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Analyzing Maro's Ikoria Teaser

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With the coronavirus pretty much shutting down all events, and no new sets for another couple weeks, I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to write about this week. I didn't have any sweet decks to show off, I didn't have any spoilers to talk about, but then I remembered something.

On his Tumblr blog, Mark Rosewater posted a teaser about what we can expect in the next set, Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths, when previews start on April 2nd. You can check it out for yourself at that link, but I wanted to go over some of the things he posited on his list and how I feel about them today!

Daring Sleuth

Magic's seventh Egg

I did a search for eggs in Magic, and there are nine artifact eggs - Chimeric Egg, Dingus Egg, Golden Egg, Mossfire Egg, Shadowblood Egg, Skycloud Egg, Summoner's Egg, Sungrass Egg, and Triassic Egg. Five of those are part of the Odyssey egg cycle of mana rocks.

As far as creatures go, not counting silver-bordered sets, there are three - Dragon Egg, Roc Egg, and Rukh Egg. So this is interesting. Even if you count Chimeric Egg and the Unglued Chicken Egg as a creature, that still only makes five.

But then...

I did a search for "Creature Type: Egg," and that's when things began to make sense. See, a lot of these "eggs" have been errata'd to be Eggs. During this particular search, I found the following eggs:

Interesting that Mark is including the Unglued Chicken Egg here, but that does get to any new egg being the 7th. What we can assume from this is a zero-powered creature that turns into something much larger after a requirement has been fulfilled.

A card with the text "four or more times this game"

This one is interesting. Magic, as a game, tries its hardest to limit the amount of tracking you have to do in game. This isn't something they have to worry about with digital card games. You usually only want to have to track one thing on a card at a time, which is why you'll rarely (if ever) see a card getting two different types of counters, and why the Magic Origins transformational planeswalkers were removed from the game before they transformed: in case they had any +1/+1 counters, they wouldn't get confused with loyalty counters.

This reminds me of a card like Demonic Pact, where it had four modes, and you had to keep track of which had already been used. (However, if we skip ahead, we see that the set will also have twelve different types of counters, so I would assume one of them is possibly used to track this?)

A card with the text "total power 10 or less"

This is another card we don't have enough information about, but it reminds me of things like Ghalta, Primal Hunger or the Ferocious mechanic, only in reverse. This could be anything, perhaps even a weird 12/12 creature that you need to reduce its own power for it to attack. This one is interesting because the game's default is both players having total power ten or less, so out of the gate, this isn't a hard requirement to fulfill. This is what's making me think it's attached to a creature that immediately makes you have to work for the requirement.

Magic's largest power/toughness granting aura.

This one is also interesting to me, because I love goofy auras that give huge bonuses. I actually almost won a PTQ back in the day with Alara Conscription, which was a deck that used Sovereigns of Lost Alara to find an Eldrazi Conscription and put it on an attacking creature. If we're talking about a card that grants more than +10/+10, you have my attention, because as far as I know, Eldrazi Conscription is still the biggest.

A card with the text "X is the number of times this creature has mutated"

I assume Mutate is one of the keywords in the set, and I would initially assume it's templated similarly to Evolve or Adapt, only with different criteria. This also makes it clear that, unlike Adapt, it can be done multiple times per card. This seems to have a very Simic flavor (or perhaps Unstable), even though Ikoria isn't associated with Ravnica. Considering all of the different creature types that are posted below, mutation in this set makes a lot of sense.

Magic's third and fourth card with "(Zero is even.)" reminder text.

Okay, so this just seems like a "choose even or odd" card, like Void Winnower. Nothing new, but a unique ability that doesn't happen that often. Four times, to be exact, two of which are in this very set!

Three cards with the text "different name(s)"

This is nothing new, but it's a lot more than we've seen in a single set. Usually we have one card, at most, that refers to different names, like Field of the Dead or Gifts Ungiven. But to have three in the same set, I wonder if it's a trio of cards, like three Sirens or something, that trigger an ability if you control "three Sirens with different names." I'm just using siren because something about Ikoria struck me as a "sea" set, but I have no idea. As evidenced by the next bullet point, Ikoria seems to be pulling out all the stops when it comes to excess.

Twelve different types of counters

This seems excessive to me, but typically most cards only have one type of counter that they track, so it shouldn't be a huge deal. If you think about most sets, they usually have things like loyalty counters, +1/+1 counters, saga counters, suspend counters, etc. There are a lot of potential counters out there, and I do wonder how many of these will be new. I appreciate when Magic invents new flavorful counters specific to cards, like Muster counters on Assemble the Legion, and I have to assume that at least a few of these will be one-ofs on specific cards.

A card that says "choose a kind of counter at random"

With 12 different counters in the set, this seems a little too random for me. I assume it has to be chosen from a counter that's in play, otherwise you'd just never hit the desired counter. Even then, having a card that only affects 1/3 or 1/4 of only your cards that have counters on them does seem a little narrow.

A card with the text "remove eight foreshadow counters"

Okay, so now we know that one of the 12 counters is a foreshadow counter. Eight counters is also a lot to remove, and pretty close to the ten counters that something like Dark Depths requires, so we can assume this is possibly a mythic with a powerful ability. The other alternative is that it's a bulk rare with an ability that never triggers. There's really no inbetween here.

And a cycle that players have been asking us to make for over ten years

Of all the teasers Mark listed, this is the one that excites me most. I keep trying to think of what this could be, but it's just eluding me. Someone suggested fetch lands, but Mark doesn't say "reprint," he says "make," which leaves me to believe this is a new cycle. Another suggestion was a new cycle of Ultimatums for the non-represented clans: Mardu, Jeskai, Sultai, Temur, and Abzan. The original cycle was created in Shards of Alara and only contained the Alara shards: Bant, Jund, Grixis, Naya, and Esper. Shards of Alara was also released in 2008, so it hits the "over 10 years ago" mark. I'd love to know what ideas you may have for this, because I am a sucker for a good cycle, and I can't think of many that have been desired for a decade but weren't actually printed.

Then Mark went on to list a bunch of awesome creatures types that will be in the set, which I'll rank here, in order from coolest, to least coolest:

-Dinosaur Turtle

-Elemental Otter

-Nightmare Squirrel

-Shark Beast

-Brushwagg

-Demon Kraken

-Hellion Horror

As you can tell, I'm a bigger fan of actual animals getting the fantasty treatment, than variations on existing fantasy tropes.

Confirm Suspicions

These are my thoughts on Mark's somewhat-cryptic blog post about Ikoria, which definitely seems like a set that is thematically excessive! I'd love to hear what you guys think and what predictions you may have, so be sure to leave them in the comments down below. Thanks a ton for reading, I love you guys, and I hope you're all staying safe! Be sure to use promo code FRANK5 to get 5% off, and I'll catch you guys next Wednesday.

Frank Lepore

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