What are MTG’s best creaturers? Throughout Magic’s history, a plethora of powerful, iconic creatures have been printed. Still, it feels like power creep has given rise to bigger and better creatures in recent years. Tarmogoyf, for example, is an amazing card that, at one point, dominated multiple formats.
There is no denying that the card is still super iconic, but its noticeable decline in play, especially in Modern, had me curious which older creatures have truly stood the test of time. How many of Magic’s best creatures were printed in recent sets? After pitting today’s top creatures against each other, I have come up with what I believe to be the current 12 best MTG Creatures of all time.
Best MTG Creatures
Of note, there are some important caveats to mention. First, Creatures on banlists across different formats will still be included. Second, to get a more accurate representation of each Creature’s potential in the current state of Magic, any Erratas to a Creature’s original printing will be included. Most importantly, this means that Companion Creatures will be evaluated including the additional three mana tax needed to put them in hand. Now, without further ado, here are the top 12 best MTG Creatures!
Right off the bat, we have an iconic Creature who has absolutely stood the test of time. Although the mana cost may seem daunting, there are a multitude of ways to take advantage of Grielbrand’s powerful stats and abilities without actually casting it. One way is by reanimating it from the graveyard. Reanimator has been a top-tier deck in Legacy that can put a Griselbrand into play as early as turn one! By combining Entomb to search for Griselbrand and put it into the graveyard and a plethora of cards such as Animate Dead that return it to play, you can reap the rewards of Griselbrand without having to spend eight mana!
Reanimation is not the only quick path to victory available with Griselbrand. There are plenty of cards that can put it into play directly from your hand as well. Cards like Sneak Attack and Show and Tell pair well with the large Demon, and don’t require additional steps to get it into the graveyard. Despite Griselbrand getting printed over a decade ago in Avacyn Restored, Griselbrand remains one of the top options available to cheat into play.
Solitude is one of the five “Evoke for zero mana” Elementals featured in Modern Horizons Two, and it is the one I consider to be the strongest. Solitude does its best Swords to Plowshares impression, but has significantly higher upside. In Modern, we’ve seen it paired with Ephemerate, which helps exile keep Solitude around even if Evoked, also utilizing its ability multiple times. Combine Solitude with cards like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and the card disadvantage of Evoking Solitude is no longer an issue. This makes Solitude an elite card for control decks, especially because Solitude can help close games on its own as a five mana win-condition.
What really put Solitude over the top for me, though, was its role in the banworthy Initiative decks that plagued Legacy and even continue to make waves in Vintage. Playing an early White Plume Adventurer or Seasoned Dungeoneer and holding onto the Initiative is an extremely effective strategy, and Solitude being a zero mana removal spell helps make sure you can keep the Initiative yourself. It also acts as a flash threat later in addition, which can take the Initiative back from the opponent if necessary. The duality of being a free removal spell or five mana removal on a body makes this Creature extremely strong.
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#10 Dragon’s Rage Channeler
Dragon’s Rage Channeler is yet another absurdly efficient Creature printed in Modern Horizons Two, and spoiler alert, it is not the last. Wizards of the Coast clearly was trying to introduce a large quantity of Creatures that would be impactful enough to see Modern play. They accomplished this and then some. Dragon’s Rage Channeler at its base is a one mana Creature that lets you Surveil one whenever you cast a non-creature spell. This is an elite early play for tempo-style decks in both Modern and Legacy.
Pairing this with cantrips (cards that replace themselves and usually offer some form of card selection) allows you to both quickly fill your graveyard for cards like Murktide Regent or Underworld Breach and make sure that you are drawing good cards every turn. The consistency Channeler offers cannot be understated.
That alone sounds decent, but once you have Delirium, Channeler becomes a significant threat on its own as a three-power Flier. All for one mana! Channeler’s Surveil ability is excellent at fueling Delirium on its own. It is quite common to have Delirium by turn three, sometimes even turn two, thanks to Mishra’s Bauble. Channeler will have to attack every turn once Delirious, but this isn’t much of an issue for tempo decks like Legacy Izzet Delver that are trying to end the game relatively fast. As long as you have the support, Channeler is a premier one-drop option.
#9 Deathrite Shaman
Deathrite Shaman is a difficult card to evaluate in a vacuum. The card ranges from seeing little to no play in Pioneer to being banned in Modern and Legacy for good reason. This is because of one simple difference: the lack of Fetchlands in Pioneer. Because Fetchlands search for a land to play while simultaneously providing a land to be exiled from the graveyard with Shaman’s first ability, Deathrite Shaman gets to function close to Birds of Paradise but with major upside.
First, Shaman can be cast with black mana, providing ramp and color fixing to non-green decks. Second, Shaman can act as a win condition with its ability to exile instants and sorceries, making it much more effective in the late game than other one-drop mana providers. Third, Shaman acts as a form of graveyard hate against some decks by exiling important cards from the opponent’s graveyard. If you have ever tried to play Reanimator in Legacy while staring down a Shaman, it can be a nightmare. Given Shaman’s dependence on Fetchlands in order to make mana reliably, it tops at number nine on this list, but could easily be moved up in specific contexts.
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#8 Hermit Druid
Hermit Druid is another card that is quite difficult to rank. This card was printed long before Modern became a format and has been banned in Legacy since Legacy became a format independent from Vintage in 2004. Therefore, there isn’t much to gauge its current power level from. That being said, it is one of the easiest ways to win the game, as you don’t need to cast any other cards from your hand to win.
Just like the combination of Cephalid Illusionist and Nomads en-Kor, Hermit Druid can mill over your entire library (as long as your deck has no basic lands in it) by activating its ability. From there, you can win the game as long as your deck containedDread Return, three copies of Narcomoeba to sacrifice to Dread Return, and Thassa’s Oracle to reanimate with Dread Return.
The difference is that, unlike with Illusionist and Nomads, you only need one card in Hermit Druid to mill your library, which gives it enormous potential. This both makes your combo more consistent and dilutes your deck less with cards that are innefective on their own. The downside is that you need Druid to not have summoning sickness to activate it. Still, being able to mill your library off one card and combo off gives Druid a high enough ceiling that I think merits the number eight spot on this list.
#7 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Hogaak’s design remains of the biggest head-scratchers to me. After the domination of Treasure Cruise, it was quite clear to the MTG community that Delve was an absurdly powerful mechanic, especially with cards like Cruise that required minimal mana investment. Well, Hogaak stretched this even further by requiring no colored mana to be spent to cast it. Instead, its colored mana symbols had to be paid for by tapping on-color creatures via its Convoke ability.
Although this may sound restrictive in its ability to be cast, only requiring you to exile five cards from your graveyard and tap two green or black Creatures to cast it was simply too easy when paired with creatures that mill you, like Stitcher’s Supplier. This meant that the “downside” of not being able to spend mana to cast Hogaak didn’t prove to be much of a downside, and Hogaak was quite easy to cast as early as turn two, even in Modern.
Hogaak became a mainstay for graveyard-based decks from Modern (before getting banned, of course) down to Vintage, where it could be paired with even more busted cards like Bazaar of Baghdad. What really sets Hogaak apart is that it’s an eight-power Trampler, meaning it ends games FAST. It also puts pressure on your opponent to run very specific graveyard hate. Being castable from hand through a Grafdigger’s Cage, for example, was a major problem. As an avid Modern player, I say good riddance, and I really hope the design team is more careful with the printing of Delve cards in the future.
#6 Golgari-Grave Troll
Troll is yet another absurdly powerful card for graveyard-centric decks, except this time, it uses a different powerful mechanic: Dredge. Golgari-Grave Troll’s power is mostly in the fact that it has Dredge six, the highest Dredge number on any magic card. This means that instead of drawing a card during your draw step or otherwise, you can Mill six cards and put Troll in your hand.
When paired with ways to abuse this effect, such as Creeping Chill and Narcomoeba, it is quite easy to gain a huge edge without spending much mana at all. Alongside ways to draw cards and put cards with Dredge back into the graveyard like Bazaar of Baghdad, it is quite easy to dump most of your library into your graveyard in short order and reap the rewards. Dredge is an extremely polarizing but awfully effective mechanic, and Troll is a big part of any Dredge deck where it is legal.
#5 Yorion, Sky Nomad
For Yorion to be this high despite not counting the original Companion ruling speaks volumes for both how powerful the Companion mechanic is and how absurd it used to be. Yorion does make you play 80 cards instead of 60, but for decks not reliant on drawing specific cards early in order to win, there is enough redundancy in Magic’s rich card pool to make Yorion’s caveat not too big a deal. Once you meet the deckbuilding requirements, you get access to this powerhouse every single game. Getting to start the game with a virtual eighth card is amazing, and for any deck that can get lots of value out of Yorion’s enters-the-battlefield ability, it is an unbelievable utility to have. This card could definitely be higher with old Companion rules, but it sits at number five in its current state.
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#4 White Plume Adventurer
White Plume Adventurer is a recently printed card that drastically overperformed expectations in eternal formats, and it’s from a Commander set to boot! Adventurer is one of a handful of cards that give you The Initiative when it enters the battlefield. While The Initiative is well-designed in multiplayer formats such as Commander (which is what it was designed for) but is outrageous in one-vs.-one formats because it is often simply too difficult for the opponent to take the Initiative from you. Adventurer, specifically, is the best of the bunch because it only costs three mana. Pair that with fast mana such as Lotus Petal or even Mox Pearl, and you can claim the Initiative as early as turn one.
From there, you get a slew of benefits from entering the Dungeon. Unlike when you become the Monarch and get to draw a lot of cards, you don’t need to cast anything else to generate value with the Initiative. Pair that with Solitude to make sure your opponent never takes the Initiative and you have an extremely powerful strategy.
#3 Thassa’s Oracle
Thassa’s Oracle is a unique card to have this high, but it truly provided a much cleaner and more reliable win condition to a lot of archetypes across different formats. Rather than combo decks having to rely on something like Laboratory Maniac, which was easier for the opponent to disrupt, Oracle winning the game when it enters the battlefield means that even if the Oracle dies in response, it’s too late. Whether you are pairing this effect with Inverter of Truths orDoomsday, Oracle gets the job done better than any other card can.
Even though Oracle has wreaked havoc in competitive formats, the card is most infamous in Commander. With its partner-in-crime Demonic Consultation, games commonly end for just three mana.
Given the wide range and sheer volume of combo decks featuring Oracle from Pioneer to Vintage, Oracle deserves a spot this high, in my opinion.
#2 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Ragavan is yet another Modern Horizons Two Creature that makes this list. It puts immediate pressure on the opponent to remove it, and if they don’t, the game can spiral out of control. Not only do you get to potentially cast a potent spell from your opponent’s deck when Ragavan connects, but you also get a Treasure token to help cast that spell or any others from your hand. Ragavan acts as pressure, ramp, and card advantage all in one, and all for one mana!
The Dash ability is the icing on the cake, making the card a good top-deck late in the game as well as a massive threat early. The card has already been banned in Legacy for its powerful synergy with Daze and Wasteland and is an elite threat in Modern and Vintage, where it remains legal. Ragavan simply does everything you could ask for in a one-drop.
#1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
That’s right, even after the Companion rule changes, Lurrus is still what I consider to be the best Creature of all time. As mentioned with Yorion, Lurrus acting as a virtual eighth card that you start the game with 100 percent of the time is incredibly powerful. The difference is that Lurrus only costs three mana and has a very minor deckbuilding restriction, especially in older formats. Lurrus requires your deck to have cards of only mana value of two or less. Although this does eliminate some potential powerful options, so many of Magic’s most useful cards are extremely efficient. One additional fact cementing Lurrus as the best creature ever is, before the Companion errata, Lurrus was the only card ever to be banned in Vintage.
On top of that, Lurrus makes all your other cards better by being able to return them from the graveyard every turn. From Mishra’s Bauble to Black Lotus, there are plenty of ways to generate immediate value with Lurrus. Lurrus isn’t just an eighth option, it’s one of the most powerful options available to you, and you have access to the card every game. As this list shows, while some powerful iconic cards like Griselbrand did make the cut, this list was truly dominated by cards printed in the five years. For better or worse, power creep has been substantial, and it wouldn’t surprise me if new Creatures make this list in the coming years too.
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