Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What's the Difference Between Split Spells and Fused Cards in Magic?
Both split spells and fused cards in Magic contain two separate halves, but only fused cards can cast both simultaneously—with splits, you must pick one or the other. Thus, they're more restricted but still let you select one of two different effects with variable mana costs, adapting to fit your current production.
Note we're saving fused cards and the unique split spells with "aftermath" (which first activate from your hand, then your graveyard) for separate countdowns. But that still leaves us with dozens of mighty two-sided cards to cover—which split spells reign supreme? These are the ten best joint partners in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Repudiate // Replicate
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2/3
As is the case here, some halves activate at different speeds, so keep an eye on your timing. And while many split spells have a clear favorite, this one's so well-rounded it's hard to pick between its twin effects. Repudiate's unique symbols accept either blue or green mana, and it instantly counters an activated or triggered ability. While this doesn't actually destroy the card, it's one of few ability-counterspells in the game, a nice check against permanents already fielded.
Alternatively, Replicate simply creates a token duplicate of a creature you control. This offers mimicked monsters at tempting discounts—just be sure not to target legendaries, or you'll have to sacrifice your copy.
9. Dead // Gone
At instant speed and for a single mana, Dead deals two damage to any target, barely weaker than the infamous "Lightning Bolt" (but still an excellent removal). Or, Gone returns an opposing creature to its owner's hand, offering a generally-blue bounce to the red faction, useful against indestructible enemies.
Essentially, you're paying slightly more for Dead or Gone than you could with singular cards, but they're more versatile and offer a rare split spell that only needs one color.
8. Wax // Wane
The cheapest split spell available, Wax/Wane offers two instant-speed effects. Spending a forest's mana boosts a creature by +2/+2 for the turn, useful for succeeding in a battle your opponent expected to win.
Or, paying a white mana simply destroys an enchantment, a swift and effective removal. Both would be respectable cards on their own, but together they form a versatile package that adjusts to fit your current needs.
7. Who // What // When // Where // Why
Like many semi-official gray-bordered cards from the "Un" sets, this crazy spell offers wacky antics, in this case through its sheer degree of choices. All are instant speed and spread among the colors; here's a quick run-down of each faction's power:
- Who (White): Spend X mana (plus one white) to gain X life
- What (Red): Destroy target artifact
- When (Blue): Counter target creature spell
- Where (Black): Destroy target land
- Why (Green): Destroy target enchantment
With this, you'll have a removal for nearly any card type; Where's effect is particularly tempting, offering a rare instant-speed land destruction.
6. Pain // Suffering
Speaking of land removals, Suffering offers another four-cost terrain nuke, a great check against legendary lands. But if you're only in the early stages of your game, Pain makes a nice opening play, simply forcing a player to discard a card.
Despite only activating at sorcery speed, both are fair effects for their price, and the ability to switch between them ensures you're prepared for any situation.
5. Crime // Punishment
By itself, Crime offers a tempting spell, letting you play an enchantment or creature from an opponent's graveyard for free. That's a versatile theft, and one of few that can pilfer enchantments.
While somewhat situational, Punishment dominates structures with many spells of the same cost, as it destroys all artifacts, enchantments, and creatures of CMC X (a value of your choice). Just be careful not to wipe out your own units in the process.
4. Hide // Seek
They need different colors, but Hide and Seek each resolve at instant speed for just two mana. Hide places an artifact or enchantment on the bottom of its owner's library, skillfully circumventing the indestructible defense and preventing graveyard recoveries.
Or, Seek lets you search an opponent's library, exile one of their cards, and gain life equal to its CMC. This works great in commander format for removing threats like "Mana Drain," "Sol Ring," or late-game Eldrazi, and it lets you peek at a rival's entire build (minus their hand), granting an appreciated knowledge of their deck.
3. Research // Development
While different formats restrict its exact powers (sometimes limiting you to a side board), Research is the highlight here, letting you shuffle up to four cards you own from outside the game into your deck. This is particularly helpful in playstyles that let you duplicate cards, but even in singleton rules, it adds spells to counter whatever strategies your opponents run.
Development isn't half-bad either, similarly activating as an instant. It forces an opponent to choose between letting you draw a card or creating a 3/1 elemental token, and the process repeats twice, meaning you end up with some combination of three draws and tokens.
2. Warrant // Warden
Varied mana symbols impress, as do both halves of this superb spell. Warrant accepts either blue or white mana, activates at instant speed, and places a blocked or blocking creature on top of its owner's deck, not just bouncing the unit but also killing your opponent's next draw.
Alternatively, Warden harnesses five mana to create a 4/4 sphinx token with both vigilance and flying. Like most sphinxes, that's a powerful aerial warrior, although Warrant's outstanding removal usually takes the cake.
1. Life // Death
Despite only sorcery speed, Life and Death starts out strong thanks to each half's low cost and need for a single color. Life morphs all lands you control into 1/1 creatures for the turn, letting you swing with them rather than tap for mana.
However, Death is the real treat, offering one of the game's best graveyard revivals. It simply returns a creature from your cemetery to the field, with the only downside being a loss of life equal to its CMC. Still, that's a small price for such a cheap recovery with no lingering drawbacks, making Life/Death a frequent member of my own green/black decks, especially since it costs less than a single dollar!
Supporting Split Spells in Magic
While you can't cast both halves of a split spell, they're often slightly stronger individually than a fused card would be, and both offer adaptable spells that give you an enormous tactical edge. Just remember they only count as one sorcery/instant in your graveyard, so you can't gimmick spell mastery effects with a single discarded unit.
We'll later tackle the split subtype that offers graveyard-activated aftermath abilities, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of twin-sided spells, vote for your favorite cards and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill