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Top 10 Freeze Spells (That Delay Untapping) in Magic: The Gathering

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

Freeze/Sleep Effects in Magic

Most blue decks in Magic seek a long-term win, stalling foes while they amass cards and gain control over the field. To help defend against more-aggressive themes, blue employs "freeze" effects (also called sleep) that prevent permanents from untapping during their next untap step, delaying their assault for another turn.

Some freezes actually tap the unit; others only prevent them from untapping (watch out for creatures with vigilance that don't tap when they attack). Most target creatures, but some can affect other card types—which reign supreme? These are the ten best freezing abilities in Magic: The Gathering!

Watertrap Weaver mtg

Watertrap Weaver mtg

10. Watertrap Weaver

CMC: 3

Weaver's 2/2 stats are underwhelming, but on entry, he taps and freezes an opposing creature, preventing them from untapping at their next upkeep. Since this taps them automatically, it works even if they're already untapped, and Weaver's great subtypes (merfolk and wizard) fit perfectly in tribal decks.

Dungeon Geists mtg

Dungeon Geists mtg

9. Dungeon Geists

CMC: 4

A 3/3 with flying and the spirit subtype is decent for four, but Geists has a long-lasting freeze effect, tapping an opposing creature on entry and preventing them from untapping at their upkeep while you control Geists! It's as simple as that; use Geists to delay a big threat for as long as he survives.

Skyline Cascade mtg

Skyline Cascade mtg

8. Skyline Cascade

CMC: 0

Like a basic island, Cascade simply taps for one blue mana, but it enters tapped, so you'll have to wait on it. However, it freezes an opposing unit, preventing them from untapping at their next untap step. Use with effects that have lands enter tapped anyway (like "Thrasios, Triton Hero") to gain the benefit with no disadvantage.

Neko-Te mtg

Neko-Te mtg

7. Neko-Te

CMC: 3 (2 to equip)

Neko-Te gives powerful freezing capabilities to any color. It takes three to cast and two to equip to a creature, but whenever they deal damage to another creature, that creature is tapped and doesn't untap as long as Neko remains in play!

So hit anything, and they're down until Neko leaves, regardless of what happens to its bearer. Plus, when Neko's holder hits a player, they lose an extra life, and note Neko's effects also work with non-combat damage, making it useful alongside the fight mechanic.

Abominable Treefolk mtg

Abominable Treefolk mtg

6. Abominable Treefolk

CMC: 4

Abominable's stats automatically become equal to the number of snow permanents you control; counting himself, that's at least one, but this skyrockets in decks that utilize snow-covered lands. It also means multiple copies will empower each other.

And of course, Abominable freezes a foe on entry, tapping them and preventing them from untapping at their next upkeep.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage mtg

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage mtg

5. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

CMC: 5

Tamiyo only enters with four loyalty, but her +1 can freeze any permanent, not just a creature, tapping them and preventing their next untap. This also empowers her -2, which draws a card for each tapped creature a target player controls (you can choose yourself if you wish).

Ultimate -8 grants an awesome emblem that gives you an infinite hand size and lets you return cards placed into your graveyard to your hand, letting you reuse spells as much as you like.

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger mtg

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger mtg

4. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger

CMC: 8

Vorinclex requires a heap of mana, so try gimmicking him into play with a free-creature effect. But he rewards you with a 7/6 trampler who has your lands tap for an additional mana. Meanwhile, opposing lands tapped for mana won't untap at their next untap step, really making foes think twice before casting spells.

Cool thing is, Vorinclex's freeze remains even if he leaves the field, so even if opponents find a removal, the lands they tapped for it will still get delayed.

Niblis of Frost mtg

Niblis of Frost mtg

3. Niblis of Frost

CMC: 4

Niblis is a respectable warrior, being a 3/3 flyer with spirit synergy and prowess, gaining +1/+1 for the turn whenever you cast a non-creature spell. This stacks great with his next effect, automatically tapping and freezing an opposing creature whenever you cast an instant or sorcery, essentially giving all your one-offs a freezing elements!

Only instants and sorceries will trigger the freeze, but remember that prowess works with anything that's not a creature, including artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers.

Wall of Frost mtg

Wall of Frost mtg

2. Wall of Frost

CMC: 3

Sure, Wall of Frost has defender, preventing him from attacking, and his power is zero anyway. But he compensates with enormous seven toughness, guarding all but the strongest foes (watch out for deathtouch, though). Better yet, whenever Frost blocks a creature, they don't untap during their next untap step, buying time for your other spells to gain control of the game.

A perfect addition to any blue commander deck, Frost is surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!

Frost Titan mtg

Frost Titan mtg

1. Frost Titan

CMC: 6

Frost Titan is unusually strong for a blue creature, bearing 6/6 stats, and since he's not legendary, you can control multiple. He's also got a useful defense, countering opposing spells and abilities that target him unless your opponent spends an extra two mana.

Even better, when Frost enters the field or attacks, you get to tap and freeze any opposing permanent, a reusable delay that works on anything, not just creatures.

Single-Turn Freezes in Magic

Today we explored the ten best official freezing spells, but note that other worthwhile cards, like "Gadwick, the Wizened," can tap opposing permanents for a single round—they just won't prevent them from untapping at their next upkeep.

Freezing remains a useful tool for blue, but remember it can also thwart threats with counterspells or by bouncing them back to hand. But for now, vote for your favorite freezing spell, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill