Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Transmute Work in Magic: The Gathering?
Several blue and black Magic cards have the valued transmute trait. These spells can be played from your hand as normal, but if you instead discard them from your hand and pay three mana, you get to reveal any card from your deck with the same cost as the discarded spell and add it to hand.
You can only transmute at sorcery speed, but this provides an excellent way to both fill your graveyard and tutor needed spells—which transmuters reign supreme? These are the ten best transmute cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Dimir House Guard
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Despite carrying the Dimir name, House Guard only needs black mana. For four, his stats are disappointing at 2/3, but Guard can sacrifice an allied creature to regenerate himself and fear means he can only be blocked by black or artifact creatures.
Of course, you can also discard House Guard from your hand and pay three mana to transmute, pulling any four-cost spell from your deck. This works especially well in formats like commander where each card in your deck is different, making tutors all the more valuable.
9. Clutch of the Undercity
Undercity costs more mana than most bounce spells, but can instantly return any permanent (not just a creature) to its owner's hand. It also makes that card's controller lose three life, so it's a surprisingly decent removal. Or, pay three and discard it to transmute a four-cost card from your deck.
Remember that you may cast Clutch as an instant, but it still transmutes at sorcery speed.
8. Shred Memory
Memory instantly exiles up to four cards from a single graveyard, a solid countermeasure against graveyard-focused decks. Otherwise, transmute it by spending three to search out any two-cost card from your deck.
As a bonus, transmuting instants or sorceries like Memory is helpful for meeting spell mastery (2+ sorceries/instants in graveyard), delirium (4+ card types in graveyard), and threshold (7+ cards in graveyard) conditions.
7. Dimir Machinations
Machinations lets you look at the top three cards of any player's deck, exile any of them, then place the rest back in any order. Cast it on an opponent to mess with their upcoming draws or slightly mill their deck, or target yourself for a scry-like effect when you need to rig your own draws.
But if you don't need Machinations at the moment, transmute it to nab a different three-cost spell from your deck.
6. Drift of Phantasms
Blue doesn't always have a lot of big creatures, making Phantasms an appreciated blocker thanks to 0/5 stats, flying, and defender (which prevents him from attacking, but you probably wouldn't want to anyway). Spirit synergy also helps in tribal decks.
Like Machinations, you can also transmute Phantasms for a different three-cost spell. And once discarded, Phantasms makes nice fodder for spells with delve, which become cheaper by exiling cards in your graveyard.
Easily today's most mana-draining card, Grozoth requires a hefty nine mana to play, and defender means he can't attack. However, he has fantastic 9/9 stats, can spend four mana to lose defender for the turn, and on entry, lets you add any number of nine-cost spells from deck to hand (including other Grozoths)!
But if you're still leagues away from paying his cost, transmute him to grab another nine-cost spell, hopefully one with a price-reducing trait.
4. Dimir Infiltrator
For just two mana, Infiltrator offers a solid 1/3 with spirit synergy who can't be blocked, making him a great recipient for direct-damage triggers on cards like the "Sword of Fire and Ice" or anything with ninjutsu. Of course, you can also transmute Infiltrator by discarding him and paying three mana, tutoring any two-cost spell.
A staple for any blue/black commander deck, Infiltrator is also surprisingly cheap, costing less than a single dollar!
Perplex counters a spell unless its controller discards their hand. Unless their hand is already empty, most players won't be willing to toss everything, meaning Perplex usually succeeds in thwarting a play.
Thankfully, if your foe's hand is already depleted, you can always transmute Perplex for another card, again remembering to do so on your main phase.
2. Tolaria West
Tolaria West enters tapped, so you'll have to wait for its mana, and like a standard island, it simply provides one blue. So, either use it on a turn where that extra resource won't make a difference, or transmute it for three if you have all the mana you need. This triggers the game's only zero-cost transmute, pulling any land or zero-cost spell.
West also blends beautifully with cards that play lands from your graveyard like "Crucible of Worlds" and "Ramunap Excavator".
1. Muddle the Mixture
Mixture is surprisingly tempting even without transmute, countering any instant or sorcery for just two, a slightly-more restricted version of the classic "Counterspell". Few decks don't run any instants or sorceries, but if you happen to face one, simply transmute Mixture for a different two-cost spell and go about your merry way.
Transmute Decks in Magic
Transmute provides an amazing alternate use on cards, ensuring nothing is ever wasted, and the fact that it fills your graveyard only sweetens the pot. Remember that transmuting always functions at sorcery speed and costs three mana, but pulls spells of different sizes based on the transmuter. And when you transmute, you can find any card with the right cost; it doesn't have to be blue or black.
Hopefully we'll see the mechanic return in future sets, but for now, vote for your favorite library-searching transmuter and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill