Two weeks ago, I started telling the story of hybrid mana. It was too long for a single article, so today, I'm telling the rest of the story. The last article ended with us talking about hybrid's use in Alara Reborn.

Return to Ravnica Block

Deathrite Shaman Biomass Mutation

Hybrid's next return would take three years and coincide with the return to the plane that first premiered it, Ravnica. The Return to Ravnica block repeated hybrid's use from the original Ravnica block, a vertical cycle (common, uncommon, and rare) for each of the two-color pairs, five in Return to Ravnica and five in Gatecrash. Unlike the original Ravnica block, there was no ten-card cycle built into hybrid. This time, the Guildmages were multicolor. Hybrid's use in these sets doesn't innovate much on hybrid, mostly finding good overlap space.

Savageborn Hydra

The one exception is Savageborn Hydra in Dragon's Maze, the last set in the block. It had an activated ability that designers strongly felt needed to have colored mana in it for balance, but it was a cheap activation, so they only wanted one colored mana pip. If we just chose red mana or green mana, the card would bend heavily toward decks that played more of that color, and we wanted the card to be balanced between red and green. The solution was to use hybrid, as that allowed the card to function evenly between the two colors.

Its inclusion is interesting because this was the first time where hybrid solved a problem and we felt comfortable with having just one hybrid card in the set. In some ways, this was the time where hybrid truly became deciduous. It was a valuable tool R&D had access to, and we would use it on a card-by-card basis when needed.

Fate Reforged

Alesha, Who Smiles at Death Brutal Hordechief Soulfire Grand Master

Another three years went by before hybrid's next return. Fate Reforged was an interesting set. R&D had decided that every other year, we wanted the third set in the block to be a large set with a new suite of mechanics that was drafted by itself. Trying to shake things up, I came up with a novel block plan. Khans of Tarkir and Dragons of Tarkir, the first and third sets in the block, would each be a large set with its own mechanics. Fate Reforged, the small second set, would be drafted with each. We created a whole storyline (Sarkhan going into the past to save Ugin, and thus, all the dragons) where the middle set represented the past and the two large sets were different timelines.

When we started designing Fate Reforged, we realized we had a unique challenge. Khans of Tarkir was a three-color wedge set. Dragons of Tarkir was a two-color ally set. How could Fate Reforged have cards that played into both a three-color and a two-color theme? The answer, of course, was hybrid. We created two cycles of creature cards, one legendary, that had a monocolor casting cost and a hybrid cost in its rules text. Mostly they were activated abilities, but a couple were costs of a triggered ability. This gave them a three-color feel (and a three-color color identity for the purposes of Commander) but allowed you to play them with just two colors. Between the two cycles, each wedge combination was represented twice, but on two different monocolor cards, neither the shared enemy color, so that only the enemy hybrid mana costs were used.


Mary O'Kill The Big Idea

Hybrid's next appearance was two years later in Unstable, a two-color ally faction set. This would be hybrid's first appearance in a supplemental set. One of the factions was black-red supervillains. Mary O'Kill was like Savageborn Hydra in that I needed a cheap activation that wanted colored mana, but I wanted the two colors to treat it equally. I then decided to make the mana cost hybrid as well. The Big Idea originally had an activation cost of one, a black, and a red, but I wanted decks without black to be able to activate it in drafts, so I changed it to hybrid mana. We were also growing more aware of color identity as Commander continued to grow, and I wanted both these legendary creatures to have a black and red color identity.

Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance

Footlight Fiend Selesnya Locket

Expansion // Explosion

A year later, hybrid returned on our third trip to Ravnica. Hybrid again appeared in a vertical cycle and on a common cycle of artifacts. The non-artifact common cycle consisted of normal hybrid overlap designs. The artifact common cycle of Lockets was for mana fixing. It used hybrid to ensure the cards were most effective in a two-color deck of those specific colors. It was playing into hybrid's ability to make two-color pairs function like monocolor in terms of cost. A four-color hybrid cost is easy to do in a two-color deck of those colors but very hard in a two-color deck where you're only playing one color.

The uncommon and rare cards were all split cards. One of the mini cards was a traditional two-color gold card, while the other effect had a hybrid cost. The hybrids had cheaper costs that you could play early, often when you might not have drawn both colors of mana, and the traditional gold cards had higher costs, usable at a time when you most likely have drawn both colors.

War of the Spark

Ashiok, Dream Render Saheeli, Sublime Artificer Huatli, the Sun's Heart

Hybrid would follow in the very next set. War of the Spark was still located on Ravnica, but instead of focusing on the guilds, it was a "capstone event set" about a war between Nicol Bolas and several Planeswalkers. Normally, we put about three to five planeswalker cards in any given set at the time, but the nature of the story had us greatly raise the number to 36. To up the as-fan of planeswalkers in Limited, we made an uncommon ten-card cycle of hybrid planeswalkers. We had never made a hybrid planeswalker before, but because of the story's many Planeswalkers, we felt okay pushing into new design territory. (War of the Spark was also where planeswalkers having static abilities became deciduous.)

Let me talk a little bit about the value of using hybrid to up as-fan. War of the Spark had ten uncommon planeswalkers. Let's imagine they were all two-color gold cards. If you were playing white-blue, you would have access to ten percent of the uncommon planeswalkers (i.e., one of them, the white and blue one). Now, imagine they were all monocolor, two in each color. In this scenario, a white-blue deck has access to 40 percent of the uncommon planeswalkers, the two mono-white ones and the two mono-blue ones. Next, let's examine what would happen if they were all hybrid. A white-blue deck has access to 70 percent of the uncommon planeswalkers, the white-blue one, the three others with white, and the three others with blue. That's the power of hybrid. It stretches availability and makes a theme that might not have the footprint to work more viable.

Modern Horizons

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis Nature's Chant

A month later, Modern Horizons released. It's a supplemental set with more advanced themes, and it dipped its toe in hybrid. I believe Hogaak wasn't initially designed as a hybrid card, but they realized that the ability could work in both black and green and changed it to hybrid to add a little pizazz. Interestingly, Nature's Chant was one of the initial designs I made when I was first showing off hybrid all those years ago. It was a bit too narrow for the vertical cycle in original Ravnica, so it sat around for years looking for a home. It was one of our cards in our Hackathon card file handoff to prove the viability of the Modern Horizons concept.

Throne of Eldraine

Arcanist's Owl Oakhame Ranger Thunderous Snapper

Later that year, Throne of Eldraine releases. It had a monocolor theme that was part of the courts of Eldraine (the adamant mechanic also played into this). The Set Design team was interested in making a cycle of ten uncommons that played equally well in a monocolor or two-color deck, so they made a cycle of hybrid cards that all had a mana cost of four hybrid mana. Nine out of the ten were creatures (the last being a sorcery), but other than the link of their mana costs, the designs were varied. The green-white card had an adventure where the spell was also four hybrid mana.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was our monster-themed set. It made use of hybrid in a couple different ways. The splashiest was with a new mechanic called companion. They were creatures that you could chose to start with outside the game. Then, if your deck met certain deck-construction requirements, you could cast it from outside the game. Companions were a cycle of ten two-color rare creatures. There were only ten because of the tight design space. Companions were all hybrid cards to maximize how many decks could play them.

Lore Drakkis

Hybrid also showed up in a major mechanic of the set, mutate. The set had an above-average number of multicolor cards. All ten of the gold cards with mutate made use of hybrid mana. The uncommons were all enemy-color cards with hybrid mutate costs in the same colors. This made use of hybrid much as Khans of Tarkir made use of morph. If you have both of your colors, you could cast the card with its normal mana cost, but if you're missing one of the colors, the card can still be used to mutate.

Nethroi, Apex of Death

The mythic rare creature cycle had three-color wedge costs (a central color and its two enemies). Its mutate cost was its central color along with a hybrid mana of the other two colors. Like the uncommon cycle, this allowed you to mutate the card even if you haven't drawn all your colors. It's interesting to note that hybrid also had a flavorful component here as the gold mutate creatures were flavored as a cross of two or three different types of creatures.

Jubilant Skybonder Fiend Artisan

The final use of hybrid was the more traditional use of overlap design. It appeared on a cycle of uncommon creatures with ally hybrid costs. Because of the wedge component of the set, designers had to be careful with making ally-color cards, so this cycle was hybrid to make sure the cards would fit in more decks. There was also one single mythic rare hybrid design. Like Hogaak, I believe it was a design that ended up working in two colors, so it was given a hybrid cost.

Commander (2020 Edition)

Shabraz, the Skyshark

Commander (2020 Edition) was released in conjunction with Ikoria. It had one creature with a hybrid activation. As you can see, R&D is becoming more comfortable with using hybrid whenever its needed.


Emiel the Blessed Bruvac the Grandiloquent Neyith of the Dire Hunt

Jumpstart was a beginner product designed to make Limited play as simple as possible. You open two boosters, shuffle the cards together, and you have a deck. The product had several new cards (37), five of which were new legendary creature designs. The cards ideally wanted to have a two-color color identity, but most of the Jumpstart boosters were monocolor. How can cards be playable in a monocolor deck but still have a two-color color identity? Hybrid to the rescue! As R&D learned in earlier sets, if you have an activation with colored mana, you can turn that activation to hybrid mana. It's just as easy to use as if it had been one color, but now you add a second color to the color identity of the card.

Zendikar Rising

Tazri, Beacon of Unity

Shadowmoor introduced "twobrid" hybrid mana in 2008. It would take twelve years to return, and even then, just on one card. Tazri's design wanted you to have access to all the creatures with the four party creature types (Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard) as well as Allies. This required you to access all five colors. Was there a way to give Tazri a five-color color identity while still allowing you to play with less than five colors if you preferred. The answer to that problem was twobrid mana as it allowed you to use colored mana but didn't require it. Twobrid mana is something that we've tried out numerous times in sets. It's existed in several vision design files, and I'm confident it will eventually find its way back to print in a larger number than one card.

Strixhaven: School of Mages

Pest Summoning

Strixhaven: School of Mages was a two-color enemy faction set. It used hybrid in a bunch of different ways. First, it had a mechanic called learn and a new Lesson card subtype. You cast a card with the learn mechanic, and it let you put an instant or sorcery card with subtype Lesson into your hand. There were only twenty Lesson cards, so to up the as-fan, the designers made two things: five colorless Lessons and five hybrid Lessons.

Teach by Example

Strixhaven also had a common cycle of creatures and a common cycle of spells with enemy hybrid to help with as-fan. One of the traditional problems with multicolor sets is that the high number of gold cards can make it hard to get a high enough as-fan of each color. Hybrid has proven to be an excellent tool to help with this, especially in Limited.

Daemogoth Woe-Eater

At uncommon, the Strixhaven designers made an uncommon creature cycle all with mana costs with each of the colored mana along with a hybrid mana of the two colors (placed in the middle). This allowed them to have extra colored mana in the mana costs without making it harder to cast the spell in a two-color deck. One of the challenges of designing a two-color gold set is making sure the optimal play is not to just play as many colors as you can. When that happens, decks turn into what we call "good stuff," where you're just playing a collection of the best spells. This makes all the decks look similar and reduces play variety.

Blade Historian

Finally, there was a rare creature cycle where every card's mana cost was four hybrid enemy-color mana. The Strixhaven designers were borrowing a trick we'd learned in Throne of Eldraine design. This was another design choice intended to push the play of two-color decks.

Strixhaven's use of hybrid was the highest since Shadowmoor.

Modern Horizons 2

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar Ravenous Squirrel

Yet another sign that hybrid was picking up steam as a deciduous tool, two hybrid cards made it into Modern Horizons 2. Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar was a card we'd talked about making for a long time. But her name took up all the space at the top of the card, so there was no room for a mana cost. We made her cost hybrid to give her a two-color identity. Squirrels had been primary in green and secondary in black. The black-green draft archetype was Squirrels, and this card had a design that worked fine as a hybrid card.

Secret Lair x Street Fighter

Ken, Burning Brawler Chun-Li, Countless Kicks

Secret Lair x Street Fighter is the first Secret Lair with new content to use hybrid mana. Both are using old hybrid technology. Ken's use was to add white to its color identity while allowing it to function normally in a mono-red deck. Chun-Li's use was to allow a single mana for multikicker while allowing white and blue to be equally useful in kicking it.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage Tatsunari, Toad Rider

One of the big story points of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is that one of our beloved characters, Tamiyo, was Phyrexianized. As the story progressed, that would happen to other Planeswalkers as well, so Tamiyo's card was us demonstrating what a Phyrexianized planeswalker card would look like. We really wanted to use a Phyrexian mana in her cost, as Phyrexian mana is closely associated with the Phyrexians, but we only wanted to have one Phyrexian mana, and the character was two-color, so for the first time, we introduced Phyrexian hybrid mana.

Tatsunari, the only other card with a hybrid cost in the set, was another case of a legendary creature that we wanted to have a three-color identity.

Streets of New Capenna

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second Ognis, the Dragon's Lash Evelyn, the Covetous

Streets of New Capenna had a hybrid rare creature cycle, but it tried something a little different. It had a three-color shard theme (a central color and its two allies), so it made a cycle of cards that had a mana cost with its central color and two different hybrid costs, each with the central color and one of the ally colors. This would allow you to play the card with mana of its central color or one or two of the ally colors.

Over the years, R&D has talked a lot about whether we want costs to have more than one type of hybrid mana in them. There had been a bunch of confusion with Alara Reborn, which paired a hybrid mana with a normal colored mana of a third color, so we had backed off for many years. We dipped in our toes again in Streets of New Capenna, this time being a little more aggressive. The results were kind of in the middle. It wasn't beloved, but it wasn't as troublesome as the hybrid costs had been in Alara Reborn, so I expect us to do it again, but not frequently.

Brokers Initiate

There was also a common cycle of monocolor creatures with a hybrid activation of the two ally colors called Initiates. This allowed us to make three-color commons that played into the shard theme without making cards that were hard to play. (As a normal rule, we tend to avoid making too many common traditional gold three-color cards.)

Dominaria United

Ajani, Sleeper Agent

Ajani would become our second Phyrexianized planeswalker card after Dominaria United.

Jumpstart 2022

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier Kenessos, Priest of Thassa Rodolf Duskbringer

There was a new Jumpstart, so they used the same trick on a new cycle of legendary creatures that they used in the original Jumpstart.

Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Lukka, Bound to Ruin Nahiri, the Unforgiving

Phyrexia: All Will Be One had a cycle of five Phyrexianized planeswalker cards, but only two of them were multicolor, so those were the only ones with hybrid symbols in their costs.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™

Frodo, Sauron's Bane

Of all the uses of hybrid mana, I think this one is the most flavorful. Frodo, Sauron's Bane shows Frodo at the end of the story. The card wants to show the corruption of the Ring on Frodo. The card design made use of one of the most popular hybrid cards of all time, Figure of Destiny from Eventide. Each activation upgrades the creature. The initial mana cost of the card uses white mana. The final upgrade of the card uses black mana. How do you show the transition from white to black? With white-black hybrid, of course. Genius.

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Huatli, Poet of Unity
Roar of the Fifth People

Huatli lost her spark, so we wanted to make a legendary creature card for her in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan (as Ixalan is her homeworld). The set had double-faced cards, so that allowed us to do a cool design where Huatli transforms into a Saga telling the story of her people. We wanted the front to be mono-green, as that's her core color, but we wanted the card to have a color identity of all three of her colors, so we used hybrid mana for her activation to transform.

Jurassic World Collection

Indominus Rex, Alpha Indoraptor, the Perfect Hybrid

The Jurassic World Collection had two designs that made use of hybrid costs. Both were three-color cards that we wanted you to be able to cast with just two mana. Also, how could a card with "hybrid" in its name not have a hybrid cost?

Secret Lair x Doctor Who™: Regeneration

The Fourteenth Doctor

The Fourteenth Doctor was designed to be a Commander for players who wanted to build a deck around the Doctor's companion mechanic, which appears (mostly) in four colors.

Murders at Karlov Manor

Riftburst Hellion

Which brings us to Murders at Karlov Manor, which used hybrid in a couple new and different ways. The first was used to blend the disguise mechanic with the backdrop of the Ravnica setting. Disguise plays well with multicolor cards because it allows you to make use of them even if you don't have both colors. Hybrid as a disguise cost takes this one step further by allowing you to turn the card face up with just one color. That means if a two-color card is trapped in your hand but you have one of the colors, there's a means to get it onto the battlefield.

Leyline of the Guildpact

The highest number of different hybrid mana symbols in a mana cost was two back in Streets of New Capenna. Let's double that. Leyline of the Guildpact uses all four hybrid mana with green in it. This lets you to play the card with just green mana but allows any other color to help. I don't expect us to do much of this, but it's a fun thing we can do at low levels.

Flotsam // Jetsam

The set also has an uncommon split card cycle using the five ally-color combinations. Unlike Guilds of Ravnica, which combined a hybrid spell with a traditional gold spell, this cycle uses hybrid on both sides. One side is cheap to allow you to cast it early, and the second side is six mana to give you a big spell to cast later in the game. The reason it's exactly mana value 6 is so that you can use it for collect evidence (all the commons use collect evidence 6). For mana values on split cards, you add together the mana value of both spells, but to avoid players having to know that, we made all five split cards meet the common requirement on one side.

Trostani, Three Whispers

The last card was another flavorful use of hybrid. Trostani is three dryads interlinked. To show the three as distinct, each activation uses a different mana. Making the card two colors meant that the third activation needed to use green-white hybrid mana.

In Hybrid Spirits

That ends our tale of the history of hybrid mana. I hope you enjoyed seeing how the mechanic has grown and expanded over the years. It's interesting to note how it's become more and more used as a tool as time goes on. As always, I'm eager to hear your thoughts, either on this article or on hybrid mana. You can email me or contact me through any of my social media accounts (X [formerly Twitter], Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok).

Join me next week for this year's "Nuts & Bolts" column where I take a look at Play Boosters.

Until then, may you find new uses for hybrid spells.