Cardsphere Picks: The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Matt Bodensteiner • November 14, 2023

Back from the brink of extinction, Cardsphere is heading into a new age under new leadership and that means Cardsphere Picks is back too! It has been a wild ride the past couple of months but if there has been one constant in all of it, it's that there is always a new set and new cards to talk about. This time we are gearing up to explore The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Let's see if there are any fun new cards to discover.

Joining me for this spelunking adventure is an exciting special guest – new owner and admin of Cardsphere and CEO of Space Cow Media, Donald Miner. Also joining us are three exceptional members of the Discord community: Baltan (@BaltanTwo), Shoe, and Fáelán (White Lotus Games).

As always, picks can be based on any criteria of their choosing. Whether it is some power-crept rare, niche support card, stunning new art piece or a witty bit of flavor text, nothing is off limits for these picks. With that said, grab your treasure map and begin the fathomless descent into these new cards.


Indominus Rex, Alpha

The most Magic I’m playing right now is with my three sons. They get really excited about Dinosaurs so it’s easy to be excited also. As big fans of the Jurassic World franchise, we were giddy to hear about the supplemental REX cards and since they were awesome in the movies, I’m personally interested in Indominus Rex, Alpha and Indoraptor, the Perfect Hybrid. Although Indominus Rex's abilities might make for a more interesting Commander deck to me, I’m scared I’ll be too degenerate with it, so I might have to try out Indoraptor instead.

New Pirates

I’ve really needed a typal Commander deck as it’s something I don’t have right now. I’ve been eyeing up Pirates for a while because they have a lot of interesting combat triggers, more interaction than other creature types, and are in my favorite color – Black. I’m a little disappointed to not see a new Pirate that speaks to me as a Commander, but there are plenty of good options.

Chimil, the Inner Sun

This card seems fun to me in Commander and I want to try it out in decks that struggle with card draw and consistent value generation in general (looking at you my Boros Iroas, God of Victory Commander deck). I love that the Discover 5 is on the end step so you don’t lose value, and it’s innocuous enough that there will be other cards on the board that probably will bait removal before this. Preventing spells from being countered is just gravy, but in the types of decks that play Chimil are the ones where getting your stuff countered makes you really sad.


Illustrious Wanderglyph

An obvious homage to Tendershoot Dryad from the first visit to Ixalan, but Illustrious Wanderglyph might actually be better? There are a lot more artifact creatures running around than Saprolings so the anthem will be relevant more often, especially if an artifact commander is involved... I look forward to having this board-state-in-a-can do some work.

Scion of Calamity

Generally speaking, I am super happy with all the medium-sized new Dinosaurs we are getting with the return to Ixalan. Scion of Calamity among them. A 5/5 for 5 that puts your opponents between a rock and a hard place. No one wants to block a token that's going away at end of turn, especially a 5/5 token, but the alternative is losing a precious artifact or enchantment? Yikes. The art on this card also really evokes the Zacama, Primal Calamity vibes.

Inti, Seneschal of the Sun

As someone who plays Conspiracy Theorist in a lot of decks, Inti naturally piqued my interest. I might give this a go in my Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald commander deck specifically, as giving a creature a counter and trample could be nice to push damage and impulse draw a card for doing so. It plays great with Faldorn's activated ability, too. Not bad for a 2-drop.  


Hunting Velociraptor

If it doesn't become apparent enough later, I love, no, ADORE dinosaurs. No better place on my list to start than the original clever girl herself. In Magic, there tends to be many a hefty mana value on Dinosaur cards, so granting all of your Dinosaur spells prowl 2R is a huge discount. The dream will be dropping a Wakening Sun's Avatar or Apex Altisaur to wipe the battlefield clean of all but the greatest of creature types, but the effect is just cool and the raptor has first strike, a bonus for the edge cases where she's the one to do the deed and you want to flash another dino in mid-combat.

Dino DNA

This is an unassuming card that will make John Hammond so proud. A one-mana artifact that's targeted graveyard hate, it also converts any pesky card into the superior creature type. Nothing feels quite as nice as converting a boring Human or Elf into a 6/6 Dinosaur with all the cool broken text printed on it still intact. I look forward to extracting Sheoldred or Dockside Extortionist DNA from amber and bringing my genetic abominations to life in future Commander games.

Sunfrill Imitator

What's better than a Gishath, Sun's Avatar as you move to combat? How about TWO Gishaths? Sunfrill Imitator is busted. This little oviraptor becomes your best Dinosaur on the table, but keeps its name, enabling all sorts of fun whether you have an amazing damage trigger or just a really big dino. Also notable is the fact that Sunfrill Imitator keeps its disguise until you decide to change it again, so if something happened to your original Gishath, the good times keep on coming!


Dire Flail

Dire Flail is going straight into my 17-year-old Maraxus of Keld Commander deck... and basically any voltron Commander deck I make that includes red. The front face is no big deal, but incredibly cheap and exiling an artifact I don't care about in the graveyard is NOT a big ask in any deck.

Altar of the Wretched

Altar of the Wretched tickles my fancy because it reads like a challenge. I just HAVE to try and craft it to have every single keyword it can get. I love the cards that have a laundry list of keywords that they can acquire or grant. "Gotta catch 'em all!"... wait, wrong game.

Wave Goodbye

Finally, what's not to love about Wave Goodbye. It's a fantastic thematic sweeper for stuff like Goldberry, River-Daughter, Chisei, Heart of Oceans and Experiment Kraj (who doesn't love counters... no the OTHER kind of counters). BONUS it has a title that would make the dad-joking EDHRec cast crew proud.


Don't Move

I've been on a found footage analog horror kick lately, and some of those videos feel like scenes straight out of the Jurassic Park books that were skipped over in the movies for wider audience appeal. Don't Move perfectly encapsulates the terror of those moments -- that ancient instinct of paralyzing dread; knowing you've been detected by a behemoth that could maim you instantly with little effort, but perilously uncertain if it's decided to do so.

Welcome to... // Jurassic Park

Turning one of each of your opponents' artifacts into Walls, destroying all Walls, and giving your Dinosaurs escape? This is the biggest functional flavor win I think I've ever seen on a card. I'm building a Dinosaur deck myself right now, so I'm excited to see how well it works in practice.

Swooping Pteranodon

A flying dinosaur picks up one of your opponent's creatures, uses it against them, and drops them from a dangerous height. If you can't tell by now, I'm a big fan of functional flavor. But my favorite thing about this card is a potential gameplay interaction. If you have a Glacial Chasm be the land to deal the damage, it results in what I find to be a hilarious lore break, since it's a location where no harm can come to anyone within it.