Last updated on December 4, 2023

Chitterin Host - Illustration by Jason Felix

Chittering Host | Illustration by Jason Felix

Darkness clings to the corners of your room as something knocks oh-so-softly on your window, bathed in the sickly yellow light of a flickering streetlamp. An inhuman silhouette leers at you from the shadows under your bed. A shiver crawls up your spine and, far away, the light of an unfathomably distant star blinks out.

Ghouls, ghosts, the boogeyman. Things that go bump in the night. Classic movie monsters are scary enough, a staple of their own specific genre of horror. When you introduce them to Magic with truly terrifying art and mechanics that make your opponent cower in fear, that’s when the real horrors set in.

Ready to find out which are the absolute best horror creatures in the game? Grab your holy water, make sure those stakes are nice and sharp, and don’t forget your saltshakers. None of that will help you, probably, but it couldn’t hurt. Let’s get spooky!

Table of Contents show

What Are Horror Creatures in MTG?

Advanced Stitchwing - Illustration by Johann Bodin

Advanced Stitchwing | Illustration by Johann Bodin

As you may have figured out on your own, horror creatures are creatures with the “horror” subtype. It’s really that simple.

There are well over 300 horror creatures in Magic, and the latest sets have contributed a lot to increase this number, notably the Phyrexian storyline filled with Phyrexian horrors and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set which unleashed Mordor’s horrors into MTG.

While you’ll find horrors in every color in the game, they’re much more concentrated in black with over half of horrors in this color. Green and blue have a much smaller piece of the pie but are the other two big colors for horror. Their color combos, Golgari () and Dimir () take up another small chunk.

In terms of mechanical flavor, horrors are pretty varied with just a few common threads among them. The black-aligned creatures love infect, life play, exile effects, and anything that messes with your graveyard. There’s also a lot of mill thrown in thanks to blue’s influence, and green brings a decent amount of counters and big, beefy creatures.

There’s also quite a bit of overlap with zombies, Eldrazi, Phyrexians, and krakens. Go figure that some of the most horror-aligned creatures would work nicely with horrors. And then… krakens. I guess sea creatures are pretty scary, and the great big ocean and its unknown depths is pretty terrifying.

That’s enough about what horror creatures are. Ready to be scared?

Honorable Mentions

Horror of the Broken Lands

Horror of the Broken Lands

Okay, wait, listen. I know that Horror of the Broken Lands isn’t all that great of a card. It’s not the worst you could do, sure, but it’s nothing to scream about (well…). For better or worse, it was one of my favorite cards in my first horror-themed deck, so it gets a quick shoutout before we get to the real horrors.

Intellect Devourer

Intellect Devourer

Anyone surprised that I’m calling out more Forgotten Realms cards? Because you really shouldn’t be. If you’re tired of me bringing up Neverwinter Nights every time I can, you’re not going to like why Intellect Devourer is here.

Let’s be honest, the Devourer’s abilities can be put to good use. This is a great horror to add to your horror or exile themed build.

Mind Flayer

Mind Flayer

Not only is Mind Flayer a decent body on its own, but it gives you the ability to steal one of your opponent’s strongest creatures as long as you can protect it. It’s also one of my favorite D&D creatures so, you know, there’s that.

Defiler of Flesh

Defiler of Flesh

Defiler of Flesh’s art makes me think of John Carpenter’s The Thing. The card itself can be pretty good in the god-forsaken amalgamations that are horror/Phyrexian decks.

Best White Horror Creatures

#4. Nettling Host

Nettling Host

Nettling Host is a sizeable creature for a toxic deck. It’s smaller than Bloated Contaminator, but once your opponent is corrupted, you’ll get to recover Nettling Host again and again from your graveyard and be able to recast it, something that non-white control decks usually don’t have the tools to deal with. 

#3. Gisela, the Broken Blade + Bruna, the Fading Light

Gisela, the Broken Blade Bruna, the Fading Light

It’s incredibly unfortunate that Brisela, Voice of Nightmares isn’t a horror, because oh my god have you seen that thing? It definitely should be.

Alas, it’s not, so we’re stuck with the two halves of its whole, Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light. These two angels are each horrifying even if you never manage to reach their final form.

#2. Phyrexian Vindicator

Phyrexian Vindicator

The white Phyrexian Obliterator, Phyrexian Vindicator is basically the bane of decks. It’s impossible to deal with using damage, and the more damage it receives, the more screwed your opponents are. Plus, it’s a 5/5 flier for 4 mana, something that we don’t see often even in the best red dragons.

#1. Mondrak, Glory Dominus

Mondrak, Glory Dominus

Anointed Procession has already become a white staple in EDH, so here’s the creature version. Mondrak, Glory Dominus has a nice size for a creature, and now you get to double the tokens created from the command zone, making EDH token-based decks more consistent overall. It can even get indestructible to protect itself!

Best Blue Horror Creatures

#9. Screaming Swarm

Screaming Swarm

Thanks, I hate it. There’s something particularly disturbing about a flock of birds with glowing eye tentacles down their throat.

Disturbing art aside, Screaming Swarm is another good horror for your mill build. It also allows for some graveyard shenanigans, which is always (mostly) welcome.

#8. Forgotten Creation

Forgotten Creation

I think I’d rather Forgotten Creation stayed forgotten. Aesthetically, at least.

Mechanically it’s another zombie (surprise, surprise), and its ability fits right into a self-mill strategy. It also helps if you need to pitch what you’re holding in hopes of getting a better mittful.

#7. Grell Philosopher

Grell Philosopher

Hey, look! Our first horror that actually does things with other horrors! What a novel concept.

Grell Philosopher is good if one of your opponents has a really cool artifact with abilities that you can use. All right, look, I know it really ought to be way lower on this list, but horror decks sort of need the win. If you could just smile and give the Philosopher a thumbs up I’m sure it would appreciate it. It’s trying, okay?

#6. Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar

Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar

Okay, I’m sorry, but Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar’s flavor text just makes me laugh. I know that it’s a terrifying premise, but it sounds so corny to me.

Anyway, apparent lack of horror aside, Grazilaxx would be a decent commander for a classic mono-blue build. Nothing too flashy, but it’s not bad either. Just sort of mediocre.

#5. Spellskite

Spellskite

Looking to steal your opponents’ most powerful effects? Spellskite is here to turn itself into an absolute abomination. After all, that’s what the Phyrexians do best, isn’t it?

#4. Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus

Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus

Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus is a proliferate engine that can be your commander. This blue horror is at home in decks that exploit counters, whether through planeswalkers, artifacts with charge counters, and more. You can play it as your commander or in counter decks. Infect is another archetype that can do with double proliferate, quickly killing your opponents by proliferating the infections.

#3. Aboleth Spawn

Aboleth Spawn

There are entirely too many aquatic creatures on this list with mouths full of teeth. Aboleth Spawn is here to flash in and steal your opponents’ triggers, which can be pretty horrifying. Not to mention protecting itself with ward.

I still don’t like it.

#2. Hullbreaker Horror

Hullbreaker Horror

Uncounterable spells are always great, and Hullbreaker Horror is no exception. It's beefy, has flash, fits into sea creature decks, and can act as a counterspell if you need it to.

#1. Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror

Thing in the Ice Awoken Horror

It’s laughably easy to unleash Awoken Horror on your opponents if you’re willing to put in the work. It’s also one of the few horrors that really works in horror typal decks since it (temporarily) banishes all non-horrors from the battlefield when it awakens.

Best Black Horror Creatures

#16. Reaper of Sheoldred

Reaper of Sheoldred

Reaper of Sheoldred is a bit too expensive for my liking, which is a shame because it’s otherwise a great card for some poison shenanigans.

#15. Gloom Sower

Gloom Sower

You know, Gloom Sower could probably float at the edge of your bed at night and you wouldn’t even see it. Have fun with that thought.

This horror is, once again, great for lifegain/lifedrain decks. It’s pretty beefy too.

#14. Dross Harvester

Dross Harvester

Dross Harvester is delicate. I am aware of this. But it’s phenomenal in your life play build, especially when you know you’re going up against mono-white. Otherwise… eh.

#13. Gray Slaad

Gray Slaad

There’s this one area in Neverwinter Night’s expansion (shut up) that’s absolutely crawling with Slaadi, and I hated it. They were hard to kill, annoying, and the Gray ones cast magic at me.

Gray Slaad is decidedly not hard to kill with its puny little 1 toughness, but it could certainly be annoying if you manage to meet its ability’s criteria and turn it into a deathtoucher with menace. Oh, and its adventure is 100% it casting magic.

#12. Voldaren Pariah / Abolisher of Bloodlines

Voldaren Pariah Abolisher of Bloodlines

Both sides of Voldaren Pariah are going to guest star in my nightmares for the foreseeable future, I can tell you that right now.

Anyway.

Madness is a pretty good mechanic when used right, and a horror build filled with vampires and Eldrazi feels like the perfect place for it.

#11. Doom Weaver

Doom Weaver

Remember how I was talking about how much I hate bugs earlier? Yeah, well, spiders are a big giant No Thank You, in the least respectful way possible.

Doom Weaver is a beefy little blocker that can ward off any annoying flier facing you down. Its soulbound ability can come in handy if you need to replenish your hand, something that black doesn’t do as often as you might like, so it’s more than welcome when it comes along.

#10. Curse of Leeches / Leeching Lurker

Curse of Leeches Leeching Lurker

I hate leeches. They’re slimy and goopy and gross and I don’t like them. Leeching Lurker takes that to a whole other level, though, because why does it have so many teeth what the f

Anyway. Curse of Leeches is a pretty good enchantment for lifegain decks.

#9. Woe Strider

Woe Strider

Now, this is truly a thing of nightmares. Seriously, what is this? Nightmare fuel. That’s what.

Woe Strider is, like, THE escape card, and it does pretty good as a horror too. Scrying in exchange for a sacrificial lamb (or Goat, more likely) is great if you slide it in a sac build.

#8. Sauron, the Necromancer

Sauron, the Necromancer

Thanks to The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, we now have lots of Sauron MTG cards, all of them avatar horrors. In Sauron, the Necromancer, the reanimator aspect is highlighted. Each time this Sauron attacks, you’ll get a 3/3 until the end of turn that’s a copy of a given creature in your graveyard, in the style of what The Scarab God provides. Plus, if Sauron is your Ring-bearer, you’ll get to keep the token you created.

#7. Gollum, Obsessed Stalker

Gollum, Obsessed Stalker

Gollum, Obsessed Stalker is the new tool in lifegain synergies decks. Lots of lifegain decks in EDH use Sanguine Bond as a win condition, and this card can help you to achieve this goal. You’ll only need to deal damage once with Gollum for the effect to be active. While Gollum lives, opponents will lose a bunch of life provided you keep gaining life.

#6. Brainstealer Dragon

Brainstealer Dragon

Okay, flavor wins all around here. Brainstealer Dragon has the potential to steal permanents from your opponents and damage them based on the stolen cards’ mana value? It’s gotta hurt to have your brain stolen, so I like this.

Except for the tentacle mouth. I do not like that.

#5. Gollum, Patient Plotter

Gollum, Patient Plotter

Gollum, Patient Plotter is a sacrifice outlet for aristocrats decks, and you can also use it in blink decks. If this card leaves the battlefield, you’ll get tempted by the Ring, which is a good thing. It goes well with cards like Sauron, the Necromancer that get a lot better if it’s your Ring-bearer. You can also have infinite sacrifice triggers with Gollum involving cards like Skirge Familiar.

#4. Toxrill, the Corrosive

Toxrill, the Corrosive

I don’t like slimy things, so slugs are right up there with creepy crawlies. Toxrill, the Corrosive gets points as both aesthetically and mechanically horrifying. Slime counters sound disgusting, and Toxrill makes for a great commander thanks to its devastating Slug agenda, though it's technically a card for color identity purposes.

#3. Drivnod, Carnage Dominus

Drivnod, Carnage Dominus

The third entry in the cycle of horrors that double something is Drivnod, Carnage Dominus, which doubles your death triggers. Many decks operate by sacrificing creatures and reaping the rewards, and with Drivnod around you’ll get double the fun, whether by dealing more damage with Blood Artist or making more tokens with cards like Pawn of Ulamog. Sacrificing Kokusho, the Evening Star was already interesting in EDH, but with Drivnod around, you’ll get 30 life while your opponents lose 10 life each.

#2. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

Yawgmoth is scary enough as it is, but now we’ve got their son and I’m not sure which one I’d rather deal with. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth turns the black mana symbols on all your cards into Phyrexian mana.

K’rrik also grows with every black spell you cast and gains you more life while it’s at it. I’d say this is horrifying in just about every sense of the word.

#1. Phyrexian Obliterator

Phyrexian Obliterator

The Phyrexians bring a whole new meaning to horror, and Phyrexian Obliterator is one of the best cards to show that off. A 5/5 trampler for 4 is no joke, but your opponents want to get rid of it? They’d better be willing to pay the price.

Best Red Horror Creatures

#2. Phyrexian Harvester

Phyrexian Harvester

After Phyrexian Obliterator and Phyrexian Vindicator, it’s time for Phyrexian Harvester. When it’s dealt damage, you seek that many cards. Seek basically means that you get a random nonland card from your deck into your hand, and you get a whole turn to use them before having to discard. It’s interesting that besides getting to attack your opponent with a 5/5 menace, you can point your own burn spells at this, getting more cards in the process. 

#1. Solphim, Mayhem Dominus

Solphim, Mayhem Dominus

Solphim, Mayhem Dominus doubles all noncombat damage you deal to your opponents, and that can combo with a lot of stuff you’ll usually play in your red decks. From Cavalcade of Calamity to Sulfuric Vortex, or maybe cards like Purphoros, God of the Forge or Guttersnipe, there are loads of viable ways to get a damage engine going on. Plus, there’s the “kill someone combo” with Heartless Hidetsugu.

Best Green Horror Creatures

#5. Gnarlwood Dryad

Gnarlwood Dryad

Gnarlwood Dryad is a great card if you’re looking to deathtouch your opponents to, well, death. That delirium ability can come in handy to keep it around a little longer once you get there.

#4. Tangleclaw Werewolf / Fibrous Entangler

Tangleclaw Werewolf Fibrous Entangler

Tangleclaw Werewolf is what you reach for when you want to give your werewolves a little more oomph. Just a little something extra, because a humanoid wolf monster clearly isn’t scary enough.

Both sides of Tangle should be a horror, but I suppose Eldrazi is just cosmic horror without the typeline. Like, don’t tell me your heart wouldn’t give out the second you saw Fibrous Entangler leap at you out of the darkness like that.

#3. Ulvenwald Oddity / Ulvenwald Behemoth

Ulvenwald Oddity Ulvenwald Behemoth

Hasty tramplers with buffed-up stats are always nice, and Ulvenwald Behemoth is here to be that for you while also spreading the love around. It’ll cost you, though.

Truly horrifying.

#2. Loam Dryad

Loam Dryad

Loam Dryad is simple enough, it’s basically just a 5-color mana dork.

This dryad horror is also ever-so-slightly unnerving in that way where the more you look at it, the more wrong you feel. We should probably move on before something claims our soul.

#1. Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus

Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus

Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus is a huge incentive to play creatures on the table and get into the red zone. Big tramply green creatures are at home with Zopandrel, and cards that care about power like The Great Henge and Ghalta, Primal Hunger love the doubling power and toughness aspect. This card can brawl very well on its own too since it’s an 8/12 with reach considering its own bonus. In treefolk decks that care about toughness, Zopandrel can be a huge player.

Best Multicolored Horror Creatures

#14. Obosh, the Preypiercer

Obosh, the Preypiercer

Obosh, the Preypiercer has a weird requirement if you wanna use it as your companion, but it powers you up like nobody’s business if you commit to it. This isn’t something I ever thought I’d say about a hellion horror, but here we are.

#13. Liege cycle

The Liege cycle features horrors of varying costs, size, and ability. The only consistent thing here is that they give +1/+1 to creatures of each of their colors.

These are all good cards, but, well… there’s nothing particularly horrifying about them. Middle of the road nightmare fuel.

#12. Runo Stromkirk / Krothuss, Lord of the Deep

Runo Stromkirk Krothuss, Lord of the Deep

Okay, so Krothuss, Lord of the Deep is much better as a devastating sea creature commander, but that’s why it’s not higher on the list. This vampire cleric/kraken horror (what a mouthful, god, why is it so many things?) is an absolute beast, so it’s just not really meant to lead a horde of horrors.

#11. Old Stickfingers

Old Stickfingers

Old Stickfingers looks like something that would be friends with my sleep paralysis demons. I don’t like it.

Nighttime terrors aside, Sticky is a card that would be right at home in a self-mill build. Or anything that wants to mess with your graveyard really.

#10. Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager

Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager is great for hydra and counter strategies. It would be higher on the list because, let’s be honest, it’s a great card.

It’s just that… horror? Really? Honestly, I just don’t see it.

#9. Sauron, Lord of the Rings

Sauron, Lord of the Rings

Now we get to the multicolor Saurons, and here’s when things start to get horrifying for your opponents. Sauron, Lord of the Rings is an 8-mana creature, and we all know that’s a lot. But let’s take a look at what you’re getting for casting it. Start with at least a 5/5 Orc Army, a free reanimate spell and a 9/9 trampler. Having this card as your commander means that you’ll have plenty of reasons to get to 8 mana as fast as possible, cast your commander, and start instilling fear.

#8. The Gitrog Monster

The Gitrog Monster

You know, of all the creature types I would’ve thought to show up somewhat consistently among the horrors, frogs weren’t among them. I guess the poisonous ones can be pretty scary, but still….

You do not want to mess with The Gitrog Monster. It’s a beefy deathtoucher that lets you play an extra land every turn. I’m also pretty sure it’ll devour you if you look at it wrong, so maybe avoid eye contact and bow away before you end up on the menu.

#7. Sméagol, Helpful Guide

Smeagol, Helpful Guide does a lot of things right, and it’s an awesome commander. You can sacrifice creatures and get “the Ring tempts you” triggers, which then make an opponent mill and give you a land card from their deck. That combines really well with cards that have graveyard synergies or cards that get stronger with your opponents’ graveyard like Lord of Extinction. Getting a lot of “Ring tempts you” triggers mills your opponents a lot and gives you lots of land, and you can profit from this by playing cards like Mindcrank. The sheer possibilities of Sméagol is what makes EDH a nice format, and there are plenty of strong ways to build a Smeagol, Helpful Guide deck.

#6. Yarok, the Desecrated

Yarok, the Desecrated

The legendary Yarok is here to lead your trigger-happy Commander deck to victory. An elemental typal list, perhaps? Maybe you’re looking to really capitalize on that lifelink. Whatever the case, Yarok, the Desecrated makes your opponents’ nightmares a reality.

#5. Umbris, Fear Manifest

Umbris, Fear Manifest

Hi, may I introduce you to my sleep paralysis demon, Umbris, Fear Manifest? Don’t worry, it won’t steal your soul. It already has it.

Okay, creepy commentary aside, Umbris is a truly killer card. It would make a fully dread-inducing commander for a combo nightmare/horror build.

#4. Sauron, the Dark Lord

Sauron, the Dark Lord

Sauron, the Dark Lord combines various nice aspects in a 6-mana package. It’s a 7/6 with built-in protection, and it gives you a strong benefit when your opponents play spells. Which, you know, they tend to do a lot. The massive discard and draw aspect you get with Sauron points you in the wheels direction or the reanimator direction, or you can simply beat your opponents down with a 7/6 and some orcish armies. Cards like Chasm Skulker or Psychosis Crawler that go well with card draw are an added benefit.

#3. Thalia and The Gitrog Monster

Thalia and The Gitrog Monster

Thalia and The Gitrog Monster combines the abilities of two respected commanders in one: Thalia, Heretic Cathar and The Gitrog Monster. Overall, by playing this card you get card advantage while slowing your opponents, and all of that packed into a nice creature with relevant abilities like first strike and deathtouch combined. Abzan decks want this card, and it’s a nice commander too.

#2. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

You had to know this was coming, right? Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is a beast of a card, not to mention a total powerhouse commander. The praetors really did something here.

Unfortunately, Atraxa doesn’t really do a whole lot for horrors specifically. It just is one, so points docked. And honestly, I don’t think it’s all that horrifying. A tad unsettling, maybe, but Atraxa is more eerily beautiful than anything if you ask me.

#1. Captain N'ghathrod

Captain N'ghathrod

Are you looking to live out your Davy Jones EDH dreams with a pirate/horror deck? Look no further than Captain N'ghathrod!

This tentacled pirate does a lot for your horrors, and even plunders your opponents’ graveyards in true pirate fashion. This is the fun kind of horror, and I really like it.

Best Colorless Horror Creature

#1. Hostile Hostel / Creeping Inn

Hostile Hostel Creeping Inn

Hostile Hostel allows for more proliferation nonsense if you want to get the real horror out sooner rather than later. Creeping Inn can get really dangerous real fast, and it’s great for lifegain/lifedrain builds.

Best Horror Creature Payoffs and Synergies

Dimir Keyrune + Phyrexian Totem

Looking for horror-adjacent mana rocks for your horror build? Let me introduce you to Dimir Keyrune and Phyrexian Totem. You’ll need to be running either Dimir () or black-inclusive for these to be of use, but a rock that can double as an extra horror body can come in handy.

Uchuulon

Veering back into the genre of horror that just makes me go ew, Uchuulon is here for crab/ooze/horror life. If you play your cards right, you can have a ‘field overrun with little disgusting Uchuulon copies. Gross!

Phyrexian Rebirth

What’s more horrifying than a board wipe that drops a massive creature on the ‘field after the slate’s been wrathed clean? Not a whole lot, which is why you should consider Phyrexian Rebirth for all your horror builds that run white.

Woodwraith Corrupter

It’s fun to have creature lands running around the battlefield. Woodwraith Corrupter is here to turn all your Forests into sizable Golgari () horrors while enabling elemental/horror synergies.

Profane Transfusion

Maybe you want to play politics. Perhaps you want to humble that one opponent that’s been giving you a run for your money. Or maybe you’re just looking to sew chaos.

Whatever the case, Profane Transfusion allows you to potentially bring the game’s leader to their knees and save yourself at the same time. And then you also get a horror on your ‘field that’s as big as the gap between a would-be winner and a loser.

Wrap Up

Captain N'gathrod - Illustration by Andrey Kuzinskiy

Captain N'ghathrod | Illustration by Andrey Kuzinskiy

Are you scared yet? Have you turned on the lights to try to chase away the menacing shadows that climb your walls and crowd in on you? That’s fine. The light only makes it easier for them to find you.

What’s your favorite horror creature in the game? Nothic has a special place in my heart because of this one D&D campaign my friend ran a few years back. Do you have a deck that really makes horrors work together? I would love to hear about it in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

Anyway, I’m going to go have a meltdown because I can’t decide if it’s better to hide in the darkest corner I can find or never turn the light off again. Sweet dreams!


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