Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
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 10 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 the ability to both discard and peek at your opponent's hand more than compensates.
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.
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.
8. Despise/Harsh Scrutiny
Despise once again forces an opponent to reveal their hand, this time having you select and discard a creature or planeswalker; 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.
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, a nice early-game defense against running out of land drops.
7. 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.
6. 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, inflict minor damage, and gains you health as you force every rival to discard, making it a ruthless hex.
5. 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.
4. Gerrard's Verdict
Verdict's biggest downside is its color needs, specifically requiring one black and one white mana. But once you have your Orzhov colors, you can make a player discard two cards.
You don't get to see their hand, and they can freely toss whatever they like, but you'll gain three life for each land they discard, punishing early-game need for lands.
3. Augur of Skulls
Since Augur only needs one black mana, he's a great option for multicolor decks. His stats are only 1/1, but he has useful skeleton and wizard subtypes and can sacrifice himself at your upkeep to make a player discard twice.
Sure, this means you'll have to wait a round to trigger him, but it's still a cheap and easy to way to reduce card advantage. Augur also has a built-in defense, letting him regenerate (avoid a single death) for two mana, ensuring he lasts long enough to trigger. Plus, as today's only creature card, Augur works well with black's common creature-reviving antics,
2. 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!
1. 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.
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 crippling foes by trashing their only mana sources.
A staple in my own black commander decks, Tourach is also surprisingly cheap, costing well under two dollars!
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!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
NBPAquino from Quezon City, Philippines on October 29, 2018:
Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek