Key art for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the next upcoming expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Anna Podedworna.
Key art for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the next upcoming expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Anna Podedworna.

Let’s face facts: Wizards of the Coast has been busy. With all the talk about Universes Beyond happening in the Magic: The Gathering communities online, original Magic lore has been a bit shrouded lately. We are now in the wake of the Doctor Who Commander decks. Fallout and Marvel properties are on the horizon. Wizards needs a getaway. And what better destination is there to get away to in the Multiverse than Ixalan? As preview season kicks off for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, here’s what we can come to expect!

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The art for Chimil, the Inner Sun, a card from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the next set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Adam Paquette.

New Mechanics For The Newest Magic: The Gathering Set

First off, let’s look at some of the new mechanics found in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. These mechanics require a little bit of explanation, so here we go!


To begin, we have discover. Discover is a mechanic that functions rather similarly to cascade, but it has a few key differences. For one, discover is, in essence, an ability word, much like scry or mill. This means that there are many possible ways to time a discover ability. This is in contrast to cascade, which only goes off when a spell is cast. Furthermore, discover comes with a numerical parameter, meaning that the discover number could be lower or higher than the discovering card’s mana value. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

The similarities to the cascade ability are there, but the timing is decidedly different and more versatile than cascade offers. Neat!


Next, we will look at another new ability word: descend. Descend counts the number of permanent cards that have entered your graveyard from anywhere in a given span. There are a few ways that the descend mechanic works. There are cards that care about the number of times you have descended in a given timeframe, and there are cards that care if you’ve descended at all. For instance, let’s look at these cards:

Broodrage Mycoid, for example, cares if you’ve descended at all in a turn. The Mycotyrant cares about the number of times you’ve descended. Finally, Uchbenbak, the Great Mistake cares specifically about descent if the number in its Descend ability is met. It’s a smidge complex, but nothing that the game’s flow can’t handle.


Third, we have craft. This one is a bit of doozy (and I say this having just explained descend). Craft is an ability currently revealed on certain artifacts from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and represents crafting something into something more useful. To craft, exile cards from your battlefield of graveyard that meet the required number and other prerequisites for the crafting and pay any other costs. This allows you to transform the card you’re crafting with. Let’s look at how that would appear:

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The Engima Jewel, a new card from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the upcoming set for Magic: The Gathering.

The Enigma Jewel is a card that can be crafted into something more useful. To do this, you pay eight generic mana and one blue mana, then exile it and four (or more) nonland permanents with activated abilities. Then, voila!

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Locus of Enlightenment, the flip side of The Engima Jewel.

You now have a Locus of Enlightenment, a card that can be activated to do anything the crafted cards can do. This likely does not include The Enigma Jewel itself, however, as it is no longer exiled, but transformed.

Next, we will look at some returning mechanics from the previous Ixalan block.

Returning Magic: The Gathering Mechanics From Ixalan

Explore and Map tokens

It appears that cards with enrage, raid, and ascend will not be making a definitive reappearance in this set. However, Magic: The Gathering still has room for new ways to innovate on older returning mechanics. Explore is one such mechanic, as evidenced by a new type of artifact token: the Map.

Map tokens read: “1, Tap, Sacrifice this artifact: Target creature you control explores. Activate only as a sorcery.” Explore is another ability word. It, too, is shorthand. When your creature explores, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a land you put it into your hand. If not, you put a +1/+1 counter on the exploring creature. Then, you can choose to mill the nonland card. It’s surprisingly similar to the scry or surveil abilities from other releases.

Transforming Lands

Next, let’s take a look at some double-faced cards that turn into lands:

As you can see by this wonderful and needed reprint of Growing Rites of Itlimoc, there are some cards that transform into lands when a requirement is reached. In fact, the Gods of Ixalan also do this.

Wow! Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation is a really strong card, isn’t it? We would be so stoked to open a copy of this card from a pack of this set.

Magic: The Gathering Showcase Treatments From The Lost Caverns Of Ixalan

Let’s now take a moment to look at some of the cards you might find with showcase treatments in this Magic: The Gathering set.

As you can see, this set has many different treatments for its cards. Special notice should be given to Cavern of Souls, which is given a neon-ink “Cosmium” treatment. How cool! Of these, my favorite treatments are the ones for Ojer Taq and the other Gods of Ixalan, and the one for Quintorius Kand shown at the central bottom. They’re visually stunning and just so neat.

Commander Face Cards For The New Magic: The Gathering Decks

As is customary now for Magic: The Gathering, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan will release with four Commander decks. These decks are based around the creature types that pervaded the first Ixalan sets: Merfolk, Vampires, Dinosaurs, and Pirates. Here are their face commanders:

But of course, there’s plenty more to come.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Has Some Special Guests

Starting with this set, Magic sets will have a few cards that are reprinted from other sets (outside of The List) that appear in packs. These “Special Guest” cards can be thematic but could also be way out there. Here are a couple of them:

Special attention should be given to Mana Crypt, as it has six variants in neon-ink. This is a much-needed reprint for die-hard Commander players especially.

And finally…

Welcome To Jurassic Park!

As with Transformers in The Brothers’ War, Magic: The Gathering is releasing a few tie-in cards for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. This time, we venture into the property of Jurassic Park. Here are but a few cards you might encounter if you open a pack of Lost Caverns:

With that, our journey into the new Magic: The Gathering previews has come to a close. Be sure to look for more previews as they pop up online over the next week or so!

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