Mystic Reflection | Illustration by YW Tang
One of the most prominent and widespread—yet unnamed—mechanics in MTG is creaturefall. It hasn’t been officially recognized by WotC just yet, but it’s certainly made a sizeable impact across just about every format, appearing in every set release.
Just what is creaturefall, which cards are the best, and how should you take advantage of the mechanic? Let’s dive into the mechanic and answer these questions.
Ready? Let’s go!
What Is Creaturefall in MTG?
Cathars' Crusade | Illustration by Karl Kopinski
Creaturefall refers to triggered abilities that trigger whenever a creature enters the battlefield. It’s like landfall, which triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield. It isn’t an officially named mechanic—at least, not yet—and can appear on just about any kind of card type, including instants!
Best White Creaturefall Cards
#7. Soul Warden
Soul Warden is an all-time classic and core component of the soul sisters decklist that many new players were introduced to back in the day. It’s a simple yet effective card. A 1-mana 1/1 that also gains you 1 life whenever you trigger its creaturefall. It’s cheap, does the job well, and makes for a great 1-drop.
#6. Authority of the Consuls
Authority of the Consuls is a 1-mana enchantment that not only forces your opponents creatures to enter tapped but also provides you with 1 life any time a creatures enters under their control! That’s a decent amount of power behind a 1-mana enchantment, and it makes for a decent stax piece that also benefits you.
#5. Suture Priest
Suture Priest is sort of a combination of the previous two cards. It’s a 2-mana 1/1 that gains you life when you have a creature enter, and it has your opponents lose life when their creatures enter. It goes both ways, and that’s a big deal, but I wish it came in at a higher power and toughness.
#4. Righteous Valkyrie
Righteous Valkyrie slots in as a 2/4 flier for 3 that gains you life based on the toughness of angels or clerics entering the battlefield on your side. Those are both incredibly prominent creature types in white, and if you manage to get up to 27 life (47 in Commander), you’re getting a board-wide +2/+2 buff. This creature made a heavy impact in Standard, still sees some play in Pioneer, and is excellent in tribal Commander decks.
#3. Mentor of the Meek
It isn’t the Modern-dominating 3-drop it used to be, but Mentor of the Meek still plays an important role of providing cheap, repeatable card draw for low-to-the-ground white decks in Commander. It also slots perfectly into hatebears decks, which makes it an excellent creature across multiple strategies and playstyles.
#2. Welcoming Vampire
As if Mentor of the Meek weren’t powerful enough, Welcoming Vampire is an arguably better version that’s also Pioneer legal! Its biggest limitation is that you can only draw once per turn off the ability, but you don’t have to pay any mana to actually draw the card. On top of that, you’re getting decent stats on rate as a 2/3 flier for 3-mana.
#1. Cathars’ Crusade
Cathars' Crusade is another enchantment, this time at 5-mana, which revolves around creaturefall exclusively. It comes in at a considerably expensive 5-mana, but it has a dominating effect of putting a +/1+1 counter on every creature you control whenever you trigger the ability! White decks already go wide with cheap creatures, and activating this even just once or twice can generate upwards of 10-20 counters in a single turn!
Best Blue Creaturefall Cards
Blue doesn’t have many creaturefall mechanics, but Overburden is exactly the kind of disruptive style of card you’d expect it to have. It’s a 2-mana enchantment that forces players to return a land to their hand whenever they put a nontoken creature into play. That’s a heavy price to pay, at least in the early game, but it can become a way to generate excess mana in the later turns when players don’t have lands to play anyway.
#1. Mystic Reflection
Mystic Reflection is a 2-mana instant that asks you choose a nonlegendary creature, then it has all creatures entering the battlefield that turn enter as copies of that creature! This has lots of potential, not just to turn a few tokens into huge creatures, but also to stifle your opponent’s creatures and have them enter as duds.
Best Black Creaturefall Card
#1. Ayara, First of Locthwain
Ayara, First of Locthwain is the only notable black creaturefall cards, but it’s a relatively valuable card to play. It’s a 3-mana 2/3 that acts as a sacrifice outlet and card-advantage engine while having a creaturefall ability that drains each opponent for one life! That’s a lot of power packed into a single creature, and it’s a worthwhile inclusion if you can get passed the triple black mana cost.
Best Red Creaturefall Cards
#5. Warstorm Surge
Warstorm Surge is a whopping 6-mana enchantment that has creatures entering the battlefield under your control deal damage equal to their power to any target. This enchantment provides a lot of damage throughput regardless of whether you’re playing huge dragons or going wide with goblins. It powers through almost any situation, and it’s incredibly hard to not get value out of it. Plus, it’s not the easiest permanent to remove as an enchantment.
#4. Terror of the Peaks
Terror of the Peaks is essentially just Warstorm Surge on a massive, 5/4 flying stick. It also taxes your opponents 3 life to target it, which helps insulate it from a vulnerable enemy’s removal. This is a monster of a creature that truly deserves the “Mythic” rarity, and it absolutely dominates the board when it comes down.
#3. Dragon Tempest
Dragon Tempest is a 2-mana enchantment that triggers whenever a creature with flying enters under your control. It gives those creatures haste until end of turn, but it also deals damage equal to the total number of dragons you control to any creature or player whenever a dragon enters.
While Dragon Tempest isn’t as powerful initially as Warstorm Surge or Terror of the Peaks, it has the potential to do far more as you build up a larger board.
#2. Impact Tremors
Impact Tremors is a classic creaturefall card and probably what you thought of when you first thought of the mechanic. It’s a 2-mana enchantment that deals 1 damage to each opponent whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control. This doesn’t have the direct damage potential of previous cards, but it completely melts opponents in Commander when you include it in a deck that can go wide quickly, like goblins!
#1. Purphoros, God of the Forge
Purphoros, God of the Forge is the closest you’ll get to a creaturefall commander, and it packs a serious punch. It provides lots of damage to each opponent whenever something enters under your control. When paired with the right types of creatures, like goblins, it can quickly kill all three of your opponents when uncontested.
Best Green Creaturefall Cards
#9. Essence Warden
Green has the most creaturefall cards, and also some of its best. Essence Warden is starting us off as a practical copy of Soul Warden. I’d still rate it worse as green isn’t the best at using this type of effect, but it’s a great starting point.
#8. Prosperous Innkeeper
Prosperous Innkeeper is a great little 2-drop 1/1 that generates a Treasure and gains you life as the game goes on. The treasure is big here because it works as a decent way to ramp out and fix your mana while providing an additional artifact for cards that care or count. Classic green.
#7. Gala Greeters
Gala Greeters is a 2-drop from Streets of New Capenna that has three unique creaturefall abilities which can each trigger once per turn. The diversity across all three gives this creatures a decent chance to be useful, and it slots well into green’s mana curve in Commander.
#6. Soul of the Harvest
Soul of the Harvest is a 6-mana 6/6 with trample that also gives you the chance to draw some cards whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control. It’s a lot of mana for such a simple effect, but getting a 6/6 with trample while having no restrictions on drawing the card—like paying mana or limiting yourself to one card per turn—helps make up for that fact.
#5. Selvala, Heart of the Wilds
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds is a cheap 2/3 elf scout that draws you a card on creaturefall if the entering creature has the highest power on the board. It’s a little tricky because it can end up drawing cards for your opponents. If you’re playing mono-green or take advantage this card’s activated ability to continuously generate excess mana, that shouldn’t be a problem.
#4. Champion of Lambholt
Champion of Lambholt is a 3-mana 1/1 that gets a +1/+1 counter whenever another creature enters the battlefield, and creatures with power less than its own can’t block your creatures. This is a great way to generate more and more creature power as the game progresses, but also a way to get those creatures through combat and beat down opponents without any worry of blockers.
#3. The Great Henge
The Great Henge is a massive 9-mana artifact that costs less based on the highest power among creatures you control. In addition to generating some mana and life through an activated ability, it puts a +1/+1 counter on creatures entering the battlefield under your control and works as a solid card-advantage engine. This does a lot of what green wants: to generate mana, make big creatures bigger, and keep your resources coming with continuous card draw.
#2. Guardian Project
Guardian Project is a 4-mana enchantment that draws you a card if entering creatures don’t share a name with another creature under your control or in your graveyard. This downside is practically nonexistent in Commander, especially given that green doesn’t rely heavily on tokens like other colors does. Overall, this draws you plenty of cards and quickly provides enough resources for you to run away with the game if left unchecked.
#1. Garruk’s Uprising
If you’ve ever had the unfortunate chance to play against a Garruk's Uprising, you know just how powerful this card can be if it isn’t removed promptly. It not only has a chance to draw a card when it enters the battlefield, but it also draws you more as creatures with power 4 or greater enter after it. That’s just about every creature in green, which makes your creatures card-neutral at worst!
Best Multicolored Creaturefall Cards
#4. Arcades, the Strategist
The newer version of the Bant Elder Dragon, Arcades, the Strategist is a very narrow-focused creaturefall card. It only works with creatures that have defender, but it does this well and helps to make up for that fact by empowering your defender creatures to attack and actually deal damage. It’s a great creature, but it dictates that you play a very niche style without much diversity in strategy or theme.
#3. Ephara, God of the Polis
Ephara, God of the Polis is an excellent creaturefall commander solely for the fact that it provides consistent card draw at 4-mana and is hard to kill. White and blue are both the primary colors of ETB strategies, which also revolve around constantly flickering and bouncing creatures to maximize those ETB effects.
#2. Temur Ascendancy
Temur Ascendancy is one of the most straightforward yet powerful creaturefall enchantments out there. It brings together red’s haste, green’s 4-power creatures, and blue’s card draw perfectly into one, synergistic enchantment that works great in any Temur creatures deck.
#1. Aura Shards
It would be a mistake to not mention Aura Shards given its absolute importance in effectively shutting down enchantment and artifact decks in Commander. This enchantment is a total powerhouse and provides effective removal for just about any strategy through destroying mana rocks and Treasure tokens.
Best Colorless Creaturefall Cards
#2. Dragon’s Hoard
Dragon's Hoard is a 3-mana artifact that gains gold counters whenever a dragon enters the battlefield under your control. The artifact itself can tap for mana, or you can remove one of the gold counters to draw a card instead. There aren’t too many colorless creaturefall cards, but this one follows the path of many others by acting as a card-advantage engine and providing mana-fixing.
#1. Bloodline Pretender
Bloodline Pretender is a 3-mana 2/2 changeling that has you choose a creature type when it enters the battlefield then gains a +1/+1 counter whenever one of those creature types enter under your control. This is decent for just about any tribal-focused deck, but it lacks the capabilities many other creaturefall cards have that put them ahead of this in terms of power level.
Best Creaturefall Payoffs
Since very few creaturefall cards limit to nontoken creatures, decks that can go wide through mass token production are the most equipped to take advantage of creaturefall.
Green and white do this particularly well, not only because they have great token generation built in but also because they have some of the best and most prevalent creaturefall cards anyway.
Cards like Scute Swarm or Elspeth, Sun's Champion are both excellent ways to create continuous creatures, and token doublers like Parallel Lives can blow opponents out of the water. There are even decent colorless options, like Myr Battlesphere for a more general application.
Ayara, First of Locthwain | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
That wraps up creaturefall in MTG! It’s certainly a mechanic you’ve interacted with, even if you didn’t know the jargon. Overall, I think it’s a core mechanic of the game and it’s certainly not going anywhere soon. I’m not sure if it’ll ever be officially named—if it even needs to be.
What did you think of my rankings and the mechanic in general? Did I miss any important ETB cards, or did I generally cover all the bases? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!
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