Last updated on September 1, 2022
Eerie Ultimatum | Illustration by Jason A. Engle
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.
Ikoria Lair of Behemoths Basic Information
About the Set
Kiora, Master of the Depths | Illustration by Jason Chan
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
Sadly, despite almost being an anagram of the planeswalker Kiora, it’s been confirmed that there’s no intentional linkage or joke there.
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 combination) theme. Monsters are the defining aspect of the set.”
Here’s the trailer, get hyped:
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.
The story features the brand new planeswalker, Lukka
You’re going to be able to “build your own monster,” befriend a monster, and cycle too, because it’s cool!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Hexproof (“Don’t worry, there aren’t very many”)
- First strike
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’.
And bounty counters, wow!
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)!
More rules info can be found here.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Card Gallery
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
• 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 3-color “wedges.” Each land has cycling 3, comes into play tapped, and counts as the land type for each of its three colors.
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.
The Ikoria gain lands appear in “about half” of the packs in the land (15th card) slot.
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:
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.”
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
The buy-a-box promo for Ikoria is…. Godzilla!
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!
Godzilla Series Monsters
Around the world (excluding Japan), you’ll be able to get your hands on one of 15 different Godzilla 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)
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.
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:
These are rares and mythic rares from collector boosters that don’t already have a borderless treatment.
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:
The sealed product offerings for Ikoria are fairly standard, at least in the current “Project Booster Fun” world. With some small exceptions.
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.
35 cards all based on one color theme or color pair. These theme boosters contain 1 rare/mythic and are intended to be a tool used by players to expand their collection in a specific direction to help build a deck.
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.
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.
Another way to get a lot of cards and build your collection if you’re a newer player. These bundles contain 10 draft boosters, 20 foil lands, 20 regular lands, a foil promo, a big ol’ spindown life counter, and reference cards.
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.
The reprinted cards can be from any set and using any mechanics.
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 will be in all five Commander 2020 decks
Here are the deck names and the respective commanders: