With the introduction of this year’s Commander 2020 set and the new upcoming draftable set Commander Legends, players have been noticing the power in cards increasing. An example of this trend is this year’s free spell cycle, which has already impacted the format.
So, seeing how these cards have changed Commander, this brings up the question: What are the best free spells in Commander? That’s what we’ll talk about today – best cards that cost 0 mana.
Free Spells in Commander – Definition
But first, let’s clarify what counts as a free or zero mana spell in Magic. I will be considering all cards that have a CMC (converted mana cost) of 0. This means cards that cost 0 as well as cards that have only X in their casting cost.
I will also be considering cards that can be cast for free if you meet a requirement, as well as cards that can be cast with Phyrexian mana (which can be paid with color mana or 2 life).
With that being said, let’s get into the Top 10.
Let’s kick things off with the honorable mentions. When deciding which cards to include in the list I kept running into cards that had the same or very similar effect, but did not quite surpass their competition. So, I decided to add them here.
The first three cards are quite similar – all of them are mana rocks. I did not want this list to be all about artifacts so I decided to cut some of them from the actual list. The first cards are:
The three help you get mana efficiently. Everflowing Chalice and Chalice of the Void allow you to play them in the early game and gain a small amount of mana. However, they also reward you if you play them in mid-to-late game.
Chalice of the Void, in particular, comes with the added benefit of countering your opponent’s spells if they cost the same as the counters on it.
Mox Opal, on the other hand, is just an efficient 0 mana artifact that gives you 1 colored mana if you control three other artifacts. So, in an artifact deck this card is pretty good.
Crypt’s effect is to exile all cards from the target player’s graveyard. So, it is a pretty efficient way to deal with a deck focused around graveyard shenanigans. Apart from that, it doesn’t do much.
These three cards are all ways to counter your opponents spells. Some are better in certain situations than others, but in general they are all good and, most importantly, can be played for free.
But, they do not beat the card I choose as the best free counter spell and that’s why they are just in the honorable mentions section, although you can definitely consider them as one of the best free spells in Commander.
The last three are X spells, which also didn’t beat my pick for the best one, but are still great cards to add to any deck.
The first is just a mana dump creature, and the second transforms the counters into Thopters after dying. In general, both solid cards that fit into any deck as ways of dumping extra mana.
Now, with that aside, let’s get into the list.
Ornithopter is an absolute classic. First introduced in Antiquities, it saw play in plenty of decks from different formats. It is an absolute most in artifact deck and it encapsulates Magic’s ingenious and balanced card design.
This card has pretty decent stats. It is free to cast Artifact, has flying, and comes with a 0/2 body, which can be used for all sort of things:
- a free historic trigger for card like Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
- a sacrifice fodder for cards like Arcum Dagsson and Sidisi, Undead Vizier
- enabling Ninjutsu (Ingenious Infiltrator, Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow)
In general, it can be a solid card which showcases how a 0 mana creature can be both fun and fair.
#9 Gitaxian Probe
This card was mostly featured in formats such as Modern until its banning. The fact that it does not see much play in commander does not mean it is not a useful card to have in your arsenal.
This card lets you look at a player’s hand and then draw a card. These are two really powerful abilities in the way in which it gives you information and resources at the same time.
The reason why this card got banned in modern and why it is playable in Commander is the fact that it can be cast using Phyrexian mana (cost that can be paid either with colored mana or 2 life). This ability makes it extremely powerful in control and spell based decks.
This is another example of how Phyrexian mana can be extremely broken. This card gives you easy access to 1 damage to any target for when needed as well as giving you a potential combo piece for infinite damage. In general, a good card that can see a place in any spell based deck.
So something like Adeliz, the Cinder Wind would happily play both Gutshot and previously mentioned Gitaxian Probe.
#7 Once Upon A Time
This is another card that saw a ton of play in other formats apart from Commander. It’s so powerful that it got banned in Standard, Pioneer and Modern.
Even when you are paying two mana, you’ll get a pretty good effect. However, if it’s the first spell you cast, you can get it for free. Once Upon A Time greatly improves your starting hands. While it isn’t broken, it’s still certainly one of the best free spells in Commander.
#6 Deflecting Swat
Available in: Arcane Maelstorm
This is the one of the five cards in the free spell cycle from Commander 2020 set. In general, all of the five cards are seriously powerful additions to the format.
This card presents a really interesting addition to red. Red usually cares about damage, but in this case it is about choosing new targets for a spell. This is similar to other red cards such as Reverberate or Increasing Vengeance.
Deflecting Swat is super flexible, as a instant costing three or zero mana. In general, a solid card to add to any deck with red, especially if it is spell based.
#5 Deadly Rollick
Available in: Enhanced Evolution
This is another card from the Commander 2020 set, which probes how powerful this cycle of cards is. This card is one of the best free spells in the cycle. Its effect is one of the most useful in Magic; removal. It is not only at instant speed, but it is also an exile effect.
The only setback is that its full price is four mana, which is a little bit too much. In general, it’s a solid removal spell with a high potential of being a free spell.
#4 Flawless Maneuver
Available in: Ruthless Regiment
Again, another card from Commander 2020. It feels like these cards are everywhere, but for a good reason- they are one of the best free spells in Commander after all.
This card presents another really powerful effect. It can be a devastating answer towards removal or a board wipe. It often your opponents won’t even expect it.
Even its normal cost of three mana is easily attainable, and casting this card for free is incredible. All of this makes Flawless Maneuver possibly the best card from the Commander 2020 free card cycle. Instant speed permanent protection for free. Incredible.
#3 Walking Ballista
This card is one, if not the best, X costing card in Magic the Gathering. It is an extremely flexible and powerful card. You can play it early on and slowly add counters on it. On the other hand you can also just dump a high amount of mana into it in the late game.
Walking Ballista is part of many infinite mana combos as a finisher. Add counters and then remove them for damage. Great card to add in any deck that adds counters or has an artifact theme or looks to pull off an infinite mana combo. In general, a great card that technically costs 0.
#2 Pact of Negation
This card is arguably the best counterspell in the game. Countering spells are incredibly powerful, this card especially because it can counter any spell at any time. It is the perfect answer from anything that looks to harm your game plan or is a game ender. The fact that it can be cast for free is insane.
The only setback is the fact that you have to pay 5 mana at the beginning of your upkeep, which can set you back a bit but it is worth it in general. In general, it is an excellent last resort.
#1 Mana Crypt
Undoubtedly one of the best cards in all the format. It has one of the most powerful effects in Magic – providing free mana. It is very similar to Sol Ring (another Commander staple) in the way it gives you two colorless mana immediately after you play it.
Mana Crypt should probably be in every Commander deck. The only setback that this card has is that you can take 3 damage every now and then. But most importantly, it gives you two colorless mana for free. It outperforms any other mana rock in the game.
In conclusion, Commander is a format with the flexibility of being played in many different and fun ways. One thing that is certain is that it can be a format which features the most powerful cards in the whole game.
Overall, free (zero mana) spells are some of the best in magic. They are efficient and extremely powerful, and should be a part of any deck which looks to take advantage of their low cost.
I hope this list has been helpful and entertaining to you. As always, If you agree or disagree with any of the inclusions in this list, comment down below.
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That’s all about best free spells in Commander. Have fun and surprise your opponent with some zero mana cards!