Last updated on March 23, 2023
Glistener Elf | Illustration by Steve Argyle
Magic is a game of conflict. There are usually different factions waging war on each other, so the game has its share of warrior creatures. Warriors are very common in Magic and there have been almost a thousand cards printed with the warrior subtype.
Need to make a warrior tribal deck filled with the best creatures? Well, look no further, here’s your guide on the best of the bunch!
What Are Warriors in MTG?
Tenacious Underdog | Illustration by Zara Alfonso
Warrior is one of the subtypes that a creature can have in Magic. It’s not tied to a certain plane like Aetherborn so each set has a few creatures that are warriors. They’re usually in white and red but there are warriors in every color, making them one of the most common creature types.
Blue and black are the colors of cunning and intelligence, so there aren’t many warriors in those colors. Green surprised me a bit when making this list because there are a ton of green warriors, and a lot of them saw Constructed play.
Very few sets had warrior tribal as a feature, notably Eventide and Khans of Tarkir. Zendikar Rising also had a warrior tribal theme in Boros () associated with equipment, and warriors are also a needed type of creature for the party mechanic.
Best White Warriors
#8. Usher of the Fallen
Usher of the Fallen is one of the best 1-drops in recent memory because it has the boast ability to make another token. Considering the sea of 2/1 creatures like Savannah Lions and Mardu Woe-Reaper, this is one of the better ones and a staple of white weenie decks.
#7. Legion Angel
Another Standard staple that’s unfortunately at its worst in Commander decks. Dealing with one Legion Angel is easy. The problem becomes the third or fourth angel, so much so that it’s the perfect midrange threat in Standard.
#6. Cloudgoat Ranger
Cloudgoat Ranger is one of the best cards to put in blink decks because it makes three tokens at once. The card itself is good, turning into a 5/3 flier when you need to. Don’t sleep on this army on a can.
#5. Space Marine Devastator
Reclamation Sage is a fine card as a body added to a Disenchant effect. Space Marine Devastator is like that, but you can pay the squad cost to make copies. Seeing as EDH usually has some mana rocks and good enchantments to destroy, the card can become a white staple of the format.
#4. Celestine, the Living Saint
A big angel with flying and lifelink is usually good enough to be viable. Celestine, the Living Saint gives another application for lifegain: resurrecting small- to medium-sized creatures. You can have a little engine in your Orzhov () bleeder decks with your Blood Artist and The Meathook Massacre since you gain life and recurring creatures.
#3. Lae’zel, Githyanki Warrior
Lae'zel, Githyanki Warrior has lots going on for it. A 2/4 double strike is already a good rate, and your opponent needs two removal spells because the first time this Lae’zel is targeted you’ll blink it for free.
There are so many specialize shenanigans so that it can become a 3/6 double strike with extra abilities.
#2. Tazri, Beacon of Unity
Tazri, Beacon of Unity is a 5-color commander that cares about certain types of cards that compose the party mechanic (warriors, rogues, clerics, and wizards). Tazri is the best thematic party commander to build a deck around. Alone it’s a 4/6 that draws cards for you, which is also very good depending on your deck composition.
#1. Runeforge Champion
Runeforge Champion created the very powerful Naya () runes deck together with Jukai Naturalist. The combination isn’t in Standard anymore, but it can be played in other formats like Explorer and Alchemy.
You’ll play runes for almost free, which cantrip and ideally find you more runes while building a Voltron to kill your opponent.
Best Blue Warriors
#3. Herald of Secret Streams
This is a good card to have in Simic +1/+1 counters deck because you’ll make your team unblockable. Herald of Secret Streams helps to raise the commander damage dealt and is good with commanders that have +1/+1 counters like Prime Speaker Zegana. It’s also a merfolk for tribal decks.
#2. Vanguard Suppressor
Cards from the Warhammer 40k Commander set are surprisingly powerful, and Vanguard Suppressor isn’t “suppressing anything.” A 3/2 for four mana that draws a card when it hits is okay, but this one can come in multiples just by paying the squad cost.
It’s not going to save you, but it gives a huge advantage when the game is on parity.
#1. Kappa Cannoneer
Kappa Cannoneer is cheap to cast thanks to improvise. It grows and has ward 4, so it’s hard to interact with removal spells. All it asks is that you cast some artifacts.
It has some form of evasion, and blue is usually the right color to play artifact-based decks.
Best Black Warriors
#4. Shakedown Heavy
Fight Rigging, along with all the combos that it allows, has made Shakedown Heavy a very interesting card. Alongside Rotting Regisaur, these two can activate the rigging on turn 3 or 4 without much effort.
Shakedown Heavy has seen play in Standard and Explorer, and it’s a good warrior to have in a black-based EDH deck thanks to its sheer size.
#3. Brutal Hordechief
Brutal Hordechief has its place in decks aiming to fight, in Mardu () decks oriented for combat, and in go-wide decks. It has a brutal activated ability that dictates how your opponents block, which can be game-winning.
#2. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a sizable threat as a 3/4 lifelink that can sometimes make some more zombies. Midrange mirrors are all about generating more value than your opponent, and it’s very common to see Kalitas coming out of the sideboard to help in those matches and put a stop to aggro offensives.
#1. Tenacious Underdog
Tenacious Underdog has taken several formats by storm, including Standard, Explorer, Pioneer, and more. The combination of a 3/2 body that keeps returning from the graveyard is good because it gives you cards, pressures planeswalkers, and crews vehicles like Reckoner Bankbuster.
It’s playable in aggressive and midrange decks where a lot of games are decided by Tenacious Underdog attacks. Two more synergies in Standard alone include being discarded to Liliana of the Veil and sacrificed to Ob Nixilis, the Adversary.
Best Red Warriors
#10. Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Bushwhacker has ended a lot of games with its kicker effect. Aggro decks want 1-drops that are okay to good in the early game, and can be good later in the game. This is a hasty 2/1 that gives +1/+0 to your team for only two mana.
Don’t forget those goblin synergies!
#9. Devilish Valet
Devilish Valet can have explosive turns with token makers like Lingering Souls and Dragon Fodder. It’s usually seen in Boros Heroic decks, which present a mix of pumping the power of this card with double strike and adding more creatures for a quick kill.
#8. Goblin Chainwhirler
Half of the power of Goblin Chainwhirler comes from the ETB effect, which deals damage to the opponent’s creatures. The other part is the body. A 3/3 first strike for three mana is surprisingly relevant.
In combination with red’s burn spells, it’s almost never safe to block it with big creatures. This was a staple in its Standard and usually a sideboard guy for aggro and goblin decks.
#7. Rundvelt Hordemaster
Rundvelt Hordemaster is the new goblin lord in town and costs two mana. It’s seeing some play in aggressive goblin and EDH decks. You can get some card advantage now, and then make your deck better against removal decks if it dies.
#6. Moraug, Fury of Akoum
You can play Moraug, Fury of Akoum as a commander or in a red-based EDH deck, or you can cheat it into play. It’s also a minotaur for those who like tribal decks.
Cards that have the text “there’s an extra combat step after this combat phase” are usually good in EDH, and Moraug, Fury of Akoum also gives a buff to creatures that take part in this extra combat step phase.
#5. Krenko, Mob Boss
Krenko, Mob Boss is a very strong token maker in goblin decks full of token makers. It’s not uncommon for Krenko to make five or more tokens, and you can combine with anthem effects and Purphoros, God of the Forge to deal tons of damage.
#4. Zealous Conscripts
A 3/3 haste that steals a creature for a turn is okay, especially paired with sacrifice effects. You can usually steal pretty good targets in formats like EDH. Zealous Conscripts is also a staple in Cube thanks to infinite combos with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.
#3. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is a strong commander that has lots of synergies with the graveyard and creatures with power 2 or less. Pretty abusable with cards like Master of Cruelties, Karmic Guide, and Reveillark.
#2. Najeela, the Blade-Blossom
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is an insane warrior commander because it makes Warrior tokens, buffs them, and allows you to play five colors. It’s good to play all the warriors you ever want!
Najeela just wants you to attack with different warriors and that’s it.
#1. Laelia, the Blade Reforged
There aren’t a ton of new cards that become instant staples in Vintage and Vintage Cube, but Laelia, the Blade Reforged has managed to do it. It has a ton going on. 3/3 haste is good, and you can cast a spell from the top whenever Laelia attacks. That’s like drawing a card in red aggressive decks since most cards are cheap and you want to use them right now.
Best Green Warriors
#9. Allosaurus Rider
Allosaurus Rider was playable in the combo decks of old, especially in Modern. You’d play it for the alternate cost and then sacrifice it to Birthing Pod or Neoform to fetch an 8-drop well ahead of the curve.
#8. Yasova Dragonclaw
A free Act of Treason each turn? Good. It’s not unconditional, but Yasova Dragonclaw can be a nice “steal and sac” commander in Temur () colors.
You can benefit from Mind Control effects in blue, sacrifice effects in red and even in green. Some commanders with power 3 or less become harder to cast and play with Yasova around.
#7. Elvish Warmaster
Elvish Warmaster is a good 2-drop that really shines in elf decks, green EDH token/elf decks, and more. It’s a good card early, and a very good mana sink late is sometimes what elf decks need.
#6. Old-Growth Troll
Another staple in green aggro and midrange decks, Old-Growth Troll is the gift that keeps on giving. You kill it and need to deal with a 4/4 later, which is very bad without exiling removal. The cost makes it a natural fit for mono-green decks.
#5. Pelt Collector
Pelt Collector, besides being an elf for elf tribal, is a very good 1-drop in green aggressive decks. It’s good early and it grows as the game goes on. It’s seen play in diverse formats from Standard to Pioneer.
#4. Workshop Warchief
Workshop Warchief is a value powerhouse and sees play in Standard and probably Explorer. You draw cards if blitzed, gain life, and make a token.
It reminds me a bit of Thragtusk.
#3. Chatterfang, Squirrel General
Chatterfang, Squirrel General is one of the most popular commanders online. What can I say, people (myself included) love token makers. Alongside a card that cares about squirrels, which few cards in Magic do, you turn your tokens into more squirrels (sacrifice fodder, anyone?), removal, buffs, all in a nice package.
#2. Nettle Sentinel
Nettle Sentinel is a card that’s been played in almost every format involving elves. It’s part aggressive card (2/2 for one mana) and part combo piece (the untap can be abused to generate mana and keep playing elves).
#1. Glistener Elf
Wherever an Infect deck is viable, a Glistener Elf shall grace it. It’s just what the deck wants: a quick infect creature on turn 1. You can start attacking on turn 2 with pump effects to kill the opponent as quickly as possible.
Best Multicolored Warriors
#10. Kargan Warleader
It’s a warrior lord for two mana. You’ll want to play Kargan Warleader in decks full of warriors, and it surely shines in Najeela, the Blade-Blossom decks.
#9. Sedris, the Traitor King
If Grixis () and reanimator is your thing you’ll like Sedris, the Traitor King. One of the oldest Grixis commanders, you only need a fatty in the graveyard and pay three mana to give it unearth. Depending on your graveyard and self-mill there’s the potential of fun creature combos, most involving Deadeye Navigator.
#8. Zurgo Helmsmasher
Zurgo Helmsmasher is a massive warrior and a possible commander for warrior decks, though it shines in more combat-oriented ones (not to mention commander damage). Its main ability is attack.
If it hits a player, good. If it doesn’t, also good. You want to buff it with trample, menace, double strike, etc., to prevent it from being easily chumped.
#7. Svella, Ice Shaper
Svella, Ice Shaper is a card that all who played it in Kaldheim Limited fell in love with. It generates mana, is snow themed, fixes mana, generates card and mana advantage, and more. It’s a popular Gruul () commander, and it’s not hard to get because it’s uncommon.
#6. Marisi, Breaker of the Coil
The goad commander, Marisi, Breaker of the Coil is a nice Naya () commander or a card to play in EDH. You can effectively build a Marisi deck that goads creatures each turn, so your opponents need to fight against each other.
You can also help anyone with combat tricks or removal if it’s your thing. Sometimes the best multiplayer strategy is making your opponents brawl and let you be.
#5. Winota, Joiner of Forces
Winota, Joiner of Forces is a powerhouse that makes unfair things. It cares about humans and non-humans, one of Ikoria’s themes. Winota is banned in formats like Explorer/Pioneer because it can generate so much card and tempo advantage.
Winota is fairly popular as a Boros commander since Winota decks do something that’s a little different from what you’d expect from Boros. The deck also gets new toys every set and just becomes better.
#4. Gruul Spellbreaker
A good beater for Explorer/Pioneer and Gruul decks in general. Gruul Spellbreaker is already a 3/3 with riot (haste or +1/+1 counter) and it can’t be countered (take that, pesky control mages, myself included).
Gruul Spellbreaker can turn the tide of a match with Klothys, God of Destiny and Roiling Vortex.
#3. Rhys the Redeemed
Rhys the Redeemed is everyone’s favorite token maker. One of the most popular Selesnya () commanders out there, Rhys makes it simple. It’s cheap, so you don’t care that much if it dies. It’s also an elf for elf decks and it copies all your tokens.
#2. Abaddon the Despoiler
Abaddon the Despoiler is a huge body in a 5/5 trampler that has similarities with another fun commander, Rakdos, Lord of Riots. You want to deal damage to all opponents with cards like Spear Spewer and Thermo-Alchemist so that your spells get cascade.
The source of the damage won’t matter, so it can be done with creatures or spells. Lots of cards say, “each opponent loses 1 life,” so you can get creative in EDH games.
#1. Marneus Calgar
A 3/5 with double strike for five mana is solid. You also draw a card whenever you make tokens. Esper () is already home to lots of token makers, with Lingering Souls, Anointed Procession, and Bitterblossom.
It’s easy to draw a card or more every turn with Marneus Calgar. If you only have it, six mana makes two creatures and an extra card. Warhammer cards are so powerful that I’m already hyped for the Lord of the Rings set.
Best Warrior Payoffs
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is one of the best warrior tribal commanders. It allows you to play 5-color decks, all the warriors you possibly want. It cares about warriors, makes warriors, and buffs all your attacking team with abilities.
There’s a lot of warrior tribal support. Mindblade Render and Rushblade Commander give your warriors abilities, like card draw and haste. Raiders' Spoils is a similar card that allows you to draw extra cards with your warriors.
Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale slightly buff your warriors. Lovisa Coldeyes extra buffs your warriors with a whopping +2/+2 bonus.
Isshin, Two Heavens as One cares about creatures attacking in Mardu () colors, and it’s not rare to see warriors attacking.
Marneus Calgar is a new card from the Warhammer 40K EDH decks. It cares about tokens and makes warrior tokens.
Zendikar Rising had a warrior theme associated with equipment along with cards like Kargan Warleader and Kor Blademaster. Those two are good to include in a warriors deck depending on the theme (go wide, equipment matters).
Abaddon the Despoiler | Illustration by Johan Grenier
There are so many warriors in Magic that it’s hard to make a best-of list. There are good warriors everywhere, both in 60-card formats and in EDH since a lot of them are printed to the format specifically, or are legendary creatures.
Which warriors can’t miss your EDH decks? Did I leave any of your top choices out? Let me know in the comments section below or in the Draftsim Discord.
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