mine, you can send someone's land to their graveyard and then have Echoing Deeps enter as a copy of it.

Nice Gaea's Cradle you have there... it'd be a shame if something happened to it!

4. Caves of Koilos

Caves of Koilos

Caves of Koilos is a "pain land". It's high on this list because it enters untapped and it's a part of the core set of wb dual lands you'd run in any Orzhov deck. It taps for one colorless mana and can tap for a White or Black mana at the cost of one life. I don't like that life loss, but in a 40 life format it's not a big deal. If you're in White you probably have life gain, and if you're in Black you're probably used to using your life as a resource

3. Caverns of Souls

Cavern of Souls

Cavern of Souls is a fantastic land for any deck that cares about creature types. When it enters you choose a creature type. It can tap for one colorless mana or for one mana of any color if you use that mana to cast a creature of the chosen type. These decks often extend to multiple colors and that kind of color fixing can be incredibly helpful, especially in the early game.

2. Volatile Fault

Volatile Fault

Volatile Fault is a rare "strict upgrade" that does what an existing card in the game already does, but just a little bit better. It taps for one colorless mana, but you can pay 1 mana, tap and sacrifice it to destroy target nonbasic land an opponent controls. That player may tutor up a land and put it on the battlefield tapped, and you create a treasure artifact token. This is very much like Ghost Quarter, except that you pay a mana and get a treasure. That means in addition to destroying a problem land, it can help with your color fixing if you're struggling to cast something and you're lacking the right colors.

1. Gemstone Caverns

Gemstone Caverns

Gemstone Caverns is a legendary land that sees a lot of play in cEDH. If it's in your opening hand and you're not the starting player, you can begin the game with Gemstone Caverns on the battlefield with a luck counter on it. It taps for a colorless mana, or for one mana of any color if it's got a luck counter on it. This land currently runs around sixty dollars (USD) and if you're in a four or five color deck it's well worth including if you have one. The ability to produce the right colors when you need them can make a huge difference in how your deck plays. Commander isn't all about color fixing, but the more colors you add to your deck, the more important a flexible mana base is going to be.

Final Thoughts

I have to wonder if the cave subtype is going to be retroactively added to some of the older lands that are obviously caves, but were printed long before The Lost Caverns of Ixalan came out. Forgotten Cave may be forgettable, but it's hard to deny that it's a cave. My guess is that they won't bother, but sometimes Wizards of the Coast decides to go back and make these kinds of retroactive changes.

I should note that my honorable mention could easily be given to the old dual land Underground Sea. It's a powerful and expensive land that few can afford and even fewer Magic players own. Entering untapped and having two basic land types makes this a must-have for cEDH and a great include for any high powered EDH deck in Blue and Black. While it is obviously a giant cavern big enough to hold a sea, the card just didn't scream "cave" to me when I was putting this list together.

If you enjoyed this list and my thoughts about caves and caverns, you can catch my writing every Monday morning here at CoolStuffInc in my weekly Commanderruminations column. That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading!

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