Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Umbra Auras in MTG?
In Magic, the Umbras are set of enchantment auras that adhere to creatures and provide them with various benefits. Umbras are only seen in the green, blue, and white factions, and they span a variety of mana costs, but they all share the same totem armor benefit, which lets you send the Umbra (and not the creature itself) to the graveyard if your unit would be destroyed.
Basically, equipped monsters gain a one-time destruction immunity in addition to the unique boosts each Umbra provides. But with dozens of spiritual blessings, which auras reign supreme? These are the ten best Umbra cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Eland Umbra
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2
Eland Umbra is pretty cheap, needing just two mana, and it grants two useful benefits, even if they don't stack together well. Your enchanted creature gains +0/+4, offering a huge amount of extra toughness, albeit without any added power. Like all Umbras, Eland also provides totem armor, removing all damage from its creature and destroying itself if they would perish.
These are both helpful abilities, but they just don't blend well. Having four extra toughness makes your unit hard to destroy without insta-kill effects or deathtouch, meaning your totem armor often won't be needed. Still, two bonuses are better than one, especially at such low cost.
9. Indrik Umbra
Indrik Umbra is today's most expensive member, costing a fierce six mana, so be sure to harness green's mana ramp to quickly afford it. Thankfully, it justifies its price with a wealth of powerful effects. Your attached creature gains +3/+3, first strike, totem armor, and forces all opposing creatures to block it if they can.
The extra power and toughness help you survive your battles (useful when you're being blocked by multiple foes), and first strike lets you hit preemptively, often eliminating defenders before they have a chance to scratch you. Forcing enemies to block also goads weaker utility units into unwanted combat, helping annihilate your rival's pesky supports without having to spend an instant or sorcery removal.
8. Boar Umbra
Boar Umbra offers half of Indrik's effects, but for half the cost, and now you only need one mana color. Your enchanted creature simply gains +3/+3 and totem armor. That's it, but for three mana, that's a fair benefit, letting you hit harder, endure more punishment, and survive a single death blow.
In EDH format, remember to buff your commanders to quickly score commander-damage wins, letting you triumph by netting 21 total combat damage with your general even if your opponent still has life remaining!
7. Felidar Umbra
Felidar Umbra only needs two mana, and while it doesn't buff your unit's stats, it grants them lifelink, letting them regain your health whenever they deal damage (whether directly to an opponent or on one of their creatures). Of course, it also provides the trademark Umbra totem armor.
But most interestingly, by spending two mana you can reattach Umbra to another creature, almost like an artifact equipment's equip trait, except you don't need to pay the added fee for your initial attachment, and you can do it at instant speed. This comes in handy if Felidar's original holder would be exiled or bounced to hand—removals that totem armor won't protect against—letting you prevent Felidar's demise and shuffle it to another warrior.
6. Octopus Umbra
Octopus Umbra works best when given to a weak unit, so feel free to bestow a puny token or another throwaway minion. The attached unit's stats become a fierce 8/8 (regardless of their initial values), they gain totem armor, and when they attack, you can tap a creature whose power is 8 or less—meaning you can exhaust nearly any adversary (or your own, if for some odd reason you need to).
Admittedly, Octopus needs a substantial chunk of five mana, but its formidable upgrade and enemy-dulling should quickly justify its fee, especially since most blue creatures have underwhelming combat stats.
5. Eel Umbra
Eel Umbra simply provides totem armor and a +1/+1 increase, a small but appreciated boost. For two mana, that's fair, but best of all, Eel wields the rare flash trait, letting you cast it at instant speed!
Thus, you can often catch your opponent off-guard, gaining the advantage against their attacking monsters in a battle they expected to win. It's also a great way to utilize leftover lands that you kept untapped in case you needed a counterspell negation or other removal, but didn't end up using.
4. Hyena Umbra
Hyena Umbra only needs the mana of a single plains land, and it grants your troop +1/+1 power and toughness, totem armor, and first strike, letting them hit first in combat (and avoid a counterattack if they kill their target).
This stacks extra well with deathtouch, letting you insta-kill anything regardless of their toughness while avoiding damage yourself; employ Hyena in white/black structures to utilize this potent combo.
3. Spider Umbra
Like Hyena, Spider grants totem armor and +1/+1, but this time, you receive reach instead of first strike, letting you block flying opponents in addition to ground units.
This is particularly useful for the green faction, who doesn't bear many aerial units; anything that can dampen its vulnerability to flyers while supporting your army makes an excellent addition. I'm especially fond of Spider in monogreen decks (like Omnath's commander build), where you really need the anti-flying checks; fortunately, Spider's a bargain deal, often costing just a single dollar!
2. Crab Umbra
Crab Umbra only needs one mana and provides totem armor, but it doesn't give Hyena and Spider's +1/+1 or extra trait. So why use it? Well, it lets you untap your enchanted creature at any time by spending three mana.
Optimizing this skill can be tricky, but when done correctly, you can form infinite combos in the vein of "Umbral Mantle"; attach to a creature that can tap for three or more mana (at least one being blue), and you'll have all the tools you need for infinite mana.
1. Bear Umbra
While Bear Umbra eats more mana than most of its peers, it offers incredible ramping potential. Not only does your monster receive +2/+2 and totem armor, but they also automatically untap all lands you control when they attack!
Again, combo this with "Omnath, Locus of Mana" in commander, who stockpiles green mana even as phases and turns end, gaining power for each. When he or an ally swings with Bear, immediately re-tap your now-refreshed lands to increase his strength before your attacks land, letting you gain an immediate boost that will quickly decimate foes. Bear Umbra is an easy choice for my own Omnath decks, and while it's not the cheapest Magic card, it's far from unattainable, often costing well under four dollars.
Supporting the Umbra Spells in Magic
Remember, Umbras belong to the aura subtype of enchantments, so they stack well with both general enchantment supports or aura-specific boosts like "Bruna, Light of Alabaster" and "Champion of the Flame." None of the current Umbras require red or black mana, so they tend to fit best in green/white/blue decks, but it really depends on what type of deck you're crafting.
Of course, you'll also want potent creatures to attach your Umbras to, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of nature-themed auras, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
naya gucci on November 22, 2018:
my brothers love this game!!!!!!!!!!