Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How to Use Morbid in Magic
Only found on a few dozen spells, Magic cards with morbid strengthen if a creature has died that turn. It doesn't matter whether the creature was yours or an opponent's or if they perished from battle, being sacrificed, or any other effect—any death will trigger the bonus.
Primarily found in green and black, many card types employ morbid abilities—which reign supreme? These are the ten best morbid cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Morkrut Banshee
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Banshee provides a decent 4/4 with spirit synergy, but you really want her morbid entrance effect, giving a creature -4/-4 for the turn.
That's a powerful debuff that will outright kill most creatures, even ones with indestructible. Just know it's not optional, so be sure you don't play a morbid-triggering Banshee unless there's at least one opposing creature you can target or she could end up killing herself.
9. Predator's Howl
Howl creates a 2/2 wolf token at instant speed, admittedly pretty weak stats for four mana. However, with morbid active, you get three of these tokens instead, giving 6/6 worth of creatures at flash speed!
These guys are often best used as surprise blockers, but for this to work, you'll need a creature to have died before combat, which can be a little tricky to setup. Still, it's a formidable combo when you pull it off, especially if you're running wolf supports.
8. Festerhide Boar
Boar provides a mediocre 3/3 trampler for four, but with morbid active, he'll enter with two +1/+1 counters, giving a fierce 5/5. Bonus points for proliferate themes that can multiply these counters, and since he's a common, Festerhide is legal in pauper format.
7. Skirsdag High Priest
High Priest has weak 1/2 stats, and his effect relies on swarming, but it's a lot of power from a two-cost card. With morbid active, tapping Priest alongside any two other untapped creatures you control will summon a 5/5 flying demon token!
These are abnormally strong tokens, and the more you summon, the more untapped creatures you'll have for future triggers, quickly snowballing into a hoard of demons.
6. Caravan Vigil
Vigil's surprisingly useful even without morbid, adding any basic land from deck to hand, a useful way to pull missing colors and secure your turn's land drop. But if a creature has died that turn, you can instead put that land onto the field!
Since the land will enter untapped, Vigil pays for itself when morbid. This is also an easy way to get a sorcery into your graveyard, useful for effects like spell mastery and threshold.
5. Reaper from the Abyss
Reaper specifically needs at least three black mana in his cost, making him a bit awkward when juggling multiple colors, but he's a powerful 6/6 flying demon. His morbid ability triggers at the end of any turn where a creature died, destroying a non-demon creature.
Again, this isn't optional, so be careful not to wipe out your own forces, but it's a powerful and reusable removal, and since Abyss is a demon, he's safe from the effect.
4. Deathreap Ritual
Deathreap Ritual provides excellent ongoing draw support for Golgari themes, letting you draw at the end of any turn where at least one creature died. Given green/black's penchant for graveyard shenanigans, this should be pretty easy, and since the effect is optional, you can decline if you're close to decking-out.
3. Hunger of the Howlpack
Howlpack simply places a +1/+1 counter on a creature at instant speed, useful when you need a small edge after attackers and blockers are declared. But if a creature has already died that turn, you'll instead place three counters!
That's an enormous boost for such a cheap card, especially since most early-game buffs ("Titan's Strength", "Blossoming Defense", etc.) only last for the turn.
2. Tragic Slip
Tragic Slip weakens a creature by -1/-1 for the turn, another cheap way to gain an edge after combatants are declared. But it becomes absolutely lethal if morbid is active, instead giving -13/-13! Almost nothing can survive that, making it one of black's best removal options, especially for indestructible foes.
Despite its impressive power, Slip is only a common, qualifying for pauper format and costing less than a single dollar!
1. Malicious Affliction
Malicious Affliction offers another inexpensibe black removal. At base, it's a more color-restricted "Doom Blade", instantly killing a non-black creature. But if a creature has already died that round, you can copy Affliction, potentially eliminating two threats!
Cheap, powerful, and optional (you don't need to copy it if you don't want to), Affliction remains the best morbid card to date.
Using Morbid in Magic
Morbid can trigger from creatures dying in combat, but sometimes you can't or won't be able to initiate that. To help rig your morbid effects, use green, black, or colorless creatures with self-sacrificing effects; favorites include "Sakura-Tribe Elder", "Augur of Skulls", and "Burnished Hart".
Despite only a few spells having them, morbid cards remain a staple of many decks, and I hope to see more in future sets. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of death-empowered spells, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill