There’s something satisfying about using Vehicles in Magic: The Gathering. Perhaps it’s the fact that in a game full of sword-swinging heroes and diabolical dragons you can instead choose to do combat with a train. Or maybe it’s the silliness of being able to crew a large piece of machinery using any kind of creature, whether or not it has opposable thumbs, or even hands. Either way, MTG’s Vehicles are a great addition to the game. Here we’ll clue you in on exactly how they work, as well as the best Vehicle cards Magic has to offer.
How do MTG Vehicles work?
In MTG, Vehicles are an artifact subtype that was added to the game relatively recently. They first appeared in 2016, on Kaladesh, a technological plane full of artificers, automatons, and automobiles.
Vehicles are an unusual card type because sometimes they’re a creature, and sometimes they’re not. The logic is that without a driver, even the most well-armed battle tank is just a hulking lump of metal.
To use Vehicles effectively, you need to ‘crew’ them. Practically every MTG Vehicle features the Crew keyword, followed by a number. This determines the cost required to turn that Vehicle into a creature for the turn.
To Crew a Vehicle card, you must tap a number of creatures with total power equal to or greater than the card’s Crew value. That Vehicle then becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.
You can crew Vehicles on any players’ turn, meaning Vehicles can be used defensively or offensively. You can also use any type of creature to crew Vehicles, it doesn’t matter if it makes logical sense. Even other Vehicles can get in the drivers’ seat. Note that Vehicles do get summoning sickness.
The best MTG Vehicles
The most expensive Vehicle ever printed, Parhelion II swings for 13 damage in the air, which is pretty game-ending in all but the direst circumstances. Better yet, both it and the angel tokens it creates have vigilance, so it can deal massive damage without leaving you vulnerable to retaliation.
That said, while its power is absurd, eight mana is a pretty prohibitive amount. If you’re able to cheat the card into play, say with Greatfang, Okiba Boss, Parhelion starts to look much more attractive.
Heart of Kiran
A flying, vigilance, two-mana 4/4 would be absolutely broken, were it not also a Vehicle with a Crew cost of three. What makes Heart of Kiran so great though is its synergy with planeswalkers. If you’ve got a few high loyalty planeswalkers in your deck, Heart of Kiran becomes a very scary airborne threat. And, like Parhelion, it’s good defensively too.
The first card on our list (but not the last) from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Surgehacker Mech is a great payoff for playing lots of MTG Vehicles. A huge beater, but with a Crew cost that’s hard to pay, Surgehacker Mech is great because it can kill something with its ETB.
Mysterious Limousine is a Vehicle with a versatile Oblivion Ring style effect. When you play it, it can exile the largest threat on the board, but if something stronger comes out, you may be able to get an attack in and abduct something else. If you’ve got great ETB effects, you can even give a ride to your own creatures and use the limo as an expensive means of blinking.
Reckoner Bankbuster is a wonderful midrange Vehicle card with great stats, a powerful card draw ability – and it can even make its own pilot! Reckoner Bankbuster is getting plenty of Standard play right now and can easily hold its own in stronger formats too.
The only Vehicle green has to offer, but it’s a doozy. Esika’s Chariot dominated the Standard environment during its time there. It creates its own kitty-cat drivers, and if you can’t remove it, starts to pop out brand new ones. You don’t even need to be a token-themed deck to play Esika’s Chariot, it’s great in any green deck. Esika’s Chariot never got banned, but it has seen a nerf in Alchemy.
An infamous Vehicle card, Smuggler’s Copter has been banned in both Standard and Pioneer, which hopefully gives you a sense of its strength. It looks a little innocuous at first glance, but where Smuggler’s Copter shines is aggressive decks. A flying 3/3 for two mana is fantastic, and any one-drop can easily crew it. It gets better with the draw/discard ability, which lets you ditch excess lands to keep laying on the pain.