Top Ten Creatures in Old School

Today we have a pretty awesome guest post from Jared Doucette. Jared was the first person I met in real life who played Old School. He was the only person (besides my friend that came with me) that showed to my meet up back in September of 2016. Since then I’ve played against him pretty regularly at the New England Old School meets at Granfanally’s. Anyways, check his thoughts for the top ten creatures in old school!







I have been playing Old School with my comrades from the New England Old School group for nearly 2 years now. I guess I would consider myself a founding member of our merry band of NEOS card slingers. In my brief time in the joyous world of Old School Magic the Gathering (a game by Richard Garfield), I have played many games against many different people and many different decks. My history with this game goes way back to early 1995 when I saw my first Magic card at a Boy Scout retreat (Armor Thrull from Fallen Empires).

One of the things I love about Old School Magic is the creatures. It is so interesting to see how creatures developed during the early stages of the game. I get the feeling when developing the game in the early stages they were very nervous about how strong to make creatures. So many are completely underpowered and are not even on par for a vanilla creature (I’m looking at you, Grey Ogre). But there are also some truly exceptional ones that, if it were not for the gradual power creep of 25 years, would still hold up today.

I’m not just judging these cards in a vacuum. I am judging and ranking each creature based on its place in the metagame, the synergies it has with other cards, the diversity and number of decks it can go into, as well as the overall efficiency of the card itself. Constructive criticism and debate are always appreciated. Here we go…

Nostalgic Honorable Mentions
– Sengir Vampire
– Mahamoti Djinn
– Shivan Dragon
– Juggernaut

I feel like these were all our favorite cards as kids. They are big, they smash hard, and they are iconic. As you get older and better at the game you understand the limitations of cards like these, but even now, if they go unanswered, they still can win the game.

Real Honorable Mentions
– Argothian Pixies
– Thunder Spirit
– Atog
– Preacher

Pixies basically blanks one of the most played cards in the format, Mishra’s Factory (which will not be featured on this list even though it likes to act like a creature occasionally). Thunder Spirit does so much for its mana cost, unfortunately it doesn’t see much play outside of White Weenie due to the WW. Atog is a pet favorite of mine, and I love its all-in burst potential, and it makes for some really fun deck building. Preacher is an underappreciated card that creates an awesome sub game and it has good flavor



#10) Kird Ape
Good old Curtis was once considered so good it was banned. A 2/3 for R is an unbeatable P/T for the mana cost. A staple in aggressive and tempo based decks such as Naya and RUG Zoo as well as classic RG Beats. In a format without fetchlands, sometimes finding the Forest can be tough and you need to keep that in consideration when deck building. When it works, it’s great.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 5.33.59 PM

#9) Hypnotic Specter
Swamp-Ritual-Hippie is a turn 1 play that we have all made in our days slinging these spells. While it is vulnerable and dies to Lightning Bolt, a 2-power flyer that can rip apart a hand should not be discounted. A cornerstone of all the black-based decks, it is a must-answer threat.


#8) Triskelion
I have never actually played this card, but I certainly am aware of its power. A 6 mana 4/4 is not exactly on par with power level, even in Old School, but the versatility in its ability to fling 1 damage as desired is incredible. Pinging off 1 toughness creatures, hitting face then bursting for three more, making combat math a real challenge… he does a lot. A favorite in all ramp artifact and reanimator strategies, Trike lays its claim on the board when it lands.


#7) Birds of Paradise
1-mana color fixing ramping flyer. Wow, that’s a lot on a card. Color fixing is at a premium in this format that relies so much on the top of the deck. BoP, and its monochromatic friend Llanowar Elves are great ways to ramp up to larger threats earlier. An undervalued part of this card is that it flies. It can be a last ditch chump blocker. It can even be a win condition when it is Unstable Mutationed and Giant Growthed and finally Berserked FTW. Seen in nearly all multicolored green midrange and ramp decks, plus UG Berserk.


#6) Savannah Lions
Wait a minute, Savannah Lions this much higher than Kird Ape? Isn’t Kird Ape just better? Well yes, a 2/3 is better than a 2/1, but the sheer number of W/x-based aggro and tempo decks that feature this ferocious feline is amazing. 2 power on turn 1 really starts the clock quickly. Not to mention that as a one drop, the 2 power often can trade up to a 2 or 3 drop during combat. This is the original aggro starter and has been the standard that all other one drops are compared to.

Alright, time for the top 5. I didn’t mean to do this but I’m amazed to say that every color is represented here which is awesome.


#5) Erhnam Djinn
4/5 for 3G is HUGE in Old School. The 5 toughness is a huge butt to try to fight through. The single colored mana cost makes it so this card can be in nearly any midrange deck or aggro deck that wants green. It is the namesake card of two staple decks of the format, Erhnam and Burn ‘Em as well as Erhnamgeddon. The downside is often negligible, as you can assign the forestwalk to a creature that already has flying or just blow up all the lands with Armageddon and then there is no forests to even walk on!!!


#4) Sedge Troll
3/3 for 3 that essentially requires two colors is not good value on the surface but the regeneration that black adds as well as the extra +1/+1 make this an absolutely annoying card to play against. Sedge Troll’s only real answer is a Swords to Plowshares (which pretty much every creature in Old School loses to). Where the Troll truly shines is when combined with Nev’s Disk. The huge tempo swing of popping the disk, regenerating your Troll to survive the board wipe and then start attacking is one of the biggest board flips in Old School. While it is not in a lot of decks, it takes over the game whenever it is involved.

juzam 2 front

#3) Juzam Djinn
I feel like wizards has tried to remake this card so many times. A 4 mana 5/5 is a true monster. It is waaay above curve, especially in the Old School environment. The “downside” is negligible. The true downside to this card is its actual money cost, which I feel is truly what keeps it from being played more than anything else.


#2) Serra Angel
The original Queen. A true legend of the game. This card is strong and balanced. It is not only a strong clock in the mid- to late game but is also one of the best cards to protect you. Everyone knows how great this card is. It is such an important card to the format and the history of the game. It has been the classic control or midrange finisher since the beginning of the game, and still rules the skies to this day. The double WW limits some of its playability, but given that Swords and Disenchant (2 of the 3 best removal spells in the format) are also both white, it makes this a very easy include.

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#1) Serendib Efreet
Aggro, Midrange, Control. This creature is in nearly every deck that plays blue. Its versatility is only surpassed by its efficiency. 2U for a 3/4 is already way above the Old School curve. The 4 toughness laughs at Lightning Bolt all day. Then to add to that, it flies! This card is so hard to answer early in the game. The 3 attack with evasion can put a quick clock on your opponent. Much like with Juzam, you are more than happy to take a damage each turn for all the stats and flying in the world. The only bad part about this card is that its Revised printing was subject to one of the worst and most famous misprints in all of Magic.

So there we have it. The top 10 creatures in Old School. Were my rankings crazy? Did I totally miss something? Please comment below and let the discussion begin. I hope to make this a bit a of a series going through all the different Card Types for Old School. So any help is certainly welcome. Until next time friends don’t forget to Untap, Upkeep, and Draw your way to a great time.


6 thoughts on “Top Ten Creatures in Old School

  1. I admit old school format is interesting but edh is where my heart is at in magic. The lore, the puzzles, the way one can make an incredibly awesome deck out of both bad cards and good cards and with a win so obsure it took 3 years to develop with its 15 card combo- that sort of thing. However old school does have some amazing good cards like the BB Kazam djinn. The format is nice but it will never grow sadly. It will stay stuck in time.


  2. @Jared
    Awesome article my friend. Can’t wsit to see more from the series on instants, sorceries, artifacts, etc. It would be a fun read I’m sure.

    The old school format has already seen significant growth in the past couple years. If you look at recent prices on cards from this era, you will also see that those have been on the rise. Part of that is buyouts, but collectors edition for example is also skyrocketing which cannot be played in another format. People who start this format can’t get enough (Myself included).

    This format staying “stuck in time” is actually the point. This format brings us back to the early days of magic, and for those that didn’t play then, it gives them a chance to feel what it was like!

    You should really give it a solid chance. Build a WW or Mono Black deck with Revised/4th edition cards or something and join the old school online group. It’s tons of fun. Would love to see you pick up old school and enjoy it!


  3. Nice article. I disagree with a few of your points though. Atog has a powerful archetype based around him, whereas Birds Of Paradise struggle to get played even in five-colour decks. Mishra’s Factory isn’t technically a creature but I think he probably does an inordinate amount of the combat damage inflicted in the format, especially with the tap-block (an ability which, incidentally, hugely weakens Savannah Lions). And Su-Chi receives a lot more play than Triskelion – arguably one of the most adaptable creatures in the format (and probably also superior to Erhnam). This said, I recognise it’s a personal thing! My favourite creature is Ball Lightning, so that probably tells you about my priorities 🙂


  4. I love this article. Sedge Troll is an absolute monster, completely agree with most of this. My only swap would be I would put Argothian Pixies in over Birds of Paradise. Pixies are so good against a lot of the heavy hitters…factory workers, Triskelion, su-chi, Ect. Great article!


  5. Indeed, excellent article good ser. I might be the only person who actually would love to also see a “Top Ten Worst Creatures” (even worse than the big dumb awesome Legends) – I thought I’d put it out there, just in case someone might find it interesting, or even just to have a laugh.

    Probably look something like this (in no particular order):

    Wood Elemental
    Ghosts of the Damned
    Bird Maiden
    Devouring Deep
    Cyclopean Mummy
    Elder Spawn
    Hornet Cobra
    Fire Drake

    Great articles man, sincerely good stuff that is very much enjoyed. Cheers!


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