Last updated on May 14, 2024

Tom Bombadil - Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

Tom Bombadil | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

If there were ever a time to make a tie-in playlist….

Gather ‘round, and hear the tale of the unsung heroes of the Magic realm. Not the soldiers, nor the barbarians, nor the knights. Not the wizards, warlocks, or warriors. No, today we sing the praises of the most illustrious, most daring, most dashing… the bards.

Yes, there are enough bards in Magic that we can hold a Battle of the Bards to find which ones are worth your time and which ones will wind up in your boxes of bulk commons and uncommons. Listen, every season of Dominarian Idol can only have one winner, right?

Onward, my friends! Forth, to battle, and with no holds, uh, bard.

What Are Bards in MTG?

Valor Singer - Illustration by Justyna Gil

Valor Singer | Illustration by Justyna Gil

Bard is a creature type, specifically a class, that was introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Magic set. As you might expect, the bard class in Magic is meant to reflect the class in D&D. Three creatures from Magic’s past received an oracle update as a result: Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, Joraga Bard, and Elvish Bard.

Instrument of the Bards Bard Class

As of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, there are 27 bards in all of Magic. The only other cards that mention bards are also from AFR, the green legendary artifact called Instrument of the Bards and the class enchantment called, well, Bard Class.

Unranked: Assembled Ensemble

The tale of “all bards in Magic” is incomplete without Assembled Ensemble, even with the acorn in its frame. It’s an artifact creature that’s an “art matters” card, but I’m curious what the robots from Fallout have done to give it some support.

#26. Merry Bards

Merry Bards

The art reminds me of the classic image of carolers. Merry Bards be merry, indeed.

#25. One-Clown Band

One-Clown Band

Oh look, an Unfinity card that you could run in a Mr. House, President and CEO deck. Not that I would. But it’s pretty much the only realistic place for a One-Clown Band.

#24. Valor Singer

Valor Singer

Common red tiefling bard. Not much to be said about Valor Singer. Pretty much your average tavern bard.

#23. Inspiring Bard

Inspiring Bard

“Don’t you mean unInspiring Bard?” feels too easy. And yet, it’s apt.

#22. Elvish Bard

Elvish Bard

It used to be a bard in name only. Elvish Bard works as a classic lure effect… for 5 mana. Too much for me. Next!

#21. Joraga Bard

Joraga Bard

Joraga Bard now has four (!) creature types: elf rogue bard ally, with rogue making it also an outlaw. And as an ally, it plays into that space by giving your allies vigilance. Not bad, but I wouldn’t say all that good, either.

#20. Spellbinding Soprano

Spellbinding Soprano

A 2-mana 2/2 should be able to find some homes, right? I dunno if it’s that obvious for Spellbinding Soprano. Spellslinging cost reduction on an attack trigger; that’s fine. An encore ability; sure. I’m just not spellbound, you know? (The comments section is not a composter for your tomato emojis.)

#19. Wandering Troubadour

Wandering Troubadour

As you’d expect from a bard printed in AFR, Wandering Troubadour plays into dungeoneering. This dragon bard gives you almost a delayed landfall effect, although venturing into the dungeon is very niche.

#18. Raucous Entertainer

Raucous Entertainer

Raucous Entertainer isn’t one of the most striking green cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this green creature in some decks. Not just plant decks, either. I see it as a way to help your go-wide decks go a little taller, or help your +1/+1 counters decks gain a few along the way.

#17. Insufferable Balladeer

Insufferable Balladeer

Music snobs who hate the “white guy with acoustic guitar” trope can’t even escape into Magic or D&D. Here’s a “red dwarf with acoustic lute,” playing all your favorites: Wonderwall, I’m Yours, Save Tonight, Hallelujah.

Insufferable Balladeer is pretty much only useful in a dwarf deck, despite its goading ETB ability.

#16. Stirring Bard

Stirring Bard

Stirring Bard may play into dungeon space, but its main role is as a dragon and a haste enabler. Oh, and it also grants menace.

#15. Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ

Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ

This Boros commander doesn’t even know what a disc is, but they’ll keep on spinning! Three Dog, Galaxy News DJ really captures the spirit of disseminating ideas. Sacrifice an aura with this bard’s attack trigger, and you’ll create tokens attached to all your other attacking creatures. You don’t even sacrifice the aura tokens at the end of the combat phase, or end of your turn! Really interesting as a card and as an aura commander, if not overwhelmingly powerful.

#14. Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist

Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist

I didn’t see the movie that this Secret Lair card ties into (my roommate did, multiple times in theaters), so I can’t say how Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist fares as an adaptation. Giving every nonland in your hand foretell and cost reduction? Yikes. Oh, and there’s a goad package in there, no big. Interesting option to slide into a deck with The Twelfth Doctor at the helm. Loses points because it’s a Universes Beyond Secret Lair that doesn’t have a Universes Within counterpart, so it’s hard to find and costs a pretty penny.

#13. Huatli, Poet of Unity / Roar of the Fifth People

Huatli, Poet of Unity Roar of the Fifth People

Scanlan Shorthalt, meet Huatli, a warrior bard who has actually met a triceratops. Probably. Huatli, Poet of Unity / Roar of the Fifth People is built to play with dinosaurs, between helping you get more land ready so that you’re not missing a drop, giving you Dinosaur tokens, and all its other chapter abilities. The only thing it asks is time and mana to flip it and have all your saga chapters go off. Highly specialized, but come on, it’s dinosaurs.

#12. Gylwain, Casting Director

Gylwain, Casting Director

Don’t let this bard’s grin fool you: Gylwain, Casting Director will give you a role the moment you step onto the set, I mean, battlefield. Literally. Monster, Sorcerer, and Royal can give your entering creatures +1/+1 and the trample keyword, an attack trigger that scries for 1, or ward , respectively. Definitely another enchantment commander to make All That Glitters and Ancestral Mask players salivate.

#11. Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva

Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva

Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva slots in at the same power level as many legendary creatures in Commander precons. It enters with two other bodies, and its combat trigger gives you some political options. Not bad, Kitt Kant(o).

#10. Totentanz, Swarm Piper

Totentanz, Swarm Piper

Totentanz, Swarm Piper has a lot of neat things going for it. It’s a rat-loving Rakdos commander. It’s a death payoff, although specific to nontoken creature deaths. And it’s a mana sink that gives deathtouch to rats, although only when attacking. Viable if inessential in the 99 of sacrifice or similar decks.

#9. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Here’s a bard that can be both your green commander and a part of your 99. While there’s no deck that specifically wants Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, this green elf can help to search your deck and tutor other creatures. Start with Birds of Paradise when you put on your first lore counter, but eventually, Craterhoof Behemoth?

#8. Firbolg Flutist

Firbolg Flutist

This giant bard rolls high on performance. Firbolg Flutist is built to come onto the battlefield, temporarily steal a creature, attack with it (and token copies of it), then leave behind a 4/4. Myriad decks can take advantage of this red creature, like a Commander deck built around The Master, Multiplied.

#7. Draconic Muralists

Draconic Muralists

Every dragon deck needs a dragon tutor or two. Why not a dragon bard that lets you search your library when it dies? Draconic Muralists is also green, a good color to fit alongside plenty of dragon commanders.

#6. Narci, Fable Singer

Narci, Fable Singer

Narci, Fable Singer is a really strong Abzan commander option if you want to build around sagas. All its abilities play into that strategy, giving you lifegain (on top of having lifelink themself), life drain, and card draw when your sagas are done.

#5. Composer of Spring

Composer of Spring

Composer of Spring is both one of the best bards and one of the best satyrs in the game. Enchantress decks can make really good use of this green creature, especially if you’re running a bunch of enchantment creatures. Once you’ve got six or more enchantments on board, this satyr’s constellation ability can turn into a loop that puts all the enchantment creatures in your hand onto the battlefield.

#4. Crime Novelist

Crime Novelist

The first points this lil goblin earns are for the art. Crime Novelist is a payoff for sacrificing your artifacts, growing in size, and giving you mana. Sacrificing Treasure, Clues, Food, or Blood tokens? This novel bard may just fit your build.

#3. Kalain, Reclusive Painter

Kalain, Reclusive Painter

You could build a Treasure Commander deck around Kalain, Reclusive Painter, but I like its potential as a support piece. It refunds half of its mana value when it enters the battlefield (oh Xorn, come here, lad). Rakdos is a great color identity for Treasure and for buffing up creatures as they enter, especially considering the Fling effects available to you.

#2. Korlessa, Scale Singer

Korlessa, Scale Singer

If you’re a dragon deck that has access to green and blue, you’re probably running Korlessa, Scale Singer. I mean, something that lets you look at the top card of your library at any time is great, but Korlessa lets you cast dragons from the top, too. Talk about an accelerando.

#1. Tom Bombadil

Tom Bombadil

Maybe I’m being sentimental, especially since you aren’t likely to use Tom Bombadil as anything other than a 5-color commander. It’s too saga-specific to be much of a role-player elsewhere. But there will probably always be incoming support for this deck, whether as enchantment payoffs or saga payoffs, so it’s hard to tell when Tom will run out of stories to tell.

Best Bard Payoffs

Kalain, Reclusive Painter - Illustration by Justine Cruz

Kalain, Reclusive Painter | Illustration by Justine Cruz

As of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, there are no “bard-specific” cards. There are no bard lords, no bards matter effects… wow, this just got really sad.

Tom Bombadil Narci, Fable Singer

These bards do have homes, though. Many of them care about enchantments, while others play particularly well with sagas. Tom Bombadil and Narci, Fable Singer play well together, given how Tom cares about sagas while Narci cares about sacrificing enchantments.

Otherwise, bards play support to other strategies, as should be expected. There’s dragon bards in Korlessa, Scale Singer and Draconic Muralists, and there’s sacrifice bards in Kalain, Reclusive Painter and Crime Novelist. As with many roleplaying games, bards are a support class in Magic.

Tale’s End

Korlessa, Scale Singer - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Korlessa, Scale Singer | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

And that’s the story of bards in Magic! They’ll probably pop up in any future Dungeons & Dragons tie-ins, and there are some Magic and Universes Beyond settings where they make sense. But I’m not holding my breath for a bard that supports bards. Why hold my breath when I could just blow all that hot air into a flute instead?

What do you think of the bards in Magic? Which ones would you rank lower or higher? And what do you want to see from future bards? Let me know in the comments below, or come make some beautiful noise on Draftsim’s Discord.

But that’s all one, our [list] is done,
 And we’ll strive to please you every day.

-Feste, William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

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