Borborygmos and Fblthp | Illustration by Rudy Siswanto
When I think of a homunculus, which means “little person” in Latin, I immediately think of Dr. Praetorius’ creations in 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. (E.N.: I think of Mike Wazowski, but I’m a ‘90s baby.). I also think of Fblthp and the MTG version of these beings, which I find tremendously evocative.
Are they playable? Not always. But the strongest homunculi are from recent sets, so keep your eyes (er, eye?) on them in sets to come. Let’s get into it!
What Are Homunculi in MTG?
Riddlekeeper | Illustration by Steve Prescott
Homunculus is a creature type. They’re generally small blue creatures and all have the characteristic enormous eye in the middle of their faces.
The first homunculus printed was Sneaky Homunculus in Nemesis, but it and Hazy Homunculus (released in the next set in the Mercadian Masques block, Prophecy) were originally printed with the “illusion” creature type. They were eventually errata’d to the “homunculus” creature type.
The first card printed with the homunculus type was Bonded Fetch in Future Sight, and its flavor text gives a clue as to its origins: “A well-made homunculus grooms the mind of its master, pruning the thoughts that lead to madness. Few loredelvers survive the study of the infinite without one.”
Homunculi remain popular, especially since Fblthp of Totally Lost got his own card with Fblthp, the Lost. With the one-eyed team up of Borborygmos and Fblthp in March of the Machine, there’s hope that these cute little creatures might eventually number large enough for a proper EDH deck.
Until then these cards are usually niche payoffs for other decks, which kind of fits the idea of little beings squeezing into social orders across the planes.
#23. Frilled Oculus
Frilled Oculus is Draft chaff.
Heh. Humongulus was funny the first time I read it.
That’s it. That’s the review.
#21. Sneaky Homunculus
The worst of the sometimes unblockable homunculi, Sneaky Homunculus gets worse every year as 1-drops get more and more playable.
#20. Furtive Homunculus
Skulk on a 2-powered creature is tough. At a Commander table, there are going to be plenty of blockers around. You can do better than Furtive Homunculus if you’re doing an unblockability deck.
#19. Hazy Homunculus
Hazy Homunculus is going to feel like Slither Blade most of the time in EDH. This is here for you if you’ve already sleeved up every Changeling Outcast variant but still need to go faster.
You know, if you need yet another one for your Satoru Umezawa deck because you don’t care who gets attacked as long as you power out some nonsense like Sphinx of the Second Sun.
Aeromunculus has the distinction of being maybe the worst creature with the adapt keyword. Overcosted, especially in Simic ().
Its flavor text suggests that homunculi can echolocate, so that’s something.
#17. Dovin’s Automaton
Probably technically worse than the previous card, but Dovin's Automaton might be fine in some kind of Tezzeret or artifacts and planeswalkers deck. I know, that’s a bad deck.
#16. Jubilant Mascot
This rate isn’t good enough for a +1/+1 counters deck. With a lot of effects that reduce the cost of activated abilities, Jubilant Mascot could contribute more. Even then, you’d rather do something more powerful in that space.
#15. Component Collector
On the plus side, this card can annoy the Commander table by starting the day/night cycle for no good payoff. Everything else is pretty much even more downside for Component Collector.
#14. Stitcher’s Apprentice
Best case: Stitcher's Apprentice blocks every turn and then sacs the blocker to make a new token before damage. If you’re looking for a blue card to sac creatures repeatedly, you’re stuck with this, Drowned Rusalka, and the unplayable Marjhan.
But this could be a decent part if a bigger space opens up for creature sacrifice in blue.
There isn’t a defender deck that wants Doorkeeper and the mill strategy, although I don’t see why we couldn’t get one someday. The trouble is that the most efficient defender token makers to really figure out a combo with aren’t in blue.
Take a look at Atla Palani, Nest Tender, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast, and Flamewright. Now you just need a commander to pull it together, add Coral Colony and some of the other Dominaria United defenders, and I think it’s a great idea for a tryhard deck that only works once. But what a once that’ll be!
#12. Filigree Attendant
I suppose Filigree Attendant works in the Urza, Chief Artificer affinity-style EDH deck, but I think I’d rather have a larger volume of smaller creatures than this.
#11. Court Homunculus
Now we’re getting to playable cards!
Court Homunculus is a good part of the “White Robots” style Pauper decks that run it alongside cards like Flayer Husk, cards with metalcraft, and enablers like Thraben Inspector.
And it shows up in faster builds of the Urza, Chief Artificer EDH decks.
Death triggers are twitchy, and blue doesn’t often want to be part of a sacrifice deck. But if that happens, Oculus seems okay-ish.
#9. Bonded Fetch
This might be a 1/3 for one if printed today, but Bonded Fetch still has utility. It’s especially useful for EDH decks that want blue creatures that tap like Unctus, Grand Metatect, or decks that want a lot of looters like Oskar, Rubbish Reclaimer.
#8. Referee Squad
I’m not entirely here for a joke about things toxic dads yell from the stands of youth sports games, but here we are. Referee Squad is a Limited card that likely won’t work in a lot of Commander decks. But I can see this as a good part of a vigilance tribal deck built around something like Roon of the Hidden Realm.
#7. Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom
Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom partners with Okaun, Eye of Chaos in MTG’s first one-eyed team up. If you’re in the coin flip deck space, would you rather have this pair just Yusri, Fortune's Flame, or Krark, the Thumbless plus a blue partner card?
Who knows. There are so few coin flip cards, you have all those cards anyway and have likely tried them all as commanders. Which works best, coin flip fans? Let us know!
Outside of that deck, this seems unplayable.
#6. Jeering Homunculus
Goad is good, and Jeering Homunculus is one the few 2-drops that do it. It’s definitely the cheapest way to do it in blue.
Plus, look at this art. Just look at it!
#5. Unblinking Observer
There are a lot of creatures that make spells cheaper, sure, but blue ramp, even limited ramp like this, is hard to come by. If you want some, Unblinking Observer is chilling over here with its humorous flavor text.
#4. Curious Homunculus / Voracious Reader
Curious Homunculus, typically the best of very few creatures in the Izzet () spells deck in Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered, is useful in spells matter EDH decks. It’s especially good in mono-blue builds, like those helmed by Deekah, Fractal Theorist, Baral, Chief of Compliance, and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned.
Mill decks in EDH usually suffer from having too many spells and effects that only target one player’s deck. Anything that hits wider is useful, and Riddlekeeper could be a player in your Bruvac the Grandiloquent, Szadek, Lord of Secrets, or whatever mill commander you’re running.
At a certain point go wide decks just can’t attack you productively if they don’t deal with this, and that has some value.
#2. Fblthp, the Lost
As a Spirited Companion precursor in blue, Fblthp, the Lost has clear value. Note that the lost in the deck text only applies to spells that target, not triggered or activated abilities on cards.
This is a decent blink target for cards like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.
#1. Borborygmos and Fblthp
First, Fblthp looks amazing up there. I get the sense that he’s not lost at all, for once, but is exactly where he needs to be: kicking Phyrexian ass.
Like all the team up cards from March of the Machine, Borborygmos and Fblthp have a mashup up of abilities from Fblthp, the Lost and a slightly nerfed pitch-lands-for-damage ability from Borborygmos Enraged. But there’s power here beyond the original cards.
This draws a card when it attacks, which is sweet. And instead of getting lost in your deck like Fblthp, you can pay one and a blue to tuck this card third from the top, like a God-Eternal from Amonkhet. Put some respect on Fblthp when you try to pronounce it!
Sadly, this card is lacking the black pip to run all the decent cyclopes to run a full one-eyed deck, but we can dream of a more on point option than the non-synergistic Garth One-Eye.
Best Homunculus Payoffs
Seriously, though, this isn’t the most powerful tribe. And that’s partly by design. WotC keeps changing what homunculi do as they mine them for comedy. For a while, they were bad at being unblockable. Then they were bad at drawing cards. Then they were some kind of mana ramp.
That’s okay. Not every card can be good, and it’s good to give the bad cards some flavor to keep the game interesting.
Even so, there are a few places where these can fit into rarer strategies.
Eye Meme Decks
There probably aren’t enough cards to do a one-eyed deck, but I’m going to try with Borborygmos and Fblthp. Homunculi, Temur () cyclops, creatures that squint like Ovinomancer, pirates in eye patches like Impulsive Pilferer, and maybe creatures looking left or right like Ladies Looking Left or One-Eyed Jacks on playing cards, like, Dockside Extortionist.
There’s probably some desperate fun to be had here while losing.
There are quite a few homunculi that help ramp toward a spells theme, either with ramp or card draw. I could see a version of a spells deck that uses these cards, especially with a meme-y style, like a full-on Universal Horror Mad Scientist Laboratory thematic.
Again, this isn’t the most powerful build of this deck archetype, but it would be a fun way to lower the power level of your deck in a fun way.
Fblthp, the Lost | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
When I look at homunculi, with their fun flavor text, evocative art, and understatted rates, I think back to ‘90s Magic when kitchen table players didn’t know any better and ran goofy stuff because it seemed cool.
I’d like to see WotC settle on a more coherent vision for what the homunculus creature type does so that we could get that feel on slightly more playable cards. These cards are some of my favorite art from their respective sets, and I’d love to be able to run a deck with all these eyeballs. If this happens you’re all invited to my EDH theme night party, replete with Halloween hijinks and a track list of early ‘80s tunes like Betty Davis Eyes and Somebody’s Watching Me.
What do you think, Draftsim Nation? Am I missing some key homunculus payoff you use in your decks? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thanks for reading, and keep those eyeballs safe!
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