Dominaria United previews are in full swing, and both the cards and story paint a dark picture for the Magic multiverse. Powerful creatures abound, massive changes are happening to our favorite MTG characters and Phyrexia marches on. In the middle of all this, one card in particular caught my attention.
That’s right, as you probably already saw from the title, we’re looking at some of the cutest critters in all of Magic. Not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but listen — things look like they might be getting stressful on Dominaria for a little while. Throwing a bit of fluff out every now and then can’t hurt.
I’ll also talk about how good the cards are in general, and where you might see them played. Cute cards are nice and all, but there is still a game to be played, after all.
A few notes about this list: I set some rules for myself going in. These are the cutest critters in Magic, so no humans, elves, goblins, etc. We’re in Magic land, obviously, so anything is potentially capable of speech — but the main thought here is “could I see this possibly being a pet?” It’s a little fuzzy of a rule, but a good start.
Next, these must be creatures — not just a spell that has a cute creature in the art. So, no Harmless Offering or anything like that here.
Third, these must be black-bordered cards. And finally, these must be the art that came from a Draft Booster printing. No Secret Lair or Promo art, no showcase alternate versions allowed. You at least had to be able to get it out of a Commander Precon. But there’s no reason for this other than it helps narrow things down a bit.
Also, I’m just listing these in alphabetical order. Ranking these would just make me stress about something designed to be not stress-inducing — so I’m not going to do it. Other than that, this is completely subjective, but I am right. So there.
Anyone who’s ever had a big dog that likes to cuddle can relate to this card. Sometimes the affectionate impulse comes at a somewhat inconvenient time, but you know they just do it because they love you.
And as a Magic card, this is pretty good! Six mana is a bit much for this to make the cut too often in Constructed, but this is the sort of card that was made for Limited and mid-level Cubes. Is six mana for a removal spell or a 4/4 vanilla creature a bad rate? Absolutely. But six mana for both at once? Now we’re getting somewhere.
It’s like an extremely useful Roomba with big, soulful eyes. How can you not feel a little something for this crouching construct?
As far as Birds of Paradise-style cards go, this one rates pretty highly. The fact that it can go in any deck, is an artifact and has a little bit of power and toughness are all points in its favor — even if it’s not the stone-cold staple that BOP itself is. This is the sort of card that will always have a home somewhere, and not just because of how cute it is.
I refuse to believe that this bird can’t talk. At the very least, it can understand everything you say perfectly. Look at how helpful it wants to be! And its little amulet!
As a 1/1 flier for a single blue mana that has major possible upside in a Historic deck (or more likely an artifact-based build), this is a fine early game play in a lot of Commander decks. It can even do some work later in the game if you need to dig through your deck for something specific.
I mean, c’mon, it’s a bear cub. They are cute, fluffy and look so, so cuddly. [NOTE: DO NOT CUDDLE BEAR CUBS UNLESS YOU HAVE A JOB THAT VERY SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS AND TRAINS YOU TO DO SO] Little bear cubs are some of the cutest animals on the planet. That’s just science.
This is also the quintessential archetype of a standard green creature: it’s a 2/2 for two that’s a bear. It is perhaps the go-to example of a baseline creature.
It’s not going to set any decks on fire or anything, as even in a Commander Bear Tribal deck it’s just another cog. But it’s definitely in the running for the cutest cog in Magic!
This cat has been through some stuff. It knows hard times. And yet, it’s still got a shine in its eyes, its tail still happily tilted up and its eyes swiveled forward with patient attention. Granted, the shine is a little unholy, the tail maybe doesn’t have the range of motion it once did and at least one ear might be sewn on at this point — but still!
Look, this isn’t the best creature. You can find similar effects that work a little easier, like Burglar Rat or Elderfang Disciple. But in an Aristocrats-style sacrifice deck, this little feline can let you trigger a discard at instant speed, which can be surprisingly useful.
The original printing of this card was more regal than cute, but the Baldur’s Gate printing looks like something out of an old claymation holiday special. And it’s even bringing a friend!
As far as a card goes, Burnished Hart was a ramp staple for a long time in any non-Green deck that just wanted to get lands out onto the battlefield. With the preponderance of good, cheap mana rocks and other options printed over time, the Hart has lost a little of its play share. However, it remains a solid option almost anywhere.
It’s a little striped mouse with a big fluffy tail, big shiny eyes and long dangly ears. If I didn’t put it on this list, I would have my writing license revoked.
This is also, as it turns out, the only non-token mouse in Magic, and it puts up a pretty good showing for its creature type. In a landfall deck, it can easily represent an extra three-to-four power and toughness per creature if you set up a turn for it. Even just as a team booster in a go-wide token deck, you might be hard pressed to find such an easily repeatable, similar effect.
Tiny little wolf pup growls with all its might. Silent wolf mother watches in the night.
Ferocious Pup isn’t going to light the world on fire or anything, but it was a solid role player in Limited, providing multiple bodies on a single card. A good flicker target, this has a home in some lower-to-mid power Cubes that want to support a more “fair” deck somewhere in its mix.
Look at the little smile on the tiny dragon’s face as it figures out fire breathing. So full of hope, life and the potential for untold destruction as it grows.
This sort of card rarely breaks into Constructed formats, as there’s simply more threatening or aggressive things to do for four mana in the kinds of decks that would want it. In Limited, however, having an evasive mana sink like this can be a reliably solid game-ender, as it can represent a lot of damage without necessarily being the most urgent removal target.
Gilder Bairn’s younger sibling, Glimmer Bairn is one of the most whimsical fae ever to see print — it’s child-like appearance and cute costume belying the fact that this thing EATS YOUR OTHER CREATURES.
Seriously though, a good, cheap sacrifice outlet in Green isn’t the easiest thing to come by. It’s a very conditional sacrifice outlet, but given Green’s ability to pump out all manner of tokens quite quickly, it’s not hard to take advantage of Glimmer Bairn’s ability.
It’s hard to gauge the actual size of this spirit based on the art, as there’s not a lot there to provide scale. It reads as small, with delicate wings and big eyes, but it certainly packs a punch.
Look, there’s almost no way this card sees much play any more outside of throwback drafts and very themed Cubes. Five mana is just too much to pay for this statline and that ability.
Its biggest claim to fame is, in fact, the art. The artist thought the name referred to a Lemur, the small monkey, and so that’s what was drawn with wings for the flying ability.
A quick image search (not exactly a thing when Ice Age was printed) shows that fantasy Lemures are actually horrific mounds of screaming flesh, so all in all I’m fine with this version.
What an angry looking little Owlbear. It knows it’s cute and fluffy, but that doesn’t mean it has to like it. Also it knows it’ll grow into a hulking monster, so just you wait.
I mean, the ability is good, if a little conditional. The only drawback is the threat of what that ability can do means Owlbear Cub is usually not long for the table, as it’ll draw some sort of removal right quick.
The card that inspired this article, this little flying fire chicken looks just as surprised at its own existence as you might be if you saw this flying towards you.
This card is…quite good actually. Hasty, red, one-mana creatures have a storied history in Magic. And while this might not reach the heights of Goblin Guide, this neatly slots into any Red Deck Wins archetype out there.
The evasion boosts it up a bit, but it’s the recursion that’s going to be what makes this a feature of at least Standard, creature-based, red, aggro decks.
Your mileage may vary on this one, but it just looks so… cheerful, somehow, just burbling along the ocean’s floor.
This was pretty much a curve-filler in Limited, although there are some Defender themed decks that can always use the ability to attack every now and then that won’t mind another option.
I mean, come on. It’s a good doggo, drawing you a card and being all happy to help.
Spirited Companion may not seem like much at first glance, and yet it’s been a solid role-player in Enchantment decks in Standard. Never underestimate the power of drawing a card, chump blocking and having a relevant card type!
With the next few sets focused on the new Phyrexian war, there will be plenty of grotesque and horrifying art to go around. It’s nice every now and then to remember that while conflict drives Magic’s story, conflict doesn’t preclude some things just being plain cute.
Chris is the Associate Media Producer at Card Kingdom. He would like to apologize to his son for not holding onto more cards from when he first started playing, as that likely would have paid for college. He enjoys pretty much all formats of Magic, but usually ends up playing decks that make other people dislike playing those formats with him.