Top 10 Lockdowns in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on January 19, 2020
Jeremy Gill profile image

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

What Are Nets in Magic?

In Magic, "nets" or "lockdowns" refer to spells that obstruct players from performing certain actions. Some only ensnare your opponents, others affect all players, but you'll presumably deck-build around field-wide nets to avoid their penalties.

Scattered throughout all colors and card types, nets can limit opposing draws, prevent lifegain, and entirely disable certain plays. But with hundreds of prisons available, which lockdowns reign supreme? These are the ten best player-restricting cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Narset, Parter of Veils mtg
Narset, Parter of Veils mtg

10. Narset, Parter of Veils

CMC(Converted Mana Cost): 3

Unlike most planeswalkers, Narset has no loyalty-adding effects, but she enters with five, a hearty amount for her price. More importantly, she offers an excellent passive that prevents opponents (but not you) from drawing more than one card each turn. This mimics the ability of long-banned "Leovold, Emissary of Trest"; blend with spells that would draw each player a new hand (like "Timetwister") for a brutal combo.

Additionally, Narset's -2 lets you add a non-creature non-land from the top four cards of your deck to your hand, a nifty bonus search. Her chains dissipate when she dies, so protect Narset from attackers with your own creatures. Still, she's an easy pick for my own blue structures and today's cheapest card, costing less than three dollars!

Crawlspace mtg
Crawlspace mtg

9. Crawlspace

CMC: 3

This colorless artifact suits any deck, only needs three mana, and simply prevents more than two creatures from attacking you each turn. This especially shields against token-swarming builds, but it's effective against nearly any theme, as most structures will eventually field at least three troops.

To further discourage aggression, consider blue's "Propaganda" and white's "Ghostly Prison," both of which force enemy attackers to pay two mana whenever they swing.

Stranglehold mtg
Stranglehold mtg

8. Stranglehold

CMC: 4

Stranglehold offers a rare red net, and since it only needs one mountain's mana, it blends well in multi-color decks. This enchantment both prevents opponents from searching all libraries (including yours) and causes them to skip extra turns.

Especially useful in commander format, this shuts down enemy tutors and extra turns without hampering your own plays, offering two powerful nets that only entangle rivals. But if you're running blue or black instead of red, you can obtain a similar search-blocking effect with planeswalker "Ashiok, Dream Render."

Void Winnower mtg
Void Winnower mtg

7. Void Winnower

CMC: 9

Like many Eldrazi, Winnower demands a ridiculous sum of mana, but you can avoid the price with free-creature effects on spells like "Defense of the Heart" or "Jhoira of the Ghitu."

Not only does this monster wield daunting 11/9 stats, Winnower prevents opponents from casting spells with even CMCs and blocking with even-cost creatures. You get two awesome lock-downs in one, the effects only inhibit opponents, and since token monsters are treated as having zero cost, they become invalid defenders.

Iona, Shield of Emeria mtg
Iona, Shield of Emeria mtg

6. Iona, Shield of Emeria

CMC: 9

Like Winnower, this legendary angel requires an enormous price, but you should avoid or reduce it with cards like "Kaalia of the Vast" and "Mosswort Bridge." Once you've gimmicked Iona into play, you not only receive a 7/7 flying beatstick, you entirely prevent opponents from casting spells of a chosen color!

Against mono-color decks, you shut out anything that's not colorless, almost certainly defeating them, and even faction-mixing builds will struggle to break their new bindings. Just note you can't change your mind once Iona arrives, so think carefully about which color to disable.

The Immortal Sun mtg
The Immortal Sun mtg

5. The Immortal Sun

CMC: 6

With a surge in the War of the Spark set, planeswalkers are more popular than ever, and while this artifact is expensive, it adeptly thwarts their powers. Not only does Sun prevent all players (including you) from using loyalty abilities, it draws an extra card at your upkeep, discounts your spells by one, and boosts your creatures by +1/+1. So in addition to repressing planeswalkers, you attain a neat smorgasbord of other abilities that benefit any deck.
Just note Sun doesn't hinder the enchantment-like passives seen on WotS's planeswalkers, only their loyalty abilities.

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale mtg
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale mtg

4. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

CMC: 0

Unlike most lands, this legendary terrain can't tap for mana. However, it offers an ongoing net that forces all players to pay one mana per creature they control during their upkeep, and if they can't or don't, they sacrificed any skipped units.

This works wonders in commander; you already know your opponent will have at least one creature available throughout the game (and will likely employ many more), but to keep their soldiers, they'll have to continuously deplete their mana reserves. You suffer the same effect, but with a creature-limited deck, you'll deftly evade the net. And since land removals are rare, opponents often don't have an immediate counter, leaving them helpless against your continuous and free-to-play prison.

Stasis mtg
Stasis mtg

3. Stasis

CMC: 2

Stasis only requires two mana and forces all players to skip their untap steps, severely limiting their ability to cast, well, anything. You also have to pay one blue mana during your upkeep to keep Stasis active. In theory, this means you'll eventually have to sacrifice it, but clever players will find other ways to untap their cards (like "Paradox Engine" or "Brago, King Eternal").

You won't earn many friends using this shutdown tactic, but hey, a win's a win—and you can further restrict refreshes with cards like "Winter Orb."

Gaddock Teeg mtg
Gaddock Teeg mtg

2. Gaddock Teeg

CMC: 2

Blending the Selesnya colors yields this formidable legendary. For his price, Teeg provides a fair 2/2 power and toughness, though his kithkin and advisor subtypes don't offer many synergies. But Teeg automatically restricts all players from casting non-creature spells that require four or more mana, and he also prevents any non-creature spell with X (a variable amount) in its cost.

These effects carry to you, but you'll dodge the net by simply crafting a deck whose non-creature supports cost three or less mana. Meanwhile, many opposing themes suddenly find themselves locked out of their best cards, and if they can't quickly access a cheap removal, they're almost certain to lose.

Grand Abolisher mtg
Grand Abolisher mtg

1. Grand Abolisher

CMC: 2

In Magic, opponents can interrupt your turn with instant-speed spells or effects, often turning a well-conceived round into an unexpected disaster. Thankfully, white structures can barricade your plays using Grand Abolisher. During your turns, he prevents foes from casting spells or activating abilities of artifacts, creatures, and enchantments. And for his low price, he's also a decent 2/2 combatant.

You'd be surprised how much freedom the barrier allows, especially against blue counterspell tactics (common in 1v1 commander). Similar cards that defend your turns include "Dragonlord Dromoka" and "Teferi, Time Raveler," though they require more mana and multiple colors.

Which card do you prefer?

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More Shut-Down Cards in Magic

Today we've explored many top-tier spells that imprison foes, but these units are just the tip of the iceberg—there's a counter for nearly any spell type somewhere. Admittedly, nets can be somewhat risky, as they're only effective while opponents run corresponding spells, but with the right check, you can thwart entire strategies in one fell swoop.

If you have advanced knowledge of enemy structures, you can be particularly nasty and develop specific counters—just know your foes will likely do the same. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of player-inhibiting spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jeremy Gill


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