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Top 5 Most Powerful Grizzly Bears – Riley Ranks

One particularly interesting area of Magic terminology is the names used to describe creatures with certain mana value, power and toughness combinations. For example, a four-mana 3/3 is a Hill Giant, while a five-mana 3/5 is a Siege Mastodon. You’ll often hear terms like “Hill Giant with upside” used when talking about cards like Master of the Wild Hunt, and while these baseline stats aren’t really ever competitively relevant, they still provide a framework for discussions like that. The most famous nomenclature in this regard is, of course, the two-mana 2/2: Grizzly Bears.

Grizzly Bears was the original vanilla two-mana 2/2, first printed in Alpha, and gave rise to the term. There have been a lot of vanilla two-mana 2/2s printed since then – there are 24 in total, five of them Bears, none of them blue – but we’re not here to talk about that today. 

Today, we’re here to talk about the best bears ever printed in the history of the game. There are a lot of strong contenders, and constructed staples like Goblin Electromancer, Burning-Tree Emissary and Leonin Arbiter didn’t make the list – nor, for that matter, did Squeaking Pie Sneak, which is the best-named two-mana 2/2. But those that did, you’ll agree, have impacted competitive gameplay very strongly across the years, and become quite iconic as a result. Let’s get to it!

 

 

Header - 5. Robber of the Rich

Robber of the Rich

I was hesitant to include this card on the list initially, as I thought it might just be recent bias and that the card doesn’t stack up against the collective history of almost 30 years’ worth of cards. But then I read the card again, which took some time as there is a lot of text on it, and was reminded that Robber of the Rich is just an absolute stone-cold house. 

A hasty beater that provides meaningful card advantage and can rub in the victories all the more by helping you win with your opponents cards? Come on. I remember how mono-red decks would often have a Teferi, Time Raveler on the battlefield before it was banned, adding to the indignity of being a control deck that gets pantsed by mono-red. 

It even has reach, and is a potential inclusion on any list of nonsense reach creatures (although it does have bow in the art, but I don’t know how those arrows are remaining in the quiver while he is upside down). Also, the artist, Paul Scott Canavan, is colorblind and still manages to make art like this – as a colorblind person myself, I’m in absolute awe of him. The long and the short of it is this – Robber of the Rich is one of the most aggressive and powerful two-mana 2/2s ever printed.

 

Header - 4. Eidolon of the Great Revel

Eidolon of the Great Revel

While Eidolon of the Great Revel doesn’t attack as quickly or as profitably as Robber of the Rich, it usually does a lot more damage. A mainstay of Modern Burn decks, Eidolon usually gets you for a minimum of two as most removal spells used to kill it cost three or less (most of the Modern format costs three or less, to be frank), and if they don’t have a removal spell at the ready, it’ll do a lot more than two damage. 

It’s very difficult for a card to break into a deck as streamlined and focused as Burn. In fact, since Return to Ravnica, the only cards that have been included in Burn are Eidolon, Monastery Swiftspear and, most recently, Skewer the Critics. The bar is very high, but Eidolon of the Great Revel sails over it and is one of the greatest damage outputs in the whole deck.

 

Header - 3. Meddling Mage

Meddling Mage

Meddling Mage was already more or less guaranteed to become an iconic addition to Magic thanks to the fact that it’s an invitational card, bearing the likeness of Chris Pikula (he’s a Hall of Famer in my heart, at least). Meddling Mage’s ability has allowed Magic players to confound and bamboozle their opponents with big-brain naming picks, most notably in Five-Color Humans in Modern. 

I also feel I owe Meddling Mage a personal debt of gratitude for moments like these, during the silly April Fool’s event on MTGA this year:

 

 

Meddling Mage’s ability has been reprinted on a range of cards – Voidstone Gargoyle, Nevermore and even asymmetrically on Gideon’s Intervention. But none of these cards come close to the power level or iconic status of the original Meddling Mage.

 

Header - 2. Lord of Atlantis

Lord of Atlantis

And if we’re going to talk about iconic two-mana 2/2s, it’s impossible to ignore Lord of Atlantis. One of the five two-mana 2/2s printed in Alpha, Lord of Atlantis has retained its competitive relevance longer than any other as one of the foundational pieces of the much-beloved Merfolk deck. 

Sure, there have been other Merfolk lords since: the functional reprint, Master of the Pearl Trident, the two-color Merfolk Mistbinder and the three-mana Merfolk Sovereign and Merrow Reejerey (I guess for the sake of completion I should mention Coralhelm Commander, but he needs a lot of work to get there). None of these cards, however, is such an enduring icon of one of Magic’s most popular tribes.

While Merfolk isn’t the constructed powerhouse it once was, Lord of Atlantis remains its beating heart – a veteran of 28 years, it has been buffing its teammates and helping them get in there for longer than a lot of Magic players have even been alive. 

 

Header - 1. Scavenging Ooze

Scavenging Ooze

Scavenging Ooze does it all. It’s a multi-format all-star, seeing regular play in Modern, Pioneer, Historic and Standard, and even does work in Legacy in decks like Elves or Maverick. It gains life, manages graveyards and hits for a lot of damage very quickly. Its only real weakness is that it’s not great in multiples, but apart from that, Scavenging Ooze is an inordinately powerful card. 

It’s more or less the definition of a “fair” card, too. You’re never doing anything busted with an Ooze – in fact, it’s usually the contrary. Usually, you’re preventing the opponent from doing busted stuff, by chomping up their graveyard so they can’t combo off or gaining enough life to stabilize and ensure that their murderous aggression doesn’t get there.

Once it’s all said and done, the Ooze is usually a 5/5 or 6/6 and therefore ready to go on the attack as a big beater. The card really is the complete package – a disruptive element, a way to stabilize, and then, finally, a win condition. 

 


 

While there are plenty of other two-mana 2/2s that have impacted Magic and its various formats over the years, these five are at the top of the list in terms of impact, power level, staying power and also for their iconic status. Don’t agree? Let me know which ones you would include on your top five list instead!

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