Magic: The Gathering’s MagicCon Las Vegas has begun, and, as is tradition, it began with a preview of the next few MTG sets. Today, we got a look at not just the next major set The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, but also Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth’s Holiday release, and next year’s first set, Ravnica Remastered.
With Quintorius, shock lands, band posters, and Jeff Goldblum, it was a wild panel with plenty of surprises. Here’s everything revealed at MagicCon Las Vegas.
The Lost Caverns Of Ixalan
Magic’s next Standard-legal set is taking us deep below the surface the Dinosaur-infested Mesoamerican world of Ixalan. Following the Phyrexian Invasion, it was discovered that Ixalan’s world is completely hollow, with an ancient, long-forgotten civilisation tucked away and thriving with a mysterious resource called Cosmium.
The reveals confirm something we expected, considering this is Ixalan, but hadn’t seen a whole lot of yet: The Lost Caverns will include all of the creature types that made our first trip there exciting, with Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, and Humans all playing a big part in the set.
The biggest news to come out of Lost Caverns Of Ixalan is the confirmation of something that was hinted at a long time ago: Quintorius Kand, the Loxodon student of Strixhaven, is making his first appearance as the set’s fully-fledged Planeswalker. We’ve not yet seen what his card can do, but there are multiple pieces of art showing him running around Ixalan, and it’s hard not to be incredibly proud of our perfect boy.
Quintorius isn’t the only non-Ixalantec face we’ve seen, as the set will also feature Saheeli. Queer fans should be celebrating now, as this set will mark the reunion of Saheeli and Huatli, who became a couple in 2022’s Pride story Note for a Stranger.
We also saw the four Commander decks, up from the usual two we get for a regular Standard-legal set. Each of them focus on one of the major factions of the plane, with:
- The blue/green +1/+1 and explore-focused Explorers of the Deep.
- The red/green/white and delightfully named Veloci-Ramp-tor, focusing on Humans and Dinosaurs.
- Pirates get the blue/black/red Ahoy Mateys, featuring the return of Admiral Beckett Brass as the face character.
- The Vampires of the Dusk Legion are featured in the black/white Blood Bites. Another familiar face is here, with Vito, who we last saw on the terrifying combo piece Vito, Thorn of Dusk Rose.
The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and the two sub-sets releasing alongside it, launch on November 17.
The Lost Caverns Of Ixalan: Special Guests
Alongside the regular, Standard-legal set, Lost Caverns of Ixalan features the introduction of a whole new set of cards called Special Guests.
Special Guests are cards that can be found in the List slot in Set boosters, and includes incredibly powerful reprints of much-needed cards for eternal formats like Vintage, Legacy, and Commander. Keep in mind that these reprints don’t change any existing format legality, and are not part of the main Lost Caverns set.
The first cards revealed for the Special Guests are Commander all-timers, with Lord of Atlantis for all those Merfolk decks, Coersive Portal for voting-matters decks, and one of the best turn-one plays in the entire format, Mana Crypt.
Much like the Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Cavern of Souls in the regular Lost Caverns of Ixalan set, the Mana Crypt cards will be available in different colourways of varying rarities.
Universes Beyond: Jurassic World
Special Guests aren’t the only bonus sheet of cards found in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Announced earlier this year, we’re also getting crossover cards with the Jurassic World series, and today we got to see the first actual cards from this mini-set.
Designed for eternal formats, these are mechanically unique cards that take the themes and characters from the movies. Welcome To… is a really flavourful Saga that, after two turns, a broken wall, and Dinosaur tokens on the loose, transforms into a land simply called Jurassic Park.
We also saw Ian Malcom, Chaotician; a red/blue commander that causes utter chaos by letting each player cast spells they don’t own, and Indominus Rex, Alpha; a blue/black/green Dinosaur Mutant that plays off of cards you’ve discarded while it enters the battlefield in an interesting Keyword Soup strategy.
Like last year’s Transformers, these cards aren’t part of the wider Lost Caverns set, but can be found in both Set and Collector booster packs, and also guaranteed in the Gift Bundle.
Lord Of The Rings: Tales Of Middle-earth Holiday Edition
Moving on from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, we have the expanded second release of the massively successful Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set.
Alongside including all the cards from the main set that launched earlier this year, this Holiday re-release includes 24 new cards across a series of Scene Boxes, which was recently revealed by IGN. There are four scene boxes available: Flight of the Witch-King, Aragon at Helm’s Deep, The Might Of Galadriel, and Gandalf in Pelennor Fields.
This release is much more mechanically diverse than the original Tales of Middle-earth, designed for Commander rather than Modern. We’re getting mechanics like goad, delve, kicker, squad, replicate, and even conspire, filling it with long-lost keywords we haven’t seen in a good long while.
Alongside the Scene Boxes, there are two new booster packs available. The first are Jumpstart Vol 2., a new version of Middle-earth’s Jumpstart format (where you take two booster packs and shuffle them together to make a deck), with five new themes added to the mix found in the first Jumpstart packs: Mortals, Cunning, Orcish, Riders, and Elven.
Collector boosters: Special Edition introduces three art treatments not seen in the previous Tales of Middle-earth release. Scroll cards were accidentally revealed during the original preview season, and place the art on an interesting (if slightly jarring-looking with the black orders) scroll-like frame.
Next, the art of legendary Magic illustrators Greg and Tim Hildebrandt is back. Instead of new pieces by Greg (Tim died in 2006), these cards use their already-existing Lord of the Rings art in a very nice merging of two of the most iconic series the Hildebrandts worked on. Personally, they are some of my all-time favourite Magic artists, and even if I don’t click with Lord of the Rings like many in MTG do, I desperately want more cards with their work on it.
It helps that their cards are reprints of some really good cards, with things like Pact of Negation and Sylvan Tutor available with their art. All in all 20 cards with the Hildebrandt’s art will be available in Special Edition Collector boosters.
Finally, there’s the most controversial art treatment revealed for this release: the band poster style. These reimagine the cards are ‘60s and ‘70s band posters, complete with bright colours, flat shading, and psychedelic text. They’re striking art pieces for sure, but there have already been concerns raised about their readability on a busy table. This isn’t a new complaint, as band posters have been a regular theme of MTG’s Secret Lair, but it’s likely to become even more prevalent a problem with the widespread release of this set.
Lord of the Rings: Tales Of Middle-earth Holiday Edition launches on November 3.
The last set showed off at MagicCon Last Vegas was our first release of 2024, Ravnica Remastered. Like Dominaria Remastered this year, this brings together cards froma cross Ravnica’s many appearances into one draft environment.
We didn’t see much of Ravnica Remastered that we didn’t already know. All ten of the Shock Lands can be found in this set, in the regular art treatment, retro border frame, and a new full-art version. Considering these are widely considered to be the best lands outside of the original True Duals, the Shocks alone will likely help shift packs of Ravnica Remastered.
Alongside that, we’re also getting new manga art cards, which have become a regular fixture of MTG in recent years. So far, we’ve seen only five, with Tomik, Distinguished Advokist; Fblthp, the Lost; Krenko, Mob Boss; Massacre Girl, and Birds of Paradise all getting the full-art treatment. These will be available as both regular prints and serialised cards, which always end up being some of the most sought-after in a set.
Retro-frames are another go-to for Magic lately, and certain characters will also be getting them as well. These appear to be tied to the leaders of the ten guilds of Ravnica, with Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice both shown off with the retro frame.
We’ll have to wait to see more from Ravnica Remastered, as it isn’t scheduled to launch until January 12, 2024.
NEXT: TCG Release Dates 2023