Last updated on December 10, 2023
Dockside Extortionist | Illustration by Lie Setiawan
Token generators in red are truly a treasure trove of some of the coolest token creatures in Magic: dragons. And we've got outlaws and pirates aplenty among those generators, on top of even more dragons. And goblins. I mean, we're in red; of course there are goblins. Goblin commanders, even.
And heap upon heap of treasure: red is the treasury-est color of them all, by ample margin.
So let's jump into this ranking of the best red token generator cards in Magic. As pirates say, the real treasure is the dragons and goblins we'll meet along the way!
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom | Illustration by Matt Stewart
Token generators are cards that create one or more tokens. The generated token doesn't need to match the generator's color(s). Plenty of red cards generate Treasures, which are colorless, and Ratcatcher Trainee creates black tokens.
There are more than three hundred token generators in red, and those tokens come in all shapes and sizes. A few add blood tokens to your board to allow rummaging. Wilds of Eldraine has a lot of token auras, called roles, like the one Monstrous Rage produce.
That being said, all the best red token generators can be roughly grouped into:
- Those that create Treasures,
- Those that create a copy of a creature you control, usually exiling or sacrificing it at the end of combat or end of turn,
- Those that spawn 1/1 creature tokens,
- Those that create some really big dragons.
That's not to say that other types of tokens don't have a role to play or are all bad, but the best of the best in red fall in one of these four categories.
Let’s start with a good representative of the generators of 1/1 creature tokens, Legion Warboss.
Very common in red EDH decks and capable of making some inroads in Legacy, Legion Warboss helps to widen your board the moment you play it, and then mentor and buff your weenies as soon as it can join the fray.
Next is a solid example of a spell that generates the most common type of tokens on this list: Treasures.
There’s better cards with nearly identical text, but Pirate's Pillage is good enough to make the cut. Any red deck that’s looking for a bit of mana fixing, some rummaging to find more cards, or some discard synergies will be happy to have this sorcery.
Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei makes for a somewhat lousy commander but an excellent member of your 99ers, and a great example of the token generators that can create big, mean creature token dragon that your opponents would rather not have to deal with.
By the way, since modified is a bit of a tricky keyword: creatures under your control that have counters (of any type), auras that you control, or equipment (regardless who controls said equipment) count as modified.
Unlike the previous three cards, which just cost a few cents, this dragon comes with a $13-$15 price tag – but if you expect your opponents to have a handful of artifacts (like a bunch of mana rocks), Cavern-Hoard Dragon is a huge monster that can hit the board early and give you a massive mana boost. If your dragon army needs a stand-in for Ancient Copper Dragon, consider having Cavern-Hoard Dragon around!
Technically speaking, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is indeed a red card if you go by its casting cost.
If you go by commander identity, though, it’s a 5-colored warrior, and if you have it in your deck you really want to trigger its 5-colored ability since it's one of the top choices for competitive EDH decks.
A legendary creature that you really don't want in your command zone but who shines among the rest of your crew, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs belongs to that pesky category of permanents that, like Rhystic Study or Smothering Tithe, grin at your foes and say, “Pay up… or else.”
Kazuul's ability triggers once for each creature that attacks you. If your foe hurls five creatures at you, they'll have to pay 15 mana if they want to avoid Kazuul creating tokens. And the spawned token(s) may block during that very same combat.
A great fit for creature-heavy typal decks but harder to remove than creatures since it's an enchantment, Molten Echoes keeps the attackers coming and is great in decks that have ways to sacrifice creatures.
By the way, just in case since copying and cloning are sometimes tricky effects: Any enter-the-battlefield effect triggers for the token copy, and Molten Echoes specifically provides haste, so the token won't have summoning sickness. The legend rule still affects the token, though: you can’t have two legendary permanents of the same name, so you’ll have to send one of them to the graveyard.
On the other hand, Jaxis's ability works at instant speed, so you can generate a blocker out of (nearly) thin air. And, of course, you get to draw a card after the token dies.
This Commander even creates the first three selfless volunteers, but you can sacrifice any goblin, not just the tokens.
(And, no, it can’t be your commander; Siege-Gang Commander is a non-commanding Commander. I mean, goblin chains of command are complicated, that's all I'm saying!)
If you want a token-focused commander that's also a dragon, Ganax, Astral Hunter could be a possibility, although it's a lot more popular as one of your 99ers. In the command zone, it tends to partner with Acolyte of Bahamut when leaning towards dragon typal synergies or Feywild Visitor if you're going all-in on tokens.
Feeling lucky? Delina, Wild Mage is here to dare you cast the die!
Delina's ability works when you attack with it, so you may want to have a Darksteel Plate lying around. Notice that unlike Jaxis, the Troublemaker, you can choose Delina as a target for its own ability. But, nope, you can't create infinite copies that easily: even though the Delina token is attacking, it was never declared as an attacking creature, and therefore the token won't trigger its abilities.
On the other hand, if you keep high-rolling the die, you can spawn a really wide board.
If you find Delina's approach of jumping into the fray a bit too wild, Dragonmaster Outcast can passively put some really big flying lizards in play – only lands are required. And, unlike tokens from Delina or Jaxis, the Troublemaker, these big lizards have no expiration date.
In Shiny Impetus‘s case, the token generation is just an incidental bonus, but rules are rules: this enchantment creates tokens, potentially several of them, and it's a flexible, useful aura (you can buff your own creature if you want, or goad an opponent's) so it makes the cut.
Ah, this is a fun one: A token that creates more tokens!
Thanks to its encore keyword, you can later put one token copy of Impulsive Pilferer attacking each opponent. The token copies again die soon (or automatically sacrifice themselves at the end of the turn), and leave even more Treasures behind.
If we go by token generation alone, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky is just decent for its cost, nothing amazing.
But by providing an elusive threat while it's on the board, and either ramp or refill once it's been dealt with, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky provides a flexible, powerful package that sees quite a bit of play in Standard (including a showing in the recent Magic World Championship at Las Vegas) and a lot of EDH play.
Twinflame can provide the effect in multiples if you're willing to pay a premium, although notice that you can't choose the same target more than once for a single Twinflame spell.
Lathliss, Dragon Queen gives you a mix between the best parts of Dragonmaster Outcast and Molten Echoes: a big, flying token lizard that won't disappear at the end of your turn, and you get one every time you play a dragon.
Lathliss isn’t too popular as a commander, but it’s amazing in dragon decks flying under Sarkhan, Soul Aflame or [/card]Ganax, Astral Hunter[/card]‘s banner.
One of the best dwarves in Magic, Magda, Brazen Outlaw is a very competitive red commander for Treasure-focused builds, can command a casual dragon army, and is very popular as 99er in all sorts of decks.
You do get one less Treasure, so as far as token generation goes Seize the Spoils isn’t exactly an unending fountain of riches. But the rummaging and hand smoothing with a token on top make this sorcery a great, flexible card.
And those tokens have haste, and you can create the first one on the same turn you play Loyal Apprentice, so who's bitterer now, eh?
If your deck is geared for the long game and needs a lot of Treasure tokens as its top end, Brass's Bounty is as straightforward as it gets. Very capable of ending the game alongside one of black's best token generators and payoffs, Revel in Riches.
Just in case: if you control multiple copies of Xorn, you'll create +1 Treasure per copy.
Ah, nothing like painting a target on your opponent's health total!
In multiplayer games, Curse of Opulence can (re)direct the table's attention to whoever you think needs to die first while giving yourself a bit of ramp. And it has a secondary use, regardless of format: You can enchant yourself with this curse, and you'll get a Treasure whenever another player attacks you.
Feldon of the Third Path is yet another card that provides a short-lived token copy, like Jaxis, the Troublemaker or Twinflame do, but with a necromantic twist: You copy a creature from your graveyard. Feldon pairs great with discard effects like Seize the Spoils, with discard commanders, or artifact-heavy decks (since the copy is an artifact).
Keep in mind that tokens enter the graveyard when they die (they just vanish right afterward), so their death triggers enter-the-graveyard effects.
A multi-format star, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is Jaxis, the Troublemaker on steroids: its activated ability costs no mana, and since it has haste it can create a token copy right after it enters the battlefield.
As with Jaxis, remember that you can activate Kiki-Jiki's ability during your opponents' turns, creating a token blocker on the fly.
A somewhat rare case of a red artifact, The Reaver Cleaver turns any creature into a must-block or must-answer threat – if left unchecked, it lets you ramp away with the game. And notice that, unlike most saboteur effects, The Reaver Cleaver works when damaging planeswalkers, not just players.
I mean, spellslinging with tokens on top – what's not to love? A staple of Izzet Phoenix decks in Pioneer and extremely popular in Commander, this kid is one of the best 2-drops in Magic.
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin is amazing when combined with equipment and buffs, but it’s efficient enough even if it dies early. And there's always more goblins, anyway!
Utvara Hellkite is a monster of a card, basically because its token generation ability has no drawbacks, conditionals, or additional costs. Every dragon, including Utvara and the tokens it creates, spawns another big, winged lizard when it attacks.
Unexpected Windfall has the exact same text as Pirate's Pillage, and has almost the same cost (4 total mana, but with two red pips rather than just one), but it's an instant rather than a sorcery. That’s enough to propel it to the top most popular token cards in Commander decks, and it’s sometimes seen in Pioneer decks.
And here’s Krenko again, moving up in the world!
Strong enough to see some play in Legacy and Arena's Historic, Krenko, Mob Boss is one of the best goblin commanders and among the most popular commanders overall. Krenko counts each goblin under your control, including Krenko itself (rather than only tallying Krenko's tokens), letting you amass a huge army if left unchecked.
This Elder Dragon is expensive. As in, second most expensive card in this ranking. It can drown you in (Magic) riches if it connects and you highroll – strictly speaking, it's the card that can generate the most Treasure tokens all by itself, without any buildaround. Ancient Copper Dragon just needs a hit and a bit of luck to give you all the mana you may need to win the game.
Easily one of the best red enchantments in MTG, a powerhouse in Pioneer that also sees some play in Modern and Legacy, and broken enough to warp the whole Standard format around it until it was banned, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker / Reflection of Kiki-Jiki is just plain busted.
By the way: notice that Reflection of Kiki-Jiki isn’t legendary. If you manage to put two copies in play, they can copy each other… and the copies, having haste, can copy each other… just saying!
Yet another busted lizard. Goldspan Dragon generates 2 mana whenever it's targeted, which comes in handy for when playing it on curve and needing a bit of juice to Counterspell some pesky removal. And if you target it with 1-mana spells, you’ll be literally printing mana into existence.
Here's today’s best-named card: Professional Face-Breaker indeed makes a profit for every time one of your creatures punches an opponent the face.
Then it can turn said profit into Magic's most valuable currency (more cards!), making it one of the best card draw effects in red.
“Hold my beer, kiddo. An' you may wanna step aside; this ol' Dwarf's gonna show ya how we blended spellslingin' and token-spammin' back in my days.”
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer makes a showing near the top, to no one’s surprise. An absolute house in Modern that sometimes shows up in Vintage and had to be banned in Legacy and Arena's Historic, Ragavan is MTG's lil' monkey pirate that really, really could.
Of course, it’s Dockside Extortionist.
It's all in little details: that final “s” in “opponents” means our Extortionist friend scales with the number of players at a table. And EDH players do love their early mana rocks and Rhystic Study shenanigans, letting Dockside Extortionist spawn a metric ton of Treasure every time it drops. Against artifact- and enchantment-heavy decks, Extortionist is the best ritual ever printed.
Just like there are many types of tokens, there are different types of payoffs.
Tokens can be their own reward. If your Dockside Extortionist is able to spawn seven Treasures early on, you can slam an Etali, Primal Conqueror way ahead of the curve. And if your Utvara Hellkite keeps churning 6/6 fliers every turn, you don't really need much else to kill your foes.
But there are indeed Treasure payoffs in the sense of “Let's turn these lil' artifacts into an alternative win condition.” The most straightforward is probably a card that’s also one of the best token generators in black: Revel in Riches. If you want to stay in red, Hellkite Tyrant is another great option (it counts all of your artifacts, not just Treasures), and if you'd like to pair with blue then you should look into Mechanized Production.
And then there’s aristocrat decks, which are all about sacrificing your own creatures. Red has a knack for generating creatures with a short lifespan that sacrifice themselves – truly a match made in sacrificial heaven. Several cards like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King or Mayhem Devil are happy if you sacrifice any permanent, therefore including Treasures.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer | Illustration by Simon Dominic
And that would conclude today's ranking of the best red token generators in Magic.
Tokens are a varied bunch, so the best token generator depends on what your deck wants to do – goblins and dragons may love Treasure, but even token-focused decks want one type of token more than others. If what you need is not on today's list, do rummage through Scryfall a bit to see if there's something else that is an ideal fit for you.
If you have any comments, feedback, or further questions about these red token generators, do stop by the Draftsim Discord for a chat.
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