Mutated Mutations

Good day Judges,

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was recently released with a good number of updates that came along with it. That being Chuanjie Seow L2 judge from Singapore, would like to guide us as we all look into the mutations happening at Ikoria.

Chuanjie Seow

Chuanjie Seow

Ikoria is full of mutated mutations, as a set that seemingly designed for the digital space, we got loads of questions from deterring cheaters using companions to how on Earth do I mutate stuff. Here we are going to focus on mutations mostly in the Commander EDH sphere as we got people still playing Commander via their mobile cameras and Discord.

So let’s get down to business and refer to the Ikoria release notes regarding mutate. Do go to the link to read the changes. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths and Commander (2020 Edition) Release Notes

The Questions and Answers

Most questions revolve around Mutate and its interactions with other Keyword Abilities, Ability Words, or abilities that cause some confusion. Hence we will tackle them via their own ability section or individual cards below.

A Mutated Grizzly Bear

“Blinking” – If you cast Ephemerate on a merged object, its individual cards will return into play unmerged. If you use Teferi’s Time Twist instead, the individual cards will return and those which are creatures will return with a +1+1 counter.

“Dying” – If a merged object dies, it only triggers die effects once no matter how many cards are in that stack. Similarly, if you are instructed to sacrifice a creature and you choose your merged object, you will have to move the entire object into the graveyard as it counts as a single creature no matter how many cards are in that stack.

“Devotion” – This is mostly a mechanic but we will be tackling the type changing ability via Devotion in the Gods of Theros. If Heliod, Sun-Crowned is part of the merged creature stack and its controller’s devotion falls below 5, it ceases to become a creature but remains as a singular merged permanent.

The merged permanent still has all of the characteristics of the topmost object and it has all of the abilities of its other cards. Do note, however, if the topmost object is a creature say Otrimi, The Ever-Playfulit loses its creature type and its Bear subtype.

With 5 W devotion on the left and insufficient devotion on the right

ETB Triggers – When you merge a creature, the mutating spell does not enter the battlefield so no ETB triggers will happen.

702.139c – As a mutating creature spell resolves, if its target is legal, it doesn’t enter the battlefield. Rather, it merges with the target creature and becomes one object represented by more than one card or token (see rule 721, “Merging with Permanents “). The spell’s controller chooses whether the spell is put on top of the creature or on the bottom. The resulting permanent is a mutated permanent.

Luminous Broodmoth – If the merged creature dies and has no flying, return each card that was part of the merged creature into play each with a flying counter.

They will both come back with Flying counters

721.3d – If multiple replacement effects could be applied to the event of a merged permanent leaving the battlefield or being put into the new zone, applying one of those replacement effects to one of the objects affects all of the objects. If the merged permanent is a commander, it may be exempt from this rule; see rule 903.9a.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed – Similarly, if the merged creature dies and is not a Human without any +1/+1 counters, return each card that was part of the merged creature into play each with a +1/+1 counter.

Mimic Vat – If the merged creature dies, the controller of Mimic Vat may choose to exile all parts of the merged creature to be imprinted under Mimic Vat. When Mimic Vat’s second ability resolves, its controller chooses one of those cards to make a copy of.

Whole merged object goes under the vat

721.3c – If an effect can find the new object that a merged permanent becomes as it leaves the battlefield, it finds all of those objects. (See rule 400.7.) If that effect causes actions to be taken upon those objects, the same actions are taken upon each of them.

Manlands and Animated Planeswalkers – As per the second line under Unusual Situations, merged creatures with the Manlands or Sarkhan the Masterless will remain a merged permanent. The merged permanent still has all of the characteristics of the topmost object, which may cause it to be a creature or to not be a creature, and it has all of the abilities of its other cards.

Sarkhan with and without his Dragonform ability

Meld – Let’s say we have Gisela, the Broken Blade as part of a merged object and you have a Bruna, the Fading Light in play which you choose to meld together into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares at your end step, you will have to exile the entire Gisela merged object and Bruna, keeping the rest of the merged object in exile while you bring back only Brisela.

Note that you still have to satisfy Meld’s requirement of having Gisela, the Broken Blade to meld which means Gisela has to be the topmost of the merged object as a merged permanent has all of the characteristics of the topmost object.

Melding in process
Other carded in merged object stays in exile while you bask in the glory of Brisela

Morph, Megamorph or Manifest – Let’s say you have a merged stack with a facedown Aphetto Alchemist as the topmost card. In the stack you have Gathan Raiders. You can actually pay either U or discard a card to flip your merged object face up. Note that we are unable to legally merge such a stack in the example as Gathan Raiders do not have Mutate. Example is used in the inevitable case where a card is printed gives all creature cards in your hand Mutate ability.

Morph problems

721.2e – If a merged permanent contains face–up and face–down components, the permanent’s status is determined by its topmost component. If a face–down permanent becomes a face–up permanent as a result of an object merging with it, other effects don’t count it as being turned face up.

Similarly, if your merged object gets turned face down by effects like Ixidron (which causes all cards in stack to turn face down), you can choose any of the morph or megamorph static abilities, if any morph cards are in the object, to turn your all cards in the merged object back up.

If Ixidron shows up

721.2f – If a merged permanent is turned face down, each face–up component that represents it is turned face down. If a face–down merged permanent is turned face up, each face–down component that represents it is turned face up.

Also if there is an instant or sorcery that has been manifested, is part of a merged object and you activate a morph ability of the stack, reveal the instant/sorcery and it remains face down in the merged stack.

721.2g – A face–down merged permanent that contains an instant or sorcery card can’t be turned face up. If such a permanent would turn face up, its controller reveals it and leaves it face down. Abilities that trigger when a permanent is turned face up won’t trigger.

Interactions with Continuous Effects (do note there are a myriad of changes to the layers system in Ikoria)
613.1A – The very first layer is no longer simply copy effects. It’s now copiable rules and effects. The new rule 613.2 expands on this: it includes traditional copy effects and mutate modifications in timestamp order (and theoretically also host and augment modifications if we allow silver-bordered cards into this discussion), followed by face-down status-modifying values. Mutate aside, this has always been true, and it’s finally clear and explicit in the layers section of the rules.

As you can see, Copy and Mutate are within the same layer and hence will be in effect via a timestamp order.

If you have a merged object consisting of multiple P/T changing CDA like Pack Rat and Serra Avatar, the timestamp rule applies as P/T changing CDA are part of the same layer within CR613.7a. (A continuous effect generated by a static ability has the same timestamp as the object the static ability is on, or the timestamp of the effect that created the ability, whichever is later.)

In Summary
Tackling Mutations is not very difficult just that you have to have an intricate understanding of the different abilities the mutated creature has to see how they interact with one another.

verified by Smith Lo with pictures done by Hsu Tienming and rulings help from Wearn Chong, Maykel Tan and Eric Levine
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and if you haven’t do check this out, the schedule for 2020 Magic Judge Online Seminar Series Week 2.

And if you want to become one of the presenters/admins for the 3rd week, you’ll also find the link there. 🙂

I had the opportunity to be part of the attendees for a lot of topics for week 1 and I highly encourage everyone to be part of the 2020 Magic Judge Online Seminar Series!!!

See you all and stay safe!!!

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