Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Blue's Strength in Magic
In Magic, some players argue that blue, the color most associated with long-game control, is overpowered, especially with its monopoly on counterspells and extra turns, plus its superior draw power.
Many of the game's best cards are blue, including aces like Mana Drain, Cyclonic Rift, and Time Warp. Admittedly, these are older cards that Wizards of the Coast realizes shouldn't be reprinted in standard. But it seems they've only somewhat learned from past mistakes; here are the top ten overpowered blue cards from the last several years in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Omnath, Locus of Creation
Set: Zendikar Rising
Few would argue this was ZR's strongest card. It was quickly banned in standard, and even now it's been altered in MTG Arena's historic format to cost one extra mana and scry instead of draw on entry. But in paper commander, it's still the same busted spell.
Sure, you need four colors. But once you're there, you've got a powerful 4/4 who draws on entry, so even if he's immediately hit with removal, you're +1 in card advantage. And if Omnath survives, he can use his amazing landfall triggers; your first land for turn gives four life, your second adds one mana of each of his colors, and the third hits all opponents and opposing planeswalkers for four damage.
In particular, the second mana-gain proved way too powerful, especially since it's super easy to trigger with fetch lands like Fabled Passage. Throw in the useful elemental subtype and you've got a spell that excels in pretty much everything.
9. Yorion, Sky Nomad
Set: Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
Yorion's especially broken if you count how the companion mechanic originally worked, where you could immediately cast your companion from outside the game (without drawing it) as long as your deck met its requirements (in Yorion's case, you need at least 20 more cards than the standard minimum requirement of 60). Later, companions was altered so you first have to pay three to add your companion to hand.
Even with this downgrade, Yorion proved amazing. His hybrid symbols accept either blue or white mana, he's sturdy in combat as a 4/5 flyer, and on entrance, he flickers any number of non-lands you control, giving you incredible power over ETB effects. Plus, unlike most legendaries, Yorion's actually a good choice for cloning, as you can use the clone's ETB to bounce all your cards, including base Yorion, then blink again when base Yorion flickers back.
Now, since commander's deck size is fixed at 100 cards, Yorion is ineligible as a companion in it, mitigating his lasting impact, but players of the Ikoria age well remember the Sky Nomad.
8. Narset, Parter of Veils
Set: War of the Spark
Like other uncommmon planeswalkers of her set, Narset doesn't have any loyalty-gaining abilities, which theoretically limits her endurance. Still, she only costs three mana and enters with five, making her fairly easy to cast and protect.
Her -2 adds a non-creature, non-land from your deck's top four cards, so Narset quickly replaces herself in hand. But it's her passive effect that makes her truly annoying, restricting opponents to only one draw per turn.
Even non-blue decks needs draws to maintain advantage, so this penalty will heavily cripple basically any build. To be particularly nasty, Narset players often combo with hand-resetting effects like Commit // Memory, which normally gives both players seven new cards, but will now only provide one to foes. You can also blink Narset to reset her loyalty if it gets low.
7. Teferi, Time Raveler
Set: War of the Spark
Nicknamed T3feri for his tendency to arrive on turn three, Teferi does way too much for his low cost. First, he can immediately -3 (and survive with one remaining loyalty) to bounce a creature, artifact, or enchantment and draw a card. From there, he can start regaining loyalty with +1, which lets you play sorceries as instants until your next turn.
As if that weren't bad enough, Teferi restricts opposing plays to sorcery speed, basically meaning opponents can't play on your turn—you're protected from counterspells and other instant-speed tricks. Yea, on top of a bounce-cantrip, that's just OP for three mana.
Admittedly, planeswalkers are harder to protect in 4-player commander format than 1v1 standard, which accounts for Teferi's lowered placement in today's list, but he definitely deserves a spot and remains banned in historic.
6. Wash Away
Set: Innistrad: Crimson Vow
Beating out Mystical Dispute for the worst counterspell of the past era, Wash counters any spell for three, but for just one, it can stop anything that wasn't cast from the hand. This includes the odd spell from a graveyard or library, but remember that commanders are cast from the command zone—Wash Away stops them for just one.
That's right, from now on, whenever you play a commander, if any opponent has a single blue mana open, you're liable to lose your play.
5. Alrund's Epiphany
You know what's fun? Actually playing the game. Which, when your opponent takes extra turns with cards like this, won't be happening. Epiphany grants its controller an extra turn while also giving two 1/1 flying bird tokens. These sound weak, but they're useful block fodder and a nice bonus on an already-strong card.
Sure, Epiphany's seven-cost limits its speed, but you can foretell it for two mana to reduce the cost to six. More than that, Epiphany is often cheated into play with spells like Emergent Ultimatum, avoiding its cost altogether.
Arena realized its mistake and has digitally altered the spell to only given the tokens if foretold and make the foretold price the same as the base (seven), but for paper play, the damage is done.
4. Oko, Thief of Crowns
Set: Throne of Eldraine
Oko earned a fast ban in standard and it's easy to see why. He's cheap for a planeswalker at three, arrives with a hearty four loyalty, and actually has two loyalty-gaining effects. The first, +2, creates a food token. This is just an artifact that you can sac for two to gain three life, but it's also useful for -5, which swaps one of your artifacts or creatures with an opposing creature of three or less power—give your opponent a lame food token while stealing a useful creature.
But just as bad is +1, which permanently makes an opposing creature a 3/3 elk that loses other abilities and types. This is one of very few planeswalker effects that shuts down enemies while adding loyalty, and it's brutal on commanders in EDH. Sadly, Oko isn't the only problematic green/blue Simic card…
3. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Set: Theros Beyond Death
Uro's amazing because he grants powers not normally associated with blue and green, like lifegain and graveyard utilization, while also providing classic Simic draw power and beefy creatures. You first cast and sacrifice him from your hand for three mana to draw a card, gain three life, and play an extra land.
Then, for four, you can "escape" him from your graveyard by exiling five other cards from it. When cast this way, you still get your draw, lifegain, and bonus land, but now you're also up a 6/6 creature who triggers again when he attacks. Uro was eventually banned in standard, but it happened so far in his cycle's lifespan that many felt it was too little too late, and he's still legal in commander.
Set: Commander Legends
This card is so ridiculous it makes me seriously question what Wizards was thinking when they released it. Hullbreacher has flash, decent 3/2 stats on top of nice merfolk-pirate subtypes, but really, it's his dang effect: when an opponent would draw outside their normal draw-per-turn, instead you create a treasure token.
That's right, not only do you deny all bonus draws (they can't even get a single one outside their turn as they can with Narset), you also create treasures that can sac for one mana each. And since this card was made for commander, there's no "not broken in standard" argument to be had here. The one and only reason this isn't number one is that Wizards quickly realized their mistake and banned Hullbreacher, ending its brief but monstrous reign.
1. Hullbreaker Horror
Set: Innistrad: Crimson Vow
This spell is so ridiculously busted its name may as well be "Obligatory Control Deck Win Con". Horror's only downside is a high cost of seven mana, but once paid, you've often won. Thanks to flash, you can cast him whenever; heck, he's stupid strong for a blue creature at 7/8, so flash him in as a surprise blocker. He also can't be countered, a great protection for such an expensive play.
Once out, whenever you cast a spell, Horror returns either a non-land or a spell to its owner's hand! So, just keep some instants in hand, and if anyone casts a removal, you can play Opt or something and put that removal back in hand. But opponents can't hold their plays either, because if they do, Horror will start bouncing their field.
As if that weren't bad enough, Horror can even bounce your own non-lands—with two mana-rocks, like Sol Ring and Grim Monolith, you'll have infinite mana.
Is Blue Overpowered in Magic?
So, after reading today's list, the war continues: is blue overpowered? While this certainly depends on your perspective and preferred format, the facts don't lie, with an abnormally high percentage of bans coming from the color in just the the past several years.
I've written an entire article debating counterspells in particular, where you can examine how they circumvent defenses like ward, indestructible, and hexproof, but for now, share your thoughts and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2022 Jeremy Gill