Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Fighting Work in Magic: The Gathering?
In Magic, when creatures attack you, you can—but don't have to—block them with untapped monsters; it's sometimes better to save your unit (and keep their effects active) even if it means your life points will take a hit. Thus, it can be hard to eliminate your opponent's monsters even if yours are stronger since they can elect to have your blows pass through undefended.
In addition to traditional removals, you can alleviate this issue with the fight mechanic, a trait that make two creatures deal damage to each other equal to their power. This is similar to what happens when creatures battle, but neither unit is tapped, trample doesn't apply, and it doesn't count as combat damage.
10 Best Fight Cards
But with dozens of clash-forcing spells, which units reign supreme? These are the ten best fight cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Ancient Animus
- Undercity Uprising
- Pit Fight
- Prey Upon
- Mutant's Prey
- Domri Rade
- Setessan Tactics
- Ulvenwald Tracker
- Cartouche of Strength
- Dromoka's Command
10. Ancient Animus
Like many fight spells, Ancient Animus requires green's forest lands as fuel, and it's a low-cost spell that operates at instant speed, letting you cast it at any time. Animus places a +1/+1 counter on one of your creatures if it's legendary, then has it fight a targeted opposing creature, making immediate use of its boosted stats to dominate (and hopefully survive) its clash.
Animus works particularly well in legendary-heavy commander decks (use it alongside "Captain Sisay"), and once spent, it's a nice way to fill your graveyard for cards with threshold or spell mastery effects, which activate bonus traits based on how many cards types are in your discard pile.
9. Undercity Uprising
Undercity Uprising costs more mana than most fight spells, needs both black and green fuel, and operates as a sorcery, only enabling it during your main phases. However, it gives a handy boost to your entire team.
First, all creatures you control gain deathtouch until the end of the turn. Then, one of your creatures fights an opposing creature. Remember, deathtouch instantly kills a creature when your unit successfully deals any type of damage to it, meaning that even though fighting doesn't classify as combat damage, your deathtouch warrior will insta-kill whatever it hits. With your opponent down a troop, use your army to launch an all-out strike (and discourage blockers thanks to their deathtouch), ensuring plenty of carnage with their invasion.
8. Pit Fight
Unlike the cheapest fight spells, Pit Fight needs two mana and has no secondary effects, but it's an incredibly accessible force. As an instant, you can catch opponents by surprise with it, and it's easily cast as its first mana can be any color and its second may be either red or green, ensuring ease of use.
Pit Fight simply has one of your creatures fight another creature. The first unit has to be yours, but contrary to many fight cards, the secondary target can belong to anyone, meaning you can even have your own soldiers fight each other in the rare cases you'd want them to. Fast, versatile, and easy, Pit Fight's a handy ace up your sleeve.
7. Prey Upon
Prey Upon is about as simple as they get. For a single green mana, your creature fights an opposing creature. No conditionals or tricks involved; this simply induces a battle while saving most of your turn's mana for other cards. Again, remember that cheap sorceries and instants help fuel spell mastery and threshold cards, further justifying their inclusion.
6. Mutant's Prey
Single-cost Mutant's Prey is similar to Prey Upon; picking one over the other depends on what type of deck you're crafting. With this, you're only allowed to target one of your creatures that has a +1/+1 counter, then have it battle an enemy; luckily, green has several ways to place counters on your troops, and many beasts come with them naturally (like the powerful hydras).
To compensate for its minor restriction, Mutant's Prey operates at instant speed, letting you surprise opponents with a fight that only takes one mana.
5. Domri Rade
Domri Rade is one the cheapest planeswalkers available, needing just three resources, and he arrives with three loyalty counters and effects. Most notably, you can immediately use his -2 (which still leaves lets Rade survive with one loyalty) to have a creature you control fight another target creature.
Assuming he survives, Rade offers ongoing fights when necessary; help accumulate loyalty with his +1, which lets you peek at your top card and add it to hand if it's a creature. If you ever amass seven counters, you can heavily boost your army with his -7 ultimate, granting your units double strike, trample, haste, and hexproof (good luck lasting long against that nightmare).
4. Setessan Tactics
Selessan Tactic's biggest downside is how it requires its recipients to tap to initiate fights, rather than simply giving it for free. However, it works at instant speed, always a plus, and you can target more than one creature thanks to its strive effect, letting you pay an additional green mana per extra creature.
For a single turn, every impacted troop gains +1/+1 and can tap to fight a target creature. Thus, Tactics is a versatile card that scales well even into the late-game, as it can either grant a cheap single clash or a plethora of inescapable bouts depending on your needs and mana production.
3. Ulvenwald Tracker
Ulvenwald Tracker costs a single mana, making him a nice turn one play, and he bears both the human and shaman subtypes, granting some interesting synergies. Tracker suffers a puny 1/1 stats, but he can tap and spend two mana to have a creature you control fight another target creature.
Your opponent will now have to choose between letting Tracker's continuous fights go unchecked or wasting a removal on such a weak unit. Either way, you win, and note that Tracker can even have your creature fight an ally if you choose.
2. Cartouche of Strength
Cartouche of Strength offers a rare green aura enchantment with several nifty bonuses for just three mana. Your enchanted creature gains +1/+1 and trample, letting excess combat (but not fight) damage bleed through to hit your opponent.
Additionally, when Cartouche enters the field, you can have its bearer fight an opposing creature. Crafty players might think to attach it to an opposing unit to have two enemies kill each other, but sadly, Cartouche mandates you attach it to your own unit. Still, a fight alongside two ongoing benefits makes it a tempting prize for any emerald assortment.
1. Dromoka's Command
Dromoka's Command specifically needs green and white mana, but this inexpensive spell operates at instant speed and lets you apply two of four effects. You can't pick the same option twice, but you have plenty of awesome traits to choose from:
- Prevent all damage target instant or sorcery would deal this turn
- Target player sacrifice an enchantment
- Target creature receives a +1/+1 counter
- Target creature you control fights target creature you don't control.
You can mix and match as needed; I'm particularly fond of pairing the enchantment removal with the fight, offering two great effects at low cost and quick-play speed. Dromoka's Command sees usage in just about every green and white deck I craft, and I highly recommend testing it yourself. Fortunately, it's a surprisingly cheap bargain, often costing less than two dollars!
How to Support Fight Cards in Magic
To make the most of fighting, ensure your creatures are stronger than your opponent's; thankfully, green spells tend to excel in combat stats. Use auras and artifacts to further boost them, as well as the green dragon "Foe-Razer Regent," who rewards your strategy by placing two +1/+1 counters on your creatures after they fight. Remember, unless a fight card has your unit tap, you're still free to attack with it that turn (assuming it doesn't have summoning sickness), but exercise caution, as any damage suffered in the battle will make your troop easier to kill in combat.
Fighting remains a fairly rare keyword that I hope to see on more upcoming spells, but it's a valuable and competitive mechanic that checks control units like wizards. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of brawl-producing cards, vote for your favorite fight spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on July 27, 2020:
I do like Kiora, but she only helps fight once you trigger her ultimate (though her other loyalty abilities are nice too).
rovi on July 26, 2020:
Kiora, master of the depths should be on the list.