Last updated on January 19, 2023

Simian Spirit Guide - Illustration by Lucas Graciano

Simian Spirit Guide | Illustration by Lucas Graciano

Hello planeswalkers! I know some of you are fans of shenanigans, tomfoolery… monkeying around. Magic offers lots of ways to disrupt the game, but sometimes you just wanna go ape. Literally. (For the sticklers among you, no, apes aren’t monkeys. Happy? Don’t @ me.)

You might remember some of the ape cards you’ve played with in MTG battles, but I bet you can’t remember them all. Truthfully, they aren’t all worth remembering, but I still want to take a close look at the ape creature type.

Are apes only in the green colors? Is an ape tribal deck possible, and decent? Which apes can you get value from for my Commander and Modern decks? Oh, oobee doo, let’s look at creatures who wanna be like you!

What Are Apes in MTG?

Thieving Amalgam (Commander 2019) - Illustration by Johan Grenier

Thieving Amalgam (Commander 2019) | Illustration by Johan Grenier

Ape is a creature type that depicts nature’s great apes, except for humans. The ape cards are usually depicted with powerful, rampaging creatures with keywords like trample, reach, and counters being very popular among them.

Most apes live in the forests of their planes, with 69.7% of apes having green in their color identity. The first ape appeared in 1993’s Arabian Night. This creature type used to encompass monkeys and apes, but now monkeys have their own creature type. Some cards had the original creature type of ape but have been changed, like Ravenous Baboons.

Best Black Apes

#2. Sidisi’s Pet

Sidisi's Pet

Sidisi’s Pet is a morph card to trick an opponent into thinking they can run over your smaller 2/2 creature. The value from surprise blocking a creature and maybe gaining life isn’t enough to roster this card.

If morph tricks are your aim, there are much better cards.

#1. Thieving Amalgam

Thieving Amalgam

Can you imagine many things more terrifying than an ape snake? Nightmares aside, Thieving Amalgam is a nice way to steal and use your opponent’s cards against them in the eternal formats.

The upside of this card is the chance to manifest one of your opponent’s best creatures. But the downside of the massive cost makes it a tough card to play.

Best Red Apes

#7. Yavimaya Steelcrusher

Yavimaya Steelcrusher

The good news is that Yavimaya Steelcrusher is legal in every format. The bad news is that it’s not good enough to roster in any deck outside of Limited. Save the enlist ability and artifact hate for your Limited sideboard only.

#6. Ferocious Tigorilla

Ferocious Tigorilla

Ferocious Tigorilla is a great card in Limited and has some decent value in an ape tribal deck. A 4-mana 4/3 creature with a decent keyword is an okay play, though not a great one.

#5. Gorilla Shaman

Gorilla Shaman

Gorilla Shaman is a nice little creature that has a chance to take care of any pesky artifacts. The biggest value is destroying Treasure, Blood, and Powerstone tokens.

#4. Raging Gorilla

Raging Gorilla

Who doesn’t love some older cards and their wonderful art? Raging Gorilla is a simple 3-drop creature that can get bigger when it blocks or becomes blocked.

Go out there and pressure your opponents with this!

#3. Kird Ape

Kird Ape

Kird Ape is a simple creature that may do well in an aggro Gruul ()-style deck. A 1/1 1-drop is okay, but a 2/3 one in a Gruul deck is much better. It doesn’t give you much value outside of the fast creature play.

#2. Simian Spirit Guide

Simian Spirit Guide

Simian Spirit Guide is a storm deck’s dream. It’s a way to get free mana from a card in your hand that you can turn into more mana with cards like Manamorphose or Pyretic Ritual.

Unfortunately it’s banned in Modern for this reason, but it’s still legal in Pauper and eternal formats.

#1. Kird Chieftain

Kird Chieftain

Kird Chieftain is a curve-friendly 4/4 creature if you control a Forest. The real value is its 5-mana activated ability. It’s a great strategy for Gruul decks to have the ability to give a pump to a creature after blockers have been assigned.

The versatility and availability of Kird Chieftain make it a usable card in lots of formats.

Best Green Apes

#18. Zodiac Monkey

Zodiac Monkey

The landwalk abilities are keywords that haven’t survived the evolution of MTG. Forestwalk relies on your opponent having a forest. Unless you can reliably change your opponent’s land types, I’d move on from cards like Zodiac Monkey.

#17. Tree Monkey

Tree Monkey

Tree Monkey may only see some play in an ape tribal deck. You need to pump it to get any value out of it. Some tribal effects may be necessary to get that value out of this card, like Alpha Status.

#16. Apes of Rath

Apes of Rath

Who doesn’t enjoy a literary reference? Does the Grapes of Wrath reference take anyone else back to high school English class?

Apes of Rath is more of a fun joke than a playable card. It has some curve value, but not untapping limits its upside in most circumstances.

#15. Uktabi Orangutan

Uktabi Orangutan

You knew we had to mention the “sex monkey!” Uktabi Orangutan is a fan favorite for some of the naughty background action. It’s another great joke card.

This has a little artifact hate, but for the most part just enjoy the joke.

#14. Simian Grunts

Simian Grunts

I love a creature with flash. What I don’t love is a creature with echo or a cumulative upkeep. Simian Grunts has flash and echo.

The value here is the speed, but the downsides should keep it out of almost every deck.

#13. Gorilla Berserkers

Gorilla Berserkers

Gorilla Berserkers has a fun interaction between its many texts. It has rampage, which gives it a boost when it’s blocked by multiple creatures. It also has some text to force opponents to block it with multiple creatures.

This is a fun combo, but the cost and lack of other abilities makes Gorilla Berserkers a card to pass over in your collection.

#12. Gargantuan Gorilla

Gargantuan Gorilla

Gargantuan Gorilla is a massive creature with an activated fight ability and a cumulative upkeep. It has some decent value if you have Forests (especially Snow-Covered Forests) you can sacrifice. The costs seem too big for my liking in the eternal formats.

#11. Simian Brawler

Simian Brawler

It’s always nice to have an outlet to positively use lands in your hand when you get mana flooded. Simian Brawler allows you to discard hands for a single-turn pump. The pump won’t be enough to make this a card to put in competitive decks.

#10. Silverback Shaman

Silverback Shaman

Silverback Shaman is a straightforward attacking primate. The hope is to apply pressure with the bigger power and trample, then draw a card when it’s destroyed.

I don’t see too much value with this card outside of Limited.

#9. Savage Gorilla

Savage Gorilla

Savage Gorilla has a specific niche to fill, and it has some value in that niche. You need to be playing in Sultai () and not be aggressive.

If this is you then you might use it as a blocker, creature removal, and a draw ability.

#8. Gorilla Chieftain

Gorilla Chieftain

A decent regenerate cost can make a card playable in a lot of decks. Gorilla Chieftain is a decent-sized creature with a cheap regenerate cost.

Your strategy is very straightforward when rostering a card like this. You want to attack your opponent and survive their removal spells the best you can. It’s not an imaginative strategy, but it has its value.

#7. Gorilla Titan

Gorilla Titan

Gorilla Titan has the possibility of being an 8/8 creature with trample for only five mana. The stipulation is that you need to have no cards in your graveyard.

This may be a fun card to pair with cards like Cranial Archive or Scavenging Ooze in the eternal formats.

#6. Ancient Silverback

Ancient Silverback

Regenerate is an underrated ability in my opinion. You have sufficient defense against lots of removal and board wipes if you have the mana or the ability to regenerate a creature.

Ancient Silverback is a big green creature that has a cheap regenerate cost. This card has some value, especially in Limited and Penny formats.

#5. Towering Gibbon

Towering Gibbon

Towering Gibbon is a fun card in eternal formats that incentivizes you to play your most expensive creatures. Its power is equal to the highest mana value of creatures you control.

Go ahead and play your Impervious Greatwurm or sneak Pelakka Wurm onto the battlefield with cards like Victimize and Fight Rigging.

#4. Hooting Mandrills

Hooting Mandrills

Hooting Mandrills is a 4/4 creature with trample and a way to get ahead of the curve. A 6-mana cost is steep, but it has a chance to be a quick answer to your opponent’s removal thanks to delve.

Delve is a fantastic ability to take advantage of, and this is legal in lots of formats.

#3. Grunn, the Lonely King

Grunn, the Lonely King

Grunn, the Lonely King is a very interesting uncommon legendary creature. You have the chance to do 20 damage and end many games with enough mana and a single free swing.

The question is, can you get both of those situations to happen consistently? I think not, but Grunn, the Lonely King has always been a card I like for the sheer upside and hope. Have fun and try to make Grunn unblockable in any way possible.

#2. Silverback Elder

Silverback Elder

Silverback Elder is a nice addition to mono green creature decks, especially in the current Standard rotation. Casting creatures while it’s on the battlefield can yield a wide range of effects depending on what you need.

This has great enchantment and artifact hate, and a way to gain life to ward off aggro decks. Silverback Elder is a solid green card in many formats.

#1. Kogla, the Titan Ape

Kogla, the Titan Ape

Kogla, the Titan Ape is the big bad ape we’re looking for! It’s also a pretty great representation of King Kong in my opinion. It’s a big creature, a removal ability, and enchantment and artifact hate, and it can protect itself.

Kogla is a great addition to lots of reanimator, green ramp, and massive creature decks. This is by far my favorite ape, and its abilities are packed with value.

Best Colorless Ape

#1. Simian Simulacrum

Simian Simulacrum

Simian Simulacrum is an interesting Standard play right now. It gives a little bit of a punch to some aggro artifact decks and can pair well with Patchwork Automaton, Steel Seraph, and Teething Wurmlet in Standard.

This also has a ton of value in aggressive artifact decks in all non-Pauper formats.

Best Ape Payoffs

Apes often benefit from strong green creatures and support around them. Pair your apes with cards like Seedborn Muse, Eternal Witness, and Old-Growth Troll.

Some of the best apes on this list can cost a decent amount of mana, so you should get your green ramp cards like Sylvan Caryatid, Oracle of Mul Daya, and Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea ready.

Apes are strong creatures that are great for attacking. Clear out your opponent’s board with removal like Decimate, Ram Through, or Abrade.

Apes are mostly in green, but a lot of them can also fit well into Gruul decks. Rhythm of the Wild, Dragonborn Champion, and Goblin Anarchomancer are Gruul cards that can help and be helped by your ape cards.

Cards like Hidden Gibbons, Coat of Arms, and Alpha Status are musts if you’re thinking of making an ape tribal deck.

Wrap Up

Simian Simulacrum (The Brothers’ War) - Illustration by Randy Vargas

Simian Simulacrum (The Brothers’ War) | Illustration by Randy Vargas

Alright my fellow great apes, that’s all for me. Apes in Magic tend to be more fun that overly powerful, but they do have some value and are worth consideration for many green and Gruul decks. Apes are for the fun-loving MTG players that don’t take the game too seriously. Enjoy!

Which apes do you like to use in your decks? What would you like to see in the future? Feel free to leave a comment below or keep the discussion going in the Draftsim Discord.

You’re a great ape, so don’t forget to monkey around sometimes!

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