MTG Menace: How It Works and What It Does

Attacking with creatures is the most common way to win a game of Magic, but that’s often easier said than done. If you and your opponents have lots of creatures, it’s easy for the board to get so clogged up that none of you have a way to break through. This is why evasion is a crucial part of MTG, and menace is one of the most common keywords for sneaking past blockers.

Menace is one of the most common keywords in MTG. If an attacker has menace, it can’t be blocked by just one creature. If you want to block it, you have to use at least two creatures. It doesn’t restrict which kinds of creatures can block, like flying does; it only affects the number of blockers.

In the right situation, menace can turn blocking into a nightmare for your opponent. They might not have enough creatures to block all of your attackers, and it’s much less efficient to chump block a big menace beater.

Menace is fairly easy to understand, but it has some neat tricks you can pull off with it. You might also want to build a whole deck around this classic keyword. No matter what you’re looking for, this article is sure to have something that will terrify your gaming table.

EvasionNot too hard to block
Could lead to 2-for-1s

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Menace?
  2. How Does Menace Work In MTG?
    1. What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Menace in MTG?
    2. Do You Have to Block Menace Creatures in MTG?
    3. What if an MTG Creature Has Menace and Can’t Be Blocked?
    4. Can Artifacts Block Menace in MTG?
    5. How Does Menace Work with Other MTG Keywords?
  3. Best MTG Menace Cards
    1. Commanders
    2. Creatures
    3. “Menace Matters”
  4. End Step

What Is Menace?

Menace is a keyword ability that appears on creatures. If a creature has menace while it’s attacking, the defending player can’t block it with a single creature.

702.111b. A creature with menace can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.

MTG Wiki

Menace is a pretty simple keyword to understand, and for good reason. It’s one of a few “evergreen” mechanics that can appear in any set, and you can expect at least a few menace cards with every new release. It’s the most common form of evasion for black and red creatures, but it doesn’t usually appear in other colors.

How Does Menace Work in MTG?

Menace is an easy mechanic to learn, but it has a surprising amount of depth. Understanding the strategy and corner cases of menace will level up your gameplay and show you new lines to frighten your opponents.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Menace in MTG?

Menace is solid, but it’s not quite as strong as other evasion abilities, such as flying. It’s important to know how to get the most out of this mechanic, though, since it’s so common.

Of course, menace can appear on very different creatures. Let’s take a look at Goblin Trailblazer and Ripscale Predator as an example.

In the early game, Goblin Trailblazer is a great aggresive creature. Your opponent might not have two creatures to block right away, or they might not want to lose one of them. As the game continues, however, the trailblazer falls off quickly.

goblin trailblazer

With such low stats, it won’t pose much of a threat, and your opponent will likely have more blockers. In the late game, you’d much rather have a small creature with flying or deathtouch than one with menace.

Ripscale Predator, on the other hand, works in the completely opposite way. A six mana card will likely stay stuck in your hand if you draw it early, and that’s a serious risk. In the late game, though, this card is a serious threat.

If your opponent can’t block it, they’ll lose a huge chunk of life. Even if they can, this dino’s high power means it should kill at least one blocking creature. Big creatures with menace can be a force to reckon with, even if they’re just clearing the way for your other attackers.

However, how good your menace creatures are will also depend on the entire board state. When there aren’t many blockers, it’s easy to sneak your menace creatures through.

Menace also gets better when more of your creatures have it. If you had three Ripscale Predators, your opponent would need six blockers to stop all of them.

Do You Have to Block Menace Creatures in MTG?

No, menace doesn’t force you to block. If you choose to block a menace creature, though, you have to assign at least two blockers to it.

RELATED: MTG Blocking: How It Works

However, menace does have a strange interaction with creatures that have to block each turn if able. As an example, let’s assume your opponent attacks with an Alley Strangler, and your only creature is a Relentless Raptor. It would be illegal for Relentless Raptor to block Alley Strangler alone, so it’s unable to block.

alley strangler

If you had another legal blocker, though, you would have to block with both of them. This is because you have a legal way to block with Relentless Raptor, so you must perform that action.

What if an MTG Creature Has Menace and Can’t Be Blocked?

If a creature can’t be blocked, whether or not it has menace doesn’t change anything. You can’t choose to block with two or more creatures; the attacker simply can’t be blocked.

As a side note, there’s an interesting way to make some creatures unblockable with menace. If an attacker can only be blocked by one creature, like Bristling Boar, you can make it unblockable by giving it menace.

Your opponent can’t block with just one creature because menace doesn’t allow it. However, they also can’t block with multiple creatures because Bristling Boar‘s original ability doesn’t allow that, either. This combination of abilities is rare but deadly, and it’s amazing when you can put it together.

Can Artifacts Block Menace in MTG?

No, creatures are the only card type capable of blocking. If you had an artifact creature, that card could help block something with menace.

How Does Menace Work with Other MTG Keywords?


Flying and menace is a dangerous combination. They both provide evasion, so putting them together makes a creature that’s very hard to block. Your opponent needs two flying creatures that they’re willing to block with, and some decks just aren’t capable of that.


Deathtouch also pushes menace creatures to the next level. One of the best uses for menace is to kill two of your opponent’s creatures with just one of your own. By forcing them to use multiple cards to deal with just one of your threats, you’re gaining card advantage and making it harder for them to stop you later.

tergrid god of fright

Large menace creatures can already do this sometimes, but deathtouch makes it much easier. Since a creature with deathtouch only has to deal one damage to kill a creature, it’s easy for a creature with menace to destroy all of its blockers.

As long as its power is at least equal to the number of creatures blocking it, it can destroy them all.

RELATED: MTG Deathtouch: How It Works and What It Does

Best MTG Menace Cards

Now that you know how to get the most out of menace, let’s put what you’ve learned into practice. If you want to build around this keyword, then check out my picks for the best commanders, creatures, and “menace matters” cards in MTG.


iroas god of victory

Iroas, God of Victory is an easy choice for a menace deck. Since he gives all of your creatures menace, you aren’t limited to cards that already have it. With that much evasion, your opponents will be hard-pressed to stop your assault once you get rolling.

The biggest downside with Iroas is that he does nothing on an empty board. Without enough devotion, you can’t even attack with him. He also doesn’t give you any card advantage or ramp, and Boros struggles to keep up in those categories.

Amazing for combatRelies on other cards
No card advantage/ramp

Recommended Formats: Commander

captain nghathrod

If you’re looking for a menace deck that doesn’t rely solely on combat, then you might want Captain N’gathrod at the helm. Attacking with horrors will certainly be a big part of your gameplan, but that’s not the only way to get value from this commander.

As long as your opponents milled some cards, you can plunder their graveyards and build up your own crew. This is a fun, powerful effect, and you should try to focus on the players with the juciest targets.

Steals your opponents’ cardsNarrow tribe

Recommended Formats: Commander

sethron hurloon

Lastly, Sethron, Hurloon General is another aggressive option for a menace deck. Playing a few minotaurs, making some extra tokens, and finally giving them both menace and haste will put a ton of pressure on your opponents.

Notably, Sethron is also the only commander on this list that can use all of the “menace matters” cards. As you’ll see, most of these cards are red and black, so they can only go in commander decks with both of those colors.

Goes very wideNarrow tribe
Can use other menace payoffsNo card advantage/ramp

Recommended Formats: Commander



The MH2 incarnations are excellent, and Grief is no exception. Hand disruption can affect the game ina huge way, but it’s often not worth running cards with no other function.

Luckily, Grief can act as both a free discard effect and a solid value creature depending on what you need. If you combine it with flicker effects, you can even get the best of both worlds.

Great ETB abilityEvoke costs a card

Recommended Formats: Commander, Modern

junji the midnight sky

Junji, the Midnight Sky presents an impossible decision for your opponents. It’s a big, evasive creature that can take over a game if left unchecked. If it gets destroyed, though, you still get a choice between two excellent abilities.

Unless your opponent has a way to exile it, you’ll be happy no matter what happens to Junji.

Very evasiveExpensive
Great death triggersVulnerable to exile

Recommended Formats: Commander, Standard

noxious gearhulk

Noxious Gearhulk is a ridiculously versatile card. At its baseline, it’s a big menace creature that’s also unconditional removal. Without any other details, that would be a solid card. When you also consider that it’s an artifact and gains you life, though, you can start to see how Noxious Gearhulk is one of the best menace creatures ever printed. It works so well in so many archetypes that I couldn’t leave it off this list.

Multiple synergies

Recommended Formats: Commander

“Menace Matters”

labryinth raptor

Labyrinth Raptor makes blocking a menace creature even more perilous than usual. Removing one of your opponent’s blockers for each of your attackers with menace can be devastating. Its pump ability also lets you trade your small menace creatures for bigger cards.

This dinosaur gives you so much extra power during combat, and it can put your opponents in an impossible situation.

CheapRelies on other cards

Recommended Formats: Commander

sonorous howlbonder

I’ve already mentioned that it isn’t too difficult for your opponent to block a menace creature. Once they’ve developed their board state, they should have at least a couple of creatures to deal with your threats. If you want to make sure you can push through, Sonorous Howlbonder deserves a slot in your menace deck.

Assigning three creatures to one attacker is a much larger commitment, especially if most of your creatures have menace. Outside of token decks, no other strategy can make enough blockers to handle even a few menace creatures with Sonorous Howlbonder out.

Adds lots of evasionRelies on other cards

Recommended Formats: Commander

frillscare mentor

Frillscare Mentor might be slow, but that doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch. With enough menace creatures, it can add a significant amount of power and toughness to the board. If left unchecked, it can turn a small army of tokens or draft chaff into a force to be reckoned with.

Can add lots of statsRelies on other cards

Recommended Formats: Commander

End Step

Menace might be a simple keyword, but by now you know there’s a lot of nuance in how you can play with it. Whether this article helps you evaluate cards for limited or brew your next contructed masterpiece, I hope you learned just how threatening this mechanic can be.

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Ashley Briggs

I’ve been playing Magic for about five years, and my favorite formats are EDH and limited. Ever since I played my first game of Magic, it has been a major part of my life. Magic has given me an outlet for my creativity, a chance to be competitive, and strengthened many of my closet friendships.