16, Apr, 24

Best MTG Crimes of All Time

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Undoubtedly, one of the most fitting mechanics in Outlaws of Thunder Junction is Crime commitment. The rebels are at it again, and there are plenty of payoffs in the set for repeatedly committing Crimes turn after turn. On top of the usual Crimes in the main set, including the cycle of Desert Lands, we also get access to the Breaking News bonus sheet. The bonus sheet is filled with some of the most iconic Crimes from MTG’s past.

Beyond notoriety, some of these Crimes in particular are incredibly strong. The efficiency of cards like Thoughtseize and Reanimate is off the charts. Given the attention that these powerful Crimes are receiving, we figured it would be cool to dig deep and determine: what are the best Crimes ever printed?

Importantly, when completing our rankings, we are focusing on cards that typically commit Crimes when cast or activated. As such, Planeswalkers that often target the opponent or their stuff will count towards our rankings. However, cards that give you the option to target the opponent or something they control but are generally used for your own benefit, such as Ancestral Recall, will not be considered. With this in mind, here are the MTG best Crimes of all time.

#5 Oko, Thief of Crowns

Oko, Theif of Crowns

Kicking things off, we have an incredibly infamous Planeswalker that is featured on the Breaking News bonus sheet. At three mana, Oko hits the board quickly and threatens to dominate the whole game. The fact that turning an opposing Creature into a 3/3 Elk not only removes all its abilities but also allows Oko to gain loyalty counters is truly insane. If you’re behind, turn opposing Creatures into Elks. If you’re ahead, start making Food and converting them into 3/3 attackers.

Part of what makes Oko so infamous is that it was printed in a somewhat recent premier set. Standard was thoroughly ruined while Oko was legal. Oko quickly saw bans in Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy. As such, there aren’t many places to maximize its power nowadays. Still, if you’re looking for a repeatable way to commit Crimes in Timeless or Commander, Oko is sure to deliver.

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#4 Mana Drain

Mana Drain

Our last card on this list from the Breaking News bonus sheet, we have Mana Drain at number four. Mana Drain is a messed up MTG card. This card is not only strictly better than Counterspell, but it has the potential to net you a ton of mana on your next turn. Unsurprisingly, it’s banned in Legacy and is preemptively banned in Historic with its initial arrival onto MTG Arena.

Mana Drain has also been a top-tier staple of the Vintage Cube for quite some time. Interestingly, though, the card doesn’t see much Vintage play. As strong as Mana Drain is, the vast number of free spells in Vintage makes it a bit harder to maximize. Still Mana Drain is one of the best MTG Crimes ever printed, and the fact that it sits at number four is more of a testament to how broken the next three cards on the list are.

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#3 Gitaxian Probe

Gitaxian Probe

It may seem a bit strange to see Gitaxian Probe this high. There’s nothing inherently “broken” about Probe, and it doesn’t singlehandedly swing a game the way Mana Drain or Oko will. However, there’s a reason the card is either banned, restricted, or simply not legal in every Constructed format.

First things first, Probe is a free cantrip. As we’ve seen with cards like Street Wraith and Mishra’s Bauble, there are ample synergies to be had with these free spells. Whether you’re quickly assembling Delirium for Dragon’s Rage Channeler, building up Storm count, or fueling Delve spells like Treasure Cruise, Probe does what you want.

Where Probe really separates itself from cards like Bauble is with its ability to look at the opponent’s hand. Paying two life is an incredibly minor cost to gain a huge amount of information about your opponent’s plans. Part of what makes cards like Thoughtseize so strong is that, beyond simply taking a card from the opponent’s hand, you can sculpt your gameplan around what your opponent’s next few turns will look like. For combo decks, Probe lets you know whether the coast is clear or not, which is super valuable. All the little things add up to make Probe one of the best Crimes ever printed.

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#2 Strip Mine

Strip Mine

Coming in just below our top spot, we have Strip Mine. For those who play Legacy, you know just how potent Wasteland can be at keeping your opponent off-balance. It can mess with multi-color decks, completely mana screw your opponent, and make sure that you can push your advantage on board.

Wasteland can punish decks built around specific Lands, like Dark Depths or Bazaar of Baghdad. This doesn’t even factor in decks like Legacy Lands that can buy back Wasteland from the graveyard with Life from the Loam and keep stripping the opponent of resources.

Well, Strip Mine takes things to the next level. All of these factors that make Wasteland a great card remain true for Strip Mine, except your opponent can’t dodge it by playing or Fetching basic Lands. Strip Mine is rightfully banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for thinking this should be number one on this list.

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#1 Mental Misstep

Mental Misstep

Coming in at number one and narrowly beating out Strip Mine and Gitaxian Probe, we have Mental Misstep. Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe collectively help showcase just how busted Phyrexian mana is when featured on one-mana cards. In most scenarios, you are simply going to cast these cards for free, since the cost of paying two life is incredibly minimal.

Mental Misstep may be a narrow card, but it is certainly an incredible one. If you’re on the play, Mental Misstep can be used after playing something potent of your own to keep the pressure on, similar to Daze. However, getting to counter an opponent’s turn one play when on the draw is an enormous swing in your favor.

Being able to trade up on mana and avoid falling behind is amazing. There’s a reason Spell Snare has popped up in formats like Modern, and Mental Misstep takes this dynamic to the next level. Once again, Mental Misstep is restricted in Vintage and either banned or not legal in every other major Constructed format.

It’s amazing how many elite Crimes there are throughout MTG’s history. From Orcish Bowmasters to Grief, there were tons of other highly impactful Crime committing cards that just barely missed the cut. Committing Crimes in the world of MTG is not difficult, and we feel this list highlights the best of the best.

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