The world is a crazy place right now. So when I saw cards called "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" and "Babygodzilla, Ruin Reborn" being spoiled, I thought I was having some sort of fever dream. I couldn't believe these were real cards that we'd get to play with.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths transports us to a plane filled with humans, monsters, big monsters and somehow even bigger monsters.
We've seen the introduction of the "mutate" mechanic, the "keyword counter" cycle and the ability to have a companion. We've also seen the return of cycling to Standard.
The plane itself is broken down into five geographic regions called "triomes." We've got Savai (white, red, black), Ketria (blue, red, green), Indatha (white, black, green), Raugrin (white, blue red) and Zagoth (blue, black, green). Each of these triomes has a dominant "monster-clade" (creature type) and an Apex Monster.
I initially pegged Ikoria as a big monster set that would make the average Timmy happy, but wouldn't necessarily progress beyond that. The spoilers we've seen since tell us that while large creatures are the recurring theme for the set, there is the potential for each triome to birth a secondary archetype. The blue, red and green (Ketria!) spoilers appear to have formed the basis for spells-matters decks.
When we look at the spells in the current Standard format, the options are a little lacking. It's been a while since we've seen this kind of deck do well. A format that is dominated by big ramp spells and Teferi, Time Raveler doesn't bode well for the traditional Arclight Phoenix deck.
But with a little help from Ikoria, it looks like these kinds of decks might be back on the table!
Presenting my spoiler card for this preview season… Song of Creation!
Song of Creation is a rare enchantment from Ikoria, presumably of the Ketria triome.
Personally, I love the way this card unites the three colors that make up its casting cost: green for playing additional lands, blue for drawing cards, and red to punish you for attempting to gain some card advantage.
The art by Noah Bradley (@noahbradley) and the flavor text are both exquisite.
But aside from being a beautiful card, Song of Creation also has an abundance of text on it—so let's break it down!
This card was initially difficult to evaluate. It seemed good, however, somewhere between the mana cost and the last line of rules text, I had to consider its playability.
What if I told you that discarding your hand at the beginning of your end step wasn't always a bad thing?
When Rielle, the Everwise was spoiled last week, I saw it as an impressive card with a lot of potential. But while I could see the possibilities for Rielle, the Everwise in Commander, I wasn't so sure what role it would play in Standard.
What pushes Rielle, the Everwise over the top here is the final line of rules text: "Whenever you discard one or more cards for the first time each turn, draw that many cards." So with Song of Creation, the effect says that as long as your end step is the first time you're discarding that turn, you will draw cards equal to the number you discarded; refilling your hand and negating the final line of text on Song of Creation.
Even without Rielle, the Everwise, putting cards into your graveyard isn't always a bad thing. Ikoria may bring us behemoths, but Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is large, in charge, and here to stay.
When trying to brew decks with Song of Creation I began to form a list of cards that appeared to have some synergy with what this enchantment is trying to do.
This is a short version of what was a long (and maybe a little crazy) list:
The first card I wanted to build around was Arclight Phoenix. It would have to be Temur (or Ketria, as we may now come to call it) which gave us some room to grow.
Here's where I ended up:
Ultimately, we also have the ability to incorporate cards like Improbable Alliance, but for now I like just playing with Irencrag Pyromancer.
Trying to make Arclight Phoenix happen wasn't enough for me though. I decided to go down the rabbit hole of a self-mill deck which attempts to win with Thassa's Oracle or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, but also offers some alternate win conditions (although they don't look as fun).
When I initially looked at this deck it was more invested in the mill plan. However as I revised the list, I liked the midrange plan better. If you wanted to lean more into the mill aspect of this deck, we could feature cards like Ashiok, Dream Render and Merfolk Secretkeeper.
Typically, sideboards are not something that you can realistically build properly prior to a format being defined. However, most of the blue decks that see Standard play will likely need to make room for some mainboard Aether Gust. We will also need an amount of reactive spells to manage our opponent's side of the board and be able to deal with cards like Narset, Parter of Veils.
I am still holding out hope that Ikoria will give us the lands we'll need to support a three-colored set, and the mana we'll desperately want once shock lands rotate out of Standard. For this reason, the manabases provided in the decklists above are estimations.
One thing we can all agree on is that Song of Creation is going to see play in more formats than just Standard.
Song of Creation strikes me as a card that could easily find a home in Commander decks. Decks that are not creature-centric will welcome this card.
One of my personal favorites is Maelstrom Wanderer, and I look forward to slotting this in!
Looking at Song of Creation in Limited, I believe the playability is primarily tied to a land cycle being printed into the set and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths also having accessible mana fixing. The format would also have to allow for decks that are able to discard their hand during their end step and still be able to win games. While I lean toward the card not being very good here, it is something to keep an eye on.
Overall my takeaway is that Song of Creation is a fun and innovative new card with room to grow. The ways in which we see this card being played in different formats will change as we continue through the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths preview season.
Let's be real though, if Craterhoof Behemoth isn't reprinted into Ikoria, is it really the lair of behemoths?
Thanks to Wizards of the Coast for giving me this amazing spoiler (#freepreview) to share with you all, and to you, the reader for reading this!