Last updated on November 3, 2023

Curiosity - Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

Curiosity | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

I dedicate today’s list to all the enchantment lovers out there, specifically the lovers of cheap low-curve auras. Keep your Eldrazi Conscription and Colossification at home, I’m bringing it down much, much lower, and exploring the best low-mana value auras in Magic.

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents show

What Are Cheap Auras in MTG?

Animate Dead - Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

Animate Dead | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

I’m defining a “cheap” aura as any enchantment aura with a mana value of one or two. I would count 0-mana auras as well but there aren’t any nontoken ones to speak of. If a card has the subtype “aura” written on it, it’s fair game. This includes auras with other subtypes like Cartouches, Curses, and Runes, as well as auras that enchant lands, players, planeswalkers, and so on.

We all know cheap is good, and that’s especially true when talking about auras. Auras have long been considered one of Magic’s worst card types because of the risk involved in playing them. If I try to enchant my creature and it gets killed in response, the aura fizzles and goes straight to the graveyard. Even successfully sticking an aura opens you up to two-for-one blow-outs when someone eventually deals with the enchanted permanent.

Cheap auras help mitigate some of the inherent risks involved with this card type since they’re easier to fit into your curve and land while your opponents are tapped out. They’re also efficient ways to trigger your enchantment/aura payoffs, which I’ll address later on.

Best Cheap White Auras

#11. Chained to the Rocks

Chained to the Rocks

The first two white auras are cheap Oblivion Ring effects that require you to enchant a specific type of land. Chained to the Rocks is no Swords to Plowshares and it incentivizes your opponent to destroy your land, but it’s an efficient way to temporarily deal with a creature.

#10. On Thin Ice

On Thin Ice

On Thin Ice is easier to use than Chained to the Rocks. You can freely slot snow basics into any deck with virtually no downside so it’s easy to adjust a mana base to make it work. It has all the same downsides while being a snow permanent itself, which matters for a small subset of decks.

Just do your best to avoid the one player out there who loves to cast Melting.

#9. Daybreak Coronet

Daybreak Coronet

Daybreak Coronet can only enchant a creature that’s already wearing at least one other aura, after which is gains a huge power bump. The danger of playing this is that this will automatically fall off if all other auras on the creature get removed.

#8. Gryff’s Boon + Skyblade’s Boon

Gryff's Boon and Skyblade's Boon are comparable auras that can both be brought back from the graveyard. They grant the enchanted creature flying and a small stat increase.

The numbers and knobs are a bit different between the two, but this duo works surprisingly well at making sure you always have an evasive threat at your disposal.

#7. Flickerform

Flickerform

The idea behind Flickerform is that you can load up on a single creature and then activate this if anything threatens to interact with them. It’s purely defensive and costs an exorbitant four mana per activation, so it’s not the most effective protection plan.

I’d personally look at Robe of Stars for this style of effect.

#6. Hyena Umbra

Hyena Umbra

You could choose the most lackluster abilities to put an aura, tack on totem armor, and have a perfectly playable card.

Hyena Umbra is a stand-in for all of the mono-white totem armor cards, with Felidar Umbra being the only other one I’ve seen in action. Hyena makes your creature a smidge gnarlier in combat while granting a one-shot immunity from damage or destroy effects.

#5. Spirit Mantle

Spirit Mantle

You never think about how annoying “protection from creatures” is until you’re facing down a threat than literally can’t be blocked, attacked into or targeted by any of your creatures. Spirit Mantle is a great support piece for Voltron decks (decks focused on making one large, unstoppable threat) and adds a reliable layer of protection to your enchanted creature.

#4. All That Glitters

All That Glitters

All That Glitters grants a stat-boost that scales with the number or artifacts and enchantments you control. Decks playing this often load up on cheap auras, causing it to provide upwards of +5/+5, +10/+10, or even more.

#3. Ethereal Armor

Ethereal Armor

Ethereal Armor doesn’t count your artifacts but it’s a mana cheaper than All That Glitters and adds first strike into the mix. That’s well worth the narrower effect, allowing the enchanted creature to beat over just about anything in combat.

Cards like this are the backbone of aura-based decks in Constructed (see: Pioneer/Explorer Azorius () Auras) and pull their weight in enchantment-focused Commander decks.

#2. Darksteel Mutation

Darksteel Mutation

This started off with some second-rate removal auras, and it’ll finish off with a few of the top-tier ones.

Darksteel Mutation was designed specifically for Commander in C13, and it still gets the job done. It nullifies just about any threat, locks down problematic commanders, and can even be used in a pinch to make one of your own creatures a nuisance of a blocker.

#1. Swift Reconfiguration

Swift Reconfiguration

Swift Reconfiguration depicts a bear being turned into a sports car. The premise is goofy but the effect is good. It’s more difficult for the enchanted creature to engage in combat and you’ll occasionally use it to protect your own creatures. Sure, it’ll be an automobile, but it retains its static abilities.

Keep a look out for this one when we eventually review the “Top 50 Cards That Go Infinite With Devoted Druid.”

Best Cheap Blue Auras

#12. Power Artifact

Power Artifact

Calling Power Artifact a powerful card is a little misleading. It only works with artifacts that have expensive activated abilities, which is a small subset of cards.

This shines in combo decks, combining with cards like Basalt Monolith to make infinite colorless mana. That’s certainly a powerful interaction, but I’d argue that the Monolith is the power card in that duo, not the aura.

#11. Arcanum Wings

Arcanum Wings

I already told you to ditch your Eldrazi Conscriptions, but hold onto them for one more second. Arcanum Wings is a cheeky way to sneak some powerful auras into play. It has the only instance of this “aura swap” ability in all of Magic, which provides a unique effect to your aura deck.

#10. Spreading Seas

Spreading Seas

Spreading Seas is probably best known for supporting merfolk strategies in Constructed formats.

Turning an opponent’s land into an Island not only enables islandwalkers but also shuts off that land’s other abilities. It can be equally disruptive in Commander, dealing with troublesome lands and maybe even cutting an opponent off a critical color of mana.

#9. Mirror Mockery

Mirror Mockery

Mirror Mockery is a finnicky but cheap way to make token copies of a specific creature. It’s usually pretty easy to time this right and get the first attack in, after which your opponents will be gearing to stop it.

You can also use it as a deterrent from attacking by enchanting an opponent’s creature. If they choose to attack with it, you’re still the one who creates the token.

#8. Fly

Fly

It took WotC almost 30 years to make a card named Fly. As expected it gives the enchanted creature flying and also has a Curiosity-like effect that rewards you for connecting in combat. You get to venture into the dungeon, which provides incremental advantage each time you hit and helps complete dungeons quickly for decks built around the mechanic.

#7. Eel Umbra

Eel Umbra

Crab Umbra isn’t that exciting, which leaves Eel Umbra as the only blue totem armor card on the list. Flash makes this type of aura more dynamic since you can catch players off-guard with a surprise totem armor effect.

Cards like Cradle of Safety and Starlit Mantle have comparable effects, but Eel Umbra gives longer-lasting protection.

#6. Metamorphic Alteration

Metamorphic Alteration

Metamorphic Alteration is a flexible card depending on your situation. If you need to deal with a problem creature, slap this on it and turn it into any wimpy 1/1 token laying around. If you want to upgrade one of your creatures, this can turn it into a copy of the biggest threat on board.

#5. In Too Deep

In Too Deep

In Too Deep is a clever removal spell, kind of like a Fateful Absence in blue. Split second is always a welcome addition to an instant-speed removal spell.

#4. Aqueous Form

Aqueous Form

Aqueous Form provides a reliable way to push a creature through for damage. Whether you’re going for a small saboteur ability or trying to attack for lethal, this keeps you clear from blockers and provides some extra scrying along the way.

#3. Steal Enchantment

Steal Enchantment

Do you ever get the urge to steal someone’s enchantment? If so, consider running a copy of Steal Enchantment. I’ll give you one guess as to what it does.

#2. Witness Protection

Witness Protection

Witness Protection is one of the most flavorful and funny cards I’ve ever seen. It turns scary monsters into mere 1/1 Legitimate Businesspeople, stripping them of all other types and abilities. I can’t help but laugh at the thought of disguising an enormous Eldrazi titan as an average citizen.

#1. Curiosity Effects

Curiosity

The top spot collectively belongs to a bunch of auras that players call Curiosity effects. These are auras that draw you extra cards whenever the enchanted creature deals damage.

They usually only count combat damage to a player as seen on Curious Obsession and Combat Research. The original Curiosity triggers off any damage, making it a combo enabler alongside Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind.

Best Cheap Black Auras

#6. Lithoform Blight

Lithoform Blight

Lithoform Blight is another Spreading Seas variant without all the islandwalk shenanigans. It’s a fair way to deal with a problem land without playing actual land destruction, which can be frowned upon. It also cantrips at the very least, so it’s never a dead draw.

#5. Dead Man’s Chest

Dead Man's Chest

I’ve experimented with Dead Man's Chest in different decks but have never quite gotten it to work. The larger the creature you stick this on, the better the plunder when it dies, although you do have to find a way to kill it.

Casting this and following up with a sweeper/removal spell is the best way to guarantee your reward.

#4. Glistening Oil + Phyresis

Glistening Oil Phyresis

Glistening Oil and Phyresis turn your enchanted creature into an infect threat, which is bound to put your opponents on edge. These can take someone out of the game immediately if they land on a big enough creature, and Glistening Oil can even be used as a slow way to pick off 1-toughness creatures.

#3. Kaya’s Ghostform

Kaya's Ghostform

Kaya's Ghostform doesn’t have totem armor but the protection it provides is similar. Stick it to an important creature or planeswalker and it’ll come right back into play the next time it leaves, even if it was exiled.

It won’t protect against bounce spells, but that’s a concession you have to make.

#2. Dance of the Dead

Dance of the Dead

I’ll spare you having to read the block of text on Dance of the Dead (the oracle text isn’t much better). In summary, it reanimates a creature and attaches to it. The creature comes back tapped and requires a maintenance cost to untap it each turn, but it does get +1/+1.

It’s a lot of bells and whistles, but all-in-all it’s a cheap reanimation spell, pushed out of popularity by the next card on this list.

#1. Animate Dead

Animate Dead

Animate Dead is definitely the best black aura at this cost and one of the best reanimation spells in all of Magic. It’s got a mess of text like Dance of the Dead that basically boils down to “reanimate a creature and give it -1/-0.”

If the enchantment goes away so does the creature, but you’ve probably reaped the value of it by then.

Best Cheap Red Auras

#3. Crown of Flames

Crown of Flames

I’m mentioning Crown of Flames because of its combo potential. It’s easy to bounce and recast Crown infinite times with just a few setup pieces, charging up an explosive storm spell for the win.

Look for Birgi, God of Storytelling and Goldspan Dragon as additional combo pieces.

#2. Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers

What do Streets of New Capenna and chicken wings have in common? Well, they both give you Sticky Fingers. This aura makes a creature harder to block, gives you a steady stream of Treasures, and replaces itself when the creature dies. All that for a single red mana.

#1. Curse of Opulence

Curse of Opulence

Few things feel worse than being enchanted by someone else’s Curse of Opulence. You instantly become a punching bag and everyone except you starts getting extra mana for beating up on you.

Gold is just slightly better Treasure, and we all know how good Treasure can be.

Best Cheap Green Auras

#12. Spreading Algae

Spreading Algae

Spreading Algae is probably the card on this list you’re least likely to have ever seen on the battlefield. It requires the right set-up to be good and can be a bit mean-spirited when it works.

Alongside Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth you can attach this to any land and find a way to tap it down. That blows up the land and returns the Algae to your hand to repeat the cycle.

#11. Spider Umbra

Spider Umbra

Snake Umbra would have taken this slot but it’s three mana so I’m resorting to the next best thing: Spider Umbra. It’s a totem armor aura with a negligible bonus, but I’ve already discussed just how useful totem armor is on its own.

#10. Nature’s Chosen + Instill Energy

Nature's Chosen and Instill Energy both let you untap the enchanted creature once per turn. They’re fine ways to get extra milage out of creatures with tap abilities and give them pseudo-vigilance.

Nature's Chosen can also untap other permanents while Instill Energy grants a haste-like ability (check the oracle text).

#9. Sixth Sense + Keen Sense

Sixth Sense Keen Sense

Sixth Sense and Keen Sense are additional Curiosity effects in green. Keen was designed as a color-shifted version while Sixth was printed later on and has a more restrictive version of the effect.

#8. Warbriar Blessing

Warbriar Blessing

Warbriar Blessing is an aura with a fight effect tacked on, which makes it more of a removal spell than anything. There are amplified versions of this higher on the curve, but this is the cheapest aura in the category.

There’s technically an Unfinity card called Fight the _____ Fight that mirrors Warbriar’s, but most players aren’t aware it exists.

#7. Curse of Bounty

Curse of Bounty

Curse of Bounty has a powerful effect that can backfire if you don’t use it wisely. Untapping your nonland permanents once per turn can set up some awesome plays, but you’re extending that opportunity to a few of your opponents as well.

It feels especially bad to be enchanted with this card. As with Curse of Opulence, players will be taking shots at you all game.

#6. Ordeal of Nylea

Ordeal of Nylea

I love the Ordeal cycle from Theros, with Ordeal of Nylea being a stand-out in Commander. When all is said and done this aura provides three +1/+1 counters and two lands on the battlefield for just two mana.

Note that you’ll fetch two lands if you can sacrifice the Ordeal in any way, not just to its own ability.

#5. Abundant Growth

Abundant Growth

Abundant Growth gives you perfect mana fixing for little investment. All you need is a green mana and a land to enchant and you’re set.

It draws you into another card and sits around as a great sacrifice or blink target down the line.

#4. Lignify

Lignify

Lignify is a bit of a color break for green. Green cards can modify a creature’s stats, but they don’t typically nullify threats on the battlefield.

This turns a creature into a virtual wall, removing its abilities and reducing its power to zero. It’s a handy tool for green decks to deal with threats that the typical bite and fight effects don’t take care of.

#3. Kenrith’s Transformation

Kenrith's Transformation

I’m a fan of Kenrith's Transformation over Lignify. A 3/3 Elk is arguably better for the opponent, but Transformation leaves you even on cards. You also get bonus flavor points if you can land this on an opposing Kenrith, the Returned King.

#2. Wild Growth + Utopia Sprawl

Wild Growth Utopia Sprawl

Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl are both excellent mana ramp options in Commander. Unlike Llanowar Elves and other mana dorks, these auras are unlikely to be removed early or swept up in a board wipe.

Most players look to Utopia Sprawl first since it fixes colors, but Wild Growth is just as good.

#1. Rancor

Rancor

Rancor is a famous design mistake in Magic. Rumor has it that this card was supposed to cost but got printed as just , which made it a powerhouse to this day.

This instantly turns the enchanted creature into a threat and returns to hand when that threat is dealt with. I play it in my Baba Lysaga, Night Witch deck as a cheap enchantment to sacrifice and replay.

Best Cheap Multicolored Auras

#5. Trace of Abundance

Trace of Abundance

I intentionally left Fertile Ground and Wolfwillow Haven out of the green section because they’re overshadowed by Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth.

If you’re playing Naya () colors then you have access to Trace of Abundance, which protects the land it enchants while providing extra mana.

#4. Clout of the Dominus

Clout of the Dominus

The “demigod auras” from Eventide and Shadowmoor each grant an ability if the enchanted creature matches one of its colors, and a second ability if it lines up with both of the aura’s colors. Clout of the Dominus is the Izzet () aura in this cycle, giving +2/+2, shroud, and haste to a creature that’s both red and blue.

#3. Squee’s Embrace

Squee's Embrace

I guess the flavor of Squee's Embrace is that Squee holds onto a creature so tight that you can’t get rid of them. The card itself buffs a creature and makes it hard to get rid of it permanently.

It resembles Kaya's Ghostform in a way but requires that you recast the creature when you get it back.

#2. Staggering Insight

Staggering Insight

Staggering Insight is the final Curiosity effect on the list. It adds lifelink to the formula, which isn’t a bad addition to a card that’s already incentivizing you to attack and deal damage.

#1. Wheel of Sun and Moon

Wheel of Sun and Moon

If Wheel of Sun and Moon was designed today then it would almost certainly be a Curse aura. Instead it’s a normal aura that enchants a player and disrupts their graveyard plays. They still have access to whatever was there before the enchantment hit the board, but nothing new can be added to their graveyard.

Best Cheap Aura Payoffs

Enchantress Decks

“Enchantress” is a nickname given to decks that are trying to pile up tons of enchantments as part of their strategy. They’re usually more interested in pillow fort effects like Sphere of Safety and Ghostly Prison, but they can make use of a few cheap auras.

Wheel of Sun and Moon

Curses and effects like Wheel of Sun and Moon can provide disruption while continuing to build up your wall of enchantments.

Aura Commanders

There are plenty of commanders that explicitly call out auras as part of their gameplan.

Uril, the Miststalker and Bruna, Light of Alabaster are classics. Chishiro, the Shattered Blade and Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice are newcomers to this archetype. Kaima, the Fractured Calm and Mazzy, Truesword Paladin reward you for enchanting your opponents’ creatures.

There are quite a few legendary creatures that encourage building around auras, each with their own twists and strategies.

Voltron Strategies

Voltron decks are ones where your gameplan is to win with a single unstoppable threat. This is usually achieved by loading that creature up with auras and equipment and protecting it as much as possible.

Auras like Aqueous Form and Rancor take away the option to chump block, while other strategies look to grow their threat to enormous proportions with cads like Ethereal Armor and All That Glitters.

Giving Off a Strong Aura

Ethereal Armor - Illustration by Daarken

Ethereal Armor | Illustration by Daarken

Auras have been around since the dawn of Magic, and there will be more with each coming set. Remember that this list only covers auras with mana value one or two, there’s a whole world of more expensive enchantments out there waiting to be explored. There’s some power to gain from these cheap cards as long as you can time your auras right and mitigate the risks of being blown out.

Do you have an enchantment or aura deck that makes good use of these cards? If so, who’s your commander, and how does the deck operate? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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