Knights in Magic: Then and Now

Bradley Rose Design

*Boom, boom, clap*
*Boom, boom, clap*

It’s 2001, and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” echoes throughout a theater a beaming twelve-year-old me is in. The opening credits of A Knight’s Tale set the tone of a medieval times movie with modern storytelling. Its story demonstrated what it took to become a knight.

It’s 2019, and a menacing version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” gives thirty-one-year-old me goosebumps. The Throne of Eldraine trailer shows off fairy tales and Arthurian legend coming to Magic. This means a lot of new knights, and once again, I’m beaming.

But what does it take for a Magic card to be a knight? Join me on this adventure exploring the knights of Throne of Eldraine.

Knights Ride Mounts

The most basic trait knights in Magic share is the ability to fight while riding a mount. Not all knights ride mounts, but a creature riding a mount can often be considered a knight.

While mounts are most commonly horses, knights can ride other types of mounts. This is useful for enabling flying knight cards – have a knight riding a griffin or a pegasus. Knights on mounts also tend to have higher power and toughness – just look at Ethersworn Adjudicator! That vedalken knight is tiny compared to the gargantuan creature it’s riding!

Throne of Eldraine continues this knightly tradition in spades. You’ll find mounts in the form of horses, foxes, hogs, birds, and even weasels! Weaselback Redcap is a great example of how a 1/1 goblin can be promoted to knight for mastering its weasel mount.

Knights are Tough (and Powerful)

Anyone pitted against a knight better watch out: knights have better-than-average power and toughness! The purest observation of knights excelling in combat stats is with vanilla creatures to back them up.

A single human usually isn’t particularly tough. But a human knight can go toe-to-toe with many of Magic’s intimidating monsters. The strongest vanilla humans with a lone human in the art are knights, warriors, and the oddball legendary Legends creatures.

In Portal Second Age, the lone Trokin High Guard is as strong as a Canyon Minotaur! In Throne of Eldraine, Knight of the Keep is a great example of a single knight with impressive stats.

Knights have Combat Prowess

A knight can still be great at combat even if it has relatively low power and toughness. Knights trained as skilled fighters have great combat-oriented abilities! Usually, you’ll find such knights with evergreen combat keywords, the most popular of which being first strike.

One of the most fearsome foes at Commander tables is Rafiq of the Many. This knight doesn’t have scary power and toughness, but the combination of exalted and gaining double strike has gained Rafiq notoriety. Death by commander damage from Rafiq is often done in one fell swoop!

In Throne of Eldraine, you’ll find knights with menace, vigilance, first strike, and more. Like Rafiq, Fireborn Knight sports double strike and can grow to deal even heavier damage!

Knights Master Equipment

Anyone can pick up a sword, but a knight picking up a sword is a lot scarier.

Some knights have innate combat abilities. This might reflect mastery of their favored weapon. But there are knights that are great with any equipment.

A great example of such a knight is Balan, Wandering Knight. Balan even excels when using multiple equipment! The card’s flavor text puts it aptly: “What weapon will you bear against one who’s mastered them all?” 

The latest set brings another legendary knight with a mastery over equipment. At the helm of the Mardu Throne of Eldraine Brawl deck is Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale. Syr Gwyn has not one, but two equipment-mastery abilities!

Knights Inspire Others

Knights are skilled at what they do — and they do what they do to uphold virtues. Others who identify with the same values as these knights might feel their influence!

When you’re battling for Zendikar, it can help to have the Hero of Goma Fada lead the charge. Its art and flavor text are strong demonstrators of this Knight’s ability to rally. In fact, its ability is a rally ability!

When looking for inspiring knights in Throne of Eldraine, you won’t have a difficult time. There’s even a knight with “Inspiring” in the name: Inspiring Veteran! In this case, this is a knight that reinvigorates other knights. It can help to have your comrades influence you in continuing to uphold your values.

Knights are Devoted

Wherever there is evil, you can be sure there’s a knight sworn to defend against it.

The classic example of knights are Alpha’s White Knight and Black Knight. In Magic, white and black don’t share the same values. Thus, each of these knights’ protection abilities are from the other’s color.

In each of Throne of Eldraine’s knight colors, you can find each fighting for a cause important to them. For black knights, it’s important to stay true to yourself. And that includes never giving up! …even if it means what you value most is courting someone as the Smitten Swordmaster.

Knights Seek Renown

In the movie A Knight’s Tale, the protagonist learns that one must be of noble birth to be a knight. Yet, they become a knight, anyway, due to their merit and accomplishments. In Magic, this is no different.

On the Bant shard of the plane of Alara, knights earn sigils representing their deeds. Others without sigils can be found assisting those with them. An example of this is the Knight-Captain of Eos! While squires usually show up as their own cards, this knight comes with its own loyal squires.

In Throne of Eldraine, how do you gain recognition? You might find a way to prove your worth at the Tournament Grounds.

Knights Embark on Quests

Knights have done a lot of things in Magic. But very few of them have gone questing, which is a common knight trope!

We’ve seen knights make progress with the level up mechanic. We’ve seen the quests in Zendikar. But it wasn’t until Unstable that we saw a tease of a questing knight. This was the card Side Quest, which depicted a knight and an elephant on a boat. But this was a flavorful representation more than a functional one.

Enter Throne of Eldraine. Finally, knights can go on their quests with the new adventure mechanic. As long as a creature has an adventure, it can be considered a knight, at least in spirit. Just ask Embereth Shieldbreaker. Er, after they’re done smashing shields to bits.

Knight Time Story

Thanks for reading! The tale of knights in Magic is a never-ending one, but there’s much more to learn from Throne of Eldraine.

Have a favorite knight or knightly characteristic not covered here? Let me know on Twitter @bradleyrose!

May knights rock your opponents at the Throne of Eldraine prerelease!