Mutate – “To Mutate a creature, you pay its Mutate cost targeting a non-Human creature that you own. This combines the two (or more!) creatures into one with all of the abilities of both creatures! If the creature you targeted had Auras or counters on it, the new combination will keep everything that was already there. Lots of the Mutate creatures give you a bonus for successfully mutating, you get that bonus each and every time you Mutate! Mutate was our way to express how the monsters of Ikoria have recently been evolving rapidly due to an awakening of mysterious crystals. Previously, the humans of Ikoria would be able to create defenses that would keep the monsters at bay but recently monsters have been mutating so quickly that the humans barely stand a chance!”
Companion – “With Companion, you get a chance to start with a one-shot guaranteed extra card ready to cast from the start of the game sort of like it was in your opening hand. Now, in order to get this to happen, you will have had to build your deck around the Companion restriction that that each Companion has. Every Companion restriction is different and building your deck around it is part of the fun! Even if you aren’t hitting the Companion challenge, you can always add your Companion to your deck just like it was any other Magic card. Ikoria is a set about monsters. One piece of this is capturing how monsters connect with the humans of the world. In Ikoria, monsters and humans are on equal footing, in order to bond with one another both the monster and the human must be agreeable to the connection. We wanted the new Companion mechanic to capture this connection and bring that right to our players.”
Ability Counters – “Ability Counters are a great way to represent how the creatures of Ikoria grow and change. Typically in a game of Magic, effects that are granted are temporary. +1/+1 counters have always stuck around for as long as the creature was on the battlefield and with Ability Counters we have expanded the types of effects that will continue past end of turn. Now you can grant permanent flying, trample, menace, etc. and the Ikoria Commander decks even let you grant permanent indestructibility! The landscape of Ikoria is filled with mysterious crystals that have begun to radiate causing the monsters to evolve at an accelerated rate. Ability Counters were our way to represent this evolution through a permanent gameplay enhancement.”
Cycling – “Cycling came about from a practical sense. While Cycling has appeared in many Magic sets and is a well-loved mechanic, with Ikoria it helped us solve the issue that would occur as your hand filled up with too many giant monsters! Sometimes it just makes sense to cycle into a few more lands so that you can start casting all of those behemoths.”Our exclusive card reveal is for Death’s Oasis – and it’s less a monster than a monster’s graveyard. This three-colour enchantment is designed to capitalise on the beefy monsters in your deck, using their deaths to allow for new life to pop unexpectedly out of your deck at little cost.
Check out both designs of the card below, and Mike Turian’s explanation of its strengths, weaknesses and origins below:
IGN: Could you briefly explain the strengths and weaknesses of this card for a beginner?
Mike Turian: “Death’s Oasis has a lot of strengths going for it. For starters it can supply a virtually endless supply of creatures. The fact that every time one of your nontoken creatures dies, you get to bring back a creature to your hand from your graveyard means that once Death’s Oasis gets going there isn’t much to stop it. There are two added bonuses as well. The 2-card mill means that you will get some new options to return to your hand with each creature that dies. The second bonus is that you can sacrifice it for some additional life you are in need of a few extra life to stay alive.
“As for weaknesses, Death’s Oasis needs to combine with creatures as it doesn’t do anything without getting some creatures into play. So Death’s Oasis won’t win you the game by itself but once you have some creatures in play and others in your graveyard, that is when it really shines.”
IGN: How might this card combo with others in the set?
MT: “Ikoria is a set filled with monsters, both big and small. This is exactly what a card like Death’s Oasis wants! Fill your deck up with creatures and Death’s Oasis and you can start tasting victory!”
IGN: Where did the design process for this card begin?
MT: “I believe a lot of the inspiration for this card came from the Soulshift mechanic in Kamigawa block. We knew we wanted an enchantment for each of the three-color wedges and this wedge was taking on some elements of recursion. This design felt like a good match for that game play, while providing some fun deckbuilding considerations, and giving the sense that nature keeps coming back for more.”
IGN: How do you see this card affecting Limited or Constructed play?
MT: “In Limited, once Death’s Oasis comes out, you will be able to trade creatures without repercussion. It is a Rare though, so it won’t be available that often in Limited. For Constructed, we see it fitting more into either sideboards for Standard or slotted perfectly into WBG Commander decks. WBG Commander decks are often filled with creatures and recursion so Death’s Oasis is likely a perfect fit!”
Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths will be released for digital Magic: The Gathering games on April 16, with a physical release to follow on May 15.