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Top Ten Nekrataals


Hello Happy People! I have something that should prove fun to most of you! Way back in the Mirage Block was a set called Visions. That set introduced creatures that had abilities when they entered the battlefield like the classic Uktabi Orangutan. The key one was Nekrataal, four mana, 2/1 with first strike, Terror fires off on arrival to the battlefield. This iconic ability has changed the game forever. Ever since Nekrataal there have been tons of other cards chomping at the bit with ETB abilities to destroy creatures. But...what are the best for casual play at the Kitchen Table formats like multiplayer generally, Commander specifically and Five Color, Highlander, Type Four, and loads more. Today we'll look at creatures that enter the battlefield and either destroy or exile target creature. For this list I am not looking at ETB abilities that will destroy or exile anything on arrival or nonlands, like Meteor Golem or Ashen Rider. Sure, they'll end a dork just as much as a Nekrataal, but they are not in the same class.

Ready for my list?

Honorable Mention #1 (#13 Overall) - Gilt-Leaf Winnower

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

This five-drop 4/3 menace is one of the better on curve options for my deck with a powerful body, evasion, and more for the five cost. On arrival to the battlefield, you can (note the "may" language) kill anything that's not an Elf with uneven power and toughness, which is many commonly played things at the kitchen table like Aven Mindcensor, Flametongue Kavu, Consecrated Sphinx and 7 more dorks that hit later, just as a good sample. The good thing here is that if there is nothing of a foes to hit you don't have to hit yours, and you can just drop an on curve beater. It's very strong at kitchen table play and in multiplayer with more potential for variable targets. Note that this is an Elf for Tribal purposes.

Honorable Mention #2 (#12 overall) - Nekrataal


Our middle Honorable Mention Nekrataal is, in fact the name maker of this Top Ten article. It makes sense. Terror was two mana at instant speed destroy any non-Black or non-artifact dork without regeneration, and the rate of two mana would also score you a 2/1 with first strike. Thus, the combo of both here is four total mana. You get a great blinky body or one that can block, play keep away from 2 toughness does that otherwise might swing your way, and loads more! It can grab equipment and swing, it's a key dork in midrange decks. It's iconic. Thanks Visions!

Honorable Mention #3 (#11 Overall) - Big Game Hunter

Big Game Hunter

This 1/1 is cheaper than Nekrataal, drops a power, loses first strike, can only bury stuff with a power of 4, and adds in madness for a single mana. This also has the creature type of Rebel to fetch out. This is a fun little thing to drop, and with the card it's based on having a limited range just like this Rebel, they both have something powerful to proffer. Both are fun and powerful removal options, and this is cheaper, so it's faster. It's obviously better in madness and Rebel brews.

#10. Overseer of the Damned

Overseer of the Damned

This seven-drop 5/5 flying ETBs and destroy any creature thing, better than the first three above. Then you can get a 2/2 tapped Zombie token as your opposing stuff dies. This is a win con and death trigger stapled to a Nekrataal ability. But it's the most expensive at 7 mana and doesn't rank highly with me for that reason. It's pretty heavily played in Commander and other casual formats. There are 15,703 of them registered in decks over at EDHREC.com. Note that this is a Demon for Shadowborn Apostle decks to tutor out onto the battlefield.

#9. Patron of the Vein

Patron of the Vein

This 4/4 flyer costs one less than Overseer so it hit's here, and it's smaller in size. It's a Nekrataal on a stick and also a death trigger this time for opposing things that die, and then your Vampires will each grow by one power and toughness each permanently with a counter. It always counts itself. This is also pretty heavily played in the kitchen table and is a win con mixed with a Nekrataal. It's played in 13,897 decks so fewer than Overseer in Commander over at EDHREC. It's very strong fun times here.

#8. Noxious Gearhulk

Noxious Gearhulk

This thing is on curve and a beater. It can destroy any opposing dork on arrival to the battlefield. It's a may effect so you don't have to turn it on your team. Then after it dies you gain a spot of life equal to its toughness, which is pretty nice from where I am sitting. Don't sleep on the fact that this is an artifact for decks that care, and life gain for those decks that care - life gain and artifacts are the two most popular deck archetypes on EDHREC.com. Then there are 34,959 of these things registered, a massive increase from #9 above.

#7. Duplicant


Duplicant is a classic of casual play and Commander and multiplayer. When this six-drop ETBS you exile an nontoken and then gain it's creature type, and size. That means this turns into a 6/6 Giant when it answers a Sun Titan. It's very strong, and since it exiles it can answer regenerators and indestructible dorks. It's colorless so it fits into any deck, and it's an artifact so it fits into that archetype as well. From Type Four to Five Color this is beloved. Over on EDHREC.com this is run 31,561 fewer than the Gearhulk but the exiling makes it better to my mind.

#6. Primaris Eliminator

Primaris Eliminator

This five-drop recently printed Nekrataal variant is our top scoring card outside of the top five proper. It trades one more mana for one more power and toughness then can also Infest target player's things and serve as mass removal of small stuff. But just one, so you cannot hit all of your foes and it doesn't scale up in multiplayer. So, you either destroy one or multiple, dealer's choice. It's a very flexible removal option in your creature count. It's better than most of these in midrange and blink since you have multiple options to abuse with blink and multiple paths for card advantage from your bodies. This could easily be a 3 or 4 for one in the right board state. However, it's pricier and not as powerful at the board state as some of the others, hence it hitting sixth overall.

Top Five Time! In our top five with have a full house of rarities, two uncommon and three rare. But which and where?

#5. Ravenous Chupacabra

Ravenous Chupacabra

Now let's just knock out the obvious entry and move on. Same casting cost as Nekrataal, better toughness, no first strike, can kill any dork that a foe controls only, but can be answered by regeneration. This is now the default "Nekrataal" and I thought about naming this article "Top Ten Ravenous Chupacabras." This is more reliable as removal, but worse at on the battlefield as you prefer a 2/1 first strike to a 2/2 vanilla. Did you know that this was a key entry into a Rakdos Midrange Standard deck I built on Arena? It's in 55,330 decks, the most of any entry in the list so far, over at EDHREC.com. It's the key entry for our list.

#4. Shriekmaw


Let's knock out the final uncommon before the Top Three all have rares. This costs one more than the Nekrataal, swaps fear for first strike, is +1/+1 in size, and can be evoked for just a Terror. Note that it has the same restrictions in targets as Nekrataal, it cannot target artifacts or black cards. Also, as you might have noticed, fear gives it a nice unblockable option against certain colors at the kitchen table, but it's weak against the same options that it cannot target. It's very strong here with the evoking option at sorcery speed two cost Terror as well, give you two ways to play this thing, not one. Also note that this is not a may option, if your opponents cannot be targeted, you have to target yourself. This has more options to attack in for free with fear or destroy in a multiplayer game so it has enhanced value there. It's registered on EDHREC.com 40,934 times, less than Chupacabra but a better body and ability. I think it's better overall, but I get pushback.

All three cards left were just printed! And they share a keyword.

#3. Ertai Resurrected

Ertai Resurrected

This four-drop with flash is legendary, so you can put it into your Command Zone. It rocks a 3/2 body. You can cast it instantly. On arrival to the battlefield, you can destroy any dork or planeswalker, and they draw a card. Sure, they may not like it, but getting a card will make it work. You also have planeswalker removal here as well. Then you can counter a spell or ability, and they'll draw a card as well. Counter anything, destroy any dork or walker of the planes in one flashable card? But they draw a card, so that's not as strong, it's not card advantage that deck archetypes like Blink and Midrange are built upon, hence it hitting here at the three spot, but no higher.

#2. Callidus Assassin

Callidus Assassin

Our top-hitting gold card is this 3/3 flashing six-drop. On arrival to the battlefield this enters tapped, so it cannot block for a round. Then it enters as a copy of any dork, so it's a Clone. And then it destroys a dork with that creature's name. So, it's a Clone and a Nekrataal on a 6 mana 3/3 body. Pretty strong right? I'm sure you can see why it's my second card overall, but it's two colors for Commander and can only be played in decks with both colors, and it's a bit pricey and ETBs tapped. Hence it not hitting my top spot overall.

What card hit my top spot overall?

#1. Necron Deathmark

Necron Deathmark

This is an on-curve flashing 5/3 that mills someone three and destroys one dork on arrival to the battlefield. It's one more than Nekrataal, adds +3/+2, swaps flash for first strike, a big update, and then mills someone of three and has no targeting restriction. This is great as removal in self-mill brews like Sultai's Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, or in milling foes like Dimir's Szadek, Lord of Secrets or in midrange to get value or a body to blink or in other shells. Flash is very strong since it can be done instantly at the speed of Murder. Then you can do this when you are attacked, destroy the best attacker, trade with the other or just kill it with a 2 or fewer power that swung your way. Nice two for one card flow in on body. Nice right?

And there we go! Hope you enjoyed my Top Ten list, or that it made you think about what would go on your own list!

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