Goats have been back in the conversation lately. Not since the heydey of Trading Post have goats been so prominently featured among the value engines of Magic: the Gathering. In the multi-decade history of Magic, only eight creature cards have been specifically printed as goats. That might seem like an impediment to filling out a top ten list, but goats are a bit more resilient than you might expect.

Why are goats happening again? The countrysides of Theros teem with goat tokens. No new actual creature type goats have been printed in a while—the last was Thriving Ibex of Kaladesh—but Theros Beyond Death added two new cards that create goat tokens. Woe Strider can pop out a handful of goat tokens over the course of a game; in theory, so can Discordant Piper, though you’ll need some additional rules text from other cards.

Before I get to the top ten, honorable mention goes to the other recent goat token maker. Clackbridge Troll gives the goats to your opponent, then demands sacrifices to prevent it from attacking. A fun card, and a nice imitation of Trading Post with the cards you draw a card when your opponent pays the Troll toll. We can do better, though.

Ten—Mountain Goat

The original Mountain Goat resists all attempts to contain it. Like Groucho Marx and Russell’s Paradox, the classic 1/1 mountainwalking hero comes across as naive, antiquated, zany, and a little too self-referential. Debuting all the way back in Ice Age, Mountain Goat is Magic’s first goat. It’s also miles ahead of all the cards that sound like band names—The Mountain Goats actually exist, fronted by brilliant bard John Darnielle, who has played Magic for years and made his fandom known.

Nine—Colos Yearling

Would you pay two extra mana to give your Mountain Goat Firebreathing? That’s a rhetorical question if I’ve ever heard one: of course you would. Colos Yearling looks amazingly bad by contemporary standards, but at least it’s a win condition. A firebreathing goat steed—with obligatory mountainwalk—makes approximately zero sense; but the flavor team was one of the better parts of Urza block, so we’ll cut them some slack.

Eight—Thriving Ibex

The most recent card printed with “Goat” as its creature type has a big butt if nothing else. Thriving Ibex was probably the least exciting of its common cycle; it looks clunky when compared to Thriving Rhino. If you’re generating energy with white mana by choice these days, I hope you’re going crazy with Consulate Surveillance and Madcap Experiment. All that said, a 2/4 goat that becomes a 3/5 next turn dominates the power and toughness battle among all but the rarest of goats.

Seven—Woe Strider

Theros Beyond Death brought goats back with a vengeance. Most of that is thanks to the powerful Escape mechanic—like a Louisiana graveyard where nothing stays buried. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis may be the strongest token generator with Escape, but Woe Strider is a solid second. Goat tokens live mostly to die; Woe Strider gives their death meaning.

Six—Morophon, the Boundless

Changelings always confuse the creature-type rankings. There’s approximately zero chance that Morophon’s goat status ever comes up in a game you play. Maybe once you develop a reputation for playing Morophon, folks will pre-board Goatnap against you. Ask yourself this, though: doesn’t Morophon kind of look like a giant goat? Moose or elk vibes lean in the same direction, which is how changelings work anyway. You won’t get much of a mana discount casting goats, however—no multicolor goats have been printed in the history of the game.

Five—Battering Craghorn

Back in the days of Onslaught draft, blocking a morph controlled by a Red player never went well. If you block with your 2/2, they morph into Battering Craghorn and first strike it away. If you don’t block, it’s Skirk Commando and your creature dies anyway. Not many goats have played a major role in competitive Magic, but this red morph guessing game helped define a Draft format. That’s pretty good for a 3/1 goat.

Four—Springjack Shepherd

Eventide marked another high tide for goat token generators. Springjack Pasture looks like the more reliable engine, but Springjack Shepherd wins for flavor and mechanical evolutionary history. Theros reformulated the Chroma mechanic into the much more successful Devotion mechanic. Springjack Shepherd basically gives you goats for your devotion to white, but it really should cost 2WW instead of 3W. Then it would feel right at home in Theros Beyond Death.

Three—Trading Post

Here we have a card that encapsulates the full range of capitalism—from the youthful joy of opening your own shop, to the crushing oblivion of grinding a buck out day after day for meager reward. Very few have turned a profit playing Trading Post, but the dream endures. Nevertheless, Trading Post is an iconic card from Magic’s history, and that earns the third spot in our goat rankings.

Two—Pathbreaker Ibex

Here we have our rare goat. Pathbreaker Ibex is a walking Overrun. On its own it attacks for six trample damage. Standard and Limited Magic players never got a chance to test this monstrous goat, but Commander players know it well. The power of the Pathbreaker is bounded only by your ability to pile up power on one creature, inviting explosive combo kills with all sorts of cards. Grave Titan might be a fun pairing, but you can imagine plenty more.

One—Cloudgoat Ranger

Official Flavor Errata declares Cloudgoat Ranger as honorary goat, like it has been in every draft format where it’s been printed. Somehow this gentle giant makes tokens that are not goats—a sacrilege indeed. The good news is, Kithkin Soldier tokens are much better than goat tokens, and that’s before you consider tapping them to jump your ranger to the skies. The best goat transcends all goats.

Brendan McNamara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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