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Top 10 "Silence" Effects in Magic: The Gathering

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

Preventing Spellcasting in Magic

Magic offers many ways to hinder opposing spells. Blue is famous for its counterspells, which thwart spells already on the stack, while artifacts like "God-Pharaoh's Statue" make opposing spells more expensive.

But you can also prevent foes from casting in the first place with a variety of white and blue gimmicks. These are great for delaying opponents in control decks, don't require much mana, and often have bonus abilities to further entice players—which reign supreme? These are the ten best silence spells in Magic: The Gathering!

Cease-Fire mtg

Cease-Fire mtg

10. Cease-Fire

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

Cease-Fire prevents a player from casting creatures that turn, great for blocking commanders in EDH. Plus, it has a cantrip attached, letting you draw as part of its resolution.

Admittedly, decks focused on other card types won't mind the hit, but against the right builds, you can really disrupt an opponent's turn while replenishing your hand.

Oriss, Samite Guardian mtg

Oriss, Samite Guardian mtg

9. Oriss, Samite Guardian

CMC: 3

Oriss is a weak 1/3, but she can tap to prevent all damage (including non-combat) that would be dealt to a creature that turn. She can target herself, so you've basically got an indestructible blocker once summoning sickness fades.

However, with her grandeur effect, Oriss lets you instantly discard another copy of herself to prevent a player from casting spells or attacking that turn. This only works in non-singleton formats, but with the right creature-recovery engine, it's a complete shutout.

Failure/Comply mtg

Failure/Comply mtg

8. Failure // Comply

CMC: 2/1

Failure acts as a unique pesudo-counterspell, returning another spell to its owner's hand, forcing them to repay its cost. Then, from the graveyard, you can cast Comply into exile, letting you name a card and prevent your opponent from casting spells with that name until your next turn.

Use this against commanders or the spell you bounced with Failure for a brief but cheap delay tactic. Just remember that unlike Failure, Comply only works at sorcery speed.

Mandate of Peace mtg

Mandate of Peace mtg

7. Mandate of Peace

CMC: 2

You can only cast Peace during combat, but not only does it immediately end the combat phase, it prevents all opponents from casting spells that turn. Use Mandate when opponents wait for their second main phase to cast spells (which lets them see how combat plays out) to get the most bang for your buck.

Ranger-Captain of Eos mtg

Ranger-Captain of Eos mtg

6. Ranger-Captain of Eos

CMC: 3

Not only does Ranger-Captain have solid 3/3 stats, he searches a creature of cost one or less on entry, helping find whatever weeny you need. From there, you can sacrifice him at any time to prevent opponents from casting non-creature spells that turn, a wide net that hits everything Cease-Fire doesn't.

Reflector Mage mtg

Reflector Mage mtg

5. Reflector Mage

CMC: 3

Reflect Mage has decent 2/3 stats and the useful wizard subtype, but he really shines thanks to his effect. On entry, he not only bounces an opposing creature, but also prevents your opponents from casting that card until your next turn.

Reflector works well in any format, but he's especially effective in non-singleton modes, where he might lock down multiple cards at once.

Mana Short mtg

Mana Short mtg

Exhaustion mtg

Exhaustion mtg

4. Mana Short/Exhaustion

CMC: 3

Mana Short doesn't technically negate any spell-casting, but it taps all a player's lands. So, unless they have an instant in hand, they shouldn't be able to cast much on their turn if you play Short during their upkeep. You'll find a slightly-cheaper alternative in "Early Frost", which spends two mana to tap up to three lands.

Exhaustion works similarly, preventing an opponent's creatures and lands from untapping at their next end step; this hits multiple card types, but depends on the cards already being tapped. A staple for any blue deck, Exhaustion is surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!

Abeyance mtg

Abeyance mtg

3. Abeyance

CMC: 2

Abeyance offers a better Cease-Fire. It doesn't block creature spells, but it prevents opposing instants, sorceries, and non-mana activated abilities, while also drawing a card.

Admittedly, your opponent can use abilities and instants in response, but you're forcing their hand, thwarting sorceries, and drawing all in one cheap spell. At absolute worst, this is a two-cost cycling effect, which is still a good way to fill your graveyard with delve/escape fodder.

2. Silence

CMC: 1

Silence is golden, spending one mana to instantly prevent all foes from casting spells that turn. With the right timing, this can effectively ruin an opponent's turn. Just remember they can still attack, activate abilities, or respond to Silence with an instant.

Get one of these bad boys onto the ever-popular "Isochron Scepter", and you effectively prevent opponents from casting anything other than instants for the rest of the game.

Orim's Chant mtg

Orim's Chant mtg

1. Orim's Chant

CMC: 1

As if Silence weren't already amazing, Chant provides a superior spell (at least in 1v1). Cast for its base price, and it's basically a single-target Silence, spending one to instantly prevent a player from casting spells that round. But if you pay its optional kicker cost of one extra mana, you also prevent creatures from attacking that turn, useful when you need to block both spellcasting and aggression.

A one-player Silence with an optional "Fog" attached, Chant remains one of my favorite white cards to date.

Ongoing Nets in Magic

Today, we explored many cheap albeit temporary spells to hinder opposing players, but you can obtain continuous effects with other cards. For example, commander-banned "Iona, Shield of Emeria" prevents opponents from casting spells of a chosen color, "Gaddock Teeg" blocks non-creature spells of cost three or more, and "Drannith Magistrate" prevents foes from casting spells from outside their hand (great against commanders and companions).

Some of these only affect opponents, others also impact you, so pay close attention to a spell's wording when deck-building. But for now, vote for your favorite delay spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill