Last updated on March 13, 2024

Mentor of the Meek - Illustration by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss

Mentor of the Meek | Illustration by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss

The Brothers’ War short stories flipped the focus of Magic’s main stories. The focus of the stories fell on the lives of civilians and common soldiers instead of on the grand acts of mighty characters. And it’s soldiers that I’m here to talk about today.

There are more than 900 cards with the soldier creature type. They’re one of the most common and universal types and have shown up in almost every Magic set and plane. But I’m here to select the best ones. Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents show

What Are Soldiers in MTG?

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Soldier is a creature class used to depict trained, disciplined characters that are usually part of a formal army. Soldiers don’t really have any shared mechanics or characteristics that unify them besides their creature type, but a lot of them usually have abilities that reflect either combat prowess (like first strike or vigilance) or strategic abilities (with Propaganda-like abilities and other ways to have more control over combat).

Soldier is an almost quintessentially white creature type. They focus on combat and strength in numbers. They’re predominantly in white followed by red then blue. There are also a few green and black soldiers, and on their side of the color wheel, but then they lean more into the warrior type. The soldier creature type first appeared in Fallen Empires, but cards as early as Alpha have been retroactively given the type.

It’s also worth noting that Soldiers are the second most common type of token with more than 150 cards that produce them. This is pretty flavorful since it makes it relatively easy to build massive armies of soldiers.

Honorable Mentions

Diregraf Captain + Drogskol Captain + Stromkirk Captain

I’m placing Diregraf Captain, Drogskol Captain, and Stromkirk Captain together since they share very similar effects. They each act as lords for their respective tribes. They also have abilities focused on the way those tribes play.

Zombies tend to die a lot. Spirits are in Azorius () colors which usually allows for greater and better protection for your creatures. Vampires, especially their Innistrad version, play very aggressively and combat-oriented.

#57. Thraben Inspector + Novice Inspector

Thraben Inspector Novice Inspector

Thraben Inspector and Novice Inspector aren’t the strongest soldiers out there, but they are a decent way to go for card advantage in white thanks to their ETB effect.

But the honest truth is that this is basically an honorable mention because I laugh every time I look at the Thraben Inspector‘s face. But I promise it’s still a good enough card.

#56. Craig Boone, Novac Guard

Craig Boone, Novac Guard
Craig Boone, Novac Guard puts opponents in tough spots deciding between damage to the face or keeping a creature. Normally giving your opponent options is not good, but having them decide between two bad options is another story. I get really excited to increase the quest counters on Craig Boone, and really enjoy that the triggered ability can remove blockers before they actually block a creature. The combination of reach and lifelink is inherent on a few creatures, and I'm happy this Fallout commander brought it back.

#55. Harbin, Vanguard Aviator

Harbin, Vanguard Aviator
Harbin, Vanguard Aviator is a strange sort of win condition that soldier decks had been missing before The Brothers' War. Soldiers often dominate a ground game, then Harbin lets you count up your lethal damage and overwhelm an opponent that might have a few fliers, or even one big one, but it's rarely enough to defend against a pumped battalion flying at them.

What keeps this card from ranking better is the number of creatures needed, because by the third or fourth soldier, most opponents figure out an answer to your soldiers and make it difficult to trigger Harbin.

#54. Conclave Sledge-Captain

Conclave Sledge-Captain
Conclave Sledge-Captain is an example of one of those cards with abilities that perfectly complement each other. Whether this captain provides backup for one, two, or three other creatures is really good because when combined with trample you're much more likely to deal combat damage to an opponent. It feels like a flavorful and full-bodied Storm the Seedcore, and an excellent late game play that aggro decks love having access to.

#53. Caesar, Legion's Emperor

Caesar, Legion's Emperor
Caesar, Legion's Emperor probably deserves a better ranking, but one thing that solider decks tend not to do is sacrifice their own permanents. Even though the first two options essentially get you a creature back, the sacrifice can be a hard cost to meet. Being Mardu does open up some sacrifice payoffs so it is very possible to turn the drawback into an advantage and make Caesar more of a win-win situation as long as it is not tortoise-ing up and playing defense.

#52. Coppercoat Vanguard

Coppercoat Vanguard
Yes, the Coppercoat Vanguard is a soldier that boosts humans. There is enough overlap between soldiers and humans, so aside from decks that focus on non-human soldiers like kor, kithkin and cats, the Coppercoat is a good addition.

The ward is a big difference maker between Coppercoat Vanguard and Veteran Swordsmith. Being non legendary is great outside of Commander because multiples of this 2-drop add up well.

#51. Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon

Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon
Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon is a powerful token generator that happens to be a soldier. The whole tapped and attacking bit for the tokens is really great though since virtually every soldier deck is aggressive. Ideally getting soldier tokens is great, but, gnome tokens are still plenty good.

#50. Captain of the Watch

Captain of the Watch

Captain of the Watch has a pretty high mana cost for a 3/3 body, but it makes up for it with its lord effect and the fact that it also brings three soldiers along with it. It’s a very tribal card but one that can easily create an advantage with the right field.

#49. Darien, King of Kjeldor

Darien, King of Kjeldor

Darien, King of Kjeldor is a great way to keep your opponents from attacking you. This card fits right into any pillow fort deck and shines brighter if you have decent ways to recover the life you may lose to create those soldiers.

#48. Aegis of the Gods

Aegis of the Gods

I remember a lot of players being heads over heels for Aegis of the Gods when it first came out. Having hexproof can make things like discard and mill decks completely useless.

The Aegis did fall behind a bit since a ton of cards that would’ve made you target an opponent now have more global effects thanks to Commander and other multiplayer formats. It’s still a greatly useful card against a lot of annoying effects, though.

#47. Selfless Squire

Selfless Squire

Another great card for pillow fort decks, a Selfless Squire played at the right time can come onto the battlefield as a massive creature for only four mana. It’ll probably come in as something reasonable but not too broken, but you can have it grow consistently and build it into a decent threat if you have a good pillow fort deck that regularly prevents damage.

#46. Nykthos Paragon

Nykthos Paragon

Getting some extra advantages when you gain life is a very common theme for white cards and decks. Nykthos Paragon makes your creatures grow every time you gain life.

The only drawback is that this can only trigger once per turn, but that still leaves you with a pretty powerful card.

#45. Prava of the Steel Legion

Prava of the Steel Legion

Prava of the Steel Legion is a great commander for token-focused decks and it has a lot of extra flexibility thanks to its partner ability. And Soldiers are among the most common token creatures so Prava can easily be considered a plain good soldier commander.

#44. Gideons

This is actually a bit of a double cheat. First of all, Gideons are technically not a soldier all of the time, but they can turn into one thanks to one of their positive or neutral loyalty abilities. This is really an entry for every Gideon planeswalker since all of them have a way to turn into soldiers that are indestructible or prevent damage to them.

#43. Baird, Steward of Argive

Baird, Steward of Argive Baird, Argivian Recruiter

Baird, Steward of Argive is another great card for any pillow fort-type deck. Its Propaganda-style ability makes it a great way to prevent opponents from swinging with too many creatures. And in the case they choose to do so anyway, they’ll be punished reasonably enough for it.

I’d also like to give an honorable mention to Baird, Argivian Recruiter since it has a fun and interesting ability that makes it a great addition to soldier tribal and Soldier token decks.

#42. Leonin Warleader

Leonin Warleader

I’d honestly add Leonin Warleader in any EDH deck that plays white and can run it. This card is a pure advantage without feeling too unbalanced. Add to that some way to protect it during combat and you’re left with a consistent way to refill your battlefield while gaining life and putting pressure on your opponents.

#41. Ajani’s Pridemate

Ajani's Pridemate

Do any of you remember the meta of Standard when Ajani's Pridemate was still in rotation a couple of years ago? This card is obviously not that strong in EDH or Modern, but it’s still a pretty strong card in any deck with consistent lifegain.

#40. Ajani’s Chosen

Ajani's Chosen

Ajani’s friends really made a place for themselves on this list.

Ajani's Chosen turns away from the lifegain strategies usually associated with the leonin planeswalker and has a stronger focus on enchantments. Getting a 2/2 creature every time you play an enchantment can create an overwhelming board state absurdly quick.

#39. Abzan Falconer

Abzan Falconer

+1/+1 counters are a really fun strategy in EDH thanks to the great support they’ve gotten throughout the years. Abzan Falconer can be an incredible card in one of those decks. Not only do your creatures grow thanks to your deck’s strategy, but they also gain a massively useful evasion effect.

#38. Leonin Shikari

Leonin Shikari Kor Outfitter

Leonin Shikari provides a decent amount of protection for your creatures with a Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, or Champion's Helm. It may be less flashy than some of the other cards, but its ability makes it a wonderful addition in any deck that plays a significant amount of equipment.

If you have a way to blink Kor Outfitter you can move equipment around at instant speed without paying the equip cost.

#37. Danny Pink + Dusk Legion Duelist 

Danny Pink Dusk Legion Duelist

A mentor among doctors, Danny Pink is a good card draw engine for soldiers. What floors me is any turn's first counter triggers the card draw, whether it is a -1/-1 counter, shield counter, or the given mentor ability. Danny's got you covered. The Dusk Legion Duelist is good, don't get me wrong, but needing another card in order to get +1/+1 counters and only that type of counter is limiting. Both are more than worth their weight in cards with just two activations, so they should be valued highly, and make sure you have multiple ways to trigger them.

#36. Valiant Veteran + Yotian Tactician

Valiant Veteran Yotian Tactician

I save a slot in this ranking by adding Yotian Tactician, and ask, would you pay for 1/2? That is like Storm Crow without flying, and while a very good effect, for four mana, soldier decks need only look further down this list for much stronger options.

Valiant Veteran puts things in order for your soldier deck. It doesn't get much more streamlined and efficient than this. Though you hope the need never arises to exile Valiant Veteran, it can be very relevant if you do.

The Veteran underscores how strong soldiers are at low casting costs in such decks. You get so much for that you realize why white ramp and card draw are so rare.

#35. Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier
Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier is a card I really want to like more because the triggered ability lends itself to more varied game play than the typical Boros plan of attack with a plan B of more attacking. Needing to pay two mana is significant, so if you can play the Eternal Soldier alongside Duke Ulder Ravengard, Soulbright Flamekin, or Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice you can do some tricky things.

#34. Champion of the Parish

Champion of the Parish

Champion of the Parish has pretty much been a staple of human tribal decks since the very moment it was released. Human tokens are some of the most common around so it’s particularly easy to have this creature grow into a massive size really quickly.

#33. Thalia’s Lieutenant

Thalia's Lieutenant

So apparently WotC thought that Champion of the Parish wasn’t a good enough card, so they decided to double down on the design with Thalia's Lieutenant. Aside from growing whenever another human enters the battlefield under your control, it also grows your other humans when it enters the battlefield.

#32. Aradesh, the Founder

Aradesh, the Founder
Aradesh, the Founder makes for a really strong attacker with very little help. There are not too many creatures with enlist, and they generally are not amazing, however with Aradesh on the field, those that can enlist creatures actually increase the power on your side of the table and draw additional cards quite well.

The real deal is when you get Aradesh, the Founder in with some big green creatures, then you find some great hires.

#31. Pippin, Guard of the Citadel

Pippin, Guard of the Citadel
When you play against a Pippin, Guard of the Citadel, it's pretty easy to see how this is annoying to play against. They can always get at least one creature through combat untouched, your utility lands become less useful, and your favorite instants can be considered “answered”.

Most removal aimed at Pippen is a mana disadvantage thanks to ward. Probably the biggest downside in comparison to Mother of Runes is that the card cannot target itself, otherwise, I'd say it's mostly upside compared to one of Magic's most famous moms.

#30. Recruitment Officer

Recruitment Officer
The Recruitment Officer has a home in many soldier decks due to its value as an early threat, cheap cost, and usefulness in the late game. The activated ability consistently reads as “draw a card” and the cost puts it right up there with the high end of my curve in my decks when I often can play the revealed creature right away. Pretty good for a 1-drop if you ask me.

#29. Hanweir Garrison

Hanweir Garrison is a pretty decent card by itself thanks to creating tokens every time it attacks. This can make this card pretty useful with some decent protection.

But it shines even brighter when you’re able to meld it with Hanweir Battlements and you get Hanweir, the Writhing Township to create two Eldrazi tokens whenever you attack.

#28. Legion Loyalist

Legion Loyalist

Battalion was a really fun mechanic in its time during Gatecrash‘s Standard. It rewarded a hyper-aggressive outlook for Boros decks by inviting you to attack with tons of creatures.

Legion Loyalist can absolutely change the result of a combat thanks to its battalion ability.

#27. Legion Warboss

Legion Warboss

Soldiers and goblins are two creature types that actually share a ton of similarities in how they play. They both value aggressive strategies, large numbers of creatures, and tokens.

Legion Warboss perfectly represents these two types by creating Goblin tokens and forcing them to attack while also having mentor.

#26. Aragorn, Hornburg Hero

Aragorn, Hornburg Hero
Aragorn, Hornburg Hero leads your fellowship of attackers in a way that protects them with first strike. Then it rewards you for hitting home on your attacks. There are less than a dozen creatures in Magic with renown so most creatures will need to deal combat damage twice to get the doubling effect. Plan to add as many +1/+1 counters as you can before your attack to maximize the counter doubling effect. An exciting card from a The Lord of the Rings scene box that makes for some aggressive combat steps.

#25. Byrke, Long Ear of the Law

Byrke, Long Ear of the Law

Bloomburrow‘s starter kit features Byrke, Long Ear of the Law which is a high cost at six mana, but the power is good, and the attack trigger makes your creatures tall in a hurry.

Putting a +1/+1 counter and doubling them sounds a lot like Invigorating Surge, so getting two or more of those each turn creates some big problems for your opponent. Look for cards that distribute +1/+1 counters and you'll have a full warren in no time.

#24. Boromir, Warden of the Tower

Boromir, Warden of the Tower
Boromir, Warden of the Tower is Boromir at its best, protecting others, and being an upstanding, though flawed human soldier.

Where Boromir strays from The Lord of the Rings storyline is going infinite with Ratadrabik of Urborg for death triggers and ETB triggers. To pull this off you must remember to select the Boromir token to be the ring-bearer to make it legendary, and you're golden.

#23. Siege Veteran

Siege Veteran
The Siege Veteran is a comforting presence among soldier decks that often stare down a board wipe on the stack. The veteran is one of the best assurances that removal won't completely take away your options.

The power to mana ratio goes from great to gigantic the longer you can lay siege to an opponent.

#22. Commander Mustard

Commander Mustard

The Ravnica: Clue Edition calls forth the suspect, Commander Mustard for granting three good combat abilities to soldiers. For you can burn an opponent down before blockers have a chance.

Cards that offer multiple abilities to multiple creatures or tokens often become super strong, and though not quite as strong as double strike or lifelink, being able to attack and block, push damage through chump blocks and attack right away with haste are how your soldiers go from being new recruits into well-trained soldiers. I'm excited to go into combat behind Commander Mustard.

#21. Preeminent Captain

Preeminent Captain

The free attacker from your hand, ninjutsu-like ability on Preeminent Captain is so busted (remember Captain of the Watch?) since it disregards white's desperate need for ramp. First strike really gives it a chance to attack safely, so there's no denying that this effect is powerful. Cheat a creature into play and give haste to the likes of Sanctuary Warden, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Commissar Severina Raine seems really good.

#20. Field Marshal

Field Marshal

Hot take: first strike is better for blocking than attacking. On the attack, your opponent chooses which creatures and how many will block. While on defense you can gather all your first strike defenders to contain all your power into the first strike damage step and likely come away with minimal casualties. Few abilities matter in multiples like first strike, and the anthem power and toughness boost provided by Field Marshal are not to be underestimated.

#19. Daru Warchief

Daru Warchief

Of all the warchiefs of Scourge, I think the Daru soldiers (and maybe Undead Warchief) wear it best. Daru Warchief first earned victories in the days when Holy Strength was a whole card in some decks, and this soldier lord just hands them out as soon as soldiers suit up.

An easily forgotten way to ramp is to reduce the cost of certain spells, and it usually ends up better since you can benefit from the cost reduction multiple times compared to a permanent that can tap once to provide mana.

#18. Firemane Commando

Firemane Commando

Firemane Commando says yes to practical and accessible card draw in white. The odd goad-like ability is neat and helpful, but the main part is being able to access reliable card draw that does not cost mana.

Cards that put in attacking tokens become card draw enablers, so the Commando does great work with many soldiers and non-soldiers that might already be worth putting in the same deck like Skyknight Vanguard, Hero of Bladehold, and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar.

#17. Odric, Master Tactician

Odric, Master Tactician

Odric, Master Tactician’s ability can prove extremely useful in a properly built deck. Being able to choose your opponent’s blockers doesn’t just mean being able to surpass them, but also that you can get rid of pesky threats by forcing them to block creatures that can get rid of them. This version of Odric might as well have a middle name of “Combat Trickery” that white is known for.

#16. Cathar Commando

Cathar Commando

Cathar Commando is good not because it’s the strongest or most game-changing card, but because it’s a great utility card. Having a direct and relatively low-costed way to get rid of artifacts or enchantments at instant speed can change the tide of a game.

#15. Odric, Lunar Marshal

Odric, Lunarch Marshal

Combat evasion abilities are way more useful than we usually give them credit for, and Odric, Lunarch Marshal is a great way to realize that. Having only a couple cards with keywords like first strike and flying and this card on the ‘field can turn your attack into an impossible-to-block onslaught.

#14. Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Forcing every creature and nonbasic land your opponents play to enter the battlefield tapped can be an awful setback. Thalia, Heretic Cathar is especially good in Commander where players insist on having almost no basic lands in their decks.

#13. Recruiter of the Guard

Recruiter of the Guard

Recruiter of the Guard earns this spot because it’s basically a must-have for various combos that are pretty popular in EDH. And even beyond the combos, it’s still a more than decent way to tutor some useful creatures into your hand.

#12. Keeper of the Accord

Keeper of the Accord

I really like that Keeper of the Accord is basically a way to keep your side of the field at par with your opponents’. Cheating a Plains into play at the end of each opponent’s turn can really help you not fall behind.

Much like Even the Odds and Timely Reinforcements, control decks get the most use out of the Keeper because you also get to create Soldier tokens as a nice bonus so you don’t get overwhelmed by your opponents’ attacks.

#11. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic used to be a huge deal in the early Commander precons. It’s actually the first card to have an ability that can be triggered from the command zone, and it’s a kind of precursor to the eminence commanders.

This card is a really fun commander to build around and play, but it’s really hard to place it in the 99 in any other deck because of its abilities. It’s also far from the most flexible card.

#10. General Ferrous Rokiric

General Ferrous Rokiric

General Ferrous Rokiric is a wonderful addition to any deck that focuses on multicolored spells. I’d personally place it among the 99 and not as the commander, but it can turn casting a couple of cheap multicolored spells into a great threat on the battlefield.

#9. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain may not be the single best 5-color or legendary-tribal commander, but it definitely is a great one. Its second ability can be a bit slow and underwhelming early in the game but a complete game-changer in later turns.

#8. Kor Firewalker

Kor Firewalker

Kor Firewalker fits into this list thanks to its utility in formats like Duel Commander more than its utility in EDH. Gaining life whenever any player casts a red spell means greatly reducing the effectiveness of a bunch of burn spells.

And you’ll be gaining life pretty consistently if you have this card in a Boros () deck.

#7. Ranger-Captain of Eos

Ranger-Captain of Eos

Ranger-Captain of Eos’ first ability can work as part of several combos, not unlike Recruiter of the Guard. But its second ability also means you can protect yourself against things like counterspells or removals that could stagger or even ruin your combo.

#6. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Who doesn’t love stax decks, right?

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is an absolutely undeniable staple of this type of deck. Making every noncreature spell cost a single extra mana may seem like a small threat, but it can set back spell-heavy decks a lot.

#5. Myrel, Shield of Argive

Myrel, Shield of Argive

Myrel, Shield of Argive is sometimes better than a token doubler by counting your token and nontoken soldiers. One thing you love when you pilot a white deck is being able to keep things in order during your turn, and no card says that loud and clear like this legendary shield. 

Often a kill-on-sight card when it shows up across the table, Myrel is among Argive's best, and the best soldiers Magic could ask for.

#4. Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher

Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher

Look at every opponent, every aristocrat and so many other decks and you find permanents being sacrificed left and right. Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher is a Grade A answer to the likes of Mayhem Devil, the drawback of a fetch land, or a payoff to blood, and treasure tokens. This becomes a hugest vampire, often at instant speed.

Then you come to the good stuff, if Carmen returned only creatures of power 2 or less upon attacking it would still be great. Now change that to any permanent (can get lands), and boost the power up on Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher to reanimate to your cold-blooded heart's content.

#3. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

This is a really interesting card. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade aims at punishing opponents who reduce the costs of their spells or even cheat them into play. It’s a response to a very specific type of play, but one that can stop a ton of very powerful strategies across several formats.

#2. Mentor of the Meek

Mentor of the Meek

White is known for not having the strongest forms of card draw out there.

Mentor of the Meek may not be the single greatest form of card advantage but it’s a really solid way to fix your hand if you’re playing a deck with enough low-stats creatures. And white specializes in those so it shouldn’t be too hard to get yourself some card draw.

#1. Esper Sentinel

Esper Sentinel

And we close this list with another source of card draw for white.

Esper Sentinel from Modern Horizons II is a really solid way to keep drawing cards almost every turn. It may not be as absurdly good as Rhystic Study, but its similar effect is still consistently solid. Especially if you’re able to increase the Sentinel’s power.

Best Soldier Payoffs

There are also plenty of noncreature spells that create or benefit soldiers like Assemble the Legion, Martial Coup, and Mobilization.

This tribe also benefits from cards that give combat advantages. Soldiers are a tribe that’s heavily focused on combat strategies, so Boros Charm, Iroas, God of Victory, Unbreakable Formation, Intangible Virtue, and Akroma's Will can all find a home in a good soldiers deck.

Going wide with soldiers is common, and Ballyrush Banneret and Fortified Beachhead really help with that. Aurelia, the Law Above rewards any battalion or better attack. Reconnaissance is incredible for letting you score attack triggers and skip the danger of combat.

Wrap Up

Thraben Inspector - Illustration by Matt Stewart

Thraben Inspector | Illustration by Matt Stewart

I really like how soldiers work thematically. Most of them have a strong focus on combat with a heavily strategic outlook. Their mechanics tend to reflect this along with a benefit from group efforts and tactics, which makes the tribe really feel like a well-trained and organized army.

But enough about me. Do you agree with my picks for this list? Did I leave out your favorite soldier card? What do you think of this tribe? Leave a comment down below or join the discussion over in the Draftsim Discord.

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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