Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Free Spells in Magic
Most Magic spells require various sums of mana, scaling in power the more they cost. But some can actually be accessed for free, letting you cast them even if you're out of resources.
Not to be confused with lands (which aren't actually spells), today's tools grant you powerful advantages without draining your mana pool—which reign supreme? These are the 20 best zero-cost spells in Magic: The Gathering!
20. Mox Amber
Like nearly all of today's spells, Amber is a colorless artifact, suitable for any commander deck. It taps for any mana color possessed by one of your legendary creatures or planeswalkers. Of course, you have to control a suitable legendary for this to work, but it's still a powerful and versatile ramp that stacks with your usual land-per-turn.
19. Lotus Bloom
Lotus Bloom carries the same power as the infamous "Black Lotus"... eventually. For zero mana, you suspend it from your hand into exile with three time counters. You remove one during each of your upkeeps, and Bloom enters the field when all are gone.
After finally arriving, you can use Bloom's effect, tapping and sacrificing it to gain three mana of any one color, just like its renowned cousin.
18. Welding Jar
Many of today's spells are ramping supplements, but Welding Jar has a different function; you can sacrifice it at any time to regenerate an artifact you control. This means that the next time the artifact would be destroyed that turn, it becomes tapped instead.
Very few spells regenerate artifacts, especially without needing mana, making this a great way to protect commander staples like "Sol Ring" and "Paradox Engine."
17. Tormod's Crypt
Like Welding Jar, Crypt won't help you produce mana, but it can tap and sacrifice itself to exile all cards from a player's graveyard. The usefulness of this really depends on what you're facing, but it's absolutely devastating against graveyard-dependent black themes, and it defends against graveyard-activated abilities like flashback and unearth.
16. Gustha's Scepter
Here's a deceptively powerful card. Scepter can tap to exile a card from your hand face-down, or to return a card it exiled back to your hand.
This seemingly-useless effect is anything but. For instance, you can store cards away while you activate mass-discard effects (like "Day's Undoing"), then reclaim your concealed spell for increased hand advantage.
15. Mox Opal
Opal taps for a mana of any color, a prime benefit you can add to your land-per-turn. That said, you must control at least three artifacts to activate the effect, meaning you'll need two others.
Use Opal in tangent with today's other cards to potentially access its mana on your first turn, affording higher-cost spells before foes are prepared to counter.
The first of our zero-cost artifact-creature duos, Ornithopter is a weak 0/2, but those are honestly decent stats considering he's free, especially since he also comes with flying.
Ornithopter's a great addition to blue artifact/flying decks, especially since he's one of today's cheapest cards, costing well under a single dollar!
As of this writing, Memnite's the only free creature with power above zero, making him great for aggressive artifact decks. And remember that his dual types offer numerous synergies.
12. Phyrexian Walker
Walker's yet another zero-cost creature. While his 0/3 stats resemble a wall, he doesn't actually have defender, meaning he can still attack (useful when boosted by auras or equipments).
11. Shield Sphere
Unlike Walker, Shield Sphere counts as a wall and can't attack. Furthermore, whenever he blocks, he gains a -0/-1 counter, gradually decreasing his toughness. But those are small complaints considering his amazing 0/6 stats, offering an incredible defender for such a low price.
10. Mishra's Bauble
Bauble's a simple trinket, able to sacrifice itself to look at the top card of any player's deck, then have you draw a card at the start of the next turn's upkeep. So, it'll quickly replace itself in your hand, give you a sneak peek at your foe's upcoming plays, and help activate draw-powered abilities.
9. Lion's Eye Diamond
Diamond offers another Black Lotus-like effect, at least to those willing to pay its price. By sacrificing it and discarding your entire hand, you add three mana of any color. Use Diamond when your hand is already empty or you're running discard-activated madness effects to mitigate its price and seize a resource lead.
8. Pact of Negation
This one's a cheat since you really need five mana available on your next turn to play it, but it's still technically a zero-cost spell. Pact of Negation simply counters and negates a play, but has you lose the game unless you spend five mana at your next upkeep. Use it cautiously, but it's great for thwarting a big play by tricking foes into thinking you're all tapped out and can't afford a counterspell.
7. Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox imprints a non-artifact, non-land card from your hand when it enters the field. This means you exile the card, and Mox can subsequently tap for any color that the card has. By sacrificing a little card advantage, you gain not just an extra resource-per-turn, but one of any color, a powerful force in rainbow themes.
6. Mox Diamond
Similarly to Chrome Mox, Diamond offers extra mana by weakening your hand. In this case, you simply have to discard a land when it arrives, at which point Diamond can tap for any color. That's a powerful tool for multicolor decks, and you can utilize your discarded land with spells like "Crucible of Worlds."
5. The Colored Mox Jewels
The standard Mox gems each tap for a colored mana, no price required. They act like basic lands without spending your land-per-turn, but note they're banned in commander. Here's a quick list of their members:
- White: Mox Pearl
- Blue: Mox Sapphire
- Black: Mox Jet
- Red: Mox Ruby
- Green: Mox Emerald
4. Lotus Petal
Petal gives a brief but appreciated mana surge, simply tapping and sacrificing itself for one mana of any color. While you only get to use it once, it's an extra resource of a needed hue, which can make all the difference in close games.
3. Black Lotus
The infamous Black Lotus is Magic's most expensive card, and since it's banned in nearly every format, even those lucky enough to have one can rarely play it. Tapping and sacrificing Lotus grants three mana of any color, an outrageous boost with no drawback.
2. Blacker Lotus
As part of the semi-official Unglued expansion, Blacker Lotus is rarely allowed in official play, but it's technically superior even to Black Lotus, making it arguably the best card ever made. To use it, you have to literally tear the card into pieces, meaning it truly is a one-time benefit. But you'll gain four mana of any single color, an overwhelming mana source that lets you access half your deck even on the first turn.
1. Mana Crypt
Unlike Black and Blacker Lotus, Mana Crypt remains legal in commander (and many other formats), making it realistically more useful. Like Sol Ring, Crypt taps for two colorless mana. The only downside is you have to flip a coin during each upkeep, and if you call it wrong, you take three damage.
But with EDH's boosted life totals, taking an average 1½ damage each turn is nothing compared to two extra resources, making this one of the most expensive commander-legal cards available.
Using Zero-Cost Spells in Magic
In addition to their mana-adding functions, remember that today's spells lets you easily attain the reduced prices of surge cards, which activate when you've cast other spells during the turn. They also help meet conditions requiring consecutive castings, like that on "Jori En, Ruin Diver," and since most are artifacts, they help afford cards with affinity.
Be sure to check legality before using them in official play, but for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of free-to-play spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill