Cavern Of Souls

Pro Tour Amsterdam finalist Brad Nelson has been brewing up Standard decks with his newest obsession from Avacyn Restored: Cavern of Souls! Read how he thinks this card will change Standard once the new set comes out.

Magic is designed under one simple rule: you need lands to play the game. This is what makes non-basic lands so amazing. These "special" lands help get rid of consistency issues, create more powerful strategies, and help decks become better.

There’s a fine line when creating lands. You want them to be powerful enough to get played, but not too powerful that they demolish the tension that lands and spells should have. Utility lands that only produce colorless mana come into play untapped; utility lands that produce colored mana come into play tapped; and lands that produce multiple colors have some restriction tagged onto them. These restrictions help balance non-basic lands in Magic. Wait, they printed what?!?

Cavern of Souls


As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type. 
T: Add 1 to your mana pool.
T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell of the chosen type. That spell can’t be countered.

This land does it all! It comes into play untapped, so you don’t lose tempo when trying to curve out with creatures. It can help cast any creature in your hand, since it has the ability to produce any colored mana. It still can cast spells in your deck, since it taps for colorless. Last but not least, creatures that are of the chosen type cannot be countered.

Cavern of Souls reminds me a lot of Ancient Ziggurat. Ancient Ziggurat was a powerful land for creature decks, since it could produce any color for a deck littered with guys. The only limitation was that it could not help cast any non-creature spell. This is what made Ancient Ziggurat fair for it to come into play untapped.

Cavern of Souls goes a step further, since it still comes into play untapped, helps cast creature spells, and also can make the colorless you need for Oblivion Ring, Birthing Pod, or Swords.

The obvious home for Cavern of Souls is in tribal creature decks. Diregraf Captain is a decently powered Zombie, but reliably casting this card can be difficult. The same goes for the red version of this deck with Falkenrath Aristocrat. While Falkenrath Aristocrat is a Vampire, Cavern of Souls is flexible enough to do what you need it to when you need it to.

You can name Zombie when you need to cast Geralf’s Messenger and Vampire when you need it for a turn 4 Falkenrath Aristocrat. Anytime you have Blackcleave Cliffs or Dragonskull Summit, this land will name Zombie. The only downside is having a harder time casting Geth’s Verdict and Liliana of the Veil.

Humans is also a deck that will absolutely play this card. The only non-creature spells in the deck are Honor of the Pure and Swords, which this land can still help cast. I don’t think you will run a full set of Cavern of Souls, since you still want to play and activate Moorland Haunt, and Glacial Fortress coming into play untapped is pretty important. It will be nice, though, to never have to worry about Hero of Bladehold getting countered against Delver.

It may seem like only producing colored mana for one creature type is a major setback in non-tribal creature decks, but it’s not as big of one as you think. Birthing Pod is littered with creatures of different creature types, but most of the ones you actually want to cast are Humans. You will name "Human" nine times out of ten when playing this card in Birthing Pod.

Standard nowadays is all about having the best start you can possibly get, and this land can help decks like Birthing Pod have the most aggressive start possible. You no longer have to run those horrible Mountains and Plains and now get more turn 1 green sources for your Avacyn’s Pilgrims and Birds of Paradise.

Even naming something other than Humans is not the worst thing in the world; say, Spirit in order to cast your Strangleroot Geist. It could make things more difficult later when you draw Huntmaster of the Fells, but this is a problem you can anticipate.

Another aggressive place to add this card is R/G Aggro. Hellrider has always been a very difficult card to cast in this deck. Having double red by turn 3 has been a big issue. Some people play Hellrider anyway, since it’s such a powerful card, but they know that they will lose games with spells lingering in their hand.

This land can help solve this problem. It won’t be able to help cast both Strangleroot Geist and Hellrider, but if you look at the other lands in your hand, you can figure out which one you need help with more. As long as an opening hand has a Rootbound Crag / Copperline Gorge and one other land that produces colored mana, Cavern of Souls will reliably help cast all the spells in your deck. The day of Hellrider is just beginning.

This card might be able to smooth out opening hands in creature-based decks, but that is not all it will do in Standard. The most important line on this card is that it prevents creatures from being countered. That’s right; Primeval Titan just found its new best friend.

Cedric Phillips just wrote about how he took fourth place in a PTQ with his new take on Wolf Run Ramp. This is my updated version of this deck.

Cavern of Souls does a few things to a deck like Wolf Run Ramp. The most important thing is that it allows you to reliably resolve Titans, which means you can play more of them. It was always scary having so many spells that cost six mana. You needed to interact with your opponents beforehand, since they could just counter the Titan on move on. This is no longer the case.

This also means that Thrun, the Last Troll loses a ton of its value. Just like with Titans, it will be easier to resolve the other four-drops in the deck whenever you draw multiple Cavern of Souls.

Glimmerpost is still a very powerful land, so I want access to it in the sideboard. If the metagame shifts away from Delver, these lands can make a switch between main and sideboard.

This land alone will swing the Delver vs. Wolf Run matchup. Delver’s main strategy was to play something like Geist of Saint Traft and never let Wolf Run resolve its more powerful creatures. Delver can no longer do this.


I just wanted to make that clear. Delver-based decks are very powerful in their flexibility. This is what I want to be doing with my Delver decks post Avacyn Restored.

Spectral Flight is the fastest creature upgrade in use, and it will be very important when you are on a Titan clock. Wolf Run Ramp has a very difficult time dealing with a Geist of Saint Traft.

Mental Misstep is in the deck to protect your creatures from the early removal spells in the format. It is very important that the creatures in your deck live, since there are not any Swords to gain late-game advantage. Sixteen guys is not a lot but is enough to finish the job.

Negate becomes a much better counterspell, since Mana Leak will oftentimes not be able to counter a creature anyway, but countering spells is not what this list even cares about. All it wants to do is beat down and control the board state.

One matchup that Delver players will have trouble with is Solar Flare. Sun Titan is the most devastating of all the Titans against Delver because of the ability to bring back spells like Phantasmal Image, Ratchet Bomb, Liliana of the Veil, Dead Weight, Nihil Spellbomb, and Oblivion Ring. I feel Sun Titan will be a dominant force in Standard with Cavern of Souls.

I’m in love with this list. Counter-based control decks are not part of the metagame to begin with, and Cavern of Souls will push them out even more. This opens up the potential of a deck like this. The only thing keeping it back is Delver of Secrets and their Mana Leaks.

This deck is already amazing against all of the other creature-based decks in the format, and having the ability to resolve a Sun Titan through countermagic pushes it over the top. I see this deck becoming one of the biggest decks in Standard once Avacyn Restored rotates in.

All in all, Cavern of Souls is very good and will see a considerable amount of play in the following months.

Before I go, I have a challenge for you. Misthollow Griffin recently got spoiled and seems like a very interesting card.

Don’t confuse interesting with good, since I think this card is a bit weak at four mana, but I still find it very fun to think about. How can we make this card work?

The first possibility is Surgical Extractioning yourself to get all four of them exiled. This allows you to spend four turns just casting this guy and bashing.

You can also Faithless Looting these into your yard, activate Grim Lavamancer, and then cast it from your exiled pile.

Cards like this do not come around every set, so I want to know what you guys would do with this card if it were good enough for Constructed play. Let me know in the comments!