MTG Encyclopedia [Creature Types] C
Updated: Apr 6
Throughout the history of Magic: the Gathering, we have visited countless worlds across the Multiverse, and each and every one of them is populated by many fantastic creatures and races. Some may seem familiar at first glance, but every new place has a way of shaping its inhabitants in unique ways. In this series, I will chronicle each and every race in Magic, continuing with the letter C. In this episode, you will learn of the magic-wielding octopi of Dominaria and of the ruthless might afforded by one eye...
We have some interesting races and creatures to go over in this article – some odd and some familiar. I'm excited to talk about a couple of races on this list, especially the unique ones like the Cephalid. Now, if you haven't checked out the previous articles, then don't worry; there isn't really a need to read them in order, but I would suggest going back and checking those out after you are done with this one. Also, if you do enjoy this article, then consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, as I put up lore and color theory videos every week. OK with that, let’s get into our first oddity.
With only three ever printed, the cockatrice is the rarest creature on this list. This dangerous half-bird, half-snake is similar in some ways to the basilisk, in that it has the ability to turn its victims to stone. The one thing that makes it more dangerous is its ability to fly. The first to be printed was the card Cockatrice in Alpha, and just like the first basilisk, it has an ability very similar to deathtouch, with the exception of not being able to turn walls to stone. With such a small pool, it’s really hard to say what color a cockatrice is, but by a small margin, it is mostly found in Green, which is odd for flying creatures in the Multiverse. The latest edition was also made Blue and Green, and I think if we see the Cockatrice in the future, I would venture a guess that it would be in Blue and Green as well, as snakes are often found in Green and birds are commonly Blue creatures. Needless to say, just like the basilisk, if you find any stone limbs lying around, you know you are in cockatrice territory.
The camel is a traveler’s best friend, as they seem to walk forever and can handle any burden. These sturdy four-legged beasts are found in every desert of the Multiverse, and usually accompany traders from town to town. The first camel was printed in Arabian Nights, as to how could they not? As far as the majority of camels go, they are primarily White creatures, as they are only ever found in deserts and plains. They may be simple beasts of burden, but they are always a welcome sight to any merchant or traveler.
Centaur are beings whose top half is that of a human, while below their torso is the body of a horse – that is, with only two exceptions, the first being the Centaur of Otaria on Dominaria, who looks more altogether like a gazelle merged with human features, and not the traditional half and half. The other exception is the centaur of Theros, whose torsos are that of a human, but their faces seem to be a mix of a horse’s and a man’s.
The first centaur to be printed was the card Wind Seeker Centaur, which was actually a promo for the book Whispering Woods and then a promo for MTGO, never getting a traditional set printing. While some centaurs can be a savage and dangerous race, many in Magic: the Gathering is actually quite civilized, with their own clans and culture. Centaurs are a primarily Green race, and with their connections to the wilds and with magic, I would say that centaurs are closer to elves than anything else; we see this in the many shamans and druids of their ranks. But don't get me wrong – they are also some of the strongest warriors you will encounter. With centaurs on the battlefield, who needs cavalry?
The Cephalid are a unique race to the waters of Dominaria, more specifically the shores of Otaria. The first Cephalid were all printed in the set Odyssey, which showcased their emperor Aboshan. These intelligent octopi weren't always the dominant race of Otaria's shores as they are now. You see, much of Dominaria's waters were (and still are) ruled by the Merfolk, a race I will cover in the future.
For a long time, they were subjects of the Mer Empire and nothing but commoners, but through a ploy by Aboshan and Laquatas, a merfolk wizard, the Cephalid were able to acquire strong enough magic to give them a fighting chance. Then, with this newfound power, it gave the Cephalid an edge against the Merfolk and ended up being too much of a threat to the Mer Empire, who were already weakened at the time due to a devastating catastrophe. Now the Cephalid have an empire of their own.
It may not be as expansive as the Mer Empire, but at least they have space to grow and learn their craft. Over time, the Cephalid have become quite strong with magic, and take their training very seriously. In Cephalid culture, no one is bound to the caste they are born into, and anyone can move upward in their courts as long as they show promise and are cunning enough. This clever and intelligent race is always on the lookout for more power and take every inch they can. Perhaps one day, they will rule the waters of Dominaria; given enough time, I'm sure they will.
Construct is the general name given to artifacts with a life all their own and was at first simply referred to only as artifact creatures until the great creature type update. While all constructs vary as wildly as the people who create them and the worlds they are found on, in general, they are a name given to autonomous machines who mimic something found in the real world, whether that be humanoid or animal-like. Now, of course with the variety of planes in Magic: the Gathering, this isn't a hard rule, but one we typically do see follow through on.
The first construct to be printed was the card Brass Man in Arabian Nights and was the beginnings of their humanoid routes. We were first truly introduced to constructs when we got into the brothers’ war storyline, and met the two greatest artificers on Domiaria and perhaps the Multiverse, Mishra, and Urza. These two showed us some of the most fantastic creations, some of their own design, and others found from lost races of that world, such as the Dragon Engine. One such creation was Karn, someone who you may be familiar with today, as he later became a Planeswalker who stepped from his master’s shadow. Because they are artifacts, constructs are almost always printed in colorless, but there are rare exceptions, such as the gearhulks found Kaladesh, a plane that is home to some of the most sophisticated machines in the multiverse. In every set, we get to see what wonderful inventions each plane’s people are capable of creating, and I'm sure the bar will be raised higher and higher with each coming year, and nothing is more fun than a race that is only limited by imagination.
Now onto something a little more simple: the crabs of Magic. The first crab to be printed was Giant Crab in Tempest. These primarily Blue-aligned creatures aren't quite what you would expect. You see, here on earth, crabs are small little critters that scuttle along the shoreline, while the crabs of the Multiverse are almost always quite large and make any shore they are found on quite dangerous. Weirder still are the crabs of Ravnica, who are often the subject of mutations from the Simic guild. I honestly wouldn't fall asleep on any shore that these big guys call home.
The chimera is an odd creature type in that they hold some similarities to each other, but no two look the same. The chimera is a creature based in Greek mythology, and their version isn't quite the same as what you would normally see in popular culture. Their version was simply a lion with a goat’s head on its back. With this simple source in mind, the meaning of chimera became more about the merging of at least two different species of animal, rather than any specific creature.
In Magic, this can take on many forms, but for the most part, what we get are winged beasts with two different heads. As I said, this is not always the case, but it is how the majority are represented. Oddly enough, the first chimeras to be printed were a cycle of four artifact creatures printed in Visions. It wouldn't be until Theros that we would start to see proper chimeras, which makes sense, as that plane is based on Greek mythology. When it comes to chimeras, with their makeup coming from different sources, there isn't really a color that is mainly associated with them, but at least a quarter of them are in Blue, perhaps due to them being fliers for the most part. When talking about chimeras, the old adage comes to mind: two heads are better than one.
Coming back down to earth, so to speak, we have the crocodile. These primarily Green or Black predators are as dangerous as you would imagine in a game like Magic: the Gathering. The first crocodile was Sandbar Crocodile in Mirage, and even though it's Blue, this would very rarely be the case going forward. When it comes to crocodiles, their color truly dictates the type of creature they are. Green ones are quite large and hunt just as much on land as they do on the water. The Black crocs, on the other hand, are lither, stealthy hunters who lurk in the swamps. Land or swamp, though, they will often attack the moment they see you.
The cyclops is a large, dangerous brute, with as many eyes as it has brain cells. It is almost always found in Red, as its whole existence is ruled by one violent outburst to the next. The only exception seems to be the cyclops of Ravnica, who have found a place within the ranks of the Boros and Izzet guilds. Not to mention that one was even the leader of the Gruul Clans before Domri, but that isn't saying much. And hey, even if the cyclops of Boros and Izzet aren't anything more than tools for those guild's ambitions, at least they aren't destroying the city that spans their plane. The first cyclops to be printed was the card Ekundu Cyclops in Mirage, and there isn't really much to say about this guy, as he doesn't really represent what cyclops would come to look like in Magic, but he still holds a special place in my heart, because I mean, just look at the guy.
The cats of magic remind me very much of the birds we covered in the previous episode, in that they can be as simple as a cute small kitten or as advanced as a race of sentient beings with their own culture. The first cat to be printed was Savanah Lions in Alpha, and represents the basis for cats, as the ones created in the future would take this design and iterate on it depending on the plane, such as the metal-plated Leonin of Mirrodan. These slender cats are constantly defending their lands, which has made them fierce warriors on land and in the sky. Or take the mutant cats of Ikoria, who take different forms depending on which triome they call home.
Cats primarily come in White, Red and Green. Green cats are typically wild panthers and leopards who live in the jungles of the Multiverse. When it comes to Red cats, this is where we get tigers, and in many cases, elemental cats who are more fire than cat – these ones are some of the most dangerous around. When it comes to White cats, this is usually where we see the more intelligent cats, such as the Leonin. These are my favorite versions of cats in Magic. These cats can be noble leaders, astute warriors, and in the case of the most famous of Leonin, Ajani, they can be Planeswalkers. When it comes to cats, it’s no wonder they show up on so many planes, and that’s just fine with me because, over time, they have become one of my favorite types.
With so many races in Magic: the Gathering, it can be crazy getting to know each and every one of them, but hopefully, this series is showcasing all the creativity the Magic team has. Thanks for checking out this latest article in the Races of Magic series.
[edited by Cameron Davis]