Welcome to Ikoria: a monster-world full of giant beasts and feisty humans. Ikoria‘s mechanics have really turned Magic upside-down, and we’re here to give you the rundown on this powerful set.
First, check out the official trailer from Wizards of the Coast:
Vivien Reid Returns
Vivien Reid has appeared in four Magic sets since her debut in Core Set 2019, but this is her first time in the spotlight. Best known for her hunting prowess and kinship with animals, Vivien is a natural fit for this rugged plane.
Ikoria marks the first of several Commander releases in 2020. In addition to draft boosters, collector boosters, and theme boosters, Wizards has released five new Commander decks just for Ikoria. The decks include 71 brand-new cards that you can’t find in the main Ikoria set, plus a slew of reprints.
Who commands these decks? Check out the five faces of Commander 2020:
Ikoria and Commander 2020 feature three brand-new mechanics and one that’s made a major comeback.
Ikoria is all about monsters, and the mutate mechanic allows you to build the biggest monsters possible! If you cast a creature spell for its mutate cost, you place it over or under another non-human creature on the battlefield. The mutated creature has all the abilities of both creatures, but its power, toughness, color, card name, converted mana cost, and creature type are all determined by the creature on top. Some creatures also have abilities that trigger when they mutate, like Huntmaster Liger here.
For more info on mutate, check out our mechanic spotlight.
Creatures can gain new keyword abilities when they mutate, but they can also get them from ability counters! These counters grant evergreen abilities like flying, deathtouch, and even hexproof.
Need some ability counters for your creatures? We created some custom designs that you can download for free!
Creatures on Ikoria also have the ability to form close bonds with humans. The companion mechanic rewards you for befriending the local beasts and making good use of their special powers.
Companions start the game in your sideboard, but they provide valuable stipulations about how you can construct your deck. For example, Umori here mandates that all nonland cards in your deck share a card type, but once it’s on the battlefield, it makes it easier for you to cast those spells. You also don’t have to choose Umori as your companion in order to take advantage of its ability — just include it in your deck as you would any other card.
Some formats like Canadian Highlander that don’t use sideboards do not allow companions. However, they’re fair game in Commander and Brawl, as well as any formats that use sideboards, including Limited.
Editor’s note: On June 1, 2020, Wizards of the Coast announced a change to the companion mechanic. Companions may no longer be cast from the sideboard; instead, players must pay 3 mana of any color to put a companion from their sideboard into their hand. We will be updating any articles referencing the companion mechanic accordingly.
Finally, the cycling mechanic has cycled back into Standard with the release of Ikoria. If a card has cycling, you can discard it for its cycling cost to draw another card rather than cast it as normal. Some cards, like Drannith Stinger, even reward you for playing a critical mass of cards with cycling.
This spring’s preview season was packed to the gills with new cards from both Ikoria and Commander 2020. Let’s take a look at some of the cards that the Magic community was most excited about.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters
You want big monsters? How about one of the biggest monsters in pop culture?!
That’s right, Ikoria features several real movie monsters in a special collectible frame. Godzilla, King of the Monsters is the Buy-a-Box promo for Ikoria, and he’s ready to pick up an Embercleave and go to town.
Ikoria also features Magic‘s take on Mothra, which includes one of the most exciting ability counter applications we’ve seen so far. Luminous Broodmoth will likely be one of the best cards in Ikoria Limited, and we just might see it in Standard, too. (Just don’t combine it with Uro unless you intend to draw your whole deck.)
Kogla, the Titan Ape
We’ve seen a lot of strong green creatures these days, and the hits just keep on coming. Kogla, the Titan Ape is a send-up to King Kong, and a great fit for any Green-White deck with plenty of Humans.
General Kudro of Drannith
Speaking of Humans, Modern Human players will love General Kudro of Drannith. This three-mana 3/3 is a lord, a graveyard-hoser, and a sacrifice outlet, so we expect him to find plenty of homes in competitive Magic. Plus, if tribal EDH decks are your thing, he might make a great commander.
Lutri, the Spellchaser
This little otter was swiftly banned from the Commander format after it was previewed on April 2nd, but it had already found its way into many players’ hearts. We can’t wait to see what applications you find for Lutri in your favorite formats!
Keruga, the Macrosage
Companions provide some fascinating deck-building constraints, and we’re eager to start building with Keruga, the Macrosage in Standard.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Keruga’s polar opposite is Lurrus of the Dream-Den, who challenges players to use only permanents with CMC two or less. Plus, you get to cast one of those permanents from your graveyard each turn? Sign us up!
Rielle, the Everwise
Players seem just as excited to brew with Rielle, a new blue-red legend in Ikoria. Cathartic Reunion is coming back to Standard — how about discarding two to draw five?
Yidaro, Wandering Monster
Yidaro may spend some time wandering between your hand, graveyard, and library, but when he hits the battlefield, he always comes in hot! If a dedicated cycling deck becomes viable in Standard, you’ll want this card for it.
Voracious Greatshark also knows how to make a statement when it enters the battlefield. While it’s not as versatile as Frilled Mystic, it packs a much bigger punch!
Looks like all the coolest sea creatures have flash these days! Sea-Dasher Octopus can mutate with another creature at a moment’s notice and provide some sweet, sweet card advantage.
Ikoria is available now, so be sure to pick up all your favorite cards from Card Kingdom. Once you do, feel free to share the spoils with us on Twitter! We love seeing your #MTGMail posts!