Incubation Druid is a 0/2 creature with two abilities:
- to add one mana of any type you can produce. This goes up to three mana if it has a +1/+1 counter.
- Pay to Adapt 3 (add three +1/+1 counters if there aren’t any on it already).
As with most Simic cards, the adapt mechanic is useful in the mid-to-late game and I’ve already talked extensively about how this can be exploited by cards like Galloping Lizrog and Simic Ascendancy. For what it’s worth, this is only one of two cards with Adapt 32 and there are only three other cards3 with the higher Adapt 4 level.
The real talking point though is that mana ramp ability. By default, this is a Llanowar Elves that costs extra to transfer 1 power to 1 toughness and give you access to any mana you could make rather than just . That isn’t a bad deal on it’s own, especially if you are splashing beyond your means4. That you can triple that mana so long as you have a +1/+1 counter is exceptionally good though, especially in a meta that is packed with ways to do that. It is easy to look at this and assume you’re going to pay to activate the adapt and thus not access this ramp until turn 5 but that’s a poor way of thinking. For example, let’s assume the following turns:
- Forest and Llanowar Elves.
- Sunpetal Grove, Incubation Druid, and Stony Strength.
- Congrats, you have 6 mana available to you in combos from to and that’s before you’ve even played a land card this turn! Did someone say Carnage Tyrant?
More than double mana on turn 3 is exceptionally good but can get even better if you were then to cast something like Wilderness Reclamation thus ensuring you have some mana held back for counter spells or instant combat tricks. Whilst we didn’t use it to it’s full potential in the plays above, Stony Strength does untap a card so you could cast another one on a druid during your opponents turn to buff it, untap it, and then give you access to 3 more mana instantly. Remember too that you can hold mana in hand so assuming 6 mana is available to you on turn 3, you could tap everything to get that mana, pay to cast Stony Strength on the druid to add another 3 mana to your pool giving you a total of 8; now cast Polyraptor. That is pretty sick on turn 3…
I’m not a fan of the GRN/RNA cycle of lockets for anything outside of Limited (and even then I tend to avoid them). I should probably write an article about them at some point. ↩︎
For example, maybe you’re splashing to make use of a Cleansing Nova; as long as you have one of these on the field then you can cast that even if you only have one Plains out or something like Hallowed Fountain. ↩︎