It’s the spookiest time of the year – a time to quietly think about the things that scare us most, and reflect on all the insidious, creeping horrors that keep us up at night. What fun! In honor of scary season, today we’re counting down the top 10 creepiest tribes in Magic. Here we go!
Rats have a pretty bad reputation as nasty, scary animals that carry disease and plague. This might not be completely baseless – they did help spread the fleas that acted as a vector for the Black Death – but overall, rats aren’t as horrible as you might believe, as they’re actually clever, social animals. But in popular media they’re often portrayed as creepy, unpleasant creatures, and it’s no different in Magic. From your regular disease-ridden vermin to the humanoid Nezumi on Kamigawa, rats in Magic aren’t often made to look very nice.
The overwhelming majority of Constructs in Magic are fine – no one is getting creeped out by a Staunch Throneguard or Guardians of Koilos. But given that Creepy Doll and Stuffy Doll are both Constructs, and given that there a handful of other constructs that give you the heebie-jeebies (Duskworker, Trespassing Souleater and Kiln Walker, to name a few), I feel that Constructs at least warrant inclusion on this list.
I don’t want to tar all Insects with the same brush, as some Insects are spectacular to look at and the furthest thing from creepy: there’s nothing nasty about cards like Emerald Dragonfly, Goldenglow Moth or Bond Beetle. But right at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got some really horrid creatures. In addition to the three above, there is no shortage of other skin-crawling examples: Brain Maggot, Invader Parasite… Golgari Longlegs? What even is that? As an Australian, I’m used to large, gross bugs, but even then some of these Insects in Magic are too much for me.
Demons aren’t even going to appear in the “top 10 creature types you’d like to hang out and chill with”, it’s true, but even so there are some Demons in Magic that don’t just stop at the horns and the wings and all the rest of it. You’ve got cards like Liege of the Pit, with a bare, open ribcage on display for all to see. There’s Archdemon of Unx, which is half-Demon, half-Dragon, and half-nightmare fuel. And, most perplexingly of all, there’s Spirit of the Night – a card so scary, it switches art style halfway across itself!
Naturally, there is no lack of extremely creepy Zombies. Unlike tribes such as Constructs, where being creepy is a sometimes food, the overwhelming majority of Zombies aren’t very nice to look at (the ones that are tend to be wrapped up in bandages – thanks, Amonkhet). From A to Z, Magic’s zombies are absolutely horrid: Abattoir Ghoul is extremely unpleasant to look at, and the menacing Zombie Trailblazer is a completely different type of creepy. And it’s not just human Zombies, either – there’s horse Zombies (Ghoulsteed), crocodile Zombies (Moldering Karok) and even camel Zombies too (Wretched Camel)!
Eldrazi are supposed to tap into Lovecraftian, cosmic horror, with otherworldly beings with altogether too many arms and legs bent into horrific, unnatural shapes. These creatures, often unpleasantly tentacular in nature, run the gamut from small and slithering, like Ruination Guide, to great big blobs of misshapen flesh, such as Wasteland Strangler. The Eldrazi even corrupted other forms: Wretched Gryff and Elder Deep-Fiend are hideous, twisted mockeries of their former selves.
Spirits are more or less the Magic world’s stand-in for ghosts, so of course there are going to be some very creepy ones. Some Spirits are fine, and faithfully represent the forms of those they were in life: Ethereal Elk, Lost Legion and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit can hardly be described as creepy. Then there are the more traditional creepy ghosts, like Dungeon Geists and Fogwalker. There are cards like Murmuring Phantasm, who doesn’t seem to be murmuring so much as it does screaming, and Ghost Ship, which is a ship that… died? Somehow?
Given that this creature type is supposed to be the embodiment of the terrifying visions we sometimes have while sleeping, it won’t come as a shock to see nightmares as one of Magic’s creepiest tribes. Many Nightmares – similar to Eldrazi – are corruptions of existing creature types, such as Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar, Helica Glider and perhaps the most famous Nightmare of all, Nightmare. Get it? Because it’s a night… mare? Like a horse? Forget it.
Horror, as a creature type, seems to be a catch-all tribe for anything that is just, like, real nasty and doesn’t necessarily fit anywhere else. You could essentially use any horror, picked at random, as an example of just how creepy this creature type is: from Mindslicer to Flesh Reaver to the brand-new (or brand-old, I suppose) Old Stickfingers. There aren’t a lot of nice-looking Horrors, it won’t surprise you to learn. They’re all teeth and tentacles and claws and various other sharp bits. No thanks.
Finally, Magic’s creepiest creature type is – above all others – Scarecrow. I don’t know what kind of farms the creative team visits, but there is no sign of the usual jolly straw hat, old plaid shirt, and worn-out gloves all arranged on a broom handle. What use is a Lockjaw Snapper going to be against birds? Or a Fang Skulkin, for that matter? No, instead of regular Scarecrows, we’ve got misshapen, spindly, terrifying monstrosities at every turn. Never mind Scarecrow, these things are all scarehumans.