Hello, fellow planeswalkers!  Welcome to Standard Weekly!

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan standard season is in full swing.  As expected, Esper Midrange/Raffine has done well in early tournament results, but we have seen a few surprises among the cards from the Lost Caverns of Ixalan that have impacted Standard.

ESPER RAFFINE

Last week I wrote about how Esper Midrange/Raffine was well positioned to remain as the top deck in standard.  Last weekend there were two MTGO challenges played.  In both events, the deck performed well.  It finished second in the MTGO Challenge 32 and first in the MTGO Challenge 64.  In my previous article, I speculated that Malcolm and the new Restless Anchorage and Restless Reef would most likely be the cards that entered the deck.  I was correct with Restless Anchorage, but two other cards joined the deck and have helped keep it on top.

The first is Deep-Cavern Bat.  This black two-drop has a 1/1 body with flying and lifelink.  What has made the card an important upgrade for the deck is it enters the battlefield trigger.  When Deep-Cavern Bat enters the battlefield, you get to look at your opponent’s hand and you get to exile a nonland card from it until Deep-Cavern Bat leaves the battlefield.  This allows you to take the best card that your opponent has until he can remove Deep-Cavern Bat from the game.  Expect to see Four copies of Deep-Cavern Bat in Esper Midrange.

The second big addition is Subterranean Schooner.  This two-mana vehicle has a low crew cost of 1 and offers a 3/4 body when it attacks or defends.  Whenever Subterranean Schooner attacks, target the creature that crewed it this turn explores.  This ability helps you hit your land drops or grow your team.  The Esper deck is playing between 2 and 4 copies of Subterranean Schooner.

Here’s the deck that won the MTGO Challenge 64.

Esper Raffine, TheManLand, MTGO Challenge 64, 11-19-2023

CREATURES: (15)

  • 4 Raffine, Scheming Seer

  • 1 Lord Skitter, Sewer King

  • 2 Dennick, Pious Apprentice

  • 2 Ertai Resurrected

  • 2 Faerie Mastermind

  • 4 Deep-Cavern Bat

PLANESWALKERS: (2)

  • 2 The Wandering Emperor

INSTANTS: (7)

  • 2 Go for the Throat

  • 2 Make Disappear

  • 2 Cut Down

  • 1 Get Lost

ENCHANTMENTS: (8)

  • 4 Virtue of Loyalty

  • 4 Wedding Announcement

ARTIFACTS: (2)

  • 2 Subterranean Schooner

LANDS: (26)

  • 1 Otawara, Soaring City

  • 1 Plaza of Heroes

  • 2 Seachrome Coast

  • 1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 2 Raffine’s Tower

  • 1 Plains

  • 2 Deserted Beach

  • 4 Shattered Sanctum

  • 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

  • 4 Darkslick Shores

  • 2 Restless Fortress

  • 3 Underground River

  • 2 Adarkar Wastes

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 2 Kaito Shizuki

  • 1 Farewell

  • 3 Disdainful Stroke

  • 2 Negate

  • 2 Cut Down

  • 2 Destroy Evil

  • 1 Anoint with Affliction

  • 2 Elspeth’s Smite

BOROS AGGRO

A couple of my Top 10 cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan have found a home in Boros Aggro.  This deck takes the core of the Mono-White Humans deck and adds red to get powerful new cards Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon and Inti, Seneschal of the Sun.  Plus white creatures Kellan, Daring Traveler, and Warden of the Inner Sky into the deck.  Each of these creatures adds value to the deck and gives it more overall power and consistency.

     

Anim Pakal is a token-generating engine.  Any time you attack, Anim gets a +1/+1 counter and then creates a tapped and attacking colorless Gnome artifact creature token for each +1/+1 counter on her.  Inti allows you to discard a card each time you attack.  When you do a creature gets a +1/+1 counter and gains trample.  Plus, whenever you discard a card, exile the top card of your library.  You may play that card until your next end step.  Inti synergies well with Anim Pakal because you can use Inti’s ability to add additional +1/+1 counters to Anim that will increase the number of Gnomes you create.

When Kellan attacks, you reveal the top card of your library.  If it’s a creature card with mana value of 3 or less, put it into your hand.  Otherwise, you may put it into your graveyard.  All the creatures in the deck cost three mana or less, so you will get a second draw most of the time when Kellan attacks.

Finally, Warden of the Inner Sky can put a +1/+1 counter on herself by tapping three untapped artifacts and/or creatures.  Then as long as Warden of the Inner Sky has three or more counters on it, it has flying and vigilance.  This ability also synergies well with Inti’s ability.

Here’s a look at the full deck from SoIMBAGallade that finished 5th at the MGTO Challenge 64.

Boros Aggro, SoIMBAGallade, MTGO Challenge 64, 11-19-2023

CREATURES: (34)

  • 2 Kellan, Daring Traveler

  • 4 Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

  • 4 Hopeful Initiate

  • 4 Recruitment Officer

  • 4 Coppercoat Vanguard

  • 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

  • 4 Inti, Seneschal of the Sun

  • 4 Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon

  • 4 Warden of the Inner Sky

INSTANTS: (4)

  • 4 Get Lost

LANDS: (22)

  • 4 Battlefield Forge

  • 4 Cavern of Souls

  • 2 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 1 Mishra’s Foundry

  • 8 Plains

  • 2 Plaza of Heroes

  • 1 Sundown Pass

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 1 Brotherhood’s End

  • 1 End the Festivities

  • 1 Jaya, Fiery Negotiator

  • 1 Koth, Fire of Resistance

  • 3 Lithomantic Barrage

  • 2 The Wandering Emperor

  • 2 Thundering Raiju

  • 3 Wedding Announcement

You can expect more cards from the Lost Caverns of Ixalan to find homes in Standard.  I can’t wait to see what other deck builders come up with to further diversify Standard.

That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you next time!

By: Scott Trepanier

Scott began playing Magic the Gathering in 1994.  His preferred format is standard.  Typically, you will see him playing aggro decks focused on quickly defeating his opponent but will pivot to midrange or control when standard is unfavorable for aggro decks.  He began creating Magic content in 2019.