Last updated on February 6, 2023
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!
What Are Horror Creatures in MTG?
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 200 horror creatures in Magic so far, and I don’t see that number stopping its climb anytime soon. Especially not with the current trajectory of the story.
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 a few other tribes, namely 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?
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.
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 tribal build.
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’s art makes me think of John Carpenter’s The Thing. The card itself can be pretty good in the god-forsaken amalgamation that is horror/Phyrexian tribal.
Best White Horror Creatures
#2. Extricator of Sin / Extricator of Flesh
Maybe I just really like transforming cards, but I think Extricator of Sin is great. It’s a phenomenal card for Eldrazi horror tribal because what’s more horrifying than doubling up on the dread-inducing creatures in your arsenal?
#1. 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.
Best Blue Horror Creatures
#10. Ludevic’s Test Subject / Ludevic’s Abomination
I don’t like Ludevic’s Test Subject, and I sure as shit don’t like their Abomination. Flavor-wise, I mean. The card itself is… fine.
Okay, look. The Test Subject is a decent defender and you can pull some fun proliferate shenanigans to get the beast of an Abomination out way sooner, and a 13/13 trampler is nothing to scoff at. There’s just… nothing here that really wows me, y’know?
#9. Hordewing Skaab
Hey, look, more zombie tribal! Hordewing Skaab isn’t of much use in a horrors build other than its type. It’s much more at home in a zombie build, which is fine, but it’s not what we’re here for today.
#8. 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.
#7. 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.
#6. 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 tribal sort of needs 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?
#5. 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.
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?
#3. 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
Uncounterable spells are always great, and Hullbreaker Horror is no exception. It has flash, fits into kraken tribal, is pretty beefy, and can act as a counterspell if you need it to.
#1. 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 tribal since it (temporarily) banishes all non-horrors from the battlefield when it awakens.
Best Black Horror Creatures
#16. Chittering Host
Okay, okay, no, listen. I know that it’s super annoying to have to scrounge together both Midnight Scavengers and Graf Rats to get your Chittering Host melded but come on! Look at this monstrosity.
It’s underpowered considering how many resources you expend to get it on the ‘field, but like. It’s definitely horrifying, and that’s got to count for something, right?
Swampwalk is great if none of your opponents are running black, which could make Blistergrub quite the little pinger. That damage clause on death is nice too, I guess.
#14. Dark Hatchling
I want to like Dark Hatchling, really, I do. It’s a decent-sized flying body that also destroys your opponents’ most annoying nonblack creature, regeneration be damned.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. I just think it should also be a vampire, or a dragon, or something. The single creature type is really letting me down here.
#13. Ravenous Rotbelly
Ravenous Rotbelly would honestly be way more at home in a zombie tribal build. Which is very disappointing because it’s a decently good card for its tribe. It’s just a shame that tribe is decidedly not horrors.
#12. 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.
#11. 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.
#10. 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.
#9. 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.
#8. 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.
#7. 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.
#6. 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.
#5. 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.
#4. 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.
#3. 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.
#2. 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
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 four 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. Stromkirk Occultist
I know that horrors are going for the whole Cthulhu aesthetic, but there are entirely too many tentacles on this list. Also, does this give anyone else Davy Jones vibes? Just me? Okay then…
So, vampire horror. Sounds more like a movie genre than a creature type, but Stromkirk Occultist pulls it off with its madness and trample.
#1. Smoldering Werewolf / Erupting Dreadwolf
More transforming Eldrazi werewolves! And this one is on fire. Cool.
Smoldering Werewolf does what red does best and throws damage around just for the fun of it. The backside does it too, just better. What’s not to fear?
Best Green Horror Creatures
#5. Moldgraf Millipede
Listen, I don’t like bugs. Anything that could be considered a “creepy crawly” can stay away from me, thanks. I especially don’t like anything that has hundreds of tiny little legs. Millipedes should go extinct is all I’m saying.
Moldgraf Millipede is a good card for Nemesis’ mill strategy. More horrifying mill potential here. Just keep it away from me please.
#4. 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.
#3. 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.
#2. 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.
#1. Loam Dryad
Loam Dryad is simple enough, it’s basically just a five-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.
Best Multicolored Horror Creatures
#14. Nemesis of Reason
Leviathan horror is right, Jesus. Nemesis of Reason is what happens when you want your mill deck to scare the absolute daylights out of your opponent. Literally.
#13. 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.
#12. Grime Gorger
Grime Gorger is more horrifying the later in the game you drop it. Imagine dropping what amounts to an 8/8 with menace for just four mana? Horrifying.
#11. 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.
#10. Liege cycle
The Liege cycle features horrors of varying costs, size, and ability. The only consistent thing here is that they’re all enemy color pairs and 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.
#9. 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.
#8. Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager is great for hydra and counter tribal. 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.
#7. 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.
#6. Yarok, the Desecrated
The legendary Yarok is here to lead your trigger-happy Commander deck to victory. An elemental tribal 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. Consuming Aberration
Consuming Aberration is on the side of cosmic horror. I mean, it’s an Aberration after all, what did you expect?
This monstrosity can get pretty big and fits right in with mill and spells matter strategies alike. Take your pick and wreak havoc on your opponents’ libraries!
#4. Abomination of Llanowar
Okay that’s good. Yeah, that’s… all right that’s good. Oka-okay, all right, okay, all right, okay that’s good. That’s… good, it’s– it’s enough faces!
There are entirely too many faces on Abomination of Llanowar. I also don’t like its ability’s insinuation that it’s just absorbing all the elves on your ‘field and in your graveyard. It’s a flavor win and I hate it.
#3. 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, Umbra is a truly killer card. It would make a fully dread-inducing commander for a combo nightmare/horror tribal build.
#2. 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
Are you looking to live out your Davy Jones EDH dreams with a pirate/horror tribal 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 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 tribal 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.
Veering back into the genre of horror that just makes me go ew, Uchuulon is here for crab/ooze/horror tribal. If you play your cards right, you can have a ‘field overrun with little disgusting Uchuulon copies. Gross!
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.
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 tribal.
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.
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 horror deck that really makes the tribe work? 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!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: