Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Gates in Magic?
Beyond basic lands, gates are perhaps Magic's most reoccurring land type, frequently reappearing in new expansions. Unlike basic lands, they enter the field tapped, meaning you'll have to wait a turn before accessing their mana. However, gates can provide either of two colors (there's a gate for every pairing), excelling in multi-faction decks, and their unique status empowers certain cards.
Gates only have a few dozen supports, but their best synergies offer amazing abilities when you devote to their clan. So, which spells best harness your unique lands? These are the ten strongest gate-strengthened cards in Magic: The Gathering!
Gate List in Magic
Here's a quick list of available gate pairings to help find your deck's ideal lands:
- White and Black: Orzhov Guildgate
- White and Green: Selesnya Guildgate
- White and Blue: Azorious Guildgate
- White and Red: Boros Guildgate
- Black and Green: Golgari Guildgate
- Black and Blue: Dimir Guildgate
- Black and Red: Rakdos Guildgate
- Green and Blue: Simic Guildgate
- Green and Red: Gruul Guildgate
- Blue and Red: Izzet Guildgate
There's also the special "Gateway Plaza," which can add a mana of any color, but requires you to pay a mana (of any type) when it enters tapped.
10. Saruli Gatekeepers
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Gate decks tend to run numerous colors, so it's nice when their supports have several colorless slots, as is the case with Saruli. While her stats are a poor 2/4, she carries the useful elf subtype (plus warrior for good measure), blending with green's most abundant faction.
Additionally, when she arrives, she grants seven life if you control at least two gates. That's a decent increase on top of a soldier, and since the ability activates whenever Saruli enters the field (not just when cast), it also triggers with graveyard revivals and other gimmicks.
9. Gatekeeper Gargoyle
Gargoyle is completely colorless, accepting any provided mana, and his dual creature and artifact subtypes contain numerous synergies. He also wields flying and gains a +1/+1 counter for every gate you control upon arrival.
If you've completely dedicated to the theme, this often bestows Gargoyle with six or more counters and 9/9 total stats, more than enough to ravage foes. His substantial fee means he'll be a late arrival, but that gives ample time to swarm gates. And if you've prepared the famous "Doubling Season" enchantment, he'll join with twice the counters.
8. Hold the Gates
Whether or not you control any gates, this enchantment grants your entire army vigilance, which lets your troops swing without tapping, ensuring they're free to block on opposing turns. Additionally, they gain +0/+1 for every gate you control, adding to their toughness and helping withstand enemy punishment.
If you're only sprinkling gates in other themes, that's a negligible boost, but in devoted decks, even your weakest units will absorb insane amounts of damage before falling. And since the boost increases as you acquire more gates, it scales well in the later stages of your match.
7. Gates Ablaze
One of the biggest disadvantages in gate-heavy decks is speed, as your lands will enter tapped. Thankfully, if your opponents steal a lead, you can nuke their army with this red sorcery. For three mana, Ablaze deals damage to all creatures equal to the number of gates you control.
That's often enough to wipe out most enemies, and the effect strengthens as your game progresses, and you acquire more gates. Plus, since Ablaze doesn't target, creatures with shroud and hexproof are still hit, and if you've previously cast Hold the Gates, your own units may survive thanks to their toughness boost.
6. Gatebreaker Ram
Ram's rare sheep subtype doesn't offer many supports, and for three mana, his stats are a disappointing 2/2. But don't fret, as they automatically increase by +1/+1 for each gate you control, making him another staple in pure-gate structures.
Additionally, as long as you control at least two gates, Ram gains both vigilance and trample, letting him attack without tapping and pierce damage through blockers, ensuring his ever-increasing power isn't easily guarded.
5. Glaive of the Guildpact
Needing just two mana and accepting any colors, this equipment offers a nice early-game play, and two of its benefits function independently of gates, making it decent even in mixed builds. Equipping Glaive to a creature requires three mana, but the troop receives vigilance and menace, meaning it takes two or more blockers to guard it. Glaive's recipient also gets +1/+0 for each gate you control.
That's a nice smorgasbord of bonuses, and extra power blends well with menace, ensuring you have enough strength to decimate multiple foes at once. Try giving Glaive to a unit with first strike, letting you preemptively kill challengers before they can hit back.
4. Gateway Sneak
Sneak's vedalken and rogue subtypes aren't easy to combo, and his stats are a low 1/3. Fortunately, whenever you play a gate, he can't be blocked during the turn, and when he deals combat damage to a player, you draw a card. Simple and self-working, this allows easy unblockable attacks and free draws—which quickly cycle into more gates, attacks, and draws.
3. Gate Colossus
Living up to his name, Colossus lumbers in as a daunting 8/8, but he requires an enormous fee of eight mana. Thankfully, his price decreases by one for each gate you control, making him much cheaper than he appears. Additionally, he can't be blocked by creatures with power two or less, and his artifact status offers additional synergies.
And if Colossus is in your graveyard, you can move him to the top of your deck when you play a gate. So counter or insta-kill him all you want; he'll just keep coming back, and for less mana. This also offers a minor defense against mill strategies, slightly replenishing your library to avoid a deck-out.
2. Plaza of Harmony
While not a gate itself, Plaza offers several excellent boons to the theme. It doesn't enter tapped, and when it arrives, you gain three life if you control at least two gates. From there, Plaza can either tap for a single colorless mana, or for one mana of any type a gate you control could manufacture.
This grants more leeway for casting aces with at least two same-colored slots in their cost (like "Twilight Prophet"), ensuring you can duplicate already-present resources. Plus, extra lifegain never hurts, and the fast mana can save your bacon when you need an immediate spell.
1. Guild Summit
When it comes to hand replenishment, you'll find no greater tool for gate-based decks than Guild Summit. The enchantment allows several colorless slots, and when you cast it, you can tap any untapped gates you control, drawing a card for each.
But don't despair if you don't have many leftover after paying Summit's price, as it also draws when a gate enters under your control. A must-have for any devoted deck, Summit has won me several games and doesn't break the bank, costing well under two dollars!
How to Use Gates in Magic
Even out of their element, gates offer two mana types for multi-color decks to exploit. That said, if you're not utilizing the gate subtype, you can find superior two-color lands (like the scrying "Temple of" cards or the life-restoring "Refuge" fields). Still, in singleton formats like commander, you'll soon fill up on these, and they're not always present in the current rotation for standard.
Thus, no matter your preferred format, you'll encounter gates at some point, and today's supports drastically increase their viability. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of gate-themed spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 25, 2019:
Crackling Perimeter isn't my favorite (it lets you tap a gate to deal one damage to each opponent). Can be helpful if they're low on health, but cripples your mana for the turn.
It also requires red mana, which you might not use if you're not running Gates Ablaze, and Perimeter's score on the MTG database is a measly 2.4 out of 5.
Confused on November 23, 2019: