Top 10 Ascend Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on September 10, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

How Does City's Blessing Work in Magic?

In Magic, the rare ascend trait offers some cards additional benefits as long as you have the "city's blessing." You receive this by playing a card with ascend while you control at least ten permanents, and once you have it, you never lose it, even if your permanent count later dips below ten.

Thus, once you gain the blessing, all your cards with ascend will activate their bonus traits, offering powerful effects for inexpensive mana prices. But with dozens of members available, which enlightened spells reign supreme? These are the ten best ascend cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Radiant Destiny
Radiant Destiny

10. Radiant Destiny

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

The cool thing about Radiant Destiny enchantment is how it's still decent even without its added benefit, granting all creatures you control of a subtype you choose an extra +1/+1 stats, useful when you devote towards a specific clan (like white's abundant humans or angels).

Then, while you harness the city's blessing after controlling ten or more permanents, Destiny also grants your chosen subtype the vigilance trait, a handy boon that lets them attack without tapping, letting them block or tap on your opponent's move.

Orazca Relic
Orazca Relic

9. Orazca Relic

CMC: 3

Like most artifacts, Orazca is colorless and accepts any mana types, and it simply taps for a colorless resource, making it a decent ramp tool. However, while you have the city's blessing, you can instead tap and sacrifice it to draw a card and gain three life, an excellent response to a removal that lets you harness one final bonus from your relic before losing it.

Twilight Prophet
Twilight Prophet

8. Twilight Prophet

CMC: 4

At face value, Twilight is a 2/4 with flying, making it a decent blocker who synergizes with both the vampire and cleric subtypes, granting some handy combo opportunities.

Then, he provides one of the best ascend effects in the game, letting you reveal and draw the top card of your deck at your upkeep. Then, opponents lose and you gain X life, where X is the CMC of the card you reveal! Swarm your permanents to quickly attain this excellent life-draining and hand-replenishing tool.

Timestream Navigator
Timestream Navigator

7. Timestream Navigator

CMC: 2

While Navigator's stats are a puny 1/1 for a two-cost creature, he combos with three abundant factions, bearing the human, pirate, and wizard subtypes.

Then, by tapping, spending four mana, and placing Navigator on the bottom of your library, you take an extra turn, a brutal effect that provides consecutive land plays, draws, combat steps, and planeswalker abilities.

Vona's Hunger
Vona's Hunger

6. Vona's Hunger

CMC: 3

A particularly useful tool for multiplayer, Hunger operates at instant speed and forces all opponents to sacrifice a creature, capable of removing foes even if they have defenses like indestructible or hexproof (since it neither destroys nor targets them).

A powerful force that eliminates multiple foes at once in multiplayer, Hunger becomes particularly brutal with ascend active, at which point your opponents must sacrifice half their permanents, rounded up! This tallies anything from lands to creatures to sagas, making them forfeit a huge chunk of their army in one fell swoop.

Storm Fleet Swashbuckler
Storm Fleet Swashbuckler

5. Storm Fleet Swashbuckler

CMC: 2

Red's Swashbuckler works well since he has a decent base stat total for his price, carrying a fair 2/2 as well as the handy human and pirate subtypes. When you gain the city's blessing, Swashbuckler also acquires the rare double strike trait, one of the best combat abilities since it lets you deal both first strike and regular combat damage, essentially hitting twice with each blow!

Snubhorn Sentry
Snubhorn Sentry

4. Snubhorn Sentry

CMC: 1

Snubhorn Sentry starts off like a low-cost wall, bearing 0/3 stats, meaning he won't hit back for any damage, but can endure most early-game attacks. When you get the town's blessing, Sentry gains +3/+0, becoming a fierce 3/3 for his minuscule price!

Either way, Sentry belongs to the powerful dinosaur clan, offering a useful early-game tool to balance their generally mana-exhausting members.

Expel from Orazca
Expel from Orazca

3. Expel from Orazca

CMC: 2

Blue's instant Orazca offers a sweet, non-destroying removal you can use at any time, simply bouncing a target creature back to its owner's hand. This forces them to waste time and resources re-casting them, and if you have the city's blessing, you instead return them to the top of their owner's deck, now essentially killing their next draw!

Skymarcher Aspirant
Skymarcher Aspirant

2. Skymarcher Aspirant

CMC: 1

Aspirant is surprisingly effective even without a blessing, offering a 2/1 vampire soldier, a surprisingly strong warrior for such a low price. He gains flying while you have the city's blessing, a modest but appreciated boost that makes him unblockable to land-based guardians when attacking.

While Aspirant's blessing bonus isn't as powerful as most, his impressive base attributes make him a worthy addition to any white vampire deck, and I enjoy using him in my own EDH structures. Thankfully, he's surprisingly affordable, costing less than a single dollar!

Wayward Swordtooth
Wayward Swordtooth

1. Wayward Swordtooth

CMC: 3

Wayward Swordtooth is a dinosaur creature who initially acts more like an enchantment, letting you play an additional land on each of your turns, a slightly more-expensive version of "Exploration". Swordtooth brandishes a whopping 5/5 stats; however, his inability to attack or block makes him useless in battle until he ascends.

Well, that's not entirely true. Use cards that revolve around the fight mechanic to access Swordtooth's amazing stats even outside of combat, letting you decimate foes with his razor-shaps jaws as you enjoy your bonus land privileges.

Which card do you prefer?

See results

How to Support Ascend Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Some ascend spells are more dependent on their upgrade than others; either way, to quickly attain their bonus, use cards that rapidly swarm tokens to your field, like planeswalker "Nissa, Voice of Zendikar", legendary creature "Krenko, Mob Boss", and instant "Cobra Trap".

Once you have the city's blessing, you'll retain it for the rest of the game, so don't worry about losing permanents once your quota is met. But for now, as we eagerly await more of Magic's best self-evolving spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2018 Jeremy Gill

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