Haste has to be one of the most impactful abilities you can put on a creature. Typically, an opponent is given the chance to respond to a creature after it’s been played – they get a turn to figure out how they want to deal with it before it attacks and starts making an impact. Giving that creature haste, however, completely flips the script on that concept, as haste creatures have an immediate impact not just on the board but potentially on life totals as well. Given all this, it comes as no surprise that there have been some extremely powerful haste creatures printed over the years – let’s get across some of the best of them!
There aren’t many cards that compare to Hazoret as an impactful mono-red finisher. This card is exactly what a mono-red aggro deck is looking for – a huge, resilient, hasty turn four play to put the final nail in the coffin, a way to mitigate flood by turning extra lands into bad Shocks, and a “can’t attack” drawback that isn’t really a drawback in any fast aggro deck, as your hand will usually be empty anyway. Hazoret was one of the scariest cards in Standard while it was part of that format, and with good reason.
One of the pitfalls low-to-the-ground red decks have is a tendency to run out of cards if opponents make a good go of stabilizing the board with a reasonable life total. If they survive the initial onslaught, finding the resources needed to actually cross the line can be very difficult – unless you have a way to draw extra cards, which isn’t usually the case in red. Bomat Courier changes that, providing initial aggression alongside a little cache of cards for you to put to use in later turns, once its 1/1 body has been outshone.
Believe it or not, this card was once considered too strong for Modern, and sat on the ban list for years before finally being liberated. Unlike most haste creatures, it’s not what you’d consider a hugely aggressive card, but it is extremely impactful nonetheless. For four mana, you can go from an empty board to an 3/2 attacking alongside another varied threat like Liliana of the Veil, or perhaps a removal spell to deal with their best card. BBE has done a ton of work in Boomer Jund over the years, but these days only sees minimal play here and there.
Why have one hasty creature when you can give your entire team haste? Maelstrom Wanderer is a ridiculous card for EDH, where it’s one of the most popular commanders in cascade decks, alongside things like Averna, the Chaos Bloom or Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder. It’s not unusual to play the Wanderer, cascading into two huge threats (often with cascade themselves), and then swinging with the entire team then and there thanks to the Wanderer giving everything haste. Except, of course, someone will have a removal spell and strand the team before attacks. Why do people hate fun so much?
Here’s a haste card that you’ll never see in a fair deck. If you’re playing cheap creatures and have a graveyard theme, it might be worth looking at Vengevine. This guy sees play in various Modern decks at the moment – Crab Vine, Hollow One – but it’s also quite popular in Legacy and even Vintage! Legacy Madness plays it alongside Hollow One and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, while Vintage includes it in a ridiculous Bazaar of Baghdad deck, where Rootwallas can bring it back for free.
Another unfair haste card, Kiki-Jiki is rarely played for value. Rather, it was always used in combination with cards like Restoration Angel back when Birthing Pod was legal in Modern, as an infinite combo that would end the game as soon as the two cards were out together. Some brave souls also attempted to use Kiki-Jiki as a replacement for Splinter Twin when Twin got banned, but that didn’t really pan out so well. Unban Twin, you cowards!
Goldspan Dragon remains one of Standard’s most potent threats, with its ability to pile pressure on while also boosting your mana enormously the moment it is played. Turns out having a five-mana 4/4 hasty flyer that will more or less pay for itself is pretty good – especially when you can Negate the removal spell they use to kill it with mana it produced by itself. Goldspan Dragon even got nerfed in Alchemy, but is still a force to be reckoned with there thanks to the power of Fearsome Whelp.
While Arclight Phoenix isn’t as dominant as it once was, it has remained relevant in multiple Constructed formats ever since it was first printed. Modern’s loss of Faithless Looting was a devastating blow to this card’s power, but it’s still played in Historic (where Looting, by no coincidence, is still legal). Arclight Phoenix is a hasty, evasive beater that just keeps coming back, over and over again, and Izzet decks of all kinds have been chaining spells together to keep the damage flowing for years now.
The iconic card for aggressive Burn decks, Goblin Guide sets the standard for a, aggressive one-drop as a one-mana 2/2. It’s not the only one, by any means – there are 28 of them, all told – but I think it’s fair to say that none have the same power as Goblin Guide. Turn one Goblin Guide on the play is an absolutely brutal opening, and not just for the damage – it often means the opponent will have to discard to hand size if they manage to hit a land off the Guide’s trigger!
For my money, no haste creature has as much impact as Craterhoof Behemoth. There aren’t many games that don’t immediately end the turn this huge monster comes down – it juices up the entire team and gets ’em into the red zone along with it. This card is one of the most common ways to close out a game of Commander that has gone on too long – you slam the Craterhoof, hope no one has a counterspell, and attack for ten thousand damage. They can count their blockers if they like, but here’s the truth: it’ll never be enough.