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I Made A Treasure Hunt Inspired By Magic: The Gathering's Ixalan!

In celebration of Magic: The Gathering's newest expansion set, Ixalan, I created a treasure hunt so gamers in Los Angeles could live out their dreams of being a pirate. Treasure ahoy!

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Trading card games, or TCGs, are a mainstay in the gaming world. Games such as Hearthstone, Pokémon TCG, and Yu-Gi-Oh! were all inspired by the first TCG — Magic: The Gathering.

Created in 1993 by Richard Garfield, Magic spawned an industry with its fantasy-based, spell-casting card game. Having been around for nearly 25 years and still growing strong, Magic: The Gathering has explored many exotic worlds — or "planes" — each with its own unique cultures, characters, and creatures.

Starting Sept. 23, the newest plane for players to explore is Ixalan, a Mesoamerican-inspired world under siege from treasure-hunting pirates! However, the natives are more than prepared to defend their homeland from these gold-hungry intruders with the help of their trusty steeds: their dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs!

When I received this really neat geocaching trackable from Wizards of the Coast, I knew I had to create a treasure hunt!

If you're unfamiliar with geocaching, it's an outdoor treasure hunting game that uses GPS coordinates for participants to find permanent treasures boxes hidden in the real world.


Channeling my inner pirate and poring over cartographs of Los Angeles (aka Google Maps), I chose four locations that, when crossed on a map, would reveal the location of the treasure. I then realized that when the treasure hunters arrived at the location, they wouldn't know where to look, so I decided to create two puzzles that needed to be solved to find the exact location of the prize.

Try to see if you can solve the puzzles yourself below!

Puzzle #1: The Riddle

As September begins, the time is nigh
To go huntin’ an’ trekkin’, fer there’s treasure to find!
With Ixalan approachin’, let this riddle do the guidin’
Fer in the city of angels, Orazca’s riches be hidin’...

There be four clues, an’ four a spot
When crossed on a map, show the secret plot
But tarry not, fer pirates have set sail!
Many seek glory, but only one will prevail…

The first spot be like Atlantis, its “land” has been lost
It’s the call to follow yer dreams, no matter the cost
From sea to shining sea, they’ve traveled 'n' strived
Fer many a starlet, it’s a “Welcome, you’ve arrived!”

That sinkin’ feelin’ you’re gettin’, it comes from spot number two
Memories of eons past are buried inside this prehistoric stew
With its depths so dark, it rivals Vraska’s black heart
This unholy grail grants immortality, just after you depart…

Spot number three was once barren, boiled, an’ cooked dry
Until the season of grey clouds dropped from the sky
'Tis a cradle for life, holding what is most dear
Christened as a treasure from its shimmers that appear

Spot number four sits high above the shore
Halls filled with Gorgon victims to adore
What once was private is now open an' disclosed
The destination of the heart, no longer enclosed

Now you got yer map, an' the X be showin'
Solve the puzzle below to see where yer goin'


Puzzle #2: The Cipher

Let's see how you did!

  1. Correct!

    The Hollywood Sign

    The sign was built in 1923 and originally read "Hollywoodland" to advertise the name of a new housing development. The sign was designed to stand for 18 months, but after the rise of American cinema in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, it became an internationally recognized symbol and was left there with the stipulation that "land" be removed to reflect the district and not the housing development.

    The Hollywood Sign
  2. Correct!

    La Brea Tar Pits

    The La Brea Tar Pits are a group of naturally occurring tar pits in Los Angeles where asphalt has seeped up from the ground for thousands of years. The bones of prehistoric animals that were trapped in the tar have been unearthed.

    La Brea Tar Pits
  3. Correct!

    Silver Lake Reservoir

    The reservoir was poetically named in 1906 for Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver. The reservoir was drained in 2015 while new underground reservoirs were built and refilled ahead of schedule due to the unusually high rainfall during the 2016-2017 winter, one of the wettest in recent years.

    Silver Lake Reservoir
  4. Correct!

    Getty Villa

    Home is where the heart is! Not to be confused with the Getty Center, the Getty Villa was formally part of the private residence of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty. It was later transformed into an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

    Getty Villa

I Made A Treasure Hunt Inspired By Magic: The Gathering's Ixalan!

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Click the map below to reveal the four locations that create the "X."

Here's where "X" marks the spot!

To find the specific location of the treasure, you'll need to solve the cipher, too...


So the big giveaway in the cipher is the phrase "inside the belly of the dragon." If you're familiar with this area of town, then you probably know about my favorite noodle place: Tatsu Ramen! There just so happens to be an amazing dragon mural on the side of the restaurant.

I posted the treasure hunt clues on the Reddit subreddit /r/MagicTCG, and the race was on!


As we all know, Magic players are a pretty smart bunch, so it wasn't long until someone figured it out:

A common thread began to emerge...

It came down to who could race to Tatsu first...

Watch one treasure hunter's journey!

And who won? A redditor named Derek was able to get there first and snag the treasure!

Congrats, Derek!

Derek was awarded a yummy $50 gift card courtesy of Tatsu Ramen, a $50 gift card to the BuzzFeed store, and a bag of goodies!

Derek has been playing Magic since core set M13 and is a fan of drafting and modern. Here's a quick Q&A I did with him:

Q: Why did you decide to participate in the treasure hunt?

Derek: When WotC first announced they were going to be doing a treasure hunt of sorts for the release of Ixalan by doing a bunch of geocaches around the world, I was pretty excited because I used to do geocaching with my family when I was younger. I never really thought I would participate in the Magic Ixalan treasure hunt because I just assumed it would be too difficult to try to find one close to home. As it turns out, I stumbled across your post in the Magic subreddit, and it immediately intrigued me because it mentioned three awesome things in the posting title: MTG, Treasure Hunt, and Los Angeles! I think the post had been up for two or three hours by the time I saw it, and I thought that I might be too late, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about Ixalan?

Derek: I’m most looking forward to drafting Ixalan and losing with Gishath, Sun’s Avatar stranded in my hand because I'll open it in pack three and try to force it.

Derek also received the Ixalan geocache trackable shown above. He said that he's debating whether to put it in a local geocache somewhere around LA or take it with him on his trip to Japan and hide it there. Either way, I can't wait to see how far this trackable travels — join the world's largest treasure hunt by finding a geocache near you!

A big thank you to Tatsu Ramen and to everyone who participated; I hope you had as much fun as I did making this treasure hunt!

See you on Ixalan!

—Strength and Honor—



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