The spookiest month is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than brewing some new decks based around some of the most iconic horror archetypes in Magic: The Gathering? There are tons of scary and nightmarish monsters who go bump in the night in Magic’s expansive world, giving you plenty of cards to pull your horrible inspiration from. 


Ghosts are scary, I think we can all agree on that right? Under the right circumstances, the haunted halls of Spirit commanders can provide a terrifying fright for your opponents. Often times these decks want to spam the board with all sorts of tokens, to turn all your opponents into ghosts as well.

Millicent, Restless Revenant is generally considered to be one of the best commanders to lead your spectral armies, but the Lord of the Rings card King of the Oathbreakers does an amazing job at protecting your little ghosties from harm. 


Individually, Horrors are mindbreakingly terrifying. Monstrous beings which defy logic and seem to spit in the face of nature, these creatures have wonderfully horrifying names like Nemesis of Reason and Defiler of Flesh. Absolutely terrifying.

Captain N’ghathrod and Umbris, Fear Manifest are the only commanders in town since they’re the only ones who care about other Horror creatures, but Toxrill, the Corrosive is a great backup up too. Even if you just run the most mind-breakingly horrendous creatures in Magic with Toxrill, you’ll still strike madness into your opponents. 


Slivers are only fun if you’re the one playing the deck, making it a scary thing to face down for your opponents. But they also have the in-universe terror of  being a creature so efficiently deadly.

Generally led into battle by the Sliver Overlord or The First Sliver, these decks spiral out of control so quickly it can be daunting to play against. The clear Alien Xenomorph inspiration from these beasts makes them terrifying creatures to face on the battlefield. 


I hate spiders. I try to save them and release them into the yard when one’s in my house but gosh darn it, I cannot stand them. Anyone with even the slightest ick from Spiders is going to hate playing against them too.

Lord of the Rings all-star Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is an absolutely terrifying Commander to face down. She’s incredibly pushed, loaded with high power and toughness, ward 2, and deathtouch, while giving your other spiders the same abilities. Technically Shelob isn’t a spider in Tolkien’s lore but if it bites like a spider and has far too many legs like a spider, it’s a spider.


You might not think of Rats as being particularly scary, often they’re cute little squeaky friends for many people. Once you get a few dozen of them though, those cuties are a sea of fur and claws.

Karumonix, the Rat King, and Lord Skitter, Sewer King are two Rat lords which help you swarm over every inch of the battlefield, and the classic Marrow-Gnawer has long since been a champion of Relentless Rats decks everywhere. 


If there’s one thing Demons love, it’s making pacts with people to help them gain power, at a cost. If there are two things that Demons love, it’s bombing a game of Magic with high power, and terrifying creatures to swing a game in your favor.

Be’lakor, the Dark Master from the Warhammer 40,000 preconstructed decks is an amazing commander for your Demon-theme, giving you a way to damage your opponents anytime you have a demon come into play. For a silly time in the face of hellish monsters, you can run Rakdos, the Showstopper to make everyone flip some coins and let chaos reign.


Deep sea stuff is scary. Impossibly scary. Between the crushing pressure of the depths of the ocean to the monstrously massive beasts that dwell there, there’s plenty to be afraid of. From the deep come plenty of creatures in the form of Leviathans, Octopi, Krakens, and Serpents. 

Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep is the natural commander for this deck, letting you combine the might of cards like Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle, Koma, Cosmos Serpent, and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait under one leader. 


They don’t stop to rest, the weather doesn’t hinder them, and the constant moans of decaying lungs and failing limbs follow wherever they go. The living dead are some of the scariest movie monsters to come across in Magic and any horror film scenario.

Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver, and The Scarab God count themselves as the premiere Zombie commanders in Magic. Wilhelt replaces your Zombies with even more Zombies when they die (again), and then provides you a free, once-a-turn sacrifice outlet to turn your creatures into card advantage. Meanwhile, The Scarab God slowly drains your opponents the more Zombies you control, while also giving you a cheap way to steal your opponent’s creatures and turn them into Zombies. 


You cannot deny the sheer terrorthe Phyrexian forces bring to Magic. Horrifying body gore, impossible-to-detect infiltration schemes, and a (mostly) irreversible transformation into one of the most feared entities in Magic.

Phyrexians are a relatively new creature type in Magic to build your Commander deck around. Sure, they’ve been around for a while but they only really got cards that care about your Phyrexian creatures this year. The once noble Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos has been brought into Phyrexia’s fold, rewarding you with Incubator tokens with every Phyrexian spell you cast, and Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa, a true Poison Counter commander, dedicated to infecting every player it can with Phryexia’s venom. 


Nowhere is safe on Innistrad, finding itself home to all sorts of nightmarish creatures just waiting to take your life. Few creatures are as terrifying to encounter as the Vampires in Magic. Intelligent, fast, and immensely powerful, any single Vampire can ravage a town for untold years, while armies of them can topple planes. 

Edgar Markov is by far the best Vampire to lead your armies, having an eminence ability that lets you pump out Vampire tokens even while he’s in the Command Zone, an ability which is arguably too powerful. You can expect your opponents to team up against you if you drop Edgar at your LGS, the forces of good opposing the Emperor of Evil in Magic.

Ryan Hay (he/him) has been writing about Magic: The Gathering and video games for years, and loves absolutely terrible games. Send him your bad game takes over on Twitter where he won’t stop talking about Lord of the Rings.

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