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Top 5 Best Four-Mana 4/4s – Riley Ranks

Magic is full of iconic creatures of all kinds, large and small. Given this, I wondered to myself what the most iconic creature at each stat line and mana value is – so I decided to do my research and try to come up with definitive lists for each creature with square stats (1/1, 2/2, etc.) with equivalent mana values! This time around, we’re looking at four-mana 4/4s!

 

 

Header - 5. Questing Beast

Questing Beast

 

This card just doesn’t have three heads – it has three cards’ worth of rules text as well. Questing Beast always seemed to have a new line of text that was somehow specifically relevant to your board state every time an opponent attacked with it – if you remembered you couldn’t block it with 2/2s, you’d forget it also hits planeswalkers when it damages you. If you factored in them playing one and being able to both attack and block with it the turn it came down, you’d forget that it wrecks protection with its weird no-damage-prevention text. 

This card was extremely popular in Standard throughout its entire lifespan, and it wasn’t even one of Throne of Eldraine’s most powerful cards. Imagine that! It also found a home in Historic, where Gruul decks still pair it with a card that makes it into even more of a rules headache – Embercleave. You try to chump-block the 5/5 double striking Questing Beast with a 1/1, remember you can’t, and then chuck the entire team in front of it to trade only to remember that deathtouch, double strike and trample mean that you lost four creatures and still took six trample damage. Nice one, Questing Beast. One day, I’ll remember all your abilities – but not today. 

 

Header - 4. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen

 

Grixis mages only want one thing, and it’s disgusting – they want to play Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, make you discard, attack for four, flip it into Nicol Bolas, the Arisen and draw two cards themselves. Luckily, Grixis is unplayable in every format – although that doesn’t stop them trying. Grixis mages are persistent, if nothing else. 

Bolas fans around the world continue to debate whether “real” disciples of the Dragon-God play this or the original eight-mana Nicol Bolas makes them a more authentic Grixis mage, and it’s a debate I don’t care to get involved in (although from a pure power level standpoint, a four-mana 4/4 flyer that guarantees a two-for-one and transforms into a beastly planeswalker does seem pretty good). 

Whatever the case, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager remains one of the most powerful and certainly one of the most expensive four-mana 4/4s ever printed, and it’s nice seeing it every now and again in Historic in the hands of determined Grixis mages – if only for the free win that comes with playing against Grixis. 

 

Header - 3. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

 

As I’ve talked about before, every single EDH player on the face of the Earth has, at one point, considered making an Atraxa deck. Some actually follow through, too – the cost of Doubling Season be damned – and soon she’s helping to proliferate +1/+1 counters on your creatures, -1/-1 counters on their creatures or loyalty counters on an army of superfriends. 

Atraxa decks are fun, but they are not easy on the hip pocket and require a significant outlay to get started. Atraxa herself has come down in price a fair bit thanks to a Double Masters reprint, which is nice, but nonetheless decks playing her are full of expensive cards, from the aforementioned Doubling Season to cards like Vorinclex – not to mention all the planeswalkers if you go for superfriends!

All the same, she has remained a Commander mainstay, and even if she’s a little overplayed, the stuff she helps players do is very cool. And on top of all that, she’s a 4/4 vigilant, deathtouching, lifelinking flyer – who knew? 

 

Header - 2. Thought-Knot Seer

Thought-Knot Seer

 

The one-two punch that was Thought-Knot Seer into Reality Smasher was absolutely devastating across multiple formats, leading to a period infamously remembered as “Eldrazi Winter.” Oath of the Gatewatch’s experiments with colorless mana requirements backfired significantly, as it turns out that it’s quite easy to generate colorless mana very quickly indeed – particularly in Modern, where Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin led to disgusting, unbeatable starts. 

Eldrazi Mimic came down for free with Eye of Ugin, and turn-two Thought-Knot Seers not only juiced them up but also stripped the opponent’s hand of their best answer to the board. It was a horrible, horrible time – if you’ll believe it, Affinity started boarding in Ensnaring Bridge, and attacking with Signal Pests to win. Eye of Ugin was eventually banned, but even today Modern players will shiver in fear when reminded of early 2016. 

Thought-Knot Seer is still part of fringe Eldrazi and Taxes strategies, still working hand-in-hand – or tentacle-in-weird-appendage, I suppose – with Reality Smasher to take down games. It’s nowhere near as dominant as it used to be, and good thing, too – four-mana 4/4s aren’t really supposed to be cast on turn two, after all. 

 

Header - 1. Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation

 

He burnt hot and bright, completely and utterly dominated Standard the moment he was printed, and then was banned out of Standard within a month of joining the format. With cards like Escape to the Wilds, it was not difficult to trigger Omnath multiple times a turn, and it turns out that a four-mana 4/4 that replaces itself on both cards and mana while also gaining you a stack of life and dinging the opponent is pretty, pretty good. 

It didn’t take long for it to also get the axe from Historic, being moved from suspended to banned in February of this year. Omnath is still legal in Modern, although in recent months has seen a dip in popularity and power, thanks to the way the format developed post-Modern Horizons 2. Still, Five-Color Omnath with Bring to Light, Teferi, Time Raveler, Wrenn and Six and Kaldheim’s Tibbers still gets it done. A rogue’s gallery of busted cards!

Omnath is arguable the best four-mana 4/4 ever printed. It certainly received one of the fastest bans in the game’s history, that much is indisputable, and given that it’s still seeing play, as a four-drop, in Modern, says a lot about how good it is. For those in Standard, alas, poor Omnath, we hardly knew ye – but I think, ultimately, that that’s probably a good thing.

 

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