Last updated on July 31, 2023

Blood Artist (Double Masters 022) - Illustration by LA Draws

Blood Artist (Double Masters 2022) | Illustration by LA Draws

Black is the color of darkness, evil, and death in Magic, but also ambition and indulgence. The creatures that manifest from black mana embody these characteristics. From sewer vermin and rotting zombie corpses to nefarious demons and blood-sucking vampires, black has a large scope of iconic creatures.

Today we’re exploring the best of the best. Ready to take a look into the abyss? Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents show

What Are Black Creatures in MTG?

Dream Devourer - Illustration by David Rapoza

Dream Devourer | Illustration by David Rapoza

I’m defining black creatures as creatures with a mono-black color identity. This list will have a focus on Commander and account for the current state of the format.

Let’s go over some exclusions first. These cards only have black in their color identity. Sorry Toxrill, the Corrosive, we all know you’re a Dimir () card at heart. I’ve excluded banned cards like Griselbrand and Braids, Cabal Minion, since you can’t legally play them.

Finally, I’m excluding black creatures whose relevance is tied to non-Commander formats. Dark Confidant, Hypnotic Specter, Grief, and Cauldron Familiar all have historical relevance in most Constructed formats, but don’t have a meaningful impact in Commander. This is a list of the best current black creatures, not the best of all time.

Even with these restrictions, it was hard to narrow this list down, and we’ve got plenty of heavy-hitting black creatures to discuss.

#62. Harvester of Souls

Harvester of Souls

Harvester of Souls is emblematic of early Commander, but still racks up card advantage when it hits the board. 7-drops have fallen by the wayside in the present era of Commander dominated by fast mana, efficiency, and cheap interaction.

#61. Stitcher’s Supplier

Stitcher's Supplier

Graveyard-centric decks are ecstatic to mill six cards for a single mana. Stitcher's Supplier does just that in installments, usually providing a chump block or disposable sac piece in between.

#60. Dream Devourer

Dream Devourer

I’ll continue singing the praises of Dream Devourer until it catches on. It lets you stockpile foretold cards in exile, reducing their costs on a later turn and hiding them from discard effects. I highly recommend this card for demon decks, mono-black artifact strategies, or just any high-curve deck in general.

#59. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed was an early two-card combo boogieman in Commander. Combined with Triskelion and later Walking Ballista, this “Mike & Ike” combo usually ends games on the spot. Mikaeus isn’t quite as popular now, but just as potent as ever.

#58. Custodi Lich

Custodi Lich

The Monarch transforms unexciting cards into Commander playables. Custodi Lich gives you the crown and eats a creature on ETB, then does it again if you ever manage to steal The Monarch back.

#57. Cavalier of Night

Cavalier of Night

Cavalier of Night is a Bone Splinters/Unearth hybrid, and one-third large lifelinking threat. Add that all together for a great board-breaker if you can manage the triple-black casting cost.

#56. Cemetery Desecrator + Noxious Gearhulk

The choice between Cemetery Desecrator or Noxious Gearhulk is a perfect “why not both?” scenario. Desecrator provides graveyard hate, planeswalker removal, and triggers a second time on death. Gearhulk gains life, hits creatures of any size, and has artifact synergies. Either way you get a menace creature that pops a threat on ETB.

#55. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose ties Sanguine Bond to a 3-drop creature. It’s just as much of a combo piece alongside Exquisite Blood, and Vito’s activated ability can get the party started immediately.

#54. Geralf’s Messenger

Geralf's Messenger

Undying and persist are notoriously exploitable mechanics. If you can remove the +1/+1 counters from Geralf's Messenger, you can sacrifice it repeatably and keep triggering undying. This works with any undying creature, but Messenger’s ETB ability turns this combo into a win con.

#53. God-Eternal Bontu

God-Eternal Bontu

God-Eternal Bontu lets you cash in superfluous permanents for extra cards. It’s also a scary threat on the battlefield and threatens to come back a few turns later if it dies or gets exiled.

#52. Witch of the Moors

Witch of the Moors

Witch of the Moors turns lifegain into profit on your end step. It reads like a dedicated lifegain payoff, but it’s serviceable in decks with even just a few sources of incidental lifegain.

#51. Herald of Anguish

Herald of Anguish

Black artifact decks are somewhat niche, but Herald of Anguish is an absolute house in those decks. It comes down for as little as two mana, chews through your opponents’ hands, and threatens to take out small creatures. It complements the Necron Dynasties precon perfectly.

#50. Murderous Rider

Murderous Rider

Murderous Rider is what Hero's Downfall needs to look like to see Commander play. It eliminates a threat and rides into play as a creature later on. Add to that two well-supported creature types and you’ve got a solid role-player that easily slots into black decks.

#49. Dogged Detective

Dogged Detective

Dogged Detective has yet to receive the love it deserves. It’s a great value package that fills the graveyard, digs towards action, provides easy sac fodder, and comes back at the drop of a dime.

#48. Marionette Master

Marionette Master

Marionette Master is a huge beneficiary of the prevalence of trinkety artifact tokens like Treasures and Clues. Pump its power with Cranial Plating and your opponents start dropping real fast.

#47. Primaris Eliminator

Primaris Eliminator

Primaris Eliminator can either pick on one threat or Massacre a single player’s board. Just don’t target yourself and you’ll get good results from this card.

#46. Author of Shadows

Author of Shadows

Author of Shadows is another card that I don’t see often enough relative to how good it is. It annihilates your opponents’ graveyards and snags a spell for later use. Plus, it’s a shade warlock. How cool is that?

#45. Nether Traitor

Nether Traitor

Ignore shadow on Nether Traitor, because this is a combo creature through and through. These combos often involve Phyrexian Altar, which will come up again later with some of the best black combo enablers.

#44. Vilis, Broker of Blood

Vilis, Broker of Blood

Your pain is Vilis, Broker of Blood’s gain. Losing life draws you cards, whether that’s from Vilis’s activated ability or simply getting hit by a creature. 8-drops need to overperform to justify inclusion in your deck, but the Broker delivers.

#43. Erebos, God of the Dead

Erebos, God of the Dead

Barring opponents from gaining life can sometimes shut them out completely. That’s only part of what Erebos, God of the Dead offers. You also get the Greed ability, and we all know Greed is good. Erebos can also come to life and battle, although I’d advise against turning your Theros gods into creatures too often.

#42. Prowling Geistcatcher

Prowling Geistcatcher

Prowling Geistcatcher is a powerhouse card that’s never once been cast against me. A sac outlet lets you store creatures under the Geistcatcher. Then, when the time is right, you can bin the Geistcatcher to repopulate your board.

#41. Necron Deathmark

Necron Deathmark

Regardless of whether you think Cemetery Desecrator or Noxious Gearhulk is better, I’m confident that Necron Deathmark is an upgrade over either. Flash tremendously changes the way a card like this plays out, and it comes with some free incidental mill. You can thank Warhammer 40k for busted cards like this.

#40. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

It took Gix over 30 years to get a proper card, and no, I don’t count that weird Gix Vanguard thing. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor does the character justice, evoking Edric, Spymaster of Trest, but hurting people for drawing cards. The activated ability looks silly but exchanges your hand for a shot at some goodies from an opponent’s library.

#39. Poxwalkers


Poxwalkers is obnoxiously persistent. Something as simple as casting your commander lets you bring this back, where the deathtouch body happily trades off to repeat the cycle.

#38. Puppeteer Clique

Puppeteer Clique

Puppeteer Clique still holds up, even though you can’t reanimate your own creatures with it. Persist is reasonably worse than undying, but opens up all the same exploitable loops I mentioned with Geralf's Messenger.

#37. Thieving Amalgam

Thieving Amalgam

I feel like “ape snake” is enough explanation for Thieving Amalgam. If quirky creature match-ups don’t sway you, perhaps I could interest you in a 6/7 that generates a 2/2 on every turn and punishes your opponents for dealing with them.

#36. Plaguecrafter


This slot goes out to all the universal edict creatures, which includes Fleshbag Marauder and Merciless Executioner. Plaguecrafter tends to be the best of the bunch since it can snipe planeswalkers or attack players’ hands if they have nothing to sacrifice.

#35. Great Unclean One

Great Unclean One

Despite the rumors, Great Unclean One is not what they used to call me in high school. It is, however, a sleeper hit from the 40K Commander decks. It’s a large solo threat, and with some life total navigation, you can spit out an army of Plaguebearer of Nurgles each turn.

#34. Grave Titan

Grave Titan

There’s a real debate as to whether or not Grave Titan holds up in present-day EDH. It’s definitely fallen from a staple inclusion to a mere option, but army-in-a-can cards like this can still close out games.

#33. Pitiless Plunderer

Pitiless Plunderer

Pitiless Plunderer snuck through the cracks before the era of “this ability triggers once each turn” rules text. An early proponent of the Treasure mechanic, the lack of limitations on this ability makes it a cornerstone of numerous infinite combos.

#32. Shriekmaw


I’ve heard old-school Magic players refer to cards like Shriekmaw as “187 creatures,” 187 being the penal code for murder in California. Shriekmaw’s cheap evoke ability makes it more flexible than something like Nekrataal, although Ravenous Chupacabra is also in the conversation.

#31. Morbid Opportunist

Morbid Opportunist

Morbid Opportunist blows my mind as an uncommon because it holds up when compared to rares like Midnight Reaper or Grim Haruspex. It doesn’t have the same ceiling, but it triggers off opposing creatures dying, which results in a higher floor.

#30. Massacre Girl

Massacre Girl

If you see the word “massacre” on a black card you know something’s about to go down. It just so happens that with Massacre Girl, everything’s going down. It usually only takes a single X/1 on board to ensure that Massacre Girl’s the last creature left standing.

#29. Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia is a top-notch token generator. You can’t stockpile the decayed zombies the same way Bitterblossom would, but all it takes is a sac outlet to get your money’s worth. Jadar basically pays for a sacrifice cost once per turn and replaces that sacrificed token free of charge.

#28. Carrion Feeder + Viscera Seer

Carrion Feeder and Viscera Seer are some of black’s best sacrifice outlets, being only one mana each and providing some additional benefits. They’re both integral additions to aristocrat decks.

#27. Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Given the choice between Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Vilis, Broker of Blood, I’d rather have Razaketh’s tutoring ability. As long as you have life to spare and creatures to sac, you can tutor to your heart’s content.

#26. Vindictive Lich

Vindictive Lich

There are so many moments where you can dangle Vindictive Lich over your opponents’ heads and threaten to clean them out of resources. It’s never the best card in your deck, and yet it’s always a problem on board.

#25. Opposition Agent

Opposition Agent

Opposition Agent, Jeweled Lotus, and Hullbreacher form a trifecta of offensive cards from Commander Legends. “Oppo” isn’t nearly as bad as the other two, but leads to some agonizing gameplay moments. Not-so-fun fact: did you know you can look at a player’s hand while controlling them with Opposition Agent?

#24. Massacre Wurm

Massacre Wurm

There’s that “massacre” word again. As much as we like to think of Commander as a format full of over-the-top battle cruisers and combos, the reality is that most boards are cluttered with trinkets and dorks. Enter Massacre Wurm, which has been devastating token decks and small creatures since its first printing in 2011.

#23. Ophiomancer


Ophiomancer is a top-tier token generator that excels in every deck except, ironically, snake decks. As long as you can make use of the extra snake token each turn, Ophiomancer’s happy to charm out another one on the very next upkeep. When you’re not sacrificing them, they make for surprisingly good blockers.

#22. Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Gonti, Lord of Luxury isn’t the first creature with this type of ability, but it is the progenitor of the “steal and cast with any color of mana” text we see so often these days. My friend group refers to this game action as “the Gonti ability,” and even in 2023 it still feels so, so good to resolve Gonti.

#21. Sepulchral Primordial

Sepulchral Primordial

The Gatecrash Primordials have all seen casual Commander play at one time or another. Yes, even Sylvan Primordial, which was legal up until 2014. Most of them sit in the background now, but Sepulchral Primordial is still capable of warping games. It’s like three Puppeteer Cliques in one, and kudos to you if you manage to snatch a flicker effect with its ETB.

#20. Sadistic Hypnotist

Sadistic Hypnotist

Sadistic Hypnotist is great for two things: keeping your opponents’ hands empty and making your friends leave. If you want to win games of Magic at the expense of your social life, give Hypnotist a spin.

#19. Archon of Cruelty

Archon of Cruelty

I like to joke that Archon of Cruelty is Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath all bundled up into one card. The mana cost keeps this in check, but no one ever intends to play cards like this the fair way.

#18. K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

Yawgmoth is a household name when you’re talking about black creatures. Turns out the Father of Machines left behind some offspring, including K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. This card lets you substitute life for mana, a tradeoff you should always have your eye out for in Commander.

#17. Braids, Arisen Nightmare

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

When optimized, Braids, Arisen Nightmare is a real terror to play against. If you can land it early with a Dark Ritual or similar ramp effect, you’ll start out-carding everyone and pressuring life totals immediately.

#16. Tergrid, God of Fright / Tergrid’s Lantern

Players fear an active Tergrid, God of Fright, as they should. Sacrificing permanents and discarding cards becomes a liability, and you’d be surprised how often you take these actions with no coercion from the Tergrid player. Tergrid's Lantern doesn’t come up often, but I wouldn’t turn down the extra utility.

#15. Krav, the Unredeemed

Krav, the Unredeemed

When you’re sacrificing creatures, you’re usually hoping to gain life, draw cards, or grow a threat on board. Krav, the Unredeemed does all of the above and can sacrifice itself in a pinch. This card is so strong I’d look to run Regna, the Redeemer for no reason other than being a personal tutor for Krav.

#14. Mindslicer


Mindslicer falls into the same category of miser cards as Sadistic Hypnotist. It’s slightly easier to use, but leaves you hellbent as well. Have a plan when this happens, and expect retaliation from the rest of the table.

#13. Rune-Scarred Demon

Rune-Scarred Demon

What can I say, tutors are just really good in Commander. So good, in fact, that Rune-Scarred Demon still sees a healthy amount of play despite costing seven mana. They iterated on this card with Burning-Rune Demon, but I’m a bigger fan of the original.

#12. Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Exploit makes Sidisi, Undead Vizier trickier to use than Rune-Scarred Demon, but the sentiment is the same. Any creature that can unconditionally tutor as an ETB is going to make rounds in Commander, and Sidisi’s as good as they come.

#11. Bloodghast


If you’re looking for a recursive body and you play lands in your deck, look no further than Bloodghast. This creature comes back into play on any land drop and pairs especially well with fetch lands.

#10. Gravecrawler


While I believe Bloodghast is a better recursive creature, I consider Gravecrawler a more universally powerful card, mostly due to its obscene combo potential. It’s one of the easiest cards to combo with Phyrexian Altar, which is one extra zombie away from a repeatable loop.

#9. Kokusho, the Evening Star

Kokusho, the Evening Star

Kokusho, the Evening Star was banned during the early stages of EDH and later re-evaluated and banned only as a commander. It’s since been unbanned, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s any less powerful. One Kokusho death represents a 20-point life-swing, and Kokusho almost always comes back for seconds.

#8. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse proves that you don’t need a lot of words to make a powerful Magic card. Deathtouch is hilariously irrelevant on Sheoldred since the draw-and-drain ability and the oversized body already make the card a menace to deal with. Sheoldred actively punishes opponents for drawing cards to find an answer.

#7. Grim Hireling

Grim Hireling

A single hit from any creature represents two Treasure tokens from Grim Hireling, and this compounds with each opponent you hit each combat. Those tokens can be used to pick off creatures, or better yet, cashed in for mana to cast game-winning spells.

#6. Crypt Ghast

Crypt Ghast

Crypt Ghast was one of the first cards I recognized as a “kill-on-sight” creature. It still holds up as a black mana doubler, and I’m always surprised at how effective extort is in multiplayer games.

#5. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

The Father himself makes his appearance. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is one of the best sac outlets, discard outlets, and repeatable proliferate effects out there, which all adds up to one of the best black creatures in Magic.

#4. Syr Konrad, the Grim

Syr Konrad, the Grim

Syr Konrad, the Grim damages your opponents for creatures dying, creatures being discarded, creatures leaving your graveyard, creatures being flipped over, creatures having drinks spilled on them, creatures wearing hats in their art—you get it. It’s a real kitchen sink of an effect, and an uncontested Konrad means a swift end to the game.

#3. Dauthi Voidwalker

Dauthi Voidwalker

Dauthi Voidwalker invalidates graveyard strategies, attacks through just about anything, and trades out for a card of your choice when the time is right. It can’t block, which is a minor downside compared to the long list of benefits it provides.

#2. Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Gray Merchant of Asphodel made its appearance in the original Theros set and has never stopped being a relevant Commander card since. It’s one of the most common win cons in black decks and often stabilizes your life total when it doesn’t flat-out win the game.

#1. Blood Artist

Blood Artist

Blood Artist has become the blueprint for so many similar creatures, but none are quite as effective as the OG itself. Zulaport Cutthroat is a close second, but Blood Artist triggering on any creature dying puts it firmly into first place, making it the backbone of any aristocrats strategy.

Best Black Creature Payoffs and Synergies

Black creature-based decks can branch out into many different strategies. One of the most popular is sacrifice-themed decks, often dubbed “aristocrats” decks. These decks look to flood the board with expendable creatures, pair them with cheap sac outlets, and use Blood Artist-type effects to convert this into damage. Creatures like Carrion Feeder and Viscera Seer thrive in these strategies.

Devotion lends itself better to black decks than it does most other mono-color decks. Between Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Erebos, God of the Dead, and K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, there are plenty of creatures that demand a heavy devotion to black.

Black creatures also tend to offer some of the best two-for-one interaction. Shriekmaw, Noxious Gearhulk, and Necron Deathmark are only a few of the “187” creatures mentioned here, and they’re all capable of building a board state while picking off opposing threats.

Greatness, At Any Cost

Dauthi Voidwalker - Illustration by Sidharth Chaturvedi

Dauthi Voidwalker | Illustration by Sidharth Chaturvedi

This has been an absolute marathon of black’s best creatures in relation to present-day Magic. There are many more cards that could’ve made the list, or historically significant creatures that have had their place and time. However, the list presented here includes the best of the best from among creatures that still have an impact on the Commander format.

If you think I missed any important ones (and surely a few slipped through the cracks), I’d love to hear about them in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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