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The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Release Date News and More

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Release Date News and More

Posted by Magic Madhouse on 19th Sep 2023

This November we return to the pirate-dinosaur Mesoamerican-inspired plane of Ixalan, but this time with a twist – we’re going underground! Unlike most ‘return’ sets, this ‘underground world’ setting was actually the starting point in design and it was later incorporated into Ixalan, rather than the other way around.

Hulking Raptor Hulking Raptor

This November we return to the pirate-dinosaur Mesoamerican-inspired plane of Ixalan, but this time with a twist – we’re going underground! Unlike most ‘return’ sets, this ‘underground world’ setting was actually the starting point in design and it was later incorporated into Ixalan, rather than the other way around.

It’s going to be an adventure set, reminiscent of the first visit to Zendikar, and of course expect the creature types of pirates (The Brazen Coalition), humans and their dinosaur friends (The Sun Empire), vampires (Legion of Dusk) and merfolk (River Heralds) to feature, even if perhaps not the main event they were in the original Ixalan.

In short, it’s going to be Indiana Jones meets Journey to the Centre of the Earth!

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Release Date Details

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan release is scheduled for November 17 2023 and is the 98th Magic expansion. There will be several events that players can participate in, including the pre-release, which includes a Jumpstart pre-release with players receiving too Jumpstart boosters to shuffle together and play with, followed by Launch parties. Friday Night Magic, Commander Nights and Game Days events will also run post-release.

MTG Commander nights

Card promos for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan release include the Buy-a-Box alternate art card, the Game Day: full alternate art card (for participation, top 8 and the winner), the Store Championship promos (also for participation, top 8 and winner), as well as the 30th anniversary promos of Dragonlord Atarka, Dramatic Reversal, Path of Ancestry and Beast Whisperer.

Mechanics and Gameplay Features of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

While we haven’t seen any of the cards yet, we can be sure The Lost Caverns of Ixalan mechanics will feature the four creature types we associate with the plane – dinosaurs, pirates, vampires and merfolk. Magic’s lead designer, Mark Rosewater, has already told us it’s not a traditional ‘return’ set and therefore we can expect less mechanical crossover than usual, but surely, there'll be some kind of synergies for each creature type, even if just on a few cards. Based on our previous visits, we could see something like:

  • Pirates wanting to attack
  • Merfolk caring about +1/+1 counters and/or lands
  • Vampires having a life gain ability and/or using life as a resource
  • Dinosaurs being big and angry!

We also know there will be Gods of some fashion too, which if previous iterations are anything to go by will require a particular game state to ‘turn on’ (e.g. devotion) and/or be hard to remove. The preview panel also revealed the presence of angels too, potentially giving us another creature type to care about. Demons have been hinted at by the set’s artwork as well, created by a demon God with a bat-like look perfect for underground living.

We also know there’s a card called Spider Trap which hints at the return of ‘traps’ as another of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan’s mechanics. Traps were instants from the original Zendikar which can be cast for a huge discount if your opponent has taken specific game actions. It seems Ixalan may be the new ‘adventure’ setting, perhaps allowing Zendikar to focus instead on land synergies. Equipment, too, could see a return as the factions try to navigate the underground world.

Finally a return of treasure tokens in some form seems likely too, even if not a major feature.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Storyline and Lore

We’re returning to Ixalan – a plane of dinosaurs, pirates, vampires and merfolk, but things have changed since the disappearance of the Immortal Sun. In the Lost Caverns of Ixalan’s story, the factions are racing to the underground centre of the plane in search of cosmium; a powerful resource that only the ancient Oltecs civilization have harnessed. It’s only when the factions get past Ixalan’s caves, they find it to be a hollow world, lit by its own underground sun…

Interestingly, Jace and Vraska featured heavily in the previous Ixalan set, and considering we know little about where the now-Phyrexian pair have gone, could it be they returned to a plane that holds a place in both their hearts?

In terms of how we got here, we have to go all the way back to when Nicol Bolas was the big bad in the storyline that culminated in War of the Spark. Ixalan’s factions were all searching for the Immortal Sun, which held immense power, including stopping Planeswalkers from leaving the plane. Vraska, part of Bolas’ crew at the time, was there to find it, and eventually summoned Tezzeert to use the Planar Bridge to take it away and used it to trap Planeswalkers on Ravnica as part of the final showdown.

More recently, the plane mobilised against the Phyrexians to repel the invasion, including against their very own Etali who was compleated. Casualties were huge, but The Sun Empire, Legion of Dusk and pirates banded together and defeated Etali. Huatli, a Planeswalker from Ixalan, helped to lead the forces against the Phyrexians, but lost her spark as part of the Great Desparkening. It was in this aftermath that the plane’s underground core was discovered under the cities of the Sun Empire, and Huatli ventured inside to open negotiations with the civilisation at its core, the Olmecs. That’s where we are at the beginning of the Lost Caverns of Ixalan story.

Preview of New Cards and Themes

We still know very little about the Lost Caverns of Ixalan, but Wizards has given us some information to mull on.

The set will introduce ‘Special Guests’, which are highly desirable reprints that are matched to the flavour of the plane they appear in. They will appear on the list, so can be found in Set Boosters, and its likely Collector Boosters too. It’s just speculation at this point, but I’d expect the ‘Special Guests’ for this set to either be some kind of treasures, e.g. highly desirable artifacts, or perhaps lands, based on the land-flipping double faced cards from the previous Ixalan sets, or they could lean into the key creature types and feature reprints of popular dinosaurs, pirates, vampires and merfolk, or the newly appearing angels, demons or gods.

Tying in with the dinosaur theme, the set will also have a Universe Beyond: Jurassic Park partnership. These cards will be inserted into boosters, similar to the Transformer cards in The Brothers’ War. They will be original designs and appear in Set Boosters, Collector Boosters and Bundles.

How to Pre-order The Lost Caverns of Ixalan  

Pre-orders aren’t live quite yet as we head into Wilds of Eldraine preview season, but it won’t be long after that Eldraine is revealed that stores will turn their attention to The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Keep checking back on this very site for when previews are live, and follow us on social to be the first to hear.

Community Reactions and Expectations

Gods, angels, demons, set in a world of adventure… It's fair to say the community is excited.

The original Zendikar was a firm fan favourite, and the community have felt let down previously that subsequent visits to that plane have avoided the ‘adventuring’ type mechanics in favour of lands-matter and Eldrazi. People are expecting the likes of traps to return in The Lost Kingdom of Ixalan, and are here for it.

Surely, we’ll get some hint towards what Jace and Vraska are up to as well? Talking of Planeswalkers, many are thinking this is where we’ll see the newly-sparked Quintorius Kand, considering his interest in history and archaeology. Hints of the previous Ixalan are likely too – we’ll see the same tribes even if they aren’t given dedicated mechanics, including, even if just for the memes, a reprint of Colossal Dreadmaw!