We are in full swing of preview season for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoth, so it’s perfect time to go over what’s coming out and see what will be included where.  Overall this set looks like it will be a lot of fun. The new Companion mechanic imposes deckbuilding limitations, which may enable new styles of play in sixty-card decks. Many other powerful cards seem poised to change metagames across formats.

While there are a bunch of slam dunk picks that will be good, let us see if we can dig up some hidden gems within the Lair of Behemoths. Here are some potential sleepers for Standard, Modern, and Legacy.


Izzet decks are a good place to start with Standard, thanks to Rielle, the Everwise. Arclight Phoenix remains in the format, making it fairly easy to build a solid Izzet spells deck with serious payoff.  Rielle really cares about trying to discard spells in order to get a rummage engine going. In the format we have Cathartic Reunion and Thrill of Possibility, so we have two easy ways to discard cards and churn through our deck.

Rielle also gives you a real threat to back up Crackling Drake and the Phoenix to apply a fast clock against the opponent. Throw in a bunch of self-mill that remains in Standard, and you can find the Arclights quickly to get the payoffs you need. While I think Rielle looks like a lot of fun at face value, the correct shell could potentially be a real contender in Standard.

The card that really intrigues me, however, is Kaheera, the Orphanguard.  It has the new Companion mechanic, but its restriction may not actually hinder deckbuilding too much. Between some cards in Throne of Eldraine like Questing Beast and Lovestruck Beast, a lot of the Elementals in 2020, and a whole bunch of messes with the Simic Combine, you have a lot of creature types in those colors that fit the criteria.  Having a guaranteed anthem sitting on the side until you’re ready to use it makes Kaheera really potent.

On top of the flexibility in creature types, the hybrid green/white mana cost makes it easier to fit Kaheera into other shells beyond just Selesnya. Even if we put the Companion aspect to the side, a three-mana 3/2 that anthems is good enough on its own in a deck built around it.


Let’s move now to Modern. I am no expert on Human, but even though Ikoria is called Lair of Behemoths, the set has a number of strong human cards too. The first one I see that could find some slots is General Kudro of Drannith. As an additional anthem, General Kudro can build on the aggressive starts the deck can have. But the biggest upside on General Kudro is the static ability—exiling cards in opponents graveyard whenever another human hits the board. While I don’t think the General has maindeck potential, I expect this card can improve sideboard slots for the deck.

Drannith as a whole works against graveyard shenanigans, and you can see that with Drannith Magistrate. Hitting decks like Dredge, Storm, and decks that play Uro and Kroxa, this card can really tax their strategies.  While Humans already has a good matchup against some of those decks, this add more countermeasures. Being a white spell, it can also fit into the various taxes-style midrange decks to like Orzhov Eldrazi Taxes. And with it’s low mana cost, there are plenty of ways to slot this into a deck that could potentially need it.


Only one Ikoria preview card has attracted Legacy attention, and to be honest I am jumping on the hype train too for Lurrus of the Dream-Den. There is one deck this can slot into that can play a big role: Storm. Lurrus can be cast off a single Dark Ritual, and all of Storm’s permanents cost zero mana. That means Lurrus fits perfectly into the sideboard and can be played easily to set up some recursion. The deck doesn’t have to reconfigure the maindeck at all.

Lurrus only buys back one permanent a turn, but returning a Lion’s Eye Diamond or Lotus Petal does a lot of work. You can actually grind out opponents over many turns, and even attack with Lurrus if the coast is clear. With the addition of Hope of Ghirapur, you can lock up protection against other combo decks and protect your combo. I will love to see what the Storm aficionados do with this card.

With Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths around the corner, what cards have you excited to play with?

Zack a veteran grinder at this point plays most of his magic online nowadays. That doesn’t mean you won’t find him occasionally slinging spells at an Open or Grand Prix. Catch him streaming on Twitch to find where he’s at with all the formats.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.