Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Joke Cards in Magic?
"Joke cards" refer to spells printed in the Unstable, Unhinged, and Unglued semi-official Magic expansions (which you can distinguish by their gray borders). While these bizarre spells can't be used in most tournaments, they offer wacky antics guaranteed to have your gaming group laughing.
But despite their silliness, some of these spells are surprisingly powerful—which reign supreme? These are the 30 best joke cards in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Urza's Contact Lenses
Lenses doesn't require any mana, making it free to play and discounting surge spells). As long as it's untapped, players (including you) reveal their hands.
Thing is, you can tap or untap the Lenses by clapping your hands twice. Not only does this let you control the flow of information, it combos beautifully with tap-artifact abilities on cards like ""Lodestone Myr", which you can use endlessly.
29. Timmy, Power Gamer
Despite his name, Timmy is a weak 1/1 creature, but his activated ability lets you spend four mana to play a creature from your hand for free! This functions similarly to the non-joke artifact "Quicksilver Amulet", except that you can use Timmy's ability multiple times each turn since he doesn't need to tap.
28. Rules Lawyer
Like Timmy, Rules Lawyer is a weak 1/1. However, his effect means that state-based actions don't apply to your or other permanents you control. This provides many powerful traits; for instance, you don't lose for having 0 or less life, your other creatures aren't destroyed by damage, your planeswalkers can survive with zero loyalty, and you can control duplicates of the same legendary without sacrificing.
The perfect addition to a common/uncommon budget deck, Rare-B-Gone has all players sacrifice their rare/mythic rare cards and discard all rares/mythics from their hand.
This includes you, but presumably you'll have built your deck around the effect. Meanwhile, opponents can very easily lose their entire field and hand in one brutal blow, especially if they're using rare multi-color lands instead of basic ones.
26. R&D's Secret Lair
This legendary land has everyone play their cards as written, ignoring errata that sometimes change their effects. Many cards, especially older ones, utilize errata for balancing or clarification; without them, you can unleash combos no other card could make possible.
25. Animate Library
This aura enchants your library (your deck), making it an artifact creature with power and toughness equal to the number of cards in it! Heck, even if you're using the minimum deck size for standard (60), you're probably still getting at least a 30/30 creature, almost always big enough to win with one direct attack.
And if your enchanted library would leave the field, you exile Animate instead, ensuring you won't lose your deck if something goes wrong.
24. Grusilda, Monster Masher
For five mana, you get a 4/4 zombie who gives your combined, enchanted, and equipped creatures the menace trait (requiring two or more blockers to guard). But what's a combined creature? You make them with Grusilda's effect; by tapping and spending five mana, she places two creatures from any graveyards onto the field combined into one.
This adds their stats, abilities, etc. into one potent package, and don't forget they'll have menace thanks to Grusilda's first ability.
23. Earl of Squirrel
Squirrel has mediocre 4/4 stats for his price, but his unique "squirrellink" ability creates a corresponding number of 1/1 squirrel tokens whenever he deals damage. And since Earl boosts your other squirrels by +1/+1, you're basically scoring four 2/2s each time he inflicts damage.
Earl also makes your other tokens squirrels, meaning any creature tokens you control benefit from the +1/+1.
22. Staying Power
Staying Power prevents "until end of turn" and "this turn" abilities from ending like they normally would. This provides plenty of tempting combos; favorites include "Angel's Grace" (which prevents you from losing) and "Venser, the Sojourner" (whose -1 makes your creatures unblockable that turn).
21. Mana Screw
Casting Screw requires one mana, and activating its effect needs one more. Doing so flips a coin, and if you call it right, you add two colorless mana to your pool. If luck favors you, you can gain extra colorless resources whenever you need. Or, rig the effect in your favor with cards like "Krark's Thumb", which gives you a 75% chance of success with each flip, likely giving infinite mana.
This purposefully-confusing spell basically states that whenever a player casts a counterspell or a spell that comes into play with counters (of any type), that player may either counter the next spell played or put a counter on a permanent.
So, play any sort of +1/+1 creature, planeswalker, or counterspell and you can auto-counter the next spell or have a single-target proliferate.
19. Charm School
When this enchantment enters play, you choose a color and prevent all damage you would take from that color! That'll drastically stall mono-color decks, and it even shields against your own self-damaging cards.
The gimmick is that you have to balance Charm School on your hand and sacrifice it when it falls off. But as long as you're careful, you'll have crafted a formidable barrier.
18. Super Secret Tech
This artifact makes all premium (holographic foil) spells cost one less mana and gives premium creatures +1/+1. These benefits also apply to opponents, but since most players purchase non-premium cards to save money, they probably won't be able to take advantage. But with your army of foils, you'll have cheap spells and buffed creatures to guide you to victory.
17. Yet Another Æther Vortex
Vortex gives all creatures haste, letting them attack immediately. Additionally, it reveals the top card of every deck and makes those cards exist on the field if they're not an instant or sorcery.
Use this in permanent-heavy decks to hit fast and hit hard, skillfully avoiding the cost of each revealed permanent (at least until you draw it).
16. Stone-Cold Basilisk
Basilisk is a weird card. His artwork is skewed, his text hard to read, and he wields 2½ power (and 5 toughness). He also destroys any creature he blocks or is blocked by if it has fewer letters in its name.
But the real kicker is that whenever an opponent reads Basilisk, they're "turned to stone" for the rest of the turn, preventing them from attacking, blocking, or casting spells or abilities. Basically, they can't do anything, and you can have them indefinitely incapacitated if you combine with Staying Power.
15. Now I Know My ABC's
This low-cost enchantment wins you the game if you control permanents with all 26 English alphabet letters at the start of your upkeep. And ABC's counts its own letters, already knocking out 11.
Look for cards with uncommon letters like Q, X, and J, and definitely blend with fellow joke-card "Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental" (yes, that's a real card).
14. Old Fogey
Wow, a 7/7 for just two mana? Well, yes, but the catch is that Old Fogey has tricky cumulative upkeep, phasing, and echo abilities that force you to pay more mana to keep him out (at least when he's phased in).
But still, a 7/7 is no joke, especially when he also comes with protection from homarids, snow-covered plainswalk, flanking, and rampage 2, (all beneficial traits that make Fogey harder to block).
13. Ol' Buzzbark
Possibly the most underrated joke card, you can cast Buzzbark for two mana (by making his variable X cost 0) for a 3/3 with goblin synergy, already a great deal.
But if you pump some mana into X, when Buzzbark enters the field, you roll X six-sided die from at least X inches above the game. Then, for each die result touching a creature you control, you place that many +1/+1 counters on it. And for each die roll touching an opposing creature, you deal that many damage to it.
Both offer handy add-ons for an already-impressive legendary, making Buzzbark a surprisingly versatile card. Perfect for casual games, you can score your own copy for less than two dollars!
12. Mox Lotus
Sure, Lotus costs 15 mana, making it one of the most expensive spells in the game. But you can gimmick it into play with cards like "Tinker", and once you do, Lotus can tap for infinite mana!
The mana is colorless, but since Lotus can spend 100 to add any color mana, and you have infinite, each tap basically produces infinite mana in whatever colors you need.
11. "Ach! Hans, Run!"
At the start of your upkeep, this enchantment lets you say "Ach! Hans, run! It's the" followed by a creature name of your choice. Then, you search your deck for that card, put it into play with haste (for free), and exile it at the end of your turn.
A free and hasty creature each turn, even if it's later exiled, is an enormous benefit that quickly pressures opponents.
Duh simply destroys a creature with reminder text, italicized text that explains a rule. Some cards omit reminder text to save space, but it's common enough that you should have plenty of targets, and it's hard to beat a one-cost instant-speed removal.
9. The Cheese Stands Alone
You definitely want the cheese to stand alone; when you control no other permanents and have no cards in hand, you'll win the game. Sure, this can take some building towards, but it's great with white's self-exiling spells. Plus, unlike many game-winning cards, once you're set, you'll win immediately and won't have to wait for an upkeep trigger.
8. City of Ass
City enters tapped, but not only can it later tap for any color, it adds 1½ mana! An enormous boost in all-color rainbow decks, you'll nab any color you need, and if you have two copies, they'll produce three mana between them.
7. Loose Lips
Loose attaches to a creature and grants it flying, a small but inexpensive boost. Better yet, when it enters the field, you choose a sentence with eight or less words, and whenever Loose's creature deals damage to an opponent, you draw twice unless they say your sentence.
Not only is this fun, it's actually pretty competitive—score the bonus draws by picking sentences like "I concede the game", phrases that insult loved ones, or whatever else your diabolical mind cooks up.
6. Letter Bomb
Six mana ain't cheap, but at least Bomb accepts any color. And when cast, you shuffle it into a player's library. Then, they have to reveal each card they draw, and when they draw Bomb, it deals 19½ damage to them!
Not only does this give you tactical knowledge of your opponent's cards, it (eventually) scores a massive blow that will very likely kill your opponent. On the off chance they live, they can cast Letter Bomb against you, but odds are the game will end before it reactivates.
Target player gains X life
Destroy target artifact
Counter target creature spell
Destroy target land
Destroy target enchantment
5. Who // What // When // Where // Why
Like other split cards, you get to choose which section of this five-part spell you want to cast. Since it doesn't have fuse, you can't choose multiple portions, but you're still holding perhaps the most adaptable spell in the game, able to eradicate nearly any card type at instant speed. Consult the above table for a quick guide to each option.
4. Blast from the Past
If our last card wasn't versatile enough for you, try Blast, which only ever needs red. At base, it's a three-cost instant that deals two damage to any target. However, its madness lets you cast it for one when discarded, cycling lets you discard it (use with madness) and pay two to draw a card, kicker lets you pay three extra to create a 1/1 goblin, flashback lets you cast from your graveyard for four, and buyback lets you place Blast back into your hand for five extra.
So whether you need a new draw, goblin token, or buyback, Blast has you covered while you deal its damage.
3. Richard Garfield, Ph.D.
The creator of Magic himself, Richard Garfield is only 2/2 for five. However, his unrivaled ability lets you play cards as though they were other cards with the same cost (although you can't choose the same card twice)!
Since cost includes color, you can't just start casting off-color spells, but it's still an awesome trait that lets you play spells without actually including them in your deck.
2. Infinity Elemental
In terms of raw power, this is the strongest Magic creature ever made; seven mana summons an elemental with five toughness and infinite power. Either make him unblockable or put trample onto him and the game is yours.
Plus, since elementals are gaining more and more tribal supports, you can put Infinity's subtype to good use in red/green/blue elemental decks.
1. Blacker Lotus
You've probably heard of "Black Lotus", the most expensive Magic card ever that's banned in nearly every format. Meet its older brother, Blacker Lotus. Where Black taps and sacrifice for three mana, Blacker does the same for four, an amazing ramp from a zero-cost spell.
That said, Blacker tells you to literally rip it into pieces when you use the effect, meaning that if you're following its rules, you only get one use ever out of it. But boy is it a good one.
Can You Play Jokes Cards Competitively?
Remember, today's gray-bordered spells aren't legal in most official Magic events. But several casual groups not only allow but encourage their use, and you'll occasionally find the odd tournament that legalizes them.
Wacky but competitive, joke cards offer insane yet powerful effects. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of joke cards, vote for your favorite spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill