Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Power in Magic
Although Magic: The Gathering's five colors allow for several strategies beyond "swing at my opponent with everything I've got," battle damage remains the most likely end to a duel. Mana ramp, countering, and swarming all have their place, but when you get down to it, many MTG games are won by wielding the creatures with the strongest offensive abilities, measured by the power stat.
For example, a monster with six power (attack strength) and eight toughness (health) is referred to as a 6/8, as indicated in the card's bottom-right corner. But as strong as that unit would be, Magic's thousands of cards harbor even more terrifying titans. For anyone with the mana to play them, these mythical behemoths are often game-enders considering their unrivaled strength. To see the strongest champions the game offers, let's countdown the top ten powerful creatures in Magic!
10. Ghalta, Primal Hunger
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 12
A legendary creature, you can only have one Ghalta fielded at once, but that's a small price to pay for its formidable power. Not only is Ghalda a 12/12, it also has trample, letting excess damage hit your opponent even if Ghalta is blocked (after subtracting the blocker's toughness from the attack's power).
Beyond that, Ghalta helps players afford its hefty 12-mana price by reducing its total cost by a value of X; X is the total power of creatures you control. Although this can't ever eliminate the green symbols in its mana requirement, you can potentially reduce Ghalta's colorless mana cost by 10—landing an amazing bargain of a card for just two mana!
Another huge 12/12 with trample, Jokulmorder hails from the blue camp and only demands seven mana. That said, it comes with three drawbacks for its low price: it enters tapped, requires you to sacrifice five Island lands, and doesn't untap during your normal untap step.
However, it does untap whenever you play an Island, meaning Jokulmorder is best utilized in monoblue decks and can consistently untap as long as you have a land for the turn. Overall, a rare sight considering its chancy nature, but players willing to take the risk of forfeiting five Islands will be well rewarded with a fast and fierce beatstick.
8. Emrakul, the Promised End
Hopefully, thirteen is your lucky number; Emrakul costs as much and arrives as a 13/13 behemoth. This famous creature belongs to the eldrazi creature type, a camp of generally colorless monsters that offer vast power in exchange for their sizable mana demands. However, Emrakul's mana cost is reduced by one for each card type in your graveyard (enchantment, sorcery, etc.), often providing access for less than 10 mana.
When cast, Emrakul lets you take control of your opponent during their next turn. Depending on their hand, this may let you cast their own cards against them, but note that they take an extra turn (without you controlling them) afterwards. Additionally, Emrakul's flying, trample, and protection from instants further cement its status as one of Magic's top creatures.
7. Krosan Cloudscraper
One of several famous green Krosan cards, Cloudscraper here offers 13 power and toughness for only 10 mana, but you have to sacrifice it at the beginning of each of your upkeeps unless you pay two green mana.
Beyond that, Cloudscraper simply wields a morph ability that lets you play it as a 2/2 facedown creature for three mana and later turn it faceup for 9. Not a great ability, but it can help you divide the mana cost over multiple turns. Overall, this is my least favorite of today's entries since it lacks useful bonus traits, but Krosan rightfully sits among the strongest MTG cards.
6. Death's Shadow
When you see a 13/13 that only costs one mana, you know it's either fanmade, or there's gonna be one heck of a drawback. Such is the case with Death's Shadow, whose unholy stats are reduced by -1/-1 for each of your life points. Despite this drastic reduction, players can save Shadow until their life is hanging by a mere thread, then cast it for almost nothing and possibly initiate a comeback.
The game contains some rare situations where a player can have negative life yet not have lost (perhaps if they have Platinum Angel out). In the past, negative life would actually add to Shadow's attributes (subtract a negative, and you get a positive), but more recent rulings determine that its stats will remain fixed at 13/13 in such cases. Still, that's more than enough to overcome most enemies.
5. Ludevic's Test Subject/Ludevic's Abomination
A double-sided card, players first cast Ludevic's Test Subject for just two mana. Courtesy of its defender trait, it can't attack, but it makes for a good blocker, and you can place a hatchling counter on it at any point by spending two mana. Once Test Subject gathers five of these, it transforms into the real prize: Ludevic's Abomination.
Not much else to say here. With 13/13 and trample, opponents without a handy removal will soon fall to Abomination's fearsome rampage. But despite these cards' lax mana requirements and strength, you can obtain them for less than $2, something I'm fond of doing in blue decks to ensure I never "waste" leftover mana thanks to the hatchling counters.
4. Elbrus, the Binding Blade/Withengar Unbound
Another transforming card, Elbrus, the Binding Blade begins as a seven-cost artifact-equipment that costs another mana to equip. The attached creature gets a meager +1/+0, but whenever it deals direct combat damage to a player, you unattach Elbrus and morph it into the fierce demon Withengar Unbound.
Not only is Withengar a 13/13, it has flying, trample, and intimidate, making it almost impossible to block, and its ability provides it with thirteen +1/+1 counters whenever a player loses the game. Yikes, in multiplayer matches, whenever someone dies, Withengar grows that much stronger, but even its base power will quickly eradicate most foes.
3. Worldspine Wurm
Green is king when it comes to legal gargantuan creatures. For a comparatively low cost of 11 mana, Worldspine enters as an imposing 15/15 with trample. Additionally, when it dies, you place three 5/5 wurm tokens with trample onto the field, ensuring you're not left high and dry even if your opponent manages to kill Worldspine.
Finally, when Worldspine is placed into a graveyard (from anywhere), you shuffle it back into your deck. Although this prevents the possibility of a graveyard revival, it guards against a no-deck-left loss and may let you cast Worldspine again later in the match.
2. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Another fierce eldrazi, Emrakul's next form offers unquestioned strength that lands it on many ban lists. But honestly, that's more relieving than frustrating; in addition to being a 15/15, check out its incredible effects:
- Cannot be countered
- If cast, you take an extra turn after this one
- Flying, protection from colored spells, and annihilator 6
Those are all amazing traits. An immunity to countering means you won't have to worry about blue negating its entry, extra turns are always nasty, and protection from all colors guards against almost anything. Annihilator 6 forces your opponent to sacrifice six permanents whenever Emrakul attacks, so even if they somehow had a defense ready, it'll probably just be swept up in Emrakul's wake. Finally, Emrakul shares Worldspine's quality of being shuffled into your library if ever sent to the graveyard.
Although Emrakul may be the overall best official Magic creature, it's not technically the most powerful...
1. B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster)
One of Magic's several semi-official cards from the Unglued expansion set, B.F.M costs fifteen black mana to play, and both halves of its card must be available. Beyond that, B.F.M is surprisingly simple: it can only be blocked by three or monsters and has, wait, 99 power and 99 toughness? Geez, one direct hit should be enough to finish any opponent—if you can get trample onto B.F.M (with cards like Nylea, God of the Hunt), even blockers won't save your foe.
Although you'll only be seeing it in special Unglued-allowed games, B.F.M dwarfs all other creatures when it comes to raw power.
Future of Magic Creatures
As Magic's card database and fandom continue to expand, the future undoubtedly holds more colossal warriors for us to employ. These guys remain fan favorites because Wizards of the Coast usually (looking at you, Aeons Torn) does a superb job at balancing their power with appropriate trade-offs, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for colossal Magic creatures.
But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion set, vote for your favorite behemoth, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Will you be adding in Impervious Greatwurm, the 16/16 for 7 and 3 green with convoke and indestructible?
Answer: I will include him if I ever remake the countdown, but with many hundreds of articles, it's difficult for me to update each and every one when new expansions arrive (I prefer simply starting from scratch after enough new sets).
But good eye, that's another powerful green monster that I definitely recommend.
Question: Aren't Malignus and Serra Avatar the most powerful Magic: The Gathering creatures?
Answer: Not always; their stats depend of life totals. I'm glad you mentioned them, because they often are some of the strongest units, but their power isn't consistent.
Question: Why isn't Infinity Elemental included in this top 10 Magic: The Gathering creature list?
Answer: Introduced in the Unstable expansion, Infinity Elemental would certainly have made the list considering its infinite power stat; one direct hit from this, and it's game over.
The countdown was made before that card debuted, and just like B.F.M, remember most tournaments won't allow its use, but it's definitely a fun card in casual play.
Question: Isn't “Desolation Twin” one of the strongest monsters in Magic: The Gathering?
Answer: Not technically. He arrives as a 10/10 and also grants a 10/10 token, so if you add their power together, yes, the total would be higher than most creatures. Thus, on his own, Twin's not stronger than today's units, but he's definitely a worthy addition to the Eldrazi ranks.
Question: Did you forget about including the MTG card "Dark Depths" in this list?
Answer: Not quite, but good catch. Dark Depths is technically a land, although when you meet its conditions, it becomes a legendary 20/20 black avatar token called "Marit Lage" who definitely deserves a shout-out for its fierce stats.
Question: What do you think about cards that can become 2000/2000 and beyond like Kalonian Hydra?
Answer: Sure, several creatures can *potentially* raise their stats indefinitely, but this takes time and effort; our list discusses the strongest base units.
Feel free to check out my hydra countdown to see some of the troops you're talking about.
Question: Isn't "The Colossus of Akros" a fairly powerful magic card in Magic: The Gathering? Costs eight mana, and you can pay ten more to make monstrous and have it becomes a 20/20 with trample and indestructible.
Answer: Good suggestion and definitely a powerful card, but looking at effects like monstrous and +1/+1 counters enters a whole new realm. For instance, any card with the "evolve" trait can technically grow infinitely, but that's unrealistic in most matches.
Question: What are your thoughts on green's "Genesis Hydra"?
Answer: An interesting search, but I prefer other hydras. For a superior effect, try the green sorcery "Genesis Wave".
Question: Is the BFM the only card that has two parts?
Answer: Sort of. BFM is unique, but there's also "meld" cards that you can use individually, but merge into something stronger when combined. Transforming cards, split spells, and partner commanders also have mechanics you could define as "two parts".
Question: What do you think about Magic: The Gathering's "Craterhoof Behemoth"? He's got haste and gives your army trample and +X/+X (where X is your number of creatures) for the turn.
Answer: Definitely a strong card who deserves a shout-out, but that effect is temporary and depends on swarming other monsters (try using him alongside "Primal Surge").
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on July 08, 2020:
That's a fair option; there aren't many legendary krakens. "Wrexial, the Risen Deep" works for blue/black, or another possibility would be to make a kraken deck with a non-kraken commander. You could also use the companion "Gyruda, Doom of Depths" if you're willing to only use even-cost cards.
i on July 06, 2020:
I am making a mono blue kraken deck should I use Arixmethes slumbering isle as the commander?
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on May 10, 2020:
Emrakul's two forms are definitely both amazing, and B.F.M is an official card, but it's from the Unglued set, which isn't allowed in most tournaments.
Superyeet57 on May 10, 2020:
The 2 emrakuls are too op and is BFM legit?
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 19, 2020:
Thank you, feel free to review my 30 favorite hydras (linked below). Not all are mono-green, but you'll find several green-exclusive aces within.
Hydra master on March 19, 2020:
Can you please make top 10 mono green hydras? I love your mtg posts, but I am making a mono green edh Gargos hydra tribal, and I reeeeeeally need the hydras to do it. The hydras I have are good, but I need some insane (and if possible, CHEAP) hydras. Once again, love ur posts, and thanks.
jimmy on February 01, 2020:
I once got a creature with over 2 million power, with a combination of heroes bane and Karametra's acoltye.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 19, 2019:
I agree that Emraul is massively overpowered, but she's not quite as shielded as you might think. Protection only defends against targeting and damage (but not destruction), so non-targeting non-damaging colored spells (including many board wipes like "Wrath of God") can still defeat her.
Kaja3 on November 19, 2019:
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is arguably the most broken card in the game, despite not having the most power by 84. It's got Indestructible and immunity from colored spells, meaning only colorless cards that bypass Indestructible can stop it, and those cards are very few. To top it off, it has Annihilator 6, which can decimate your opponent's battlefield in a few turns, especially considering it can destroy lands. Combined with It that Betrays, you can quite literally use both your deck and the opponent's against them. And don't even think about using a Mill deck on it, as whenever it goes into a graveyard, the entire graveyard is shuffled back into the hand. It may be a legendary card (meaning you can only have one of them out at a time), but it's powerful enough alone to guarantee a victory, even against the strongest white decks.
15 cost? What's that? Emrakul is a creature, meaning that creature cheats work with it. You could quite literally get Emrakul out on the battlefield permanently for 4 mana, if a 1-cost Sneak Attack and the resultant Graveyard shuffle doesn't do the job.
In other words, Emrakul is anti-everything. Thanks to creature cheats, Emrakul is broken, and quite literally inevitable with the correct deck combo. Not even Big Furry Monster can compare to it, with its weakness to all Destroy/Exile cards. One Oblivion Ring and that creature is no more.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 13, 2019:
Sounds great! Remember, the eight card types that can discount Emrakul are artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land, planeswalker, sorcery, and tribal; having at least one of each in your graveyard cuts him from thirteen down to five.
Rex H on November 13, 2019:
Emrakul, the Promised End would be amazing with one of my decks. It has many cards like Necromancer’s Assistant to fill my graveyard. Then I can play Nemesis of Mortals as a 10/10 on the battlefield for only 4 mana. In this deck, Emrakul would be virtually free, and insanely powerful.
potato on May 21, 2019:
cool stuff mate
Codes247 on April 12, 2019:
I know this isn't the strongest creature but I think it should deserve an honorable mention as well as 100+ other cards. I think "Ghoultree" deserves an honorable mention because of it's cost versus strength. It is a 7G creature (with an option to cost one less for each creature in your graveyard) that is 10/10. It also goes well with so many cards like the Ghalta, primal hunger card you mentioned.