Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Buy-a-Box Promos in Magic?
Magic's Buy-a-Box promos are bonus cards given as rewards for purchasing a booster box (which contains 36 booster packs). Purchasing in bulk reduces the price per pack and lets players snag these cool extras.
Starting with the Dominaria expansion, these cards became exclusively available as promos (they can't be found within normal boosters), leading to some controversy. But whether you agree with the change or not, the promos are generally pretty competitive—which reign supreme? These are the ten best Buy-a-Box promo cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Supreme Verdict
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Set: Return to Ravnica
Like many creature-destroying field wipes, Supreme Verdict is a sorcery that requires four mana. It's rather specific with its color requirements, needing two white mana and one blue, but to compensate, it can't be countered, preventing foes from thwarting your board wipe.
9. Goblin Rabblemaster
Set: Magic 2015
Rabblemaster's stats are a puny 2/2 and he forces your other goblins to attack whenever possible. However, he gives you a 1/1 goblin token with haste at the start of your combat on your turn, providing continuous token fodder that blends well with red's most abundant tribe. And when Rabblemaster attacks, he gets +1/+0 for the rest of the turn per other attacking goblin, putting your horde to good use.
8. Mirran Crusader
Set: Mirrodin Besieged
Again, 2/2 stats aren't great for a three-cost creature, but Crusader wields the rare double strike trait, letting him hit twice with each battle (at both first strike and regular speed). Plus, he has protection from both green and black, shielding him against their spells and limiting which enemies can block him.
7. Celestial Colonnade
This rare land enters the field tapped, so you have to wait to access its mana. However, Colonnade can tap for either blue or white, and by spending five mana, it can turn into a 4/4 elemental with flying and vigilance for the turn. That's a nifty ace up your sleeve when needed, and since it has vigilance, it can swing in combat, then tap for mana during your following main phase.
6. Day of Judgment
Here's another field wipe that simply destroys all creatures. Admittedly, most players prefer the same-cost "Wrath of God" since it also prevents creatures from regenerating, but it's still a powerful effect, and you can actually exploit the exclusion by using regeneration to save your own troops.
Set: Dark Ascension
Here we see a tempting 2/1 with zombie synergy for just one mana. Catch is, Gravecrawler can't block, but you can cast him from your graveyard as long as you control another zombie, making him perfect sacrifice/discard fodder.
4. Nexus of Fate
Set: Core Set 2019
This one caused quite a stir since it's a competitive promo only available to Buy-a-Box players. Nexus requires seven mana to give you an extra turn, a hefty cost compared to five-mana extra-turn spells like "Temporal Manipulation".
However, Nexus has instant speed and the ability to shuffle itself into your deck when placed into the graveyard (from anywhere), offering an anti-mill tactic plus the potential to redraw and recast it.
3. Surgical Extraction
CMC: 1 (or 2 life)
Set: New Phyrexia
With its phyrexian mana symbol, you can cast Extraction with either one black mana or two life, adapting to fit your current production. It's also an instant, and when played, you choose a card in a graveyard other than a basic land, then search it's owners hand, graveyard, and library for cards with the same name and exile them.
Admittedly, this effect is less useful in singleton formats like commander, but not only does it help banish looming threats, it provides a free peek at both your opponent's hand and deck, letting you know exactly what you're up against.
2. Ratchet Bomb
Set: Magic 2014
Like most artifacts, Ratchet Bomb accepts any mana colors, and it only needs two resources. It can tap to gain a charge counter, or tap and sacrifice itself to destroy every non-land permanent (including yours) with mana cost equal to Bomb's current charge counters.
Sure, you can gradually acquire counters to eventual destroy bigger threats, but most players simply use Bomb to eliminate token swarms; even the strongest tokens have zero cost and will be immediately destroyed. A staple in any commander deck, Bomb is also one of the cheapest promos, costing only a single dollar!
1. Birds of Paradise
Set: Magic 2011
Compared to green's other low-cost mana-tappers (like "Llanowar Elves"), Birds of Paradise has less power and no elf synergy. However, not only does it have flying, it can tap for any mana color, not just green. Mono-green decks should probably stick to their elves, but anything else can substitute Paradise to lessen your need to draw all needed land types.
Other Promo Cards in Magic
Even if you're not willing to commit to an entire box, remember that early Buy-a-Box promos are also available as regular booster pack entries. You can also order them individually online, and you'll find similar "box topper" promo cards available with many bundles.
Ever since the Nexus of Fate controversy, Wizards of the Coasts has been working to create promos of medium power (instead of top-tier) to help budget players keep pace. Time will tell if they succeed (the promos are still faring well), but as we await their next booster box, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill