Force of Will | Dominaria Remastered | Art by Richard Kane Ferguson
7, Jun, 24

MTG Top 5 Best Free Spells

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Article at a Glance

The mana resource system that Magic employs is absolutely paramount to the game’s success. Having a resource system limits the rate at which a game can progress, allowing for more decision-making and back-and-forth between players. In comparison to Yu-Gi-Oh!, the turn cycle and volleying in Magic, in most cases, continues for a lot longer.

Unfortunately, power creep is inevitable in any game, and Magic has been around for 30 years. We now have spells that ignore the initial mana resource system created for Magic, and those cards are some of the most powerful in the entire game. Even Modern Horizons 3 is introducing a new cycle of free spells to make things even more chaotic.

To celebrate, or criticize, this decision, here’s a list of the most powerful free spells in the game of Magic. Each of these free spells still requires additional resources to be cast without mana, but these cards are regardless incredibly powerful thanks to the option to ignore the base resource system that Magic functions under.

Honorable Mention | Fierce Guardianship

Fierce Guardianship

Fierce Guardianship is the best among the cycle of free Commander spells that showed up in the Ikoria: layer of Behemoths Commander decks. Fierce Guardianship functions as a free noncreature counterspell when you have your Commander in play. This is undeniably a powerful effect, so why is it an honorable mention?

Fierce Guardianship and the rest of its cycle is really only playable in Commander. The other cards on this list play roles in multiple formats, sometimes even Commander. Don’t get me wrong, Fierce Guardianship, Deflecting Swat and Deadly Rollick are all incredibly powerful spells, even more powerful than some of the other cards here, but the format-based restriction is a point against them on this list.

5 | Force of Vigor

Force of Vigor’s effectiveness in formats scales with how powerful artifacts and enchantments are in that format. The ‘Force’ cycle originates from the original Modern Horizons. In exchange for an additional card of a matching color, you can utilize Force cards for free on the opponent’s turn.

Force of Vigor destroys two artifacts or enchantments, which makes it card neutral even when pitching an additional card. This card is occasionally sideboardable in a format like Modern but is maindeckable in a format like Vintage. The more powerful the format, the more effective this card tends to become.

Thanks to a Breaking News reprint, Force of Vigor is surprisingly affordable compared to many of the other cards on this list. This card is even capable of overperforming in formats like Commander. We recommend you give it a try!

4 | Force of Negation

Force of Negation feels like Force of Will’s little sibling. Both of these cards ask for similar costs, but Force of Negation is a lot more restrictive in what it can accomplish in its free mode.

For the cost of one additional blue card, Force of Negation becomes a free counterspell that can deal with opposing noncreature spells. Sadly, you can only use this free mode on the opponent’s turn. This means that, while you can stop opposing plays with this card, you cannot protect your own effects with it unless you’re trying to win on the opponent’s turn.

This is part of the reason why Violent Outburst ended up getting a ban in the Modern format. Outburst allowed Living End and Crashing Footfalls to try and resolve their big effects on opposing turns. Not only does that gum up mana for the opponent, but you can protect your own spells with Force of Negation.

Even though Force of Negation is no Force of Will, it continues to see play in Legacy, Modern, and Vintage. A free counterspell will always perform strongly. As a nice bonus, Force of Negation exiles the spell it counters, which can be surprisingly relevant.

3 | Fury

Fury

Like all of the cards on this list, Fury’s reputation proceeds it. This card was banned from Modern thanks to it completely destroying opposing boards.

The collection of Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons 2 offers players a choice of Evoking these elementals at the cost of another matching colored card from their hand. You get the Evoke Elemental’s ETB effect for free, but the body will not stick around… at least in most cases.

The real issue with these Evoke Elementals is that players figured out pretty quickly that they could cheat the intended ‘free’ downside of the card. Known as a ‘Scam,’ players can utilize cards like Not Dead After All to bring back Evoke Elementals after they die to their own trigger.

Now, instead of the Evoke Elemental being a free ETB effect for two cards, you can instead pay one mana to get the ETB effect twice and have a buffed body left over. That’s way too much value. As if that wasn’t bad enough, scamming Fury also put an incredibly aggressive clock onto the board. Typically, this will end games in just a few short turns.

Fury continues to see some Legacy play but is not egregiously powerful in that format. Many players are unsure if the Fury ban in Modern was correct to this day, but the creature was undeniably a powerhouse in the format. Thanks to Fury getting the boot out of Modern, it’s actually incredibly cheap for how good it is.

2 | Grief

Grief

While Grief was not banned out of a format, it is undeniably the most powerful Evoke elemental across formats. This card is wreaking massive havoc in both Modern and Legacy and is the central element in the most popular deck in both formats.

In Modern, players utilize the power of the Grief Scam to steal two cards from an opponent’s hand and present a body for just one mana. Legacy is a bit more complex. Grief can be scammed using Reanimate, but the deck that it enables has a hybrid game plan that can play the role of both Reanimator combo and Dimir midrange.

The ability to rip cards out of the opposing player’s hands for no mana is absurd, even if you need to use an extra card. This allows decks like Living End in Modern to continue functioning past the ban of its quintessential card and allows Rakdos Scam to continue to function while one of its core cards was also banned. Many players across formats are calling for a Grief ban.

1 | Force of Will

Force of Will

Force of Will is undeniably the best ‘free’ spell in all of Magic. Similar to many of the other free spells on this list, Force of Will forces card disadvantage upon its caster in exchange for its free cost. An extra life is occasionally relevant, but a fantastic trade for what this card offers.

Unlike the other counterspells on this list, Force of Will has no real restrictions. Fierce Guardianship can only be reliably played in Commander, and Force of Negation can only counter noncreature spells when it’s not your turn for free. Force of Will just counters everything in its free variation.

Force of Will is so powerful that it completely shifts entire formats. Interestingly, it’s easily arguable that Force of Will is the thing that actually allows Legacy to work. If Force of Will did not exist, it would be a combo player’s paradise. There’s very little stopping them from just winning the game on the first turn. That said, if Force of Will suddenly became Modern legal, the format would be entirely different. This card has a massive $57 price tag for a reason.

A Hero is Here?

Free spells have been destroying every format they’ve been legal in for quite some time now. Fortunately, if free spells continue to take center stage in various formats, Modern Horizons 3 did print a very good tool to stop free spells in their tracks. Vexing Bauble simply counters any spell that was cast without mana, and can turn itself into a card if it’s not accomplishing anything. This allows players to run the card in their main deck without much cost. A mana value of one lets players get this down ASAP before opponents start their free spell shenanigans. This is unlikely to stop free spells altogether, but it is a great tool for players to punish mana-cheating strategies.

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