Soon Magic will gain its fifteenth Ox. Given their affinity for Theros compared to other planes, we’ll probably see a few more than that in the months to come. All numbers are estimates anyway. Suffice it to say, the multiverse acknowledges fewer than a handful of handfuls of the ox creature subtype. Surely there are many more lurking below the faces of cards, waiting to be born into our consciousness. Hoopsa boyaboy hoopsa, as it were.

You can forget all that nonsense which came before. What matters is this: Ox of Agonas is the hero that Ox Nation has long awaited. Behold the first Mythic Ox:

In the underworld, your power and toughness get inverted! At least that seems to be the case for the Ox of Agonies, as compared to the archetypal Pillarfield Ox. In addition to attacking well, this souped-up incarnation fuels some powerful graveyard engines. Expect brewers to test these babes in every format where they are legal.

A “hard delve” of eight cards per return seems steep enough to keep it in check, along with the five-mana sticker price out of hand. But if you leave a couple copies of Golgari Grave-Troll in your yard, you can restock with a quickness. As Mark Hamill might intone, calmly, like he’s done it before, “Every word of what you just said was wrong.” Or as Ewan McGregor might yell, in agony, standing astride the burning hells, “You were . . . the chosen one!” Hopefully our new mythic ox won’t end up banned, restricted, excised, elided, errataed, or otherwise diminished. Only time will tell.

But what of the nascent tribe that our Ox of Agonies will stand atop? This low-profile tribe lives in the Naya colors fairly evenly, with five appearances in red and white plus four in green. Each is a single color, and most are common. Maybe someday soon we’ll have a multicolor ox? Unsettled Mariner doesn’t count—though while we’re on the topic of changelings, Taurean Mauler deserves honorable mention.

Did you know: thanks to the Grand Creature Type Update of 2007, the first creature printed in Magic that would later become an ox was this vanilla 2/2:

Legends was a high-variance set, design wise. For the standards of the day, Gray Ogre was a solid card in Sealed. The original format of Magic was essentially a never-ending Sealed League with mandatory ante, so Raging Bull actually isn’t bad for a common printed 25 years ago. But that name is a “card name equity” fail of epic proportions.

The flavor text is, frankly, the main reason anyone would still own this card. (Legends was a bull market for flavor text in my opinion.) The fact that this card used to be a bull—as far as we know it still is—makes me think someone involved in the retrofitting of subtype errata had an appreciation for subtlety. The 2007 update removed “cow” from the black-bordered world of Magic, leaving instead a range of bovine-adjacent subtypes: Ox, Centaur, Minotaur, and the enigmatic Aurochs.

The only other retconned ox from the early days of Magic is this also-not-that-bad Elemental Ox Beast from Torment:

Vexing Devil is a constructed-playable Magic card, broadly speaking. In my 40-card-centric universe, Longhorn Firebeast would be a solid pick in Chaos draft. I’ve always had a soft spot for Lava Axe in Izzet tempo archetypes, and this one has the benefit of increasing your creature count from time to time. Yet once again we have loose usage of a premium card name. Longhorn Firebeast! It really rolls off the tongue.

The first cards printed as oxen came in Portal: Second Age and Portal: Three Kingdoms. All three of these were ahead of their time in terms of 40-card power level. Bog Wraith has existed as long as the game itself; and while it’s no Juzam Djinn, it won its share of games back in the ’90s. New riffs on Ironhoof Ox show up here and there in contemporary sets.

We also see the birth of their cross-color evolution. The retro-oxified cards ended up being red while the first known variants came in green. Whence the white oxen? From Zendikar, in the first year of our now-ended decade, 2010.

The first ox printed in white may also be the most representative. Pillarfield Ox has been defining white commons in Limited ever since. We’ve seen a couple “strictly better” versions as well. Earth-Origin Yak is the first ox that is also a yak. (Overpowered in Scrabble!) Then there’s the curious case of Those Who Serve, which seems to suggest that submitting yourself to bondage (or death and mummification) is cheaper than life on the range.

Other oxen have shown up randomly. I have no idea if Charging Cinderhorn is strong or not. It looks like the kind of creature that gets killed on sight, but maybe there are some Commander play groups that love this glorious fireball of a card. Bartered Cow really underperformed for me, but I never went too deep in Eldraine Limited. There were so many better ways to make food, but I appreciate the opportunity to use the word abbatoir.

Arc Runner is a weaker but easier-to-cast version of Ball Lightning. I hope that its ludonarrative humbling is not why they made this taurean elemental into an ox—rather than founding the Electaural College—but obscure puns have their place. It is destined to Live Fast and Die Young, yet many other oxen live long and peaceful lives. Some may even be bestowed with the favor of gods.

Purphoros’s Emissary wins the “most likely to be mistyped” award among oxen; with the triple-whammy of plural possession, a proper name with arbitrary vowels, and the never-looks-right word “emissary.” Miserere nobis. It also has bestow, one of my favorite mechanics of all time, and gets to run in one of the sweetest uncommon cycles of all time.

Like I mentioned at the start, Theros is “home turf” for the oxen of Magic. They ran the full gamut of playability, and finally we saw the full Naya representation on a single plane. I’m hoping Theros Beyond Death will follow that trend. Oxen of the Sun shedding their collective yoke. Just you try it on.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.