Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Uncommons in Magic
Magic has four rarities: common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Rarer cards aren't necessarily better, although they tend to be superior to commons, especially when it comes to creatures.
That said, plenty of commons and especially uncommons (denoted by a gray symbol color) deserve consideration. Not only do they tend to be financially cheaper than rares, but many also wield powerful effects; here are 50 great spells for commander that have only appeared in uncommon or lower rarity!
50. Ancient Grudge
Artifacts like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt are all the rage in commander, plus higher-cost threats like Akroma's Memorial. Grudge instantly destroys one for two, then flashbacks for one green to do it again. This also makes it great discard/mill fodder.
A staple ramp in any green deck, Cultivate plays one basic from your deck to the field tapped and adds another to your hand. You can pick different basic land types, so it also makes a nice color-fixer.
48. Night's Whisper/Sign in Blood
These similar spells both draw you two cards and lose two life, a bargain in commander thanks to the increased starting total of 40. Sign in Blood requires two black while Whisper accepts a colorless, but Blood can be used on an opponent (in the rare case you'd want to).
47. No Rest for the Wicked
Board wipes like Wrath of God are a must in commander to reset losing fields, but No Rest provides a great defense you can prep ahead of time. Sacrifice it to return all creatures that hit your graveyard that turn (from anywhere) back to your hand.
46. Arcane Signet/Mind Stone
Both these artifacts offer cheap, immediate ramp. Arcane Signet adds one mana of any color in your commander's color identity (basically one of whatever you need). Mind Stone can only do colorless, but can also spend one and sac itself for a draw, useful in the late game when you already have enough mana.
45. Big Game Hunter
Hunter enters as a weak 1/1 but destroys and prevents regeneration of a creature with four or more power. That's already great, but you can play him for just one using madness (which triggers when discarded).
44. Compulsive Research
Research draws twice, then discards two unless you toss a land. This gains card advantage while also stockpiling your graveyard, and seldom will you not have a land in hand to toss. Backrow-oriented decks should also consider similar spells Thirst for Knowledge (tosses an artifact) and Thirst for Meaning (tosses an enchantment).
43. Mask of Memory
CMC: 2 (1 to equip)
Memory makes a great outlet for the two colorless mana of a turn one Sol Ring. When equipped for just one, it draws twice and discards one (not necessarily what you drew) when the holder scores combat damage on an opponent. This provides advantage, graveyard prep, and triggers twice with double strike.
42. Infiltration Lens
CMC: 1 (1 to equip)
Incredibly cheap, Lens only needs one to cast and one to equip. It punishes blocking by giving you two draws whenever the equipped unit becomes blocked. Remember you can use politics in commander; team up with another player and have them agree to block your creature to ensure you get the draws.
Disrupt counters an instant or sorcery unless its controller pays one, then draws a card. At its best, you can stop enormous plays while cantripping, and even if the controller can afford the extra price, you're still reducing their resources for the turn while deck-thinning.
What will everyone have in commander format? A legendary creature leading their army. Thwart an opponent's with Exclude, which counters a creature spell and draws a card. Just be aware this will likely earn you an enemy for that match.
39. Elvish Spirit Guide/Simian Spirit Guide
Exile these creatures from hand for one bonus green or red mana respectively, letting you combo your plays that much faster. Elvish Spirit Guide also has the small bonus of being an elf, a popular tribe, but either way, these are great (albeit single-use) ramps.
Deathmark can only hit a green or white creature, but both are popular support colors in commander, so you'll almost always have a prime target, and it's hard to beat removing a threat for one mana.
37. Doom Blade/Power Word Kill/Go for the Throat
All three of these are instant-speed creature killers with small restrictions. Doom Blade hits any non-black, Power Word destroys any non-demon, dragon, or angel, and Go for the Throat works against anything except artifact creatures.
36. Swords to Plowshares/Condemn/Oust/Path to Exile
Here we have four white removals that bypass even indestructible. All except Oust also work at instant speed, and their downsides (most give your opponent life) are negligible compared to the cheap and powerful removal offered.
35. Hymn to Tourach
Tourach makes an opponent discard two random cards, a brutal punishment that can really screw someone forced to toss their early lands. Again, be careful, as this can earn you a nemesis, but boy is it fun to ruin someone's hand.
34. Energy Flux/Aura Flux
Tired of annoying artifacts and enchantments? Energy Flux taxes each artifact two mana to maintain at its controller's upkeep; Aura does the same for enchantments (besides itself). Time them carefully because you have to pay the fees as well, but these work great at countering the ramp from Sol Rings and Mana Crypts.
33. Gaea's Touch
Gaea's Touch lets you play a basic forest in addition to your regular land play each turn, and you can sac it at any time for an immediate two mana. So use it for a turn or two to play out your hand's lands, then toss it for even more early resources.
32. Miraculous Recovery
Recovery revives a creature from your graveyard with a +1/+1, but what really sets Recovery apart is its instant speed. It also only needs one white, making it very splashable.
31. Dread Return
Dread Return simply revives a creature from your graveyard, but you can flashback it (without spending mana) by sacrificing three creatures, a great way to expend tokens or other weak fodder.
30. Loyal Retainers
Loyal Retainers sacrifices itself to revive a legendary creature from your graveyard. You can only do this on your turn before attackers are declared, but it's at instant speed and can be prepped in advance.
29. Animate Dead/Dance of the Dead
Here are two complicated black spells that basically revive a creature with a slight downside. Animate gives the creature -1/-0; Dance gives +1/+1 but prevents untapping unless you pay two. Both great revivals, especially since they can pull from other graveyards.
Necromancy simply revives any creature. You can play it at instant speed, but if you do so, the enchanted creature is sacrificed at the end step. Either way, it's an affordable revival, but like the past two cards, note you'll like the creature if you lose the aura.
Compost lets you draw whenever a black card enters an opponent's graveyard. Black's a popular color in Magic, and this triggers off any black card type, not just creatures. Just watch out for Leyline of the Void, which will exile opposing spells.
26. Priest of Gix
On entry, Gix provides three black mana, and can go infinite with the right blink/reduction combos. From there, you've got a 2/1 blocker with some interesting synergies thanks to three subtypes.
25. Cloud of Faeries
Faeries untaps two lands on entry, providing tons of mana alongside terrain like Lotus Field. It's also got the useful faerie subtype and can be cycled for two.
24. Enlightened Tutor
Tutor simply places an artifact or enchantment to the top of your library, pulling whatever combo piece you need.
23. Argivian Restoration
Restoration revives an artifact from your graveyard; use it on juggernauts like Blightsteel Colossus to immediately become the big threat on the board.
Forbid counters any spell, and you can buyback it (returning it to hand after use) by discarding two cards. That's normally a hefty fee, but with the right draw/mana combos, you basically become invincible, able to counter anything your opponent tosses your way.
CMC: 3 (3 more to buyback)
Capsize simply bounces a permanent to hand. Unlike Forbid's buyback, this time you just need to spend an extra three mana—with an infinite pool, this one card will eliminate every opposing field, even their lands!
20. Gemstone Mine
Here's a great card for multicolor decks. Mine enters with three gemstone counters, removing one when it taps to provide any mana type. After you use its three counters, you lose it—but you can avoid this by either proliferating or using bounce lands (like Azorius Chancery) to reset the counters.
19. Control Magic/Corrupted Conscience
Both these auras give you control of a creature while it's enchanted, great for stealing enemy commanders. Control Magic is slightly cheaper, while Corrupted Conscience adds infect to the stolen unit, making it deal damage as -1/-1 counters to creatures and poison counters to players.
18. Aura of Silence
Aura adds a two mana tax to enemy artifact/enchantment spells, making it much harder for opponents to fill their board. You'd think this would make Silence a target, and it does to an extent, but you can sacrifice it to destroy an artifact/enchantment, providing removal even as it leaves the field.
17. Lightning Bolt
The classic Bolt hits any target for three at instant speed, simply an amazing amount of damage for such a low price.
Dismember gives a creature -5/-5 for the turn, killing all but the toughest foes. Even better, you can pay for its two phyrexian mana symbols with 4 life, letting you cast it for just one colorless mana.
15. Crop Rotation
Rotation sacs a land as you cast it, then plays any land from your deck. This works great with lands you want in your graveyard, in response to a removal, or simply to find a key land in your deck.
Massacre's a pseudo-board wipe you can usually cast for free; all it takes is for you to control a swamp and opponent to have a plains (basic or not). Either way, Massacre gives all creatures -2/-2 for the turn, great against the early-game mana and draw weenies many decks play.
13. Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction has opponent separate your deck's top five cards into two piles; you pick one to go to your hand and one to your graveyard. Not only does this stock both your hand and graveyard at instant speed, it works especially well when you ally with an opponent, who can put all five cards into one pile for you to take.
Recommended for any blue deck, Fiction's also surprisingly cheap, costing less than one dollar!
12. Personal Tutor/Merchant Scroll
Both these cards search for a blue instant or sorcery; Personal is cheaper but only puts it on top of your deck, while Merchant adds it right to hand. So often Merchant is better, but keep in mind that moving to the top of deck helps rig the discounted prices of miracle cards (like Temporal Mastery).
11. Mother of Runes
Mother is weak at 1/1, but for a single mana, you get her amazing and reusable defensive power: she taps to give any creature you control protection from a chosen color for the turn. You can also use her to remove undesirable auras (like Control Magic) attached on your creatures.
10. High Tide
High Tide simply has all islands tap for an extra blue for the turn, a massive late-game ramp. Non-basic islands are included too, just note that opposing islands also receive the benefit.
9. Demonic Consultation
Consultation names a card, exiles your deck's top six, then exiles cards from deck until you reach the chosen card. Not only can this tutor a needed spell, you can purposefully name something your deck doesn't have, exile your own whole deck, then win via Laboratory Maniac.
8. Aura Shards
This enchantment lets you destroy an artifact or enchantment whenever a creature enters your field. This works great with token swarming, and since it's optional, you can decline when needed.
7. Pemmin's Aura
Here's an aura worth more than it looks. The enchanted creature can spend a blue to untap, which leads to infinite mana with multi-mana tapping cards (like Bloom Tender). You can also spend a blue to give the creature flying for the turn, shroud (which means only board wipes can eliminate the creature in question), or a colorless for either +1/-1 or -1/+1.
6. Lightning Greaves
Greaves equips for free, giving the unit haste and shroud. This lets mana-tappers provide mana immediately, attacker effects triggers the turn you play them, and protects key creatures from targeted removal.
Simple yet annoying, Counterspell negates any spell regardless of card type, letting you stop big threats while expending much less mana.
4. Mishra's Bauble/Urza's Bauble/Manamorphose
Both Baubles cost nothing and draw a card the upkeep after you play them. Mishra's lets you see the top card of a player's deck, while Urza's looks at a random card in a player's hand. Minor tactical information, but still appreciated, especially when these are great ways to stockpile your graveyard for threshold and escape effects.
In a similar vein, Manamorphose spends two mana to add two of any color(s) while drawing, letting you deck-thin and color-fix at instant speed.
Brainstorm draws three cards, then puts any two from hand back on top of deck. This can help reach for your land-per-turn or whatever else you need, and it's great for placing preemptively-drawn miracle spells back on top of deck.
2. Mystic Remora
Want cards? Play Remora, which gives you a draw whenever an opponent plays a non-creature spell unless they spend an extra four, a hefty fee that will practically never be paid.
Now, there's a cumulative upkeep of one, so it gradually gets more expensive to keep Remora out, but even having it active for just a round or two often amounts to four or more draws in multiplayer.
1. Sol Ring
When a card is included in literally every commander deck, you know it's amazing. Sol Ring costs one mana but immediately taps for two, and since it's not a land, it doesn't count towards your turn's land play. Toss one out for an easy two mana in future rounds and watch your field explore ahead of the competition.
Commons in Commander
Today we explored dozens of great uncommon-rarity spells, proving not every worthwhile card is rare or mythic. You'll also find many staples among commons, but for now, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill