Welcome back fellow Planeswalkers. The full Magic: The Gathering Ikoria set has been revealed and oh my is there some fantastic cards! Join us as we share some of our favourites. Whether it be casual play, competitive value, or just stunning artwork, there will be something for you. So, let’s get exploring!
Let’s start off with casual play and some very useful, easily acquired common cards. Also, so much fun can be had from a pauper game or format! Keeping control of the board is half the battle in most cases. And having creatures to hit your opponents face with is always nice. Sticky creatures are even better. Cards such as Garrison Cat and Aegis Turtle gives a higher chance to retain some presence on the board for a later mutate.
Other creatures, such as Cavern Whisperer, Serrated Scorpion, and Drannith Stinger can bring the hurt to the opponent. Whether this is discarding their cards or reducing their health total point by point, it can keep the pressure on. Having multiple threats or different tactics and ploys can keep your opponent juggling the fire trying not to get burnt.
When it comes to card value, Essence Symbiote and Mysterious Egg can gain clout each time you Mutate becoming a bigger threat as time goes on. But, if you want to bring out the big threats quicker then Fertilid and Humble Naturalist can ramp up you mana dramatically. Potentially bring out the behemoths a few turns early!
If you are looking for threat prevention and control, then there are plenty of options. Pacifism and Dead Weight can reduce, completely nullify, or out right destroy a creature on the board. This is potent when the opponent has spent a lot of mana on one beast only to have it rendered useless. If you wanted to just prevent a threat from entering the board then Convolute and Essence Scatter can prevent those spells from resolving.
Other spells can help out by quickly reacting to situations. Tricks such as Heightened Reflexes, Fully Grown, and Thwart the Enemy can allow your creatures to come out on top in battle or just out right prevent a swing from the opponent. Very useful if you have a retort on the following turn.
Lastly, there are a plethora of Cycle and draw cards in this set. Making sure you get to the cards you want and need can mean the difference between winning and losing. But, what about potentially destroying a creature and drawing? Yes please. Fire Prophecy does just that and removes a dead card from your hand.
For the competitive circuit, there were a few cards that jumped out. First of all, Tri-Lands! With a multitude of solid multi-coloured cards, having these lands live for when you need them makes everything smoother. But, they also come with Cycle for when you want to dig deeper during late game. Good stuff!
What about creatures? Well, Snapdax, Gemrazer, and Brokkos come to mind. Gemrazer being a 3 mana, Mutate artifact/enchantment removal granting reach and trample? Yes please! Great for weenies, big beasts, and everything inbetween. Snapdax is similar for more mana with double strike and dealing damage instead. As for Brokkos, I like this card as it provides a constant, everlasting threat unless exiled.
Other creatures, such as Luminous Broodmoth can keep you board nice and healthy and in the air! Whilst Fiend Artisan can become monstrous in no time at all! But, mana ramping creatures are something to keep an eye on. Some of which mentioned above. But, Parcelbeast and Kinnan can ramp your mana dramatically. If you really want to drop that Titanoth Rex for fun, go for it!
As for spells, the Ultimatum spells are awesome. All of them have a valid spots in decks even if it is just a one of. Those that focus on filling the graveyard might also want to grab a Call of the Death Dweller to unleash even more horrifying creatures upon their foes!
Lastly, the Planeswalkers. For Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, you gain access to to the top three cards of your deck by exiling them, swap out a current creature for a bigger one, and deal damage to opponents equal total power you have. Awesome! As for Narset of the Ancient Way, gaining life, gaining mana, threat removal, and more threat removal! It will be great for both to see play. Lastly Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate. Casting from the top of your deck is fantastic. Smacking down a 3/3 beast with a choice of counters is great. And summoning a smaller creature when you cast a creature spell really ramps up your board. Some good tactics all round!
Fun and Interesting
Now for some interesting and fun cards you could experiment with. If you really want to enjoy whacky times or to pull of something wild, sporadic, and powerful then these are for you. First up is the Song of Creation. Can be cast on turn 4 but, if you wait just a couple more turns you can have some serious fun. By initiating mega ramp by playing two lands a turn, you candraw 2 whenever you cast a spell. Yes, you will have to discard your entire hand at the end step. But, with an insane draw engine and the fuel to burn, your plays per turn will be off significantly higher! Especially if your creatures are low cost!
A combo that is pretty ridiculous is summoning a Titanoth Rex with a Proud Wildbonder on the battlefield. By allowing all trample damage through, the opponent will be hit with a massive 11 damage in one attack. Want to make it even more crazy? Of course you do! Slap on a Double Strike Mutate such as Snapdax and you have a 22 damage swing with Titanoth Rex. Ouch!
If you like drawing and big monsters then this might be for you. Ominous Seas is a 2 cost Enchantment whereby you can add a foreshadow counter everytime you draw. You can remove 8 counters to create a 8/8 Kraken!. With the sheer amount of Cycle and Draw effects, including the aforementioned Song of Creation, present in this set alone it is easy to see a Kraken emerging from the depths way before the normal turn 8 for that type of monster. Even better if you can place multiple of this enchantments. Release the Kraken!
Last up is appreciation to the beautiful work by the artists. Every card in this set is absolutely stunning and fully encaptivates us in the worlds they help create. We have a few favourites we would like to share. First of all, the Kaheera, Orphanguard. The depiction of such a impressive yet caring beast and the adopted younglings. Such a wonderful and warming piece created by Ryan Pancoast. Just want to cuddle all the cubs!
Next up, Savai Thundermane by Svetlin Velinov. The roar and crackles can almost be felt through the card as the Lion presents itself in all its glory. Details from the lightning glow in its mouth, the multiple tails infused with energy, to the great static charged air surrounding the beast. Truly heart pumping!
This card has already been talked about in our interview with artist Lee Setiawan, and it is the cute elemental otter Lutri, the Spell Chaser. I personally love this card for many reasons. From the blue and red matching the boarder, the water effects, to the differences between the magic displayed on its back and between its grasp. Even the simple things such as how it looks like its playing with the gathering crackling arcane like it would a smooth stone. Marvelous!
Moving onto lands now, and there is one that truly calms the soul. And that is the Ketria Triome by Sam Burly. The heavy fall of water crashing against the rocks and flourishing flora peaks the ears. You brush through luscious undergrowth to run your fingers through the cool, fresh, cascading water. Sweet wild flowers entice you nose as the vapour from the falling river being caught by the welcoming earth caresses you skin. The entire scene is very peaceful.
Lastly, there are two cards that naturally pair together. A wonderful piece of story telling. The cards Forbidden Friendship and Cathartic Reunion, by Jakub Kasper tells a tale of man and beast forming a bond in chaotic times. The flavour text adds narrative as the quest for survival is pursued from both sides. You can see and feel the friendship growing between the two and how its not all doom and gloom in the world. Excellent piece!
And that is you lot! I hope you enjoyed our favourite cards from the upcoming set Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. What are your favourite cards and why? Let us know in the comment section below. Stay tuned for more news, reviews, and previews. Until next time, smile and game!