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Top 5 Experience Counter Cards in Magic: The Gathering

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

How Do Experience Counters Work in Magic?

In Magic, a rare set of cards can grant you experience counters, unique permanents that stay with you at the match progresses. Like the poison counters granted by infect, these units are attached to you (and not any particular card), meaning that there really isn't a way for your opponent to eliminate them.

Additionally, experience counters are universal; any you attain through one card will power another's effects, and vice versa. Since they cooperate well and can't be removed, experience counters offer a fun and competitive mechanic useful in a variety of formats. As of this writing, we've only seen five cards bearing the mechanic; which reign supreme? These are the five best (and only) experience counter spells in Magic: The Gathering!

Daxos the Returned

Daxos the Returned

5. Daxos the Returned

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

Daxos may be the cheapest experience creature, costing just three mana, but he's sadly the worst. His stats are a lackluster 2/2 (two power and two toughness), and he only gains an experience counter when you cast an enchantment.

Now, Daxos can pay three mana to place an enchantment creature onto the field whose power and toughness are equal to the amount of enchantments you control, but since this isn't an actual casting of an enchantment, it won't gain an experience counter. The useful zombie subtype (with soldier thrown in for good measure) offers some synergies with black's undead army, but Daxos still lags behind his peers.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress

Ezuri, Claw of Progress

4. Ezuri, Claw of Progress

CMC: 4

Needing green and blue mana, Ezuri's stats are unimpressive at just 3/3, but he bears an excellent ability: you gain an experience counter whenever a creature with two or less power enters the field under your control. This handily triggers whether the creature was cast or not, letting it activate when you cast weak units or swarm tokens.

Additionally, at the beginning of combat on your turn, you place X +1/+1 counters on another creature you control, where X is the number of experience counters you have, further rewarding your counter swarming. As icing on the cake, Ezuri possesses the useful elf subtype (and warrior), stacking with many of his forest-dwelling brethren.

Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

3. Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

CMC: 4

Kalemne's presents a fierce red/white champion useful combatant even without his experience traits. Though he bears the uncommon giant and soldier heritages, Kalemne wields 3/3 stats, formidable considering he bears double strike, letting him essentially hit twice with every blow! He also brandishes vigilance, letting him swing without tapping and ensure he's always ready to block during your opponent's combat step.

As if that weren't enough, Kalemne nets an experience counter whenever you cast a creature with a CMC of five or more. This isn't the fastest experience swarm, but it's a nifty bonus on top of a sturdy warrior, especially since Kalemne gains an extra +1/+1 for every experience counter you have. With a few experience boosts and perhaps some artifact equipments or aura enchantments for good measure (try to get trample on him), Kalemne's double strike can win the game with just a few attacks.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus

Mizzix of the Izmagnus

2. Mizzix of the Izmagnus

CMC: 4

Unlike most experience cards, Mizzix's effect becomes harder to use as you acquire more counters, meaning he's often best used independently of his brethren. He's a disappointingly frail blue/red blend at just 2/2, but his goblin and wizard bloodlines provide synergies with some of red and blue's most abundant clans.

Even better, when you cast a sorcery or instant with a CMC greater than the number of experience counters you have, you gain an experience counter, and the CMC of your instants and sorceries is reduced by one for each! This makes Mizzix an amazing support for one-off spells; casting them gains counters, and gaining counters reduces their price, offering a formidable combo sure to decimate your rivals.

Meren of Clan Nel Toth

Meren of Clan Nel Toth

1. Meren of Clan Nel Toth

CMC: 4

Unlike most of her four cost peers, green/black Meren wields a sturdy 3/4 stats for her price, just enough to withstand a red "Lightning Bolt," and her human and shaman subtypes both provide a decent number of combos. Better yet, whenever a different creature you control dies, Meren lets you gain an experience counter, an excellent way to put your dead monsters to good use.

Use self-sacrificing cards like "Sakura-Tribe Elder" to quickly amass the counters. Then, during your end steps, you pick a creature in your graveyard and return it to the field if its CMC is less than or equal to your number of experience counters, or return it to your hand if not. This amazing trait either recycles a card to hand or field, both fantastic traits that cement Meren as the best experience card yet. She's pricey in her base cost, but if you use her as commander, you can snag a much-cheaper oversized version for less than three dollars!

How to Support Experience Counter Spells in Magic

Since all experience cards thus far appear on legendary creatures, they can all serve as EDH commanders, letting you tailor your entire deck around their unique abilities. Alternatively, use a rainbow deck with access to all colors, letting you wield each creature and combine their counters for fierce chains.

Today's creatures are good candidates for revivals since you'll retain previous experience counters when they return, quickly jumping back into the fray without needing to start from scratch,and remember you can proliferate your counters. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of experience spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2018 Jeremy Gill