Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths brings new mechanic: MUTATE


Magic: The Gathering has its 84th expansion, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, set to release in the next few weeks. The set makes use of monster movie tropes with particular inspiration by the Kaiju genre and introduces some new mechanics.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Magic’s breathtaking world where monsters take center stage. Originally scheduled to be released on April 24th, there has been a shift due to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • April 16th – Ikoria will be released on Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online
  • April 17th – Prerelease/release in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
  • May 15th – Prerelease/release in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia/New Zealand, and other countries

While most of us will have to wait a while longer, it’s a great time to take a look at some of the mechanics that are coming with this new expansion. A favorite, cycling, is returning while three new mechanics are being introduced: keyword counters, mutate, and companion. The cycling, keyword counters, and companion mechanics are fairly straight forward with mutate having some complex, but interesting, rules. With that, this article will spend some time focusing on the mutate mechanic and next week we’ll take a look at the other three.


Mutate allows you to combine creatures in new ways to build better monsters. Sure, you could just cast the new creature and have multiple creatures, but by mutating you can combine their abilities to make an even stronger creature. Another huge advantage of mutating a creature vs. casting a creature is that if it inherits the status of the mutated creature—in short, as long as the original creature hasn’t already attacked or isn’t suffering from summoning sickness, the mutated creature can attack right away.

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There are some things to keep in mind while mutating a creature. For instance, you can only mutate non-Human creatures you own. You can also decide if you want the mutation to go on top or the bottom of the original card. The new creature takes on the top card stats but inherits all abilities from the mutation(s) and the original card. Certain cards also have “Whenever this creature mutates” triggered abilities that can be triggered by multiple mutations.

Mutating can still be countered in one of two ways. The first is rather obvious, it can be countered. Like any spell, if countered, the card will head to the graveyard as expected. The second way is if the target creature has gone missing. Good news though, if the creature that was meant for mutation is taken out of play, the mutation still resolves and enters the battlefield as it’s own creature.

This new mutate mechanic, while having some complex rules with it, should lead to some intriguing gameplay. Being able to stack cards to create super monsters will no doubt lead to some interesting outcomes in your games of Magic!

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What do you think of the new mutate mechanic in the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths expansion? Let us know what you think and if you plan on using mutate in the comments below!

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.