Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Creature Clones in Magic
Typically found in the blue faction, many Magic cards enter the field as a copy of another creature, letting you duplicate the strongest unit in play. Remember not to imitate your own legendary (although some cards circumvent this), but copies let you mimic powerful units and help compensate for blue's relative lack of big creatures.
The standard copy is blue's four-cost "Clone," but since him, we've seen numerous shapeshifters with additional abilities—which reign supreme? These are the 30 best creature-copying spells in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Zndrsplt's Judgment
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Judgment costs more mana than most of today's spells and can only copy a creature you control, preventing you from mimicking an enemy. However, you get to choose "friend" or "foe" for every player, with each friend creating a token copy of one of their creatures while each foe returns a creature to their hand.
So you're getting a removal/copy two-for-one, and the ability is especially tempting in two-headed giant games (where you can also have your partner replicate a unit).
29. Evil Twin
Blue and black unite for Evil Twin, who simply enters the field as a copy of any other creature, just like Clone. However, Twin gains the ability to spend two mana (one from each Dimir color) and tap to destroy a creature with the same name.
Ideally, use Twin to imitate an enemy creature, then have him tap to kill them on your next turn, effectively stealing that creature for yourself.
28. Body Double
Double requires an extra dose of mana, but can accept many colorless slots and arrives as a copy of any creature in the graveyard (not field). This works well alongside blue's common mill tactics, helps circumvent the legend rule, and lets you keep an ace up your sleeve in case you're hit with a field wipe.
27. Stunt Double
Stunt Double offers a noticeable improvement on the standard Clone, sharing its flexible cost and entering the field as a copy of any creature. But since Double has flash, you can cast him at instant speed; cast him after attackers are declared for a nasty surprise blocker.
26. Dimir Doppelganger
Doppelganger enters the field as a weak 0/2, but can repay her base cost to exile a creature from any graveyard and become a copy of it. Not only does this also offer graveyard removal, Doppelganger retains her copy ability, letting you utilize the effect multiple times and continue improving as stronger monsters arrive.
She's also one of few clones that can safely copy your own legendaries—no need to sacrifice duplicates when the original's not on the field.
25. Cemetery Puca
Puca's hybrid mana symbols accept either blue or black mana, offering a more lenient cost than Doppelganger, and he arrives with slightly better 1/2 stats. Then, whenever a creature dies, Puca can pay one mana to become a copy of it, and he can perform the effect as many times as you like.
The timing's a bit trickier here than with Doppelganger, but Puca's superior stats and cheaper prices more than compensate.
24. Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
At first, Lazav seems inferior to Puca, carrying a higher and less-tolerant mana cost, and only able to copy opposing creatures when they enter the graveyard. However, Lazac has hexproof and respectable 3/3 stats by default, maintains hexproof when he copies a creature (which doesn't cost mana), and can shapeshift into an opposing creature when they enter the graveyard from anywhere, meaning he can also replicate milled or discarded units.
Plus, Lazav retains his original name even when he copies a creature, letting him safely mimic opposing legendaries that you also happen to use.
23. Clone Legion
Easily today's most expensive spell, Legion needs a whopping nine mana. But it creates a copy of every creature a player controls, mass-engineering their entire army. Normally, you'll want to target an opponent, but if you've got several non-legendary units you'd like to clone, you can also direct the spell at yourself.
Plus, Legion blends well with blue's numerous sorcery supports, like "Baral, Chief of Compliance" or anything with spell mastery.
22. Flameshadow Conjuring
Red occasionally delves into creature-cloning, usually offering shadows that fade after a single turn. Take Flameshadow Conjuring, which lets you pay a single red mana whenever a non-token creature enters your field to create a token of it with haste.
You have to exile the token at the end of the turn, but that's still a cheap and easy duplicate, especially for units that only last a turn anyway (like "Lightning Skelemental").
21. Followed Footsteps
An an enchantment aura, Footsteps attaches to any creature on the field, giving you a token copy of that creature during your upkeep. It's as simple as that; until Footsteps or its bearer (possibly an enemy unit) leaves the field, you'll get a free creature each turn; target a non-legendary for optimal results.
20. Soul Foundry
Foundry can be risky, as its imprint effect exiles a creature from your hand when it enters the field. So if Foundry gets hit by a quick removal, both your field and your hand will have been depleted. But when it works, it works; Foundry can pay the creature's cost and tap to create a token copy of it, letting you cast a new copy each turn.
19. Altered Ego
Green and blue partner for this shapeshifter. Like Clone, Ego costs four mana and imitates any creature, but you can also pay X more to give the copy X 1/+1 counters, a great outlet for leftover mana. Plus, Ego can't be countered, a handy defense against counterspell-focused blue decks.
18. Vizier of Many Faces
Like Clone, Vizier duplicates any creature on the field for four mana. But if Vizier is in your graveyard (whether from dying or being discarded/milled), you can embalm him for five mana.
This exiles Vizier from your graveyard, but creates a white zombie token of him, who will again duplicate any fielded creature. Two clones in one offers a fantastic bonus to any theme, especially blue/black decks that support the zombie subtype.
An easy pick for my own blue decks, Vizier is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing less than a single dollar!
17. Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
The populate mechanic deserves a shoutout today, especially on such a competitive card. Trostani arrives as a 2/5 who gives you life whenever another creature enters your field equal to its toughness.
Additionally, by spending three mana and tapping, Trostani populates, which creates a copy of a token creature you control. Sure, populate can only replicate your own unit and only if it's a token, but it's still a tempting way to score bonus soldiers, especially since Trostani grants extra life for each.
16. Sakashima the Impostor
Although he can copy another creature on arrival, Sakashima actually has base 3/1 stats instead of the typical clone 0/0, helpful in the rare cases where the copy fails.
More than that, his copy can spend four mana to return Sakashima to your hand at the end step, letting you later recopy a better creature, and Sakashima maintains his original name even when mimicking someone else—which lets you safely reproduce your own legendary.
15. Vesuvan Shapeshifter
You can either cast Shapeshift for five mana, or have him enter face-down as a 2/2 for three, morphing him face-up later for two. Either way, he'll copy a creature, but the morph option works well when there aren't any good targets yet or you want to split the mana cost over multiple turns.
Additionally, Shapeshifter can turn himself face-down (even if he wasn't originally morphed) at your upkeep, letting you recopy a stronger creature when needed.
14. Helm of the Host
CMC: 4 (5 to equip)
Helm requires several mana to get going: four to cast and five to equip to your creature. However, once donned, this artifact creates a token copy of its bearer at the start of each of your combats, grants it haste, and makes it non-legendary.
Now you can you safely sculpt your own legendary cards, and it's great that the tokens gain haste and you obtain them at the start of combat (rather than the standard upkeep trigger), letting you utilize them the same turn you equip Helm.
13. Spark Double
Spark Double offers a single-use but cheaper and more-versatile version of Helm, entering the field as a copy of any creature or planeswalker you control. Plus, Double's copy isn't legendary and gains a bonus +1/+1 or loyalty counter, not just imitating but improving upon your strongest unit.
Mirrorweave's a bit different than most of today's spells, turning every creature (including opposing ones) into a copy of a non-legendary creature for the rest of the turn. Target a strong unit on your turn when you want to overwhelm foes, or target a weak one on your opponent's turn to shut down their team.
The instant speed and hybrid symbols sweeten the pot, granting a versatile spell with numerous applications.
11. The Mimeoplasm
The Mimeoplasm requires three colors and more mana than most clones, but when he enters the field, he can exile two creatures from any graveyard. When he does, he becomes a copy of the first with a number of extra +1/+1 counters equal to the power of the second.
Talk about an upgrade; you'll often see Mimeoplasm's stats enter double digits with this effect, and he can help eliminate threats lurking in opposing graveyards.
10. Splinter Twin
When you attach this aura to a creature, it gains the ability to tap and create a token copy of itself onto the field with haste. Although you exile the token at the end of the turn, it's a great way to repeatedly swing without fear of repercussion. Plus, since you'll probably attach Twin to a creature you cast on a previous turn, it'll likely tap immediately for the effect.
9. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
For one extra mana, Kiki offers a better version of Splinter Twin, able to tap to duplicate any non-legendary creature you control, similarly granting it haste and exiling it at the end step. While Kiki's stats are admittedly a poor 2/2, his goblin synergy and haste trait pick up the slack, letting him immediately tap for a same-turn clone.
8. Dack's Duplicate
Toss some red mana alongside blue and you've got this improvement on the standard Clone. Duplicate replicates any creature on the field, but now they'll also gain haste and dethrone.
Haste lets the clone act immediately while dethrone gives it a +1/+1 counter whenever it attacks the player with the most (or tied for the most) life, two bonus powers that pair well.
7. Mimic Vat
Vat offers a safer imprint than Foundry, exiling any creature that dies (and leaving your hand undisturbed). Once Vat has imprinted, it can tap and spend three mana to clone the creature, give it haste, and exile it at the end of the turn.
This gives you the typical speedy but temporary red phantoms without actually needing the color, and you can imprint both opposing units and your own. Plus, while Vat can only store one creature at a time, you can imprint a new target whenever another creature dies (returning the old one to the graveyard), letting you gradually upgrade your look-alikes.
6. Rite of Replication
CMC: 4 (9 when kicked)
For four mana, Rite creates a token copy of any creature, basically "Clone" but with the bonuses of token and sorcery synergy. However, if you kick Rite by paying five extra mana, you instead create five token copies! Useful as both a mid and late-game play, Rite's a prime unit in extended commander games, just remember to target a non-legendary when kicking it.
5. Vesuvan Doppelganger
Doppelganger need some extra mana, but perfectly transcibes any creature except for its color. This is usually beneficial, letting you mirror multicolor creatures without becoming vulnerable to extra colored protections.
Additionally, Doppelganger can copy a new creature at each of your upkeeps, again retaining its originally color. Note that Doppelganger's initial arrival doesn't target, so it can mimic units with hexproof or shroud at that point, but its reoccurring upkeep-trigger does, so be sure to choose your original host wisely.
4. Phantasmal Image
Want a half-price phantom? Cast Phantasmal Image, who copies a creature just like Clone does, with the only downside being that you have to sacrifice the copy if it's targeted with a spell or effect. But pressuring foes to spend a removal on a two-cost unit is a win in itself, and it's hard to beat such a cheap doppelganger.
3. Sakashima's Student
When Student enters the field, it copies any creature, but adds ninja to its other subtypes, offering extra tribal synergy. Better yet, you can cast Student for four just like Clone, but you can also cast it for two using ninjutsu by returning an unblocked attacker you control to your hand.
If cast this way, your copy enters the field tapped and attacking, and it'll be too late for opponents to declare blockers, ensuring you'll score a direct attack with your new minion.
2. Clever Impersonator
Clever Impersonator opens up a whole new world of duplicating, entering the field as a copy of any non-land permanent. Now, planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts, and more are fair game in addition to creatures, reproducing the best permanent on the field regardless of its card type.
1. Phyrexian Metamorph
CMC: 4 (or 3 and two life)
Metamorph's unique phyrexian mana symbol can be fulfilled using either a blue mana or two life, meaning you can actually cast it with any colors if you're willing to take a small hit.
And Metamorph can copy any creature or artifact on the field (adding artifact to its status if you mimic a creature), meaning not only do you have a potentially-discounted Clone, you've got one with twice as many targets to forge.
More Creature Copies in Magic
When using today's spells, remember to keep the legend rule in mind and determine whether your spell targets or not ("choosing" a creature isn't the same as "targeting" them). Additionally, spells with myriad and populate also create token copies and further reinforce your army.
Creature-copying helps blue decks hold their own in combat and works well alongside non-legendary troops, but for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of creature-imitating spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill