Throughout the history of Magic: The Gathering, as of the release of Unfinity, there have been about 280 different creature types. But there’s more to covering a variety of species in your game. What sets Magic apart from a sea of other games is the color pie. Goblins tend to be red, treefolk tend to be green, humans can be any color, and so on. New creature types, combinations, or creature types outside of their normal color identity can be fascinating. Today we’re going to take a look at the most notable examples from 2022.

Honorable Mentions/Exclusions

Although I mentioned Unfinity above, there isn’t much point in talking about the creature type/color combinations that made an appearance. The entire point of the set is to be zany and quirky. So, don’t expect cards like this going forward.

Although some crossover products will be featured, I will also be excluding the Transformers crossover cards. Sorry, but the Autobots are gonna have to roll out of this article.

Don’t worry, although we’ve eliminated a lot of potential cards, there are plenty left to go over. We have Secret Lairs, intellectual property crossovers, standard-legal sets, and more. So many, in fact, that not every single unique combination will be featured; only the most noteworthy and interesting, according to me.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Let’s talk about this cycle of creatures like Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars. If you’re like me, you probably thought at first that Shrine was a cool new creature type. Well, it’s not. Shrine is an enchantment subtype, not a creature type, meaning you can’t name Shrine with your Cavern of Souls or Plague Engineer. Yes, you read that right, the Shrine creatures in Neon Dynasty do not actually have a creature type at all. While I firmly believe they should probably have the creature type Spirit, there simply isn’t enough room on the card to fit another word in. Of note, these aren’t actually the first creatures to have no actual creature type, with that honor going to Nameless Race printed way back in 1994, in The Dark, the fourth ever Magic expansion.

I can understand why some people are not so happy to see Greasefang here considering the gripes I’ve heard about its presence in certain formats. I promise I wouldn’t put it here without sufficient reason, and the reason is quite simple: The door remains open for a Ratatouille themed Secret Lair thanks to this card. After all, I don’t think there’s an argument for Remy not being a rat pilot.

Remy the rat, piloting a human
All joking aside, this is the first time a rat pilot has seen print. Additionally, this is the first creature with the rat subtype that has been seen in white, and only the second time the pilot subtype has been seen in black. Pilots tend to be restricted to white and red, while rats tend to be black with the occasional foray into red.

This is a ninja turtle. I don’t need to say more, but I will. This is the first time those two subtypes have met, and although it isn’t exactly a direct homage to the well-known terrapin fighters, we all know what’s going on. All this guy is missing is a blue mask, a rat giving the orders in the background, and a Mouser being smashed to bits underfoot. The precedent is set, we now have ninja turtles in Magic. So yeah, I want the hypothetical Secret Lair: Shell Of A Time.

Streets of New Capenna

This bird is the first demon printed without red or black, and also the first card to be printed as both a bird and a demon. Notably, up until 2022, only three non-black demons had ever been printed. Two in the original Kamigawa sets, and one from Kaldheim. The release of Battle for Baldur’s Gate saw the printing of many new non-black, mono-red demons, which is enough for Jetmir, Nexus of Revels to barely be worth a mention as a non-black demon himself. The uniqueness of non-black demons would only be further undercut with the release of the Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 commander decks, which featured many new mono-red demons.

Xander is the first vampire demon noble, and also the first vampire demon. Although he was the first and only demon noble for a short while, another was printed in Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000. Unfortunately, a lot of unique combinations of types and colors were undercut by those decks. Fortunately for Xander, I don’t expect him to lose his spot as the only vampire demon noble, as most creatures with three types tend to be rather unique.

This is, currently, somehow, the only sphinx demon in Magic, and one of only a handful of three-color sphinxes. I initially overlooked Raffine because I had assumed a sphinx demon had made a debut already, but I was wrong. Finally, across the 70 sphinxes that have seen print, Raffine is one of only three to have just 1 power. Not the strongest demon, I suppose.

There aren’t many bards in Magic, 16 in total. However, Kitt is the only cat bard, bard druid, cat druid, and cat bard druid. So really it’s like four different firsts in one, yeah? It’s fitting that you get 4/4 worth of stats for your 4-mana on a creature that has four different firsts. Purrfect, you could say.

Two unique, albeit less noteworthy cards round out New Capenna. Shattered Seraph is the only angel rogue printed so far, although it doesn’t really seem all that roguelike. I suppose you could speculate that her wings are shattered due to her roguish activities. Topiary Stomper is the only plant dinosaur, and raises some interesting questions about the legal liability of New Capenna landscapers.

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate

Somehow in the history of Magic, elves have been remarkably skilled at not becoming vampires. Well, until now, because Astarion is the first. That also means Astarion is the first vampire elf rogue as well. Rogues, mind you, are renowned for avoiding danger, like becoming the prey of a vampire. Considering this, I believe Astarion, the Unlucky would have been a much more fitting name.

Ok so, I don’t really understand why this isn’t a beast. Either way, it is the only walrus. It doesn’t look particularly bronze in color or construction either, but I don’t design too many machine marine mammals in my spare time. I racked my brain and the internet for any obscure precedent for mechanical walruses in Dungeons & Dragons, but both came up empty. I guess someone at Wizards of the Coast really digs walruses.

It’s remarkable how many notable cards in 2022 got undercut just a few weeks or months later. Faceless One is another creature with no creature type, and it is the first colorless creature to not have a creature type. Much like Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin, this card suffers from having an enchantment subtype attached to the massive baggage of Legendary Enchantment Creature, meaning that there’s no real estate left for an ordinary creature subtype.

There are a few notable creatures from Baldur’s Gate that aren’t very striking, but nonetheless deserve some attention. Firbolg Flutist. I had a joke lined up about how tough it must be to make giant-sized woodwind instruments, but firbolgs are usually around seven feet tall, which isn’t very giant if you ask me. Nevertheless, this is the only giant bard. Brainstealer Dragon is the first dragon horror, and after inspecting the art I can confirm that it is indeed horrifying. Hezrou is the first frog demon. Although the idea of a frog demon doesn’t immediately strike fear into my heart, I learned that in Dungeons & Dragons they are about eight feet tall, telepathic, and tough enough to make unprepared adventurers croak.

Mahadi, Emporium Master is the first cat devil, but all I can see is “khajiit has wares if you have coin.” Bhaal, Lord of Murder, Bane, Lord of Darkness, and Myrkul, Lord of Bones are all tied as the first three-color gods, which would be cooler if not for Tiamat, the five-color dragon god seeing print a year prior. Look, there are a lot of normal creature types with brand new jobs in this set: Dragon Peasants, Orc Clerics, and so on. Frankly, most of them aren’t very interesting, and I’d need another thousand words or so just to fit them in. Rest well knowing those fighting for Baldur’s Gate are gainfully employed, and we can keep going.

Dominaria United

This is the first and only dragon hydra, and it certainly manages to feel like both. This card was the bane of Dominaria United limited. Take my word for it. Literally, take my word for it, I wrote this article.

Surprisingly, Dominaria United and its associated Commander decks were quite shallow in terms of firsts. But, here are some fun cards that came in second place. Soul of Windgrace gets a special shout out for being first loser in the race to be the first cat avatar, thanks to Arahbo, Roar of the World coming out years prior. Squee, Dubious Monarch loses the goblin noble race to Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Xira, the Golden Sting misses out on being the first insect assassin thanks to Kraul Stinger.

Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander

Together with Heralds of Tzeentch, these are the first mono-blue demons in the game. There aren’t any real reasons why demons in non-crossover sets can’t be mono-blue, and that’s why these cards are noteworthy. Sadly, that’s where the Warhammer 40,000 decks end their contributions. There are multiple mono-red demons in the set, but they are not the first.

The Brothers’ War

This nosy creature is one of only four moles in the history of Magic, and the only mole horror. I had a chuckle when I first saw it, but the prospect of a gargantuan mole is actually a bit frightening. Still, I dig it. Unfortunately, that’s all The Brothers’ War and the associated commander decks have to offer.

Jumpstart 2022

Our first cat angel, and certainly worthy of the title of angelic based on the gorgeous art. As harsh as the world of Magic may be, we can take comfort in knowing that cats go to heaven too. Hopefully someday we get a card for the person missing their feline friend in the clouds.

This regal rodent is the very first rat warlock, and certainly looks the part. I’ve always been a bit on the fence about giving rats the same spotlight other species have. Considering that they generally look similar, this art makes me wish we had a rat planeswalker. Either way, this is a cool addition to an underdeveloped species within the game.

Yes, I know, people are going bananas about this card. But enough monkey business, this card is the first monkey noble. Congratulations to Kibo on his status as simian royalty, but I cannot abide this monkey monarchy malarkey.

This is just a rabbit with a job. Although I’m glad he’s making his bills disappear, Preston only makes this list due to the surprising lack of many other rabbits in Magic history. The card itself is nice, and the gimmick of using illusions to pull off a bigger trick is quite thematically relevant.

Thankfully for Rodolf, as the first vampire angel, he’s got quite a bit of power and prestige behind his name. Still, he certainly isn’t winning any awards for creativity after taking the name “Duskbringer.” I also like that they kept the angel wings purely so you’d know he is supposed to be an angel, because bat-styled wings would make him look like any other winged vampire.

After double checking through literally thousands of cards, to look for anything I might have missed, I can conclusively say I’ve listed almost everything. There were a lot of unique new designs, some close second place finishes, and a pretty big number of normal creatures getting jobs. Magic has evolved a lot over the years, and it will no doubt continue to evolve well into the future. I hope you’ve had as much fun learning about these creatures as I did discovering them. I’ve been Luka “Robot Rallis” Sharaska, and this has been a retrospective on weird and new creature types in 2022.

Luka Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a mind for calculating odds, and a calm demeanor. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011. Most days, you’ll find them in the gym or creating content for their YouTube channel: Robot Rallis.

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