Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Combat Abilities in Magic
In addition to innate power/toughness ratios, Magic creatures often wield various abilities that ramp their combat prowess. Whether piercing through blockers with trample, restoring health with lifelink, or insta-killing foes with deathtouch, these traits can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
But few creatures venture beyond two or three traits; today we'll examine ten rare units offering numerous abilities to ravage foes. Fittingly, many carry hefty mana fees but justify their price by massacring challengers. So, with thousands of creatures available, which carry the most traits? Here are 10 insanely combat-stuffed warriors in Magic: The Gathering
Pierces excess damage through blockers
Can only be blocked by creatures with flying or reach
Can attack without tapping
Can attack/tap even on the turn it arrives
Kills any creature it damages regardless of their toughness
Restores you health proportionate to damage dealt
Inflicts battle damage first (and avoids a counterattack if enemies are killed)
Inflicts both first strike and regular combat damage
Cannot be targeted, damaged, or blocked by corresponding spells
Can't be targeted by opposing spells/any spells
10. Samut, Voice of Dissent
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
While her stats are a medicore 3/4 considering her cost, Samut offers a heap of impressive abilities, carrying vigilance, haste, flash (letting you cast her at instant speed), and the formidable double strike, hitting twice with each blow.
Stopping there, you'd already have a fierce warrior, but Samut also grants your other creatures haste and can spend a white mana and tap to untap another creature. Thus, she's useful as both a combatant and support unit, a staple in any red/green/white deck.
9. Phyrexian Crusader
Crusader's stats are a poor 2/2, but he only needs one color and wields first strike and protection from red and white. Additionally, he carries the deadly infect trait, dealing damage to creatures as permanent -1/-1 counters and players as poison counters (you lose once you have ten).
First strike and infect are a brutal combo, letting Crusader's preemptive attack weaken any incoming damage with -1/-1 counters; coupled with his protections, he's surprisingly shielded in battle. Throw in the handy zombie subtype and you have an unconventional yet ruthless beatstick.
8. Ormendahl, Profane Prince
Profane Prince transforms from the land "Westvale Abbey." This isn't easy, requiring you to spend five mana and sacrifice creatures (swarm throwaway zombie and thopter tokens to help meet the cost).
But when you pull it off, Ormendahl joins with a dominant 9/7, flying, lifelink, indestructible, and haste, offering an invincible aerial warrior who restores your health with each attack.
8. Akroma, Angel of Fury
Legendary Akroma requires a hefty sum of mana, but harnesses 6/6 stats, flying, trample, and protection from both white and blue—two common colors in commander format. Additionally, she can't be countered, further shielding against blue's negations, and can spend a red mana at any time to get +1/+0 for the turn.
Thanks to morph, you can also cast Akroma face-down as a 2/2 for three mana, then flip her for six. Overall, this requires more resources, but it lets you divide her cost over multiple turns, helping cast her earlier in your match.
6. Baneslayer Angel
Baneslayer proves combat prowess isn't just for legendary units. She wields impressive 5/5 stats, flying, first strike, lifelink, and protection from both dragons and demons. That's a heap of impressive abilities, and since she's not legendary, she's a valid target for creature-duplicating spells like "Clone" and "Phyrexian Metamorph."
5. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice
One of the best commanders in Magic, this multi-colored angel blends flying, lifelink, vigilance, and deathtouch into one potent package. Plus, at the end of your turn, Atraxa can proliferate any number of permanents, adding a type of counter that was already present.
Thus, she's great for boosting units with +1/+1 or charge counters and weakening enemies with -1/-1 or poison counters. This even functions with loyalty counters on planeswalkers, quickly accessing their ultimate effects.
4. Spirit of the Night
This high-cost demon wields 6/5 plus flying, haste, trample, protection from black, and (while attacking) first strike, a hefty array of aggressive abilities. Few black creatures offer as much sheer martial prowess as this malicious entity.
To avoid Spirit's demanding mana fee, use cards that can gimmick him into play like "Kaalia of the Vast" or "Thran Temporal Gateway."
3. Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
One of the rare elder dinosaurs, Zetalpa costs a taxing sum of mana, but carries 4/8, double strike, trample, vigilance, flying, and indestructible.
Indestructible and double strike are especially useful abilities; on top of everything else, you've got a nigh-invincible aerial combatant. Remember to give this pterodactyl buffs with auras and equpments; thanks to double strike, any power increases are twice as effective.
2. Sphinx of the Steel Wind
One of the best sphinxes in the game, Steel Wind needs three different colors and eight mana. However, his dual artifact creature status gives several routes for avoiding his fee, meaning you won't always have to pay his draining cost. But no matter how he arrives, Steel Wind enjoys 6/6 stats, flying, first strike, vigilance, lifelink, and protection from both red and green, more than enough to topple most opponents.
Steel Wind is appreciably sturdy despite bearing colors that don't often focus on creature strength, making him a frequent member of my own builds. Fortunately, he's surprisingly cheap for such a powerful card, costing well under two dollars!
1. Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Akroma's 6/6 white form carries a whopping seven bonuses, including flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, haste, and protection from both red and black, making her one of the strongest creatures in the game.
But even non-white decks can take advantage of these traits with the colorless artifact "Akroma's Memorial". It needs seven mana, but grants each of Akroma's abilities to all units you control, paving the path for a martial victory in the late stages of your match. Thus, whether as a creature or a monument, Akroma's ready to secure your win.
More of Magic's Strongest Creatures
Today we've examined the most trait-abundant units in the game, but remember that several troops gain powers depending on certain conditions. For instance, black's "Cairn Wanderer" can acquire nearly trait as long as a creature in a graveyard has it. And white's "Odric, Lunarch Marshal" can share traits, granting all your units a benefit if just one creature has it.
Power and toughness are important, yet abilities are often more so, granting the edge in battle. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of bloodthirsty creatures, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill