When I first started playing Magic back in the late 1990’s, games often felt like an arms race—whoever can score the biggest creature was likely to break stalemates and win games. This led to our playgroup’s overvaluing of cards like Craw Wurm and Scaled Wurm. Naturally, removal spells such as Deathleaper, Terror Weapon and Dark Banishing were equally coveted.
But there was a particular group of creatures that were supremely powerful. It was a set of ever-increasing trampling creatures sure to end games in a heartbeat. Never mind that their drawbacks often made these terrible—the games never lasted long enough for that to matter, once these hit the battlefield.
The Mega-trampling Creatures of Yore
From top left to bottom right, here you have the original 7/7 trample, 8/8 trample, 9/9 trample, 10/10 trample, 11/11 trample, and 12/12 trample creatures; each more exciting than the last. Now, 25 years later, I’ve completed this mini-collection for the first time in my life.
Of course, assembling this collection of six cards back in 1997 was nearly impossible for me, being a kid with minimal financial means. I may have had two or even three of these at any given time, but never all six. These were expensive back in the day. Even Revised copies of Lord of the Pit and Force of Nature were difficult to obtain. Forget about trading for one of these; our friends knew these were dominant and held them tightly.
How do their values hold up today, though? Let’s take a look at these and other trampling creatures for their value trends.
Trampling Creature Values, Counting Up
1: Defiant Elf
It took nine years from Magic’s initial launch in 1993 until we had our first ever printed 1/1 trampler. Defiant Elf made us chuckle at the paradoxical stats. What good is trample on a creature with one power? Well, it turns out there was a significant Elf theme in Legions, and the idea was to summon a bunch of them, and then pump up Defiant Elf with something like Timberwatch Elf, making the trample ability far more relevant.
That said, it’s no real surprise that this common, even being printed all the way back in Legions in 2002, is still bulk. Nothing to see here.
2: Silver Erne
While our play group found the concept of a 1/1 trampler kind of amusing, none of us paid any attention to 2/2 trampling creatures. In fact, I had to look this up on Gatherer in order to find the first card printed with power and toughness of two and the trampling keyword. Enter Silver Erne, a 2/2 flying trampler for four mana out of Ice Age.
Once again, we have a bulk card. A number of 2/2 tramplers has been printed since Ice Age, some of them at rare and slightly more value, but if I maintain focus on the oldest creatures that fit the bill, then Silver Erne has its place in history as the first 2/2 trampler.
Rampaging War Mammoth was the first 3/3 trampler, printed in Alpha and reprinted in all Core Sets up to Fifth Edition. For four mana, this card never really got people excited, and white bordered versions were easy to acquire and still considered bulk today. Alpha copies, on the other hand, are far from bulk. They’re not even close to the cheapest cards from Alpha. Near Mint copies can buylist for up to $54 according to Trader Tools! Beta, Unlimited, and CE/ICE copies are also worth something.
I never owned this rare as a kid—in fact, since Two-Headed Giant of Foriys wasn’t reprinted after Unlimited, I’m pretty sure I didn’t know this card existed back in the day. I started playing Magic in 1997, after booster packs of Unlimited (and Revised for that matter) were no longer readily available at a local game shop.
In any event, while I used to consider Bronze Horse as my default 4/4 trampler for collecting purposes, technically the two-headed giant is the first one to be printed. It’s quite pricey nowadays because it is on the Reserved List and only shows up in Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited. The top buy price for near mint Alpha copies is $1,260! Unlimited copies still buylist for nearly $100; not too shabby if you ask me!
Legends was the first set to introduce a 5/5 creature with trample, and there are two cards that fit the bill. Axelrod Gunnarson and Elder Land Wurm both carry quite a high mana cost for what they do, but they are both rares from a set printed in 1994 so these are going to have some value. Since Axelrod Gunnarson was reprinted in Chronicles, and the card doesn’t see play, its value is relatively capped; near mint copies buylist for $14.50. Elder Land Wurm is in the same boat—it was reprinted in Fourth Edition and can be buylisted for up to $16.06.
Both of the cards are basically bulk, though they can probably get you a few pennies on buylists. Deep Spawn is the worse of the two, but Butcher Orgg was reprinted in a few sets since. Either way, I wouldn’t bother wasting your time with these 6/6 tramplers—both from a gameplay and MTG finance standpoint.
We didn’t see a 6/6 trampling creature until Fallen Empires came out in late 1994. Without reading the cards, it’s safe to assume that their presence in Fallen Empires means they’ll be absolutely terrible creatures. Maybe Wizards of the Coast was nervous about printing such powerful creatures, so they wanted to make sure there was sufficient drawback to them?
Now we’re getting interesting, entering the power of creatures that drew us to Magic back in the day. Lord of the Pit was always a dominant force when it hit the board. I used to combine the card with Breeding Pit to ensure I can keep the lord fed and happy, enabling me to smash in with this 7/7 flying trampler turn after turn.
Nowadays the card doesn’t see much play but older printings maintain value due to their collectability. Alpha copies buylist for up to $1860, Beta for up to $510, Unlimited for up to $58.90, and even Revised will sell for north of a buck. There are numerous other reprints that aren’t much more than bulk.
Even more powerful than Lord of the Pit was Magic’s first, most powerful creature. Printed in Alpha, nothing was more powerful than this 8/8 trampler back in 1993. Sure, you could pump a Shivan Dragon or grow heads on a Rock Hydra, but nothing beat Force of Nature when it came to raw power. It also had one of those goofy misprints in Alpha, where its upkeep cost is listed as “GGGG” rather than showing four green mana symbols.
Alpha copies buylist for a pretty penny, up to $2160. Beta copies are also expensive and buylist for up to $650 for near mint. Even Unlimited copies will cost you, as they buylist for over $50 if near mint! Like with Lord of the Pit, Force of Nature has been reprinted a bunch more since then and most newer copies are worth little more than bulk. I guess 6 mana for an 8/8 trampler with a steep upkeep cost just isn’t competitive in Magic anymore. Plus, it dies to Doom Blade!
The Force of Nature reigned as most powerful in Magic for about a year. Then, when Antiquities came out, we found a new king to sit on the throne: a 9/9 trampler for nine mana! This is the first time an artifact creature shows up on this list.
Obtaining this card as a kid was pretty easy since it was reprinted in Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition. This made the card relatively inexpensive. Today, Antiquities copies in nice condition are worth nearly $30. Other printings are not worth much, though Tenth Edition copies are randomly a buck for some reason.
I’m pretty sure I got my hands on it and played it at one point. Then again, by the time I started playing Magic, Colossus of Sardia was old news because a new, bigger creature was in town. (“Really, really big. No, bigger than that. It was big.”)
Before we touch on the flavor text above, we need to take a detour to talk about the first 10/10 trampling creature: Breaching Leviathan. This is a card I knew existed as a child, but never pursued it. It has a wall of rules text, and it all boils down to a TL;DR that states “this creature is terrible.” I own a copy, yet to this day I don’t know what this creature does outside its power, toughness, and trampling ability.
When The Dark came out, this became the most powerful creature. But because it was reprinted in Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition, this card was also readily available… not that I’d wanted a copy to begin with. Today copies from The Dark are worth $5-$8. In fact, Timeshifted foils are the most valuable copies, around $10.
11: Polar Kraken
With the release of Ice Age in 1995, Wizards gave us yet another most powerful creature, this time going up to 11/11 with trample. I distinctly remember casting Polar Kraken and proceeding to smash my opponent before the cumulative upkeep really hurt. Besides, if you have 11 lands to cast the creature to begin with, you can afford to pay its cumulative upkeep for a few turns. And if you’re attacking every turn with an 11/11 trample, your opponent won’t have many turns to live.
Polar Kraken is actually on the Reserved List, so it’ll never see a reprint. Despite that, the card is from Ice Age (i.e. a ton of copies exist) and its not all that powerful. Hence, its buylist barely breaks a buck. Every so often, though, I think someone buys the card out and its price temporarily spikes. You never know when it may happen again, so now is as good a time as any to pick up a copy.
I remember first learning about this new artifact creature from Mirage. It became a bit of a joke, because you could impress your friends by informing them of the existence of a 12/12 trampling creature that cost just one mana! You’d better believe it!
I also recall pumping up a Carrion Ants to twelve power, and then sacrificing them to cast Phyrexian Dreadnought. This couldn’t have been the most efficient way of getting the 12/12 trampler into play, but it worked. Then when Stifle was printed, Stifle-nought became a legitimate Legacy deck.
While I don’t think Phyrexian Dreadnought sees any top-tier Legacy play anymore, its occasional appearance, along with its presence on the Reserved List, is enough to keep this card relatively pricey. Currently copies buylist for nearly $70, but that is off its highs. Keep an eye on this one, because you never know when a new way to abuse its power will be printed, catalyzing another buyout and a new, higher price.
Wrapping It Up and Honorable Mentions
For years, the Phyrexian Dreadnought was king. It took some years before Wizards would print something more powerful than a 12/12 trample. In Legions they printed Krosan Cloudscraper, a 13/13 creature. But that one didn’t have trample, so it doesn’t get any credit on this list.
In fact, only four creatures have trample with power and toughness greater than 12:
Emrakul, the Promised End: 13/13 Trample
Ludevic's Test Subject // Ludevic's Abomination: 13/13 Trample (that needs to be flipped over from from Ludevic's Test Subject // Ludevic's Abomination
Elbrus, the Binding Blade // Withengar Unbound: 13/13 Trample (that needs to be flipped over from Elbrus, the Binding Blade // Withengar Unbound
Worldspine Wurm: 15/15 Trample
Currently Worldspine Wurm reigns supreme as a directly castable 15/15 creature with trample. The only other honorable mention would be to Dark Depths, which of course can be used to generate a 20/20 trampling creature token.
Will Wizards find ways of printing even more powerful trampling creatures in the future? Almost definitely. There still isn’t a 14/14 trampler, so right there is a gap that needs to be filled. This way someone can collect a 1/1 trampling creature all the up through 15/15. The older the card, the more valuable it likely is due to collectability and rarity. Despite seeing little to no play, these older, most powerful creatures are likely solid holds for slow, long-term price appreciation. Just don’t expect to win many games with them.