Magic the Gathering has always housed many interesting creatures, from fantasy classics like elves and dwarves, to the more exotic and unique eldrazi. Creature types like these often receive tribal support, whether they’re in the form of anthem affects similar to what’s read on Depala, Pilot Exemplar, and Elvish Archdruid, or more interesting approaches to support the creature type like with Spawnsire of Ulamog. However, one creature type that has always managed to captivate me is the crab. Crabs have been in Magic ever since their debut in Urza’s Legacy, and have been continuously printed in sets, with the most recent one being Purple-Crystal Crab from Global Series: Jiang Yanggu and Mu Yangling. As of the writing of this article, there are a total of 20 cards with the crab creature type, and with 103 sets in Magic’s history (not including Un-sets and supplemental products) this number is criminally low. To put this into perspective, there are 54 cards alone that solely pertain to elves and support them as a tribe, and currently there are about 350 elves that have been printed. Even horses, which have only had 32 creatures printed, have gotten a lord in the form of Crested Sunmare. This is shocking to me, and the neglect on Wizard’s part needs to be brought to light, and ultimately acted upon.
Crabs have been doing better as of late, where Kaladesh block brought us Salvage Scuttler and Hightide Hermit, and the fore mentioned Purple-Crystal Crab being printed. However, that still doesn’t excuse why a set themed after machines and inventing was able to bring more to the table than Ixalan, a set filled with oceans, pirates and beaches. Ixalan isn’t the only set that has disappointed though. After doing a bit of research, I’ve also found enough evidence to accuse Kamigawa block of high treason for its lack of crabs, and it goes as far back to the Heikegani. If you’re unfamiliar with the lore behind the Heikegani, they’re crabs native to Japan that have a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face. According to Japanese folklore, the Heikegani crabs contain the souls of the Heike samurai warriors who were slain at the Battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185 AD, a war over the Japanese imperial throne. Now, can you tell me with a straight face that you wouldn’t want a samurai that has been reincarnated as a crab in Magic? Of course not! The very thought of a crab that has bushido is absolutely brilliant, and if it died it could even make a samurai spirit token with bushido too!
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only bit of lore that Wizards missed out on. Theros block, a set based off of Greek mythology and culture, did have a decent crab in the form of Thassa’s Emissary, but there’s another story that could’ve been explored and capitalized on. The constellation of Cancer came to be when Karkinos, a crab that was sent by a sworn enemy of Hercules, Hera, bit Hercules while he was engaged in battle with the many-headed Hydra. Unfazed, Hercules simply crushed the crab under his foot. Hera, grateful for Karkinos’ effort, gave it a place in the sky and it became the constellation we know today. To say that there was a missed opportunity here would be a severe understatement. The card could’ve be something similar to the new Purple-Crystal Crab, or even a direct copy.
The problem we have today isn’t the lack of original crabs, but the lack of crabs in magic as a whole. I’ve determined two things that need to be done immediately if there is any hope in rectifying this dire crab situation:
– Crabs need to be printed in every set moving forward
– A legendary green/blue crab needs to be printed
A legendary crab focused and functioning on the premise that toughness matters would do perfectly fine. For example, a 4/6 crab avatar with CMC of that increases your team’s toughness, and can activate an ability to support your other high toughness creatures. This would be something unique with the green/blue color pair, as well as green would give support to the less than stellar line up of crabs by capitalizing on cards like Assault Formation that can abuse crab’s naturally high toughness, and Shambleshark to show up as an additional crab. Sadly though, this is all just a wish list and the odds of these cards being printed is about as likely as there being a tier list running Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. However, with enough support from the community, there could be a chance that crabs will get a better showing. If that is the case, you can be sure of seeing in the future the crab tribal EDH deck right here!