Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Untapping Permanents in Magic
Tapping cards is how you initiate most actions in Magic; lands (and some artifacts and enchantments) tap for mana, while creatures tap to attack or utilize special abilities. Most cards automatically refresh at the start of your turn, but you can hasten the process with untapping abilities on various spells.
These extra renewals increase your mana production, allow tapped attackers to serve as blockers on the next turn, and more—how can you maintain your army in pristine condition? These are the ten best cards that untap your permanents in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Dramatic Reversal
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2
For two mana, Dramatic Reversal untaps all your non-lands at instant speed. Not only can this catch foes by surprise after they've made a reckless attack, but it also refreshes artifacts and enchantments. Since blue has many artifact synergies, this easily reprepares your relics, particularly useful for artifacts that don't automatically untap (like "Time Vault").
9. Umbral Mantle
Today, we're focusing on spells that refresh multiple cards, but Mantle's singular untap is too tempting to ignore. As a colorless artifact, it fits in any commander deck, and after paying its base cost, you can equip it to a creature for free!
From there, by paying three mana and untapping the creature, it'll gain +2/+2 for the turn. So, by attaching Mantle to something that can tap for at least three mana (like "Llanowar Tribe"), you can easily attain infinite stats. And if the unit can tap for four (perhaps with "Karametra's Acolyte"), you can nab infinite mana while you're at it.
8. Prophet of Kruphix
While Prophet's stats are a disappointing 2/3, she automatically untaps your creatures and lands during other players' untap steps, constantly providing extra mana for instants or activated abilities. Or, you can use the surplus to cast creatures since Kruphix gives your troops flash, letting you play them at any time. Throw in the helpful wizard subtype, and you've got one of the game's best support units.
Only trouble is, Prophet is banned in commander, and since she's not in the standard rotation as of this writing, few formats accept her in official tournaments.
7. Brago, King Eternal
While Brago doesn't explicitly untap your permanents, his ability exiles them and returns them to your field, resulting in essentially the same effect. Brago's stats are a mediocre 2/4, but he has flying, which helps him bypass blockers.
You want him to score a direct hit; when Brago inflicts combat damage to a player, you can exile any number of your non-lands, then return them to the field. This reinvigorates your tapped attackers (including Brago), lets you reactivate entrance effects, and forms a brutal combo with untap-limiting cards like "Winter's Orb."
6. Curse of Bounty
Bounty provides an ongoing refresh that's particularly helpful in 1v1. As an aura curse, you cast this directly on an opponent, and whenever that player is attacked, all attacking players untap each non-land they control. This works great for consistently swinging while maintaining blockers, and it offers extra doses from artifacts like "Sol Ring."
5. Seedborn Muse
Seedborn Muse offers a handy—and legal—alternative to Prophet. While she doesn't have the wizard subtype or flash-granting effect, she only needs one color, has better 2/4 stats, and untaps all your permanents during opposing untap steps. With a fresh army at every stage of the game, opponents will struggle to break through your wall of blockers and full mana access.
4. Murkfiend Liege
Here's yet another worthy (and legal) counterpart to Prophet. Murkfiend's unique symbols accept either green or blue mana, adjusting to suit your current production. He also bears solid 4/4 stats and buffs your other green and blue creatures by +1/+1; if a unit has both colors, they'll gain +2/+2!
From there, Murkfiend untaps your blue and green creatures during opposing upkeeps; while not as powerful as Seedborn's refresh, it's still a great support tool, especially considering Murkfiend's superior combat potential.
Vitalize offers an instant-speed version of the sorcery "Mobilize," providing the same effect and cost with superior timing. You simply untap all creatures you control, allowing for surprise blockers or doubled ramp with mana-tappers like "Llanowar Elves." Two excellent applications at low cost make Vitalize a staple for my own green decks, especially since it's surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
2. Amulet of Vigor
Amulet of Vigor's colorless nature and low mana cost make it an appreciated support in any deck. Vigor simply untaps any permanent that enters your field tapped, letting you immediately access cards that naturally enter tapped, like certain lands and creatures.
In non-singleton formats, there's even a potential first turn win involving four copies of Amulet and the land "Maze's End," letting you repeatedly search gates to win with Maze's effect.
1. Paradox Engine
One of the most feared spells in commander, this versatile artifact untaps all non-lands you control whenever you cast a spell. While this won't trigger from casting Paradox itself, it's one of the best pathways to infinite combos. Even without them, you're still refreshing everything with each play—you'll even get the bonus if your spell is countered.
More Untapping Effects in Magic
Today we've seen many powerful spells that refresh multiple permanents, and you can supplement them with cards that untap themselves. Be sure to use these free refreshes on creatures with exert, whose disadvantage of not untapping during your upkeep will be counteracted by your free refreshes.
Of course, you can always attack with vigilance-bearing creatures to avoid tapping in the first place. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of permanent-untapping spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
David on March 22, 2020:
Prophet of Kruphix and Paradox Engine are now both banned in Commander unfortunately.