Last updated on January 25, 2023
Prized Amalgam | Illustration by Karl Kopinski
You’ve probably heard the expression “but it dies to Doom Blade,” right? MTG is a game of threats and answers, and the harder it is to answer those threats, the harder it is to win.
Some threats are unkillable creatures that pose a challenge to spot removal like Doom Blade and sometimes Path to Exile. They’re creatures that survive wraths or are indestructible, or that offer some advantage in case the board gets wrath’ed.
Creatures like that are important as good mirror breakers, midrange threats, and control wincons, but how do they stack up against each other? Let’s jump in and find out!
What Are Unkillable Creatures?
Scrapheap Scrounger | Illustration by Jason A. Engle
Unkillable creatures are creatures that have some resistance to common removal. This can range from high toughness, protection from a certain color, abilities like ward and hexproof, indestructible and regeneration, and cards that return from the graveyard. Some creatures have a “when this creature dies” effect that helps resist removal.
Some old cards that I’d like to use as examples and honorable mentions are Ihsan’s Shade and Spiritmonger. These cards are black, which helps them evade the likes of Terror and Doom Blade. They also have high toughness, so they survive most red removal. Ihsan’s Shade also has protection from white spot removal like Swords to Plowshares while Spiritmonger regenerates so it can survive a wrath effect.
You’ll still see this played in EDH because the format is slow enough to let Avacyn grant its powerful bonus.
Overall this is a good resilient creature.
One of the most annoying creatures to deal with when you’re a control deck, Adanto Vanguard has the instant activation to become indestructible. Your life total isn’t being pressed so paying four life is almost free.
A big flier that comes with one shield counter is already very resilient, let alone two. Sanctuary Warden has been played in Standard as a win condition for blue control decks because it’s hard to kill and provides card advantage.
You can trade a counter for a 1/1 and a card. The Warden holds the ground, attacks opponents, and offers you some cards while giving black decks relying on Doom Blade effects a hard time.
#1. Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Heliod, Sun-Crowned has taken formats like Modern and Pioneer (oops, banned) by storm. It’s hard to deal with because it’s indestructible, and it allows infinite combos with cards like Walking Ballista.
You don’t need the combo though. Just playing Heliod with white creatures in a weenie strategy creates a 5/5 indestructible that hits hard.
There are a bunch of EDH decks searching for reasonable krakens to play, and there aren’t that many good ones.
An evolution of Morphling that costs more, the main difference is that Aetherling can be blinked for a single mana, which is usually better than shroud because it avoids more effects. It can attack without punishment and avoid most problems with some mana available.
You draw cards that can help you to protect Nezahal every time a noncreature spell is played, and win. There are three opponents to cast spells so that you can draw a bunch of cards if you’re playing EDH.
When Hullbreaker Horror hits the battlefield, the game might be over. It can’t be countered so the card already satisfies the “control mirror breaker” prerequisite because your control enemies often hold counterspells forever.
You can constantly return it to your hand when the Horror hits the battlefield, so opponents usually need one or more removal spells. You can even wrath the board and return it to your hand.
It doesn’t get more unkillable than this in 1v1 games. You can’t target it or block it if this card has protection against you, and True-Name Nemesis can block your creatures at will.
You can, however, deal with it with a “destroy all creatures” effect or a “target player sacrifices a creature” effect. That’s it. I’m sure a blue player will just casually let you do that.
Geralf’s Messenger is a 3/2 that hits your opponents for two, and that’s it. It also returns as a 4/3 to claim two more damage if it’s killed.
It’s also a zombie for zombie synergies, and you can easily retrieve it from the grave to continue the chain.
Gravecrawler is a 1-mana 2/1. Innocuous, right? But you can recast it if you control a zombie.
This is your typical zombie that refuses to stay dead, and one of the many horror tropes well-used in the Innistrad block. Tons of infinite combos in EDH abuse the Gravecrawler recursion.
Do you know how easy it is to get your Bloodghast back from your graveyard? Just play a land. Simple as that.
This is one of the best sacrifice outlets: it just keeps coming. Your opponent better exile it for good. You can even keep a fetch land uncracked to protect it from graveyard hate.
This cat can be put back into play by sacrificing a Food which is easy to do in Food-based decks, especially when enabled by Witch’s Oven. You have a mechanism to infinitely chump block and slowly drain your opponent.
What’s more, you get an extra card for the effort. Getting your enemies’ Underdog in their graveyard is sometimes even worse than keeping it alive.
Multiformat all-star Graveyard Trespasser offers your opponent a choice: how bad do you want to kill this 3/3? You can do it, but it costs you an extra card.
This is a good midrange creature that offers you life and free graveyard hate on a body with good stats.
Purphoros, God of the Forge is indestructible, and you damage all your opponents for two every time another creature enters under your control. This works with token makers in red and Boros (), so Purphoros is very good in EDH.
Any combo that lets you play a creature repeatedly in a loop kills everyone in sight. It also survives red damage-based wraths no matter who plays them.
Although weak on the surface, Phoenix Chick is annoying to play against. It keeps coming back tapped and hitting for two from the air. Then things get much, much worse. It’s become a staple of Standard red decks.
#2. Hazoret the Fervent
Hazoret the Fervent is indestructible and it hits hard. In decks like mono-red where you usually don’t hold many cards in hand and play to the board, the downside is almost none.
Playsets of Arclight Phoenix have seen play in all formats, from Pioneer to Modern and Legacy. All you need is a bunch of cantrips and looting effects to combo it and attack your opponents for 6, even 12! Even if they manage to exile one there’s often another phoenix or two lurking around.
Kill a 4/4 without any protections and restrictions? Easy, but now you need to deal with two 2/2s. Each one dies into a 1/1.
Besides its resilience, Mitotic Slime offers chump blockers and pieces of sacrifice fodder (seven, to be specific).
There was a good answer in Standard with The Eldest Reborn, which could also reanimate your opponent’s dino and put it to good use.
Thrun, the Last Troll used to be quite the midrange trump card from Modern because it can’t be countered and has hexproof and a regenerate ability. But Modern has taken quite a jump in power level so you won’t be seeing it as much.
A very tough guy, that’s for sure.
It’s a huge creature, puts counters on other creatures, and has hexproof. Sold.
A 3-drop with indestructible is hard to deal with, and all it asks is a power 4 creature to start attacking. Opponents are in trouble when that happens since Rhonas the Indomitable itself is a 5/5.
You can wrath the board, but guess what! Send in another 4/4 for another hit from Rhonas the Indomitable. GG.
Titan of Industry is one of the main targets available to cheat into play in formats like Standard and Explorer. You can use Fight Rigging or reanimation spells, but the result is all the same: a creature that comes into play with multiple benefits like a shield counter to protect it from some types of removal.
It’s also a 7/7, so the Titan won’t fall that easily.
Besides being indestructible, Ephara, God of the Polis only asks that you play creatures every now and then (preferably with flash). You draw a bunch of cards and even attack with Ephara if it becomes a creature.
You have a short window to deal with Fleecemane Lion because it gains hexproof and indestructible when it activates its monstrosity effect. A good card to have in your aura and Selesnya () cat decks.
Ironically the best way to stop Geist of Saint Traft is to block it because it’s only a 2/2 without any support.
This card shines against control since it’s hard to interact with and you attack for at least six. Against creature decks, you may play auras on it and make short work of your enemies.
Progenitus certainly costs a lot so you’re better off cheating it into play with Natural Order or other effects. It has protection against everything while on the battlefield, so it’s like True-Name Nemesis applied for all the players.
EDH is the fancy format of doing splashy and hard-to-pull-off stuff, right? Enter a commander that’s a 6-drop with hexproof: Narset, Enlightened Master.
#8. Karametra, God of Harvests
Karametra, God of Harvests, like most Theros gods, is indestructible and a fantastic ramp spell as a commander or in a Selesnya lands/creatures deck. You can play creatures to tutor lands, which also thins out your deck to keep you playing more creatures and expensive spells.
Don’t underestimate the political power of Pharika, God of Affliction. The 3-mana god can create 1/1 deathtouch tokens in the middle of any fight, and you can add to it some death trigger synergies and defend yourself well.
It’s a cheap commander that’s tough to deal with. Worth considering!
With each turn you get a 3/3 with Koma, Cosmos Serpent, so it’s a good ramp target. You can even sacrifice a serpent to make it indestructible. It’s a powerful midrange threat that can also pose problems to control.
Sigarda, Host of Herons has hexproof and gets around Edict effects. You usually play it from the sideboard whenever your opponents don’t have wrath effects. It’s also interesting against players that make you sacrifice permanents.
Like its brethren The Scorpion God and The Locust God, The Scarab God goes to the graveyard and back to your hand if you kill it. This has nice implications in EDH because you don’t need to pay the commander tax.
That’s on top of a 5/5 that can eternalize any creature on the battlefield and has synergies with zombies, already a powerful tribe.
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is a card that you can play from your hand or graveyard, so you don’t care that much if it dies. You’ll find other Hogaaks and graveyard fuel to cast them in a self-mill deck.
Prized Amalgam is one of many on this list that you recur from your graveyard. It’s a zombie for graveyard and zombie EDH decks.
Slippery Bogle is the premier 1-drop for hexproof/auras decks, commonly called bogles because of this card. Play this on turn 1, put some auras on it, and that’s all you need. It’s hard to interact with a 1-drop that has hexproof because other effective answers cost more than two mana.
Stuffy Doll, besides being indestructible, is a card that no one wants to attack into because it blocks to redirect the damage. It also has synergies with red damage to all creatures, cards like Star of Extinction and Blasphemous Act.
You can damage the board and then hit a player in the face.
It’s a mix of hexproof and unblockable, considering how few colorless threats and answers are played.
Opponents have very few outs outside of countering the combo or exile spot removal.
“Protection against colored spells.” This unique line of text on Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is scary, and it’s like the text on Etched Champion. Opponents have a hard time targeting it with spot removal so they better try to stop you from getting it into play.
The extra turn you get lets you untap your mana and get over Emrakul’s summoning sickness. I’ll let you ponder the possibilities.
You get a huge indestructible body that generates a card advantage by exiling two permanents whenever it’s cast. Be sure to add effects to your deck that allows you to cast it without paying the mana cost.
Wurmcoil Engine is a pain to deal with for almost every nonwhite deck (exiling is very effective, though). It’s a huge 6/6 that gains you life and trades itself to become two bodies: a 3/3 with deathtouch and a 3/3 with lifelink.
Decks looking to play a good midrange threat, gain some life, or up their artifact count should look into this.
“End of turn, I’ll pay two mana and get back my 3/2, then attack you for three.”
For those playing in the Kaladesh block, this was routine and difficult to deal with in the aggro/vehicle decks. Like Tenacious Underdog, Scrapheap Scrounger keeps coming back for more. Formats like Explorer/Pioneer usually have room for those kinds of creatures.
Batterskull has seen a lot of play over the years as a prime target for Stoneforge Mystic. A 4/4 lifelinker that you can tutor and cheat into play is a strong combination, and you can even return it to your hand to play again.
The need to have an unkillable creature relies on the rules of engagement. More specifically, how are your opponents interacting with your cards and creatures? That leads to some situations.
Sweepers based on damage and “destroy all creatures” wording are good for you if your creatures are indestructible. Sweepers based on red damage work well with creatures that have protection against red, since the damage will be zero.
If your creature is indestructible or is a hexproof creature with a big aura, fight effects are ideal. You’re probably not getting two-for-one’d in those scenarios.
If your creatures have graveyard recursion, you want to mill yourself. There’s abundant self-mill in Sultai () colors, and you can also rely on dredge.
These unkillable creatures are ideal to play in midrange grindy or control decks because you already have more resources than your opponents: your creatures dodge their interaction. If my opponent only has Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push in hand then I want a threat that dodges these kinds of removal spells.
If your creature is a game-winning threat that’s difficult to deal with like Koma, Cosmos Serpent, you want mana rocks and a hard ramp to play it as fast as possible. You also want card selection like Impulse to find what you need most.
Sigarda, Host of Herons | Illustration by Chris Rahn
We live in an MTG era of increasingly better threats and each set has its share of unkillable creatures, some bad, some better. I included cards from the original Innistrad to Streets of New Capenna, so these creatures have been consistently good for over a decade.
What unkillable creatures do you like most for your decks? Did I miss any of your favorites? Please tell me what you think in the comments below or take the discussion to the Draftsim Discord.
Keep a Terminus around to deal with the problems, and I’ll see you around!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: