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Top 10 Spectacle Cards in Magic: The Gathering

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

How Does Spectacle Work in Magic?

A rare set of red and black Magic cards carry the spectacle trait. These can be anything from creature to sorceries, and though you can cast them at their base prices, spectacle reduces their costs during turns where an opponent has taken damage.

How big a discount you receive depends on the card, but these units reward aggressive strategies, and spectacle triggers from both combat and indirect damage. But which bargain-priced spells reign supreme? These are the ten best (and only, as of this writing) spectacle cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Blade Juggler mtg

Blade Juggler mtg

10. Blade Juggler

CMC: 5 (3 with spectacle)

Sadly, Blade Juggler's not a great bargain even at spectacle cost. She's a 3/2 who draws a card when she enters the field, but also has you lose one life. That's a mediocre deal for three mana and a terrible one for five, especially since Juggler lacks noteworthy black subtypes like zombie or vampire.

Rafter Demon mtg

Rafter Demon mtg

9. Rafter Demon

CMC: 4 (5 with spectacle)

Rafter Demon is one of few cards which actually costs more with spectacle, but if you pay the extra mana, he forces each opponent to discard a card when he enters the field.

So, you're combining forced discards with battle prowess but excelling at neither; you're often better-served with cheaper and more-efficient spells. Still, Rafter can be decent if you run demon synergies in your deck.

Spikewheel Acrobat mtg

Spikewheel Acrobat mtg

8. Spikewheel Acrobat

CMC: 4 (3 with spectacle)

Acrobat's spectacle trait offers a minor but appreciated reduction, and no matter how you cast her, she'll arrive as a glass cannon, carrying 5/2 stats. She certainly hits hard, but can't withstand much damage, and Acrobat also suffers from generic human and rogue subtypes.

If you're running plenty of removals (which black and red do specialize in) to clear the path, Acrobat could earn a spot on your roster, but otherwise, you'll probably want soldiers with more toughness and other abilities.

Skewer the Critics mtg

Skewer the Critics mtg

7. Skewer the Critics

CMC: 3 (1 with spectacle)

Unlike many of red's low-cost instant removals, you can only cast Skewer at sorcery speed, so you'll have to wait until your main phase. But it has a great spectacle cost that cuts its price to a third, and Skewer simply deals any target three damage.

In damage output, this outperforms red's standard one-cost "Bolt" (which only deals two), and the ability to hit anything from planeswalkers to creatures to opponents is nice. Skewer's sorcery speed and spectacle requirement understandably dissuade some players, but in ideal conditions, you're getting the power of a "Lightning Strike" for one less mana.

Drill Bit mtg

Drill Bit mtg

6. Drill Bit

CMC: 3 (1 with spectacle)

Another spell with a fierce discount, Drill Bit lets you look at an opponent's hand, then choose and discard any non-land from it. You're gaining tactical knowledge of their upcoming plays plus card advantage.

Now, plenty of black spells without spectacle can discard opposing cards for one mana (like "Duress" and "Harsh Scrutiny"), but they limit which spells you can toss, making Drill Bit superior—with a successful spectacle, at least.

Rix Maadi Reveler mtg

Rix Maadi Reveler mtg

5. Rix Maadi Reveler

CMC: 2 (4 with spectacle)

Rix is another oddball with an increased spectacle price, and he also requires black mana to utilize it. But his base cost is surprisingly decent, needing just one color, offering a fair 2/2, and both drawing and discard a card upon arrival.

If you do pay the spectacle cost, Rix instead discards your hand, then draws three cards—an excellent replenishment when your hand is already empty. Remember, even if you've damaged an opponent during a turn, you don't have to pay a spectacle cost, so you're always free to use Rix's default option when content with your hand.

Dead Revels mtg

Dead Revels mtg

4. Dead Revels

CMC: 4 (2 with spectacle)

Revels simply returns up to two creatures from your graveyard to your hand, skillfully reclaiming key warriors. That's a great benefit at the two-mana discount, and it's still a fair trade for four. The "up to" wording also helps, as you can cast the spell with just one or even zero creatures in your graveyard if you desperately need a specific monster.

Hackrobat mtg

Hackrobat mtg

3. Hackrobat

CMC: 3 (2 with spectacle)

No matter how you cast her, Hackrobat needs the Rakdos colors of black and red, but she offers a solid 2/3 stats. Additionally, you can spend one black mana at any time to grant her deathtouch for the turn, or pay one red for +2/-2.

That potential deathtouch discourages attackers, offering a rare defensive element for your aggressive strategy, and the +2/-2 piles on extra damage for direct attacks. A staple in my own black/red decks, Hackrobat is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing less than thirty cents!

Light Up the Stage mtg

Light Up the Stage mtg

2. Light Up the Stage

CMC: 3 (1 with spectacle)

Red and black decks tend to quickly burn through their hands; Stage offers an excellent tool to prevent you from running out of spells. Once activated, it exiles your library's top two cards face-up, letting you play them until the end of your next turn.

This includes lands as well as spells, so you can potentially access two new cards with just one mana—something most spells (like blue's "Divination") require three resources for.

Spawn of Mayhem mtg

Spawn of Mayhem mtg

1. Spawn of Mayhem

CMC: 4 (3 with spectacle)

Honestly, Mayhem would be competitive even without spectacle, as four mana is more than reasonable for a 4/4 with both flying and trample. For three mana, that's just an incredible deal, offering an enormous beatstick capable of withstanding common three-damage removals.

And Mayhem doesn't stop there, as he automatically inflicts one damage to both players during your upkeep. While you take the blow as well as your foes, this adeptly discounts your other spectacle spells. Better yet, if you then have 10 or less life, Mayhem gains a +1/+1 counter, growing even more formidable the closer you are to losing.

More Discounted Spells in Magic

Spectacle is a useful trait, but not the only way to obtain bargain spells. Blue and red contain many surge cards that lower their costs simply by casting another spell during the turn. Similarly, cards like green's "Talara's Battalion" offer insane power for low prices, but require you to previously cast other spells during your turn.

When running spectacle bearers, use cards like "Electrostatic Field" that reliably land damage and enable your discounts. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of damage-reduced spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill