Magic: The Gathering Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths spoilers are coming full-charge despite the delays to initial release. Today, Wizards of the Coast released its latest spree of variant art for cards, a new tier of collectible they’ve been doing more often following fairy tale-esque printings from Throne of Eldraine and Nyx-themed art for gods in Theros Beyond Death. The most striking of the new art belongs to the Toho movie monsters, including the legendary Godzilla and modern scene elements from jet planes to skyscrapers. Some of these enormous creatures were glimpsed earlier this week in spoiler season previews.
Toho monster variant cards in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
This art is a break from that seen in the filigree and storybook-styled “Showcase” cards from Throne of Eldraine. Most of them keep with the theme of Ikoria and focus on either Planeswalkers or the enormous, mutating titans that wander Ikoria’s fictional shores. It’s unclear whether Wizards considers this a successor to the Showcase cards, as they do not share the same name, and the latest Ikoria variants featuring Toho monsters are the first to bear a title that is not the name of the card.
Several of the monsters — Titanoth Rex, Brokkos, Apex of Forever, and others — break from decades of Magic: The Gathering tradition and bear names in the iconic “Beleren” font like Godzilla, Primeval Champion or Mothra, Supersonic Queen with an italicized subtitle with the actual name of the card being represented. Wizards released some examples of cards that showcase both printings for context.
These new approaches to alternate / variant art have the opportunity to draw entirely new eyes to the game. The ability to produce cards featuring pop culture behemoths like Godzilla and the Toho monsters entices fans of those things to the franchise, while longtime MTG players have a sweet new alternate art printing to slot into their high-end decks.
If these new approaches go well with the community, it opens the door for even bigger pop culture crossovers with Magic: The Gathering. Given Hasbro’s enormous IP collection and Wizards of the Coast’s shown willingness to cross brands with publications like Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros, we could very well see alternate art that draws from all sorts of cultural influences.
Wizards continues to try to find a good balance for cosmetics, having received significant backlash for their Buy-A-Box exclusive cards and mixed response to other attempts to innovate on the physical cosmetic collectibles in Magic: The Gathering. Time will tell if this new approach is more popular. Stayed tuned to Daily Esports for the latest Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths spoilers and information.