Last updated on May 23, 2022

Volrath, the Shapestealer - Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Volrath, the Shapestealer | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Creature types in MTG started as a mere detail in the card’s layout. But today the first thing you look at when you see a new card is probably the creature type.

Maybe the card is a zombie that goes your my Modern Zombies deck, or perhaps this cat goes into your Arahbo EDH deck. Today I’m going to dive deep into the different creature types in Magic.

What colors is each type most present in? What’s the most powerful creature type? Let’s find out!

How Many Creature Types are in MTG?

Dack's Duplicate - Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Dack’s Duplicate | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

According to a big list that includes types that appear on tokens there are 261 different creature types. If you only consider types that appear on creature cards, the list is shortened to 226 creature types.

What Are the Most Common Creature Types in MTG?

Humans are the most common creature type with more than 2,000 cards. Other very abundant types are soldiers, wizards, warriors, zombies, elementals, and spirits with more than 450 cards each.

The Big List of MTG Creature Types

Creature Types
Advisor
Aetherborn
Ally
Anemone
Angel
Antelope
Ape
Archer
Archon
Army
Artificer
Assassin
Assembly-Worker
Atog
Aurochs
Avatar
Azra
Badger
Barbarian
Bard
Basilisk
Bat
Bear
Beast
Beeble
Beholder
Berserker
Bird
Blinkmoth
Boar
Bringer
Brushwagg
Camarid
Camel
Caribou
Carrier
Cat
Centaur
Cephalid
Chimera
Citizen
Cleric
Cockatrice
Construct
Coward
Crab
Crocodile
Cyclops
Dauthi
Demigod
Demon
Deserter
Devil
Dinosaur
Djinn
Dog
Dragon
Drake
Dreadnought
Drone
Druid
Dryad
Dwarf
Efreet
Egg
Elder
Eldrazi
Elemental
Elephant
Elf
Elk
Eye
Faerie
Ferret
Fish
Flagbearer
Fox
Fractal
Frog
Fungus
Gargoyle
Germ
Giant
Gnoll
Gnome
Goat
Goblin
God
Golem
Gorgon
Graveborn
Gremlin
Griffin
Hag
Halfling
Hamster
Harpy
Hellion
Hippo
Hippogriff
Homarid
Homunculus
Horror
Horse
Human
Hydra
Illusion
Imp
Incarnation
Inkling
Insect
Jackal
Jellyfish
Juggernaut
Kavu
Kirin
Kithkin
Knight
Kobold
Kor
Kraken
Lamia
Lammasu
Leech
Leviathan
Lhurgoyf
Licid
Lizard
Manticore
Masticore
Mercenary
Merfolk
Metathran
Minion
Minotaur
Mole
Monger
Mongoose
Monk
Monkey
Moonfolk
Mouse
Mutant
Myr
Mystic
Naga
Nautilus
Nephilim
Nightmare
Nightstalker
Ninja
Noble
Noggle
Nomad
Nymph
Octopus
Ogre
Ooze
Orb
Orc
Orgg
Otter
Ouphe
Ox
Oyster
Peasant
Pegasus
Pentavite
Pest
Phelddagrif
Phoenix
Phyrexian
Pilot
Pincher
Pirate
Plant
https://draftsim.com/praetor-mtg/Praetor
Prism
Processor
Rabbit
Ranger
Rat
Rebel
Reflection
Rhino
Rigger
Rogue
Sable
Salamander
Samurai
Sand
Saproling
Satyr
Scarecrow
Scion
Scorpion
Scout
Sculpture
Serf
Serpent
Servo
Shade
Shaman
Shapeshifter
Shark
Sheep
Siren
Skeleton
Slith
Sliver
Slug
Snake
Soldier
Soltari
Spawn
Specter
Spellshaper
Sphinx
https://draftsim.com/mtg-spider/Spider
Spike
Spirit
Splinter
Sponge
Squid
Squirrel
Starfish
Surrakar
Survivor
Tentacle
Tetravite
Thalakos
Thopter
Thrull
Tiefling
Treefolk
Trilobite
Triskelavite
Troll
Turtle
Unicorn
Vampire
Vedalken
Viashino
Volver
Wall
Warlock
Warrior
Weird
Werewolf
Whale
Wizard
Wolf
Wolverine
Wombat
Worm
Wraith
Wurm
Yeti
Zombie
Zubera
Hyena

History of Creature Types

Alpha and Original Rules

Lord of Atlantis

In MTG’s first set, Alpha, creature types were used for flavor-related reasons and rarely impacted the game. The first cards to care about the type of creature were lords like Lord of Atlantis. But those interactions were few and far between.

After the printing of cards cards like Icatian Lieutenant, Dwarven Soldier, and Goblin Chirurgeon in the Fallen Empires set, players realized that there was another factor that mattered besides the color of the card and the mana cost. That factor was the creature type.

The “slivers” card type was later introduced in the Tempest block. Slivers are creatures that give value for all the sliver card types in the game (yes, even your opponents). Sliver decks were all the rage back in the Tempest block but, funnily enough, if you were playing slivers you didn’t want to see any on the other side of the table because your opponent would also benefit from your abilities.

According to WotC’s article on the creature type update, there was a debate about issuing an errata on creature types because it would create a lot of confusion concerning old cards. For example, let’s say I’m playing Samite Healer from Fifth Edition whose creature type is “summon cleric.” But my deck has human tribal synergies, so I need to explain to my opponent that Samite Healer is now also a human.

On the other hand this was a tipping point for creature types. The Lorwyn block was already being designed, and that set had cards that cared about creature types and subtypes. So the policy was defined to “update the creature card type whenever the card was reprinted.”

The Grand Creature Type Update

Wizards published the Grand Creature Type update in 2007 to inform and update players on the criteria and considerations to define the new creature types on MTG cards. The main items are detailed down below, quoted from WotC’s official article:

  1. “Creatures without creature types got some creature types.” Some artifacts creature cards just said “summon artifact” and some legendary creature cards said “summon legend.” For example, the first printing of Rorix Bladewing was a “Creature – Dragon Legend,” but this was changed to “Legendary Creature – Dragon.”
  2. “Creatures that lacked races got a race.” Samite Healer was a cleric but is now a human cleric. In fact, creatures that were clearly human in the art got the human subtype added.
  3. “Creatures that lacked an obvious class got a class.” Cards that only had a race, like Elvish Archer, got an appropriate class subtype added. In this case it was “archer.”
  4. “Obsolete creature types were eliminated.” Cards that look like birds are considered birds (but not vultures), cards that look like beasts are considered beasts, etc.

Overall, this was a huge project. A total of 1197 cards changed in the creature type update. 146 creature types were eliminated, and 8 were added, to leave the final list at 216 creature types.

WotC

Almost every set that came after the great 2007 update introduced new creature types.

New Creature Types in Each Block

  • Lorwyn: Noggle
  • Magic 2010: Siren
  • Zendikar: Ally, Surrakar, Eldrazi
  • Scars of Mirrodin: Hippogriff, Germ, Praetor
  • Innistrad: Werewolf
  • Theros: God, Sable, Lamia, Nymph
  • Khans of Tarkir: Naga
  • Battle for Zendikar: Scion, Processor
  • Shadows over Innistrad: Mole
  • Kaladesh: Aetherborn, Pilot, Servo, Monkey
  • Amonkhet: Jackal
  • Ixalan: Trilobite, Dinosaur
  • Battlebond: Azra
  • Core Set 2019: Egg
  • War of the Spark: Army
  • Commander 2019: Sculpture
  • Throne of Eldraine: Mouse, Peasant, Warlock, Noble
  • Theros: Beyond Death: Demigod, Tentacle
  • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths: Otter, Shark
  • Core Set 2021: Dog
  • Kaldheim: Phyrexian
  • Strixhaven: School of Mages: Inkling, Fractal
  • Modern Horizons 2: Ranger, Phyrexian creature type update
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms: Bard, Beholder, Gnoll, Halfling, Hamster Tiefling

Some creature types have also been removed over the years. Anteater has been completely removed while hounds are now considered dogs.

Periodic Table of Creature Types in MTG

periodic table of MTG creature subtypes

Source

This table by Reddit user Not_Quite_Vertical is too awesome not to include. It covers only legal black-bordered cards, so cards from Un-sets and silver-bordered cards aren’t included.

Have fun analyzing this table as much as I did! It shows the type of creatures by card count, average mana values, and in which color each creature type is most represented.

What’s the Best Creature Type?

The best creature type is hard to define, but some metrics can be used to narrow it down:

  • If you’re looking for creature types that make good creature-focused (i.e., tribal) decks then you probably want goblins, humans, or elves. You can definitely find decks with these creature types in lots of competitive formats like Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy.
  • If you’re looking for creature types that have the most individual powerful cards then dragons, angels, demons, and sphinxes are good choices. These are usually printed at rare and mythic rare rarities.
  • If you’re looking for creature types that have the most creature type synergy, you can’t go wrong with elves, goblins, zombies, human, ally, vampires, and slivers.
  • In terms of powerful Constructed decks, your best options are humans, goblins, or dragons.
  • If you’re looking for big creatures, then your best choices are dinosaurs, hydras, giants, or beasts.

What Are Some Weird Creature Types?

Elder Spawn

Creature types that are present on only one card are usually the weirdest. Elder Spawn is the only “spawn” type creature. The “trilobite” card type is also very weird. Last but not least is the creature type “bringer,” present on a cycle of cards in Fifth Dawn.

Is Legendary a Creature Type?

Legendary is actually a “supertype,” not a creature type or subtype.

Are Shapeshifters All Creature Types?

Not all shapeshifters are all creature types, just the ones that are also changelings. This ability states that the creature is all creature types at once. All cards printed with the changeling ability are shapeshifters but there are lots of shapeshifters that aren’t changelings, like Aetherling and Altered Ego.

Wrap Up

Realmwalker - Illustration by Zack Stella

Realmwalker | Illustration by Zack Stella

Well, that’s a lot to process! Ever since the introduction of creature types in Magic’s rules, tribal decks and decks that focus on a specific creature type have been incredibly popular. There are lots of tribal Commander decks too, from Edgar Markov’s vampires to Krenko, the Mob Boss’ goblins.

If your favorite MTG creature type is badly represented or doesn’t have enough good cards to make a tribal deck, don’t worry! Changelings can always be used to fill up the ranks, and there’s bound to be a future set that’ll provide more cards at some point.

What are some of your favorite creature types? Are there any that you hope get some more support soon, or even an entirely new creature type you’d like to see printed? Let me know in the comments down below or tweet at us.

Stay safe, take your medicine as the doctor ordered, and I’ll see you in the next one!

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