Last updated on February 9, 2023
Soulherder | Illustration by Seb McKinnon
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts. At least when I’m playing them!
Spirits can be a powerful tribe on the other side of the battlefield, whether that’s the mono blue or Azorius () tempo decks in various Constructed formats or some of the synergistic decks in Commander. There are plenty of spirits with unique and powerful abilities even if you don’t want to join the ghostly procession and want something for your 99.
Have a look at one of my very favorite creatures in MTG!
What Are Spirits in MTG?
Eternal Dragon | Illustration by Justin Sweet
Spirits are a creature type that first appeared in Legends, but the first spirit after the Grand Creature Type Update was Arabian Nights‘ Dancing Scimitar.
Powerful spirits have been printed in Azorius colors for a number of years, but they appear in multiple colors and color combinations. It’s the fifth most common creature type in the game with over 600 spirits printed.
Best White Spirits
There are a lot of great spirits in white, which makes sense since this is the classic way MTG uses the undead in this color.
#23. White Spirit Tribal Must-Haves
- Angel of Flight Alabaster
- Drogskol Reinforcements
- Hallowed Spiritkeeper
- Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens
Each of these cards is a must-include in a white or Azorius spirits deck, but they may not have much use outside of that.
#22. Kataki, War’s Wage
A niche card right now, Kataki, War’s Wage is only going to get better as artifact tokens become more powerful.
#21. Wall of Reverence
This is a lot of life to be gained in the right deck. Does that mean Wall of Reverence is good? For sure in Evra, Halcyon Witness decks.
Outside of that I might rather have the next card.
#20. Lunarch Veteran / Luminous Phantom
Whatever happened to Lunarch Veteran, the lost lead singer of the Soul Sisters band, the most popular act in the lifegain genre? Their big comeback as Luminous Phantom was a surprising breath of fresh air in a stale genre.
#19. Kami of False Hope
Kami of False Hope and Spore Frog walk into a bar…
Someone help me finish that joke.
#18. Voice of the Blessed
Because Ajani’s Pridemate needed a buff? If you hate seeing lifegain decks then you definitely hate seeing Voice of the Blessed hit the playmat.
#17. Eidolon of Countless Battles
Eidolon of Countless Battles isn’t as good as Katilda, whom you’ll meet in a bit, but a nice addition to an auras deck nonetheless.
#16. Hokori, Dust Drinker
Have you played this card? More like Hokori, Salt Drinker than Hokori, Dust Drinker, but sometimes that’s the game you bring. This is a key piece of that kind of ‘90s style Stasis build.
#15. Bygone Bishop
It sounds like the name of a Garbage Pail Kid from the 80s, but Bygone Bishop works in lots of builds including investigate tribal, affinity, go-wide decks, and even party.
#14. Yosei, the Morning Star + Ao, the Dawn Sky
Yosei, the Morning Star and Ao, the Dawn Sky have such a powerful death triggers that they’re almost better than a 5/5 flier!
#13. Hanged Executioner
Removal, check. Tokens, check. A body for spirits tribal, check!
Join the spirit party, Hanged Executioner.
#12. Remorseful Cleric
Graveyard removal on a body is good and flexible, and Remorseful Cleric is also a cleric so that’s a bonus!
#11. Windborn Muse
A useful stax card, Windborn Muse can also just funnel go-wide decks’ attacks to another player.
#10. Spirit of the Labyrinth
Spirit of the Labyrinth is a fair version of the passive effect on Narset, Parter of Veils. It’s good for miserable control strategies and bad for the Day’s Undoing combo.
#9. Eidolon of Rhetoric
One more stax piece for the road: Eidolon of Rhetoric! Sometimes fun isn’t fun, and you have just the deck for that.
#8. Selfless Spirit
Selfless Spirit is for when you want an Unbreakable Formation effect on a body. And go-wide decks will want that.
#7. Guardian of Faith
Guardian of Faith is Selfless Spirit but waaayyyyy better.
#6. Eternal Dragon
Cycle Eternal Dragon for a land early and then return it to your hand later. And later. And more later. And forever until they kill your graveyard.
This effect on Drumbellower is useful in most decks and broken in quite a few others, like Belisarius Cawl, The Archimandrite, and Shorikai, Genesis Engine.
#4. Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr / Katilda’s Rising Dawn
Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr is powerful in spirits tribal, and it’s a great bit of card advantage for auras decks.
#3. Strict Proctor
Annoying control card or enabler for your Lotus Field nonsense? Strict Proctor is both!
#2. Karmic Guide
Karmic Guide is one of the premier white reanimator cards.
#1. Skyclave Apparition
Awesome removal. Skyclave Apparition is so much better than cards like Fairgrounds Warden. It’s permanent exile even if it’s removed. Flickering this is murderous.
Best Blue Spirits
Another great spirits color.
#14. Blue Spirits Tribal Must-Haves
- Cloudhoof Kirin
- Mausoleum Wanderer
- Patrician Geist
- Spectral Arcanist
- Supreme Phantom
Key cards for the spirits tribal deck you likely won’t play outside of that. But really good in that deck!
#13. Malevolent Hermit / Benevolent Geist
It’s only a spirit on its reverse side after it dies countering a spell, but that side is money for a control war! Ask your doctor if Malevolent Hermit is right for you.
#12. Cemetery Illuminator
Cemetery Illuminator is really underrated. It’s not anywhere near as good as Augur of Autumn, but it plays one on TV.
#11. Hunted Phantasm
In a world that’s finally decided Secret Rendezvous is a great card in EDH, Hunted Phantasm is a powerful card at a great rate that’s fun to play, politically.
#10. Niblis of Frost
Niblis of Frost can easily tap down a side in a spellslinger deck, for a recurring Sleep at home.
#9. Kairi, the Swirling Sky
Kairi, the Swirling Sky is another great death trigger. The spells are nice, but wiping tokens off the board is great. Especially for blue, which struggles for board wipes.
#8 Ethereal Investigator
Makes artifacts. Those draw cards. And it makes creatures. You play Magic, right? Don’t you like all those things?
Ethereal Investigator is the sixth member of the Scooby Team you didn’t know you needed.
#7. Spectral Adversary
Spectral Adversary is the most underrated card on this list of spirits. It won’t win a game by phasing a side as efficiently as March of Swirling Mist, but this card does work both offensively and defensively.
#6. Kami of the Crescent Moon
You need Kami of the Crescent Moon for your Alandra, Sky Dreamer deck. Add a Narset, Parter of Veils while you’re at it, you big jerk!
#5. Mirrorhall Mimic / Ghastly Mimicry
Mirrorhall Mimic is a good-rate clone on the front and absolute Helm of the Host-style insanity on the back.
#4. Keiga, the Tide Star
Keiga, the Tide Star has one of the scariest death triggers in the game. Expensive to cast, but fun.
#3. Spectral Sailor
I always want Spectral Sailor in just about every blue deck I play in any format. My vote for the second best blue uncommon creature ever printed, right behind Delver of Secrets.
#2. Deadeye Navigator
So. Many. Combos.
Think about Deadeye Navigator with, say, Dockside Extortionist? Peregrine Drake? Village Bell-Ringer? Plenty more to choose from.
#1. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner really makes opponents’ spot removal seek out targets on other players’ playmats.
Best Black Spirits
A few bangers in here as well.
#13. Black Spirits Tribal Must-Haves
The mono-black spirits deck is full of more expensive and harder-to-use stuff from the original Kamigawa block. These cards are the best things in it.
#12. Hateful Eidolon
I still don’t think Orzhov () auras is quite there in Commander, but Hateful Eidolon will be there when it arrives.
#11. Harbinger of Night
This is your public service announcement that this old card exists, The Scorpion God and Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons players. Harbinger of Night also does nice work against 1/1 tokens decks.
There’s also Midnight Banshee, which is too hard to cast to make the list, but you might want it as well.
#10. Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
A fun budget commander. Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker is a nice enabler in sac decks.
#9. Horobi, Death’s Wail
This is a really fun commander to brew around, and Horobi, Death’s Wail loves hanging out in a Killian, Ink Duelist deck when you get tired of that.
#8. Graveborn Muse
Graveborn Muse draws a lot of cards in a zombie or tribal tribal deck.
#7. Moira, Urborg Haunt
Moira, Urborg Haunt is gonna be a big deal when people discover it. You heard it here.
You probably need a backup if you need one Syr Konrad, the Grim or Blood Artist effect. This is an expensive one, but it serves.
#5. Tormented Soul
Tormented Soul is a ninjutsu classic. Also fun for Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor.
#4. Nether Traitor
The haste and shadow make this best version of Nether Shadow valuable for the same purposes as the previous card.
Bloodghast is a great card to fuel an aristocrats deck like He Who Hungers, as well as things like Anhelo, the Painter.
#2. Junji, the Midnight Sky
An amazing death trigger! Hard to want to kill Junji, the Midnight Sky when they’ll just reanimate the best thing in your graveyard.
#1. Crypt Ghast
Crypt Ghast: for when you need a Bubbling Muck but also need to be able to reanimate it to go off again.
Best Red Spirits
These go big and go fast, like red cards should.
#11. Red Spirits Tribal Must-Haves
Blood Age General and Skyfire Kirin are your spirits tribal cards. Not as good as the entries from the previous colors, but solid.
Yes, you read that right. Malignus can be a 20/20. Better pack some trample enablers.
#9. Eidolon of the Great Revel
Eidolon of the Great Revel is a Modern burn staple that has a place in red burn decks in EDH. Those decks are hard to make work given how much life there is, but this will get better as decks get lower to the ground.
#8. Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient is a bit durdly, but in Mishra, Eminent One decks, which are already packing Ashnod the Uncaring… maybe?
#7. Kami of Celebration
An odd riff on Laelia, who you’ll meet in a sec, Kami of Celebration can still help a counter-heavy beatdown plan.
#6. Thundering Raiju
Red aggressive decks in Commander need hasty creatures, and Thundering Raiju is a great one.
#5. Laelia, the Blade Reforged
A strong card across formats, Laelia, the Blade Reforged hits fast, grows in stats, and draws cards. Yep.
#4. Vengeful Ancestor
Vengeful Ancestor: a card this annoying to play against has got to be goad. I mean, good.
#3. Ryusei, the Falling Star
Ryusei, the Falling Star is a huge dragon with a partial board wipe as a death trigger. Cool.
#2. Atsushi, the Blazing Sky
Hits fast and hard, like a good red creature should. Atsushi, the Blazing Sky makes Treasures or draws cards. It’s also a dragon. So that’s a lot of good stuff.
#1. Simian Spirit Guide
If Simian Spirit Guide looks abusable, you’re right.
Best Green Spirits
Ramp and card draw. What else?
#11. Green Spirits Must-Haves
The green spirits deck is an odd one. Not sure it comes together, but these are the must haves.
#10. Liege of the Hollows
Liege of the Hollows is a must for squirrel tribal. Otherwise meh, but I couldn’t resist including it.
#9. Kami of Transience
Kami of Transience is super pesky. You have to keep dealing with it if you don’t exile it. That’s less cool in EDH than in Standard, but it still matters.
#8. Willow Geist
This card is sneaky good and underrated. Willow Geist is perfect for Dina, Soul Steeper decks that use the graveyard.
#7. Generous Visitor
Generous Visitor makes a lot of counters for enchantress decks.
#6. Patron of the Orochi
By the time you get to eight mana, do you still want Patron of the Orochi? Sure. You’re a green mage. ABR (always be ramping)!
Plus, you grabbed this from the deck with Fauna Shaman anyway.
#5. Eidolon of Blossoms
Eidolon of Blossoms is happy to be invited to the enchantress party. It’s an honor just to be nominated.
#4. Kura, the Boundless Sky
Another big dragon with a sweet death trigger, Kura, the Boundless Sky can yoink all three Tron lands from your deck if you want. Or something else, sure, but it gets three land cards, no restrictions.
#3. Kodama of the West Tree
Kodama of the West Tree: ramp!
#2. Primordial Sage
You’d rather have Beast Whisperer, but Primordial Sage is good too.
#1. Seedborn Muse
If Seedborn Muse looks abusable, you’re right.
Best Multicolored Spirits
Half of this is Azorius. Go figure!
#19. Dimir Infiltrator
Dimir Infiltrator is a great transmute card in colors that want it. As a spirit? Meh.
#18. Hofri Ghostforge
This will be great when we return to Strixhaven and get better Boros () spirits. Hofri Ghostforge is probably strong enough commanding a Boros/Lorehold ETB deck, which is a lot better of an archetype than players think.
#17. Sovereigns of Lost Alara
Sovereigns of Lost Alara seems janky to me, but I say that as a player who hasn’t used this in a Rafiq of the Many deck to one-shot someone when I grab and snap on Colossification.
#16. Spell Queller
This popular control and spirits tribal card just has a lot of uses in Standard builds. It’s less good in EDH, but I do like saving my board wipe in response to a Teferi’s Protection with this.
That’s niche, I guess, but it’s wicked cool.
#15. Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Karador, Ghost Chieftain is the default Abzan () spirits leader, and it’s powerful but doesn’t quite keep pace.
#14. Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier
This Jumpstart 2022 card seems like a cool riff on Zada, Hedron Grinder. So are there targeted abilities that we’d want besides Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker?
I don’t hate using Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier and building around things like Fallaji Vanguard, Duke Ulder Ravengard, Blessed Hippogriff, etc.
#13. Karlov of the Ghost Council
Karlov of the Ghost Council is your Orzhov () lifegain commander for when your playgroup soft bans Liesa, Shroud of Dusk.
#12. Drogskol Reaver
This card is popular, but I’m not a believer. Drogskol Reaver feels like battlecruiser Magic to me.
There aren’t that many cards that draw cards for lifegain, so I understand. I’m probably wrong. Maybe.
#11. Drogskol Captain
The hexproof spirits lord is good! Drogskol Captain is good in any spirits deck that can run it.
#10. Ethereal Valkyrie
This card looks goofy, but Ethereal Valkyrie is almost an engine itself in a blink deck.
#9. Brago, King Eternal
Brago, King Eternal, that old blinky warhorse, has been power crept out of the command zone for these decks, but it still does a lot of blinking when you get it going!
#8. Empyrean Eagle
The MVP of the next deck we’re looking at is Empyrean Eagle.
#7. Millicent, Restless Revenant
Millicent, Restless Revenant is your Azorius go-wide spirits commander. It’s a good fliers deck that can go really fast.
#6. Kykar, Wind’s Fury
Kykar, Wind’s Fury is a great Jeskai () spirits commander for when you absolutely need to pack some red, but it’s also a nice Young Pyromancer tokens deck leader.
#5. Vega, the Watcher
Vega, the Watcher draws a lot of cards in a blink deck. Might actually be better than the next card, honestly.
#4. Ranar the Ever-Watchful
This is my favorite blink commander. I know that other cards are better than Ranar the Ever-Watchful on raw power, but I have a lot of fun with the janky foretell synergies.
#3. Hinata, Dawn-Crowned
The bonkers leader of its own unique deck, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is very, very powerful.
#2. O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami
O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami is your 5-color spirit commander. Sometimes it’s even a 5-color dragon commander, although the competition is pretty steep there.
Soulherder is a Cube staple for a reason. A great enabler for blink decks!
Best Colorless Spirits
Dancing Scimitar, Sorcerer’s Broom, and Ugin’s Conjurant don’t really have EDH homes, so we’ll just wrap this up.
Best Spirits Payoffs
Kamigawa Block Brews
The original Kamigawa block really increased the number of spirits. A lot of them were costly and difficult to cast but worth it if you could get them down, like Iname as One or any of the Myojins. There are various synergies on the best cards from this block, but some of those synergies are just a bit too inefficient, like the soulshift mechanic.
Still, the faithful play the mono-black versions of these decks as well as O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami soup.
It doesn’t have to be a dedicated Millicent, Restless Revenant deck. Any Azorius fliers deck is likely to be running some of these cards.
And fliers decks often want spirit-adjacent cards like Storm of Souls, Haunted Library, and Angel of Flight Alabaster.
A staple Commander deck since they printed Brago, King Eternal in Conspiracy, Azorius blink decks make heavy use of spirits. And there are enough good spirits for this deck that you could run all spirits if you wanted to leave off, you know, Preston, the Vanisher and other flicker allies.
Kodama of the West Tree | Illustration by Daarken
Spirits decks can be powerful. And they’re flavorful. Their best abilities (blink, flying, and recursion) are totally on theme. You can’t play a full four-player Innistrad creature feature matchup of vampires vs. werewolves vs. zombies vs. spirits if you don’t have a spirits deck, and hopefully this list has piqued your interest. Perhaps it’ll, you know, haunt you later?
Did I miss any of your favorite spirits? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord.
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