Top 10 Best Humans in Magic: The Gathering

Riley counts down the best human cards in Magic!

Picking the top ten humans ever printed in Magic is tough — really tough. There are so many human cards printed over the years, as it is the most common tribe in all of Magic: The Gathering by quite a margin, that narrowing it down to just ten is quite a task. So many didn’t make the list that is definitely in the conversation — Young Pyromancer, Delver of Secrets, Opposition Agent, the list goes on — but by my estimation, what follows is a list of the ten best humans ever printed. 

#10 Snapcaster Mage

Ultimate Masters

Snapcaster Mage - Ultimate Masters - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $16.30

“Okay boomer,” you say with mockery as I recite my DCI number from memory and announce my triggers like the old Pyreheart Wolf rules are still in effect while targetting Cryptic Command with Snapcaster Mage’s ability. Snapcaster Mage might be in its twilight years as a constructed-playable card, but let me tell you, young whipper-snapper, back in my day, we didn’t have two-mana 4/4s that draw three cards and spew out tokens as you do now. We flashbacked our Cryptic Commands to bounce our Snapcaster Mages back to hand uphill through the snow, and we liked it — and you need to learn some respect for the classics!

#9 Dark Confidant

Dark Confidant (Borderless)

Double Masters

Dark Confidant (Borderless) - Double Masters - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $24.44

Persisting with the classics, there was a time when Dark Confidant (also known as Bob) was amongst the best two-drops ever printed and one of the best creatures in Modern. Obviously, that isn’t the case anymore, and like poor old Tiago Chan (a former Magic Pro whose likeness and design features on Innistrad‘s printing of Snapcaster Mage), Bob’s best days are behind him. But everything about Dark Confidant makes games of Magic better and more exciting. Extra cards to enact your game plan while slowly but surely whittling your life total down to pay the cost of greatness. Today, Dark Confidant watches from the sidelines, his glory days behind him — but there’s a reason they call the once popular Modern strategy Boomer Jund, and for those who remember, Dark Confidant was its beating heart. 

#8 Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Time Spiral: Remastered

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - Time Spiral: Remastered - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $15.85

They weren’t mucking about when they designed this card for Modern Horizons 1. Despite costing a colossal four mana, Yawgmoth is singlehandedly responsible for an entire archetype in Modern, with his “free” sacrifice ability to exploit and power out game-winning sacrifice-based combos. 


Golgari Yawgmoth

Market Price:$780.96

Maindeck, 60 cards

Sortsort deckCreature (28)

  • 4Birds of Paradise
  • 1Blood Artist
  • 1Dryad Arbor
  • 1Endurance
  • 1Geralf’s Messenger
  • 4Ignoble Hierarch
  • 4Strangleroot Geist
  • 4Wall of Roots
  • 4Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
  • 4Young Wolf

Planeswalker (4)

  • 4Grist, the Hunger Tide

Sorcery (4)

  • 4Eldritch Evolution

Instant (4)

  • 4Chord of Calling

Land (20)

  • 2Blooming Marsh
  • 2Boseiju, Who Endures
  • 2Forest
  • 2Nurturing Peatland
  • 2Overgrown Tomb
  • 1Swamp
  • 2Twilight Mire
  • 1Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
  • 4Verdant Catacombs
  • 1Wooded Foothills
  • 1Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth

Sideboard (15)

  • 1Crime // Punishment// 
  • 1Endurance
  • 2Force of Vigor
  • 1Go for the Throat
  • 1Necromentia
  • 1Outland Liberator
  • 1Scavenging Ooze
  • 1Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
  • 3Thoughtseize
  • 2Unlicensed Hearse
  • 1Veil of Summer

Having a manaless way to sacrifice a creature is always good, but one that draws you a card while resetting your undying creatures is just bonkers. Much so that Yawgmoth has even had a very good time in EDH, as a Commander in Mono-Black Aristocrats-style decks. Get him going with Nest of Scarabs, Zulaport Cutthroat, [[Pawn of Ulamog], and other cards like that, and there’s no stopping the value. 

#7 Dragon’s Rage Channeler

Modern Horizons 2

Dragon's Rage Channeler - Modern Horizons 2 - Magic: The Gathering

From boomers to zoomers, and there aren’t many cards that are zoomier than Dragon’s Rage Channeler — it zooms in fast and hard to eviscerate opposing life totals as one of the premier one-mana threats in Modern and Legacy. With the help of cards like fetchlands, Dress Down, and Mishra’s Bauble, achieving delirium is trivially easy, and a one-mana 3/3 flier is always a card that aggressive decks are interested in playing. In lists with Murktide Regent such as Izzet Tempo to Grixis Death’s Shadow, Dragon’s Rage Channeler is one of the best ways to open up a game of Magic with a spell-heavy deck. 

#6 Noble Hierarch

Pro Tour Promos

Noble Hierarch - Pro Tour Promos - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $18.71

Noble Hierarch isn’t just one of the best human cards ever printed, but also one of the best mana dorks ever printed. In addition to being a terrific turn-one play. Like any mana dork, having an ability with extended relevance means that Noble Hierarch isn’t a completely dead draw in the late game. Unlike some of the other cards on the list that don’t see the same level of play as they used to, Noble Hierarch could very well make a comeback in Modern. If the format shifts to a point where turn-one acceleration (such as Five-Color Humans or Simic Infect) is powerful again because when it comes to a turn-one mana dork, Noble Hierarch is about as good as it gets. 

#5 Esper Sentinel

Modern Horizons 2

Esper Sentinel - Modern Horizons 2 - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $28.18

I’m sure I’m not the only one who routinely forgets that Esper Sentinel is a human, because it looks like it should be a construct or a golem or something, but nope — Esper Sentinel is a human, sure enough, and one of the very best of ’em. White, as a color, has been pushing into new ways to draw cards, and having a cheap creature that can punish spell-heavy decks while also supporting tribal synergies and receiving buffs from lords like General Kudro of Drannith and Thalia’s Lieutenant. Esper Sentinel has been great for not just tribal human decks but also Mono-White Aggro and Modern Mono-White / Azorius Hammer. Esper Sentinel punches well above the weight of most one-mana 1/1s, and is a multi-format staple, including Commander. 

#4 Kenrith, the Returned King

Buy-A-Box Promos

Kenrith, the Returned King - Buy-A-Box Promos - Magic: The Gathering

After Golos, Tireless Pilgrim met a ban, Kenrith, the Returned King scaled the ranks to become the default choice for generic five-color Commander strategies. If you want to play five-color good stuff, there really isn’t a better choice than Kenrith. It’s odd for a human to cost so much or have such beefy stats, but even his efficiency as a five-mana 5/5 is mostly irrelevant, given the power of his activated abilities and the fact that they offer you all five colors in an EDH deck. You have to remember that you do not gain control of creatures you reanimate with his final activated ability!

#3 Seasoned Pyromancer 

Seasoned Pyromancer (Borderless)

Double Masters 2022

Seasoned Pyromancer (Borderless) - Double Masters 2022 - Magic: The Gathering

Market Price: $25.46

As a reference to another one of the best human cards ever printed — Young Pyromancer, apologies to fans of Young Peezy that he didn’t make the list, but Seasoned Pyromancer has quickly become one of the more powerful and most popular cards in Modern. Faithless Looting’s ban shows us how powerful looting and rummaging effects can be, and that’s the floor with this card where Seasoned Pyromancer is a three-mana Mulldrifter if you’re hellbent. Add to that the token-making abilities, both on the battlefield and in the graveyard, and you end up with a whole lot of power on one card. 

#2 Kyler, Sigardian Emissary

Kyler, Sigardian Emissary (Extended Art)

Commander: Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Kyler, Sigardian Emissary (Extended Art) - Commander: Innistrad: Midnight Hunt - Magic: The Gathering

If you’re not a fan of Commander, you may never have seen Kyler before, but he is quite comfortably the most popular human tribal Commander in the format. Which should not come as a surprise, once you read what he can do! Kyler not only has the Champion of the Parish ability to grow to colossal size but also grows the rest of the team as he himself grows. For just five mana, you can easily add thirty or forty power and toughness to the battlefield — particularly with other +1/+1 human cards like Thalia’s Lieutenant or Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, making Kyler a bit of a no-brainer for fans of human tribal in EDH. 

#1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (039)

Secret Lair Drop Series

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (039) - Secret Lair Drop Series - Magic: The Gathering

I don’t think any card sums up what the humans tribe is about more than Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Reprinted into Standard last year in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Thalia is back at her best, seeing play in every format from Standard, Pioneer, and Modern to Legacy. This card is disruptive, aggressive, and an absolute nightmare for slow, interactive decks that think cheap removal and efficient sweepers to get them through anything and everything. In my estimation, Thalia is one of the fairest cards ever printed, the sort of card that punishes greedy or durdley players who think they can get away with anything. Turn two Thalia is a real test that decks have to pass — or they’ll quickly fall behind and lose.