Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Spell Mastery Work in Magic?
A few dozen cards in Magic bear the handy spell mastery trait, offering extra power if your graveyard contains two or more instants and/or sorceries when you cast the spell. Spell mastery cards work well together since they themselves are sorceries or instants; even if your threshold isn't yet complete, your spent units will help fulfill future conditions.
Play inexpensive one-offs ("Mana Drain", "Swords to Plowshares", etc.) to quickly meet your spell mastery quota, and you'll be well on your way to victory. But with dozens of members available, which units reign supreme?
These are the ten best spell mastery cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Talent of the Telepath
- Kytheon's Tactics
- Dark Petition
- Fiery Impulse
- Dark Dabbling
- Animist's Awakenings
- Swift Reckoning
- Gather the Pack
- Send to Sleep
- Nissa's Pilgrimage
10. Talent of the Telepath
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Telepath offers a moderately-priced high-risk high-reward card. A target opponent reveals the top seven cards of their deck, and you can cast an instant or sorcery among them for free!
This can access a variety of powerful abilities at reduced prices, but since you never know exactly what you'll find (and unlucky players may not encounter any accessible cards), it's hard to rely on. That said, if you meet your spell mastery goal, you can cast up to two revealed instants/sorceries!
9. Kytheon's Tactics
Kytheon's Tactics offers a fair boon even without spell mastery, simply granting your creatures +2/+1 (an extra two power and one toughness) until the end of the turn, paving the road for a fierce assault.
Then, if you have two or more instants/sorceries in your graveyard, Tactics also grants your army vigilance for the turn, letting them swing without tapping and ensuring you have blockers ready on your opponent's round.
8. Dark Petition
Dark Petition needs a hefty chunk of five mana, but it's a handy supplement to Demonic Tutor's searching prowess, especially in commander format (where your deck can only have one of each card beyond basic lands). Like its cheaper counterpart, Petition adds any spell from your library to your deck, shuffling afterwards.
However, after meeting spell mastery (which should be easy thanks to the later stages of the game where you can afford Petition), you then add three black mana to your pool, draining only two total resources, just as Tutor does.
7. Fiery Impulse
Similar to how Petition offers a nice alternative to Demonic Tutor, Impulse can step in for red's renowned "Lightning Bolt" removal. Unlike Bolt, Impulse may only target creatures, not players, but it functions at instant speed, needs just one mana, and deals two damage to its victim.
And if spell mastery is active, Impulse will instead deal three damage (just like Bolt), standing as one of the best inexpensive removals in the game.
6. Dark Dabbling
Dabbling requires a fair price of three mana and resolves at quick-play speed, letting you use it on any phase of any turn. It both regenerates a creature (tapping them and removing all damage instead of dying the next time they would be destroyed that turn) and letting you draw a card.
Two handy effects with one spell, and by having 2+ sorceries/instants in your graveyard, Dabbling instead regenerates all creatures you control, doggedly enduring a field wipe or bloody combat phase.
5. Animist's Awakening
Animist's Awakening works best in land-heavy decklists, and it adjusts its power based on your current mana production capabilities. By spending one green mana plus an X value of your choice, you look at the top X cards of your deck, placing all lands tapped onto the field and randomly moving the rest to the bottom of your deck.
Then, if you satisfy spell mastery's demand, you also get to untap those lands, refilling your mana supply and letting you cast additional spells that turn. Use cards that scry or otherwise rearrange the top cards of your deck to ensure you receive the maximum benefit from Awakening's superb mana ramp.
4. Swift Reckoning
Reckoning offers an inexpensive removal to the white faction, destroying any tapped creature (combo it with white's "Blind Obedience" enchantment to tap enemies upon entrance). A solid creature check, especially when spell mastery is met, which lets you cast Reckoning as though it had flash, essentially turning it from a sorcery to an instant.
Use this to eliminate foes as soon as they tap to attack or perform other abilities. As much as I love this card, can we get a creature based on the giant lion? That thing looks terrifying.
3. Gather the Pack
Gather the Pack offers an excellent creature search to the monster-heavy green faction, and it only needs two mana. You reveal the top five cards of your graveyard and can place a creature from among them into your hand, putting the rest into your graveyard.
Plus, with spell mastery, you can add up to two creatures from the revealed cards. Either way, the unselected cards are trashed, adeptly filling your graveyard with fodder for revivals or other spell mastery effects.
2. Send to Sleep
Send to Sleep offers an excellent blue stall tactic even without spell mastery. Needing just two islands to cast, Sleep operates at instant speed and taps up to two creatures. The "up to" wording handily lets you select a single card if that's all your opponent controls, and you can even impact your own units in the rare cases you'd want to (perhaps so they can untap with artifacts like "Umbral Mantle").
Then, if spell mastery applies, those creatures don't untap during their owners' next untap steps, keeping them exhausted and out of the fight for multiple rounds.
1. Nissa's Pilgrimage
Nissa's Pilgrimage functions similarly to "Cultivate" and "Kodama's Reach", but with a potential added bonus thanks to its spell mastery. Like them, it searches your library for up to two basic lands (in this case, they have to be forests), placing one tapped onto the field and the other into your hand. You've both stocked your hand and increased your mana production in future moves.
However, with spell mastery, you search up to three forests instead, now placing not one but two into your hand. This ensures you never run out of lands to play, and when combined with extra-land effects like "Exploration" and "Oracle of Mul Daya", you can access the surplus terrains right away! I use Pilgrimage in a variety of formats, and it's a crucial component to my "Omnath, Locus of Mana" EDH build; thankfully, despite its competitive status, Pilgrimage is amazingly affordable, often costing less than fifty cents!
Delirium and Threshold Effects in Magic
Not only does stocking your graveyard with one-offs help attain spell mastery abilities, but it's also useful for similar delirium and threshold traits. Delirium bonuses require you to have four cards of different types in your graveyard, while the threshold simply needs a net total of seven, regardless of type. Either way, trashing sorceries and instants assist with meeting these demands; use cards that mill your deck (Gather the Pack works well) or have the surveil ability to quickly stock your pile.
Spell mastery effects remain an engaging mechanic that combo well together, and I hope to see additional members in future expansions. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next set of upgradeable instants and sorceries, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill