Top Cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan (LCI) for Commander Cube

 As always, we follow up last week's article with one for commander cube. LCI is promising to bring better gameplay flow to the format.  Coming off of prerelease, the actual limited format felt explosive and smooth with tons of ways to filter and get cards into the graveyard. I am expecting this to translate well into the format especially with the introduction of Map Tokens.  In addition, the tribal/kindred elements are still present in this revisit to Ixalan and will more than likely further support these elements if you have them present. The tribes featured in Ixalan are one of the sets biggest strengths for cube longevity. Aside from Vampires, the other 3 factions are not as explored as other fan favorite tribes, making any addition a big deal (Yes, this includes merfolk who hasn't had any real support since Ixalan). So there's a lot to look forward to and I'm hoping the cards stick around for the long run.

For these posts, I will be having 2 list: One for the cards I think are best for commander cube and one for the best commander options. Commanders are a fundamental aspect of this cube and what the foundation of all the decks drafted will be based on. The dedicated slots for the commander allow cubes to have more multicolored options like Ramos or Saskia, which are not normally viable in traditional cube. 

The cards that exist on the 1st list will primarily be comprised of cards that are solid on their own or develop underdeveloped playstyles/ archetypes.

On the commander only list, I place a bigger emphasis on how well they support various archetypes. Commanders that support multiple archetypes well will generally be ranked higher than commanders. Narrow commander do occasionally show up when they are the best option for a particular deck.

Their may be some overlap between the two list and is because the commander is amazing enough to warrant its own slot as part of the deck.

Top Cards

Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation is a card I'm not that hyped about but I do have to acknowledge the amount of power it brings to the table. We as Magic players have gotten so used doubling our creature tokens in the past couple years that WotC knew another doubler wasn't good enough, so they triple downed on the effect with this one. The card on its front face is respectable, but still mediocre when compared to your other options at 6 mana. Thus the only real selling point for the card is the token tripler, which is unique and powerful. Ojer Taq is resilient and can recur itself, though the requirement do ask that you build around it. Overall, it heavily depends on how you value this effect, easiest skip or the hardest autoslam include, there's no inbetween.

Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal is a card I have on my other list for traditional cube that is able to make it into commander cube because of the scalability of its abilities. The abilities will hit each opponent evenly, however the benefits the players reaps adjust to the number of players. This means in a 4 player game, you are able to draw up to 3 cards or make up to 3 bat tokens. Either scenario and any inbetween is going to be amazing and will easily allow you to take over the games quickly. This is on top of an already amazing body that allows you to stabilize and get evasive hits in. As mentioned in the previous article, this is a hard card to get rid of as well as the condition to trigger its recursion is easy. For the context of commander cube, this is an enabler and reward for playing a discard focused deck making it foundational for the deck if you want to support. Strong option that is hard to replicate.

Bloodletter of Aclazotz is the black variant of red's double damage and something we haven't really seen. Black has had effects where you lose life at the of the turn, but not something that doubles it. Even among these, this is the cheapest this effect is available in black. Much like its red contemporaries, this card will find a home in typical black strategies like drain and creature decks. There is one glaring downside in the fact that the card is only active during your turn, limiting blacks your impact on the game. Not an auto include, but it's worth testing since it boosts weaker capabilities.

Bonehoard Dracosaur is red value town and one of the best options to hit red for commander. This card just does it all to keep red relevant in a multicolor game. The baseline body is solid for rate and makes for a respectable creature in combat. But no one ever cares about the body in commander, it's all about the ability and this one is straight gas. Exiling two cards you are allowed to play every turn is nuts. In almost every circumstance, this is the equivalent of drawing 2 cards a turn. Even if you draw dead weights, you are generating value in the form of treasure tokens or dinosaurs. I didn't even realized that based on the way its set up, you are always able to push your board presents. If that wasn't amazing enough, this is also a dragon and dinosaur for those wanting to push either of these decks in your cube. Solid Value, highly doubt you can replace it, unless WotC creeps harder this should be a cube staple.  

Roaming Throne is another panharmonicon but this time for creature types. Though the is nothing special, the ability is always nice to have, but nothing special since Panharmonicon is more flexible. Though this may seem like a setback, it can be played into based on your deck composition and can be used in decks where kindred/tribal isn't really part of the deck. What helps the card stand out is its ability to choose whatever creature type you want much like Adaptive Automaton. This allows it to further enable the tribal elements, while being accessible to all tribes. Nice to include, definitely not an auto include.

Eye of Ojer Taq is kind of a wild one. At first I was reading it assuming it meant creature types, but then I reread it and realize what it meant supertypes. This is awesome as it allows you a "once" per turn free spell. It can be abused by untapping the card. Combine this with a steady flow of card draw and you have Omniscience at home. This ability is gimmicky and on its own, I'd be indifferent to it, however it is attached to a 3MV mana rock, which has become my standard for draftable mana rocks because any deck can play them. Not worth going out of your way to try, but worth checking out if its available. 

The Millenium Calendar is a weird wincon that seems easier to manage and utilize in a multiplayer game. At first glance, the card seems cool because of the minigame is creates, but it is a do nothing card until the moment you win with it. Based solely on this, I want to try the card out as alternate wincons shift the dynamics of the game as other players won't care until they care. Other than the fact that it is an alternate wincon, I wouldn't run this card unless it really strikes your fancy.

Contest of Claws is wild since I already thought Feral Encounters was amazing. This takes the same formula and turns it up several notches. This is more flexible and allows more agency into your game plan. The discover works right away and is free mana and a card. Removal and card advantage is gas in a format like commander. With Green still suffering in the removal department, this is a huge blessing.

Matzalantli, the Great Door is kind of a boring card at first, but the potential and ease of achieving this potential is where it gets exciting.. This effect is great, though they are becoming more common. What sets this one apart is when you flip the card. The backside gives you a tremendous amount of mana based on the number of permanents in your graveyard. This can get out of hand relatively easily thanks to the looting on the front face. This looks fun to play, but doesn't seem like a necessity thanks to the increase in universal looters.

Threefold Thunderhulk strongly reminds me of Myr Battlesphere, an old school classic of commander before the playerbase got more competitive. The card is a wincon on its own thanks to its ability to generate golems upon entering and attacking. What's more is that the card scales exponentially with the amount of mana you have available allowing the card to completely fill the board with gnome tokens. When examining the card in the context of commander cube, it fits into multiple decks as just a value creatutre and makes for a solid target in gimmicky decks like reanimator. If you're looking to replace Myr Battlesphere, this might be the card to do. Solid option among the artifact fatties.

Somehow I almost forgot about Get Lost. Flexible removal is king in cube since spots are so tight, the more a single card can do the better. This one is especially pushing it since you're able to enchantments, creatures, and planeswalkers. The two map tokens are negligible in the multiplayer format, making this easily one of the best option for what it costs. Run it, it'll keep people under control.

Commander Choices

Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might is interesting to build around and can make for a strong alternative to double damage spells. At a baseline, he has solid stats as a 4/4 with trample, which combine nicely with how he wants to be played. His ability is where the intrigue comes from. It empowers lower damage burn spells to deal more damage similar to Furnace of Rath and Torbran, nothing special there. Even among the other options, setting damage to 4 is a huge deal as any damage under 3 is better or on par with similar effects. Pingers like Thermo-Alchemist are a perfect example of this. But the main driving factor is its scalability with Ojer Axonil's power. This is where the creative juices start flowing as its sets him up as a strong choice as a Voltron commander and a strong piece in any deck that runs creatures and burn spells. His recursion ability is looking difficult to pull off making it a nonfactor for me, when evaluating the card. You might be able t pull this off in your own cube, so base it off that.

Akawalli, the Seething Tower is nothing to special since its so simple, but it does the job well. At baseline, it is mediocre. 3MV Vanilla 3/3 is ignorable in all situations, but it's a good thing this should never be played as a 3/3. The card grows passively as you hit certain thresholds for descend. In dedicated decks hitting the thresholds should not be hard, which sets this card up to be a 3MV 7/7 with trample, making up for its initial mediocrity. It makes for a solid beater on its own as a powerful Voltron commander if you want to go into this direction.

Ghalta, Stampeding Tyrant is a combo piece hiding in the command zone. In most cases, this will function primarily as a value commander, which lends it to being a suitable commander in every green. With how green is situated, card is abundant and a green player should rarely be gassed on cards. This enables Ghalta to shake up the board state when he lands. Lastly, dude's a big boy and he's going to smash. So nothing special, but one sided Eureka in the command zone is always cool.

The End Step

After finishing this article, I realized this is kinda lame for commander cube. Initially, I was excited for what this set had to offer for the format, but many of the cards came out narrower or not as impactful as they did for traditional cube, which is where this set was a banger. I still think that if you were big on the tribes featured on Ixalan, this set is great, if not easily skippable. The set still had some stellar cards, but those cards shined through bright since so much of the set doesn't.

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