Top 10 Opponent-Discard Cards in Magic: The Gathering
What Are the Best Discard Spells in Magic: The Gathering?
In Magic, discarding is a simply yet useful debuff, forcing players to send cards from their hand to the graveyard. However, not all discards are created equally. How many cards does a discard unit make an opponent lose? Do they get to choose what they toss, do you, or is it random? Does your spell target them, or can it bypass hexproofed and shrouded foes?
All these are good factors to keep in mind when searching for ideal discards. You'll find most hand-diminishers within the malicious tricks of the black faction, so pack in the swamp lands as we examine the ten best forced discard spells in Magic: The Gathering!
Like many of today's cards, Thoughtseize is a simple black sorcery needing only one mana. It reveals a target opponent's hand, lets you discard any non-land card, then has you lose two life.
Draining your own health isn't great, but given the higher life totals in commander format, it's not usually an issue, and the ability to both discard and peek at your opponent's hand more than compensates.
9. Rakdos's Return
Rakdos's Return offers a nice black/red duo that scales in strength to fit your current mana production capabilities. You need one red mana, one black, and an X value of your choice from any colors. A target opponent then discards X cards and loses X life. If you have only a single mana to spare, that's still one discard and one life loss for three mana, but as your pool increases, you can inflict sizable amounts of hand depletion and life loss with one fell swoop.
Accessible in the mid-game, deadly in the late, Return excellently adapts to your current situation.
Similarly to Thoughtseize, Duress forces an opponent to reveal their hand, but now you pick and discard any non-creature, non-land. Thus, you're slightly more-limited, but don't suffer any life loss and can still toss anything from artifacts to instants to planeswalkers.
Another single-cost black sorcercy, Despise once again forces an opponent to reveal their hand. This time around, you select a creature or planeswalker to discard; the general abundance of creatures should give plenty of options, with planeswalkers sweetening the pot. Remember, you can access Despise even on your first turn, quickly ransacking a foe's hand and peeking at their cards.
6. Inquisition of Kozilek
Named after the famous eldrazi, Kozilek works especially well in the early game, revealing an adversary's hand and discarding any non-land that costs three or more mana. This lets you toss any early-stage forces your opponent may employ, hopefully leaving them with a dead hand unable to access any spells until it's too late.
5. Harsh Scrutiny
Yet another simple black sorcery, Scrutiny operates similarly to Despise, but now you have to discard a revealed creature (you can't pick a planeswalker). Still, that leaves the most common non-land permanent, and you get to scry one, peeking at the top card of your library and either placing it back or sending it to the bottom of your deck.
Thus, you've simultaneously revealed an opponent's hand, discarded a creature, and tweaked your own upcoming draws, setting your deck in your favor.
4. Hymn to Tourach
Tourach is slightly more expensive that our single-cost black sorceries and it doesn't reveal an opponent's hand. However, it's still cheap, and it forces a rival to toss not one but two random cards.
While you don't gain the benefit of seeing their hand, two discards at once is brutal, especially when your opponent doesn't get to choose. This is also one of few early-access spells that can discard lands, potentially leaving your foe with no terrains to play on their turn.
3. Vicious Rumors
Vicious Rumors combines several brutal effects in a package that targets each opponent, excelling in multiplayer and bypassing hexproofed foes. Rumors deals one damage to each opponent, makes them discard, sends the top card from their deck into the graveyard, and gains you one life.
While they get to stock their graveyard and you don't see their hands, this can assist with mill strategies, inflicts minor damage, and gains you health as you force every rival to discard, making it a ruthless hex. I use Rumors in just about every black deck I craft thanks to its multitude of powers; fortunately, it's as cheap in real life as it is in the game, costing less than a single dollar!
2. Funeral Charm/Piracy Charm
What these two lack in power, they make up for with speed and versatility. As instants, you can cast them at any time, and you pick from three modest yet useful effects:
- Target player discards a card
- Target creature gains +2/-1 for the turn
- Target creature gains swampwalk for the turn (or islandwalk in Piracy's case)
An instant-speed discard is always nice (although you don't see their hand and don't pick what they lose), the +2/-1 can kill units weakened units, and swampwalk/islandwalk makes a unit unblockable to opponents who control corresponding lands. All nice abilities for such cheap and speedy spells.
1. Raven's Crime
Raven's Crime simply has a player discard a card. Again, you don't see their hand and don't choose what to toss—but Raven's Crime offers an excellent Retrace effect, letting you recast it from your graveyard by paying its cost and discarding a land.
By emphasizing card advantage (mixing in blue can help), you'll have plenty of swamps to toss while your foe's hand will rapidly dwindle. Plus, note that unlike flashback effects, retrace doesn't exile your spell, meaning you can spam Crime as long as you have the mana and lands! Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.
Which card do you prefer?
How to Support Discards in Magic: The Gathering
Forcing discards on adversaries is useful in itself, as it diminishes their hand, but you can maximize your advantage by comboing with cards that trigger upon discards. For instance, black creature "Abyssal Nocturnus" receives +2/+2 and menace whenever an opponent discards, while blue/black instant "Dream Salvage" draws as many cards as an opponent discarded that turn. You can even reward your own discards with units like "Archfiend of Ifnir", who places a -1/-1 counter on enemy troops whenever you discard or cycle.
Some spells activate effects when discarded by opposing abilities, like "Ajani's Last Stand" and "Loxodon Smiter", but these are uncommon and rarely an issue. In short, emptying your opponent's hand diminishes their plays and stalls their strategy, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of discard spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
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© 2018 Jeremy Gill