April 8, 2020

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Daily Dose of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths #5 – Happiness begins with Removal and Vigilance

Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. The more I learn about Ikoria, the more I realize vast new mini deck-archetypes. There are some obvious ones like Mutate and Cycling, but today I want to look at one of the smaller subsets involving one of the prominent keywords in the set. Trample, Deathtouch and Vigilance each have their own subset of cards that work together in Ikoria. Vigilance is a strong mechanic, as it allows you to be offensive and defensive at the same time.

Before I talk about those Vigilance cards though, I want to talk about two new cheap removal cards you should fear the most in Ikoria Limited. Here is Heartless Act and Swallow Whole.

Heartless Act & Swallow Whole

One of the things that Magic players always love, is cheap removal spells. Heartless Act and Swallow Whole are looking to be some of the premier removal spells for Standard for months to come. Heartless Act is a dual-mode removal spell that can hit creatures from two different directions. If you look at most creatures currently used in Standard, its first mode is the most powerful. Pretty much the only ones it doesn’t currently destroy is Hydroid Krasis and Runaway Steam-Kin once it’s got some counters on it. Even with those though, mode number two of Heartless Act should help in destroying those creatures during combat with the help of some blockers. When it comes to Ikoria though, there will be a ton more counters on creatures, including ones like Flying, Deathtouch, or Vigilance Counters on top of the normal +1/+1 counters. This means that its second mode might get used more in Ikoria Limited play.

Swallow Whole is not as versatile of a removal spell, but it does act as a removal plus a pump spell in one. It only costs one mana, with the small caveat of needing a creature on your side of the battlefield. It will mean that you won’t be able to attack with the creature you tap to cast Swallow Whole, but it will be bigger for future turns. Positives for this card are the one mana casting cost and the fact that you get to exile the creature. Negatives for this card are that it’s sorcery speed and you must have an untapped creature to be able to cast it. Even with those restrictions, I still see this as a solid removal spell.

Now I go back to our Vigilance subtheme with a creature that will help you gain some life. Here is Alert Heedbonder.

Alert Heedbonder

This card has a simple design that could end up providing a large reward. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in any of my videos yet, but I love hybrid mana. There are numerous cards in the set with hybrid mana and it’s a great design space to work with the power level of cards. In getting back to Alert Heedbonder you get a 2/4 creature with Vigilance which is better than average stats for a 3-mana uncommon in my opinion. Where the true value of this card comes from is its repeated ability to gain life. We will have to see how many creatures with Vigilance are in Ikoria, but there should be enough to make this creature a worthwhile addition in Limited formats.

Finally, I have one of the best cards in the set for your all-Vigilance deck. (It could be a thing, you never know). Here is Frondland Felidar.

Frondland Felidar

This creature has solid stats and acts as a strong defensive threat on the battlefield. Each turn with your army of Vigilance creatures you can tap your opponent’s creatures to make way for your attackers. Once you get this setup, it’s almost like you have locked down your opponent from ever attacking. I think this creature is going to surprise some players in Limited with its power level. I’m not sure if it will be strong enough to see Standard play, but I’m sure someone will be brewing a fun Vigilance Standard deck.

There you have it folks, two removal cards and two cards to help one of the many sub-archetypes of Ikoria. This is ramping up to be a very sweet Limited format. Thanks again for joining me on the Daily Dose of Ikoria. Join me again tomorrow as more of Ikoria is discovered!