The latest Magic: the Gathering set Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been out for a couple of weeks now. In that time, players have been treated to a whole array of giant monsters both in Constructed and Limited formats
The Companion mechanic is certainly hogging the spotlight by being completely broken, for better or for worse. But I’m more a fan of the Mutate mechanic and the wacky behemoth-stacks it lets players assemble using multiple creatures that have the alternate cost.
Unfortunately for all the Timmies out there, Mutate hasn’t made much of an impact in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern. That’s probably because Constructed Magic is most often about cheap threats and interaction. In fact, formats won’t often feature many cards more expensive than five mana. And if they do, they likely win the game on the spot or are part of an unstoppable value engine.
Of course, there are a bunch of six-drop creatures that have made their mark on Constructed in the past decade. And yes, most of them can shut the door on the opponent or help you claw back from a losing position.
So, in honor of Ikoria, let’s look at the 11 best 6-mana creatures released in the past 10 years. True to their steep costs, each and every one of them is an absolute blast to play!
"Gyruda, Doom of Depths" and their reanimating tentacles have been part of Constructed for less than a month, but the 6-mana Companion has already made waves in three different formats. In terms of Constructed popularity, I would say that it has only been eclipsed so far by "Lurrus of the Dream-Den" and maybe "Yorion, Sky Nomad".
This creature boasts the distinction of being the only 6 drop on the list that will always be available to cast when you hit the necessary mana. On top of that, the first copy of the card doesn’t clog up your hand in the early game like other sixes do.
Oh, and Gyruda also lets you win the game the same turn you cast it, as we’ve seen from the bizarre but powerful builds that have popped up. In Standard, the Simic Gyruda deck consistently puts almost 20 power into play on turn 4 by chaining "Spark Doubles" and "Thassa, Deep-Dwellers". In Pioneer and Modern, the critical mass of Clone effects lets you mill your opponent out before they even get to untap.
Gyruda is undoubtedly one of the most powerful 6 drops ever printed, thanks to the Companion mechanic. The reason why it’s so low on this list—for now—is that we’ve seen so many game-winning heavy hitters in the past ten years. I’m excited to see how quickly Gyruda gets even with the rest of the list.
"Dragonlord Silumgar" is my personal favorite card on this list, because it’s one of the cards I’ve won the most with in Standard. The Dimir Dragonlord got me my first Regional Pro Tour Qualifier appearance back when I was new to competitive Magic.
It flew right into the finisher slot in Esper control decks alongside Dragonlord Ojutai when Dragons of Tarkir released in 2015. That deck relied heavily on the latest set’s many Dragon synergies like "Dragonlord’s Prerogative", "Foul-Tongue Invocation", "Silumgar’s Scorn", and "Haven of the Spirit Dragon". Esper Dragons put multiple players into the Top 16 of Pro Tour DTK.
But even without the synergies that made that deck such a powerful option in that Standard format, Silumgar could win games single-handedly. The most backbreaking way to use him was to steal a Planeswalker that was ready to activate its ultimate on the following turn, and then cash it in yourself.
That was flashy, but just stealing a dorky creature from your opponent was often enough to catch the control deck up from a losing position. It’s 5 toughness also made it very difficult for Red decks to kill.
My favorite thing about the card, however, is that the art has Silumgar wearing the corpse of Tasigur, the Golden Fang, as an amulet.
If you’ve done me the honor of reading a few of my list articles, you’ll know that I fancy myself a control mage. I love making smart one-for-one trades and drawing cards until I can cast an unbeatable 6 drop and ride it to victory.
Imagine my dismay, then, when this Mythic Dinosaur was released with Ixalan. During that Standard season, the shoe was on the other foot. I lost so many times to this Hexproof, Trampling win condition!
The Golgari Midrange list that played this at the top of the curve was so ubiquitous that decks started playing Detection Tower to help them target the Tyrant. That deck could also grind out midrange mirrors by combining Carnage Tyrant’s 6 toughness with the -4/-4 sweeper side of Find//Finality.
As bonkers as this card looks, at least two factors limited the amount of success Carny-T had on the Pro Tour. First, White Weenie was an excellent strategy when Guild of Ravnica came out. It proved too quick for Golgari and put six copies into the Top 8 of that set’s Pro Tour. Second, control players had access to powerful answers to the card like "Settle the Wreckage".