Last updated on May 23, 2023
Supreme Verdict | Illustration by Sam Burley
It’s no secret that Magic can be an expensive hobby. Many staples in every format can go for well over $50 and some of the most important cards to decks in Modern or even high-power Commander can go for double or triple that. Just look at Mana Crypt. This card is used almost exclusively in EDH and Cube and yet retails at well over $150 USD thanks to its rarity and lack of any good reprints. This is unacceptable for many players and something you’ll either forego or proxy.
There’s also the existence of the reserved list, which puts upward price pressure on too many old cards.
But there’s some good news! Magic doesn’t have to be this expensive. There are tons of great cards including staples that are quite affordable. Today I’m bringing you a ranking of some of the best Magic cards overall with a catch: every card on this list is available for $20 USD or less.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Best Budget White Cards
#8. Austere Command
First up on our list of the best affordable Magic cards for white is Austere Command. This command card hits everything you may want to board wipe. It has exceptional use in the Commander format since blowing up three players’ worth of mana rocks is exceptional value. If that isn’t your cup of tea, this card can be a slightly worse Wrath of God if you choose both of the creature options to destroy all creatures regardless of power.
#7. Swords to Plowshares
Next on the list for white is Swords to Plowshares, which exiles any creature in exchange for your opponent gaining life equal to that creature’s power. An opponent gaining life isn’t as much of a concern as them combo-ing off in terms of your goal to win the game. This is excellent removal and definitely something you’d want to play in any budget EDH deck that has white.
#6. Path to Exile
Following Swords to Plowshares is the nearly identical Path to Exile. This card gives your opponent a basic land from their library tapped on the battlefield. Path is semi-exchangeable with Swords since the downside of ramping your opponent or giving them life is heavier in different situations. They’re both incredibly strong cards and are excellent (an affordable!) inclusions in your decks.
#5. Sun Titan
Here we have Sun Titan coming in as the fifth best affordable white card in Magic. Titan is an excellent way to bring back your dead weenie creatures like Mother of Runes or stax creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It also gets value on ETB so you don’t necessarily need to get to untap and attack with it to extract value.
#4. Aven Mindcensor
Aven Mindcensor absolutely shuts down your opponent’s fetch lands and other tutoring effects. This card is an EDH staple for white and a great inclusion in all power levels from casual to cEDH.
Mindcensor can be picked up for just over $1 USD on TCGPlayer and it was even recently the FNM promo, lowering its price even more! There’s no excuse not to have this card, especially when it’s this accessible. It also made our list of best wizards!
#3. Drannith Magistrate
Drannith Magistrate will make you many enemies in any given Commander match since it prevents your opponents from playing cards from outside the game, including the command zone! It also stops any kind of lesson cards coming in from your sideboard, which is typically the most common usage of the “outside the game” mechanic.
Silence is a similar stax-like effect to the previous two cards, and it’s the most powerful of the three. This card can be played on your opponent’s upkeep and effectively shut them down where their only actions will be activated abilities and a combat step. This is great if you’re one turn away from winning and can work as an effective Time Warp under the right conditions.
#1. Wrath of God
In first place as the best affordable white card we have Wrath of God. Wrath is an incredibly cheap (both in mana cost and dollar value) board wipe that hits all creatures. It’s important to include at least one wrath effect in your Commander deck, and what better card than Wrath of God itself?
Best Budget Blue Cards
#9. Time Warp
Starting off our list of the best affordable blue Magic cards is Time Warp! This is your classic “take an extra turn for five mana” card and is quite affordable with a price of $14 USD. These kinds of cards are always good when they resolve and can often win you the game since getting two turns of mana and interaction is usually enough to permanently set your opponent back. Oh, plus another round of planeswalker activations.
#8. High Tide
Next up on the list is High Tide. This card extracts extra mana from your Islands, letting you generate large sums of mana for just . It’s important to play as many Islands or dual lands as possible when running a deck with High Tide since having one non-Island can sometimes set you back enough mana to make going off with it that turn impossible.
#7. Cryptic Command
In terms of the original Lorwyn mono-colored Command spells, Cryptic Command is the most powerful. It’s also one of the best blue budget cards! This card is just under my cap with a price of $19.99 USD on TCGPlayer. This card is worth every penny, giving you the ability to choose between plenty of valuable options.
#6. Mystic Remora
Mystic Remora is an excellent early powerhouse card. It taxes your opponent’s four colorless mana whenever they play a non-creature spell, letting you draw if they don’t pay. It’s important to note that there’s a cumulative upkeep cost on this card, meaning that you must pay one colorless the first upkeep, then two the next, and so on.
You’ll usually let this card go around the table just once in a multiplayer game and then let it die on your upkeep. But it’s usually worth it to pay the upkeep cost the first time if you don’t get any draws whatsoever.
Mulldrifter is a super sweet card that can be used in two different ways. It can be played as is; a 5-mana 2/2 flier that draws two cards on entry. This is already great since its card positive and a solid flier.
Alternatively, Mulldrifter can be played as a 3-mana draw-2 at sorcery speed through its evoke ability. This is a solid and very affordable card overall and something you’d usually be happy to include in your blue Commander deck.
Brainstorm is a classic blue spell, one of the most powerful, and certainly deserving of being on this list of the best affordable blue cards in Magic. It works as a worse version of Ancestral Recall that lets you filter through the top of your deck effectively drawing you three cards. This is a lot of card advantage and can help you set your deck up if you’re about to use a shuffle mechanic from something like a fetch land.
#3. Mystical Tutor
Mystical Tutor is cutting it close on this list. It comes in at just about $19.50 for lightly played, and even less for moderate. This card is simply too good to not include so I’m glad it fits my budget.
Tutoring up an instant or sorcery is fairly strong for and nothing else. You’ll more than likely have some way to get that card into your hand on the same turn since you’re already in blue. This card is great for increasing consistency in your Commander decks since it helps you find your critical combo pieces like Dramatic Reversal.
Second place goes to the famous Counterspell. This card has been printed more times than I can count, usually at common or uncommon, which means some versions sell for about $1 USD or even less.
If you’ve played Magic any amount of time, you’ll know that low prices don’t necessarily reflect the power level of a card. This card is super sweet. It hits everything your opponent’s cast without any caveat and it’s pretty cheap for such a powerful ability.
#1. Narset, Parter of Veils
Rounding out our list of the best affordable blue cards is Narset, Parter of Veils. This card is omnipresent in nearly every format it’s legal in, from Legacy to Commander, and for good reason.
Narset is an incredible blue spell and one of the best blue planeswalkers thanks to its strong passive and card-advantage abilities. Spells that draw you cards are incredibly prevalent in Magic, so outright shutting these cards down for your opponents while not affecting yourself is a sizeable advantage.
Best Budget Green Cards
#8. Cultivate + Kodama’s Reach
First up on the list for the best affordable green Magic cards is both Cultivate and Kodama's Reach. I’m including both cards since they do identical things and cost about the same, which is anywhere between $0.50 and $1.50 USD.
These are excellent ramp spells in green, helping you curve out and not miss land drops while simultaneously giving you an extra land tapped on the battlefield. These grab all basic lands, not just Forests, which means these two cards are even better in multicolored decks.
#7. Llanowar Elves (and Other Identical Dorks)
Next up for green is Llanowar Elves, as well as all of the other identical elf mana dorks like Elvish Mystic and Fyndhorn Elves. These are great cards that quickly ramp you out and still work as creatures.
They’re limited to tapping for green only which makes them slightly weaker in multicolored, but they still work as a body and have good synergy with cards that want a wide board state like Craterhoof Behemoth. You should have at least one of these in every green Commander decks.
#6. Krosan Grip
Krosan Grip comes next as our split second artifact and enchantment removal. The split second keyword means this card can’t be responded to in any way. Having removal for permanents like this can be very useful since they stop infinite combos from going off in response. Once this card is played the target is going to die and your opponent can’t tap to activate it in response (unless it’s a mana ability).
#5. Acidic Slime
Coming in at fifth place is Acidic Slime, sometimes called “slimeball.” This is a 5-mana 2/2 deathtouch that also blows up an artifact, enchantment, or land when it enters the battlefield. This card is sweet because it has a high chance of getting a 2-for-1 trade with your opponent.
You’re most likely to blow up an opponent’s land to destroy their only source of a specific color and then trade this away with some mid-sized creature. That’s great value for five mana, especially in green.
#4. Beast Within
Beast Within, as you probably already know, is excellent removal and a must-play in any Commander deck, from casual to cEDH. Direct removal that doesn’t require a creature is hard to come by in the green section of the color pie. This card not only works as direct removal for creatures but will hit any permanent causing you problems. That flexibility is to die for and getting it for only three mana at instant speed is amazing in green.
#3. Courser of Kruphix
Third place goes to Courser of Kruphix, an excellent green creature as well as one of the best green cards to come out of Theros. Being able to play lands off the top of your library helps you dig deeper into your deck and ramp out more consistently, which are both needed to power up a successful green deck.
#2. Oracle of Mul Daya
Second place goes to Courser of Kruphix’s older sister, Oracle of Mul Daya. The benefit here is the ruling that lets you play an extra land each turn. This turns other ramp spells like Cultivate and Kodama's Reach into much stronger cards overall. This is an excellent inclusion in any green EDH deck that can play it and you’ll be extremely happy to play this on curve (or earlier!).
#1. Seedborn Muse
First place on my list of the best affordable green Magic cards is Seedborn Muse. This creature lets you untap everything during your opponent’s turn. This is an exceptional card, especially if you pair it with something that gives your other spells flash like Alchemist's Refuge or Vedalken Orrery.
But even on its own, Seedborn Muse presents loads of mana and interaction for you to use during your opponent’s turns. It also lets you attack without having to worry about leaving back blockers!
Best Budget Red Cards
#8. Blood Moon
First on the list for the best affordable red cards is the infamous Blood Moon. This card can lock your non-red opponents out completely, often winning you the game if you stick it versus a sans-red deck. But this card gets worse the less non-basic lands your opponents have and can sometimes be a dud against decks with a simpler mana base.
#7. Chaos Warp
Next is Chaos Warp, a chaotic version of red’s very slim selection of direct removal spells. This card is a gamble, often bringing some other mid-level creature or permanent out of your opponent’s deck. There’s also a chance that the card you shuffled in also comes back out, which reduces its consistency. But this is still good removal and a good card to include in your red EDH decks, and I’d recommend you pick it up.
#6. Blasphemous Act
Blasphemous Act takes sixth spot on this list. This card is very out of theme for red overall, as absolute removal is usually reserved for white and black. However, this card is still an amazing board wipe, especially in multiplayer games where everyone else naturally has a few creatures out already. Often, this card will cost you one red to play.
#5. Pyroblast + Red Elemental Blast
Starting out the top five of the best affordable red Magic cards is Pyroblast! I’m also including Red Elemental Blast in the same spot since they’re identical cards in abilities and price. These are a must-have in Commander, Vintage, and Legacy thanks to the prevalence of blue. One mana to counter or destroy a blue permanent is exceptional value.
Fourth place goes to Gamble, which is a risky card to play like the previously mentioned Chaos Warp. I’ve seen players lose the card they just tutored out and you will too whether you play against this card or run it yourself. Despite the inherent risks, the chance to win or save yourself is still a chance you want to take, especially when you’re already looking down the barrel.
Third place is taken by Vandalblast. This is pretty great artifact removal as a single spell, but the overload mechanic is a great secondary option. It’s always worth it to blow up a single Sol Ring or Mana Crypt, but to blow up all of your opponent’s artifacts (especially in multiplayer) is great!
#2. Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt is absolutely a card you already know and probably already own. Great early removal and great face damage in regular formats like Modern. More info about which staples and cards define Modern can be found here.
I love this card. It’s simple, its affordable in both mana and dollar cost, and it fires off at instant speed. You won’t be left wanting with Lightning Bolt.
#1. Faithless Looting
In first place is Faithless Looting! This is exceptional card draw overall and the absolute best card draw in red. It filters through the cards you don’t want while getting the ones you do and comes back to give you more value later on when you’re running low on interaction or simply getting mana flooded.
It’s especially useful in spells-matter type prowess decks or decks with graveyard recursion like Arclight Phoenix.
Best Budget Black Cards
#8. Phyrexian Arena
Starting us off on our last color is Phyrexian Arena. With this card out, you’re getting an extra card per turn for the low cost of one life. This card is amazing in EDH since you start at 40 life, and having extra cards is especially strong when you have two additional opponents to interact with.
#7. Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Seventh place goes to Gray Merchant of Asphodel, sometimes called “Gary,” who will obliterate your opponent’s life total late game while letting you gain copious amounts of life in multiplayer. Gary doesn’t do too much on its own, but your devotion adds up quick once you start sticking a few black permanents on the battlefield. This card can be a great finisher or combo piece depending on your deck’s desired power level.
#6. Torment of Hailfire
In sixth place is the super-awesome Torment of Hailfire. Just reading this card will make you excitedly start counting your mana in anticipation of your opponent’s sadness. This card get better in multiplayer as the game goes on like many of the cards on this list.
If you resolve Torment of Hailfire with a high number for X, you’re looking at destroying a large amount of your opponent’s forces, often resulting in their concession… As long as they’re not playing elves and have 40 1/1s to use as cannon fodder.
#5. Opposition Agent
Fifth place goes to Opposition Agent, which has a stax-like effect that stops opponents from searching through their deck while also benefiting you! This card will simply ruin your opponent’s fun and is a great inclusion in any power level EDH deck. Agent is a really enjoyable and unique Magic card and I can’t recommend it enough.
#4. Viscera Seer
Viscera Seer is an excellent sacrifice outlet and very good at helping you dig through your deck to assemble combo pieces (or be one itself). While this creature isn’t super strong on its own, it can be an excellent engine or way to abuse recursion mechanics over and over again, which is why its rated so highly on this list.
#3. Grim Tutor
Next up at the #3 spot is Grim Tutor. This card’s price absolutely tanked after a couple of reprints which makes it very affordable at just around $16 USD. This is an excellent tutor on its own and its price makes it very attainable for even a casual player looking to pick up some staple black EDH singles.
#2. Crypt Ghast
Second place goes to Crypt Ghast, which is essentially a black High Tide on a stick. The added bonus of having extort is also nice since it hits all players in a multiplayer game, and the white color pip doesn’t add to its color identity.
This card obviously gets better the more Swamps you have so it’s especially good in mono black. But Ghast still rocks if you have a solid mana base and a few cards that are also Swamp types.
#1. Bolas Citadel
My number one spot for the best affordable black magic card is Bolas's Citadel. This card is quite cheap, printed at rare and then given out for free as an FNM promo which makes it extremely attainable for just about everyone.
Bolas's Citadel is an excellent card advantage engine and always gets you a dozen or so cards deep into your deck, assuming you don’t have any lifegain shenanigans. If you do have a large life total, this card can usually just combo you off or draw your entire deck, which is incredible for a single artifact.
Best Budget Multicolored Cards
#7. Kolaghan’s Command
The seventh best affordable multicolored card in Magic is Kolaghan's Command. This card gives you lots of options but still retains a lot of value if you have no permanents to interact with.
At worst this card is a 3-mana discard and Shock. At best it destroys a Sol Ring and returns your bomb creature back from the graveyard. This is an excellent piece of utility interaction and a must-have.
#6. Eerie Ultimatum
Eerie Ultimatum is an extremely powerful card if you have the mana for it. Pairing it with something like Nevinyrral's Disk will absolutely win you the game, but even playing it after a board wipe is still excellent.
Eerie is a very fun card, but not necessarily the most powerful thanks to its mana cost. This is an excellent card to include in a high or lower power Commander deck, but not something you’d really want in cEDH.
#5. Abrupt Decay
Following up at fifth place is Abrupt Decay, a great piece of removal that dodges counterspells. Counterspells are incredibly powerful in Magic, but your opponents’ plan to save their combo with a single Force of Will or Spell Pierce quickly falls apart if you have Decay. This card is great and you’d be happy to play this basically anytime.
#4. Assassin’s Trophy
Assassin's Trophy is up next at fourth place. While this spell isn’t uncounterable, it makes up for it in targeting scope. Trophy hits every single kind of permanent with the only downside being your opponent gets to search for one basic land. I don’t know about you, but trading your opponent’s Consecrated Sphinx for a basic Island sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
#3. Supreme Verdict
Third place goes to one of my favorite cards of all time: Supreme Verdict! This card has won many tournaments and is one of the best board wipes of all time. It hits all creatures, dodges counterspells, and is only four mana to play. I play this in nearly every Azorius or Azorius-including Commander deck I own, and I’ve never been sad about drawing it!
#2. Teferi, Time Raveler
Second place goes to the Modern staple and overall amazing card Teferi, Time Raveler. This is absolutely the best Teferi card and probably the second best planeswalker there is. If you have the colors to play this Teferi in your deck I don’t know why you wouldn’t. The sorcery-speed lockout is amazing, gaining instant speed on your sorceries is even better, and coming in at potentially five loyalty turn 3 is just as good.
#1. Oko, Thief of Crowns
Last up and the obvious pick as the single best affordable multicolored Magic card is Oko, Thief of Crowns. Not only is Oko the number one card on this list but it’s also one of if not the best planeswalker in all of Magic (sorry Teferi)!
Oko’s strength comes from its incredibly high loyalty on turn 3. It can also protect itself while still going up to five loyalty by transforming threats into simple 3/3s. This card is good and you almost always just win the game from value and access to removal if you manage to stick it for multiple turns.
It’s also been banned in many formats.
Best Budget Colorless Cards
- Azorius Signet
- Boros Signet
- Dimir Signet
- Golgari Signet
- Gruul Signet
- Izzet Signet
- Orzhov Signet
- Rakdos Signet
- Selesnya Signet
- Simic Signet
Starting us off on the best budget colorless cards we have all of the signets, which can give you nice mana fixing at the cost of one mana.This includes all of the dual-colored signets, from Simic Signet to Rakdos Signet.
The only downside to these cards is that they don’t produce mana on turn 2 because of the one colorless input cost to get the mana. But they make up for it by fixing your mana, including turning your colorless into colored which can sometimes make the difference in casting three spells instead of two.
- Talisman of Conviction
- Talisman of Creativity
- Talisman of Curiosity
- Talisman of Dominance
- Talisman of Hierarchy
- Talisman of Impulse
- Talisman of Indulgence
- Talisman of Progress
- Talisman of Resilience
- Talisman of Unity
Following the signets are the stronger versions: talismans! Just like the last ranking this includes all of the dual-colored talismans. These are stronger than the signets, even at the expense of one life per use for colored mana.
Talismans don’t need an input cost to extract mana, meaning they generate mana every time they come in. They also produce colorless mana for free, which means they offer a way to ramp out spells without costing life. These are great mana fixing overall and a must-have in any multicolored Commander deck.
#5. Lightning Greaves
Everyone’s favorite equipment, Lightning Greaves, is my fifth place spot on the colorless list! This card is excellent for equipping onto your commander to secure their safety and give them haste!
Interestingly, Lightning Greaves’ 0-mana equip cost means you can essentially equip this to all creatures you play in one turn to immediately use their activated abilities. Meaning if you have something like a level 5+ Joraga Treespeaker, you could play a bunch of 1-mana elves, individually equip Lightning Greaves to them, use all of their abilities, and double your mana!
Skullclamp is an excellent draw engine, a great way to get a last squeeze of value out of your little 1/1 mana dorks like Elvish Mystic, and even an infinite draw engine if you have a way to either generate infinite 1/1s or repeatedly recur your 1/1s from the graveyard.
Skullclamp is still around $9 USD despite it being printed over nine times. This is a very affordable card and one you shouldn’t feel bad about buying. Not only will it almost certainly retain its value but it’s an absolute staple card and one you’ll play in multiple EDH decks.
#3. Nevinyrral’s Disk
Nevinyrral's Disk comes in at third place on my list of the best affordable colorless cards in Magic. This card has been printed into the ground, most recently in Commander Legends and Modern Horizons 2, making the cheapest versions less than $0.25 to pick up.
Nevinyrral's Disk is a serious threat to your opponents and an excellent board wipe that nearly resets the game. If you can manage to untap and detonate the Disk with a strong play afterwards, you’re sitting very pretty and are very likely to just win the game.
#2. Ashnod’s Altar
Second place goes to my personal favorite, Ashnod's Altar. Every single version of this card falls below my $20 USD price cap and it’s simply too good to not mention on this list.
This card is an excellent mana engine and a fairly easy way to gain infinite colorless mana if you’re in black or any color combo with black. At worst it generates a lot of colorless mana you can use pop off.
#1. Sol Ring
There’s been a reoccurring trend here, and it’s been that mana ramp is good! That’s why at my number one spot we have
Black Lotus Sol Ring! One of the best cards in all of Magic and probably the single best card under $20 that you could buy assuming you have a format to play it in!
This card gains you mana the turn it comes in, with no downside whatsoever. There’s a reason it’s in every single Commander deck from precon to cEDH, and there isn’t a single reason you should skip out on it.
You may not be able to afford one of the Power Nine, but this’ll do the trick nicely!
Bolas's Citadel | Illustration by Jonas De Ro
So those are the rankings! What did you think? Were there any nutty cards you think I missed out on covering? What are they? I really like cards like Teferi, Time Raveler and Supreme Verdict, but maybe that’s because I’m biased towards removing all fun from my opponent’s game plan. Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Discord if I missed anything important.
Remember to check out the Draftsim blog for more Magic content! There’s something new every single day and I know you’ll love what we have next.
Until next time, stay safe, and stay healthy!
Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates:
thanks, nice list