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10 of the Most Iconic Creatures in Magic: The Gathering History

I have been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994 and have won a few draft tournaments in MTGO and MTG Arena.

1. Shivan Dragon


You cannot have a fantasy game without dragons. At the advent of the game, Shivan Dragon was the biggest and baddest dragon in existence.

For a mere six mana, you get a 5/5 creature who had flying and a fire-breathing ability.

Though with the power creep in creatures, Shivan Dragon's stats are no longer impressive, long-time players of the game will always remember themselves winning the game when Shivan Dragon hit the table or cracking a pack and pulling one of these bad boys.

2. Birds of Paradise


At first glance, a 0/1 creature does not seem very impressive. However, when you look at the whole card, it is quite an impressive mana dork.

First of all, it is one of the few mana dorks with flying. This allows you to block most creatures, and this could save your life points. Second, for the investment of a mere green mana, you could perpetually produce one mana of any color of your choice.

If you combine Birds of Paradise with buffs like Blanchwood Armor, you can even sneak in some damage and go on the offensive.

Birds was in alpha and has seen many reprints. It is the gold standard of mana dorks.

3. Ernham Djinn


Ernham Djinn had very impressive stats during a time when getting what you paid for was a bargain. A 4/5 creature for only four mana was big during the time.

Ernham was relatively easy to include in most decks as it required only 1 green mana to cast. The rest of the cost was three generic mana.

The djinn was included in green stompy and Ernhamgeddon decks. Once Armageddon hits and Ernham Djinn is in play, it is soon over for your opponent.

4. Hypnotic Specter


When quick mana was still part of black's wheelhouse, Hypnotic Specter could be easily cast in turn 1 with Dark Ritual. You can even get 2 of them on turn 2 with 2 Swamps and 2 Dark Rituals.

Aside from being a 2/2 flying creature for a mere 3 mana, when Hypnotic Specter deals damage to an opponent, he discards a card at random.

An early Hypnotic Specter or two can easily disrupt your opponent and can greatly reduce his chances to win.

5. Mahamoti Djinn


Mahamoti Djinn was a great finisher for blue decks back in the day. It was a 5/6 creature with flying and had a chock full of counterspells that protected it. It was a classic duck and cover.

With 5 power, the djinn could have your opponent down for the count in as few as 4 turns.

The picture is also classic. It is a derivative of Aladdin and the genie of the lamp.

6. Juzam Djinn


Juzam Djinn was a favorite among the staff of Inquest Gamer magazine. Inquest was a popular gaming magazine that initially covered collectible card games but later covered board games, miniature games, and video games.

Juzam was prominently featured several times during the magazine's run from 1995 to 2007.

A first turn Juzam greatly increases your chances of victory. Imagine the horror on your opponent's face when you cast two Dark Rituals in succession and plop down Juzam.

In just four turns, it's lights out for the opposition.

7. Serra Angel


The Serra Angel was once a staple in tournament-level decks. It was an integral part of white weenie and Stasis based decks.

The "vigilance" ability of the Serra Angel made it particularly versatile as it could attack one turn and block the next. It also shields it from effects that destroy tapped creatures.

Five mana four a 4/4 creature that flies and has vigilance is not bad.

Though Serra Angel is not as powerful as it once was in constructed, it can still be a bomb in draft.

8. Tarmogoyf


The original version of Tarmogoyf was printed in the expansion "Future Sight." The aim of the expansion was to be a sneak preview of cards and mechanics that will appear in future expansions.

Tarmogoyf appeared in the set with a card frame that was different from the normal card frame.

Initially, people did not know how powerful the creature was. When people discovered how potent Tarmogoyf was, it became a staple in the tournament scene as it can grow easily in the first few turns. With dredge or graveyard filling techniques, Tarmogoyf can easily grow to a 4/5 or 5/6 creature.

9. Morphling


Morphling was dubbed as "Superman" because of its myriad of abilities. Morphling could fly, could get shroud, had flexible power and toughness, and could also be untapped.

This made Morphling a good finisher for control and duck and cover decks.

Though a 3/3 at 5 mana is not impressive, blue's ability to protect creatures and Morphling's ability to protect itself makes it hard to get rid of it.

10. Nicol Bolas


Before Nicol Bolas was terrorizing entire planes and battling the Gatewatch, he was a rather scholarly dragon who studied arcane magic.

Though Bolas was difficult to cast, once he gets going, he can easily decimate your opponent's hand and life total.

Players who wanted to not pay Bolas' hefty cost often used reanimation effects and Sneak Attack to work around it.

Iconic Creatures

© 2019 Jan Michael Ong