Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are the "Power Nine" Cards in Magic: The Gathering?
The "Power Nine" Magic spells debuted in the early Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited sets. Unlike some older cards, these guys are ridiculously strong—and expensive. But even players lucky enough to own some can't usually play them, as they're banned in most competitive formats.
Looking at their monstrous effects, we can easily see why they warrant regulation, but what exactly makes them so powerful? Today we'll examine and rank the Power Nine cards in Magic: The Gathering!
5. Moxen Artifacts
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 0
Five of the Power Nine can be knocked out with this one entry; each color contains a Mox jewel that costs zero mana and taps for one colored mana. This is similar to basic lands, but since the cards can be combined with your regular land-per-turn, you gain a powerful mana advantage. Here's a quick list of each color's artifact:
- White: Mox Pearl
- Blue: Mox Sapphire
- Black: Mox Jet
- Red: Mox Ruby
- Green: Mox Emerald
Timetwister offers a powerful way to reset your hand, having each player shuffle their hand and graveyard into their deck, then draw seven cards. While this will also replenish opposing hands, it's a great tool when you're low on spells.
It's also an excellent anti-mill tactic since you're getting a second life from your entire graveyard, and you can severely cripple opposing draws by pairing with cards like "Narset, Parter of Veils."
3. Ancestral Recall
You always want cards in hand, ensuring that each turn you have lands to increase your mana and spells to use that mana on. Ancestral Recall is simply the best draw one-off in the game, spending a single mana to instantly obtain three cards. You can see Recall's power by comparing to standard blue draw-spells like "Divination," which just draws two cards for three mana, and only at sorcery speed.
You'll find a similar (and often legal) version of Recall in "Ancestral Vision," but the effect is delayed, meaning you won't get the draws for three turns.
2. Time Walk
Extra turns are brutal, offering consecutive draws, land plays, combat phases, planeswalker abilities, and more. Blue's standard extra turn sorceries (like "Time Warp" and "Temporal Manipulation") grant an extra round for five mana.
Those are competitive cards in themselves, but Time Walk easily beats them, providing the same extra turn for just two—less than half the price! That's a ridiculously discount for such a powerful effect, but it's narrowly beaten by...
1. Black Lotus
The most expensive trading card ever made, Black Lotus is a colorless artifact, fitting any deck. It's also one of few zero-cost spells, making it absolutely free, and you can tap and sacrifice it for three mana of any single color.
Three free mana of any color you need? Added to a land, that's four mana on your first turn, letting you access cards long before you should be able to. It's such a strong effect that you could make it 1/3 as strong (which is exactly what "Lotus Petal" does) and still have an excellent card.
Top 5 Power Nine Honorary Mentions
A few spells closely rival the Power Nine in power, with some fans believing they should become official members. Some of these guys have been reprinted, meaning their prices are mercifully lower, and several are allowed in formats like commander. Let's take a look at the five best Power-Nine nominees!
5. Bazaar of Baghdad
Bazaar is one of those cards that's deceptively strong, at least in the right builds. It use your turn's land play but can't provide mana, and it draws twice, but forces you to discard three cards, weakening your overall hand.
However, you're gaining powerful manipulation, keeping what you need while tossing what you don't. Plus, it's wonderful for graveyard-dependent zombie themes that play from the graveyard with effects like unearth and dredge.
Blue's back in town. When you cast Tinker, you have to sacrifice an artifact, but this disadvantage is easily overlooked by tossing throwaways like thopters or treasure tokens.
Then, you get to play any artifact from your deck for free, not just tutoring a card but placing it onto the field! This lets you gimmick overwhelming artifact-creatures like "Blightsteel Colossus" into play, possibly on just your second or third turn.
3. Mishra's Workshop
Workshop only belongs in artifact decks, but its amazing production grants three colorless mana each turn! The only trade-off is that the mana must be spent on artifacts, but between standard artifacts, equipment spells, and artifact-creatures, you've got hundreds of options to pick from.
Workshop doesn't even enter tapped, so you're free to utilize it immediately, skyrocketing ahead of foes in mana output.
2. Sol Ring
A staple in commander that's in basically every EDH deck, Sol Ring only costs one mana, but taps for two colorless. So even on the turn you play it, you're up one, and on future rounds, you're up two, yet another fierce ramping tool.
1. Library of Alexandria
Sometimes labeled the Power Nine's tenth member, Library of Alexandria can either tap for a colorless mana, or tap to draw a card, though you can only do this if you have seven cards in hand.
Remember, draws are powerful tools that usually require at least two mana, but Alexandria gives them for free in a reusable package. If you time your spells and land drops right, it's easy to maintain seven cards in hand, essentially letting you nab a bonus draw each turn.
The Legacy of Magic's Best Cards
You can see that (other than colorless), only blue cards appeared today, showcasing why many players consider it an overpowered faction. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast recognized the issue and has narrowed the gap with recent sets.
If you're ever lucky enough to nab any of the Power Nine, take good care of it (if you're not gonna lock it in a vault, at least sleeve it), but for now, as we await Magic's next expansion of top-tier spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill