First Impressions of Ikoria

We don’t have the entire card list for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, but what we do have is most of the big hits.

And goodness me, there are some doozies. We need to talk about what price you’re going to buy these for, and how patient you need to be.

We have to start with the knowledge that this set is going to be opened at a different pace than every other set. Cards are going to be in hand in Asia before they are in the US. The stateside prerelease has been pushed back a month, meaning that there will be a time period where our only supply is international resellers.

That’s a huge disruption in the normal flow of things, which is to be expected in the time of COVID-19. It’s going to mean that prices are not going to drop in the usual way for some time (if they ever do!).

I fully expect that Ikoria will be opened in lesser amounts than the usual set would be. Last year at this time we were getting War of the Spark, which was later impacted by the awesome draft environment of Modern Horizons.

With the pandemic, I don’t have any idea how long it’ll take for us to open cards and have some sense of normalcy. Not many vendors are doing preorder sales, and at the same time, not a lot of players are eager to buy cards that they can’t use in person yet.

I wish I had some sense for how many players are buying right now, but it can’t be high. If you’re looking to spec on cards, I would strongly advise against that. Most things are overpriced right now, and will be until the set is more widely distributed.

For example: 

These lands are instantly known as the tricycle lands, and as the rare cycle in the set should land somewhere in the $5 range.

Right now, on Star City Games:

They are listed as sold out. I don’t know who might have bought them immediately, but I’m sure there’s a few overeager folks out there. Please don’t buy the regular copies at $10.

That’s not to say I don’t love these for longer-term specs. I completely expect these to show up in assorted Modern lists as a one-of, because if you would have fetched for a shockland at the end of turn and not paid two life, you might as well give yourself this flexibility! Plus you can cycle it away late-game if a land isn’t what you need.

The showcase versions of these lands are GORGEOUS, and are instantly one of my favorite specs once we’re opening cards as we normally would. In terms of prices, I expect the normal versions to be $4-$5 (might spike after shocklands rotate from Standard) with the Showcase at $10+ and the foil Showcase a cool $30-$40.

As of Thursday night, we have four of the five Ultimatums (missing only the Temur one, I expect that to be revealed Friday morning) and they are SWEET. The first cycle of Ultimatums was designed before Commander became popular; these five are clearly made with the 100-card format in mind.

Again, I don’t think these are cards you should be rushing out to buy, but they are absolutely my favorite long-term hold in the set. These are purest gold in Commander, where three colors (or more) are all over the place. I know that my five-color The Ur-Dragon deck is going to need a close examination of the manabase and what spells it can support. I surely want to destroy all my opponents’ nonland permanents, or bring back EVERY PERMANENT IN MY GRAVEYARD.

Thank goodness this cycle is only rare and not mythic.

In terms of prices, I don’t think these will be $100 for the Extended Art foil, but $60 seems reasonable. Almost everyone who opens one of these will either put it in their deck or someone will trade it from them immediately. I’ll be surprised if the regular nonfoils get below $2.

There’s two mythics I especially want to address, which have a whole lot of buzz and excitement.

Luminous Broodmoth is good with a whole lot of cards that care about counters, but it’s also just good in a white deck that makes the rest of your creatures come back in case of a Time Wipe. Aggro decks didn’t really need the help, as they are a healthy part of the metagame, but the moth also enables blocks as trades but really aren’t trades. The combo potential is through the roof in Commander, and TCG has preorders for $14 or so. That’s a really tempting price, and very close to what the price will be in a few weeks. If you really want them, I’d say go ahead and get them, but I’m not sure why you have to have them in hand immediately. They definitely aren’t going to spike to $20+ right away, but I could see that happening in a few months.

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is a sign that someone at Wizards has an addiction to UG in Commander. There’s a whole series of cards in the last year or so that are truly, powerfully, broken-format-level overpowered. In Standard, there could have been decks with Once Upon a Time, Kinnan, Golden Goose, Oko, Thief of Crowns, Leyline of Abundance, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and Hydroid Krasis. Toss in Nyxbloom Ancient if you’re feeling spicy. Who cares about a finisher, you’re tapping out and adding a couple hundred mana.

Kinnan doesn’t have any preorder prices up yet, but I fully expect this to be one of the Commanders that causes a whole genre of cards to spike. Sylvan Caryatid would be my first pick for this deck, but even basics like Llanowar Elder or Llanowar Tribe could go nuts. Keep in mind that this isn’t a doubler, just adding one more mana, so Arixmethes isn’t good for four, just three mana. You’re going to see a lot of cards jump, so be prepared to sell into some hype!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.