Too-Specific Top 10 - A Type I've Not Heard in a Long Time
(Wishmonger | Art by Heather Hudson)
A Long Time
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Soltari Priest is the only Soltari with protection from red?)
If you haven't seen a couple episodes of Gavin Verhey's Good Morning Magic yet, I would highly suggest checking it out. Gavin has been a tireless proponent of the Commander format; he just loves to drop news/information and to just talk about how things are going in general. If that doesn't do it for you, then seeing the progress of his quarantine beard is also more than a little entertaining. Anyway, a couple weeks back he dropped six hints about cards that were upcoming in the Commander Legends set, which are as follows:
- “Ghost of [Previous Legendary Creature]”
- A card with art that’s only appeared on Magic Online
- A permanent that has text that starts, “you control your opponents while...”
- There are four non-evergreen mechanics in the set. 1 New. 3 Returning. One of the returning has only been featured on one plane.
- Cycle of five uncommon legendary creatures with partners that are animal familiars.
- There’s a creature type that hasn’t gotten a new card in 20 years.
There were some fun things to try and guess about throughout this list (Ghost of Geist of Saint Traft was my personal favorite), but that last one about a creature type that hadn't seen any love in 20 years? That's exactly the kind of thing that will get me on Scryfall typing in search strings. And so....
Top 10 Creature Types That Haven't Been Printed in the Last 20 Years
Why, you ask? Why not, I say! Plus, if we're going to be guessing what the most likely creature type to see a much-needed new addition is, wouldn't it help to know what the most popular of those tribes are? Getting there is going to be a bit harder, however...
My first approach was to just bring up every creature type that had been made prior to 2000. It would be nice to say I thought of another trick after that, but I've always been a more brute force kind of guy, so all I did instead was start eliminating popular creature types I knew had been printed since Mercadian Masques, one by one. No Elves, no Beasts, no Humans, no Constructs, no Walls, no Goblins, no Insects, etc. This did well for me, until I started eliminating class types like Rogues and Wizards and the like, which actually started cutting out some of the races that only had printings of creatures that were of that class (Nightstalker Warriors, for instance, not that that's a thing). So, that first hurdle cleared, I just kept typing in popular creature races until I got down to stuff I actually had to start checking. Have any Ouphes been printed since 2000? Turns out yes, all sorts. Carriers? Less so, but it looks like Modern Horizons managed to sneak in a Phyrexian shoutout.
This was a bit of an arduous process, but nonetheless an enjoyable one for a data nerd like me, only I ran into an extra problem that had me having to track things on paper as well, and something that should come with an achievement medal on Scryfall: did you know there's a character limit on the search bar on Scryfall? Well, there is, so I ended up having to do things manually after eliminating the following creature types:
Vampires, Walls, Masticores, Crocodiles, Wraiths, Basilisks, Yeti, Jackals, Wolverines, Goats, Apes, Hippos, Scorpions, Jellyfish, Manticore, Fish, Kraken, Oxen, Monkeys, Worms, Wurms, Orggs, Ogres, Octopii, Thopters, Spellshapers, Dinosaurs, Lizards, Nightstalkers, Avatars, Juggernauts, Elephants, Unicorns, Turtles, Frogs, Metathran, Viashino, Mongooses, Dryads, Leeches (Had no idea there were this many Leeches in Magic, I thought it was just Land Leeches and the Invasion cycle...), Skeletons, Minions, Griffins, Spiders, Shades, Serpents, Kavu, Crabs, Phelddagrif, Imps, Gnomes, Whales, Boar, Dogs, Fungii, Merfolk, Treefolk, Shapeshifters, Phoenixes, Horses, Rats, Wolves, Illusions, Bears, Goblins, Cats, Djinn, Efreet, Beasts, Drakes, Plants, Satyrs, Giants, Elf(s) , More on this later), Hydras, Snakes, Minotaurs, Spirits, Trolls, Dragons, Golems, Insects, Birds, Constructs, Faeries, Humans, Zombies, Angels, Horrors, Elementals, Specters, Slivers ,Orcs ,Thrulls, Pegasii, Ouphes, Starfish, Dwarves, and Salamanders.
That left me with 165 creatures of various creature types still to check, and a need to switch to Gatherer wordings because the creature types printed on early cards are untrustworthy to say the least. But after a bit of scrolling and some pen and paper work, I finally had a finished list of the possible creature type candidates, and the possible-but-less-likely candidates:
Most Likely Candidates (in order of how much I personally like them as a possibility)
Least Likely (Read: Silver-Border or Silver-Border Adjacent) Candidates
- Elves (Yes, Elves. No, not those kind of elves.... You know, Elves!)
- Lady of Proper Etiquette
- The Biggest, Baddest, Nastiest,
- Scariest Creature You'll Ever See
Those that have paid close attention to MaRo's Tumblr might already be taking this legwork and solving the puzzle of what creature type fits Gavin's criteria. Luckily, I don't know how Tumblr works, however, so I can't link you to the answer to this particular riddle.
Instead, this looks like an easy enough Scryfall search to me! So let's nail down the particulars of how we're going to rate each tribe. Rather than just do a straight average for each tribe and reward those tribes which have less total cards while punishing those that were well-regarded enough to actually have draft chaff commons, I've instead decided to average the top three Commander-legal cards for each tribe.
Criteria: Creature tribes with the type Monger, Ferret, Soltari, Licid, Rabbit, Dreadnought, Lobster, Oyster, Kobold, Dauthi, Thalakos, Spawn, Gus, Cow, Elves, Lady of Proper Etiquette, or The Biggest, Baddest, Nastiest, or Scariest Creature You'll Ever See. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, although in this case it is the average EDHREC score for the three cards of said tribe.
Joven's Ferrets: 13 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 13 Inclusions)
Let's be honest: Joven's Ferrets shouldn't be a green card. But then, that's exactly why it fits in with today's style of design!
Okay, cheap shots aside, Ferret is a slam dunk of a creature type for the newly discovered cute aspect of Magic that Wizards has been leaning into lately.
Hounds Dogs, but also with just about anything else that's not bidepal in the green and white 1/1 department, Wizards has been turning up the cute this year. Sure, Squirrels have always been there in this niche, but now they're making us feel things about Pigs, Plants, and kitties, too!
Alongside all of that cuteness, it's not hard to imagine that we'll see another Ferret soon. The real question is what color they'll make it. Otters are already blue, so...
Zodiac Rabbit: 22 Inclusions
Vizzerdrix: 21 Inclusions
Jackalope Herd: 9 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 17 Inclusions)
I actually expected Vizzerdrix to be seeing a bit more play, if only for the memes. That aside, Zodiac Rabbit actually should be seeing more play, not only for the memes but also because it's often better than a regular Flying Men in Edric, Spymaster of Trest decks. Could you use a Shanodin Dryads, Jukai Messenger, or Willow Dryad instead? Sure, but then you wouldn't be beating folks about the head and face with a Rabbit!
Giant Oyster: 85 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 85 Inclusions)
Speaking of memes, Giant Oyster is seeing the bulk of its play in Skeleton Ship decks, which you just have to respect. Memes aside, however, there's no getting around the fact that Giant Oyster is a terrible Magic card. That said, that doesn't mean that future Oysters will be, and there's a lot of room to play with in the creature type: small creatures that give you Treasure, small creatures that scry or draw, more giant Oysters that have their trapping creatures ability updated somewhat, super-giant Oysters that act as Walls and can tap down lands.... There's a lot of creativity still to be had. While it would feel a bit humdrum for Gavin's hint to turn out to be an Oyster, no one ever said it had to be an exciting pick that was coming back, and Oysters have a lot to give to Magic if we would just let them!
Wishmonger: 120 Inclusions
Warmonger: 118 Inclusions
Squallmonger: 85 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 108 Inclusions)
That said, this is my personal hope. Mongers are an absolute blast of a mechanic in multiplayer, and with Commander Legends being built entirely around multiplayer and Commander Limited, they just make a lot of sense. As for the original cycle, they're all uncommons from Mercadian Masques that originally only bore the creature type "Monger", but have since been updated with race types as well:
- Wishmonger: Unicorn Monger
- Sailmonger: Human Monger
- Scandalmonger: Boar Monger
- Warmonger: Minotaur Monger
- Squallmonger: ...Monger.
I'm not sure exactly what happened with Squallmonger there. That said, it's actually in my opinion the most useful of all of these, acting as an aggro push on the whole table and also as a means to kill fliers in green, so hopefully we'll figure out if she's an Elf or a Human or a Dryad or Djinn or something in the near future. Regardless of other types, however, the Monger mechanic is an interesting one that hasn't been explored much in Magic. Or maybe I should say that it hasn't been pushed much in Magic. There are actually 39 total cards bearing the words "any player may activate this ability" on them, but of those there are only three to see play in more than 500 decks:
Xantcha, Sleeper Agent has pretty huge numbers, being both an off-the-wall commander and having been printed in a Commander precon. Feral Hydra is a regular-old Hydra that you can play politics with, meaning it sees play in a lot of Hydra decks just to stem off the monotony. Lethal Vapors sees play in a smorgasbord of various decks, the common thread assumedly being that they don't want many creatures around or just want to troll their opponents. Even those three examples that are seeing play are fairly underwhelming from a modern power perspective, however. Xantcha is by far the most aggressively costed, giving those that activate it both a card and two damage for three mana. Feral Hydra costs three for a single +1/+1 counter, which is enough mana that any political deals are going to be hard to come by. Lethal Vapors costs the person who needs their creatures the most a full turn, which is massive, but is also kind of uninteresting just because it almost reads as "skip target player's turn" and nothing else, not to mention the feel-bads that come with that. In other words, there's a lot of space to play with this mechanic in a way that will actually see play, which is why it's my vote for the creature type that should be Brought Back.
Dauthi Trapper: 158 Inclusions
Dauthi Slayer: 89 Inclusions
Dauthi Horror: 88 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 112 Inclusions)
Back in the days of Tempest block, there was a parasitic mechanic known as Shadow. Although this semi-unblockable mechanic was later copied in Portal: Three Kingdoms as Horsemanship, the flavor of Shadow always made a bit more sense to me: creatures living in a nearby shadow dimension that could appear from nowhere, swipe at an unsuspecting planeswalker, and slip back into their realm with ease. Dauthi Trapper took this idea to a whole other level, however, with the ability to give any creature Shadow until end of turn while avoiding the disadvantage of a Shadow creature being unable to block when you needed it to. While the rest of the Dauthi tribe can provide low-to-the-ground aggro, not to mention seeing a bit of play in Rakdos, Lord of Riots and Drana, Liberator of Malakir decks as a result, Trapper, itself, is carrying the tribe because it can target any creature at will, allowing it to destroy creatures in Horobi, Death's Wail and keeping your Xantcha, Sleeper Agent alive and dealing damage. Still, there's a reason that the Dauthi are the least popular of the Shadow tribes. There's just not anything that unique or good to build off of here, at least with our current printings.
Crookshank Kobolds: 152 Inclusions
Crimson Kobolds: 139 Inclusions
Kobolds of Kher Keep: 135 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 142 Inclusions)
Kobolds have a much more consistent home, given their zero-mana nature. While there is some tribal play with Rohgahh of Kher Keep, the majority of play is actually spread out among lots of different decks trying to run combo as low to the ground as possible. Looking at the most popular commanders, you do see a slight bump in the direction of Zada, Hedron Grinder, but the High Synergy Cards section is actually much more telling as to what these creatures are being used for.
The common thread between decks playing the various Kobolds of Kher Keep is decks looking to operate for free. Gitaxian Probes, Simian and Elvish Spirit Guides, and Underworld Breaches all tell us that we're looking at decks looking to go off in huge turns of free stuff, as early as possible. Whether that be for a combo (likely, given the 54% synergy with Thassa's Oracle or just to Storm off for some triggers, the take-home for Kobolds is that they're looking for a Cheerios type of experience. Unfortunately, looking at the inclusion numbers, it looks like many people have tried to recreate a monster of a deck that can operate at zero mana, but none of them have really succeeded in a way that can compete in an actually competitive environment. As for whether or not Kobolds could be the creature type in question for Commander Legends, it seems unlikely, as there has never been a zero-mana colored creature since the original Kobolds of Legends.
Dominating Licid: 258 Inclusions
Tempting Licid: 151 Inclusions
Nurturing Licid: 38 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 149 Inclusions)
Similarly, Licids have proven to be an absolute rules nightmare, and as such are unlikely to be revisited. That said, their unique ability to flit between being an Aura and a creature at instant speed (and often without use of the stack; don't ask, like I said, rules nightmare) has given them more than a bit of play. Tempting Licid is generally at home in any deck looking to push other creatures through turn after turn, but especially so in Gorm the Great/Virtus the Veiled decks, where it acts as a backup commander that is often better than the actual commander. The Cream of the Crop is Dominating Licid, however, which sees all sorts of play as a repeatable Control Magic. Possibly the best tech I've seen with it, however, is making brains wrinkle in Mairsil, the Pretender decks, allowing the Grixis wizard to have pseudo-hexproof by moonlighting as an Aura while still being able to use the other activated abilities of cards in exile. Just keep in mind that you won't actually get to control the creature you target with the Licid-as-Marisil, as it isn't an activated ability, although you can still end the effect. Like I said, get ready to wrinkle some brains!
Soltari Champion: 417 Inclusions
Soltari Crusader: 96 Inclusions
Soltari Emissary: 42 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 185 Inclusions)
For a more straightforward approach, however, we can head back to a Shadow tribe almost entirely based around White Weenie. Given that aggro sadly doesn't actually see much play in EDH, however, only Soltari Champion really sees much play. Given that Wizards hasn't given up on aggro in Commander, however, and that Commander Legends is a limited set first, I think it's very possible that we could see a return of Shadow in white someday, albeit only alongside the return of the other Shadow tribes as well.
Thalakos Seer: 1071 Inclusions
Thalakos Deceiver: 544 Inclusions
Thalakos Scout: 80 Inclusions
(Three-Card Average: 565 Inclusions)
That said, the blue Shadow tribe is by far the most played, which is strange, as blue already has access to a whole bunch of creatures that can't be blocked. The reason is that the Thalakos tribe as a whole comes with extra abilities tacked on to their Shadow, as opposed to just being about aggro as is the case in the white and black tribes. Again, given that Commander in its current state cares little for aggro, the Thalakos' extra abilities reign supreme, allowing for decks that care about sneaking in small amounts of combat damage to draw cards or what have you to then draw more cards on death with Thalakos Seer or take control of a creature by sacrificing a Thalakos Deceiver. If we do see a return of the Shadow tribes someday, then I think it will be interesting to see more of these sorts of effects on small Shadow creatures spread out across more of the color pie, as that is much more the norm of design these days.
Phyrexian Dreadnought: 1006 Inclusions
(One-Card Average: 1006 Inclusions)
Phyrexian Dreadnought is the only Dreadnought, winning both the average of EDHREC inclusions and dollar price easily among the competing tribes in our criteria. That said, I don't think it's actually very likely that we'll see a return to this creature type, as Wizards has already done so in various Vehicles, which probably would have been the case with Phyrexian Dreadnought as well if Vehicles had been an option back in Tempest.
Which is a bit of a dissapointment, when it comes to Commander Legends... but also has me thinking about Phyrexian Vehicles, which more than makes up for it?
First off, there was only one tribe left with a non-silver-bordered example, and it also has a phenomenon I always knew existed but had never actually seen in research: Zero EDHREC inclusions.
That's right, Elder Spawn has not been included in any EDH decks in the last two years. And honestly, it's not hard to see why. Seven mana for a 6/6 that deals damage to you if you don't sacrifice an Island each turn might have been good enough to include in a couple Zedruu the Greathearted decks for the laughs, only it also sacrifices itself in addition to the damage. In other words, there really isn't a spot for this old card, although I am hopeful that we'll see more of the Spawn creature type someday if the Eldrazi ever rear their ugly heads again. Which, let's be honest... They will!
Top 10 Creatures with Creature Types That Haven't Been Printed in the Last 20 Years
From that clunky title, it should be obvious why I decided to highlight the tribes themselves rather than the cards that make them up, but I did figure there would be some interest in which creatures were actually the best from this criteria:
- Thalakos Seer
- Phyrexian Dreadnought
- Soltari Visionary
- Thalakos Deceiver
- Soltari Foot Soldier
- Soltari Champion
- Dominating Licid
- Soltari Trooper
- Soltari Priest
- Soltari Monk
All right, I know I said I didn't understand how Tumblr works, but given that the more studious among us have probably already figured out this hint, it seems silly not to let folks know what the answer is. MaRo's Tumblr dropped the following commander creature types, including the answer to Gavin's hint:
• Legendary Creature - Horse
• Legendary Creature – Elemental Lizard
• Legendary Creature – Spirit Pirate
• Legendary Creature – Elephant Warrior
• Legendary Creature – Chimera
• Legendary Creature – Naga Druid
• Legendary Creature – Turtle Shaman
• Legendary Creature – Imp
• Legendary Creature – Faerie Knight
• Legendary Creature – Rabbit Wizard
Gavin then dropped the above artwork in his next series of hints on Good Morning Magic, stating it was for a reprint uncommon. Seems a bit gruesome for another Polymorph artwork featuring a Rabbit, but then again, so was the original!
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
The return of Rabbits seems to be a continuing trend toward bringing out the cute in Magic, which I know I personally am a fan of. That said, I'm not sure that everyone I've talked to has been, so it seems like something we might want to poll for some opinions on!
And finally, what do you think of the return of some old, unsupported creature types? Are you excited about the prospect of more coming?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the ancient metal folding table you pulled out of the closet at your parents house to play some games.