Over Magic the Gathering's many years, there has been quite a few reoccurring faces that pop up. We have dorks referring to a 1 mana card with pitiful stats but useful abilities, cheerios referring to 0 mana spells, but most importantly, bears, referring to a 2 mana 2/2. Due to today being bear day, 2/22/22, what better time is there to reminisce on one of the game's longest running creature families.
10. Wild Mongrel
While this beast has certainly seen better days, Wild Mongrel has certainly earned a spot on this list due to its shear dominance when it was first printed, being the core for Blue-Green madness alongside other staples like Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, and Circular Logic. This deck was a multiformat all-star at the time and still very playable in formats such as pauper.
9. Lord of Atlantis
When thinking of iconic tribal decks in Magic's history, one of the first decks to come to mind is almost surely merfolk and at its core is Lord of Atlantis. Not only does Lord of Atlantis provide your other merfolk with an anthem affect, an affect well known for being great on 2 mana, but it also provides evasion in the form of islandwalk. This small detail is a reason why so many merfolk decks are reliant on Spreading Seas and Tide Shaper to ensure you get to beat the opponent down with your fish.
8. Gaddock Teeg
In the family of bears, there is a subspecies referred to as hatebears, of which Gaddock Teeg is the first one on the list. Hatebears are 2 mana 2/2s that put some form of restriction on the opponent, and Gaddok Teeg does a great job making sure the opponent cannot remove your other creatures by locking out board clears like Wrath of God. Not only does Gaddok Teeg do a great job protecting your own creatures from wrath, but it also locks out several different combo finishers such as Tendrils of Agony and other storm payoffs.
7. Puresteel Paladin
Very few cards are able to say they have been used for such a wide variety of reasons the way Puresteel Paladin can. In standard it was the core to the aptly named Puresteel Paladin deck, using its main ability to draw into more action and later on the metalcraft ability to cheat out on some equip costs, but it has also seen play in Cheerios, a deck based around 0 mana artifacts and Paradoxical Outcome to eventually cast Grapeshot, and most recently in Hammer Time, which focuses on Colossus Hammer, where Puresteel Paladin once again comes in to both help circumvent equip costs.
6. Fauna Shaman
Fauna Shaman is the result of when you mix a messed up Magic card, Survival of the Fittest, with a Grizzly BearBADCARDNAME. Even being a 'fixed' version of its enchantment counterpart still results in an incredibly strong creature that helps enable countless creature-based combo decks. In addition to helping find the other part of a combo, Fauna Shaman also helps enable graveyard strategies by dumping cards like Vengevine into the graveyard to be reanimated later on.
5. Collector Ouphe
Once in a while, Wizards of the Coast will put a new coat of paint on an old card, and Collector Ouphe is a great example of it. Being a Null Rod on a stick is perfect for creature based decks that want to make sure that opponents cannot cheat out creatures with staple artifacts like Aether Vial, Mishra's Bauble, and any form of equipment. Being able to shut down decks trying to do unfair stuff all while providing a body to beat down the opponent makes Collector Ouphe a strong contender for best bears in Magic's history.
4. Sanctifier En-Vec
Few plays are as demoralizing to see than playing a Black/Red deck and seeing the opponent play Sanctifier en-Vec. Not only does the card act as a Rest in Peace for almost every type of card you care about hitting, but it also avoids most playable removal and serves as a blocker for any red or black creature. There are very few creatures that are able to halt the opponent's gameplan as much as this one can.
3. Meddling Mage
Few bears have as much of an origin story as Meddling Mage. Being designed by Chris Pikula after winning the one of the first big tournaments in the turn of the century, Meddling Mage is a multi-format allstar capable of shutting down the opponents gameplan in numerous different ways. Afraid of a wrath or the opponent comboing off? Name whichever wrath sees the most play or whatever combo piece the opponent uses as their finisher and force them to remove the mage in some other manner. Being able to use this card both defensively or offensively to ensure the opponent cannot progress their gameplan ensures this card as one of the best of the best bears.
2. Scavenging Ooze
Scavenging Ooze is a relatively unassuming bear that after playing with for a couple matches makes its power known. First being printed in a commander pre-con, the ooze saw tons of play in both legacy and vintage, leading it to eventually being print in standard where it was able to be a meta contender in every other eternal format. It is a card that goes into the main deck, hates on graveyard strategies incredibly well, pads your life total, and makes a massive attacker all while never feeling oppressive to play against results in one of the best performing bear of all time.
1. Eidolon of the Great Revel
In a game that is dominated by cheap efficient answers, forcing the opponent to Shock themselves every time they want to play a nonland card puts on a ridiculously quick clock and is a reason why Eidolon of the Great Revel is one of the best of the best. Since its printing, burn has been a modern staple in almost every metagame, giving it an 8 year legacy of being an incredibly powerful card. It has gotten to the point where the health of the format is dictated by how good burn is in the format. Very few cards can claim to be printed that long ago and still be a meta-defining card.
Do you have any favorite bears of your own or disagree with any of the bears on this list? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!
many thanks for the list. Some other cards that come to my mind:
On a side note, I always found the non-bear two drops more influential overall. Just look at Thalia, Snapcaster Mage or Stoneforge Mystic