Last updated on March 2, 2024

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice | Illustration by Chris Rahn

Class is session. Okay, nothing really so formal. This is a mentor-ship, not a classroom. That’s right, we’re focusing on mentor to answer some important questions, look at the cards with mentor, and see if some of the mentor cards can help boost your Constructed decks.

I'm not an MTG judge, but I take time to do some research on these keywords before I present them to you. I try my best to bring you top quality information on the history, rules, and playability of these mentor cards. Just like an over eager mentee, let’s get to it!

How Does Mentor Work?

Goblin Banneret - Illustration by Viktor Titov

Goblin Banneret | Illustration by Viktor Titov

Mentor is a keyword ability that allows an attacking creature with mentor to give a +1/+1 counter to another attacking creature that has less power. It’s a triggered ability that requires the creature to declare an attack.

The History of Mentor in MTG

Mentor was introduced in the Guilds of Ravnica set and last appeared in Unfinity. It was made to depict the training of smaller human creatures by learning from their mentors.

A lot of human creatures can learn from more trained humans, even angels. “Mentor” has become a non-evergreen and non-deciduous keyword because of its reliance on the single mentor creature.

Future sets like Crimson Vow changed the mentor keyword to “training” to empower the smaller creature. This allowed for more growth, more strategic combat choices, and less reliance on a single creature for a strategy.

Can a Creature with Mentor Target Itself?

No, mentor creatures can’t target themselves. Since the ruling reads that mentors give a +1/+1 counter to another target creature with lesser power, you must target a creature other than the mentor creature. Not to mention that a creature can't have lower power than itself, because its power is always, well, equal to its power.

Does Mentor Stack in MTG?

Yes, mentor does stack. You can have multiple instances of mentor that all apply and trigger separately.

With mentor, there’s the requirement to declare attackers as well as the power requirement. Once attacking has been declared, the mentor triggers are put on the stack and tons of other interactions can occur.

Is Mentor an Activated Ability?

No, mentor isn't an activated ability. It's a triggered ability that triggers when a mentor creature attacks.

What if the Mentor Creature Leaves the Battlefield or Dies after the Trigger?

Infernal Grasp Splendid Agony

If the mentor trigger is already on the stack when the creature with mentor is removed, the trigger resolves for the last power the creature with mentor had before leaving the battlefield.

For example, if a creature with mentor is destroyed by a card like Infernal Grasp after the mentor ability is already on the stack, it can still give its counter to another smaller attacking creature. But if a creature with mentor is removed by a card like Splendid Agony and the negative counters reduce its power to zero, then its power is reduced before it’s removed so it won’t give any counters to other attacking creatures.

What if the Power of the Mentor Creature or Target Changes after the Trigger?

The mentor trigger compares the power of the involved creatures two times: at the time of the trigger, and as it resolves. You therefore have the stack in between these times for the creature's powers to change. If instants or abilities change the powers of these creatures, the mentor trigger may or may not resolve depending on its power at the time of the second check.

It all depends on the power of the mentor creature still being more than the targeted smaller creature.

What's the Difference Between Training and Mentor?

Ordruun Mentor Jenny Flint

A mentor like Ordruun Mentor teaches smaller creatures, while Jenny Flint is a small creature that gets stronger by training around more powerful creatures. They complement each other and both abilities put the +1/+1 counter on the smaller creature.

Gallery and List of Mentor Cards

Goblin Coward Parade

Best Mentor Cards

#9. Goblin Banneret

Goblin Banneret

Goblin Banneret is a first turn play for aggressive mentor and Boros () decks. It establishes your board presence and gives you options to pump this creature and make your early creatures bigger.

#8. Truefire Captain

Truefire Captain

The mana cost of Truefire Captain is going to keep it strictly to Boros-style decks, but it can fit well in a mentor or Boros deck. The mentor ability and four power can pump a lot of your smaller creatures, and the fact that you can redirect damage is a great deterrent that's often lethal.

#7. Danny Pink

Danny Pink

Danny Pink gives your creatures a great card draw trigger, and mentor is the built-in way to make it happen. It's very easy for Danny to pay for itself and play well with counter-moving cards.

#6. Light of the Legion

Light of the Legion

A lot of decks that can incorporate mentor are often aggressive. Light of the Legion is on the more expensive side for aggressive Boros decks, but the benefits are that the flying ability can free up the mentor trigger and the dying effect boosts your creatures.

The big downside with mentor-style decks is board removal, but Light of the Legion doesn’t help too much with that.

#5. Aegis of the Legion

Aegis of the Legion

The number of decks that want one tall creature and a wide board of small creatures has grown. Aegis of the Legion is an incredible inclusion in such a deck. As a great piece of equipment that teaches your small creatures to be more powerful and protect them, this Ravnica: Clue Edition card is premium.

#4. Felisa, Fang of Silverquill

Felisa, Fang of Silverquill

Let’s look at the Commander edition of a mentor. Felisa, Fang of Silverquill is a nice way to grow your board presence and give your opponent hesitation with removal spells. It might even be a good commander if you want to try an Orzhov () counter with supporting cards like Inkshield, Carrion Feeder, or Luminarch Aspirant.

#3. Tajic, Legion’s Edge

Tajic, Legion's Edge

Tajic, Legion's Edge is a Boros dream card. It’s fast, it can pump creatures, it protects creatures, and first strike can add more pressure on your opponent. This is a great Boros card that can fit in plenty of other decks outside mentor-style.

#2. Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is my favorite card for these mentors. The 4-mana cost is curve-friendly and pumps your Boros creatures in different ways depending on their colors. Exemplar of Justice is a great addition to any Boros deck that needs some extra firepower.

#1. Legion Warboss

Legion Warboss

Legion Warboss isn’t only great for mentor-style decks, it also fits perfectly into goblin tribal build. Grow your goblin base and pump them with Legion Warboss’s mentor trigger, or other goblin tribal cards like Coat of Arms.

Decklist: Boros Mentor in Modern

Modern Boros Mentor deck by MTG Decks

I found a Modern Boros mentor deck on Amazon and tweaked it a little. I wanted to update some of the lands and change a few creature and spell combinations.

The deck is aggressive, and the idea is to build your board presence within the first three turns to then pump your creatures or remove blockers. The biggest threats to this deck are board wipes and other removal spells that slow it down, but the deck is cheap and efficient so you should be able to create steady pressure every match.

Wrap Up

Legion Warboss - Illustration by Alex Konstad

Legion Warboss | Illustration by Alex Konstad

I hope I’ve done my job and been a good mentor today. The mentor keyword may be for you if you’re an aggressive or Boros player. I truly enjoyed the mechanic in Limited play, and it’s a fun tribal build. It's branched out a bit to other colors, but there’s a reason that it hasn’t become an evergreen or deciduous keyword. I don’t see mentor coming back often because of its reliance on the single mentor creature.

Thank you for reading today, and I hope that it gave you some insight into a not-so-common keyword. Feel free to leave a comment below, and follow us over on Twitter to support our community so we can support you.

Stay safe, and may the draws be in your favor!

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