Last updated on October 20, 2020

Ikoria Facebook Promotional Art with Vivien Reid

It seems like ages ago that Theros: Beyond Death was released, marking the last mainline, standard-legal release by Wizards of the Coast for MTG. The good news is that Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths will be arriving before we know it, bringing with it lots of crazy monsters, puny humans, and things eating eating each other and mutating all over the place.

Basic Information

Important Dates

About the Set

Wizards always likes to switch up the feels of their sets to keep things interesting for you. So we’re moving from the Greek mythology themed Theros plane to a “wild new monster world” named Ikoria.

On this rugged plane of powerful monsters, it’s eat or be eaten

WotC
Some kind of beast dog thing from Ikoria

Woof!

Sadly, despite almost being an anagram of the planeswalker Kiora, it’s been confirmed that there’s no intentional linkage or joke there.

Kiora, Master of the Depths MTG card art by Jason Chan

Kiora, Master of the Depths

So what is this set about? It’s a “monster movie” theme! Promotional movie snacks and fake Ikoria movie tickets were sent to influencers to tease the set on social media.

Wizards has partnered with Toho Studios in Japan, the creators of Godzilla, to produce an extra-large monster-themed set.

These gigantic, ubiquitous monsters mutate, change, and grow in the presence of mystical crystals. That’s right, you are going to build your own Kaiju monster.

Mark Rosewater from Magic R&D calls this set “a monster set with a wedge [3 color combinations] theme. Monsters are the defining aspect of the set.”

Here’s the trailer, get hyped:

The Story

It’s a tense time on the plane of Ikoria, creatures are mutating and hybridizing more than ever. Drannith, the largest sanctuary on the plane, is being attacked on all sides.

Lukka, one of the protagonists, is part of the military and is charged with keeping cities safe from monsters. But it turns out that he has a mystical connection, a “bond” with them. And this is the one of the central conflicts of the story.

Humans can be the victims of monsters, their enemies, or their friends. In the end, this story is about the relationship between humans and monsters.

For the complete rundown on the entire world and plane, you can read about it from Vivien’s perspective here.

Ikoria promo art with vivien

There’s also a Kindle book, “Sundered Bond,” that you can get if you’re interested in reading more and immersing yourself in this new world. The author is Django Wexler.

Sundered Bond IKO MTG book cover

The story features the brand new planeswalker, Lukka

Set Mechanics

You’re going to be able to “build your own monster,” befriend a monster, and cycle too, because it’s cool!

Mutate

Cloudpiercer

A wild way to upgrade your creatures in play. When you mutate a creature, you place it either above or below another non-human creature you control on the battlefield. You now have one really messy creature that has the power and toughness of whatever creature you put on top and all the abilities of both creatures combined.

You can mutate this pile of creatures as many times as you want, over and over again. And you’ll often be rewarded for mutating a creature with special mutate triggers. Welcome to an arms race — with monsters.

You don’t have to use the mutate ability, you can also just cast these creatures normally. And don’t worry, if your creature you’re mutating gets destroyed from under the new mutant, the new card you played still comes into play as a regular creature.

If the mutated creatures dies or is bounced, all cards in that mutated stack will go to the graveyard or back to your hand.

Believe it or not, this mechanic was already hinted at a while ago in the Unsanctioned set. And of course there were already similar mechanics with host/augment in Unstable and champion in Lorwyn.

Companion

Keruga, the Macrosage

Another new mechanic, this one exists to express “bonding” between a human and a monster. And what a crazy mechanic it is — it fundamentally changes how you build your deck.

A card with companion starts the game outside your deck, in your sideboard. This means that it doesn’t count toward your minimum deck size. But in competitive play, however, this does mean that it uses up one of your 15 sideboard slots. You must reveal your companion at the beginning of the game to your opponent.

Just like a commander, you can then cast it during the game, from outside the game, for its mana cost. Unlike a commander, if it dies, it goes to the graveyard like a normal creature (no re-buys, sorry). It can also be exiled and bounced just like a normal creature would be.

There will be a 10-card cycle of cards with companion, all at rare, and all with hybrid-mana casting costs. Hopefully this will keep the frequency just right for limited (to prevent repetitive play) and the availability high enough for constructed (not being mythic rare).

One interesting fact is that you can switch companions between games. So you can utilize a different companion from your sideboard for game 2 or game 3, as long as your main deck meets the new requirements.

Note: Companion has since been errata-ed to cost 3 mana to place the companion in your hand. We discuss the full impact of the rules changes in our companion guide here.

Bans

Due to some negative effects on gameplay, Lutri, the Spellchaser has already been pre-emptively banned in Commander and in Brawl. In those singleton formats, each card in your deck already has a different name!

Lutri, the Spellchaser

Too stronk for Commander

Otherwise you can use a companion card in Commander, just as printed. Yes, this means you can have both a commander and a companion! But the companion has to meet all the normal color identity rules.

Cycling

Hooray, cycling is back! This mechanic allows you to pay mana to pitch a card (at instant speed) and draw another card from your deck. Oftentimes, cycling a card will trigger another ability, which seems to be the case here in Ikoria as well.

Void Beckoner

With so many high-costed monsters in the set, design wanted a way to give you something to do with your mana early. This way you have the optionality to play your big monster if you have a lot of mana, or cycle it for another card if you don’t. And who doesn’t want to jam more large monsters into a deck??

There’s even an entire Standard deck based around the mechanic. And believe it or not, it only has 4 rares in it! Read the guide here.

Keyword Counters

Fully Grown

Ikoria has counters that are put on creatures that grant them various abilities. Many of these are abilities are ones we’re familiar with, so-called “evergreen abilities.” These are:

  • Flying
  • Trample
  • Deathtouch
  • Vigilance
  • Lifelink
  • Menace
  • Hexproof (“Don’t worry, there aren’t very many”)
  • First Strike
  • Reach
  • +1/+1

Gladly, there isn’t a “regenerate counter”…

But it’s not just keywords. For example, there is a card with the text ‘remove eight foreshadow counters’.

Ominous_Seas

And bounty counters, wow!

Chevill,_Bane_of_Monsters

As you can see, the set uses a ton of different counters. The set has 13 different types of counters (the 13th being planeswalker loyalty counters). Hope you’ve got lots of paper sitting around (or open enough counters in your packs)!

punchout counters in ikoria

More rules info can be found here.

Spoilers

All cards in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths have now been revealed. Here’s the complete list:

White

Blue

Black

Red

Green

Multicolor

Hybrid

Artifact

Lands

Colorless

Fun Facts

The first things we learned about Ikoria were revealed by Mark Rosewater in a teaser post he made on his tumblr.

Here’s what he said:

The following can be found in Ikoria:
• Magic’s seventh Egg
• A card with the text “four or more times this game”
• A card with the text “total power 10 or less”
• Magic’s largest power/toughness granting aura.
• A card with the text “X is the number of times this creature has mutated”
• Magic’s third and fourth card with “(Zero is even.)” reminder text.
• Three cards with the text “different name(s)”
• Twelve different types of counters
• A card that says “choose a kind of counter at random”
• A card with the text “remove eight foreshadow counters”
• And a cycle that players have been asking us to make for over ten years

In addition, Ikoria has creatures with the following creature types:
• Dinosaur Turtle
• Shark Beast
• Demon Kraken
• Elemental Otter
• Brushwagg
• Hellion Horror
• and a Nightmare Squirrel (Yes, a Squirrel in a Standard-legal set!)

Maybe your favorite creature type is Brushwagg, so this is all you need to see to justify ordering a case of booster boxes!

To be honest, the vibe I got from all this with the crazy “build your own monster” stuf and counters flying around is a big similarity to Unstable. We’ll see if it ends up feeling nearly that goofy.

Other Fun Facts

We know that there are three planeswalkers in the set. They are Vivien, Lukka, and Narset.

The set has a cycle of rare lands. These are the “triomes,” a series of five cycling lands, each based on one of the five three-color “wedges.” Each land has Cycling: 3, comes into play tapped, and counts as the land type for each of its three colors.

Just like a shockland, this means you can use a fetchland to go get it.

Zagoth_Triome

There are also 10 gain lands — these are a less powerful dual land that first appeared in Khans of Tarkir. They’re in the set to help smooth the mana fixing for the three-color theme in draft.

Rugged_Highlands

The Ikoria gain lands appear in “about half” of the packs in the land (15th card) slot.

Mythos_of_Snapdax

There are a cycle of five rare “mythos” cards that feature unique cave-painting style art by renowned Magic artist Seb McKinnon.

A Horrifying Coincidence

I never thought I’d see this on Wizards of the Coast’s website:

Statement on Spacegodzilla

And no, this wasn’t some terrible April Fool’s joke. In what is one of the unluckiest coincidences ever, it turns out that one of the cards in the set was named “Spacegodzilla, Death Corona”.

spacegodzilla death corona

That’s right, in a set releasing in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Not a good look.

While the card has already gone to printing, WotC is stopping all future printings with this shocking card name and are dubbing a new version, “Spacegodzilla, Void Invader”.

Apparently the card had been named after Spacegodzilla’s special move, the “corona beam”. Yikes.

Ikoria In-Store Prereleases

Though the prerelease was scheduled to be April 17th to 19th, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the landscape for in-person MTG play. On March 23, 2020, Wizards announced that these events would not go forward as planned in North America, Europe, and Latin America.

Wizards had already stated their intent to allow stores to sell prerelease packs and commander decks to players directly to take home. But on March 26, 2020, they announced that prereleases in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Australia/New Zealand would be delayed until May 15. The date remains April 17 for Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Finding a Store

If you want to make sure your local store stays alive during a very challenging time, you can find your closest store using the Wizards’ store locator. You’ll still be able to pick up prerelease supplies for an “At-Home Prerelease.”

On the locator, you’ll be able to find your store’s website/Facebook page/Discord channel and contact them accordingly.

Release on MTG Arena and Magic Online

In the past, the new set has typically been available the Thursday of prerelease weekend. Per WotC’s official announcement, it looks like that will remain true for this set as well: April 16.

As always, you’ll be able to practice the set on Draftsim’s draft simulator before the set comes out, both sealed and draft.

Promos and Special Cards

Buy a Box Promo

The Buy a Box Promo for Ikoria is…. Godzilla!!

godzilla, king of the monsters

What?! Yes, believe it or not the Toho Studio partnership means that WotC is allowed to print cards with the Toho monsters on them. These cards also refer back to a more “Magic-y” rules name for a card, but still!

Another bonus when you buy a draft booster box is that you’ll get another promo as the box topper. What kind, you ask?

Godzilla Series Monsters

Around the world (excluding Japan), you’ll be able to get your hands on one of 15 different Gozilla Series monster cards.

There are three ways to get these special-movie-monster-inspired-promo cards:

  • Buy a draft booster box and you’ll get one as a box topper
  • Each collector booster will have one of these, either foil or non-foil
  • Open Japanese draft booster packs and you may get one in the foil slot (one in every 12 packs)
Bio-Quartz Spacegodzilla
biollante, plant beast form
Rodan, Titan of Winged Fury
King Caesar, Awoken Titan
Mothra, Supersonic Queen
Ghidorah, King of the Cosmos
Gigan, Cyberclaw Terror
anguirus, armored killer
godzilla, doom inevitable
destroroyah, perfect lifeform
king caesar, ancient guardian
Godzilla, Primeval Champion
Babygodzilla, Ruin Reborn
Dorat, the Perfect Pet

Even Better for Japan

Given the heritage of these monsters, Japanese packs will have 3 more exclusive monsters! That makes the total number 18 if you count the Japanese versions.

mechagojira
mechamoth
mothra's giant cocoon

Showcase Cards

These are cards that are in the main set, but that have alternate art versions. This time around, they’re comic book style!

The common and uncommon Showcase Card slot will always contain mutate cards. In the Showcase rare or mythic slot, you can get either a Showcase rare or mythic, or you can get a borderless planeswalker. You can find them in both draft boosters and collector boosters.

Here’s the complete list:

Extended Treatments

These are rares and mythic rares from collector boosters that don’t already have a borderless treatment.

Tokens

There are a total of 32 new tokens in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. This number may seem pretty high, but this is because new tokens are being introduced by both the main set and by Commander 2020.

Main Set Tokens

There are 13 tokens in the main set, including the “companion marker.”

Commander 2020 Tokens

That leaves 19 more tokens for Commander 2020:

Products Available

The sealed product offerings for Ikoria are fairly standard, at least in the current “Project Booster Fun” world. With some small exceptions.

Draft Boosters

Ikoria Draft Booster Box

The same booster pack you’ve known for years, with 15 cards. 10 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare/mythic. Randomly inserted foils (one in every three packs). The only product intended to be used for draft/sealed.

One great piece of news is that draft booster boxes will have box toppers this time around. So, you’ll get a little more value when you buy one.

Also, the uncommon and common Showcase Cards will be in draft boosters at a rate of one in every three packs. Showcase rares and mythics will appear one in every 14-15 packs.

And the borderless planeswalkers are there too! But only every 3-4 boxes.

Theme Boosters

Ikoria Theme Booster Box

35 cards all based on one color theme or color pair. Contains 1 rare/mythic and is intended to be a tool used by players to expand their collection in a specific direction to help build a deck.

Collector Boosters

Ikoria Collector Booster Box

15 cards—the packs with the bling. These are intended for people who like to focus more on valuable and pretty cards or upgrade the “regular” versions of cards they already have. 1 extended art rare/mythic, 1 foil rare/mythic, 9 foil commons/uncommons, 3 special-frame cards, 1 ancillary (non-draft) card, and 1 foil token.

Specifically for Ikoria, that means collector boosters will have the following cards:

  • 1 foil or nonfoil Godzilla Monster Series
  • 1 foil Showcase Card or borderless planeswalker
  • 1 foil rare or mythic (includes extended art)
  • 1 nonfoil Showcase rare or mythic
  • 1 nonfoil extended art rare or mythic
  • 1 nonfoil Ikoria commander card (from Commander 2020)
  • 2 nonfoil showcase commons or uncommons
  • 2 foil uncommons
  • 4 foil basic lands
  • 1 foil token

Wow, that’s a lot of value.

Prerelease Packs

Ikoria Prerelease Pack

These are usually reserved for play during prerelease weekend at your LGS, however in the affected regions now you’ll either have to wait to use them or get creative. Or just crack the packs.

These will have had six draft booster packs, a spindown life counter, an individually wrapped foil promo card, a set of keyword counters (didn’t I mention there are going to be a lot of counters??), and one MTG Arena code card redeemable for free product on MTGA.

Bundles

Ikoria Bundle

Another way to get a lot of cards and build your collection if you’re a newer player. These contain 10 draft boosters, 20 foil lands, 20 regular lands, a foil promo, a big ol’ spindown life counter, and reference cards.

Commander 2020

Commander 2020 Decks

For the first time, Commander decks are going to be associated directly with a new set release. The cards from these decks will also be legal in Legacy and Vintage.

There will be 17 new cards per deck. Each deck will center around a particular commander, representing one of the “wedges” (Temur, Sultai, Mardu, Abzan, and Jeskai).

The reprinted cards can be from any set and using any mechanics.

The decks will each feature a “partner with” pair, a mechanic first introduced in the set Battlebond. This “bonding” goes hand-in-hand with the Ikoria set mechanic, companion.

We’ve got a full review of Commander 2020 right here, but if you want a quick rundown, read on.

Remember these guys?

Arcane_Signet

Arcane Signet will be in all five Commander 2020 decks

Here are the deck names and the respective commanders:

Ruthless Regiment

Jinra Kudro

Theme: Human tribal

Arcane Maelstrom

Theme: Instants

Symbiotic Swarm

Kathril, Aspect Warper
Theme: Keyword counters and counters-matter

Timeless Wisdom

Gavi, Nest Warden

Theme: Cycling

Enhanced Evolution

Otrimi, the Ever-Playful
Theme: Mutate

You can grab all five Commander decks together here.

Complete List of Cards in Commander: 2020 Edition

White

Blue

Black

Red

Green

Artifact

Multicolor

Hybrid

Land

No Planeswalker Decks

As of Theros: Beyond Death, this product is being discontinued. There’s going to be something else to replace them as “entry level decks.” Hopefully those will still contain free MTGA promo codes as well.

Speculation is that the Commander 2020 decks above are what will be replacing the Planeswalker Decks.

Where to Buy

As mentioned above, if you can support a local store, definitely do that.

Otherwise, you have the option to buy the set at several online retailers. In an effort to get you a good deal I’ve looked around the internet a bit to do some comparison shopping…

Amazon

Amazon seems to have reasonable pricing, but maybe a slight premium for just being Amazon.

Regular draft boosters:

You can also get boxes of collector boosters.

Collector boosters:

Commander 2020 decks are also now up on Amazon:

Ebay

Boxes appear to be available for a very fair price immediately via “Buy it Now.”

Regular draft boosters:

Collector boosters:

And looks like you can snag all of the Commander 2020 decks for just south of $150!

TCGPlayer

Right now pricing seems a bit higher here, but you can also easily pick up singles you need from the new set at the same time.

Ikoria Lair of Behemoths MTG booster pack box

Check the price on TCGPlayer

Wrap Up

Ikoria promotional art with dinosaur footprint on tropical island

As far as I know, this is basically all the information available out there on the internet about the new set. WotC did a great job of keeping it under wraps until April 2. If you know something important I’ve left out, feel free to comment!

And if this is your first time on Draftsim, be sure to check out our MTGA tracker, Arena Tutor. We’re going to be adding even more functionality to it soon and, best of all, it’s free!

Note: this post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, you’ll help Draftsim continue to provide awesome free articles and apps.

1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Dante April 22, 2020 10:05 am

    Thankyou for the information, couldnt find if Kirda’s variant art was in draft boosters anywhere but now I know its not. Highly appreciated.

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