Published on 11/13/2023

Spelunking on Ixalan

Cranial Translation
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Rule 1 of Spelunking:
Never go alone.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is here and we have new cards and new mechanics to discover and explore. Hopefully you got a chance to enjoy the prerelease this last weekend, I know I did.

If you have Magic rules questions, we would love to answer them and might even include them in an upcoming article. For short questions, you can send them to our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and if you have a longer question, you can send it to our e-mail at .

Q: What does it mean to craft?

A: Craft is a new keyword ability. It's written out as "Craft with [object with a specific characteristic] [cost]". We can see this on the card Dire Flail. To craft with Dire Flail, you must pay the costs and have the "materials" necessary to craft. The materials are the Dire Flail (card with craft) and another artifact you control or a artifact card in your graveyard (control a permanent with the appropriate characteristic or have a card in your graveyard with the appropriate characteristic). To craft you pay the cost and exile the materials.

After the costs are paid, if the craft ability resolves, you return the Dire Flail to the battlefield transformed as Dire Blunderbuss (return the card with Craft with {object with characteristic} to the battlefield transformed). Crafting is restricted to sorcery speed.

Q: When I exile creatures to pay the craft cost of Throne of the Grim Captain, do all four need to be in the same zone, or can they be located in a combination of both graveyard and battlefield?

A: They can be split between both zones or all in one or the other.

Q: What is discover?

A: Discover is very similar to cascade. When you discover N, you reveal cards from the top of your library until you find a nonland card with mana value N or less. Then you must either cast that spell for free or you must put that card into your hand. All other cards are shuffled to the bottom of your library.

This has some important differences from cascade. Probably the coolest part being, if you hit a card you can't cast, you must put it into your hand instead of it getting shuffled away. Next, cascade always searches for a value based on the value of the card it triggered from, whereas discover has a value of N that changes from card to card. The last major difference is that discover can happen under a myriad of conditions, whereas cascade is always a cast trigger.

Q: If I discover Cyclonic Rift with Caparocti Sunborn's triggered ability, can I overload the Rift?

A: You can not. Discover casting a spell without paying its mana cost is an alternative cost, as is overload. You may only ever use one alternative cost when casting a spell. However, you can choose to put the Rift into your hand, and then if you have enough mana left over, can manually overload it.

Rule 2 of Spelunking:
Don't go during the rainy season.
Q: Am I crazy or is descend more than one ability?

A: Descend has five variations in this set, but all of them care about permanent cards either being in your graveyard or having gone to your graveyard this turn.

Variation 1) You have descended if one or more permanent cards went to your graveyard this turn.
Variation 2) Some cards care how many times you have descended. This will count how many permanent cards have been put into your graveyard this turn.
Variation 3) Descend 4 is met if you have four or more permanent cards in your graveyard. If descend 4 is met, the card it's on will be boosted in some way.
Variation 4) Descend 8 is met if you have eight or more permanent cards in your graveyard. If descend 8 is met, the card it's on will be boosted in some way.
Variation 5) Fathomless Descent will count the number of permanent cards in your graveyard and use that number in a way specified by the card it's on.

Q: If I used a Treasure token to cast Stalactite Stalker will that be enough for the Stalker's beginning of end step triggered ability to trigger?

A: It will not. You only have descended if a permanent card is put into your graveyard. Although Treasure tokens do hit the graveyard before they cease to exist, they are not cards.

Q: My opponent's Pathfinding Axejaw is about to explore for having entered the battlefield. Can I let the Dinosaur start to explore, then choose to Lightning Bolt it once I know the top card of the opponent's library is a nonland before it gets the +1/+1 counter?

A: You can not. Once the trigger for explore begins to resolve, you won't get priority again until after it fully resolves. Revealing the top card and either drawing that card or putting a +1/+1 counter on the exploring creature happens in the middle of the explore trigger resolving.

Q: What's with finality counters?

A: Finality counters will be placed on permanents that are supposed to be difficult to reanimate multiple times. If a permanent has one or more finality counters and it goes to the graveyard from the battlefield instead it will be exiled. This is not rules text added to the card or token it's on, but is a feature of having a finality counter on it. So making a creature with a finality counter on it lose all its abilities (say with Turn to Frog) will not stop it from getting exiled if it dies.

Q: If I animate Restless Anchorage with Llanowar Loamspeaker, will the creature it becomes still create a Map token when it attacks?

A: Yes it will! The attack trigger it has is separate from the activated ability that animates it into a creature and will trigger whenever the land attacks, even if animated by a different ability.

Q: If I use Abuelo, Ancestral Echo to "blink" my Mastercraft Raptor, will it return as a Dinosaur or its front face?

A: It will return as its front face. If a card leaves the battlefield and then returns to the battlefield, by default it will return untapped, untransformed, unmorphed, and unflipped.

Q: If I cast Abuelo's Awakening with X equal to zero, targeting Smuggler's Copter, then later crew the copter, what's its power and toughness?

A: It will be a 1/1. The Awakening redefines the power and toughness of the Vehicle as 1/1. Crewing it in this case doesn't reset its power and toughness to 3/3.

Q: If I reveal two lands with Bonehoard Dracosaur's trigger do I create two Dinosaur tokens or only one?

A: You get only one. For it to make two, it would need to say something like "For each land exiled this way, create a 3/1 red Dinosaur creature token."

Q: My opponent controls Lodestone Golem. I activate Quintorius Kand's -3 loyalty ability to discover 4. The card I discover is Plundering Pirate. I know I still have to pay the additional from Lodestone to cast the Pirate for free, but if I pay that with a colored mana from my Cavern of Souls that has Pirates chosen for it, is the Plundering Pirate able to be Counterspelled or not?

A: It can't be countered. Additional costs are part of the spell being cast, even if those are additional costs are imposed by other sources.

Rule 3 of spelunking:
Don't forget headlamps, provisions,
or first aid kits.
Q: Can I craft Throne of the Grim Captain with a single changeling creature?

A: You can't. The crafting "materials" require four different cards. A changeling can be any of the four creature types you want, but not all of four them.

Q: I noticed Throne of the Grim Captain doesn't require creatures as part of its crafting cost. Can I use a changeling instant to help pay the crafting cost?

A: You can use a Crib Swap in your graveyard to help pay the Throne's crafting cost.

Q: Can I "discover 4" into Valki, God of Lies and cast its back face Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor?

A: You can not. Discover N "digs" for a card with Mana Value N or less, and then only casts a card with Mana Value N or less. So it checks twice, once when you find the card and it checks again when you try to cast it for free.

Q: During my opponent's turn my Bear Cub which is carrying Glowcap Lantern dies in combat. Can I still look at the top card of my library?

A: You can't. Glowcap doesn't give you the ability to look at the top card of your library, instead it grants that ability to the creature it's equipped to. If its not equipped, then you can't be a looky-loo.

Q: I'm attacking with a Bloodletter of Aclazotz which is wearing a Basilisk Collar. Will I gain 2 life or 4 life since the life loss is doubled?

A: You will gain only 2 life. Damage dealt to players, if not prevented, turns into life loss. Lifelink is based on how much damage is dealt, not how much life is lost.

This is also true with commander damage. If you double the life loss from a commander, that doesn't double the amount of commander damage that player has taken.

Q: I cast Cenote Scout, but before its triggered ability resolves my opponent Murders it. Will my Merfolk Cave-Diver's ability still trigger even though the exploring creature died before its ability resolved?

A: The Cave-Diver's ability will still trigger! Cenote Scout's ability still resolves even though it is in the graveyard when it does. Cenote Scout is still considered to have "explored" this turn, even though it's in the graveyard. It can't gain the +1/+1 while in the graveyard, but the rest of the ability can resolve normally.

Q: My opponent just got their The Millennium Calendar to over 1,000 counters because they untapped enough permanents as their turn began and placed its 1,000 counters triggered ability on the stack. If I Disallow that trigger, do I buy myself a turn or will I no longer have to deal with the Calendar as it will get sacrificed?

A: So I have some bad news. You will counter the state trigger the Calendar has, and since sacrificing the Calendar is part of that trigger, it will not get sacrificed. Worse yet, because this is a state trigger, once the ability gets countered, it will immediately trigger again. So you more or less discarded a card and wasted some mana and still lose 1,000 life.

Well I'm out, until next time.

- Justin Hovdenes AKA Hovey
Level 2 Magic Judge
Rapid City, SD


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