Updated date:

Top 10 Extort Cards in Magic: The Gathering

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

These cards are my favorite and will definitely help you win!

These cards are my favorite and will definitely help you win!

How Does Extort Work in Magic?

A trait seen among some white and black cards, the extort ability lets you pay an additional white/black mana when you cast another spell. If you do, you gain one life and each opponent loses one. This works particularly well in multiplayer, where every opponent will suffer the drain, but it's a great way to spend leftover resources, even in 1v1.

Plus, since your opponent loses life (rather than suffering an injury), effects that block damage can't prevent the drain. But for such a simple and powerful tool, extort is a surprisingly rare trait, only seen on about a dozen cards as of this writing. So, which opponent-intimidating thugs reign supreme? These are the ten best extort spells in Magic: The Gathering!

Best Extort Cards in Magic: The Gathering

10. Basilica Guards
9. Kingpin's Pet
8. Basilica Screecher
7. Syndic of Tithes
6. Tithe Drinker
5. Pontiff of Blight
4. Treasury Thrull
3. Thrull Parasite
2. Blind Obedience
1. Crypt Ghast

Basilica Guards

Basilica Guards

10. Basilica Guards

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

Basilica's power is rather low for his cost at just one, and his defender trait prevents him from attacking regardless. However, he can still block, and his four toughness gives him strong endurance. Throw in both the human and soldier subtypes plus extort, and you have a decent guardian who fits easily into multicolor decks since he only specifically needs one white mana.

Kingpin's Pet

Kingpin's Pet

9. Kingpin's Pet

CMC: 3

For his price, Pet only wields 2/2 (two power and two toughness). However, his flying lets him soar over ground blockers and defend against aerial attacks, and extort of course lets you spend leftover resources to sap life. Just remember that you can extort once per card per spell, so you'll need to multiple extorting cards or instances to activate it multiple times on the same spell.

Basilica Screecher

Basilica Screecher

8. Basilica Screecher

CMC: 2

Screecher has one less power than Pet, but he only needs black mana and has a lower CMC. He similarly wields both flying and extort, making him a respectable choice for lifegain-centered decks; I just wish he had a better subtype than bat (like vampire, zombie, or cleric). But speaking of which...

Syndic of Tithes

Syndic of Tithes

7. Syndic of Tithes

CMC: 2

For the same cost, Syndic lacks Screecher's flying but has one more power. Additionally, he offers the superior human and cleric bloodlines, giving him better combo potential with his more-abundant families.

Tithe Drinker

Tithe Drinker

6. Tithe Drinker

CMC: 2

Drinker reverses Screecher's stats, now offering 2/1, a generally-positive trade considering her lifelink, which recovers you health whenever she damages a foe (whether directly or on a creature). Coupled with extort and her helpful vampire lineage, Drinker makes a worthy early-game combatant who can rapidly replenish your health if she survives (grant her unblockable with blue spells to keep her alive).

Pontiff of Blight

Pontiff of Blight

5. Pontiff of Blight

CMC: 6

Blight needs a hefty chunk of six mana, and his power is disappointingly low at just two. However, to compensate, he provides the zombie and cleric subtypes, has seven toughness, and wields extort. More than that, he also grants your other creatures extort, letting you spend loads of leftover mana to siphon life from your adversaries!

Some repeated abilities (like trample) don't stack, but multiple instances of extort aren't redundant; if a creature already had extort and receives its again through Blight, it can potentially extort twice per spell whenever you cast a card (but you still pay one mana per activation).

Treasury Thrull

Treasury Thrull

4. Treasury Thrull

CMC: 6

Thrull's stats are low for his sizable cost at just 4/4, but in addition to extort, he can return an artifact, enchantment, or creature from your graveyard to your hand when he attacks. Thus, he's a great late-game hand-replenisher; grant him haste with equipment spells like "Swiftfoot Boots" and protect him from damage with artifacts like "Dolmen Gate" to make good use of his aggressive strategy.

Thrull Parasite

Thrull Parasite

3. Thrull Parasite

CMC: 1

Parasite's stats are a weak 1/1, but it's hard to complain on a monster that only costs one mana and offers extort. Additionally, Parasite can tap and have you pay two life to remove any type of counter from an opposing nonland permanent.

Thanks to extort, you should have plenty of life to spare; use Parasite's effects to weaken opposing creatures with +1/+1 counters, artifacts with charge counters, or even planeswalkers with loyalty counters.

Blind Obedience

Blind Obedience

2. Blind Obedience

CMC: 2

In addition to extort, Blind Obedience causes all opposing artifacts and creatures to enter the battlefield tapped, delaying their usage. You might wonder why bother dulling creatures (whose summoning sickness prevents them from attacking at first), but remember that tapping them protects against foes with haste and makes enemies unavailable as blockers during your turn.

Of course, tapping artifacts is especially useful since they can be accessed as soon as they arrive, ensuring your opponent will have to wait to employ "Sol Ring" and other mana-producing relics. A mainstay in my own white/black commander decks, Blind Obedience is surprisingly cheap for such a competitive card, costing well under three dollars!

Crypt Ghast

Crypt Ghast

1. Crypt Ghast

CMC: 4

Like most extort spells, Ghast's combat scores are weak for his price at just 2/2. However, he only needs one black mana, offers extort, and lets you add an additional black resource whenever you tap a swamp for mana.

Thus, in addition to Ghast's lifegain potential, he offers a rare ramping tactic for the black faction; run him in decks that emphasize swamps over other land types to make good use of his ability. Alternatively, play the legendary land "Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth" to grant the swamp type to all terrains on the field.

Color Identity for Commander Games in Magic

As useful an ability as extort is, note that having the extort symbols makes a card count as both black and white even if its casting cost is mono-colored. Thus, in commander matches (where you can only use hues that your commander possesses), you'll need a legendary creature who is both black and white to include extort spells in your deck (I recommend "Athreos, God of Passage").

Extort remains a surprisingly rare trait among this popular color pairing, and I hope to see it expand in future sets. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next batch of life-sapping spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill