Wizards of the Coast kicked off the preview season for Magic: the Gathering’s newest expansion set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, with a stream full of giant monsters, new cards, beautiful art, and more.

Oh, and they revealed a literal Godzilla Magic card. Yes, that’s right, Godzilla and other (in)famous kaiju are coming to Magic in their own unique way in Ikoria.

Wizards Teams with Toho to Bring the World of Godzilla to Magic

“We have been wanting to do a giant monster set for a long time,” said Product Architect Mark Heggen. “All of our Magic sets have monsters but we wanted to find a home to really dial them up to 11, have them knock over buildings, that kind of stuff.”

“Then one day our Japan team came to us with an idea,” Heggen continued. “They sat us down and they said, ‘What if Godzilla was in the set?’ And we said, ‘Well, yeah, sure, there’s a lot of Godzilla energy and attitude, we got you covered.’ And they said, ‘No, no, no—what if Godzilla was literally in this set?'”

So Wizards reached out to the Toho Company, the Japanese film production company that is most famous for creating Godzilla and other kaiju (giant monsters) like Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla. The two companies partnered to create series of cards “that kind of merges the Godzilla world with a Magic world in a very new and exciting way.”

The result is Godzilla Series, which features 19 monsters in Ikoria that were reimagined as Toho kaiju. Below, you’ll see the normal version of Vadrok, Apex Thunder, one of Ikoria’s giant monsters, on the left and its showcase version on the middle. On the right is Rodan, Titan of Winged Fury—the Godzilla Series Monster version of Vadrok.

The three versions of Vadrok in the various Ikoria boosters.

You’ll notice Rodan has a “subname” that matches Vadrok and that the card has the same cost, creature type, abilities, and power and toughness. In practice, this means that Rodan is actually a copy of Vadrok in all senses and is just an alternate card style.

And, yes, one of those Godzilla Series Monsters is Godzilla itself. Godzilla, King of the Monsters is an alternate version of Zilortha, Strength Incarnate, the latter of which hasn’t been previewed yet.

Actual factual Godzilla on a Magic card.

Godzilla itself will only be available as a Buy-a-Box of Ikoria booster boxes, while 15 of the other Godzilla Series Monsters will only be available as part of Ikoria Collector Boosters or as one of the random additional Box Toppers with Ikoria booster boxes. The remaining three cards in the Godzilla Series Monsters will be specific to Japanese draft boosters, which will also have a chance to include the other 15 non-Buy-a-Box Monsters.

COVID-19 and Spacegodzilla

Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait.

More seriously, there is a months-long period between the finalization of a Magic set and its release into the world. Events rarely move fast enough for this delay to cause any problems but the rise of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, happened so quickly that Wizards felt forced to address an unexpected situation.

Spacegodzilla, one of the many variations of the Godzilla character, uses a so-called “corona beam” as its main mode of attack. Wizards played with this character for the Godzilla Series Monster version of Void Beckoner: Spacegodzilla, Death Corona.

Void Beckoner and its Godzilla Series Monster versions.

The card with that name, which has an unfortunate overlap with the deadly coronavirus that began to sweep the globe after the card was named, will appear in the first printings of Ikoria draft boosters. Wizards will change its name to Spacegodzilla, Void Invader on its digital platforms and will not reprint Spacegodzilla, Death Corona in future printings of Ikoria draft boosters.

Given the unique and rare nature of Spacegodzilla, Death Corona, it’s very likely that the card will be one of the rarest and most sought-after Magic cards in recent history.

Previews and Mechanics

Due to Ikoria’s shortened preview season, today’s kickoff featured an avalanche of previews. Many of the cards are the 19 Godzilla Series Monsters—all of which will have been previewed by the end of the day—while others are examples of Ikoria’s mechanics.

Cycling, one of Magic’s most popular mechanics, is back in Ikoria. Many of the plane’s giant monsters have cycling on them, as well, which will allow you to cycle them away for a new card if you won’t have enough mana to cast them for a while.

Keyword counters are a new mechanic to Ikoria and is exactly what it sounds like. Magic has a long history of spells that give creatures temporary abilities and auras that provide permanent abilities. Keyword counters function similarly to how auras work except that it is a counter that grants the creature the ability.

There are nine total keyword counters: flying, first strike, deathtouch, hexproof, lifeline, menace, reach, trample, and vigilance. “Don’t worry,” Dave Humphreys said on stream, “There aren’t very many hexproof counters.”

Mutate is one of Ikoria‘s crazier mechanics and allows you to combine creatures to create your own giant monster. If you cast a spell for its mutate cost, you can place the mutate spell either on top of or underneath another non-human creature. The new, mutated creature will have the power and toughness of the top-most card and all of the abilities on every card that makes up the mutated creature.

And, yes, you can keep mutating your creatures with more and more mutate spells to your heart’s content. Read today’s rules article or watch the mechanic video for more information.

Companion is Ikoria’s final mechanic and is by far its most unique. There are 10 companions and each has its own deckbuilding constraint. For Keruga, the Macrosage, that constraint is not including any one- or two-cost cards in your deck.

If your deck meets the constraint, you may choose up to one copy of that card as your companion. That card starts the game outside of your deck, in your sideboard, and doesn’t count towards your deck’s minimum size. Before the game, you must reveal your companion and then you can cast it from your sideboard during the game. You can include up to three other copies of your companion in your deck as normal, cards with companion don’t have to be used as companions if you don’t want them to be, and you can use a companion in Commander and Brawl, as well.

This mechanic has a lot of crazy implications in every Magic format. One of the most obvious is Lutri, the Spellchaser, which would allow any Izzet Commander or Brawl deck to include an automatic 101st card. Due to that, Wizards said that the card will begin its life on both the Commander and Brawl ban lists.

Lutri got banned in Commander and Brawl before it was even released.

Characters and Story

Vivien and Lukka are the main characters of Ikoria’s story.

Ikoria’s story will be told in Sundered Bond, an ebook by Django Wexler that comes out on April 7, 2020. One of the main characters of the story will be Vivien Reid, who was last seen in War of the Spark and has come to Ikoria to research the Ikoria’s incredible monsters.

The other character will be Lukka, the mysterious face we saw on the cover of Sundered Bond. Lukka is a member of the Coppercoats, a military organization that is in charge of protecting Drannith (the largest city on Ikoria) from giant monsters.

“His job is to keep cities safe from monsters,” said Doug Beyer, Magic’s Principal Creative Designer. “But he’s kind of torn because during the course of the story, he finds that he has this mystical connection with monsters that’s called bonding, and that means that you have this emotional, empathic connection with a monster. Bonding is a huge part of Ikoria—the more that a human and monster bond, the more that they bring out the best in each other.”

This couldn’t come at a worse time for Lukka because Ikoria is changing rapidly. “Creatures are mutating and hypbridizing more than ever. The city of Dranath, which is the largest sanctuary on this plane, is being attacked on all sides, and Lukka is there stuck in the middle. He’s formed this connection with this monster but that’s pulling him away from his duties.”

Not only that, Beyer says, but Lukka is “actually in a relationship with Jirina, the daughter of the general [General Kudro], his boss. So he’s stuck between worlds and he has to figure out what to do.”

Things really start to move when Vivien shows up to check out Ikoria’s native monsters. “They’re all going to come together and there’s going to be a huge—situation,” Beyer concluded.

More Previews to Come

If there weren’t enough previews for you today, then don’t worry, there are plenty more on the way. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths’ preview season continues over the weekend and ends on April 9. There might even be one posted exclusively on this site sometime over the weekend—you’ll just have to wait to find out.

And don’t forget that the tabletop release for Ikoria in most of the world has been delayed to May 20, 2020. The set will still be available on Magic Arena and Magic Online as originally scheduled on April 16, 2020.

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