|Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths|
|Symbol description||A monstrous eye|
Mark Rosewater (lead)|
David Humpherys (lead)|
Donald Smith, Jr
April 17, 2020 (Asia)|
May 15, 2020 (other)
|Themes and mechanics||Human tribal, keyword counters, wedge colors|
|Keywords/ability words||Mutate, companion, cycling|
(111 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 15 basic lands)
+1 Buy-a-Box promo
+3 borderless planeswalkers
+35 showcase cards
+50 extended-art cards
+1 bundle promo
+5 dark-frame promos
+18 box toppers
|Core Set 2021 Standard|
|Magic: The Gathering Chronology|
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, often shortened as Ikoria, is the 84th Magic expansion. It was originally scheduled to be released on April 24, 2020. Due to the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic, the paper release was advanced to April 17, 2020 for Asia, and delayed until May 15, 2020 for the other continents, while Magic Online and MTG Arena released on April 16, 2020. Despite this, the cards became legal in Standard and other formats on April 24, 2020, the original release date.
- 1 Set details
- 2 Themes and mechanics
- 3 Cycles
- 4 Reprinted cards
- 5 Preconstructed decks
- 6 Notable cards
- 7 References
- 8 External links
|“||There's Always a Bigger Monster||”|
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths makes use of monster movie tropes, and is especially inspired by Kaiju (a Japanese genre of films featuring giant monsters like Godzilla). The set is mostly designed bottom-up, but there are also some top-down individual card designs. Monsters are the focal point of the set. Monsters are fighting other monsters, and monsters are fighting humans and their cities. As in Core 2020, the Gainlands appear over the basic lands in about 5/12 boosters.
The set contains 274 cards (111 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 15 basic lands), and includes randomly inserted premium versions of all cards. A unique Buy-a-Box promotional card is also considered to be part of the set. Cards with an alternate card frames have another card number than the original version. The Buy-a-Box is #275, borderless planeswalkers are numbered #276-278, Showcase cards are numbered #279-313, and the extended artwork cards are numbered #314-363. The Bundle promo is numbered #364, and the FNM-treatment cards from the universal promo pack are numbered #365-369. Finally, there are Godzilla Series Monster cards that are numbered #370-387. Both regular and foil versions of most of these cards may be found in the Collector Boosters.
The setting is Ikoria, a plane of beasts and monsters. As the world of Ikoria developed, humans quickly realized what types of defenses were needed to stave off monsters. The humans were quick to become both militaristic and ingenious. Unfortunately for the humans, the monsters of Ikoria have begun to mutate and the fortresses that were previously successful at protecting humans have now become fodder for the monsters to annihilate. Featured planeswalkers are Vivien Reid, Lukka and Narset.
The cards that represent the Story Spotlights in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths are:
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is sold in regular 16-card Draft Boosters (one card being a marketing card), mono-colored Theme Boosters, Collector Boosters, the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths bundle and five Commander decks. The Draft Boosters feature artwork from Vivien, Monsters' Advocate, Kogla, the Titan Ape and Prickly Marmoset. The Theme Boosters feature art from Titanoth Rex (Monsters), Fight as One (), Frost Lynx (), Cunning Nightbonder (), Porcuparrot (), and Humble Naturalist (). The Collector Boosters feature a showcase version of the key art.
Godzilla Series Monster cards
Each booster box contains a box topper. For the box toppers Wizards of the Coast partnered with Toho Corporation to feature its iconic monsters such as Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. These cards, called the Godzilla Series Monster cards, feature Godzilla themed "skins" on reprints of regular cards. The name of the original card is featured in a small font below the Godzilla name of the card. The skin name is considered flavor text and has no effect on game play.
Each booster box has a single-card Box Topper pack featuring a foil Godzilla Series Monster card. In Japanese boosters, there are 18 different Box topper cards in foil, three of which are only in Japanese. Due to an internal error, these Japanese-only cards do not appear in English or French Collector Boosters. In all other languages, there are 15 different box toppers. WPN stores will have an additional foil Godzilla card as part of the Buy-a-Box promotion.
The 20th card with this treatment is a second Buy-a-Box card through a promotional event; this being Hangarback Walker as Mechagodzilla. The Hangarback Walker is not considered to be be a part of the Ikoria set.
Godzilla Series' card are also featured Magic Online (as a part of Treasure Chests) and MTG Arena. While all 19 cards from Ikoria are featured in Arena, Magic Online only featured 15 cards (The non-Japanese Box Topper cards other than Void Beckoner, as well as the Buy-a-Box). The 3 Japanese-only cards will have their Godzilla name in their supported language in the Arena version.
- Magic Online and MTG Arena release: April 16, 2020.
- Tabletop Prerelease / Release: April 17, 2020 (Asia) / May 15, 2020 (North America, Europe, Latin America, and Australia/New Zealand).
- Commander Nights: April 27–June 18. A weekly Commander league with rotating rules and achievement-based prizes.
- Prerelease: a stamped card that can be any rare or mythic rare of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
- Other events: cards from the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths universal promo pack.
- Buy-a-Box: foil Godzilla, King of the Monsters (Zilortha, Strength Incarnate, but only available in its Godzilla Series form).
- Bundle promo: foil alternate art Colossification.
- "Welcome Back": Mechagodzilla, Battle Fortress (buy any booster box).
- "Love Your LGS": Reliquary Tower (buy any product).
- Box topper: see Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths/Box Toppers
- 1/1 Cat creature with lifelink, created by Cubwarden.
- 1/1 Cat Bird creature with flying, created by Skycat Sovereign.
- 1/1 Human Soldier creature, created by Bastion of Remembrance, Daysquad Marshal, Forbidden Friendship, Garrison Cat, General's Enforcer, Nightsquad Commando and Valiant Rescuer (1 of 3).
- 1/1 Human Soldier creature (2 of 3).
- 1/1 Human Soldier creature (3 of 3).
- 8/8 Kraken creature, created by Ominous Seas.
- X/X Shark creature with flying, created by Shark Typhoon.
- Artifact named Feather with ", Sacrifice Feather: Return target Phoenix card from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped," created by Everquill Phoenix.
- 1/1 Dinosaur creature with haste, created by Forbidden Friendship.
- 3/3 Beast creature, created by Trumpeting Gnarr and Vivien, Monsters' Advocate.
- X/X Dinosaur Beast creature with trample, created by Quartzwood Crasher.
- Emblem for Narset of the Ancient Way.
- Companion marker.
Themes and mechanics
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is about "building your own monsters". This is represented by the keyword ability mutate. You can mutate a creature you control by paying the mutate cost and placing the card below or above a non-Human creature. They mutate into the creature on top plus all abilities from under it. A creature can be mutated multiple times. Mutate was first referred to on the silver-bordered card Surgeon General Commander in Unsanctioned.
The set also introduces the mechanic companion. The companion ability lists a deckbuilding rule. If your starting deck follows that rule, then the legendary creature outside the game (i.e. sideboard) can serve as your chosen companion. Originally the mechanic allowed players to play their companion from the sideboard as if that card is in your hand once during the game, it was later modified to players may pay to move their companion from sideboard to hand in sorcery speed (See Notable card for details). Once your companion enters the game it doesn't return to the sideboard at the rest of the game.
The set makes use of keyword counters. These were introduced on a test card in the Mystery Booster set (Recycla-bird with Flying counters). The set uses twelve different types of counters (thirteen including loyalty counters). The others are bounty, foreshadow, +1/+1, deathtouch, first strike, flying, hexproof, lifelink, menace, reach, trample and vigilance counters. Note that double strike and indestructible counters only appear on cards in the C20-set, and not in Ikoria itself. Some creatures gain variable ability counters, and tying into the theme of granting keywords there are several creatures that reward creatures with particular keywords (keyword "lords").
Color-wise, the set is enemy color themed, leaning into wedges for the apex predator legends and associated triomes. This is reflected in the uncommon multicolor cards: three cycles of enemy-color and one cycle of hybrid ally-color signposts. Unlike Khans of Tarkir, this implementation of wedges focuses on the common enemy color (ex. for the wedge, Indatha is primarily black, while Abzan is primarily white). Fixing is more prevalent than in Khans but it tends towards splashes more than even splits, and there are only ten cards (two Rare cycles) that can only be cast with full wedge mana. Overall enemy color decks are most populous with gold support, while allied color decks have minor support and full wedge decks are less likely from format speed.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths supports the following draft archetypes:
- : Human-tribal (General's Enforcer & Dire Tactics)
- : Noncreature spells (Sprite Dragon & Channeled Force)
- : Graveyard recursion (Skull Prophet & Back for More)
- : Cycling (Savai Thundermane & Zenith Flare)
- : Mutate (Parcelbeast & Primal Empathy)
- : Flying (Jubilant Skybonder)
- : Flash (Cunning Nightbonder)
- : Menace (Sonorous Howlbonder)
- : Trample (Proud Wildbonder)
- : Vigilance (Alert Heedbonder)
All allied color combinations have an archetype focused on a keyword in those color types.
The set introduces the Otter creature type and reintroduces the Shark type. It also features the first standard-legal Brushwagg since Mirage (Almighty Brushwagg), and the first black-bordered Squirrel since Odyssey (Helica Glider).
|Mythos||Mythos of Snapdax||Mythos of Illuna||Mythos of Nethroi||Mythos of Vadrok||Mythos of Brokkos|
|Five rare monocolored spells that become better if the associated wedge mana was also spent to cast it.|
|Rare mutants||Cubwarden||Sea-Dasher Octopus||Dirge Bat||Everquill Phoenix||Gemrazer|
|Five rare creatures with mutate.|
|X mutants||Huntmaster Liger||Archipelagore||Insatiable Hemophage||Porcuparrot||Auspicious Starrix|
|Five uncommon creatures with mutate and an ability that scales based off the number of times it mutated.|
|Counter cyclers||Splendor Mare||Avian Oddity||Void Beckoner||Sanctuary Smasher||Titanoth Rex|
|Five uncommon creatures with cycling that put a given keyword counter on a creature when cycled.|
|Mentors||Keensight Mentor (vigilance)||Wingspan Mentor (flying)||Duskfang Mentor (lifelink)||Frillscare Mentor (menace)||Hornbash Mentor (trample)|
|Five uncommon Humans, that when they enter the battlefield put a given keyword counter on a creature, and tap to put a +1/+1 counter on creatures with that keyword.|
|Apex powers||Will of the All-Hunter||Boon of the Wish-Giver||Call of the Death-Dweller||Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor||Charge of the Forever-Beast|
|Five uncommon monocolored spells that are each associated with one of the Apexes.|
|Modal creatures||Helica Glider||Wingfold Pteron||Boot Nipper||Ferocious Tigorilla||Flycatcher Giraffid|
|Five common creatures that enter the battlefield with your choice of one of two keyword counters.|
|Common mutants||Vulpikeet||Dreamtail Heron||Cavern Whisperer||Cloudpiercer||Migratory Greathorn|
|Five common creatures with mutate and a mutation trigger.|
|Keyword bonus spells||Solid Footing (vigilance)||Gust of Wind (flying)||Mutual Destruction (flash)||Tentative Connection (menace)||Ram Through (trample)|
|Five common noncreature spells that reward having one of the five keywords supported below.|
|Keyword lords||Skycat Sovereign (flying)||Slitherwisp (flash)||Labyrinth Raptor (menace)||Quartzwood Crasher (trample)||Frondland Felidar (vigilance)|
|Five rare allied colored creatures, each one of which has an evergreen keyword ability and cares about creatures you control with that keyword.|
|Bonders||Jubilant Skybonder (flying)||Cunning Nightbonder (flash)||Sonorous Howlbonder (menace)||Proud Wildbonder (trample)||Alert Heedbonder (vigilance)|
|Five uncommon hybrid mana allied colored Humans, each one of which cares about creatures you control with a specific evergreen keyword.|
|Mythic humans||General Kudro of Drannith||Rielle, the Everwise||Chevill, Bane of Monsters||Winota, Joiner of Forces||Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy|
|Five mythic rare enemy colored legendary Human creatures.|
|Two-mana signposts||General's Enforcer||Sprite Dragon||Skull Prophet||Savai Thundermane||Parcelbeast|
|Five uncommon enemy colored creatures, each a signpost for a draft archetype and each costing two mana to cast (or in one case, two mana to mutate.)|
|Signpost spells||Dire Tactics||Channeled Force||Back for More||Zenith Flare||Primal Empathy|
|Five uncommon enemy-colored noncreature spells, each another signpost for a draft archetype but is also generically powerful while giving a clear clue on what strategy it supports.|
|Hybrid mutants||Necropanther||Lore Drakkis||Boneyard Lurker||Regal Leosaur||Trumpeting Gnarr|
|Five uncommon enemy colored creatures with a mutate cost that uses hybrid mana, making them easier to splash in limited formats.|
|Apexes||Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt||Illuna, Apex of Wishes||Nethroi, Apex of Death||Vadrok, Apex of Thunder||Brokkos, Apex of Forever|
|Five mythic rare wedge colored legendary creatures with mutate. The mutate cost is XHNN, where H is a hybrid cost with both enemy colors to N, which facilitates easier playability in two-color decks.|
|Ultimatums||Ruinous Ultimatum||Genesis Ultimatum||Eerie Ultimatum||Inspired Ultimatum||Emergent Ultimatum|
|Five rare wedge colored sorceries with powerful effects and mana costs in the format MMNNNOO. This completes the cycle started in Shards of Alara.|
|Enchantments||Offspring's Revenge||Song of Creation||Death's Oasis||Whirlwind of Thought||Titans' Nest|
|Five rare wedge colored enchantments.|
|Crystals||Savai Crystal||Ketria Crystal||Indatha Crystal||Raugrin Crystal||Zagoth Crystal|
|Five uncommon wedge colored mana stones, one for each triome. Each costs and has cycling .|
|Triomes||Savai Triome||Ketria Triome||Indatha Triome||Raugrin Triome||Zagoth Triome|
|Five rare wedge colored taplands, one for each triome. Each has the three basic land types associated with their colors and has cycling .|
color pair cares about flash, flash isn't something that makes sense for a keyword counter, so the black mentor instead cares about lifelink. The other allied pairs care about flying (), menace (), trample () and vigilance ().While the
|Drannith Stinger ()||Drannith Healer ()||Two common Humans, each being a bear with cycling and having a triggered ability whenever you cycle another card.|
The following cards have been reprinted:
- Adventurous Impulse, first printed in Dominaria, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Anticipate, first printed in Dragons of Tarkir, last seen in Core Set 2020.
- Blazing Volley, first printed in Amonkhet, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Bristling Boar, first printed in Core Set 2019, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Capture Sphere, first printed in Guilds of Ravnica, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Cathartic Reunion, first printed in Kaladesh, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Convolute, first printed in Ravnica: City of Guilds, last seen in Core Set 2020.
- Corpse Churn, first printed in Oath of the Gatewatch.
- Dark Bargain, first printed in Dominaria.
- Dead Weight, first printed in Innistrad, last seen in Guilds of Ravnica.
- Divine Arrow, first printed in War of the Spark.
- Essence Scatter, first printed in Magic 2010, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Evolving Wilds, first printed in Rise of the Eldrazi, last seen in Commander 2019.
- Fertilid, first printed in Morningtide, last seen in Battlebond.
- Frenzied Raptor, first printed in Ixalan, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Frost Lynx, first printed in Magic 2015, last seen in Core Set 2020.
- Greater Sandwurm, first printed in Amonkhet, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Ivy Elemental, first printed in Odyssey, last seen in Iconic Masters.
- Lead the Stampede, first printed in Mirrodin Besieged, last seen in Mystery Booster — now notably a Story Spotlight.
- Pacifism, first printed in Mirage, last seen in Mystery Booster.
- Plummet, first printed in Archenemy, last seen in Theros Beyond Death.
- Unlikely Aid, first printed in War of the Spark.
- All 10 gainlands, first printed in Khans of Tarkir, last seen as a complete cycle in Core Set 2020.
- Savai Sabertooth is a functional reprint of Prowling Caracal, including creature types, and a functional reprint of Blade of the Sixth Pride, Devilthorn Fox, Dromoka Warrior, Knight of New Benalia, Oreskos Swiftclaw and Raptor Companion, except for creature types.
Planeswalker decks are discontinued for expansions. For this set, they are replaced by five Commander decks (Ikoria Commander). This is essentially Commander 2020 aligning with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. The 71 new cards in the decks are set on the world of Ikoria, but the reprints can be from anywhere. There are a handful of cards from the main Ikoria set in these decks in the reprint slots, but the number is fairly small. The cards are only legal in Eternal formats like Legacy, Vintage, and Pauper. They have their own expansion symbol and set code (C20) to set them apart.
|Ruthless Regiment||W||B||R||Jirina Kudro|
|Arcane Maelstrom||U||R||G||Kalamax, the Stormsire|
|Symbiotic Swarm||W||B||G||Kathril, Aspect Warper|
|Timeless Wisdom||W||U||R||Gavi, Nest Warden|
|Enhanced Evolution||U||B||G||Otrimi, the Ever-Playful|
- The Companion mechanic received an unprecedented rules change on June 1, 2020 (June 4 for Digital versions), a month after Ikoria's release: Companion creatures were deemed to be too strong as they dominated in almost every constructed format - three of them were even being banned in at least one sanctioned format in less than two months, prompting WotC to change Companion's rules altogether:
- Lutri, the Spellchaser was banned in Brawl the day it was released in digital form. But more notably, mtgcommander.net, the governing body of Commander, announced Lutri's commander ban on the day it was spoiled. Lutri's deck restriction overlapped Commander/Brawl's singleton construction rule, which created an unfair environment to Blue-Red decks and the rest.
- Zirda, the Dawnwaker and Lurrus Of The Dream-Den were banned in Legacy - the fastest ever ban in the format (other than cards that received a 0-day ban like Mind's Desire).
- Surprisingly, Lurrus Of The Dream-Den was also banned in Vintage. Lurrus' deckbuilding restriction mattered very little in formats built around cheap permanents and restriction has no effect against it, so Lurrus was banned. Lurrus is also the first card banned in Vintage specifically for power level reasons. It was later returned to the format in February 2021, given that the companion tax had long since been established to be effective. Lurrus remains a strong contender in all formats it remains legal in.
- Yorion, Sky Nomad had the greatest impact in Standard, where "Yorion Piles" were archetypes dedicated to using Sagas and other entry-effect enchantments from Theros Beyond Death to generate value, and dominated the midrange, control and ramp ends of the metagame its entire Standard run. Leaning towards a long-game strategy, it was least affected by the rules change and tended to underperform in larger formats where five (and later three-plus-five) mana was hard to invest.
- Kaheera, the Orphanguard and Jegantha, the Wellspring were the easiest to free-roll, the former happening in creature-less or low-creature decks, while Jegantha's restriction was the easiest to achieve, but also quickly cuttable. Obosh, the Preypiercer had minor success pre- and post-change, with the restriction easily manageable with larger formats expanding the 1-drop slot, or with Adventure creatures filling the curve.
- The remaining three had minor impacts on formats, mostly Standard only. Gyruda, Doom of Depths generated a combo deck revolving around resolving as many Gyruda triggers as possible, but as a six-mana blue spell, it was far too vulnerable. Umori, the Collector had some success pre-change in mutate decks, but the rules change crippled its cost-reduction ability, as usually, it wanted to be cast turn 3 before an explosive turn 4. Keruga, the Macrosage had some potential in Fires of Invention decks with Adventure creatures, but eventually it was clear the lack of cheap interaction was untenable and was eventually supplanted by Yorion before the rules change.
Banned and Restricted cards
- Winota, Joiner of Forces asked for cheap non-Humans to cheat out powerful Humans, which resulted in decks attempting to rush out as many copies of Agent of Treachery as possible. While this was alleviated in Standard with the banning of Agent, such an effect would only get more powerful and was hence banned in Historic in July and Brawl in May - it was in fact so powerful the Historic suspension was done under emergency timing.
- The Godzilla Series Monster card Spacegodzilla, Death Corona had an unfortunate name in view of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic that developed after its creation. All reprint editions of the set will remove this card. On MTG Arena, it was renamed to Spacegodzilla, Void Invader. And in Magic Online, the card won't be distributed in Treasure Chests. Note that this is a special version of the card Void Beckoner, which will not be affected by any changes.
- Kogla, the Titan Ape is a reference to King Kong. Its rules text is similar to the M11 "titan trigger". While well known in relation to Godzilla as a western Kaiju-esque creation, it has no special treatment likely due to the rights largely being owned by Universal Studios. Yidaro, Wandering Monster is a similar case, a reference to the Daiei-owned (and Toho Co. rival) Japanese Kaiju Gamera.
- Shark Typhoon is a reference to the Sharknado franchise.
- Adaptive Shimmerer, Cryptic Trilobite, Farfinder and Mysterious Egg join the short list as the fourth to seventh colorless non-artifact non-Eldrazi creatures.
- The art of Forbidden Friendship, Capture Sphere and Cathartic Reunion tells a story about a bonder and his monster. A similar story is also told by Proud Wildbonder and Fully Grown.
- Flame Spill is a near-functional reprint and black bordered version, of Super-Duper Death Ray from Unstable. Ram Through similarly uses the mechanic.
- Fiend Artisan is the first mythic rare hybrid mana card to be printed in a booster pack since the rarity was introduced in Shards of Alara, almost 12 years earlier.
- The design of The Ozolith was inspired by the silver-bordered Giant Fan.
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- SheldonMenery. Twitter.
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- Mark Rosewater (April 8, 2020). "Yes, Super-Duper Death Ray comes to black border (well, almost, it doesn’t technically have trample).". Blogatog. Tumblr.
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