Cheap and Busted – The Best 1 Mana Creatures in Magic: the Gathering

We pick out 13 of the best 1 Mana Creatures in Magic the Gathering

Cheap and Busted – The Best 1 Mana Creatures in Magic: the Gathering

Magic: the Gathering is filled with big, powerful spells, and yes it’s nice when you cast that 12/12 monstrosity for 8 Mana after slowly building up your Mana base using Artifacts and Land-seeking sorceries.

But something has to be said about the cheap, 1 Mana Creatures in the game that, if played right, can dictate a game from the beginning and greatly increasing a player’s winning chances. In recent years especially, we see plenty of 1-cost Creatures that have lots of abilities or can grow into menacing beasts.

Here are 13 of the best and busted!

Dragon’s Rage Channeler

Dragon’s Rage Channeler might be one of the most unassuming Creatures at first glance. It starts off as a 1/1 and it appears it’ll be far down the road before it can receive the Delirium ability.

However, don’t forget that each non-Creature spell also lets you Surveil, where you can dump another card into your Graveyard. In a diverse deck, as long as you have a good mix of Artifacts, Enchantments, and maybe even Planeswalkers, it’s not inconceivable to have a 3/3 Flyer by turn 3.

Dragon’s Rage Channeler is red’s version of Delver of Secrets, and to us the extra Toughness and Surveil ability put it ahead of the blue Creature as a top 1 Mana Creature.

Allosaurus Shepherd

Not many would have thought that a card from a set meant for beginners (Jumpstart) would turn out to be a powerhouse for green elf decks everywhere.

Unassuming and hidden in a bigger set, Allosaurus Shepherd is 1 of the best 1 Mana green Creatures to have ever been printed.

Allosaurus Shepherd protect all your elves from being countered, making sure they get on the board for important “enter the Battlefield” triggers. Then in the late game, the ability to turn all your Elves into 5/5s is an amazing game ender. Even the shepherd becomes a mighty big dinosaur!

Archfiend’s Vessel

As 1 of the few Uncommon cards in this list, Archfiend’s Vessel shines in reanimator decks that can quickly bring back the Vessel from the Graveyard to create a gigantic 5/5 flying demon.

Fit for black reanimate decks, Archfiend's Vessel is 1 of the best 1 Mana Creatures in Magic the Gathering.

This is easily achievable in black, with cards like Reanimate (losing just 1 life) or Lurrus, the Dream Den that can bring Archfiend’s Vessel for just 1 Mana.

Champion of the Parish/Perished

This double entry features 2 Creatures on both sides of the coin, with white’s Champion of the Parish growing bigger as more Humans enter the Battlefield, while Champion of the Perished craves for more Zombies.

Both are excellent 1 Mana Creatures because when cast on turn 1, these could easily be 4/4s by turn 3. And since both of them are also a Human or Zombie, casting more in the early game is back breaking to anyone on the receiving end.

These 1 Mana Creatures can easily grow into an 8/8 if cast early!

They do rely on heavy tribal themes, and an opening hand that is filled with those Creature types, but it doesn’t take away the potency of these 2 cards especially when cast on turn 1.

Deathrite Shaman

If many of the 1-Mana Creatures on this list are fit for aggro, then Deathrite Shaman is the ultimate Swiss army knife. The Shaman is equipped with 3 distinct abilities that can you deal with various situations. His 1st ability is a reliable and welcome Mana generator, but only if you or the opponent are playing Mill and Graveyard strategies.

The 2nd and 3rd ability both Exile cards from Graveyards to create an effect. If you’d like to drain all your opponent’s lives, that’s simple. Or, you can also gain some much needed life points if you find yourself behind.

Unfortunately, all abilities require Deathrite Shaman to tap, so it’s not so easily abused, but for a 1 Mana Creature that provides so much flexibility, no other Creature on this list comes close.

Fervent Champion

One of the best red aggro Creatures created in recent times, Fervent Champion is truly a winner in plain sight, since it was modeled after 2018 World Champion Javier Dominguez. The 1/1 Creature has so much text that you’ll need some time to process all its abilities.

Firstly, Fervent Champion gets bigger when more knights attack with it. Coupled with First Strike, that often means the opponent will not want to waste a Creature to block it.

The next ability also gives an amazing 3 Mana reduction for Equip abilities onto the Champion, effectively meaning most equipment can be attached to it for free. This is highly welcome in red-white, equipment-based decks.

Esper Sentinel

Probably as close as you can get to an auto-include, Esper Sentinel is also one of the best card draw engines for white. In a multiplayer Commander setting, Esper Sentinel really shines in the early game, possibly netting its owner 3-4 cards at least.

It doesn’t do much else as a 1/1 unfortunately, but in the late game it can be used as a sacrificial blocker. In Artifact decks, it being an Artifact will also count for something. Despite these drawbacks, Esper Sentinel‘s upside is just too big to ignore.

Goblin Lackey

Goblins are usually low-costing Creatures because they’re meant to small, sneaky and quick. But Goblin Lackey takes precedence over the rest of the horde because you get to put a free goblin into play after dealing damage to a player.

Well, there can’t be any high-costing Goblins that are actually good, right? Not completely true, as you can easily put down a Krenko, Mob Boss, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Goblin Trashmaster or a Muxus, Goblin Grandee that can generate immediate value.

Even if you don’t have an expensive Goblin in hand, getting even a 2 or 3 Mana Goblin onto the Battlefield for free is undeniable value. Goblin Lackey is so good as a 1-Mana Creature that we haven’t seen it reprinted in almost 20 years.

Birds of Paradise

As one of the original Mana “dorks” (Creatures that can tap for Mana), Birds of Paradise has strict competition from the likes of Llanowar Elves, Skirk Prospector, and Noble Hierarch. But BOP stands out clearly from the rest as a 1 Mana Creature because it can tap for any coloured Mana.

Probably the oldest card in this list, Birds of Paradise is the perfect Mana Creature and costs only 1 Mana.

A Llanowar Elf will fit into any green deck, but Birds of Paradise is a natural fit for any deck that runs 2 or more colours. It doesn’t have any offensive power but it does come with a curious Flying ability, meaning if you are able to pump its power, it could become a surprise threat.

From old Legacy formats to multiplayer Commander, Birds of Paradise is a highly value Creature for a turn 1 play.

Mother/Giver of Runes

Nobody protects as well as these ladies, especially when they cost only 1 Mana to cast. There is a slight difference between Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes. Mother gives protection of any single colour to any Creature, including herself. The Giver can only give protection to other Creatures but gives an option of colourless in addition to any colour.

Both are great protectors in any case, as protection prevents all damage and targeting by sources of that colour (or no colour). However given a choice, we would pick Mother of Runes as slightly more useful as the ability to protect herself cannot be underestimated in matches.

An opponent would be compelled to get rid of Mother of Runes first before targeting any other threats, and since Mother can protect herself, a player would essentially need 2 spells or abilities to remove her.

Pelt Collector

A strong contender to the 3 aggro champions above, Pelt Collector is an aggressive 1 Mana Creature of another sort. It grows bigger not by Creature type but whenever another even bigger Creature comes into play. It fits it nicely with classic green stompy strategies, and when it has 3 or more +1/+1 counters, it even gains Trample.

What gives Pelt Collector an additional boost that none of the other Creatures have, is that his ability also triggers when bigger Creatures die. It puts the opponent into a real conundrum – should they get rid of the bigger threat (thus making the Collector bigger), or put a stop now to the growth of the Collector.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

This little monkey pirate is the most expensive card to purchase, because it is a strong, competitive card in multiple formats. You may not be able to cast a Goblin for free like Goblin Lackey, but Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer does give its owner a free Treasure every time it connects with the opponent.

You also get to cast a card off the opponent’s Library on that turn. That may not be viable in the early stages of a match when Mana is in short supply, but it creates immense value (and not to mention frustration) in the later game when you’re using the opponent’s cards against them.

Siren Stormtamer

When a card does exactly what its colour was meant to do, it becomes a great 1 Mana Creature. Siren Stormtamer is a simple 1/1 Flyer for a blue Mana, but it has a unique ability that can save your game and bigger Creatures in the game.

By paying 1 blue Mana and sacrificing itself, Siren Stormtamer can counter any spell or ability that targets you or a Creature you control. Because this is effectively an ability and not a spell, it can’t be countered by say Saw it Coming or Arcane Denial, though it is vulnerable to other spells such as Tales End and Disallow.

Nevertheless, Siren Stormtamer is a thorn in many situations, as like the earlier Mother of Runes, the opponent will need multiple options in hand in order to get around the Stormtamer.

End Step

There were several other big contenders that didn’t make the list. Cards like Knight of the Ebon Hand and Monastery Swiftspear come to mind, but we felt they had to jump through multiple hoops to see maximum impact.

Which cards have done well for you?

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After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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