Top 5 Deathtouch Creatures – Riley Ranks

Deathtouch is a handy ability that lets creatures punch well above their weight in combat, and enables all sorts of sneaky tricks with things like first strike and fight spells. Deathtouch is great both on offence and defense, as it allows you power through bigger blockers or hold off attacks that would otherwise outsize your board. Today, we’re going to talk through some of the best deathtouch creatures ever printed – large and small alike – and talk about how they’ve impacted various formats. Let’s get to it!



Header - 5. Wurmcoil Engine

Wurmcoil Engine


Most deathtouch creatures are small, with the idea being that they can trade off against larger creatures in combat. It’s weird to have a 6/6 deathtouch creature, as a 6/6 is probably big enough to beat most other creatures in combat, never mind trade off with them – but when it comes to Wurmcoil Engine, it makes sense for it to have deathtouch as well as lifelink, given the card’s death trigger. 

Splitting into two smaller worms (or Wurms, I suppose), one of them having lifelink and the other having deathtouch, usually means Wurmcoil Engine will get you a two-for-one, as it’s very difficult to deal with two deathtouch creatures with a single card (especially when one of them is a 6/6!). On top of that, you’re usually up a lot of life thanks to the lifelink – just don’t expect it to do much work against cards like Path to Exile!

As something of a side note, I still remember the first time I found out about this card. I’d only been playing Magic for a month or so, and I was convinced that the guy telling me about it, PJ, was lying. I was so sure he was making up a tall story about a 6/6 that made two 3/3s when it died. Sure, PJ, there’s no way you’re telling the truth. Imagine how my tiny mind was blown when I actually saw that it was a real card – at that stage of my Magic career, I was still trying to figure out how to beat a Vampire Nighthawk!


Header - 4. Yarok, the Desecrated

Yarok, the Desecrated


Who doesn’t love a Panharmonicon? This one attacks and blocks, too, and is a marvelous way to stabilize the board when you’re under pressure. And, all-too-often, when you’re playing a Yarok deck, filled with slow, clunky creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects, you tend to need all the stabilization potential you can get. 

Again, the combination of deathtouch and lifelink is great in shoring up your board, and the chunky 3/5 body is difficult to attack into (especially when it comes down a turn early thanks to something like Omen of the Hunt, delicious). Untap with a Yarok in play and you’re in business. You get double for everything from your lands to your creatures, and you can safely hold off an army of 4/4s. 

Yarok decks tend to be slow and, er, ambitious, so the stat line and abilities on this card are very well-suited. Without deathtouch, they could just pile in with their high-toughness creatures and weather the storm – but because Yarok will take ’em down with deathtouch, they don’t get the chance. Ah, Yarok. How I miss you – I wish you were playable in Historic. Or anywhere, really. 


Header - 3. Grave Titan

Grave Titan


Just like Wurmcoil Engine, a 6/6 deathtouch creature is a little weird, but I couldn’t not include Grave Daddy on this list. While Primeval Titan is probably the more famous of the cycle, seeing how it’s played in Modern, Grave Titan is a Cube all-star and an extremely high pick for Cube fans. All the Titans are great in Cube, obviously, but Grave Titan is the simplest and most straightforward to get huge value out of – for six mana, you get a minimum of ten power!

I wasn’t around for most of the Titans’ time in Standard, 10 years ago, but I remember Grave Titan doing at least a little bit of work. That hasn’t really translated to any other competitive constructed format. Grave Dad is too expensive to be a good midrange threat, and – weirdly – too cheap to be a good reanimation target (why reanimate a six-drop when you could reanimate a nine-drop?). All the same, I’m sure many readers have fond memories of kicking people’s teeth in with this card, and perhaps slightly less fond memories of having their teeth kicked in too. 


Header - 2. Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix was first printed in a weird supplemental product called Planechase (which was actually a lot of fun, I recommend it if you’ve never played it (I suppose I still recommend it if you have played it, too)). Years ago, I remember being baffled when my friend Ben and I bought Planechase decks, and immediately had half the LGS swarming all over us to trade our Shardless Agents and Baleful Strixes. Ben held onto his Strix, however, cos he liked the art. And who can blame him?

The reason this card was so sought-after is because until 2016 and Eternal Masters, the only way to get a copy was out of a preconstructed supplemental product – there were not a lot of copies floating about. And why were people seeking it out? Believe it or not, it used to be a Legacy staple! It pitched to Force of Will, traded with everything and drew a card on the way down. This thing could hold off an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and get you up on cards as it did!

These days, Baleful Strix has calmed down in both price and playability. It’s been reprinted in everything from Eternal Masters to Mystery Booster (although at rare, much of the time, rather than its original uncommon), and Legacy has… well, I don’t know, actually. What has happened to Legacy? Do they still play Baleful Strix? Or Force of Will, for that matter? Can someone check on Legacy, please, and see if it’s okay?


Header - 1. Acidic Slime

Acidic Slime


I don’t care what you say – this is my list and I’ll decide what comes out on top of it, and in my mind the unquestionably greatest deathtouch card ever printed is Acidic Slime. This card rules, and I won’t hear a word against it. You play it, blow up a land (the sweetest treat) and then they have to use another card to get rid of it! Either a removal spell or a creature to trade with it – Acidic Slime will extract its toll from your opponent, and if it resolves will almost always get you a two-for one by getting a plus another card. Yes, I suppose you could, technically, use it as a Disenchant on legs, but who’s interested in that? Stone Rain is the better card. 

My favorite thing about Acidic Slime, however, as opposed to things like Stone Rain or even Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, is that you can blink it. I have an entire EDH deck built around blinking creatures, and bloody hell I don’t mind getting this sucker out to go to town on my opponents’ lands. No, it isn’t mass land destruction, it’s single individual instances of land destruction. An entirely different thing. 

I know Acidic Slime isn’t the flashiest or most exciting deathtouch creature ever printed, bit in my eyes – and, more importantly, in my heart – it’s the best deathtouch creature there is. And if you disagree with me, mate, watch out – my Acidic Slime and Conjurer’s Closet are coming for your lands next. 

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