Updated date:

Top 10 Magic Spells That Play Cards From Outside the Game

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Playing Your Sideboard in Magic

In Magic, rare spells often called "wishes" let you obtain cards from outside the game, meaning they don't have to be in your deck! That's a versatile power that can pull nearly anything—at least in casual play.

In tournaments, "outside the game" only includes cards in your sideboard (which holds up to 15 spells), but it's still an excellent ability that lets you find exactly what you need—which tutors reign supreme? These are the ten best outside-the-game spells in Magic: The Gathering!

Mastermind's Acquisition mtg

Mastermind's Acquisition mtg

10. Mastermind's Acquisition

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4

Acquisition costs more mana than most of today's cards, but to compensate, it lets you pick from two versatile effects. You add a card to hand from either your deck (essentially copying "Diabolic Tutor") or outside the game to your hand.

Even with the sideboard restrictions in tournament play, that's a powerful search that doesn't restrict what card type you can choose and lets you nab a preexisting spell in your deck if desired.

Fae of Wishes/Granted mtg

Fae of Wishes/Granted mtg

9. Fae of Wishes // Granted

CMC: 2/4

To cast both halves of this two-sided adventure, start by playing the sorcery Granted, which lets you add any non-creature from outside the game to hand. Then, you can cast Fae from exile, a 1/4 faerie wizard (both great subtypes) with flying and the ability to discard two cards to return herself to hand.

This means you can potentially cast a single Granted multiple times and attain as many sideboard spells as needed.

Glittering Wish mtg

Glittering Wish mtg

8. Glittering Wish

CMC: 2

Glittering Wish requires two specific colors, but has a low cost and lets you add any multicolor card from outside the game to your hand. Like most wishes, Glittering exiles itself, so you're unlikely to recover it once used, but its cheap yet formidable effect more than compensates.

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger mtg

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger mtg

7. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger

CMC: 4

Vivien here needs several green mana, but has four starting loyalty and a great +1, distributing two +1/+1 counters among one or two creatures and giving them trample for the turn. -3 has a creature you control deal damage to an opposing creature or planeswalker, a rare and valuable green removal.

But most relevant to our countdown, -5 adds any creature from outside the game to hand, ensuring you have whatever tool you need.

Spawnsire of Ulamog mtg

Spawnsire of Ulamog mtg

6. Spawnsire of Ulamog

CMC: 10

Spawnsire's pricey mana cost of ten makes him a prime candidate for free-creature effects. His colorless nature fits any commander deck, he has respectable 7/11 stats, he isn't legendary (so you can control multiple copies), and his annihilator 1 forces the defending player to sacrifice a permanent when he attacks.

Spawnsire's first activated ability costs four mana and creates two 0/1 eldrazi tokens that can be used as blockers or to sacrifice themselves for one colorless mana. The second demands an outrageous 20 mana, but casts any number of eldrazi you own outside the game! This practically guarantees your win, and since the cards are actually cast (and not just "played"), they'll trigger the casting effects of behemoths like Kozilek and Ulamog.

Research/Development mtg

Research/Development mtg

5. Research // Development

CMC: 2/5

This split spell lets you pick which half you'd like to cast, both activating an instant speed. Research shuffles up to four cards from outside the game into your deck, which can really tweak your deck based to counter foes even if you don't obtain the cards immediately. For more immediate gratification, Development gives you up to three draws and/or 3/1 elemental tokens (an opponent decides which combination you'll receive).

Any easy choice for any elemental theme, this is also by far today's cheapest card, costing less than a single dollar!

Death Wish mtg

Death Wish mtg

4. Death Wish

CMC: 3

Death Wish adds any card from outside the game to your hand, a powerful tutor at reasonable cost. However, not only will it exile itself, you'll lose half your life, rounded up! Exercise caution with this card, but sometimes the gain more than outweighs the risks.

Cunning Wish mtg

Cunning Wish mtg

3. Cunning Wish

CMC: 3

Wish adds any instant from outside the game to hand before exiling itself. Plus, unlike most wishes, it triggers at instant speed rather than sorcery, letting you see how your opponent's turn plays out before committing to a card.

Burning Wish mtg

Burning Wish mtg

2. Burning Wish

CMC: 2

Burning Wish acquires any sorcery from outside the game, then exiles itself. Simple, cheap, and effective, this is a great way to grab field-clearing spells like "Blasphemous Act" and "Decree of Annihilation".

Living Wish mtg

Living Wish mtg

1. Living Wish

CMC: 2

For the same low cost as Burning Wish, Living Wish finds any creature or land outside the game and adds it to hand. With the ability to search two card types and no drawbacks (other than exiling itself), Living Wish remains the best sideboard-accessing spell yet.

Making a Sideboard in Magic

When playing in constructed events, be sure to carefully craft your sideboard based on your deck. Not only do you want cards to swap in against specific threats, you'll want ammo for outside-effects, like stockpiling eldrazi if running Spawnsire.

The ability to grab nearly any card you need works wonders, giving you the optimal spell for any situation. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next set of sideboard-utilizing tutors, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill