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Top 10 Draw Restrictions in Magic: The Gathering

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Omen Machine

Omen Machine

Restricting Draws in Magic

One of the biggest keys to winning Magic games is maintaining card advantage by supplementing your start-of-turn draw with other hand-boosting effects. Having more draws helps ensure you land plays, initiate combos, and find removals, all crucial to victory.

While some colors focus more on drawing, pretty much all of them apply it to some extent—which means anything that restricts draws can absolutely decimate opponents. These spells are appropriately few and far between, with some even outright banned in commander; here are the ten strongest anti-draw cards in Magic: The Gathering!

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

10. Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Here's a fantastic card that would rank much higher if he weren't commander-banned. As a legendary, Leovold could otherwise be your commander, providing three great EDH colors, respectable 3/3 stats, and the useful elf subtype. More importantly, he restricts your opponents to one draw each turn, and lets you draw when you or your permanent becomes the target of a spell or ability!

No wonder this guy's banned, that's just way too much power for one card, combining a brutal penalty with easy hand-replenishment.

Hullbreacher

Hullbreacher

9. Hullbreacher

Bad as Leovold is, Hullbreacher's even worse thanks to only needing one color and being able to flash in at instant speed, chaining to a draw effect to ruin it. Hullbreacher's effect not only blocks draws beyond your opponent's first each turn, but creates that many treasure tokens for you!

Treasures are artifacts you can sacrifice for mana, a fantastic bonus on top of a brutal draw block. Plus, Hullbreacher has surprisingly decent 3/2 stats, useful merfolk subtype, and can be cloned since he isn't legendary, making him one of the fastest bans in commander history.

Phyrexian Tyranny

Phyrexian Tyranny

8. Phyrexian Tyranny

Onto the commander-legal spells, this enchantment forces opponents to either pay two life or two mana whenever they draw. While it won't block the draws, it still chips away consistently at their resources and makes opponents think twice before doing crazy combos that draw their whole library.

Plagiarize

Plagiarize

7. Plagiarize

Plagiarize offers a nice albeit temporary draw restriction, instantly preventing an opponent from drawing during a turn and giving you a draw whenever they would. Either cast this at the start of the upkeep to steal their regular draw, or wait for them to cast a draw spell and ruin its effect.

To make the spell more affordable, try reducing its price with instant discounts like Baral, Chief of Compliance.

Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spirit of the Labyrinth

6. Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spirit has solid 3/1 stats, the spirit subtype, and is an enchantment-creature, great for white enchantment decks. More than that, she restricts all players to one draw each turn.

This does affect you too, but hopefully you'll have either played your bonus draws already or flicker/phase Spirit in and out as needed to allow yourself more draws. Plus, white tends to be the weakest draw color, meaning it doesn't mind the penalty as much as other factions.

Notion Thief

Notion Thief

5. Notion Thief

While Thief's stats aren't great for his cost at 3/1, his rogue subtype has been getting more and more support, he flashes in at instant speed, and he'll prevent opponents from drawing beyond their first card each turn. Protect him with things like counterspells or regeneration effects to quickly steal an advantage lead over opponents.

Alms Collector

Alms Collector

4. Alms Collector

Here we have a 3/4 flash-speed unit that can either serve as a surprise blocker or a surprise draw-ruiner. Collector's constant effect prevents opponents from drawing more than one card at a time; if they would, instead both they and you each draw.

Note that this doesn't hinder you at all, but also keep in mind it only works with draws that happen simultaneously; your opponent can still draw multiple cards as long as they're only doing one at a time.

Zur's Weirding

Zur's Weirding

3. Zur's Weirding

Weirding keeps everyone's hand revealed, and whenever someone would draw, any opponent can spend two life to send that card to the graveyard. Basically, this means nobody is going to draw anything as long as opponents have life to spend, which they usually will in 40-life commander games.

This affects you as well, so either play in it when your field is already set to win and you don't need more draws, or dodge the penalty by using draw replacement effects to prevent opponents from hindering your cards.

Smothering Tithe

Smothering Tithe

2. Smothering Tithe

This card works well in 1v1 but superbly in commander, giving you a treasure token whenever an opponent draws unless the spend two mana. In most cases, opponents will give you the token, and since this works will all draws, including at start of turn, the mana gained will usually pay for itself in a single multiplayer round.

Narset, Parter of Veils

Narset, Parter of Veils

1. Narset, Parter of Veils

Narset can't gain loyalty through effects, but starts with a nice chunk of five and restricts opponents to one draw per turn. This makes blue control decks an absolute nightmare to face if you aren't already prepared to start swinging at Narset.

Plus, Narset can immediately replace herself in hand with -2, which lets you add a non-creature non-land from your deck's top two cards to hand. This means that Narset can ideally provide two cards over two turns, then stick around with one loyalty to block opposing draws and force them into poor trades.

Day's Undoing

Day's Undoing

Brutal Combos With Draw Restrictions

Blocking or punishing opposing draws is already a massive penalty, and you can make things go from bad to worse with hand-resetting effects on cards like Day's Undoing or Echo of Eons. These have players shuffle their hands into the deck and redraw seven cards—but with things like Narset or Notion Thief out, you get the full seven while opponents only get one.

Throw in some other blue tricks like counterspells and extra turns, and your friends will hate you—but you'll win the match. But for now, share your favorite Magic draw blocks and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2023 Jeremy Gill