Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Beasts in Magic?
In Magic, beasts represent a subtype of creatures generally belonging to the green, red, or white factions. Beasts vary greatly in size and shape, but many carry trample and sizable battle stats, making them intimidating attackers who overwhelm foes with sheer force.
10 Best Beast Cards
In addition to the subtype's actual members, several cards create beast creature tokens, generally as simple 3/3 beatsticks. But with hundreds of savage warriors available, which animals reign supreme? These are the ten best beast cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Gahiji, Honored One
- Trygon Predator
- Fangren Firstborn
- Thunderfoot Baloth
- Felidar Cub
- Protean Hulk
- Felidar Sovereign
Hopefully you've got an exorcist handy; Meglonoth costs six mana and arrives with 6/6 stats (six power and six toughness), a fair trade for his high price. He also needs red, green, and white mana, so ensure you have the appropriate lands ready.
Thankfully, Meglonoth offers both vigilance and trample, letting him swing without tapping and bleed excess damage through blockers. Vigilance works especially well with this beast thanks to his block ability: when he guards a creature, you inflict damage to its controller equal to Meglonoth's power! This discourages attacks since your opponent knows they'll pay for their assault in blood, leaving your field nice and pristine.
Thragtusk's 5/3 stats are only average for his price, but he only needs forest lands and only one his mana must be green, easily blending into multicolor decks. Better yet, when he enters the field, you gain five life, and when he leaves, you create a 3/3 beast creature token!
Thus, for five mana, you get a nice health increase, a respectable battler, and a free token on exit. Note that the token handily arrives regardless of how Thragtusk departs; dying, exile, and returning to hand will also trigger the ability, so there's little your opponents may do to prevent it.
8. Gahiji, Honored One
Like Thagtusk, Gahiji costs five mana, but you'll need plains and mountains in addition to forests. He wields a decent 4/4 stats, and his legendary status lets him serves as commander in EDH format.
However, Gahiji's real benefit stems from his passive trait, increasing the power of any units that attack opponents or their planeswalkers by two for the rest of the turn. Thus, Gahiji essentially swings as a 6/4, and he'll grant the same boost to other allies, even if he himself isn't attacking that round. An awesome benefit in both 1v1 and multiplayer, enticing rivals to attack other players (and leave you unscathed).
7. Trygon Predator
This potent green and blue fiend enters as a solid 2/3 for his moderately low fee. He also takes advantage of the flying trait, letting him soar over ground blockers.
Trygon makes particularly good use of flying thanks to his next ability, letting you destroy an opposing artifact or enchantment whenever he inflicts combat damage. Two types of free removals that can be continuously activated; hopefully your opponent doesn't have many aerial blockers to defend, but if they do, use blue aura tricks to make Trygon entirely unblockable and guarantee his trigger.
5. Fangren Firstborn
Fangren Firstborn operates similarly to a cheaper Gahiji, needing less mana and only one color (although since three of his four have to be green, he's an ill fit for rainbow decks). When Fangren attacks, all your attacking creatures (including himself) gain a +1/+1 counter, adeptly fortifying your army before they engage in battle.
Compared to Gahiji, Fangren's downside is that he himself must swing to activate the boost, but unlike Gahiji's temporary +2/+0 increase, +1/+1 counters last indefinitely, persisting even if Fangren is later removed.
5. Thunderfoot Baloth
As one of the game's best lieutenants, Thunderfoot Baloth only really belongs in commander decks, but he excels in his preferred format. A 5/5 beatstick with trample isn't bad for six mana, and if you control your commander, Thunderfoot gains an additional +2/+2, brandishing a daunting 7/7 stats!
With your commander fielded, he also gives your other units +2/+2 and trample, a heavy boost that lets your entire battalion deal increased damage and pierce through blockers, quite possibly giving you the strength to win with your next combat phase. Use green's mana ramping or free-creature spells to help field Thunderfoot without paying his hefty mana price.
Despite his mediocre 2/2 stats, Manglehorn offers one of the best anti-artifact spells available. When he initially enters the field, you can destroy any artifact on the field (even if your own if you wish), and he forces opposing relics to enter the field tapped. Since most artifacts are colorless, they're accessible to any build, and you'll rarely find a deck without them, making anything that punishes them worth your attention.
Remember, creatures need haste to tap on the turn they arrive, but artifacts don't; having them enter exhausted delays their effects and stalls your opponent's strategy. Manglehorn expertly checks relics, but remember that not all need to tap to use their abilities, so units like "Paradox Engine" and most artifact equipments will slip through your net.
3. Felidar Cub
Bearing multiple subtypes, Felidar Cub is part beast and part cat, giving him multiple clans to combo with, and he enjoys a respectable 2/2 for his low price. Even better, you can sacrifice Cub to destroy an enchantment anywhere on the field.
Sacrifice abilities are especially valuable since you can trigger them at instant speed, letting you extract some final use out of Cub before falling to a removal. Since this cost doesn't bear the tap symbol, you can even use it the turn he hits the field (despite not possessing haste), ensuring you're never prematurely sucker-punched.
2. Protean Hulk
As today's most expensive creature, remember to use green's array of mana ramp and creature-fielding to help afford Protean Hulk without paying his considerable price. Thankfully, this Hulk smashes, bearing a hearty 6/6 stats and awesome exit effect: when he dies, you can search and play any number of creatures from your library whose total mana costs are six or less.
One free six-cost titan? No problem. Six single-cost support units? You got it. Hulk's death saves you both the trouble of drawing and casting your units. Just watch out for banish and bounce effects; exits other than death won't activate the trigger.
1. Felidar Sovereign
Felidar Sovereign certainly isn't cheap at six mana, and his stats are only decent at 4/6. However, he harbors both vigilance and lifelink, letting him attack without tapping and regain you a corresponding amount of life whenever he inflicts combat damage!
Lifelink is especially useful on Sovereign thanks to his amazing instant win: If you have at least 40 life at your upkeep, you immediately win! This makes him an almost unfair cheat for the higher starting life of EDH format, and his lifelink helps recover even if you dip below the threshold. Throw in the cat subtype on top of beast, and you have one of my favorite white cards whom I owe several victories to.
Fortunately, despite his incredible power, Sovereign's a surprisingly cheap bargain, costing well under five dollars and helping budget duelists build competitive decks.
How to Support a Beast Deck in Magic
Beasts generally work independently, but a small set of cards build off their shared type:
- The land "Contested Cliffs" spends red and green mana to have a beast fight an enemy, helping eliminate weak utility foes.
- Red's sorcery "Thunder of Hooves" deals damage to flying enemies and players equal to the number of beasts on the field.
- Green's instant "Vitality Charm" regenerates beasts for only one mana, adding a useful blend of defense.
- The king of beast supports remains "Krosan Warchief," who both reduces the CMC of your beast cards and can spend mana to regenerate them.
For such a vast group, beasts remain a surprisingly neglected kin, and I hope to see more potent supports in the future. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of savage beasts, vote for your favorite creature and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill