Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Snakes in Magic?
In Magic, serpents typically belong to the green faction, although they occasionally delve into blue and black. Most snakes typically bear low battle stats, but they compensate with other effects like deathtouch or forced taps on enemy creatures.
10 Best Snake Cards
While not as abundant as green's elves, snakes possess a surprising number of supports, and many bear secondary subtypes, letting them combo with multiple factions. But with dozens of serpents available, which reptiles reign supreme? These are the ten best snake cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Lorescale Coatl
- Ambush Viper
- Winding Constrictor
- Prowling Serpopard
- Sakura-Tribe Elder
- Ramunap Hydra
- Lotus Cobra
- Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
- Wasteland Viper
- Mire Boa/River Boa
10. Lorescale Coatl
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
Lorescale needs both blue and green mana, and for his price, his 2/2 stats (two power and two toughness) aren't great. However, he can gain a +1/+1 counter whenever you draw a card, quickly skyrocketing into one of the game's strongest creatures, especially if you use blue's numerous draw spells to hasten the process.
As icing on the cake, since Lorescale's effect says "may," you don't have to gain the counters in the rare circumstances where you don't want them (perhaps when there are penalties in play for creatures of a certain power).
9. Ambush Viper
Ambush Viper lives up to his name with his flash trait, letting you cast him at instant speed and catch opponents by surprise. He also carries deathtouch, killing any creature he damages regardless of their toughness.
Thus, cast Viper when your opponent attacks with their best unit to have them fall to Viper's insta-kill prowess as an unexpected blocker. Viper is a fierce troop; just remember that without flying or reach, he can't guard against aerial forces.
8. Winding Constrictor
Black and green Winding Constrictor bears surprisingly impressive stats for a snake, entering with a great 2/3 for his low price. Additionally, whenever your creature, artifact, or you yourself would receive a counter, Constrictor adds another counter of that type.
Since this isn't optional, it can be risky (you'll gain extra poison counters from infect cards, and your creatures will suffer additional -1/-1 counters), but the gamble should pay off as you'll rapidly accumulate +1/+1, charge, energy, and experience counters.
7. Prowling Serpopard
An unusual but appreciated cat-snake blend, Serpopard stacks well with white's abundant felines, and he offers one of the best anti-counter traits to deter blue's negation tactics, preventing your creatures from being countered.
This effect isn't active until he hits the arena, but since Serpopard's next trait prevents him from being countered, your opponent shouldn't be able to obstruct his entrance. As a final bonus, he enjoys an impressive 4/3 stats for his cost, making him surprisingly capable in battle.
6. Sakura-Tribe Elder
We'll later see how Elder's shaman subtype works great alongside his snake lineage, but he's admittedly a puny warrior, carrying just 1/1 stats. However, you can sacrifice Elder to search your library for a basic land and place it tapped onto the field, increasing your resource production in future turns.
Since Elder doesn't need to tap to use this effect, he can wield it immediately even without the haste trait, letting you activate it in response to a removal. Plus, sacrificing himself places Elder into your graveyard, ensuring cards with creature revival effects (like the equipment "Sword of Light and Shadow") have valid targets to recover.
5. Ramunap Hydra
Ramunap is a versatile monster with a plethora of abilities to enjoy. While he costs a fair chunk of four mana, only one has to be green, letting him easily blend into multicolor decks, and he carries the hydra subtype in addition to snake. He enters as a lukewarm 3/3 but gains +1/+1 while you control a desert land and while you have one in your graveyard, potentially becoming a fierce 5/5!
Whether or not you have your deserts in place, Ramunap offers vigilance (letting him attack with tapping), reach (letting him block flying enemies), and trample (letting excess damage bleed through blockers), making him one of the most well-equipped combatants in the game.
4. Lotus Cobra
Like Ambush Viper, Lotus Cobra veers on the weaker side of two-cost creatures, carrying just 2/1 stats, but he offers an excellent mana ramp ability that never requires him to tap. Thanks to his landfall trait, whenever a land enters the field under your control, you gain a mana of any color.
This is particularly useful in multicolor decks, letting you gain any mana types you haven't yet drawn the lands for, and it stacks great with green's extra land-per-turn plays, like "Exploration" and "Oracle of Mul Daya."
3. Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Legendary Sachi can serve as commander in EDH format, and while her stats are a puny 1/3, she grants your other snakes +0/+1, helpfully increasing their lacking toughness scores. Even better, she grants all your shamans the ability to tap and add two green mana to your pool, an excellent ramp tool that offers amazingly fast plays.
And since Sachi herself is part shaman, she'll be able to utilize the effect (at least once summoning sickness wears off) and add two green mana on each turn. When running Sachi, look for duo-typed elves, snakes, and humans who possess shaman as a second subtype.
2. Wasteland Viper
Wasteland Viper only needs one mana, letting you cast him even on your first turn. For his low fee, he bears a nice 1/2 stats as well as deathtouch, making him lethal even against far bigger opponents.
As if that weren't enough, you can instead utilize Viper's bloodrush trait (by spending one green mana and discarding him) to grant an attacking creature +1/+2 and deathtouch for the turn, a great way to eliminate your opponent's key forces after they've been declared as blockers (and are locked into combat).
1. Mire Boa/River Boa
Mire and River are essentially the same card with one minor tweak. Both arrive as mediocre 2/1 snakes, but they can spend a green mana at any time to regenerate, granting them surprising endurance. Additionally, Mire carries swampwalk while River harnesses riverwalk, letting them respectively become unblockable against opponents who control swamp and island lands.
With their easy regenerations and evasion, the two Boas are reliable units who work great at slipping past opponents and landing direct damage effects (like those on the "Sword of" artifacts). For their low prices and stellar abilities, I use them in nearly every green deck I craft; fortunately, they're temptingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
How to Support a Snake Deck in Magic
As creatures, snakes work as well as any other group with general supports like "Shapers' Sanctuary" and "Savage Summoning." Plus, in addition to Sachi, you can boost your snakes with "Kashi-Tribe Elite," who offers your legendary serpents the shroud trait, and "Seshiro the Anointed," who grants other snakes +2/+2.
Since they're not as big as dinosaurs or frequent as elves, snakes are often underestimated, but they're a diverse theme that definitely deserves more attention. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of slithering creatures, vote for your favorite snake and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill