Lure (Mercadian Masques) | Illustration by DiTerlizzi
Hello planeswalkers! Let me lure you into another wonderful article. It’s not a trap, I swear!
Today I’m looking at cards that lure your opponents into situations they don’t want to be in. You can often do the damage you need to be victorious if you can dictate how combat and blocks happen.
Let’s look at some of the questions you may have with the lure playstyle. Is lure a viable competitive strategy? Would adding lure cards into you builds make them better or just be curve and tempo busters? Time to go fishing!
What Is Lure in MTG?
Torchling | Illustration by rk post
Lure isn’t a printed keyword, but rather an idea or strategy. “Lure” is the informal name for cards that limits your opponent’s ability to choose how they block. The lure ability is used to force opponents to block small creatures while your big creatures do direct damage or force creatures to block a creature with a keyword like deathtouch.
This idea for cards has been around since the Alpha set, but it’s been greatly reduced over time. The lure strategy was supplanted by the fight ability.
What Cards Force an Opponent to Block?
There are a lot of styles of lure and forcing an opponent to block. The cards have some text like “all creatures able to block this turn do so,” “target creature must block this turn if able,” or “target creature must be blocked this turn.”
There’s also the provoke keyword. I’m focusing on what’s called lure and targeted lure, or cards that force all able creatures to block and cards that force target creature to block. I’ll leave the provoke keyword and “must be blocked” text aside to give them their own time to shine.
Lure Vs. Provoke
Lure and provoke can have a similar playstyle and are often confused for the same idea. For today I’m focusing on lure abilities that don’t require declaring attackers to force the blocking to happen. Creatures with provoke may untap a creature an opponent controls and force it to block once that creature has been declared to attack.
The lure abilities below limit an opponent’s choices for blocking rather than dictate exactly what blocking will happen.
Best White Lure Cards
#2. Nacatl Hunt-Pride
Nacatl Hunt-Pride is an expensive creature that may help you to control how combat plays out. The value of this card is its vigilance, letting it attack and then tap to alter blocks.
This may be a fun card to play with friends, but I don’t believe it has much value in more competitive matches.
#1. Rampant Elephant
Rampant Elephant isn’t a curve-efficient creature but may have some fun value to it. It plays the decoy for one green mana and takes the focus of a target creature. This can give you some freedom in attacking if you can limit the number of creatures your opponent has on the battlefield.
Keep reading and you may find better decoy options.
Best Blue Lure Cards
#3. Vortex Elemental
Vortex Elemental is a small creature that has a chance to have a continuous slowing effect on your opponent’s attacks. Just for sending an opponent’s creature to the top of their deck it only costs you one blue mana. If you need to target a creature to send to the top of a library, it costs you a lot more.
Vortex Elemental is too small and expensive to be useful in many decks.
#2. Courtly Provocateur
For a curve-friendly three mana, you can have a creature that can force your opponent to lose valuable creatures during combat. Courtly Provocateur can tap to force a creature to block or attack during combat.
The low power and toughness and slow play of this card makes it not so valuable in many high-powered decks.
#1. Timely Interference
Timely Interference is an Izzet ()-style card that can also remove a creature that your opponent wouldn’t normally use to block. If this card is kicked, a creature is forced to block and have slightly reduced power.
The value in this card comes from the storm possibility and cantrip.
Best Black Lure Card
Mortipede is a decent decoy for your big game-ending swings. The 4 power means you may be able to destroy a few creatures, but the 1 toughness makes it even more susceptible to removal.
Golgari () cards fit the lure playstyle well, and I’d consider Mortipede a decent example.
Best Red Lure Cards
#4. Talruum Piper
Talruum Piper comes from a different generation of cards. The mana value is too high for a 3/3 creature that can act as a decoy. It doesn’t have the speed, keywords, or strength to be a great card.
Nonetheless, this card can soak up blockers for your other attackers.
#3. Academic Dispute
Value can come from the multiple ways a card can help you. Academic Dispute can help you take out a pesky small creature your opponent has. You also can learn and grab a useful lesson from your sideboard.
The low mana value makes this a decent candidate for storm and aggro decks.
#2. Mark for Death
Mark for Death is a fun lure card. It allows you to choose a creature to block and stops all other creatures from blocking that turn. This isolation can help you remove a creature or just get past your opponent’s defenses on your way to victory.
With Torchling, keep your mana open and ready to change the combat. Without the activated abilities it’s just another Talruum Piper. But the abilities are what make this a legitimately valuable addition to some decks.
You can force creatures to block and adjust Torchling’s power and toughness as needed. Add a little more value with the ability to deflect targeting removal and being able to untap.
Best Green Lure Cards
#34. Maraleaf Rider
Food decks aren’t only fun, they can be quite powerful with cards like Feasting Troll King. Maraleaf Rider doesn’t quite measure up to the powerful Food-themed cards.
You can sacrifice a Food token to force a creature to block this card. The 3 power only removes smaller creatures, and you basically have to sacrifice Maraleaf Rider. Not worth it.
#33. Taunting Arbormage
Taunting Arbormage is a lure creature, but not an efficient one. With these “taunting” creatures it’s okay to have tiny and cheap creatures or spells lure the blockers.
Taunting Arbormage needs to be kicked at a total cost of six mana. It’s not worth the upside.
#32. Matsu-Tribe Decoy
Matsu-Tribe Decoy is a slightly different kind of lure card. You can force a creature to block and when this card deals damage to it, it doesn’t untap during your opponent’s next untap step. As far as the lure cards go, keeping a creature tapped doesn’t add much value to competitive decks.
#31. Trumpeting Armodon
The activated ability of Trumpeting Armodon gives it some interesting interactions. You can pay to force creatures to block this card. This may allow for multiple turn use if it isn’t killed. Then again, your opponent can block with multiple creatures if they choose.
There’s not much upside with this card.
#30. Feral Contest
Feral Contest is a great example of a great lure card in Limited that may not have enough power to be great in Constructed decks. The counter and forcing a creature to block gives a massive advantage in Limited play.
The mana value and lack of battlefield-wide upside make a card you’re most likely to pass over.
#29. Rimehorn Aurochs
Are you playing the vaunted aurochs tribal build yet? Probably not, and I wouldn’t blame you.
If you are, Rimehorn Aurochs can be a wonderful addition. It can force target blockers and get pumped by the number of attacking aurochs. Outside of this scenario, there are much better lure cards for your builds.
#28. Taunting Elf
Taunting Elf is your tiny martyr when used at the right time. This tiny creature won’t likely remove any creatures, but it can take all the blocks while your big creatures stomp over your opponent.
#27. Prized Unicorn
Prized Unicorn is an example of a lure card that’s probably better in Limited formats only. The cost and size of this creature just won’t cut it for most competitive decks.
I bet it was the reason for some Limited wins though.
#26. Elvish Bard
The stats of Elvish Bard don’t match up to the cost. The thought with this card is to maybe boost the toughness or power and be able to lure creatures to block for multiple turns.
#25. Nath’s Elite
Nath's Elite is a fun gamble with the clash ability. You can get a slightly bigger creature if your top card has a higher cost than your opponent’s top card. The cost and lack of versatility of this card limit its playability in most decks.
#24. Lurking Arynx
Lurking Arynx is a big enough creature to force creatures to block with great effects. If you can satisfy the formidable requirements, three mana can allow you to remove a creature by forcing them to block.
The mana value is a little expensive, but the stats and lure ability can be a way to remove creatures.
#23. Peema Aether-Seer
Energy counters are often an effective way to activate abilities as long as you can keep growing the counters. Peema Aether-Seer gives a chance for a number amount of energy counters which you can use to force target creature to block.
This is an okay card for a deck that focuses on energy counters.
#22. Shinen of Life’s Roar
Shinen of Life's Roar is a cheap lure that has a channel ability to force another creature to be blocked by all your opponent’s creatures that can. The flexibility with which creatures can have lure is intriguing, but I don’t see this card getting too much play in many formats.
#21. Turntimber Basilisk
Turntimber Basilisk can force a creature to block its deathtouch trap whenever you play a land. The landfall ability allows you to lure target creature to its death.
If you can increase the toughness of Turntimber Basilisk, you have a chance to remove multiple creatures with multiple land plays.
#20. Tangle Angler
Tangle Angler allows you to target and remove smaller creatures or slowly give -1/-1 counters to larger creatures with infect. Unless of course you pump Tangle Angler.
This card could have some valuable removal abilities, but I believe it plays too slow and clunky to be a rockstar card.
Bloodscent is a 4-mana instant spell that lures all your opponent’s creatures to block one of your creatures. There are more lure spells and creatures on this list will give you the same effect at a cheaper cost.
#18. Taunting Challenge
Taunting Challenge is a great example of the lure play style. Make a sacrificeable creature force all your opponent’s creatures to block while you charge in with the rest of your creatures.
Unfortunately, the cost and legality of this card make it easy to pass over.
#17. Alluring Scent
Alluring Scent works and costs the same as Taunting Challenge with the exception that this card is also legal in the Pauper and Penny formats.
#16. Noble Quarry
Having the ability to channel blockers to a single creature more than once greatly increases your odds of having the strategy payoff. The bestow cost of Noble Quarry most likely nullifies any benefits it has from giving you two possible lure creatures, though.
Lure is the card that gave this playstyle its name. You can enchant a creature and force your opponent to funnel their blocks to one creature.
It’s a straightforward card with a name that describes and fits its strategy.
#14. Seton’s Desire
Seton's Desire is an enchantment that has the possibility of turning a creature into a lure-style creature. The +2/+2 is nice, and of course one creature taking all the blocks may be a win-con for you.
As far as 3-mana enchantments go, you’ll probably find yourself playing different ones like Fight Rigging more often than not.
#13. Hunt Down
Hunt Down is a cheap spell that forces a creature to block a creature you want them to. The inexpensive cost makes this a decent card for prowess-type and storm decks.
I choose not to include the creatures with provoke, but let’s look at the card named Provoke. It acts similarly to the keyword on creatures in choosing an unlucky creature to block one of your creatures.
The cantrip and low cost add some benefits for your consideration.
#11. Monstrous Step
Monstrous Step is the biggest pump of the lure spells here. You can remove a creature and blocking threat while keeping your attacking creature alive.
The massive pump and cycling ability adds value to this card.
#10. Tower Above
Tower Above is an interesting card to remove indestructible creatures. This spell becomes cost-effective to get a massive creature with wither and trample for decks with green. Wither is a nice way to get around indestructible.
#9. Declare Dominance
Declare Dominance is a solid sorcery to pump a creature and lure all your opponent’s creatures to block it. The size of the pump is great, and freeing up your other attackers is also great.
Its susceptibility to removal and what you have to pay for it limit this card’s upside.
#8. Golgari Decoy
Golgari Decoy isn’t a cost-effective lure card. The upside is the scavenge ability that allows you to pass on some counters from the graveyard.
The mana value and scavenge cost make this card too expensive to fit into a curve well.
#7. Tempting Licid
Tempting Licid is an interesting lure card for players who know how to deal with timing. You may turn it into an enchantment, attach it to a creature, and that creature must be blocked by every able creature.
You can also remove the enchantment for one mana once blockers have been declared to save it from going to the graveyard.
#6. Roar of Challenge
Any lure card that gives indestructible is going to be valuable. With Roar of Challenge, you get the desired decoy effect. If you control a creature with power four or more your decoy also won’t die.
Roar of Challenge is a great addition if controlling combat and blockers is your strategy.
#5. Treeshaker Chimera
The seven mana value of Treeshaker Chimera keeps it out of many decks, but I believe it has its value in decks that can reliably pump their mana. You can remove lots of creatures with a power of 8, and drawing three cards can be a massive late-game advantage.
#4. Revenge of the Hunted
The miracle keyword was a fun mechanic that can spice up a game. If you can draw this card during your draw step, you have a chance to make a huge lure creature with trample for only one mana.
This can have wild payoffs, but the miracle ability is more of a gamble than many players like to take.
#3. Nessian Boar
Let’s get the big boy rolling! Nessian Boar is a massive creature for only five mana. This card takes the attention of all your opponent’s blockers and unfortunately draws your opponent some cards for every blocker.
The value is removing many of your opponent’s creatures, and hopefully the extra draws they get don’t give them an advantage.
#2. Stone-Tongue Basilisk
Stone-Tongue Basilisk is the kind of lure card you’re looking for. How can you take away all your opponent’s blockers and destroy as many creatures as possible? If you can satisfy the threshold requirement of seven cards in your graveyard, you have a deadly and luring creature on your hands.
#1. You Look Upon the Tarrasque
Now this is a lure card! You Look Upon the Tarrasque gives you options for how you want to change combat. You can prevent damage or make a massive indestructible creature that your opponent has to block.
The indestructible makes this a fantastic lure card, but be aware of the slightly steep five mana value for your Eternal decks.
Best Multicolored Lure Cards
#10. Giant Ambush Beetle
Giant Ambush Beetle is a single-turn lure creature that may force target creature to block it the turn it ETBs. This is a nice way to hopefully get around removal if you can time it right with your opponent’s mana tapped.
This beetle is big enough to take out many creatures, and hopefully it survives to provide you with a big body.
#9. Burning-Tree Bloodscale
Burning-Tree Bloodscale is a Gruul () strategy creature that can make creatures block or not be able to block. You can lure a creature to block or have Burning-Tree Bloodscale attack block-free if you have the mana.
The heavy mana requirement makes this a non-playable card in most decks.
#8. Fighter Class
The Class enchantments can be a great addition to many decks. I feel that Fighter Class plays a little too slow and clunky to be great. The final level allows you to have attacking creatures basically pick at least one of their blockers.
#7. Destined // Lead
With Destined // Lead you have the option to cast each spell individually or together. The indestructible and lure abilities together are great, but for six mana it’s cost-ineffective.
I love having options, but the cost to achieve that greatest value may be too high here.
#6. Shessra, Death’s Whisper
Shessra, Death's Whisper has a ton of text and two abilities that can work in tandem. You can lure a creature and pay some life to draw a card. The Alchemy version of this card may actually be playable because of the increase in stats and lower cost.
Overall, neither of Shessra, Death's Whisper will probably make your builds.
#5. Ochran Assassin
Ochran Assassin is a wonderful example of a lure creature. You soak up all the blockers onto one creature, and the deathtouch keyword makes this a deadly trap. You can remove multiple creatures and have free attackers if you can increase the Assassin’s power.
#4. Gift of the Deity
Gift of the Deity is a great enchantment for Golgari decks. If you attach this enchantment to a green and black creature, it gets pumped twice, gains deathtouch, and forces all creatures to block it that can.
This is a great way to free attackers and remove creatures for Golgari builds.
#3. Indrik Umbra
Indrik Umbra is one of the only cards on this list that also gives your lure creature first strike. The first strike and massive pump acts as a big removal for you.
The six mana value is a tough ask sometimes, but the value and totem armor mechanic makes it a viable card for many decks.
#2. Armed // Dangerous
I just talked about first strike with Indrik Umbra, so why not give your lure creatures double strike? This has a similar upside and cost as Destined // Lead, but with a greater punch to it. The individual halves are great and give you big value when you fuse them.
#1. Sisters of Stone Death
Sisters of Stone Death has a progression of activated abilities to end up stealing creatures. The progression of the abilities is amazing, so the cost of this card has been set at eight.
If you can get this card on the battlefield and attacking, you’ll soon remove cards and take them for your army.
Best Colorless Lure Cards
#4. Marble Priest
Need to get around walls? If so, Marble Priest is your card! This card soaks up all the wall blockers for your attacking creatures.
I don’t see the value of this card being very high since walls have become less popular and common in decks.
#3. Auriok Siege Sled
Auriok Siege Sled is a lure creature for artifact creatures. It can force target artifact creature to block or not be able to block this card.
I don’t see this card making it into many decks with a cost of six and a narrow number of possible targets.
#2. Nemesis Mask
A lot of lure creatures soak up blocks and make a grand sacrifice. Nemesis Mask, when equipped, turns a creature into a lure creature. Since equipment doesn’t leave the battlefield when its wearer dies, you may be able to force blockers each turn.
This card can have some great value for aggressive equipment decks.
#1. Breaker of Armies
A lure creature that can force blockers and survive has a good amount of value. Breaker of Armies can do just that. With the massive stats of 10/8, it can have a great removal effect and possibly survive for multiple turns.
Breaker of Armies has a high cost, but you probably have ways to ramp your mana if you’re playing Eldrazi.
Best Lure Card Payoffs
The lure strategy is all about forcing opponents to block creatures they may not want to, allowing you to attack freely with other creatures.
Force creatures to block your puny creatures while Nova Chaser and Ghalta, Primal Hunger crush your opponent.
Benefit from luring blockers by using permanents like Cazur, Ruthless Stalker, Lathril, Blade of the Elves, and Vorpal Sword.
If you’re going to lure blockers, why not be able to regenerate the luring creature? Cards like Cudgel Troll and Carapace can help maximize your lure strategy.
You can turn your luring creatures into mass removal with cards like Engulfing Slagwurm, Sylvan Basilisk, and Grave Titan.
If you’re going to attack widely and soak up blockers into one creature, a great strategy is to pump all your creatures. You can use cards like Overwhelming Stampede and Craterhoof Behemoth.
Lure spells and strategies usually require a ton of mana, so make sure to include mana ramp like Sakura-Tribe Elder and Golgari Signet as well as draw ramp like Read the Bones and Toski, Bearer of Secrets.
For the Oathbreaker format and Commander decks, Sisters of Stone Death, Glissa, the Traitor, and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa can benefit from a lure strategy.
Sisters of Stone Death | Illustration by Donata Giancola
The lure ability has been around since the beginning of MTG and continues to pop up in newer sets. The benefits are clear for playing a lure strategy, and I hope the rankings above allow you to maximize the benefits for your builds. If you’re an attacking kind of player, soak up the blockers with a single creature and swing hard.
Hopefully I’ve lured you in and you’re now ready to lure in your next victim. What’s your favorite lure card? How do you feel about my rankings? Let me know in the comments below, or find us over on Twitter.
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