Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Tutoring Cards in Magic
Part of any collectable card game is luck of the draw, like nabbing the right MTG lands or spells at just the right moment. But players mitigate this factor with "tutors", cards that find other cards from the deck. Many of these are found in commander format, where fetch lands like "Fabled Passage" reign supreme.
These give players access to whatever they need, putting them at a firm advantage. But you can fight back with spells that punish or simply don't allow tutors—which do you most need? These are the ten best anti-tutor cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Aven Mindcensor
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
Aven's 2/1 stats are rather low for his cost, but he has flying, the bird and wizard subtypes, and flash. This lets you cats him at instant speed, perfect for surprising foes with his continuous effect, which lets opponents only search their deck's top four cards.
This drastically restricts what your foes can tutor, sometimes completely fizzling if their tutor needs a specific type of card.
9. Hide // Seek
Both sides of this split spell cost two; you can't cast both, but each offers a worthy instant-speed removal. Hide places any artifact or enchantment on top of its owner's deck, some nice tempo-ruining disadvantage.
But the anti-search comes from Seek, exiling one card from an opponent's deck and giving you life equal to its CMC. Using this to take out key cards like "Laboratory Maniac" is worth its weight in gold.
8. Leonin Arbiter
As both a cat and a cleric, Arbiter has some potential tribal synergy, and his stats are a decent 2/2. More than that, he doesn't let any player search their deck unless someone pays two to ignore the effect that turn.
The penalty applies to yourself as well, but in decks without many tutors, this is a great way to punish foes by demanding extra resources. The effect also creates interesting alliances, as one player can pay the two-mana fee to help another (hopefully you) search.
7. Extirpate/Surgical Extraction
These are both cheap, instant-speed cards, with their only failing being they aren't great in singleton formats like commander. Both spells choose a card in a graveyard, then exile any copies of it in your opponent's graveyard (including the original), hand, and library.
Extirpate has the extra advantage of split second, meaning it can't be responded to, while Extraction's phyrexian mana symbol means you can pay for it with two life if you don't have mana available.
6. Sadistic Sacrament
CMC: 3 (plus 7 more with kicker)
Sacrament needs three black, so it's unwieldy in multicolor builds. But it lets you exile up to three cards from an opponent's deck. And if you go infinite or just have the resources to spare, paying an extra seven kicker instead exiles up to 15 cards!
Not only does this push towards a mill-loss, it'll probably leave your victim with a library mostly filled with lands, making it annoyingly difficult to draw into actual spells.
5. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
Here we have a 4/4 demon with flying, trample, and an extra +1/+1 counter when another creature dies. That's pretty scary, especially with Ob's ability, which makes opponents lose ten life and sacrifice a creature whenever they search their deck.
Rarely is a tutor worth losing a creature and ten life, meaning most opponents simply won't tutor while Ob is out. His only downside is a big mana cost and lack of evasion, so be prepared for opponents to target him with removals.
4. Ashiok, Dream Render
Despite no loyalty-gainining abilities, Ashiok's relatively hard to kill thanks to five starting loyalty. He's also easier to cast than most planeswalkers, only needing three and accepting either blue or black, and his uncommon rarity keeps his price low.
Ashiok's best power is his passive ability, preventing opponents (but not you) from searching their decks via spells or abilities. And Ashio also offers graveyard hate, with -1 milling four cards from an opponent's graveyard, then exiling all opposing graveyards. Keep Ashiok protected and watch your opponent lose their tutors and graveyard in one fell swoop.
3. Earwig Squad
CMC: 5 (3 with prowl)
Hardcast Earwig and you've got a regular 5/3, not great. But you can spend just three via prowl, meaning you dealt combat damage to a player with a goblin or rogue that turn.
Not only does this give a nice discount, it lets you search through and exile up to three cards from an opponent's deck. This doesn't even have to be the opponent you hit, meaning you can even team up with an ally, who may let you hit them in exchange for sabotaging a shared enemy's deck.
This nefarious enchantment won't buy you any friends, continuously prevents opponents from both searching decks and taking extra turns. Especially devastating to blue, it's honestly pretty disadvantageous to any color.
Two factors make Stranglehold great. First, it doesn't hinder you in any way and only needs a small dose of red. Second, your opponents can't search any decks, meaning not only are their own tutors blocked, they can't use spells like "Treason" that require searching another player's library.
1. Shadow of Doubt
At absolute worst, Shadow is a hybrid-mana instant-speed cantrip for two, drawing as part of its effect. But it's usually far better than that, as it prevents players from searching any decks that turn. Use in response to a would-be tutor to deny its effect (and waste whatever mana was spent on it) while replenishing your hand.
Blocking Tutors in Magic
Today we saw many great ways to thwart enemy tutors, but your options don't end here. Blue's arsenal can counter tutors (though you may wish to save counterspells for what they actually search), while black spells can discard the found card before it's cast.
Anything that shuffles or mills from your opponent's deck will also thwart their scries or top-of-deck tutors, but for now, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill