Top 10 Riot Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on November 11, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Riot in Magic

Magic's riot keyword gives your creatures a choice as they enter the field, either arriving with haste (letting them attack or tap immediately) or a power/toughness-boosting +1/+1 counter.

Both are appreciated bonuses, and the ability to pick between them lets you adapt to the current field-state. As of this writing, riot's only found on a dozen or so spells and is exclusive to the red and green factions—which troops reign supreme? These are the ten best riot cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Wrecking Beast mtg
Wrecking Beast mtg

10. Wrecking Beast

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 7

Seven mana is admittedly pretty expensive, but Wrecking Beast has respectable 6/6 stats and trample. Plus, riot offers potential haste (especially rare on non-red cards) or a stat boost, quickly damaging foes who don't have a removal primed.

Burning-Tree Vandal mtg
Burning-Tree Vandal mtg

9. Burning-Tree Vandal

CMC: 3

Vandal's 2/1 stats are poor by default, but can be improved with riot. Or, give him haste to swiftly access his attack trigger; when Vandal swings, you can discard a card to draw a card. Your overall hand size doesn't change, but you get to manipulate both your hand and graveyard, perfect for cards with madness or flashback effects.

Gruul Beastmaster mtg
Gruul Beastmaster mtg

8. Gruul Beastmaster

CMC: 4

Again, Beastmaster's 2/2 stats disappoint for her cost, but riot can help improve them with a +1/+1 counter. You'll often want that counter over haste; when Beastmaster swings, she boosts another of your creatures by +X/+0, where X is her power.

Use this to increase the blocker-piercing damage of green's numerous tramplers, and attach equipment and auras to Beastmaster to further increase her boost.

Skarrgan Hellkite mtg
Skarrgan Hellkite mtg

7. Skarrgan Hellkite

CMC: 5

A 4/4 flying dragon is already a fair price for five mana, especially with riot. You'll usually want riot to give Hellkite a +1/+1 counter over haste because his activated ability requires him to have one; if he does, you can spend four mana to have Hellkite deal two damage divided among one or two targets.

That's a respectable instant-speed shock that can hit creatures, planeswalkers, and opponents themselves. And if Hellkite gains a +1/+1 through another effect, you can still use the ability even if you chose to give him haste with riot.

Frenzied Arynx mtg
Frenzied Arynx mtg

6. Frenzied Arynx

CMC: 4

Arynx requires two colors but has decent cat and beast subtypes. More than that, he provides a solid 3/3 with trample, riot, and the ability to spend six mana to gain +3/+0 for the turn. Admittedly, that's an expensive effect with only moderate gain, but it's a nice outlet for leftover mana and can catch opponents by surprise once blockers are declared.

Zhur-Taa Goblin mtg
Zhur-Taa Goblin mtg

5. Zhur-Taa Goblin

CMC: 2

Zhur-Taa carries the excellent goblin bloodline (plus berserker for good measure), mixing well with red's most abundant tribe. Better yet, his base stats are a handy 2/2, meaning you can potentially score a 3/3 for just two mana!

Rhythm of the Wild mtg
Rhythm of the Wild mtg

4. Rhythm of the Wild

CMC: 3

This Gruul enchantment provides your non-token creatures two useful traits: they can't be countered and they enter the field with riot. That's impressive power for a relatively-cheap enchantment, especially against blue counterspell decks.

Plus, riot stacks; if you play a creature that naturally has riot while you control Rhythm, it can gain two +1/+1 counters, one and haste, or (if for some weird reason you want redundant traits) two instances of haste.

Ravager Wurm mtg
Ravager Wurm mtg

3. Ravager Wurm

CMC: 6

One of the game's best wurm monsters, Ravager justifies his price with two entrance effects: riot plus the ability to either fight a target creature (each dealing their power as damage to the other) or destroy a land with a non-mana activated ability.

This means you've got creature or land removal on top of a 4/5 body (5/6 if you choose the counter), offering a versatile beatstick who adjusts to fit your needs.

Gruul Spellbreaker mtg
Gruul Spellbreaker mtg

2. Gruul Spellbreaker

CMC: 3

Spellbreaker's ogre and warrior subtypes have limited support, but he offers a 3/3 trampler with riot, a fantastic deal for three mana. Better still, he gives both himself and you hexproof during your turn, a powerful shield against instant-speed tricks.

Domri, Chaos Bringer mtg
Domri, Chaos Bringer mtg

1. Domri, Chaos Bringer

CMC: 4

As a planeswalker, Domri himself doesn't have riot. However, he enters with a surprisingly high amount of loyalty (five) considering his cost, and his +1 not only grants a red or green mana, but gives any creature the mana is spent on riot. -3 adds up to two creatures from your deck's top four cards to your hand, and ultimate -8 creates an emblem that gives you a 4/4 beast token with trample during each end step (including opponents').

These are simply powerful abilities that complement each other; Domri's -3 provides constant creature fuel to exploit his +1. A staple in my own green/red decks, Domri is also surprisingly cheap for a competitive planeswalker, costing less than three dollars!

Which card do you prefer?

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Utilizing Riot in Magic

As an adaptable trait, remember to choose which riot effect you'd like based on the current field state; haste often works better when opponents are low on life, while the +1/+1 counter prefers extended matches.

You can multiply the +1/+1 counters with green's proliferate spells, but for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next set of rioters, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill

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