Last updated on May 23, 2023
Augur of Autumn | Illustration by Billy Christian
When you roll up a D&D character do you want to be a human, or do you want to try your hand at different biology? Say an elf, a dwarf, or even an orc? How far out do you want your fantasy?
Tons of players sleeve up lots of humans, the most popular creature type in the game. Are you embracing the familiar in your fantasy? Or are you just playing powerful cards?
What Are Humans in MTG?
Esper Sentinel | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Humans are the most common creature type in Magic. In Alpha, Magic’s very first set, the most common creature type was human. With 12 cards it was four times the number of the next most common creatures (three each of giants, goblins, and elves). Humans continue to be far and away the most common creature type, having just crossed the 3,000 threshold with the various The Brothers’ War releases.
Of course, “human” wasn’t even a creature type until the Grand Creature Type update. Only three sets (original Innistrad, Throne of Eldraine, and Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths) printed cards that cared about humans as a creature type, what’s called “tribal” synergies.
Best Humans in White
Most of the best humans are in white, so winnowing down to the top 10 is a bit painful. There are 10 great mono white humans in various iterations of humans decks in Modern and Pioneer alone!
But with an eye toward Commander this list will have a few other contenders. There are a lot of amazing cards left off, including Drannith Magistrate, an obnoxious card that just happens to strand commanders in the command zone.
#10. Puresteel Paladin
Hammertime decks in Modern use Puresteel Paladin to attach their crazy Colossus Hammer and win. Any equipment-based Commander deck needs a this.
#9. Weathered Wayfarer
Weathered Wayfarer can find you all your broken lands or fix mana in a pinch.
#8. Ranger-Captain of Eos
The ability to tutor up answers like Giant Killer or Mother of Runes with Ranger-Captain of Eos is a lot of utility, especially in EDH.
#7. Thalia’s Lieutenant
Thalia's Lieutenant is the glue that makes humans deck work. It ends the game with a wide enough board. This is a must for +1/+1 counters decks in Commander.
#6. Ethersworn Canonist
Ethersworn Canonist puts on some heavy brakes against aggro and spellslinger decks.
#5. Grand Abolisher
Grand Abolisher is Teferi, Time Raveler‘s most annoying ability on a 2-drop.
#4. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is at home in fast-paced humans decks in 60-card formats, and as an anchor in grindy stax and taxes decks across formats including EDH. It’s one of the most annoying 2-drops in the game.
#3. Mother of Runes
Repeatable protection puts Mother of Runes at the head of the class of Benevolent Bodyguard cards that have to sacrifice themselves to save.
#2. Academy Rector
Academy Rector is insane and really costly, having only been printed in Urza’s Destiny. This is your huckleberry if you really need to pop an Omniscience onto the battlefield. Not every deck wants that, even if it were affordable.
#1. Esper Sentinel
One of the best 1-drops in the game for EDH, an Esper Sentinel on turn 1 draws you a ton of cards.
Best Humans in Blue
There are a surprising number of powerful blue humans. I’m sure I left off a good favorite. Mine is Hurkyl, Master Wizard, which has yet to be fully broken.
#10. Timestream Navigator
Timestream Navigator is a Cube staple. An extra turn effect that can be copied by things like Lithoform Engine and Dynaheir, Invoker Adept is pretty sick.
#9. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
The planeswalker side of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is decent value enabled by the looter on the front. All the Magic Origins flip planeswalkers are worth playing in the right shells.
Fatespinner is brutally annoying in the most annoying decks, control and stax.
#7. Venser, Shaper Savant
Not often used as a general, Venser, Shaper Savant is powerful in blink decks and my favorite, Naban, Dean of Iteration blue wizard tribal!
#6. Sai, Master Thopterist
Sai, Master Thopterist is a must include in any artifact deck that has blue. It’s like synergy distilled.
#5. Urza, Lord High Artificer
Urza, Lord High Artificer is at the center of a number of broken combos, including the Whirza builds that used various cards and Whir of Invention. That got crowded out of Modern after Modern Horizons 2, and it’s a bit tough to pull off in EDH.
Still, there’s a lot of power here.
#4. Sakashima of a Thousand Faces
One of the most popular commanders for Izzet () spellslinger when paired with Krark, the Thumbless, Sakashima of a Thousand Faces is also strong in many different pairings, especially as a kind of clone lord. Very, very few cards turn off the legend rule, so this provides unique value whether in the command zone or in the 99.
Spellseeker is your go-to power if you really need a blinkable tutor. Plenty of key interaction cards like Mana Drain and Cyclonic Rift are under two mana, but game enders like Exsanguinate and Living End are also good targets.
#2. Archmage Emeritus
Did you know that Archmage Emeritus is the most popular blue human in Commander, and the fourth most popular blue creature overall? It was too slow for its Standard, but ramping out an early Archmage can net you a huge number of cards in EDH.
#1. Arcum Dagsson
Always a popular commander for cheating out broken artifact synergies, Arcum Dagsson just got an upgrade with stuff like Portal to Phyrexia to join the roster. The Portal isn’t as powerful as the various combos, but it can really mess up the game if dropped on an early turn.
Best Humans in Black
There are lots of powerful humans in black that are the kind of solid Rock or Jund () style stalwarts that bring value and serve well in their Standard environments. Some great cards like Graveyard Trespasser couldn’t make this list but still are worth considering.
A special shoutout to weird build around Shadowborn Apostle if you want to build the world’s most expensive meme deck.
#10. Massacre Girl
Massacre Girl is a blinkable sweeper that kills indestructible things. There are probably more powerful cards that could have snagged this spot but this will only get better as power creeps along.
#9. Dark Confidant
Bob draws cards. If you can turn the life loss from Dark Confidant into a bonus, so much the better.
This can be gas if you’re playing a ripsnortingly fast-clocked cEDH game.
#8. Morbid Opportunist
Midnight Reaper can keep triggering, but only on your nontoken creature deaths. Oh, and it drains you.
Morbid Opportunist only triggers once a turn but on anyone’s creatures and without the drain. This can net you lots of cards.
#7. Grim Haruspex
I’ve never once seen this cast for morph! Grim Haruspex doesn’t trigger off tokens, which is its only downside.
#6. Marionette Master
If Marionette Master comes down as a 4/6 you can sacrifice eight artifacts to kill an opponent. If only WotC would print cards that make Treasures…
#5. Opposition Agent
The higher the table’s power, the better Opposition Agent is. This is amazing at a table with tutors and fetch lands, which is why it’s often one of the few creatures and the only human in K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth cEDH decks.
#4. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician continues to find Golgari () builds in Modern that can compete, and that power can be in your EDH deck. It’s more popular in the 99 in synergizing decks like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, but this card is good in any deck that wants sacrifice, counters, or graveyard-filling.
That’s like every deck in black, right?
#3. Syr Konrad, the Grim
Syr Konrad, the Grim is a flexible commander and a welcome part of the 99, even just as a version of a Blood Artist effect. Milling for damage and reanimating for damage are two useful and unique effects, and they give a lot of pop to various combos with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge.
#2. Zulaport Cutthroat
These kinds of Blood Artist effects are key wincons in so many builds of black in Commander. Zulaport Cutthroat is one of the most popular black creatures in EDH, much less human.
#1. Pitiless Plunderer
Pitiless Plunderer being number one is a testament to how broken Treasures are. From simple uses like rebuilding from a board wipe to a gazillion sac combos with things like Ashnod's Altar, this is the mustard in so many different sandwiches.
Best Red Humans
Lots of red humans are just good cards that’d see more play if Commander were still a game of just playing good cards. You won’t see Robber of the Rich or Dragon's Rage Channeler on this list, but there are still some cool things.
#9. Harmonic Prodigy
Harmonic Prodigy enjoys doubling triggers with Rionya, Fire Dancer, Delina, Wild Mage, and other wizards and shamans. Hint: doubling triggers is powerful.
#8. Young Pyromancer
Young Pyromancer is classic for spellslinger decks that want to convert card advantage into a go-wide advantage for a reason.
#7. Reckless Fireweaver + Ingenious Artillerist
Artifact and Treasure wincons are premium cards, and Reckless Fireweaver and Ingenious Artillerist are some of the best in red.
#6. Feldon of the Third Path
Feldon of the Third Path, appropriately, got even better with the release of The Brothers’ War. A fun commander (for you, at least!), this also slots nicely into any artifact deck that runs red.
#5. Breya’s Apprentice
Breya's Apprentice has to tap, unlike the next card, but this still gives a decent recurable card draw. It looks like a card to cut from your sparkly new Mishra, Eminent One deck. Don’t.
#4. Professional Face-Breaker
Red lacks great card draw, but Professional Face-Breaker is one of its best options. Treasure for cards? Yes, please.
#3. Magus of the Wheel
Magus of the Wheel can fill your graveyard while drawing cards, and it can also just draw seven if you’re playing ‘em as quick as you can topdeck ‘em. Enjoy in Chainer, Nightmare Adept brews!
#2. Dualcaster Mage
The finisher for Historic’s Neoform combo is also quite pesky in EDH. It goes infinite with everything that copies a spell, like Twinflame or even cards like Momentary Blink.
If you have some haste enablers lying around like Bitter Reunion, off you go!
#1. Imperial Recruiter
Imperial Recruiter! When you absolutely, positively need to tutor up Dockside Extortionist or Blood Artist, accept no substitutes.
Best Humans in Green
Green isn’t especially known for powerful humans, but it has some surprises for you! Just missing the cut is legend master Reki, the History of Kamigawa, which gets better with each set release.
#9. Argothian Enchantress + Verduran Enchantress
Verduran Enchantress gave the decks their name, and Argothian Enchantress made them viable. They still got it.
#8. Hermit Druid
Have you seen this card? Hermit Druid wants to be in all the graveyard and reanimator decks that run green.
#7. Ulvenwald Tracker
Green’s removal is biting and fighting. Having repeatable fights on a creature you have lots of cards to tutor up is wicked cool.
Ulvenwald Tracker is in the corner doing its best impression of a boxing trainer if my creatures are swole enough.
#6. Tireless Tracker
Lovely in landfall decks, Tireless Tracker is the MVP in the 99 for Lonis, Cryptozoologist.
#5. Destiny Spinner
Obviously awesome in enchantress decks, Destiny Spinner has a home in any deck with combo finishers it can prevent from being countered.
#4. Champion of Lambholt
This gets swole pretty quickly in go-wide decks, but Champion of Lambholt doesn’t have to get that large before it makes your army unblockable. This can finish a game the turn it drops.
#3. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Azusa, Lost but Seeking is a key partner with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove for ramp decks. I hear green likes to ramp.
#2. Eternal Witness
Maybe Eternal Witness isn’t a raw powerhouse like some other humans, but this is a lot of value. Throw it in Meren of Clan Nel Toth and you can go nuts.
The most played green creature in EDH is arguably the best, but I prefer card volume to selection.
#1. Augur of Autumn
Speaking of card volume, you can really rip cards off the top of your library with Augur of Autumn in the right conditions.
Best Multicolored Humans
There’s like 40 awesome multicolor humans, nearly impossible to cull to the top 10. I have regrets. Before you hop in the comments, try to make your own complete and comprehensive top 10. Fair’s fair!
I’ve left off very popular cards that exist as narrow commanders because I’ve tried to list cards that are reasonably flexible. No Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow or Kaalia of the Vast, for example, in spite of their power.
Honorable mention to mana dorks Avacyn's Pilgrim and Noble Hierarch. They’re probably the most powerful, but you came here for fireworks!
Another honorable mention goes to Isshin, Two Heavens as One. It’s bonkers if you have the right cards and seems to get more popular by the day.
#10. Kess, Dissident Mage
Kess, Dissident Mage basically lets you cast your spells twice. ‘Nough said.
#9. Urza, Chief Artificer
I like the new Mishra, Eminent One Commander deck, but Urza, Chief Artificer gets out of hand super quick. Its affinity means that targeted removal doesn’t keep it away for long.
You’re not going to want to see Urza at your EDH table if you don’t play with a grip of board wipes.
#8. Chulane, Teller of Tales
It seems like you’re supposed to tap Chulane, Teller of Tales to self-bounce. Nope.
What you’re really supposed to do is pile on the cheap mana creatures and ramp. And cast Shrieking Drake. A lot.
#7. Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Meren of Clan Nel Toth is the all-purpose reanimator commander, and tons of people play this deck. There are so many different ways to build it, but one of them is to highlight Spore Frog. So, you know, that’s cool.
#6. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
A popular commander and denizen of a multicolor 99, Sisay, Weatherlight Captain provides a turn of recurring value, especially when paired with the up-and-comer who didn’t quite make the list, Jodah, the Unifier.
#5. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is the table’s last hope against ramp, free spells, copied spells, and all sorts of other broken stuff we complain about.
Lavinia has seen the fun, and it’s not having any of it. Shut it down. Now. Don’t make me stop this table.
#4. Teysa Karlov
The ultimate aristocrats leader, Teysa Karlov is really trigger happy. This is a powerful deck that makes you feel like the villain.
#3. Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy
Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is an amazingly powerful commander whose mana impact makes it good enough for cEDH.
#2. Notion Thief
I’m surprised that Notion Thief is the most played multicolor human on EDHRec (besides the mana dorks), but it’s quite an annoying thing to do to someone! Blanking someone’s Sea Gate Restoration and then doing a junior impression of Narset, Parter of Veils as long as it lives is pretty wicked.
#1. Tymna the Weaver
Tymna the Weaver is the most played partner commander because there’s so much potential card advantage in low to the ground decks that can attack all around.
Best Human Payoffs
The best human payoffs are for humans tribal decks. A number of builds are competitive in Modern and Pioneer, but for EDH this gives me the chance to highlight some legendary human commanders that didn’t quite make the list. There are 5-color humans strategies, but so far these seem the most reliable EDH decks.
Kyler, Sigardian Emissary is the most popular humans commander, allowing humans (both token and not) to get buffed while Kyler grows tall. Alternative commanders in this Selesnya () space are Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, Sigarda, Champion of Light, and Torens, Fist of the Angels.
If you can get both these commanders on the table you can live the Orzhov () lifedrain dream while doing the Rakdos () sac stuff to fuel it. Trynn, Champion of Freedom doesn’t make enough tokens on its own to really fuel the engine, so you need to run fodder for Silvar, Devourer of the Free. An alternative commander in Mardu () colors that gives a go-wide option is Jirina Kudro.
This new Transformers card doesn’t have a lot of players yet, and it’s tricky to get the play patterns right for flipping Goldbug, Humanity's Ally to Goldbug, Scrappy Scout and back. This is going to be a powerful deck as people figure it out. The card draw and the ability to run blue humans is pretty sweet.
Is Human a Creature Type?
Yes, “human” is a creature type in Magic. Many humans didn’t have “human” as a subtype until the Grand Creature Type Update in 2007, though.
What Are the Best Human Token Generators?
The best human token generators allow for repeated token generation with minimal difficulty to meet the ability’s criteria to let it be used more than once a turn. That leaves off mass token madness like Increasing Devotion and Call the Coppercoats (which are both amazing) and constant token dribblers like Outlaws' Merriment.
Here are my top 10:
- Worthy Knight
- Cemetery Protector
- Docent of Perfection / Final Iteration
- General's Enforcer
- Maja, Bretagard Protector
- Siona, Captain of the Pyleas
- Ulvenwald Mysteries
- Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
- Hero of Precinct One
- Torens, Fist of the Angels
Who’s the Best Human Commander In EDH?
Kyler, Sigardian Emissary is the best human commander in EDH. It’s the most played and the most flexible, and it’s in the most supported humans color pair.
What Are the Best Humans For Pioneer Decks In Arena?
Humans show up for a number of different decks in the Explorer format (Arena’s close cousin to Pioneer). If one of these doesn’t fit your fancy there’s always blue tempo with Delver of Secrets!
Mono Red Aggro
There are many different versions of this deck, each with their own pet synergies. Some key humans for red aggressive decks are Robber of the Rich, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider.
Monastery Swiftspear goes temporarily tall while Young Pyromancer and Third Path Iconoclast go wide while casting spells. If the prowess element takes off I’m sure builds will also find uses for Soul-Scar Mage.
This build lost favor after The Brothers’ War, but key cards in this Collected Company deck are Dauntless Bodyguard, Thraben Inspector, Charming Prince, Thalia's Lieutenant, Extraction Specialist, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and the card that needs the blue pip for Bant (), Lagrella, the Magpie.
Perhaps these powerful cards will find a new addition to return to competitiveness. This can still win quickly and surprise an opponent with the blink subtheme.
Mono White Aggro/Humans
Simpler, faster, and easier to play, mono white humans can really compete. In addition to some of the key white cards already noted in Bant there’s also Recruitment Officer, Hopeful Initiate, Luminarch Aspirant, Brutal Cathar, and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar.
Urza, Lord High Artificer | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski
Humans are everywhere in Magic’s history, occupying all kinds of roles in the lore and in the game.
Now that we’ve explored the terrain, what do you think? Do we play humans because they’re actually good, or because they remind us just enough of home? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord. And there are 3,000 humans that didn’t make the list, so let me know which of your favorites I left off.
Later, fellow humans!
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