Top 10 Best Looters in MTG – Riley Ranks

Drawing and then discarding – otherwise known as “looting” – is an age-old mechanic in Magic, dating back over 20 years. It’s a surprisingly useful effect to have access to, as well – and not just when you’re playing with graveyard-based synergies, either. Plenty of looting cards have been high-tier Constructed staples, and today we’re going to get across some of the best looters. Here we go!



Header - 10. Merfolk Looter

Merfolk Looter

The original, but certainly not the best – Merfolk Looter has been around since 1998, and while this card is a big part of why the mechanic of drawing and then discarding is called “looting”, this two-mana 1/1 hasn’t really stood the test of time. You’d take it in draft and play it quite happily, but Merfolk Looter appears on this list for its iconic status rather than its power level. 


Header - 9. Gate to the Afterlife

Gate to the Afterlife

We were all a little confused when Gate to the Afterlife was printed, mentioning “a card named God-Pharaoh’s Gift” that didn’t yet exist. Wizards has done this sort of thing a few times – Renowned Weaponsmith is another good example – and as you might expect, Gate to the Afterlife synergizes excellently with the card it later fetches. Not only does it reward you for having your creatures die, it also offers you the opportunity to discard more creatures to dig further into your library (or discard GPG so you can Refurbish it back, that works too). 


Header - 8. Jeskai Ascendancy

Jeskai Ascendancy

Jeskai Ascendancy was one of the centerpieces in a convoluted but very powerful Modern combo deck, which used mana dorks like… Fatestitcher? Yep, Fatestitcher – to combo off by cycling through one-mana cantrips, tapping and untapping the dorks and growing them to colossal proportions before tapping down blockers and attacking for lethal. Cerulean Wisps has never looked so powerful?


Header - 7. Improbable Alliance

Improbable Alliance

For awhile in pre-rotation Standard, Boros Cycling was a cheap but powerful deck that took people by surprise with its speed and consistency. Sometimes, however, the deck was Jeskai-colored, and there was one very good reason for the blue splash: Improbable Alliance. This card further rewarded you for cycling things away, offering two Faeries per turn cycle as well as a (pretty overcosted) looting effect if you ran out of gas. You didn’t run out of gas too often with the cycling deck, but this was a useful plan B if you did!


Header - 6. Desolate Lighthouse

Desolate Lighthouse

The Innistrad spell lands are all so sweet – except Stensia Bloodhall and Grim Backwoods (they kinda suck) – and Desolate Lighthouse was right up there with the best of ’em for quite awhile. Often put to use in Modern decks like Jeskai or Izzet Control and even sometimes in Splinter Twin, having a repeatable looting effect that was pretty cheap and didn’t cost a card gave you a lot of fuel for the late game. 


Header - 5. The Locust God

The Locust God


An EDH favorite, The Locust God is a card that can get out of control very quickly indeed. It can combo with cards like Skullclamp and Ashnod’s Altar to go infinite, or just reward you handsomely in any deck that likes to draw extra cards (which is, like, every blue-red deck, essentially). And failing that, just like Improbable Alliance, it has a built-in, repeatable looting effect for you to take advantage of, and flood the board with swarms of Insects!


Header - 4. Baral, Chief of Compliance

Baral, Chief of Compliance (Timeshifted)

When Brawl was first announced, this card almost killed the format on the spot. Baral was a role-player in Standard at the time, but he effectively broke the new Brawl format in two because of just how oppressive he was in counterspell decks. You’d play a turn-two Baral, and then just counter every single card your opponent played for one less mana plus a free loot to make sure you keep drawing counters. It was extremely frustrating to play against, and Baral got the chop from Brawl as a result, one of the first cards in the format to be banned.


Header - 3. The Celestus

The Celestus

Look through any slower blue-based deck in Standard, and you’ll usually see a copy or two of The Celestus. And with very good reason! This card is a great way to buffer your life total a bit, loot away bad cards to improve your hand, and – of course – manage those pesky Werewolves on the other side of the field. Alright, admittedly, that last part isn’t hugely relevant, but when you’re playing a slow deck filled with one-ofs, looting to the cards you need while gaining life is definitely very relevant indeed. 


Header - 2. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy puts Merfolk Looter to shame. As a two-mana looter, it does a lot more than sit there and filter your draws – it turns into a pretty powerful planeswalker that is pretty difficult to answer through either its plus or minus ability, as required. This card was so powerful that Abzan decks were splashing for it during Khans Standard – but then again, we had fetchlands back then, so playing Jace alongside Siege Rhino wasn’t actually all that difficult. 


Header - 1. Smuggler's Copter

Smuggler's Copter

For my money, the best looter ever printed, Smuggler’s Copter, was banned in Standard back in 2017, and it didn’t take too long for it to be banned in Pioneer once that format was announced as well. The “looter scooter” was so powerful, so impactful and so cheap that it warped formats around it wherever it went. Who would have guessed a two-mana 3/3 flyer with significant upside could ever have been that good?


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