MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Spoilers
So, this turns out to not be a joke or a goof! Wizards of the Coast has teamed up with Toho Company – creators of legendary monsters like Godzilla! This is going to be an expansion with ridiculous, giant monsters. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths spoilers have begun for MTG Arena. We spent some time watching the stream that dropped this reveal as well! We’re going to be keeping our eyes out for all the spoilers, so keep your eyes here. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Now technically speaking, Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, et cetera are not their own creatures. There are massive monsters though that have alternate art, that replace current monsters. They have a “flavor name” and flavor art, and under that, you see the “legal name”. You can still only have 4 of that particular monster in a deck.
This promises to be one of the most different expansions ever released by Wizards of the Coast. There are so many new features, mechanics, and a crossover with Toho. I’m excited about the prospect of trying new things in Magic though. I’m glad that Mutate doesn’t also give the creature’s stats, though. That would be far too powerful. I like the idea of being able to give ability tokens too. It’s new, and can really shake up how you respond to a variety of situations.
To keep you in the loop we’ll be updating this page with each of the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths spoilers as they are revealed, so be sure to check back in!
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | New Mechanics
Companion: Companion monsters are cards that have a certain requirement to fulfill. If your deck meets these particular requirements (EG: having only huge monsters in your deck), these companion monsters will show up outside of the game to aid you. It will work similarly to a Commander in the Commander format. They’re shaking the game up and adding some things from non-standard tournament formats. I’m still learning about mechanics, but this one is really interesting.
There are 10 companions in Ikoria, and each is a legendary with their own deck-building rule. Should your deck follow the rule of that companion, they can serve in the role of companion. This companion does not start in the main deck, but your sideboard. Before the game begins, you reveal your companion to all players in the game. Once during the game, you can cast your companion from the sideboard. It will be cast like any other creature. This will bring your companion to the game for good. If it’s countered, it will go to your graveyard. Essentially, it brings a bit of the Commander flavor to Standard. We’ll have to see if this is monstrously (huh? Huh?) overpowered. I have a feeling there will be lots of decks using them though.
Mutate: Humans cannot mutate. Mutate only shows up on monsters. You pay the Mutate cost to bond a monster onto another non-human to combine them! They combine to make one bigger monster, and all of their abilities combine together to make out-of-control, ridiculous combinations of powers. You stack the mutate monster on top or under the base monster. You can also stack multiple mutations! It’s a really crazy version of Tron. Essentially, all of the text-box stuff of the card carries over. The official text is “If you cast this spell for its mutate cost, put it over or under target non-Human creature you own. They mutate into the creature on top plus all abilities from under it.”
It’s kind of a confusing ability, but it’s really powerful and fun. Out of the new mechanics in the MTG Arena Ikoria expansion, this is my favorite in the spoilers.
Cycling: Cycling is confirmed to be back. Cycling lets you pay X mana to discard a card, and instead, draw a new one. This is great when you draw into something in the mid/late game that you can no longer use.
Ability Counters: This is definitely something new and interesting. In Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, there are creatures and spells that can add “ability counters”. These add keywords to creatures that they previously did not have. Luminous Broodmoth (Mothra) is an example. Whenever a creature you control without flying dies, return it to the battlefield with a “flying counter” on it. That gives the creature that did not previously have flying, flying. It’s very easy to understand mechanic. There are counters for many (if not all) of the current keywords that could very well show up.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Green Cards
Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate (5-Cost Mythic Rare Planeswalker – Vivien): If you thought for a minute that Vivien, a planeswalker all about big mean creatures, you’d be a fool of the highest caliber! Luckily, none of you are in that category! So, we have a 5-cost Vivien, which starts with loyalty of 3. Her passive lets you look at the top card of your deck, and cast creature spells that sit there. That’s already very good. She has a +1 and a -2, and no ultimate ability. This is weird for a Mythic Rare, but I still like it.
Her +3 gives you a 3/3 green Beast token. You can give it one of 3 ability tokens: vigilance, reach or trample. So you can make the 3/3 that you need at that moment. Love. It. Her -2 has “When you cast your next creature spell this turn, search your library for a creature card with lesser converted mana cost, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library”. That. Is. Busted. So you run mana ramp, play something huge, then search your deck for something that costs less, like Zilortha, Strength Incarnate (Godzilla) and put it into play too! Why?! Why was this a good idea? I’m confused, and hurt, and angry! But also going to run her!
. . .Hey, at least I’m honest.
Bristling Boar (4-Cost Common Creature – Boar): This might be a fun card to be using mutations or ability tokens on. I’d consider giving this ton of stat buffs and trample. Why? Because the Bristling Boar can’t be blocked by more than one creature. So you make this bad boy into a 10/9 Trample or something and just start swinging for the fences with it. Not a bad common at all. Other than it being a tool for other things (mutate, etc), I don’t see it being a stand-out. It does look neat though.
Fully Grown (3-Cost Spell – Instant): One of the staples of Green has always been “Giant Growth”, where a creature temporarily gains +3/+3 (until end of turn). Giant Growth is a 1-cost though, so it’s valuable in short bursts. But Fully Grown takes that a step further. It’s a 3-cost (1 green) and gives a creature +3/+3 until end of turn. BUT! It also gives that creature a Trample Token! So you play it on something like, say, Bristling Boar or Mosscoat Goriak! All they need is some permanent stat buffs, and that’s not outside of the realm of possibility. This might be a fun card for your White/Green Tron decks!
Titanroth Rex (9-Cost Uncommon Creature – Dinosaur Beast): Oh. My. God. An 11/11 for 9, in GREEN. AND IT HAS TRAMPLE. On top of that, it has a secondary power that can be used to benefit another creature in the early game! Titanroth Rex has Cycle for 2 (1 Green), so you can discard it to draw a card. When you cycle this creature, you put a trample counter on a creature you control. So you give something that is in dire need Trample in the early game and bring that creature back via other shenanigans. This is excellent for both draft/limited, and I think it will find a home in Mono-Green! Give Yortho trample and cackle as he gets bigger and bigger.
Kogla, the Titan Ape (6-Cost Rare Legendary Creature – Ape): A 7/6 legendary ape? Oh yeah. 6 is an appropriate cost, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it costs more. When Kogla, the Titan Ape enters the battlefield, it fights up to one creature you don’t control. It gets better though! Of course, it gets better! This is one of the mighty titans of this realm! Whenever Kogla attacks, you can destroy target artifact or enchantment defender player controls. Did your foe play a lot of control enchantments? Blast ‘em! You can also return a target Human you control to its owner’s hand. Kogla gains indestructible until end of turn. It sounds a whole lot like Kong to me! So you’d probably want to run this in White/Green humans/tokens, as a win-con. You’d probably put him in with Innkeeper or Lovestruck Beast or something. OH MY GOD. Charming Prince! You have a near-infinite way to bounce Charming Prince! Tap 2, bounce Charming Prince back, bounce the Ape back with it, it comes into play, and fights a creature. You can clear some board with it! Oh my goodness, this is filthy. Kogla is in my top 10 right now.
Colossification (7-Cost Rare Enchantment – Aura): This was said to be the “biggest aura enchantment ever”, and that’s not a lie! This enchanting creature gives that creature +20/+20! When Colossification enters the battlefield though, it taps that creature. It sure is a shame there’s not a green/blue planeswalker that literally has the power to untap permanents. Oh, wait! There is! Hello Kiora! Then you use the aforementioned Titanroth Rex to give something trample, and swing lethal! Put this on a mutated creature too, maybe one that gives double strike? Just some food for thought. The closest that comes to this is “Eldrazi Conscription”, that gave +10/+10, Trample, and Annihilator 2.
Monstrous Path (4-Cost Uncommon Spell – Sorcery): The theme of “Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths” appears to be “Lair of Ridiculous Uncommons”! This card is a little too strong, even if it’s a 5-cost (1 green). Target creature gains +7/+7 until end of turn, and in addition, up to one target creature must block it if able! So you can make an opponent block it if they’re able to. Is your opponent running Dream Trawler, and they’re all out of cards to make it untargetable? Here’s a way to do away with it! You can use this as your game-winner too. Make something big with trample much bigger. Then swing for lethal!
Migration Path (4-Cost Uncommon Spell – Sorcery): This is, for all intents and purposes, a better Explosive Vegetation. It costs the same, and it does the same thing (fetch up to two basic lands, put them into play tapped, shuffle your library). So what makes it better? They’re both 4-cost green sorceries, after all. This has Cycling! Later in the game, you may not need this card anymore, or you might get it you need a different card. You can instead tap 2 colorless mana, and discard this to draw something else. That makes it, strictly speaking, a better card. Even if you can’t get the most out of Migration Path, or already have your lands in play in the late, it’s still a viable draw.
Exuberant Wolfbear (4-Cost Uncommon Creature – Wolf Bear): This is, as the scientific community calls it, “one chonky boi”. That’s what I believe the technical term is. It’s a “huge” wolfbear according to the art, and is a 4/4 for 4, which is okay I suppose. I’m surprised it’s not a 2/2 for 2 though. Whenever Exuberant Wolfbear attacks, you can swap his power and toughness to that of a target Human you control. With a beefy enough human, this can be hilarious. Oh, this could be fun in Tron! You build up a huge, mighty warrior human, and if you’re worried about it dying to deathtouch or something, you give this trample and swing with it to get that 20/20 damage, without risking all your enchantments!
Hornbash Mentor (3-Cost Uncommon Creature – Human Warrior): Are you running Mono-Green, and want your trample creatures to get just a bit bigger? Do you want a creature without it (like inflating Elves) to get Trample? The Hornbash Mentor is here to help! When it enters the battlefield, you put a trample counter on a Non-Human you control. Then you can tap 3 mana (1 green) and it, to give +1/+1 to each creature you control with Trample! Not just “with trample counters”, but any trampler. Since this is green, that mana is not going to be hard to find. There are always huge green creatures that you say “Oh if only this had trample, we’d stuff this down the other player’s throat”, and here’s your answer to that problem!
Essence Symbiont (Symbiote?) (2-Cost Common Creature – Beast): The Essence Symbiont may be pretty solid in drafts, but I don’t know about it being used in regular ranked decks. It’s got a fun ability at least and rewards you for mutating. Whenever a creature you control Mutates, it gains a +1/+1 counter and you gain 2 life. So you play this early, and make sure you keep scaling up those mutations and making those creatures bigger, and giving you life to stick it out just a little bit longer. I don’t know if it should have a slot in a serious deck, but it has possibilities, due to its low cost if nothing else.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Red Cards
Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast (5-Cost Mythic Rare Planeswalker – Lukka): Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast is a new face for the planeswalker scene, and as a mono-colored planeswalker, I still think he’ll see a ton of play in Gruul, as well as new Mono-Red beat-down decks. He’s a 5-cost (2 red) and is 100% value. He starts with 5 loyalty and has a +1, -2, and -7. Overall, each ability is very good. So, let’s check them out.
+1: Exile the top 3 cards of your library. Creatures exiled this way have “You may cast this card from exile, as long as you control a Lukka planeswalker”. Smart, and useful.
-2: Exile target creature you control and then reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a creature card with a higher converted mana cost. Put that card onto the battlefield, and the rest on the bottom of your library in random order. Wow. In certain decks, this is going to be ferocious.
-7: Each creature you control deals damage equal to its power to each opponent. While its -2 is great, its -7 is a win condition. Build up your force of dragons and behemoths, exile cards turn by turn and then pop this to win the game.
I can see Mono-Red decks running lands that produce creatures (Dwarven Mine), popping the -2, and getting an almost immediate 8/8, 10/10 or something worse. If you’re only running a few huge, beefy creatures, you’re guaranteed to get what you’re looking for. Lukka’s going to be seeing play. A lot of it.
Cloudpiercer (5-Cost Common Creature – Dinosaur): Here’s an interesting Mutate card! You can give a non-human Reach for 4 mana! But what’s more, Cloudpiercer is also a discard/card draw engine! If you’re running a deck that absolutely needs to put cards in the grave to use them later, 4 mana’s not such a bad price. But you only discard a card/draw a card if you mutate him. Otherwise, you just have a 5/4 with Reach for 5, which is still not so bad. I’d rather give something big and angry Reach though. That’s a very powerful tool for Red.
Drannith Stinger (2-Cost Common Creature – Human Wizard): Not all the creatures in Ikoria are beasts/monsters! There is a small band of humans struggling for survival. Enter the Drannith Stinger! This is a card built around rewarding Cycling. Whenever you cycle another card, he deals 1 damage to each opponent. He can also be cycled for 1 mana. A 2/2 for 2 with serious upside, I’d like to see this in a variety of cycle/graveyard abusing decks. It could be fun in Underworld decks, that’s for sure. Cycle cards, deal damage, and play them again with Underworld Breach! Oh yes.
Mythos of Vadrok (4-Cost Rare Spell – Sorcery): The Red “Mythos” is a pretty interesting one, especially for Jeskai. Mythos of Vadrok deals 5 damage divided however you choose amount creatures and/or planeswalker. If you spend White/Blue in addition to Red (Jeskai colors), until your next turn, those permanents can’t attack, block, and their activated abilities cannot be activated. So you run this when you have Fires of Invention in play, but don’t have a way through. Pick their blockers, get your Elemental Jerks ready, and swing without having to worry about blockers and annoying special abilities. This card just feels like a way to secure win-conditions or to prevent having to deal with planeswalker abilities. I really like this card, it’s solid for a rare.
Footfall Crater (1-Cost Uncommon Enchant – Aura): Here’s a nice, simple, valuable card for Gruul (Red/Green). For 1 red mana, you enchant a land. You can then tap that land to give a creature trample and haste until end of turn! That’s amazing! In that deck towards the mid-game, you’ll likely have plenty of mana. You can also cycle this for 1 colorless mana if you’d like. But frankly, I love this card and would like to see it get used. One of the things I harp on is a lack of trample/haste in Gruul, to make the deck work faster. This fixes that neatly.
Forbidden Friendship (2-Cost Common Spell – Sorcery): This is a very simple card, but I’m not sure what it will be used for in this expansion. For 2 mana (1 red), you create a 1/1 red Dinosaur creature token with haste, and a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token. It could be used for sacrifice options maybe. I just don’t see the use for this quite yet.
Cathartic Reunion (2-Cost Common Spell – Sorcery): While Forbidden Friendship seems mediocre to me right out of the gate, Cathartic Reunion is quite good I think. To cast this spell, you also have to discard two cards. When it triggers, you draw 3 cards! So you use this for stuff to Underworld Breach later, add Instants/Sorceries to the grave for your legendary, or for your Phoenixes. This sounds like it would be very good in Historic too. When you absolutely need to put creatures or instants into the graveyard for things (like Kroxa!), this is a solid card all around.
Weaponize the Monsters (1-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): This card is so good in so many ways. You can tap 2 mana and sacrifice a creature to do 2 damage to any target! So you pair this with the Black/Red companion, in a sacrifice deck! This would also be a lot of fun in a Mono-Red deck with other ways to get +Red Damage (Torbran)! This is a one-drop with so much value! I frankly love this card and will do so until I start seeing it on the other side of the table. Then I will be a bit sad. But you can do a lot with this as a win condition, or simply a way to do away with annoying enemy creatures.
Magma Charger (4-Cost Uncommon Creature – Dinosaur): Remember that “The Ozolith” card? Here’s a fun way to put a new counter on it. Whenever Magma Charger attacks, if it doesn’t have First Strike, give it a First Strike counter. Whenever it attacks, if it has First Strike, it gains Double Strike until end of turn! Sadly, it’s not a “Double Strike” counter, but that would be pretty vile. This is a Hill Giant with more value, thanks to First/Double Strike. It’s a pretty good creature all around, even if it’s a 4-cost. This is also filed under “This is uncommon? Really?”
Reptillian Mirroring (3-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): “Whenever you cycle a card, you may have Reptillian Mirroring become a 5/4 Dinosaur with Trample and Haste, in addition to its other types until the end of turn.” That’s a really weird bit on the end. I suppose that would be in the event of Mutating. But that’s where I’m confused. When you mutate something that stops being a creature, does it stop having those mutations? There are so many confusing things in this expansion!
Collar Fright Mentor (3-Cost Uncommon Creature – Human Warrior): Here’s red’s “give a token and give +1/+1 to all the creatures that have this thing”, and it’s unsurprisingly for Menace! When this 3/2 comes into play, you give a Menace counter to a non-Human you control. Then you can tap him and 3 mana (1 red) to give all creatures with Menace you control a +1/+1 counter. Each color seems to have one of these, and Menace feels so forced right now. I think it has potential, but I feel like Red Menace will be slower than the current Red Deck Wins (meaning it won’t see quite as much play). But anything that buffs my creatures gets an instant thumbs up from me!
Unpredictable Cyclone (5-Cost Rare Enchantment): This card reminds me so much of an older ability: Cascade! This is an enchantment with Cycle, and when you see what it does, you’ll see why having 4 is great. If a cycling ability of another nonland card would cause you to draw a card, instead, exile the top cards of your deck, until you exile a card that shares that same type. You can then cast that card without paying its mana cost. Those exiled cards that weren’t cast go to the bottom of your deck in a random order. It also lets you cycle it for 2. So you play this on turn 4 or 5 and do insane, mean things. Cycle a weak creature, and potentially get a gigantic creature instead! I’d love to run this in an Izzet deck. Think about it: you’re missing a counterspell, and as a response to a spell, you cycle an instant. Then you go to your deck and hope to find another instant (a counter), and hit one! Counter without paying mana, and all you had to do was toss something into the graveyard.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Black Cards
Void Beckoner (8-Cost Uncommon Creature – Nightmare Horror): Now this is what I want from cycling creatures! On his own, he’s an 8/8 Deathtouch for 8, which is. . . it’s okay? That’s fine in the late game? It’s better with trample though. But instead of paying that 8 mana, you can pay 3 (1 black), and cycle him to the grave. If you do that, you draw a card, and you also put a deathtouch counter on a target creature you control. Need one of your creatures with, say, First Strike to guaranteed put things down? Void Beckoner’s going to do that in spades. He’s high cost but that cycle is 100% useful. You gain two very important things: ability for a creature and a new card. You can always bring that creature back from the grave too!
Zagoth Mamba (1-Cost Uncommon Creature – Nightmare Snake): Some creatures are made for Mutate, others aren’t. Not all creatures will be useful in Mutation situations, is what I’m trying to say. Zagoth Mamba though is good for control-style mutation. Why? It’s a 1/1 for 1, but anytime it Mutates, you give an opponent’s creature -2/-2 until end of turn. Use it to mutate and kill weak/insignificant/important creatures your opponent’s control. I like it, I like it a lot. I just fear it being a 1/1, but that’s the nature of the business!
Grimdancer (3-Cost Uncommon Creature – Spider): Here’s an incredible card for Mono-Black Devotion. That’s a deck that’s going nowhere. This 3/3 for 3 has arguably too much value for an uncommon. If this were rare, I probably wouldn’t complain about it at all. When Grimdancer hits the field, it has a choice between two different counters: Menace, Deathtouch, and Lifelink. This right here is could also be Mutate fodder. The only downside is it would have low power and toughness. That said, I think this is a very nice card. It’s a solution to a lot of problems, and it’s 2 black, so it fits into mono-black devo. Menace/Lifelink, Deathtouch/Lifelink, you have great combos.
Blood Curdle (4-Cost Common Spell – Instant): A very common theme (har har) of this expansion is going to be granting ability counters. Blood Curdle first, destroys a target creature. Then you get a Menace counter for one of your creatures! Deathtouch might have been better, but I like this push for Menace. But it also destroys a creature, so it’s an immediate value. 4-Cost, and it’s an instant, so I really like this. This is a great card to play on your opponent’s turn!
Call of the Death-Dweller (3-Cost Uncommon Black Spell – Sorcery): Call of the Death-Dweller is going to be in so many Red/Black/Green decks, I promise you that. It only costs 3 mana, and it brings two creature cards back from the graveyard to the battlefield (that cost 3 or less mana). So you can bring Mayhem Devil back and give him Deathtouch, or you can bring back Kroxa to trigger his ability again (and lose him again, but still)! My favorite target for this is Dreadhorde Butcher or Robber of the Rich. Bring those back and gain way more value! If you can give Dreadhorde Butcher menace, you can laugh as people are forced to block him or make him bigger easier.
Bastion of Remembrance (3-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): Here’s a perfect card for your Red/Black or Mono-Black sacrifice decks! When it comes into play, you create a 1/1 Human Soldier creature token (white). That’s neat on its own, but whenever a creature you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life, and you gain 1 life. So with 4 Witch’s Ovens and a couple of Cauldron Familiars, you can make someone’s life total drop from 20 to 0, in just a couple of turns. Even better if you have the Obosh, the Burrower companion in play!
Heartless Act (2-Cost Uncommon Instant): Here’s a black card with a lot of uses. It has two choices for abilities, so let’s go over those first:
- Destroy target creature with no counters on it.
- Remove up to three counters from target creature.
Since +1/+1 counters are still “counters”, you can use this card to weaken Ajani’s Pridemate, remove ability counters, and more. Now, here’s what I wonder. You have planeswalkers that can turn into creatures. Since this is an instant, you can affect them while they’re creatures. Can you still access those loyalty counters then? I’ll have to research that because frankly, I’m not sure. This is still a fantastic card, and makes me think back to older spells like Doom Blade. Oh! And you can use this to kill lands! Nissa, Who Shakes the World makes 3/3 lands. So you remove the 3 +1/+1 counters, and the land dies! Love it.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Blue Cards
Pollywog Symbiote (2-Cost Uncommon Creature – Frog): I was waiting for this card! Not this card in particular, but the idea of this card. Each creature spell you cast costs 1 colorless less to cast if it has a mutate. Whenever you cast a creature spell, if it has Mutate, draw a card, then discard a card. So it’s a discard engine for Mutate, and it lets you cast these creatures less! And is it just me, or does it look like that dude from the “It is Wednesday, my dudes” Vine? No? Just me? Okay then. . . anyway, I love this card. For multi-colored Mutate decks, I could see this being slid in for early game cost-cutting.
Essence Scatter (2-Cost Common – Instant): There’s not a lot to say here. Essence Scatter is back! With such a creature-heavy (and powerful creatures at that) meta/expansion, Essence Scatter was a must-return, I think. I’m glad to see this spoiler for MTG Arena’s Ikoria expansion. Oh yes, it’s beautiful.
Voracious Greatshark (5-Cost Rare Creature – Shark): A 5-cost Shark with Flash? That’s horrifying! This is easily the most unique “counterspell creature” I’ve ever seen. When Voracious Greatshark enters the battlefield, it counters a target artifact or creature spell. Plus you also get a 5/4 shark during your opponent’s turn. This is wild. Ikoria’s really had an interesting development cycle, so this spoiler season has shown me for MTG Arena. I cannot wait for this shark.
Archipelagore (7-Cost Uncommon Creature – Leviathan): Took me a few tries to type that name correctly, I won’t lie to you. Whenever this 7/7 for 7 mutates, you tap up to X target creatures, where X is the number of times it’s mutated. Those creatures don’t untap during their owners next untap phase. Since this is a 7/7, it makes a perfect base for mutations. It’s already monstrously sized, and its Mutate cost isn’t too bad (6, 1 blue). Whenever it mutates, you tap more and more creatures, making it easier to swing for lethal. It’s an interesting Uncommon. I would like to see this see gameplay, and I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.
Mythos of Nethroi (3-Cost Rare Spell – Instant): I have an English degree, and I still think this wording is kind of weird. I get it though. This card has a few purposes. It’s normally a 3-cost instant (1 black), but if you also spend 1 green and 1 white while casting it, it does something else. All 5 mythos cards will do something like this. Mythos of Nethroi has you destroy target nonland permanent if it’s a creature, or if you spent that White/Green mana on it. So if you only spend the black mana, you can destroy a creature. If you spend the White/Green mana, you can destroy any non-land permanent.
There’s another thought here though. You can use this card to target your Heroic permanents, to trigger them (like Hero of Precinct One). You pay just the black mana, or black/white, whatever. You don’t pay the three colors, and target Hero of Precinct One. This will trigger his ability to make a 1/1 human soldier token, without killing him. It’s very clever. Perhaps too clever for its own good. Still love the card.
Mass Extinction (4-Cost Rare Spell – Sorcery): What a wild card this is! It doesn’t say much, but for a 4-cost sorcery, it’s got value. When you cast this sorcery, you choose Odd or Even. Exile all creatures with a converted mana cost of the chosen trait. That’s already great, but the card points out that “Zero is considered even”. So, I’d run this in the sideboard to deal with token decks. This is likely geared towards decks with particular converted mana costs, but I would absolutely run this in a variety of multi-colored control decks.
Chittering Harvester (6-Cost Uncommon Creature – Nightmare): A 4/6 that can also Mutate? I feel like this could be a very solid black Mutate base. Whenever this creature mutates, each opponent sacrifices a creature. I love making people sacrifice their own minions, so I’d just hold onto mutations until I need them the most, pinging away at what I can destroy, and make them get rid of the rest. The Chittering Harvester is pretty rad, even with that 6-cost (1 black), and a 5 Mutate cost (1 black).
Insatiable Hemophage (4-Cost Uncommon Creature – Nightmare): Tired of Mutation? Too bad, here’s another one! This is a 3/3 with Deathtouch, and a reasonable Mutate cost (3 – 1 black). Whenever this creature Mutates, each opponent loses X life and you gain X life, where X is the number of times this creature has mutated. I don’t know if I would build a deck around it, but a way to win out of nowhere might be able to be used here. You could nickel and dime someone down by slowly mutating a bigger, meaner monster.
Reconnaissance Mission (4-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): This reminds me of a much-older card, but a good one, nonetheless – Coastal Piracy! This is, to be honest, a better version of the original, if for no other reason than it has Cycling (2 Colorless). Don’t underestimate the value of card draw and discard engines! Reconnaissance Mission is a blue enchantment that states whenever you deal combat damage to a player, you may draw a card. In Mono-Blue Tempo, this could be terrifying. Now you don’t have to enchant a specific creature to make sure you get your ludicrous card draw (though it helps). It’s frankly speaking, a pretty amazing enchantment, even at 4 mana (2 blue).
Wingfold Pteron (6-Cost Common Creature – Dinosaur): Here’s today’s “weirdest creature”, in my estimation. This is a 3/6 for 6 (1 blue), and when it comes into play, it gains either a Flying Counter or a Hexproof Counter. So it can have either hexproof or flying, whatever you need at the moment. But it’s a flying lizard, shown specifically on the art, with no way to actively walk on the ground at a convenient pace. I just think they could have used different art to represent this monster, otherwise, it makes virtually no sense. It could be useful as a mutate creature, but ehhhh. Not sold on this one.
Sea-Dasher Octopus (3-Cost Rare Creature – Octopus): Now this creature I like! He’s normally a 3-drop (2 blue), with Flash. However, he has Mutate for 2 (1 blue). It’s his ability that makes him a potential banger. Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card! There are so many creatures that could benefit from this. In particular, huge ones with trample, or creatures with flying that you know are going to get through. Mutate is a confusing feeling mechanic to me, but I like it. Once I really get a handle on it, it’s going to be over! But the ability to grant a creature card draw upon dealing combat damage, I think it’s going to be used and used often.
Ominous Seas (2-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): I don’t understand how this is an uncommon. I also don’t get why it doesn’t require you to sacrifice it. This is a turn-2 play that, the longer the game goes on, the bigger dividends it will pay. Whenever you draw a card, for any reason, you put a Foreshadow Counter on Ominous Seas. You can remove eight of these to create an 8/8 blue Kraken creature token. In Mono-Blue, or in Red/Blue, or Blue/White, there are so many ways to just draw disgusting numbers of cards for no good reason. It doesn’t specify each ‘instance’ of drawing cards (RE: a spell drawing 4 cards) counts as one card. So if you use a creature to draw 8 cards, you get a free 8/8 for it! I really really like this card, and figure it could be used in a variety of control decks.
Escape Protocol (2-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): We have yet another really solid Blue enchantment in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoth’s spoilers for MTG Arena. Whenever you cycle a card, you can pay 1 colorless mana (in addition to normal cycle costs). When you do this, you can exile an artifact or creature you control, then return it under your control. So, this is immediately paired with any deck that runs Agent of Betrayal. Now you don’t have to wait for your goddess to trigger her ability at the end of turn. You can just keep doing it, as long as you have Cycle cards and mana to address the ability!
Capture Sphere (4-Cost Common Enchantment – Aura): Here’s a fun Flash spell! It’s an Enchant creature, and when it comes into play, you target the enchanted creature, and tap it. It stays tapped, as long as this is in play. It’s a bit on the expensive side at 4 mana, but for a common, that makes sense. I think this will be a pretty fun card to see though. Another interesting thing here is that it’s art is part of a series that tells a story. Red: Forbidden Friendship (Monster and Man become friends), Blue: Capture Sphere (monster is captured, man is upset), and Red: Cathartic Reunion (Monster Pal and Human reunite – and it feels so good).
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | White Cards
Pacifism (2-Cost Enchantment – Aura): A classic White staple returns! Pacifism is one of the first white spells that I recall ever seeing. For 2 mana, you enchant a creature, probably an opponent’s one. That creature can’t attack or block. I can see it being useful on your creatures too (ones that have to attack, for example, but still have a useful ability). This is a classic staple of white decks, and it’s nice to see the original back.
Luminous Broodmoth (4-Cost Mythic Rare Creature – Insect): Oh. My. God. Luminous Broodmoth is so good! A 4-drop that will immediately be a target for destruction. It’s a ¾ flying creature, and whenever a creature you control without flying dies, it comes back into play with a flying counter on it. I’d certainly consider putting this into my mono-white lifegain decks. It’s not a trigger for life gain, but it lets you bring back your various creatures that get targeted and destroyed. It stretches the game out that much longer, provided the creature in question doesn’t already have flight. This card is also the “Mothra” card for the special Godzilla art set.
Huntmaster Liger (4-Cost Uncommon Creature – Cat): Do you want to OTK someone through slow, patient mutation? Huntmaster Liger is the card you want! White Mutation or White/Green Mutation might be the play this season. Thi sis normally a 4-cost (1 white), but the Mutate cost is 3 (1 white). Whenever this creature mutates, other creatures you control get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of times this creature has mutated. So if you mutate this creature enough times, you could batter someone in one turn with a huge sway of suddenly large creatures. This is the last mutation you want to play when you’re ready to win.
Mythos of Snapdax (4-Cost Rare Spell – Sorcery): This Mythos is a bit easier to understand, compared to the Black version. Mythos of Snapdax has each player choose an artifact, creature, enchantment, and a planeswalker, from the cards they control and then sacrifices everything else. However, if you use Mardu Mana (White, Black, and Red), you get to pick all player’s permanents. That’s what makes this so powerful I think. I don’t know that I think it’s great, because the only Mardu decks I can think of are Hushbringer/Kroxa, and Knights. It might be something fun to slot in for a game-winner if you have a way to win around it. This is a card that on paper I really like for control decks and certain shenanigans, but I don’t know how viable it will be in Tier 1 decks.
Flourishing Fox (1-Cost Uncommon Creature – Fox): Yes, Wizards, I get it! This is a Cycling expansion! This is a 1/1 for 1, that you ideally don’t want to play right away I think. Whenever you cycle another card, put a +1/+1 counter on Flourishing Fox. It also has Cycling (1). This could be fun for a few decks, like in a deck with Heliod, for example. In a Mono-White devotion deck, with enough cycling, you can do some hilarious things. Or you can just cycle, cycle, cycle, cycle, and sneak out a cheeky Heliod and Shadowspear. This card is very good for an uncommon.
Drannith Magistrate (2-Cost Rare Creature – Human Wizard): Hey, it’s Ben Affleck! I’m glad he’s shown up in Magic: The Gathering. I love this card, though. Do you know why? It’s not that he’s a ⅓, not that he’s a human that only costs 2 mana. But he’s an anti-adventures, anti-escape, anti-lots of things card. As long as he’s in play, your opponents can’t cast spells from anywhere other than their hands. When you cast an adventure spell, the creature is exiled from your hand. That means you can’t cast them any longer! No more escape! No more Underworld Breach! No casting from the top of your deck! NONE OF IT. NO. FUN. ALLOWED.
Valiant Rescuer (2-Cost Uncommon Creature – Human Soldier): At this point, I feel like Cycling is being pushed pretty hard in the set. As an uncommon, either of Valiant Rescuer’s abilities would make it worth playing, but having both is pretty strong. He has Cycling (2), and something to get you Cycling often. Whenever you cycle another card for the first time each turn, create a 1/1 Human Soldier creature token. The key takeaway here is “each turn”. Cycling is done at Instant Speed, meaning you can do it on your opponent’s turn, during the combat phase. It’s a great way to sneak out a chump blocker or to trigger other effects. Valiant Rescuer is an incredibly good creature for its cost (2 mana – 1 white), and its abilities. It’s a 3/1 though, which means Red will be able to ping it away pretty quickly if you aren’t careful.
Stormwild Capridor (3-Cost Uncommon Creature – Bird Goat): A “bird goat”?! What, did Noah’s Ark get way too freaky? Is that what happened? A BIRD GOAT? That being said, this… bird goat is a ⅓ for 3, and cannot be killed with non-combat damage. Whenever this flyer receives non-combat damage, you prevent it and give it +1/+1 for each 1 damage dealt this way. Put this in a Feather deck! You spam creature with direct damage instants/sorceries every turn and just inflate it. That’s probably too convoluted, but I like this as an answer to mono-red’s direct damage.
Cubwarden (4-Cost Rare Creature – Cat): Ajani’s Pridemate smiles after seeing this. We have a 4-cost rare cat and its default is a ⅗ with Lifelink. Its Mutate cost is also 4, but it’s 2 white minimum. Whenever this creature mutates, you create two 1/1 white Cat creature tokens with Lifelink! With a Mono-White “gain life with creating creatures” deck, you can just flood the board, gain tons of life, and +1/+1 tokens across your obnoxious creatures. They will, in turn, help you gain +1/+1 tokens on Ajani’s Pridemate. SO MUCH STRENGTH AND DOMINATION FOR YOUR CATS.
Sanctuary Lockdown (3-Cost Uncommon Enchantment): I wonder if this is perhaps too slow. I like what it does though. Sanctuary Lockdown gives your Humans +1/+1, so that in and of itself is worthwhile for 3 mana. But you can tap 2 mana, and tap two untapped Humans, to tap a creature an opponent controls. That’s the part that I think is a little slow. Maybe 2 mana and 1 untapped Human? I don’t know how I feel about it. I just like it for the +1/+1 to Humans. If we don’t have other options for that, I’d run it instead, perhaps. I do like the ability though! If we have enough engines to make tokens to tap, it’ll be fine.
Fight As One (1-Cost Uncommon Instant): This card may as well mean “Make Feather, the Redeemed and Tenth District Legionnaire Indestructible until end of turn” because that’s what it’s going to do. Fight As One is a 1-drop white instant that lets you choose one or both of the abilities.
- Target Human creature you control gets +1/+1 and Indestructible until end of turn.
- Target non-Human creature you control gets +1/+1 and gains Indestructible until end of turn.
This is anti-board destruction at its purest form. If you use it with Feather/Tenth District Legionnaire, it comes back again and will make your opponent scream in anger. It also further buffs the Legionnaire, thanks to its own abilities! This card is unreasonably good. It should be rare if you ask me. It’s also going to see use in Heroic decks as if that isn’t a surprise. This will be a 4-of in any deck that runs it. As a one-cost, it’s good at any time of the game.
Helica Glider (2-Cost Common Creature – Nightmare Squirrel): Remember that weird blue creature that looked like a dinosaur, that could gain a flight counter or something else (Wingfold Pteron)? This one makes way more sense. The Helica Glider is a 2/2 for 3 (1 white) that enters the battlefield with either a flying or first strike counter. This makes sense because it’s a flying squirrel! They don’t always fly! This one makes sense and is pretty neat if nothing else. Could be a really good option to mutate onto.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Colorless Cards
The 3-Color Mana Crystals: (3-Cost Uncommon Artifacts): There are five of these, each one costs 3 colorless mana, has Cycling 2, and taps for 3 colors of mana. To make this easy, I’ll just list the combinations. These are always “okay”, and could see use in some janky decks. They remind me too much of older series like Alara.
- Savai Crystal: Red, White, or Black Mana
- Zagoth Crystal: Black, Green, or Blue Mana
- Ketria Crystal: Green, Blue, or Red Mana
- Indatha Crystal: White, Black, or Green Mana
- Raugrin Crystal: Blue, Red, or White Mana
The Ozolith (1-Cost Legendary Rare Artifact): I’ve been waiting for a card like this since I saw the new mechanics for this expansion. The Ozolith is a 1-cost rare with a lot of upside. Thanks to it being a 1-cost and colorless, it can go in any deck. It doesn’t really steal that many spots. Whenever a creature you control leaves play, if it had counters on it at all, you put those on The Ozolith. At the start of your combat phase, you can move all counters on The Ozolith to a target creature. So this is only useful if you’re running lots of counters, but there are some really (really) good ones. You can make almost any creature a threat out of nowhere at your whim. Those counters, thanks to The Ozolith, never go away. However, it reads “counters” and not “ability counters”. This means it can also shuffle around +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters, so be careful! You can make something huge, but you can also accidentally kill something you control.
Farfinder (3-Cost Common Creature – Fox): Finally! Non-Green has an option for some extra land ramp! I’d like to see this card run in Blue Flicker decks too, to keep bouncing this over and over for extra cards. Farfinder is an adorable 1/1 Fox for 3, that lets you search your library for a basic land, reveal it, and put it in your hand. It doesn’t let you put it into play, but we have more than enough options to play extra lands on a turn, right? It’s incredible for a variety of decks that simply need a little more land, and aren’t getting it when they want it. This is the JG Wentworth of land-seeking creatures. 877-LAND-NOW! Another positive is that it has Vigilance. On top of that, it’s a colorless creature, and not an artifact, so fewer things can simply remove it. If nothing else, it’s going to be great in limited/draft.
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Multi-Colored Cards
Vadrok, Apex of Thunder (Blue/Red/White 3-Cost Mythic RareLegendary Creature – Elemental Dinosaur Cat): That might be the most convoluted list for a creature yet in any article from me. Vadrok, Apex of Thunder, as a regular creature is a 3/3 for 3 (1 Blue, 1 Red, 1 White). He has Flying and First Strike, but they also have Mutate. Their Mutate cost is 2 Red, 1 White/Blue, and 1 Colorless. If you mutate it, you may cast a target noncreature card with 3 or less converted cost from your graveyard, without paying its mana cost. In addition, the creature in question gains that First Strike and Flying, which is a serious value on its own. I believe this is the card that will receive the “Rodan, Titan of Winged Fury” card art.
Zilortha, Strength Incarnate (5-Cost Red/Green Legendary Creature – Dinosaur): Zilortha, Strength Incarnate is also “Godzilla, King of the Monsters”! Do you remember all those frustrating cards that used toughness instead of power to deal damage? This is that in reverse! Zilortha, Strength Incarnate is a 7/3 Trample Red/Green creature with a fun upside. Lethal damage dealt to creatures you control is determined by their power rather than their toughness. Does that sound confusing? Let me help!
If the damage dealt isn’t “lethal”, it would be your creature’s toughness. But to kill the creature, the number to hit is their power. It sounds weird, but I really enjoy it. Those high-power/low-toughness creatures can really do a lot with Zilortha in their corner. Plus, Godzilla! This is easily one of my favorite MTG Arena Ikoria spoilers so far!
Illuna, Apex of Wishes (5-Cost Green/Blue/Red Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Beast Elemental Dinosaur): Wow, what a typing! Ordinarily, this is a 6/6 Flying Trample creature for 5 mana. That’s pretty awesome, but it has no “special powers”. That is unless you use it as a Mutation option, which you absolutely should. Its Mutate cost is 3 Colorless, 1 Red/Green, and 2 Blue. Whenever this creature Mutates, you exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland permanent. Then you put that card onto the battlefield, or into your hand. There’s a lot that you can do with this, but the downside is that you lose all those cards exiled. In theory, you could kill yourself with this card! If you’re going to seek out another mutation, you have to put it in hand, though. Mutation only works on cast. In theory, you can make this an OTK in the right deck, so it’s a very cool concept.
Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt (4-Cost Red/White/Black Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Dinosaur Cat Nightmare): Behold, King Caesar from the Godzilla franchise! This might be the best, or one of the best creatures in this entire set. This, alongside our new Moth pal. Remember Siege Rhino? This is him all grown up. Jealous? Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt is a ⅗ Double Strike for 4, with Mutate. His Mutate cost is 2 White, 1 Black or Red, and 2 Colorless. When this creature mutates, it deals 4 damage to target creature or planeswalker an opponent controls, and you gain 4 life. If you mutate it over and over, that’s incredible value in board control. It may not literally be the return of Siege Rhino, but you mutate it, ping a planeswalker down, then swing. You swing hard. This can be a creature that you slap Embercleave on for Trample.
Sprite Dragon (2-Cost Red/Blue Uncommon Creature – Faerie Dragon): And here’s another Godzilla creature: Dorat, the Perfect Pet! Sprite Dragon is an adorable, low-cost (1 Blue, 1 Red) with Flying/Haste. Sure it’s a 1/1, but it inflates whenever you cast a non-creature spell! Were you looking for a new card for your Red/Blue Fairy/Alliances deck? You have it right here. This is another card that I think might belong as a rare instead of an uncommon though. But it’s fantastic, and they used a fun, obscure alternate art in Dorat, the Perfect Pet (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, 1991). Part of me thinks this is way too strong for its rarity and cost, but it’s at least very easy to deal with. It’s easy enough to sneak one or two damage out.
Brokkos, Apex of Forever (5-Cost Black/Green/Blue Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Nightmare Beast Elemental): Brokkos, Apex of Forever has one of the coolest names I’ve seen. That is one hell of a title. But this is also Bio-Quartz Spacegodzilla! Here we have a creature that can really mutate onto a variety of creatures, literally. It’s a 5-drop (1 black/blue/green), that is a 6/6 Trample. It can also Mutate, for 2 Green, 1 Black or Blue, and 2 Colorless. You can cast Brokkos, Apex of Forever from your graveyard using its mutate ability. So anytime it dies, as long as it’s in the graveyard, it can mutate from the graveyard over and over. You cannot escape him. This is going to be a fun way to help your Sultai Ramp deck win.
Primal Empathy (3-Cost Blue/Green Uncommon Enchantment): “Get busy livin’, or get busy gettin’ bigger.” I’m pretty sure that’s how the quote from The Shawshank Redemption goes. That’s the motto for Primal Empathy. This 3 mana enchantment gives you card draw or bigger creatures. During your upkeep, if you have a creature that has the greatest power among all creatures on the battlefield, you draw a card. Otherwise, you put a +1/+1 on a creature you control. In Simic, this is going to be vile. Absolutely, utterly vile. Get busy livin’, or get busy gettin’ bigger. You’re goddang right.
Labyrinth Raptor (2-Cost Black/Red Rare Creature – Nightmare Dinosaur): Here’s a weird one, if you ask me. And you did, otherwise, why would you be here?! Labyrinth Raptor isn’t a bad card, and there are plenty of Menace cards in Red/Black. This is a 2/2 Menace for 2 (has to be blocked by at least 2 creatures). Whenever a creature you control with Menace gets blocked, that player sacrifices one of the blocking creatures. You can also give your Menace creatures +1/+0 until end of turn for 1 Black/1 Red. I frankly don’t hate it, but I don’t see it being a must-pick. It’s a very niche card, for a niche style of gameplay.
Back for More (6-Cost Black Green Uncommon Spell – Instant): Now here’s an interesting card for your graveyard/retrieval decks. Back for More is 6 Mana, and returns a creature card from your graveyard into play. However, it also fights up to one target creature you don’t control as well. That’s fantastic! You don’t have to pick a fight (up to one), but you can use it to bring back something like Polykranos, and batter a creature into the ground with him. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, but it is at Instant speed. Most of these spells are sorcery speed. For 6 mana on your opponent’s turn you can bring a creature back and potentially kill one (or two, if yours dies). High value for your Golgari decks.
Death’s Oasis (3-Cost White/Black/Green Rare Enchantment): Do you despair every time one of your creatures dies? Do you want to bring your friends back cheaply and easily? Death’s Oasis is for a really weird color combination for me – white/black/green, which I don’t see enough of. Whenever a non-token creature you control dies, you put the top two cards of your library into the graveyard. Then, you return a creature card with lesser converted mana cost than the creature that died from the grave to your hand. This rewards you for having huge creatures to play and will let you continue a nice, easy chain of bringing mutate creatures back. But you can tap 1, and sacrifice Death’s Oasis. You then gain life equal to the greatest converted mana cost among the creatures you control. I’d love to see this in a 5-color deck with a Jace snuck in. That way you can just sacrifice creatures, mill yourself down, and win with Jace, while also having plenty of creatures.
General’s Enforcer (2-Cost White/Black Uncommon Creature – Human Soldier): This set isn’t all about big monsters! There are humans still fighting to hold on in a realm where they are not at the top of the food chain. This 2-cost ⅔ human gives your Legendary Humans indestructible. So that means we’re probably going to see some good ones. He will likely also be a will-include in my White/Black lifegain deck, just to keep the good creatures alive. You can also tap 4 (1 black, 1 white) to exile a card from a graveyard. If it’s a creature, you gain a Human Soldier creature token (white). I also like that he’s a 2-drop grave hater, so you can pair him with Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, to help make her win-con go faster (sort of faster).
Chevill, Bane of Monsters (2-Cost Black/Green Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Human Rogue): So this is that guy from Tarzan, right? Clayton? No, this is clearly Jake “The Snake” Roberts, given an MTG card, which is beautiful. Chevill, Bane of Monsters is going to see a fair amount of use I think. He’s a ⅓ with Deathtouch for 2, and on your upkeep, if your opponents have no permanents with Bounty Counters on them, you can put one on a creature or planeswalker they control. Whenever a “Bounty” permanent dies, you gain 3 life and draw a card. With enough ability to control the state of the board, you just keep gaining life and drawing cards. He’s awesome.
Proud Wildbonder (4-Cost Red/Green Uncommon Creature – Human Warrior): I won’t lie to you, when I saw this card I read “Proud Wildboner” and snickered, because I’m apparently twelve years old. This 4/3 with Trample gives your Trample creatures something else! Now they have “You may have this creature assign its combat damage as though it weren’t blocked”. They brought back old trample as an option you can use if you’d like. I’d like to give this to a deck running Green/Black, for Vraska, Golgari Queen. When you have the Emblem for “When you deal damage to a player, you win the game”, swing with something, give it trample, and win automatically. It has a lot of potential to be a very fun card. It’s also “You may”, so it doesn’t do this automatically. Please note that the trampling creature still receives damage, too.
Quartz Forest Crusher (May Not Be The Right Name) (5-Cost Red/Green Rare Creature – Dinosaur Beast): Oh dear. “Whenever one or more creatures you control with trample deals combat damage to a player, create an X/X green Dinosaur Beast token with Trample, where X is the amount of damage dealt to that player. This is absolutely darn vile. It’s a 6/6 with trample too! I’d love to run this in Historic, in Historic Dinosaurs. Red/Green dinos could use this to secure a constant flow of really frustrating creatures to secure a win with. I wonder if this would trigger twice with Double Strike though. Double Strike deals damage in two separate instances, so maybe you’d get a pair of creatures. So give a dinosaur Embercleave and cackle!
Dire Tactics (2-Cost White/Black Uncommon Spell – Instant): For 2 mana, this can do a lot, but also backfire on you. You exile target creature for 1 white and 1 black, which is incredible. But if you don’t control a human, you lose life equal to that exiled creature’s toughness. I feel like this would be great in Esper Heroics! Expect to see this in Orzhov and Mardu humans in equal measures. It’s going to be incredibly powerful, considering how easy it is to play some low-cost, reasonable value humans. And again, exile is always good. I can’t think of too many times when I don’t want to exile.
Fiend Artisan (2-Cost Black/Green Mythic Rare Creature – Nightmare): What’s that, you say?! You want a ‘Goyf with a Tutor power?! FOR TWO MANA? Good lord, Wizards, what the hell are they thinking?! This card is literally too good. This is the Tarmagoyf with Birthing Pod attached, for 2 mana, because why not. So, let’s get into what all that means. A Tarmagoyf is a creature that has power/toughness equal to the number of creatures in the graveyard. Birthing Pod is an artifact where you sacrifice a creature to search your deck (RE: Tutor) for a creature card that costs X or less and put it into play.
So Fiend Artisan is a 1/1 for 2 and gains +1/+1 for each creature card in your grave. Since this is Black/Green, that’s going to be a titanic number. Then you can Tap X and 1 Black or Green, tap him, and sacrifice a creature You can then search your library for that creature card with X or less, and put it into play. It’s not a random creature, it’s whatever you need. This card, Mythic Rare or not, is going to be a money card. I promise you.
Channeled Force (4-Cost Blue/Red Uncommon Spell – Instant): What’s this? Narset on Ikoria confirmed? I really hope that’s going to be real. I love Narset. This is a really interesting card, and I’m glad its damage effect doesn’t target players too. When you cast this 4-cost (1 blue, 1 red) instant, you also discard X cards. Target player (you or the opponent) draws X cards. Then Channeled Force deals X damage to up to one target creature or planeswalker. It works in a variety of decks and can be used as a fun discard engine in Grixis. It’s all-around a solid card to go to your deck and get cards, or to be used as a discard engine (and to thin the deck for Jace).
Skull Prophet (2-Cost Black/Green Uncommon Creature – Human Druid): Here’s a nice, simple creature. It’s one part Mana Dork (Tap it for Black or Green Mana), or you could use its other handy ability. You can tap him to put the top two cards of your library into the grave. For all the Black/Green decks revolving around putting as much stuff into the grave as possible, I think it’s going to see play. It’s only a two-cost, and it’s uncommon, so it’s easy to use, and easy to get ahold of. It’s a 3/1, so I imagine it’s probably going to get targeted quickly, or opponents will try to put you in a position where you need to block with it.
General Kudro of Drannith (3-Cost Black/White Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Human Soldier): “Other Humans you control get +1/+1.” That in and of itself makes him worth running, especially since he’s only a 3-cost. As a 3/3, he’s pretty sound all around. Whenever General Kudro of Drannith or another Human enters the battlefield under your control, exile target card from an opponent’s graveyard. You can also pay 2 colorless, and sacrifice two Humans, to Destroy target creature with power 4 or greater. So in a Heroic token deck, you’ll sacrifice them to get rid of the huge monsters threatening you. White/Black humans are looking to be incredibly strong in this expansion. I’m convinced that it will be a Tier 1 or 2 deck at the very least.
Rielle, the Everwise (3-Cost Blue/Red Mythic Rare Creature – Human Wizard): This feels like a card that is built for Commander, but that’s okay! I think it will still see a decent amount of use in Izzet decks. It rewards you for having instants and sorceries in your deck. Whether you’re cycling them, or simply casting a ton of them, she gains +1/+0 for each instant and sorcery in your graveyard. In addition, whenever you discard one or more cards the first time each turn, draw that many cards. Yes, she’s a Cycle engine. So in addition to discarding/drawing for Cycle, you gain an additional card for it! I’d like to see her in Underworld Breach too, just to draw and discard tons of cards, only to cast them again anyway later.
Lore Drakkis (3-Cost Red/Blue Uncommon Creature – Lizard Beast): This ⅔ Mutates for 2 (2 red or blue), and that’s a pretty solid value. But what happens when it mutates? You return target instant or sorcery card from your graveyard to your hand! Good lord, that’s horrifying. If you keep mutating it, you can just take counterspells from the grave over and over! I wonder if it’s going to mean Jeskai Control is on the way. It would go well in that deck.
Cunning Nightbonder (2-Cost Blue or Black Uncommon Creature – Human Rogue): Well, this is horrifying. This is going to be a 4-of in Simic Flash, and you can’t convince me otherwise. Why would this be? This is a 2/2 with Flash, that reads “Spells you cast with Flash cost 1 less, and can’t be countered”! That’s why! You get Teferi’s ability of sorts, without having to have a planeswalker to do it! You can play those obnoxious Flash creatures without fear. However, this does not work with Leyline of Anticipation. That doesn’t give spells Flash, it lets you cast them as though they had it. The card has to have Flash in order to take advantage of this.
Savai Thunderlion (2-Cost Red/White Uncommon Creature – Elemental Lion): Ehhh. This is an okay card for Boros, but not amazing, at least, in my opinion. It’s nice for an option to have more direct damage. Whenever this is in play, you can tap an additional 2 colorless mana whenever you cycle a card. If you do, it deals 2 damage to a target creature, and you gain 2 life. That could go great with Stormwild Capridor, on second thought! I sort of like this idea, the more I think about it. It’s not the best card, but I think Boros deserves better. They will probably see it by the time this article has seen its end.
Frondland Felidar (4-Cost Green/White Rare Creature – Cat Beast): I don’t hate this card, but I do think it’s a little high cost. It’s a ⅗ for 4, and it has Vigilance. This is a creature that really useful in certain situations. That means “when it has creatures with vigilance” nearby. Creatures you control with Vigilance have “Tap 1 Mana, Tap This Creature: Tap Target Creature”. So with enough vigilance creatures, you can have a solid lockdown, and swing with just one, big creature. I could see this in tron with some enchantments that offer vigilance. Is there really going to be that much in the way of vigilance options in this expansion? It’s an interesting choice.
Parcel Beast (3-Cost Green/Blue Uncommon Creature – Elemental Beast): I have a feeling that Parcelbeast will be a strong contender for “useful mutate creature”, thanks to its low-cost (1 Blue, 1 Green), and it’s ability. This 2/4 has a 1-colorless/tap ability. Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a land, you can put it onto the battlefield. If you don’t put the card onto the battlefield, put it into your hand instead. I appreciate this, because you may not want your opponent to know it’s a land. So instead you put it into your hand and fake them out. Your opponent may then be worried about what is on the way. Sometimes, it’s just about the mind games. This is basically tap 1 and draw a card every turn, more if you can untap it somehow. It’s a very good blue-green card.
Joyous Skybonder (3-Cost Blue/White Uncommon Creature – Human Wizard): Here’s a card that will be amazing in both standard and historic! UW Flyers has a new way to slow the game down! Creatures you control with flying have “spells your opponents cast that target this creature cost 2 more to cast”. So if you have more than one of these out, you could make your opponent have to pay 4 or 6 extra mana simply to kill something! On its own it’s a 2/2 with Flying, so that’s not too bad for a 3-cost. Sure, this doesn’t affect area-of-effect cards, but individual creature destruction or removal is going to get very pricey very fast.
Alert Heedbonder (3-Cost Uncommon Creature – Human Scout): This would be amazing if it were a non-human. You can’t put it in with Kaheera, because it’s a Human creature. That’s probably exactly the reason why. This is a 2/4 with Vigilance, and on your end step, you gain 1 life for each creature you control with Vigilance. This could be a lot of fun in your mono-white lifegain decks since it’s White or Green mana. I don’t think this is the greatest card of the set, but maybe they’re trying to push more Green/White vigilance for some reason. Some people say it’s a garbage ability, but I don’t agree. The ability to have a creature not tap when attacking means you also have a blocker the next turn! It lets you play a bit more aggressively, while also having defensive options.
Zenith Flare (4-Cost Red/White Uncommon Spell – Instant): Were you looking for a win-con for your Cycling deck, but wasn’t really sure what it could be? Jeskai looks to have the answer, with Zenith Flare! Zenith Flare does X damage to any target and you gain X life. X is equal to the number of cards with a Cycling ability in your graveyard. So the more cycling you do (or the more they get put into your grave for whatever reason), the easier it’s going to be to win! Make sure your opponent can’t counter it and just zap them for 20! I wish it was a 3-cost instead of a 4-cost, but man, this is an awesome win condition. ZAP!
Eerie Ultimatum (7-Cost White/Green/Black Rare Sorcery): Ultimatums are back! This makes me miss my personal favorite, Cruel Ultimatum. So each color combo will likely have one, and here’s the White/Black/Green choice: Eerie Ultimatum, goodness is it ever strong! It’s expensive, but what’s it do? This Sorcery has you return any number of permanent cards from your graveyard with different names onto the battlefield. Oh. My. I’m glad MTG Arena doesn’t have Commander! This would be a must-include in commander decks with that color combo. This is pretty strong! The longer the game goes on for these graveyard decks, the more potent it’s going to be. You can’t take copies of a card, just one of each, but I imagine one would be enough.
Emergent Ultimatum (7-Cost Black/Green/Blue Spell – Sorcery): This is a much better version of Brilliant Ultimatum, in my estimation. This Black/Green/Blue spell lets you go to your library, and pick up to three mono-colored cards with different names, and exile them. From there, an opponent chooses one of them and it gets shuffled back into your deck. The other cards can be cast without paying their mana costs. Then you Exile Emergent Ultimatum. You’re going to get the important cards you want to win the game much easier, potentially. I really like this though. Any way to search through my deck and play expensive, powerful cards without paying their mana cost? Oh yes, I’m in.
Sonorous Howlbonder (3-Cost Black/Red Uncommon Creature – Human Warrior): A 2/2 with Menace that makes your Menace…More Menacing? Menacinger? Mega Menacing? Okay, I’m going to drop that gag. This is a 2/2 with Menace that makes creatures you control with Menace require three or more creatures to block, instead of two. So if you run a few of these, does it stack? It doesn’t seem like it does, due to how the text is written. That’s one for a judge. So I’d only run one at a time until I had confirmation. Because if they stack, and you could make opponents need 6 or 9 creatures to block one? That would be hilariously awful.
Song of Creation (4-Cost Green/Blue/Red Rare Enchantment): If you build around this card, you can do some truly terrifying things. It’s a 3-color enchantment for 4 (1 green, blue, and red), but it does something fun. You can play an additional land on each of your turns, and whenever you cast a spell, you draw two cards. At the beginning of your end step though, you discard your hand. I think you could run this with Illysian Dryad and other “play additional lands this turn” nonsense, and turn this into a self-mill for Jace. Breach would also be dandy in this, I think. I’d also consider running this with Experimental Frenzy. If it’s a 5-color deck, the Citadel of Bolas too! Anything to play cards off the top of your deck. You could, in theory, play a ton of stuff off the top of your deck and minimize what goes to your graveyard.
Narset of the Ancient Way (4-Cost Blue/Red/White Mythic Rare Legendary Planeswalker – Narset): That’s right, that Narset card we’ve been hearing rumors about is real! It’s a Narset with a +ability, also! She’s only a 4-cost, and I don’t think (yet) that she’s infuriatingly busted. She’s going to be in virtually every Jeskai deck, I bet. So, let’s go over what this baseline 4 loyalty planeswalker can do!
+1: You gain 2 life. Add BLue, Red, or White Mana. Spend this mana only to cast a noncreature spell.
-2: Draw a card, then you may discard a card. When you discard a nonland card this way, Narset of the Ancient Way deals damage equal to that card’s converted mana cost to target creature or planeswalker.
-6: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this emblem deals 2 damage to any target.”
When I first read this card, I read the -2 wrong. It doesn’t let you target the player, so it’s a planeswalker/creature removal option. If it targeted the player, it would be a win-con. So I feel like Jeskai Spellslinger/Instants is going to be very much a thing where you ping someone to death by getting her -6 as quickly as possible. Love this Narset, she’s a doll.
Ruinous Ultimatum (7-Cost Red/White/Black Rare Spell – Sorcery): You know, just once, I want to see this read “all permanents”, instead of “all nonland permanents” a player controls. Mostly out of spite and anger, but you know, it’s important to be honest with yourself. For 7 mana, you destroy all nonland permanents your opponent controls! It may not be the strongest of the Ultimatums, but it has a lot of oomph behind it anyway! It’s going to be a one-of at least in quite a few decks as a last-ditch effort to blow up a board. In the late game, this can make a comeback almost impossible, when you have all your best cards on the table, and then they’re annihilated. You can at least make a few of your permanents indestructible until end of turn with other spells, and it wouldn’t save you from Nissa’s ultimate (their lands are indestructible). That said, I love this card. You know what deck this is going in without even being asked – Fires of Invention. Sorry, I had to spoil the surprise.
Necropanther (3-Cost White/Black Uncommon Creature – Cat Nightmare): We have more fun mutate fodder, this time for White/Black (minimum)! The NEcropanther is a 3-cost 3/3, that has a higher Mutate cost than its summon cost, which is weird. But whenever this creature Mutates, return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. Oh boy, that’s going to be obnoxious. I wonder if this can be done to bring back creatures to Mutate from beyond the grave, but I doubt it. Here’s something that will need some thought and research.
Offspring’s Revenge (5-Cost Red/White/Black Rare Enchantment): Revival decks are going to be incredibly annoying in this expansion, especially thanks to Offspring’s Revenge. At the beginning of combat on your turn, you exile a red, black, or white creature from your graveyard. You then create a token of it that’s a copy of that card, except it’s a 1/1 and gains haste until end of turn. Sure, you lose that creature forever. But you can use this to turn 5 Drakuseth, and absolutely melt the other players monsters, or their life points directly. This is mostly for creatures that have really incredible abilities, or mutate powers that you want to take advantage of. This is for cards with again, enters the battlefield style effects.
Skycat Sovereign (2-Cost White/Blue Rare Creature – Elemental Cat): Skycat Sovereign is going to be a must-play in UW flyers, this I can promise. It’s a 1/1 flyer for 2 (1 White, 1 Blue), and it gains +1/+1 for each other creature you control with flying. If that wasn’t aggro-inducing enough, for 4 mana (1 white, 1 blue) you can create a 1/1 white Cat Bird creature token with flying! It’s going to be massive, and you’re going to want four of these rares.
Immaculate Ultimatum (7-Cost Blue/Red/White Spell- Sorcery): “Target player gains 5 life. Immaculate Ultimatum deals 5 damage to any target. Draw 5 cards.” That sounds a little on the underwhelming side, but I think it’s pretty solid. You can use it to win a game, to stay in the game, to pull some more cards for a variety of shenanigans. 5 cards for 7 mana is wild, plus you gain life and deal damage on top of it. This is very good, but sounds weaker when you compare it to what the other Ultimatums do.
Winota, Joiner of Forces (4-Cost White/Red Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Human Wizard): Now this is a great Boros card. They always seem to whine about not having powerful options for some reason. I think red players secretly just like to complain. But here’s what this 4/4 for 4 does! When a non-Human you control attacks, you can look at the top six cards of your deck. You can then put a Human tapped and attacking as well. It gains indestructible until end of turn. The rest go onto the bottom of your deck in any order. How’s that sound? Get a free human that is, for that turn indestructible? You could get some really janky nonsense with that.
Slitherwisp (3-Cost Black/Blue Rare Creature – Elemental Nightmare): Ready for more nonsense for Flash decks? Say hello to the Slitherwisp! It’s a curious choice though, because it’s a Black/Blue. I don’t know of too many Black/Blue Flash decks, so this is either a card for the future, or a new style of Dimir control. Black spells to lockdown the board, and annoying Merfolks with flash. Hmm. The more I think about this, the more I like it. . .
Whirlwind of Thought (4-Cost White/Red/Blue Rare Enchantment): Wait… wait, excuse me?! What is this nonsense? “Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, draw a card.” This practically screams “PLEASE PUT ME IN A STORM DECK”, and I’d be too glad to oblige. Jeskai Spellslinger feels like it could be a serious contender for a Tier-1, must-play deck in 2020. I really love the idea of this card. Play a counterspell, draw a card. Did they play a counter? Play another counter, draw another card. Cackle like a madman (it’s a requirement. I don’t make the rules).
MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths | Companion Creatures
Lutri, the Spellchaser (3-Cost Red/Blue Rare Legendary Creature – Elemental Otter): An elemental otter?! You bet! This is the Red/Blue Companion and can use either red or blue, so you can count on him being in some control/spell-themed decks.
Companion Requirement: Each nonland in your starting deck has a different name.
That’s right, highlander decks only! It’s important to note that Lutri, the Spellchaser is already banned in Commander since you can play it in any Izzet deck, with zero restrictions. But what does it do? This 3/2 has Flash. When it enters the battlefield, if you cast it, copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You can also choose new targets. It’s essentially a “Fork” or “Twinspell” that you can use almost at will. All you have to do is get it off the battlefield and back onto it. Since it has Flash, you can flash it in during your opponent’s turn as a response to your counterspell being countered. Flash him in, target your counter, and use it again! Lutri’s going to be a hoot.
Gyruda, Doom of Depths (6-cost Black/Blue Rare Legendary Creature – Demon Kraken): DOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!! Sorry, I had to. Anyway, this is the Blue/Black Companion and can be cast with either color.
Companion Requirement: Your starting deck contains only cards with even converted mana costs (2, 4, 6, 8, et cetera).
When Gyruda enters the battlefield, each player puts the top four cards of their library into their graveyard. You can put a creature card with an even converted mana cost from among those cards onto the battlefield under your control. So, for 6 mana, you can mill an opponent, and if there’s an even-costing creature in those cards, you can steal it! I’m grateful it doesn’t let you choose their entire graveyard, that would be vile. But this is definitely a fun card. With timing and patience, you can do great things. But I’d rather target myself after I’ve used Scry to see what’s coming. Put something powerful in the grave, and put it into play without paying its mana cost. Gyruda will be going in my control decks, I can see it now. I can use this as an engine to put Dream Trawler in play for free!
Keruga, the Macrosage (5-Cost Blue/Green Rare Legendary Creature – Dinosaur Hippo): There aren’t enough Hippos in Magic, and I stand by that. But here’s our Blue/Green Companion, Keruga, the Macrosage. They can be cast with either Blue or Green, like the others before it.
Companion Requirement: Your starting deck contains only cards with converted mana cost 3 or greater and land cards.
When Keruga, the Macrosage enters the battlefield, draw a card for each other permanent you control with converted mana cost 3 or greater. I’m trying to think of what deck this would go in. Perhaps Simic Oozes/Wolves? A reasonable-cost token generating machine sounds about right. The major downside I’m seeing on this card is that if your opponent sees Keruga (which is revealed at the start of the game), they know you have zero answers or plays before turn 3! You aren’t running any of the awesome early game ramp, only turn 3 and beyond. I don’t know that I’d want to use this one, regardless of its nice card draw potential.
Umori, the Collector (4-Cost Black/Green Rare Legendary Creature – Ooze): Now we have the Black/Green Companion, and of course, it’s an Ooze. I’m torn on this one. I feel like Umori, the Collector does something amazing, but I’m just not putting my finger on it right now.
Companion Requirement: Each nonland card in your starting deck shares a card type.
That’s a really strict requirement for that payoff. When Umori, the Collector enters the battlefield, you choose a card type. Spells of that type cost 1 less to cast. I imagine you couldn’t run instants and sorceries in this deck very easily. You’d have to instead, run creatures that have your removal instead, which is clever. So you’d have to run “Oops, all creatures!” which is totally fine! You’d get them faster, which is nice. Frankly, I think this is more of a potential Commander card than a standard card, but I could be wrong.
Obosh, the Burrower (5-Cost Red/Black Rare Creature – Horror Infernal): Well, Black/Red sacrifice officially has their Companion! If you don’t run this in that deck, you’re a fool of the highest caliber. The entire Red/Black sacrifice seems to be 1 and 3 drops, so it’s not like it’s going to be a hard deck to put together. So let’s talk about Obosh, the Burrower.
Companion Ability: Each nonland card in your starting deck must have an odd converted mana cost.
Easy enough for this deck! The only thing you really lose is Kroxa. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, given Obosh’s power. It is a ⅗ that, whenever a source you control with an odd CMC (converted mana cost) deals any damage, double that number instead. Can you feel the power? Witch’s Ovens are practically a siege engine with this! That’s absolutely vile. Maybe i’ve found the deck I want to run in this upcoming season.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den (3-Cost White/Black Rare Legendary Creature – Cat Nightmare): Here’s another very solid White or Black Companion for decks where you only play low-cost spells/creatures. It’s certainly got a unique requirement, and I think will play well with what white and black can already do.
Companion Requirement: Each permanent card in your starting deck has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den is a 3/2 for 3 with Lifelink, but it’s weird that it’s a 3-cost instead of a 2-cost. Maybe that would be too powerful? During each of your turns, you may cast one permanent spell with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard! This immediately belongs in your Cat/Oven deck! The best part about this card is it points out that it’s only “permanent” cards. So your spells can cost whatever you’d like. So you can keep playing your permanents that you sacrifice every turn! I’d sacrifice non-Cauldron Familiars because they’ll come back anyway with Food Tokens. So many decks are going to be so powerful in Ikoria. This set is getting wild and out of control!
Kaheera, the Orphanguard (3-Cost White/Green Rare Legendary Cat Beast): Now all these weird creature types are starting to make sense! Kaheera, the Orphanguard is going to buff certain types of creatures. What kinds? Well, let’s look at the requirements!
Companion Requirement: Each creature card in your starting deck is a Cat, Elemental, Nightmare, Dinosaur, or Beast card. So basically, most of the non-humans in this expansion. This is a 3/2 with Vigilance for 3 (2 white or green) and gives each of your Cats, Elementals, Nightmares, Dinosaurs, and Beasts gain +1/+1 and Vigilance. Now I see! One of the things I wondered previously was about a green creature that rewarded you for having Vigilance on creatures. Now I understand why that felt so hamfisted and forced. Because of Kaheera!
Jegantha, the Wellspring (5-Cost Red/Green Rare Legendary Creature – Elemental Elk): What a strange card. This one feels, even more, niche than normal. Maybe this is more for Commander. This is a 5/5 for 5, that needs at least one Red or Green.
Companion Requirement: No card in your starting deck has more than one of the same mana symbol in its mana cost.
So, no 2W, 2B, 2R, et cetera. Now it can be one of each color (Niv-Mizzet Reborn, for example). So what do you gain for it? You can tap this creature to add 1 of each color to your mana pool. But this cannot be used to pay for generic mana costs. This would be fun in Historic with cards like Jodah, which lets you cast a spell for 1 of each color, instead of its normal cost. It’s a neat card, but I don’t know how often it’ll be used in standard (again).
Zirda, the Dawnwaker (3-Cost Red/White Rare Legendary Creature – Elemental Fox): Some of these Companions are absolutely ludicrous. I don’t know that this one is, but it shows quite a lot of potential. This is the Red/White companion, Zirda, the Dawnwaker.
Companion Requirement: Each permanent card in your starting deck has an activated ability.
I imagine that counts basic lands tapping for mana as an activatable ability. Also bear in mind that Cycling counts as an activated ability (to the surprise of no one, I’ve mentioned Cycling again). But what makes this interesting, is that abilities you activate that aren’t mana abilities cost 2 less (colorless) to activate. It can’t reduce the cost to less than one mana though. So you can’t go infinite with this ability, thank god. On top of that, you can tap 1 colorless and this, to make one creature unable to block this turn. I wish that read “target creature can’t be blocked this turn”, but here we are. This is going to be a staple in Commander, but for now, Commander isn’t coming to MTGA. One day, maybe.