Earlier today on the Magic: the Gathering Twitch stream, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) unveiled all five commanders from their brand new Commander 2020 preconstructed decks – Kathril, Aspect Warper, Gavi, Next Warden, Jirinia Kudro, Kalamax, the Stormsire, and Otrimi, the Ever-Playful
An Abzan-based Nightmare Insect, Kathril utilizes the new keyword counters mechanic. Just as a +1/+1 counter gives the creature it’s on +1/+1, these keyword counters give the permanent they’re on the listed ability. In Kathril’s case, it can grant flying, first strike, double strike, deathtouch, hexproof, indestrucible, lifeline, menace, reach, trample, and vigilance depending on how one’s graveyard is set up while also growing Kathril itself.
A Jeskai-based Human Shaman, Gavi marks the return of cycling to Magic by allowing its controller to pay zero (0) rather than pay the cycling cost of the first card they cycle each turn. Gavi also rewards its owner for cycling, as whenever Gavi’s controller draws a second card each turn, they get to create a 2/2 red and white Dinosaur Cat creature token.
A Mardu-based Human Soldier, Jirina Kudro is here to assist her fellow Humans not only by creating them when she enters the battlefield (When Jirina Kudro enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token for each time you’ve cast a commander from the command zone this game) but also make them more powerful while she’s alongside them (Other Humans you control get +2/+0).
A Temur-based Elemental Dinosaur, Kalamax encourages its controller to build a deck heavily around instants, as whenever its controller casts their first instant spell each turn, if Kalamax is tapped, they get to copy that spell and choose new targets for that copy. And as icing on top, whenever Kalamax copies an instant spell, it grows a bit larger by receiving a +1/+1 counter.
A Sultai-based Nightmare Beast, Otrimi utilizes the new mutate mechanic. Mutate is a new keyword that “lets you combine creatures in a new way to build better monsters” according to Matt Tabak, Senior Editor at WotC. Every creature card with mutate gives you two ways to cast the spell – casting the creature for its mana cost or casting the creature for its mutate cost. Here’s a quick breakdown on how casting a creature for its mutate costs works from Tabak:
When you cast a creature spell for its mutate cost, a few things change about how you cast it. First, you pay the mutate cost rather than the mana cost. Second, the spell will require a target. Specifically, a target non-Human creature you own. Humans on Ikoria spend all their energy merely surviving, so their cells just aren’t up for the mutation thing, I’m guessing. Mutate can be used only if you’re casting the spell. If a creature card with mutate enters the battlefield some other way, it just enters the battlefield.
As a mutating creature spell resolves, instead of entering the battlefield, it merges with its target into one creature. Its controller chooses to put the resolving mutating creature spell on top of its target or underneath it. You’ll end up with a pile of cards (or tokens—we’ll get to that in a second) that all represents a single creature. That creature will have all the characteristics of the top card, and it will also have the abilities of every card underneath.
Otrimi encourages players to build around mutate, as whenever it deals combat damage to a player, its controller gets to return target creature card with mutate from their graveyard to their hand.