MTG Mutate – Rules and Interactions Explained

Mutate is an MTG mechanic that was introduced in Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths. In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the mechanic, including:

  • How Mutate works and an example
  • Mutate FAQ
  • Mutate Flavor
  • Interesting Mutate Interactions

Let’s get into it.

How Does Mutate Work?

Mutate is an alternative casting cost that appears on creatures. You can still cast
creatures with Mutate for their normal casting cost if it suits you better.

Snapdax Apex of the Hunt Mutate Interactions
  • To be able to cast a creature for its Mutate cost, it must have a legal target. This
    can be any non-Human creature that you own.
  • If your spell is countered, then it goes to the graveyard like normal.
  • If the spell resolves, you stack the two creatures – the creature that you cast for
    its Mutate cost and the creature it mutated on. These become one creature. The
    power and toughness, converted mana cost, color, creature type and name of
    this mutant creature will be that of the creature you chose to put on top of the
  • However, this new mutant creature will share the abilities of both creatures, as
    well as any counters, auras and equipment that were attached to the old

That might sound complicated, but it isn’t actually too hard. Let’s look at an example.


Let’s say you’re mutating a Migratory Greathorn onto a Stonecoil Serpent with one +1/+1 counter on it.

Since Stonecoil Serpent is non-Human, it is a legal target for you to mutate onto. Let’s assume that Migratory Greathorn resolves. Great.

First, you have to choose which order you’ll stack the creatures. Remember, this new creature will have the power and toughness of the creature on top of the stack while retaining all its previous counters. So if we put the Migratory Greathorn on top, we get a 4/5 on turn 3, while putting the Serpent on top will result in a 1/1. The mutant creature also retains both creature’s abilities, so it still has reach, trample and protection from multicolored.

Because this creature mutated, we will also get Migratory Greathorn’s triggered ability, which allows us to search for a basic land and put it onto the battlefield tapped. This ability will trigger regardless of the order that we stack the creatures.

Hopefully that example cleared up some basic questions. Now let’s move on to the FAQ.

MTG Mutate – FAQ

Do Mutated Creatures Have Summoning Sickness?

No, Mutated Creatures are existing creatures that have mutated into something new. Because of this, newly Mutated Creatures don’t suffer from summoning sickness. However if the creature you mutated onto currently has summoning sickness, then the mutant creature will have it as well.

What Happens if the Creature you are Mutating onto is Destroyed?

Sometimes the creature you are using as a Mutate target becomes an illegal target while your Mutate spell is on the stack. This will happen usually through being bounced to your hand or destroyed. If this happens, then the creature on the stack that you cast for its Mutate cost will still enter the battlefield. Just as a normal non-Mutant creature would.

What Happens if a Mutated creature is Destroyed?

If a Mutated Creature is destroyed, then every creature that has mutated with it will also b destroyed. Similarly, if a Mutated Creature is bounced to your hand, then all of the creatures that have mutated with that creature will also be returned to your hand.

Illuna Apex of Wishes

Do I have to pay Commander Tax if I am casting my Commander for it’s Mutate Cost?

Yes. Since casting your Commander for it’s Mutate cost is still considered a casting cost, Commander Tax still applies.

Can I Mutate Onto Creature Tokens?

Yes, you can Mutate onto Creature Tokens as long as they are non-Human. If the creature on top of your Mutate pile is a token, then the Mutated Creature is considered a Token.

What happens if I Mutate on top of a Legendary Creature with a non-Legendary

If you Mutate a Non-Legendary Creature on top of a Legendary Creature, then the mutated creature will be considered non-Legendary.

Hopefully this answers any other questions you had about Mutate. If you have more questions about Mutate, feel free to ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer as quickly as I can.

MTG Mutate – Flavor

Ikoria is a world of monsters that are constantly trying to adapt to become the strongest. Mutate represents this in a game of Magic as your creatures evolve new power, toughness and effects to grow stronger.

MTG Mutate – Interesting Interactions

Being a unique mechanic, there are also many unique interactions with Mutate. Let’s take a look at some of the more crazy ones.

A Mutated Commander and Leadership Vacuum

Leadership Vacuum Mutate Interaction

One of the craziest interactions with Mutated Commanders is when one is returned to the Command Zone by a Leadership Vacuum.

If this happens, then not only the Commander is returned to the Command Zone – all the other cards that were Mutated with it are returned too!

However, since only the Commander can be cast from the Command Zone, every other member of the Mutated Creature stays in the Command Zone but can’t be cast.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and any Non-Legendary Mutate Creature

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Kiki-Jiki is an enabler of combos across many formats, and it also combos with any of the Non – Legendary Mutate Creatures that Ikoria has to offer.

If you mutate any of these creatures on top of Kiki-Jiki, then Kiki-Jiki will no longer be a Legendary Creature, but will still have its old effect. You can then tap Kiki-Jiki, making a copy of itself.

Because the copy has all of Kiki-Jiki’s abilities, you can repeat this process infinite times, making infinite copies of the mutated Goblin Shaman. You can use this in combination with a card like Impact Tremors for a crazy combo win!


Thanks for reading about the Mutate Mechanic. Hopefully you now have a clear understanding of how Mutate works, and how to use it to your advantage in game. If you still have questions about Mutate that you’d like answered, make sure to ask in the comment section.

If you’re looking for more MTG content, maybe you’ll like some of the following articles:

Happy mutating, and until next time!

5 thoughts on “MTG Mutate – Rules and Interactions Explained”

  1. Good article, was having trouble figuring out the commander tax on mutate. This explains everything I need to know in detail. Great job

  2. I had been playing mutate as though if the top card is new it suffers from summoning sickness, and didn’t even consider other rulings (as I play with friends non-competitively). This helped clearing up some things like that a lot, thanks.

  3. What happens if you Exile a card with mutate from your library with golos tireless pilgrim can you cast that without paying its Mana cost four its mutate cost?

    Also paired with jhoria of the ghitu after four turns can you cast it for its mutate cost?

    • In both cases the answer is: No, you can’t cast them for their mutate cost.

      The reason is that you’d cast these cards from exile with an alternate casting cost. Mutate is also an alternate casting cost. You can’t use two different casting costs.


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