Last updated on January 19, 2023
Auspicious Starrix | Illustration by Lucas Graciano
Magic has all kinds of creature types, ranging from the generic (think bird) to the specific (think brushwagg). Some creatures aren’t defined by any specific classification, so they’re often assigned the generic “beast” subtype. Beast is basically the charge counter of creature types: it mainly serves to fill in the gaps left by other types.
Beasts are some of the biggest and baddest creatures in Magic. I’m sure many of you have either won or lost a game thanks to a well-timed Craterhoof Behemoth. But there are over 400 unique beasts in Magic, so it’s somewhat daunting to choose the best of the best.
It can be tough to know where to start if you’re looking to put together a beast tribal deck. Even if you’re not planning to build a deck around beasts specifically, it’s still handy to know about some great beasts that the game has to offer.
Ready to go beast mode?
Felidar Sovereign | Illustration by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
Beasts are a creature type in Magic used to describe natural creatures that don’t fall into more specific types, like dog or snake. Beasts are one of the most represented creature types in Magic and feature everything from simple sloths to massive fantasy creatures with no real-world equivalent.
#2. Felidar Cub
This card is also really great for aristocrats decks because it allows you to get any sacrifice or death triggers off of its ability.
#1. Felidar Sovereign
Add onto that the number of protection spells in white and green and this can be a quick way to close out a game. Teferi’s Protection also works very well with this. It’s great in Bant () as well, allowing you access to counterspells and ways to give it flash.
Best Blue Beasts
#3. Pouncing Shoreshark
Pouncing Shoreshark can be a great way for a mutate deck to keep your opponent’s threats off the board. Flash allows this at instant speed the first time, and the effect can be repeated as many times as you can mutate it.
Aeromoeba is a great versatile creature. As a 2/4 it can be a good blocker for smaller flying creatures that rely more on evasion than brute power to get through.
Being able to switch power and toughness also means this card can work well on offense and defense.
This card can do some serious damage as a flier that can continue to get stronger.
Best Black Beast
#1. Ravenous Chupacabra
Ravenous Chupacabra is a favorite for sacrifice decks. Its ETB effect can remove a creature, and then it can stick around as a creature or be sacrificed for powerful effects.
This card also works well in decks that run flicker effects that allow it to remove as many creatures as the number of times it re-enters play.
Best Green Beasts
Terra Stomper isn’t going to do anything too fancy; it’s just a nice big creature to play late game. It can be very frustrating tapping out to play a high-cost card just to have it countered.
Green has a few ways to keep permanents safe once they hit the battlefield, so it’s nice to be able to get around counterspells with Terra Stomper and increase your chance of doing damage with it. The 6-mana cost for an 8/8 is also good power and toughness for that rate.
It’s very likely that Krosan Beast is an 8/8 for only four mana. Getting seven cards in the graveyard isn’t hard to do, and you’ll get there even faster if you’re playing a Golgari () delve or sacrifice deck.
Krosan Warchief is an essential card for beast tribal decks. Its cost reduction is very helpful if you’re running a lot of big creatures. The ability to regenerate any of your creatures is also a huge plus.
That said, you can easily skip this card if you’re not running a lot of beasts because of the specific nature of its effects.
Linebreaker Baloth is a relatively recent beast, and it makes great use of the enlist mechanic. It can’t be blocked by smaller creatures, so enlisting with it can help you drive a few extra points of damage through and without worrying about chump blockers.
Thragtusk has a lot of value on its own. It’s a high-power creature and gives you a benefit both entering and leaving the battlefield. The effect specifies “leaves the battlefield,” not “dies,” so its effects can both be activated by flickering the creature.
Pair this in Simic () with something like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling for a very powerful interaction.
Even without its mutate ability, Gemrazer has good value for its mana cost thanks to its power, toughness, trample, and reach. Add the fact that it can be brought out earlier for only three mana and that it acts as a form of removal, and it’s that much more powerful.
This card is an auto-include if you’re playing a mutate deck because its removal effect is more repeatable.
Fangren Firstborn is a great addition to mono-green aggro or counter decks. If you’re going to swing out with creatures consistently, buffing those creatures each time is a huge advantage.
This forces your opponents to keep up with your constantly growing creatures and allows you to keep your weaker creatures more relevant later in the game.
It’s also just a large creature with trample on its own, so it’s a good threat to have on the board.
Migratory Greathorn is a great source of mana ramp for mutate decks. Continuing to mutate on top of one or several Greathorns can really help a player get ahead on mana while also activating other mutate abilities that have been combined with it during the game.
This card works even better in landfall decks built to drop multiple lands each turn.
Cultivator Colossus is likely to be an incredibly powerful creature by the time it enters the battlefield. Its ETB only makes it more powerful as an effect that can draw you a number amount of cards depending on your hand and the luck of your draws.
Protean Hulk is incredibly powerful in multiple ways. One of the biggest downsides to playing a big creature is that it can easily be removed. When this dies it basically replaces itself, you only lose one mana in the trade.
This can also be very helpful to set up combos that include multiple smaller creatures since it can search them up and drop them onto the battlefield all at once.
Arboreal Grazer might be much weaker than many other beasts, but it can be very helpful in landfall decks. It can also provide some early ramp and serve as a chump blocker for fliers in decks that aren’t equipped to handle them.
Manglehorn is a great way to slow down opposing artifact decks, which can be a very useful tool in a mono-green deck. Three mana for removal, slowing down artifacts, and a creature on top is very good value.
This card is a huge help slowing down your opponent’s mana rocks while you continue to ramp if you’re playing green in Commander.
Auspicious Starrix can snowball dangerously in a mutate deck. You can get a lot of free permanents from your deck by continuing to mutate it with cheap mutate cards.
You can get a ton of value out of this if you’re lucky enough to combine it with Illuna, Apex of Wishes.
Players often forget just how great Questing Beast is because it has so many lines of rules text. It has a ton of great keywords, and haste is especially effective in faster formats. You also don’t have to choose between doing direct damage or attacking a planeswalker when you’re attacking with it thanks to its triggered ability.
It isn’t relevant as often, but denying your opponents from preventing your creatures’ combat damage is a powerful part of Questing Beast‘s arsenal of effects. Fog effects can be a huge hindrance to aggro decks so it’s nice to know that your damage will hit something when you swing out.
Craterhoof Behemoth is the go-to finisher for decks that create a wide board of creatures. If it has any downside it’s that players can usually see it coming in certain decks.
If your Craterhoof Behemoth is allowed to hit the board, it usually means game over for your opponents.
Mutalith Vortex Beast is perfect for Izzet () coin flip decks. There’s no downside to winning or losing the flips, so it’s a little more reliable than other cards that use the flips as part of their effect.
This is a decent choice anyone looking for alternate cards for their Heads I Win, Tails You Lose Secret Lair.
Gruul Ragebeast is a great way to turn your creatures into a form of removal in a Gruul () deck.
One downside to its effect is that it’s compulsory, not optional. You better be playing creatures strong enough to win fights. Otherwise they’ll be dying as soon as they hit the table.
The ability to return cards from your graveyard is a great effect, and Gloomshrieker allows you to do this while also dropping a creature. For only one mana more than a Regrowth, you also have a way to defend yourself while you wait to play the card you grabbed out of the graveyard.
This is also a halfway decent attacker if you’re able to buff it up a bit thanks to that menace.
Spellbreaker Behemoth is a decently sized creature at 5/5 for four mana.
It’s also very helpful to have a card that prevents itself and other powerful cards from being countered. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable dropping your big threats knowing that only removal can getcha.
Parcelbeast is a great way to help get both card draw and ramp. Its ability only costs one mana, a fair trade for either an extra card or an extra untapped land on the battlefield.
You could easily activate it multiple times per turn if this card is mutated with something that has an untap ability like Traxos, Scourge of Kroog. It’s also a great card to mutate with Emmara, Soul of the Accord, giving you a safe way to generate tokens and ramp or draw.
The ability to activate lifegain abilities is another great aspect of Leyline Prowler, and it increases the number of decks that can benefit from its inclusion.
Gahiji, Honored One is an interesting commander or a good inclusion in the 99 of a Commander deck because it incentivizes your opponents to attack one another. If one player becomes the target of the rest of the table, Gahiji can also help the rest of the table take them out more quickly.
Illuna, Apex of Wishes can help you to get a lot of free permanents. Even if you don’t have the mana to mutate it immediately, casting cheap mutate creatures and putting them under Illuna can allow you to drop lots of threats for free.
Illuna also gives you the option to put the card into your hand instead if it would be a disadvantage to play it right now, which cuts down on the random nature of its ability.
Hydroid Krasis made a huge splash when it first came out. Its popularity has waned a bit, but it’s still an incredibly versatile card with a lot of value.
It can be a much-needed blocker for cheap in a pinch but can also be a complete powerhouse, especially with flying and trample.
Meglonoth is an incredible blocker. Any players who want to kill it in combat have to take a decent amount of damage in return. Giving this protection is a great way to deal some free damage since its effect activates after being declared as a blocker. It doesn’t even need to get hit!
Marath, Will of the Wild is a very fun commander. Its ability makes up for its own commander tax, but it can also do a lot of fun things with its activated ability. Marath can put +1/+1 counters on itself, so cards like Hardened Scales and Doubling Season allow you to remove counters from Marath and gain more back.
Auras like Indestructibility help you to make Uril even harder to get rid of while also buffing it. You can likely use it to take out opponents with commander damage once Uril is powerful and tough to destroy.
Trygon Predator gives you a great way to remove your opponent’s artifacts and enchantments. You can easily continue to remove artifacts and enchantments at will during each of your combats if your opponents don’t have any fliers.
This card will be an early target for a removal spell, but that just proves how intimidating it is.
Nethroi, Apex of Death is a popular commander, and it’s easy to see why. Delve or other self-milling cards can help you to fill your graveyard with big threats, so you then just need to mutate Nethroi to get easy access to lots of options.
There aren’t specific payoffs for beast spells, but the number of beasts that are high-power creatures means that there are some cards that work well with them. Return of the Wildspeaker is a great way to draw some cards or buff all your beasts.
Kindred Summons can be great if you’re running a beast tribal deck, especially since there are lots of cards that can create beast tokens in addition to your beast creatures. A lot of the best beasts aren’t legendary, so Reflections of Littjara is another good choice. Kindred Discovery works well in any tribal deck.
Leyline Prowler (War of the Spark) | Illustration by YW Tang
There are some great beast cards in Magic, so many that you’d need a coffee table book to go through them all. They aren’t as synergistic as more specific card types like humans or elves, but there are lots of individual beasts that should be included in your decks. Hopefully this list has brought your attention to a card or two you’d like to try out for yourself.
Are there any beasts you think I missed? Which do you think deserves the top spot? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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