Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths: Magic Online Edition

Posted in Magic Online on April 10, 2020

By Alli Steele

Welcome back to Magic Online for another new set! Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is a big one, and I don't just mean the huge monsters. (Though have you seen the size of them? An 11/11 at uncommon?) This set was a massive work effort, comparable to the tremendous scope of work that Oath of the Gatewatch handed us in 2015. Like my boss and Sr. Digital Project Manager Chris Kiritz says in his article, this took twice the usual amount of developer-hours to put together, and our engineers went above and beyond on several occasions to get it all done. We've recognized their hard work internally, but I want to give them a public shout-out, as this set was a real monster to get done.

But now, it's built. It's here. And you'll all get to play starting on Thursday, April 16. Events will start up at 10 a.m. Pacific time (UTC-7), and we'll have a full suite of options: Sealed, Draft, and of course, all the Constructed formats will have a full set of new cards to play with. Full details on the available events are below, but as a spoiler: there are no big changes to most of our event offerings.

We're going to start downtime at 9 a.m. Pacific time, with the plan to be back up and running by noon. Once we're back up, we'll still be running the Modern Cube, and everything will be ready to start the following day.

One thing to keep in mind: all new cards will be legal in Constructed formats immediately following the downtime. So, if you've got a plan that involves Fertilid, Corpse Churn, and Greater Sandwurm in Standard, you can do that even before you get the IKO versions of those cards. (But, like, write an article about that plan because I'm sure it's wild.)

Another thing to note: Chris mentioned it in his article as well, but cards from Ikoria Commander (C20) won't be out with the main set. We're currently targeting end of May to release as many of them as we can. There are 71 new cards, and I can't promise we'll get everything, but we're giving priority to the legendary creatures in the set, so if all goes according to plan there will be a lot more potential commanders to brew with before June.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Redemption Schedule

  • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths will be available for redemption beginning May 13.
  • The Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths redemption guarantee will end July 29.
  • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths redemption will end entirely September 2.

A Companionable Mechanic

In the world of Ikoria, some humans have a special ability to form a mystical bond with monsters, allowing them to share much of their lives together. It's called the eludha, but in the mystical language of Magic: The Gathering rules, we can just call it "companion." You can read more about how it works in Magic generally here.

As for Magic Online, here's how it's going to work. If you want to use a creature's companion ability, first thing you'll do is put it into your sideboard. That's it. That's the tweet. If your deck meets the condition, you'll be prompted to choose it as your companion at the start of the game.

Okay, but there's a difference between "how it works" and "how you're going to be able to use it." If you take a look at the companion card in your sideboard, it'll have stripes on the card's black border. Red stripes indicate that the companion condition is not met; maybe you have a Luminous Broodmoth in your Jegantha deck, or maybe you have a Luminous Broodmoth in your Kaheera deck, or just maybe you have a Luminous Broodmoth in your Lurrus deck. If you right-click the red-striped companion card, you'll see a new option in the menu: "Show cards incompatible with companion." Click that, and all the cards that screw up your ability to use that card's companion ability will get their own red stripes.

On the other hand, if the companion card in your sideboard has blue stripes, that means that your deck meets the condition to use it as the companion. So, like, let's say you have a Luminous Broodmoth in your creature-based Umori deck, or you have exactly one Luminous Broodmoth in your Lutri deck, or you have a Luminous Broodmoth in your Gyruda deck. Assuming everything else checks out, the companion will have blue stripes, and that's how you know that you're good to go.

Of course, if you have multiple viable companions in your sideboard, then at the start of the game you'll be asked to pick one of them. Or none of them. These are unlikely scenarios, of course, but if you really want to play without a companion that you built your deck for, please do so with our blessing.

Counting All Those Counters

For those players who have been with us at least a year and a half, you may recall that we updated the appearance of counters displayed on permanents. I'm not saying that was done specifically for Ikoria, but it was certainly inspired by the design discussions that were being had at the time. We were going from a world where you only ever really had one kind of counter on a permanent to something that . . . well, Crystalline Giant is a card now, okay? Keyword counters are a thing now.

Many Counters

Many More Counters

Many More Counters Zoomed

We needed a way to be able to identify counters at a glance, not just for the people playing our game but also for the people streaming our game. (Our market research shows that people being able to recognize what's going on is important. Who knew?) So, we built this framework. You should read developer Chris Bellach's article on the topic, if you haven't already.

Keyword counters, one of the less crazy mechanics in this set, are pretty different from any other kind of counter that goes on a permanent in that they have an inherent rules meaning that isn't just changing power and toughness. So it seems natural that they have a different color scheme—the purple you're seeing will appear only on them.

Interacting with all these counters won't be fundamentally different, though. Cards like Liliana's Triumph that ask you to specify which counters among those on a permanent will work the same. But for those that recall the proliferate rules change that came with War of the Spark, now you understand one of the other reasons that change was made. All those keyword counters provide keywords that are redundant in multiples, and dealing with extra clicks just to make them work with proliferate was just an obstacle to smooth play.

Avatars of Ikoria

Ikoria introduces all the usual avatars and then some. There's just too much . . . well, I'm getting ahead of myself. One thing at a time.

For all new accounts, and anyone who picks up an Ikoria Deck Builder's Essentials, there's the Monsters of Ikoria avatar.

Monsters of Ikoria Avatar

Then we have the Prestige Avatars. As a refresher on how these work: every time you go undefeated in a League, either Limited or Constructed, you get a trophy object as part of your prize. Some are Competitive Trophies, some are Friendly Trophies, and you should check the league prizes to be sure which is available to be claimed. At the end of the season (i.e. when the next set is released), you can get these special untradeable avatars based on how many points you accumulate. Each Friendly Trophy is worth one point, and each Competitive Trophy is worth five.

If you can get five or more points, you'll get this sweet Narset avatar.

IKO Uncommon Prestige Avatar

At twenty points, you'll also get the Vivien prestige avatar.

IKO Rare Prestige Avatar

At forty points, you'll get the highest level of prestige avatar: this mythic rare avatar of Magic's newest planeswalker, Lukka.

IKO Mythic Rare Prestige Avatar

And now we get to the best part. You've all seen the set by now. More importantly, you've all seen how cute some of the monsters in this set are by now. Typically, each non-Commander set has one or two avatars appearing in Treasure Chests, featuring the most adorable card in the set. Since that's an impossible choice here, we decided to mutate onto the way treasure chest avatars are made and offer you just about every adorable critter in the set.

IKO Avatars

Alternative Play Calendar

In order to support players stuck at home during this global pandemic, we made some late changes to the Alternative Play Calendar for last season. One of those changes: the launch of the Modern Cube on April 8, affects Ikoria season. For the first time, we're going to keep the active cube running during the launch of a new set without interruption.

So, this calendar is a little unusual.

  • April 8–22: Modern Cube. An instant classic as soon as it was released. We'll see how releasing Ikoria in the middle of a Modern Cube run goes.
  • April 22–29: Vintage Cube. The forerunner of all other cubes, the Vintage Cube is always good times. We'll have a small update to this cube since the last time we ran it, which was . . . *checks notes* . . . a week and a half ago from this article's publishing.
  • April 29–May 6: Invasion Block Flashback Encore Draft. This was originally going to run in late March, but we put a surprise Vintage Cube up instead. We said at the time that we were going to do something fun with this event to make up for the fact that it was rescheduled at effectively the last minute. But what to do? And should it be Flashback (phantom) or Encore (keepsies)? Our answer to all of these: structure it like a Flashback, but let players keep the cards. That should be exciting enough to make up for having moved the event.
  • May 6–13: CHAOS! Draft: Gravecycling Edition. We're throwing a pile of sets in that have a cycling theme, graveyard theme, or both. Play in a Chaos Draft with cards from Odyssey block, Time Spiral block, Shards of Alara block, Innistrad block (without Avacyn Restored), Khans of Tarkir block, Shadows over Innistrad block, plus Theros Beyond Death, and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths! For the first time in Magic Online history, the current set will be in a Chaos Draft collation. Feel the history. Draft the monsters.
  • May 13–27: Spotlight Cube: [TBD]. We'll have more to say as this event gets closer.
  • May 27–June 3: War of the Spark Encore Draft. The most requested event of late is War of the Spark Encore Draft, so at the end of May, we're delivering on just that. Don't forget: as an Encore draft, not only will you keep the cards you draft, but you can also use booster packs to enter the event!
  • June 3–10: Spotlight Cube: [TBD]. Another big open space here, but if all goes well, we'll have another celebrity designer sharing their awesome cube.
  • June 10–24: Legacy Cube. We started the season with a major cube, so it's only right that we end it with one too. The Legacy Cube is back for just two weeks and will take us all the way into the next set release.

Event details

FRIENDLY SEALED LEAGUE

Schedule: This League will begin on April 16 at 10 a.m. PT. This League is planned to run until the release of Core Set 2021 in June.

Product: 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters, with the option to add an Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths booster after each of the first two stages.

Structure: 3 stages of up to 3 matches each, played at your convenience

Entry Options:

  • 24 Event Tickets
  • 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 4 Event Tickets
  • 240 Play Points

Upgrade Options:

Upgrades are available at the beginning of each stage beyond the first. Choosing any of these options will add the contents of one Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths booster to your Sealed pool.

  • 4 Event Tickets
  • 1 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths booster
  • 40 Play Points

Stage Prizes:

Stage prizes are earned for each of the three stages in the League.

  • 3 wins: 40 Play Points + 1 Friendly Trophy
  • 2 wins: 30 Play Points
  • 1 win: 20 Play Points
  • 0 wins: 10 Play Points

Course Prizes:

Course prizes are earned after completing all three stages.

  • 9 wins: 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 200 Play Points
  • 8 wins: 2 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 200 Play Points
  • 7 wins: 1 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths booster + 200 Play Points
  • 6 wins: 200 Play Points
  • 5 wins: 100 Play Points
  • 4 wins: 50 Play Points

COMPETITIVE SEALED LEAGUE

Schedule: This League will begin on April 16 at 10 a.m. PT. This League is planned to run until the release of Core Set 2021 in June.

Product: 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters

Structure: Up to 5 matches, played at your convenience

Entry Options:

  • 24 Event Tickets
  • 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 4 Event Tickets
  • 240 Play Points

Prizes:

  • 5 wins: 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 360 Play Points + 5 Qualifier Points + 1 Competitive Trophy
  • 4 wins: 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 240 Play Points + 2 Qualifier Points
  • 3 wins: 1 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths booster + 120 Play Points + 1 Qualifier Point

IKORIA: LAIR OF BEHEMOTHS DRAFT LEAGUE

Schedule: This League will begin on April 16 at 10 a.m. PT. This League is planned to run until the release of Core Set 2021 in June.

Product: 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters

Structure: Draft, then up to 3 matches at your convenience

Entry Options:

  • 12 Event Tickets
  • 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 2 Event Tickets
  • 120 Play Points

Prizes:

  • 3 wins: 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 2 Qualifier Points + 1 Competitive Trophy
  • 2 wins: 2 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters

IKORIA: LAIR OF BEHEMOTHS ELIMINATION DRAFT

Schedule: This queue will launch on April 16 at 10 a.m. PT and is planned to run until the release of Core Set 2021 in June. Events launch as soon as eight players have joined.

Product: 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters

Structure: Draft, then single-elimination rounds until a winner emerges. Round 1 will begin as soon as the deck-building period after the draft ends. Rounds 2 and 3 will begin 2 minutes after the last match in the previous round ends.

Entry Options:

  • 15 Event Tickets
  • 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 5 Event Tickets
  • 150 Play Points
  • 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 50 Play Points

Prizes:

  • Winner: 6 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 150 Play Points + 3 Qualifier Points + 1 Competitive Trophy
  • 2nd Place: 3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths boosters + 150 Play Points + 1 Qualifier Point

THEROS BEYOND DEATH SWISS DRAFT

Schedule: This queue of the previous Standard set's Draft environment will launch on April 16 at 10 a.m. PT and is planned to run until the release of Core Set 2021 in June. Events launch as soon as eight players have joined.

Product: 3 Theros Beyond Death boosters

Structure: Draft, then single-elimination rounds until a winner emerges. Round 1 will begin as soon as the deck-building period after the draft ends. Rounds 2 and 3 will begin 2 minutes after the last match in the previous round ends.

Entry Options:

  • 12 Event Tickets
  • 3 Theros Beyond Death boosters + 2 Event Tickets
  • 120 Play Points

Prizes:

  • 3 wins: 6 Theros Beyond Death boosters + 2 Qualifier Points + 1 Friendly Trophy
  • 2 wins: 2 Theros Beyond Death boosters

CONSTRUCTED LEAGUES

Schedule: These Leagues run continuously but reset with downtimes that introduce new Standard-legal sets. The downtime to introduce Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths will begin at approximately 9 a.m. Pacific Time on April 15. This League will run until the next reset, happening with the release of Core Set 2021 in June.

Formats: Standard, Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and Pauper

Structure: Up to 5 matches, played at your convenience

Entry options:

  • 10 Event Tickets
  • 100 Play Points

Prizes:

  • 5 Wins: 150 Play Points + 5 Qualifier Points + 11 Treasure Chests + 1 Competitive Trophy
  • 4 Wins: 120 Play Points + 2 Qualifier Points + 5 Treasure Chests
  • 3 Wins: 100 Play Points + 1 Qualifier Point + 1 Treasure Chest
  • 2 Wins: 50 Play Points

CUBE ELIMINATION DRAFTS

Schedule: These Leagues will begin at approximately 10 a.m. PT on the first day listed, which is always a Wednesday. These leagues will be closed to new entries at 10 a.m. PT on the last day listed and ended no later than 2 p.m. that same day.

Entry Options:

  • 10 Event Tickets
  • 100 Play Points

Product: Based on event

Structure: Draft, then up to 3 matches played at your convenience

Prize Structure:

  • 3 wins: 240 Play Points + 2 Qualifier Points + 1 Competitive Trophy + 1 Treasure Chest
  • 2 wins: 160 Play Points
  • 1 win: 100 Play Points

ALTERNATIVE PLAY DRAFT LEAGUE (EXCEPT WAR OF THE SPARK ENCORE DRAFT)

Schedule: These Leagues will begin at approximately 10 a.m. PT on the first day listed, which is always a Wednesday. These leagues will be closed to new entries at 10 a.m. PT on the last day listed and ended no later than 2 p.m. that same day.

Entry Options:

  • 10 Event Tickets
  • 100 Play Points

Product: Based on event

Structure: Draft, then up to 3 matches played at your convenience

Prize Structure:

  • 3 wins: 150 Play Points + 2 Qualifier Points + 1 Friendly Trophy + 1 Treasure Chest
  • 2 wins: 100 Play Points
  • 1 win: 50 Play Points

WAR OF THE SPARK ENCORE DRAFT LEAGUE

Schedule: This League will begin on May 27 at 10 a.m. PT. This League is planned to run until the same time on June 3.

Product: 3 War of the Spark boosters

Structure: Draft, then up to 3 matches at your convenience

Entry Options:

  • 12 Event Tickets
  • 3 War of the Spark boosters + 2 Event Tickets
  • 120 Play Points

Prizes:

  • 3 wins: 6 War of the Spark boosters + 2 Qualifier Points + 1 Competitive Trophy
  • 2 wins: 2 War of the Spark boosters

Updating the Treasure Chests

This update is largely in line with what's come before, though several sets that were underserved by Treasure Chests are included in larger quantities now. We've also made sure to include some cards for Commander players, as Commander play on Magic Online has increased significantly recently. And of course, the Sleepy Puppy from Theros Beyond Death has been replaced by a whole host of cute Ikoria avatars.

Additionally, Modern Horizons cards can now appear in the "Modern-Era Rare/Mythic Rare" list.

Other interesting changes: all Masterpiece (Zendikar Expeditions, Kaladesh Inventions, Amonkhet Invocations, and the Ravnica Planeswalker Masterpieces) cards have been removed from the Treasure Chest; we do not expect them to return, though we cannot promise that will always be the case.

All changes to the Treasure Chest will be made during the downtime on April 15. Any treasure chests opened after we come up from downtime will be pulling from the new collation. Full details on the Treasure Chest changes can be found on the Treasure Chest information page starting the day before it goes live.

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