Last updated on November 30, 2023
Kalastria Healer | Illustration by Anthony Palumbo
As any good baseball fan knows, it’s a game of rallies. Sure, there’s home runs, but those home runs have more impact when there’s someone on base to bring in. Failing the longball, walks, singles, and doubles can do the trick if sequenced properly.
But just like ball players rally for a big inning, aggressive Magic players like to rally for that big play that turns the game in their favor. And why not start a rally with rally abilities? That’s why today, I’ve got 38 creatures with rally and rally-like abilities for your consideration.
Gather your allies and get ready to swing big!
Tajuru Beastmaster | Illustration by Greg Opalinski
Rally is a creature ability that comes to us from 2015’s Battle for Zendikar. It’s an ability that’s specific to ally creatures and cares about allies, so it’s very thematically cohesive. Rally is an ability word, and the first part of the rules text always reads, “Whenever CARD or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control,” followed by the creature’s specific ability.
The original Zendikar block (Zendikar, Worldwake, and Rise of the Eldrazi) also had allies with similarly-worded abilities, though they didn’t have the rally ability word at the time. They’re included here, though, because I’m a completionist at heart. Archon of Redemption follows the same template, but it cares about fliers so it’s left out.
Rally hasn’t returned since Battle for Zendikar, and it probably won’t return until another set that has a focus on the ally creature type. The last time we went to this plane in Zendikar Rising, we got party mechanics, so it’ll be interesting to see if and how rally makes a comeback.
Rally is also a little like alliance, the Cabaretti () mechanic from Streets of New Capenna. Although, alliance doesn’t trigger when the creature itself enters the battlefield and isn’t restricted to allies.
Grovetender Druids is probably the most limited among rally creatures. Unless you just want one Plant token, you need a bunch of allies to make this good. It doesn’t just give you the token either: You have to pay for it!
Tajuru Beastmaster gives your whole board +1/+1 with its rally ability. It’s appreciated, but there’s so much better out there.
Look: I’m not here to waste your time. Do you really want me to weigh the nuance of this creature with a rally ability that gives itself a counter over that one? The thing is, there are creatures with rally abilities that are the “yes, and” version of Bojuka Brigand and friends: They gain the counter and do something else. The Zendikar block, pre-rally abilities are also on older cards with less efficient curves, so overall this cluster’s more of a dust collector.
Oh green, and its obsession with reaching those fliers…. Personally, I’d pass on Tajuru Archer.
Kazandu Blademaster gets the edge over the other allies that grow with counters because it has its own first strike and vigilance; it doesn’t need something else’s rally trigger to be more intimidating on its own.
What’s better than a 6-mana creature with a +1/+1 rally ability that hits all your creatures? A 5-mana creature that gives your creatures +2/+2! Tajuru Warcaller is cheaper than Tajuru Beastmaster and gives you a bigger buff, so it’s far better among rally creatures.
As an ally that lets you periodically look at your opponents’ hands, Bala Ged Thief is certainly unique.
Battle for Zendikar improved on its Zendikar block inspiration by making Kor Bladewhirl and Makindi Patrol cheaper than the previous ability-givers. Firemantle Mage’s menace is probably the best among this group.
Here’s something novel: two rally abilities in one. Talus Paladin grows with counters and gives your allies lifelink with its rally-like ability, which makes it just that much better. But it’s also 1 mana more than Lantern Scout, and it might feel redundant to run both. Choices.
The thing with rally in general is that if you’re running a bunch of allies, it shouldn’t be hard for your attacking creatures to always have some combination of buffs and abilities. Ondu Champion contributes trample, which is just stompy goodness. And it’s a minotaur, too!
Ha. Haha. A “Halimar Excavator” that “digs” through your opponents’ libraries. It hurts to laugh.
If you’re going to build a deck focused on rally, Munda, Ambush Leader could be your commander. But I’d probably go with General Tazri to access all colors of the rally rainbow. On its own, Munda’s ability lets you filter your draws for allies.
Lantern Scout can light the way to victory by giving your creatures lifelink when it and your other allies enter the battlefield. With all the lifegain possibilities with rally abilities, opponents have to run out of removal sometime.
“Each” is the most musical word to an aggro player’s ears. Kazuul Warlord’s rally-like ability grants +1/+1 counters to each of your allies, which is just so harmonious, isn’t it?
Draining your opponents’ life by the number of allies you have can be a huge play in a dedicated deck. Hagra Diabolist doesn’t need that home, though. My “when you lose, I gain; when I gain, you lose” combo doesn’t really care what kicks it off, even if it’s just one ally and its ETB.
Indestructible is the ultimate form of protection, though it’s not infallible (nothing can be). Hero of Goma Fada is the best among defensive rally ability-givers, although there’s an offensive ability you’ll probably want to throw around even more.
What was that I said about lifegain/lifedrain combos? Kalastria Healer’s rally ability does both. And it has both vampire and cleric creature types to be in consideration for a 2-drop slot in those decks.
Tuktuk Scrapper has a rally ability that lets you destroy artifacts and deal damage to their controller. Apart from rally decks, this goblin isn’t the worst consideration if your commander gives your creatures myriad (Duke Ulder Ravengard) or otherwise copies them.
General Tazri is probably the best commander for a rally and ally-centric build. Its ETB lets you tutor an ally to your hand, while its activated ability gives your allies +X/+X based on the colors you have on board. And with Tazri, you can play all five!
Otherwise, 5-color commanders that let you choose a creature type are an option for rally creatures. Hello, Morophon, the Boundless and Rukarumel, Biologist. But at the end of the day, you probably still want General Tazri.
Failing that, Tazri, Beacon of Unity from Zendikar Rising plays with the party mechanic, and ally is one of the creature types that matters here. It’s another possible home for some of your better rally allies.
You can also play rally allies with other allies-matter cards. Sea Gate Loremaster taps to draw you cards. Vastwood Animist can give you land animation with power and toughness based on the number of allies you have. And Harabaz Druid taps to add mono-color mana in an amount that matches your ally count.
And of course, ability doublers like Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines are a powerful way to take advantage of your rally triggers.
Resolute Blademaster | Illustration by Joseph Meehan
And with that, we’ve come to the end of our look at rally! As a Zendikar and ally-specific ability so far, I’m really curious to see if and how Magic’s designers will bring it back. They’ve already explored similar design space with alliance, so it’s possible that we’ll see more rally clones than actual rally cards.
What do you think of rally? Do you think we’ll see it again, or are more clones like alliance the way to go? Let me know in the comments, or come join the discussion on Discord.
And don’t forget: Even at 1 life, you can still rally for a win!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: