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 usually happen 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 Creature?

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

What happens if I “cheat” a creature with mutate into play?

If you were to put a mutate creature into play with a card like Hunting Grounds, you couldn’t mutate it onto another creature. Why? Because you didn’t cast it for mutate cost, you just put it into play.

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!

32 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.

  4. If you have already two different creatures that mutated can you combine the two creatures to equal one with four different creatures all into one solid creature?

    • No you can’t. You can only mutate by casting a creature with mutate from your hand on a non-Human creature. When a creature is on the battlefield, you can’t combine it with other creatures on the battlefield – you can only add creatures with mutate to it from your hand.

  5. Does mutate count as targeting a creature? I.E. Triton Fortune Hutner – whenever you cast a spell that targets TFH, draw a card.

  6. I play a creature and mutate it with another in the same turn, how many counters would Shaile, Dean of Radience add to the combined creature?

    • Only a single counter. The mutated creature is considered a single creature, which entered the battlefield this turn.
      Furthermore, if you mutated on a creature that entered the battlefield before that turn, the creature would get zero counters from Shaile.

  7. If I mutate something on top of a Vampire, and then cast a spell that affects Vampires I control, does the mutated creature keep the Vampire type and therefore the buff?

    • No, a mutated creature only has the creature types of the creature on top. However if you mutate something under a Vampire, then it would still be a Vampire, and it would get the buff.

  8. I’m still having difficulty finding out if a mutated creature is “modified” cause I cool bit of flare would be throwing mutate mechanics in with the new kamigawa keywords for some crazy benefits.

  9. So I have a creature that is already mutated. I attempt to mutate another creature to it, does it trigger all the “if this creature mutates…”
    I have snapdax as my commander in a Voltron-ish deck.

  10. If I cast Illuna for it’s normal cost, then mutate a creature on top or below it, does it trigger the “when this creature mutates” effect? Or is the effect spesefically linked to Illuna’s mutate cost?

    • All the creatures that compose the mutated pile return to the battlefield separately. When the Gift returns,you choose on which of these creatures to attach it.

  11. Let’s say I take an opponent’s creature that is on the battlefield and move it to mine. Then, I mutate it, putting the opponent’s creature on the bottom.
    If the method I used to take it – stated that the creature returns to their owner at the end step, is it then ignored, because I’ve mutated it and it’s on the bottom?
    If a card is played later that returns all permanents to their owner, would it split off or still remain on the bottom?

    • Mutate states: “If you cast this spell for its mutate cost, put it over or under target non-Human creature you own. They mutate into the creature on top plus all abilities under it.”

      This means that your describe situation can’t happen. You’re not the owner of the creature (just controller), so you can’t mutate on it.

  12. How does mutate work with temporary creatures such as Treetop Village? I couldn’t find any reference to this situation in the article or comments and have been wondering. Thanks!

  13. What happens when I am going through the mutate triggers and opponent decides to kill in response to me targeting one of his creatures? Do the other, previous effects go back?

    • Once you’ve successfully mutated on a creature, all the effects will go on the stack and they’ll resolve even if your opponent kills a creature afterwards. If they want to avoid this, then they have to destroy the creature in response to you mutating onto it.

  14. Hello,

    What happens if the creature card text referred to its name like Mageta the lion for his activated ability.
    So, is mandatory that the card with the name on the text has to be on top?


    • No, it’s not. Whenever a creature refers to itself by its name, it means this object. So it doesn’t matter which creature’s name is on top.


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