Keyword counters, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths’ new mechanic

Magic: The Gathering Arena. Image Courtesy Netmarble, Wizards of the Coast
Magic: The Gathering Arena. Image Courtesy Netmarble, Wizards of the Coast /

We’re just under two weeks away from the print release to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths! We’re continuing to look at the new mechanics this new expansion brings. This week, we put the spotlight on keyword counters.

May 15th is fast approaching, which means we’ll soon have our hands on the print release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Last week, we took a look at the new Mutate mechanic and we’re continuing to spotlight the new mechanics Ikoria is bringing with keyword counters.

Counters are nothing new to Magic: The Gathering—we’re all familiar to counters giving a +x/+y boost to creatures. Keyword counters take things to the next level by giving creatures permanent abilities. The ultimate power boost that really ups the staying power of your creatures.

There is an array of keyword counters that cards will be able to give, with more options likely debuting as these counters are used in future sets (as seen above for the Commander 2020 set). The first eight counters used for Ikoria are:

  • Deathtouch
    Any amount of damage this deals to a creature is enough to destroy it.
  • First strike
    A creature with first strike deals combat damage before creatures without first strike.
  • Flying
    This creature can’t be blocked except by creatures with flying and/or reach.
  • Lifelink
    Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.
  • Menace
    This creature can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.
  • Reach
    This creature can block creatures with flying.
  • Trample
    This creature can deal excess combat damage to player or planeswalker it’s attacking.
  • Vigilance
    Attacking doesn’t cause this creature to tap.

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These abilities are sure to offer some new ways to play.  Some important notes about these counters include that stacking the same counter on the same creature won’t provide the same benefit that stacking +x/+y counters would. Most interestingly, using these counters on non-creature permanents could lead to interesting outcomes. They may not have an effect until those cards become a creature, or using deathtouch and lifelink on non-creature cards that cause damage may have some unexpected benefits.

Next. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths brings new mechanic: MUTATE. dark

Do you like the idea of keyword counters? Let us know how you plan on using them (or if you have used them in Magic Arena) in the comments below!