Top 10 Saga Cards in Magic: The Gathering
How Do Sagas Work in Magic?
Sagas are a rare subtype of enchantments in Magic, with only a few dozen existing. They activate an initial ability when played, then provide two other effects as they gain lore counters after your next draw steps, sacrificing themselves after having utilized all three traits.
Thus, sagas are handy as they provide an instant bonus as well as future benefits, almost like a condensed version of planeswalkers. But with a handful of historic permanents to choose from, which ballads reign supreme? These are the ten best saga enchantments in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Rite of Belzenlok
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Like all sagas, Belzenlok activates its first effect when it enters and subsequent traits after adding lore counters during your draw step. In this case, your first and second abilities function identically, each instance creating two 0/1 black cleric creature tokens, weak units who can be spent as throwaway blockers.
They're also useful for fueling Belzenlok's final ability, which summons a fierce 6/6 demon token with both trample (bleeding excess damage through blockers) and flying (soaring over ground blockers)! However, this demon forces you to sacrifice a creature during your upkeep (use your prior tokens), and if you can't, you suffer six damage.
9. The Flame of Keld
Keld's first effect is generally undesirable, forcing you to discard your hand. However, its second lets you draw two cards, reversing the damage, and its third lets your red spells deal two extra damage that turn.
That's a powerful finale, especially considering Keld's low mana cost of just two, and even its hand discard helpfully stocks your graveyard for "spell mastery", "delirium", or "threshold" effects. Just make sure Keld survives long enough to refill your hand, or you'll find yourself with zero cards available.
8. The Mending of Dominaria
Dominaria costs a fair chunk of five mana, but its three powerful effects more than compensate. The first two both mill the top two cards of your deck into your graveyard, then let you add a creature from your graveyard to your hand, simultaneously refilling your hand and stocking your graveyard.
These traits adeptly combo with Dominaria's ultimate, which returns all lands from your graveyard to the battlefield (without tapping them!), shuffling the rest of your graveyard into your library. Thanks to its prior milling, you should have plenty of terrain to recover, letting you afford almost any spell you wish.
7. Time of Ice
Blue's Time of Ice wields identical abilities on both activation and your next draw step, tapping an opposing creature and preventing it from untapping during your foe's untap step as long as you control Time of Ice, indefinitely dulling them. Well, at least until Ice's final effect, which returns all tapped creatures (including yours) back to their owner's hands.
Thanks to Ice's initial taps, you'll hopefully bounce at least two exhausted enemies, and since your turn's draw phase comes after the untap step, your units should avoid the blast, having just been refreshed.
6. Phyrexian Scriptures
For a moderate price of four black mana, Scriptures provides three abilities that skillfully play off each other. First, you place a +1/+1 counter on up to one creature, also making it an artifact-creature duo. This not only ups its power/toughness, it renders the warrior immune to Scriptures's next effect, which destroys all nonartifact creatures, a brutal field wipe that your initial target will avoid.
Then, as this saga's third lore effect, you exile all cards from all opposing graveyards, adeptly preventing recoveries and banishing foes just eradicated with your board wipe. Note this works especially well in multiplayer, ravaging not one but all opposing graveyards.
5. History of Benalia
Benalia's pretty cheap, needing just three mana, and unlike many sagas, it's not as reliant on its ultimate; just attaining its first pair of abilities warrants its price. Its initial effects both create a white 2/2 knight token with vigilance that can swing without tapping.
Thus, you attain two 2/2 beatsticks with vigilance for just two mana, and when Benalia's last effect resolves, your knight permanents gain +2/+1 for the turn, empowering your tokens and any other crusaders you've fielded.
4. The Eldest Reborn
Eldest Reborn needs a substantial chunk of five mana, but its powerful abilities work especially well in multiplayer. The first trait forces opponents to sacrifice a creature or planeswalker, a handy removal that bypasses defenses like indestructible or protection (and since this doesn't target, it can even impact players with hexproof). The next ability makes all foes discard a card.
Finally, Reborn's last trait lets you revive a creature or planeswalker in any graveyard under your control. Thanks to the first effects, you should have plenty of trashed enemies to choose from, kicking your opponent while they're down by wielding their own lost card against them.
3. Triumph of Gerrard
Triumph of Gerrard only needs two mana and fortifies your best creature. Its first and second effects each add a +1/+1 counter to the creature you control with the most power (your choice if tied).
Two +1/+1 counters already justifies two mana, and Gerrard's last benefit grants your strongest creature flying, first strike (dealing damage first in battle and potentially avoiding a counterattack) and lifelink (gaining you life equal to the damage dealt) for the turn, a hefty set of bonuses that further empower your fiercest champion.
2. The Mirari Conjecture
Conjecture requires five mana, but its three excellent abilities warrant the fee. First, you return any instant from your graveyard to your hand. Then, you do the same with a sorcery. Finally, for the rest of the turn, when you cast an instant or sorcery, you copy the spell and may choose new targets.
Not only have you recovered two one-off spells, you essentially get to cast them twice thanks to the duplication; use this to double the effects of the feared extra turn cards or other blue tricks.
1. Song of Freyalise
Based on one of my favorite planeswalkers ("Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury), Song offers two nice benefits at low cost while building for a superb finale. Its first blessings grant your creatures the temporary ability to tap for a mana of any color, letting any unit serve as a mana ramp tool (remember to use block-taps to simultaneously block and afford instants).
A useful benefit, but Song's real treat comes with its ultimate, which places a +1/+1 counter on every creature you control, also giving them vigilance, trample, and indestructible for the turn. Thus, you can swing that turn without tapping or fear of retaliation, as your units are immune to damage and bulldoze through blockers. Even if this awesome assault doesn't win the match, those handy +1/+1 counters last indefinitely, continuously supporting your army and cementing Song as the best saga yet. I especially enjoy using it in multicolor decks since its mana abilities can tap for any needed hue; luckily, it costs well under three dollars!
Which card do you prefer?
Historic Cards in Magic
Remember, sagas are a category of enchantment; anything that boosts them will buff their subdivisions. Protecting sagas isn't absolutely crucial, as they'll eventually sacrifice themselves, but strive to shield them until they access their ultimate final effects. Enchantment supports like "Zur the Enchanter" can search and field CMC three or lower sagas, but many of the best combos come from cards that boost historic spells (artifacts, legendaries, and sagas), like "D'Avenant Trapper" and "Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain".
Sagas remain an interesting and surprisingly underutilized group that I hope to see expand in future releases, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next set of epic sagas, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
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© 2018 Jeremy Gill