This expansion introduces players to another new world (plane), Ikoria, a world of monsters. Ikoria has five distinct geographic regions:
Crystalline forests, rivers, and waterfalls distinguish the region of Ketria. It is dominated by Elements, and is home to Illuna, Apex of Wishes.
Dinosaurs command the region of Raugrin, a coastal region of white-sand beaches surrounded by volcanic mountains - Vadrok, Apex of Thunder makes its home here.
In the teeming rainforests of Zagoth, Beasts stand at the top of the food chain. Zagoth is home to Brokkos, Apex of Forever.
Finally, there's Savai; a region of grassy plains, mountains, and swampy subterranean tunnels in which cats are dominant. Savai is home to Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt. It is also in Savai that humans have built their largest sanctuary, the fortified city of Drannith.
Throughout Ikoria, crystals channelling natural energies allow monsters to mutate, creating a constant threat to the human population.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is the 84th expansion for Magic the Gathering (MtG), released on 24 April 2020. 274 cards make up this set: 111 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, and 15 basic lands.
The core cards are sold in Regular (Draft) Boosters, five themed Boosters, five Commander Decks, and a Bundle.
Collectors will be able to chase a further 113 alternate art and promo cards. These will be available at in-store events or from products such as Collector Boosters.
The design of this set has taken much from the Japanese Kaiju film genre, which features giant monsters (most notably, Godzilla). Eighteen of the 113 alternate art cards feature a Godzilla series monster in place of the original artwork. Due to an error, only 15 will actually be available in English language products. Players purchasing a Booster Box in store will receive a promotional box topper: Godzilla, King of Monsters (The alternate art for Zilortha, Strength Incarnate).
The new mechanics: Mutate and Keyword Counters represent the key theme of the set, "create your own monster".
New Key Word Ability
There are two ways to play a creature with the Mutate keyword: As a creature, for its casting cost, or on to an existing creature, for its Mutate cost.
When played for its Mutate cost, the card is placed on top or beneath a creature in play. If placed on top, it gains the abilities of the creature(s) beneath it. If placed beneath, the creature on top gains it's abilities.
A test card in the Mystery Booster set introduced Keyword Counters. Ikoria marks its first appearance on standard legal cards.
Keyword Counters provide a permanent bonus to the card applied to. Keyword Counters can give a creature one or more abilities, such as Menace, Trample, or Flying in this way.
A mechanic introduced on ten legendary creatures in this set. A creature with the Companion keyword has a deck-building rule. If the player constructs a deck to the specified requirement, the Companion is not shuffled into the player's deck. Instead it starts outside the game.
Once during the game, the Companion can be cast from outside the game. If the spell resolves, the Companion enters the game for good. A Companion cannot be exiled from the battleground, returned to the player's hand, nor shuffled into the player's library.
Cycling is a popular mechanic that has featured in a number of expansions. It triggers whilst the card is in the player's hand. The player may pay the Cycle cost and trigger the effect (usually to discard the card and draw a replacement).
As with previous MtG expansions, Wizards of the Coast have released a number of pre-constructed decks as part of this set's product range. Players can pick up one (or more) of five Commander decks which are ready to play, straight from the box:
Ruthless Regiment (White, Black, and Red), Arcane Maelstrom (Blue, Red, and Green), Symbiotic Swarm (White, Black, and Green), Timeless Wisdom (White, Blue, and Red), and Enhanced Evolution (Blue, Black, and Green).
Pre-constructed decks are an ideal way for new players to get started with the game.
Thoughts on the Set
Ikoria Lair of Behemoths is a solid expansion that gives players some fun new tools and mechanics to play with. The Keyword Counters mechanic stands out a fun mechanic to experiment with. I particularly like the mentors: Keensight Mentor, Wingspan Mentor, Duskfang Mentor, Frillscare Mentor and Hornbash Mentor.
Collectors will love the alternate artwork and showcase cards, especially the Godzilla series cards, which look cool.