Last updated on August 11, 2022

Serum Visions - Illustration by Izzy

Serum Visions | Illustration by Izzy

Magic has all kinds of slang terms for just about every card there is. Fetches, looting, flyers, rocks, and cantrips. Cantrips are probably one of the first ones you’ll end up hearing, and are of great interest if you’re a blue and red player like me.

Cantrips are great spells because they replace themselves in your hand and offer excellent tempo and strategy implementation through a game of Magic. Today I’ll be looking over the top 70 cantrips out there, and go over which ones I think are great and which ones are best left untouched.

Let’s get started!

What are Cantrips in MTG?

Brainstorm - Illustration by Willian Murai

Brainstorm | Illustration by Willian Murai

Cantrips is the slang term for cards that draw a card in addition to other abilities. They usually refer to cheap blue spells like Ponder or Brainstorm, which are included in decks to help manipulate the top of the library on top of generating card advantage.

Each deck likes something different. Legacy Delver, for instance, loves Predict, while Legacy Bant () Control wants Ponder and Brainstorm. There are plenty of options to choose from.

#70. Rootgrapple

Rootgrapple

First up on our list is Rootgrapple, a 5-mana treefolk instant that destroys a noncreature permanent. You’ll get to draw a card off of this if you have a treefolk in play.

This is one of those “technically a cantrip” cards that you’re never really too excited to play, but it counts and is green.

#69. Niveous Wisps

Niveous Wisps

Here we have Niveous Wisps, a cheap white spell that makes a creature white and tapped, and then replaces itself by drawing a card. There isn’t too much use for cards like these unless you plan around, but drawing a card for one mana in white is good.

#68. False Dawn

False Dawn

False Dawn is pretty similar to Niveous Wisps in that it changes colors and draws a card. The difference here is the extra 1 in the mana value, and it hits all permanents you control as well as all cards in your hand.

#67. Learn from the Past

Learn from the Past

If graveyard hate is your choice of bonus effect, then look no further than Learn from the Past. Four mana to wipe a graveyard and draw a card is decent hate, and a great way to avoid mill.

#66. Clear the Mind

Clear the Mind

If graveyard hate is your thing, then it just got even better than the last card on the rankings. Clear the Mind does the same thing but for 1 less, which is a much better deal. I’d still like to see it for .

#65. Confounding Conundrum

Confounding Conundrum

Confounding Conundrum is up next. This blue enchantment not only draws you a card, it also prevents your opponent from ramping out more lands each turn.

What a great hate piece that I somehow have never encountered before. New Commander staple anyone?

#64. Ground Seal

Ground Seal

Ground Seal is another cheap enchantment that replaces itself on top of having another bonus effect. In this case it locks the graveyard from being targeted by spells and abilities.

Decent graveyard hate, but I don’t think this beats Surgical Extraction or Endurance.

#63. Cerulean Wisps

Cerulean Wisps

Up next is Cerulean Wisps, a 1-mana spell that makes a creature blue and untaps it, and then draws you a card immediately after. It’s cheap card draw with an effect that might be able to be used in some sort of combo, but it’s certainly got much better cantrips to beat for .

#62. Conjurer’s Bauble

Conjurer's Bauble

Conjurer’s Bauble is the only Bauble that doesn’t cost , and this one can tap and be sacrificed to draw a card and put one card from the graveyard onto the bottom of your library. Nothing too special here.

#61. Psychotic Fury

Psychotic Fury

Next up is Psychotic Fury, a 2-mana red instant that gives a multicolored creature double strike and draws you a card in the process. This card is so close to being good. It’d be an insane aggressive card if it just targeted any creature and only cost .

#60. Squelch

Squelch

Squelch is Stifle’s weird little brother. It costs instead of and only hits activated abilities (no triggers), but it draws you a card.

I’m still not sure if it would be played if it hit triggered abilities as well. The answer to that is… probably?

#59. Dismiss

Dismiss

Another counterspell is next, Dismiss! Four mana to counter something and draw a card is just “meh.” It’s too costly and I’d rather just have Counterspell and be able to spend that two mana elsewhere on my turn.

#58. Dusk Legion Zealot

Dusk Legion Zealot

Dusk Legion Zealot is just your standard run-of-the-mill “draw a card, lose a life” creature. This effect is present in just about every card game that uses life totals, and it’s great in every single one.

#57. Cloudkin Seer

Cloudkin Seer

Next up we have Cloudkin Seer, a 2/1 flier for three that also cantrips when it enters the battlefield. This is decent value. It’s a great 3-drop in Limited, but sees play just about nowhere else.

#56. Messenger Falcons

Messenger Falcons

Messenger Falcons is just a bit better than the previously showcased Cloudkin Seer. It’s a 2/2 instead of a 2/1 but it costs two different colors of mana to make up for that.

You should be fine with the right fixing, or if you’re only running two colors.

#55. Inspiring Overseer

Inspiring Overseer

The third 3-mana flier that draws a card, Inspiring Overseer is the best of the bunch. The lifegain is pretty sweet, and it allows this card to shine in Limited and Constructed angel decks that can effectively use that lifegain to trigger other permanents.

#54. Eye of Vecna

Eye of Vecna

I think Eye of Vecna is an underrated card in Commander, and even cEDH. It draws a card on its way in and can continuously supply card advantage while also acting as a lightning rod for other artifacts you’d rather keep around.

#53. Cloak of Feathers

Cloak of Feathers

Next up we have Cloak of Feathers, a blue sorcery that gives a creature flying on top of drawing you a card. This is a cute little on-theme spell for blue.

While this offers a card for just one mana with upside, that upside isn’t too relevant or generally good enough to make this card much in the formats you can play it in.

#52. Leap

Leap

Leap is the same thing as Cloak of Feathers, but at instant speed. That doesn’t make much of a difference. Still not good.

#51. Hindering Light

Hindering Light

Hindering Light is a bit more interesting. It’s an Azorius () counterspell that hits spells targeting you or your permanents, which isn’t as specific as it seems, and the card draw is really nice.

Remand is strictly better.

#50. Dredge

Dredge

Yes, there is in fact a card named Dredge and no, it does nothing remotely close to the dredge mechanic. It has you sacrifice a creature or land to draw a card at instant speed for .

This is decent in the right deck, but I’d much rather see this ability on a small creature or artifact where I can get value from it multiple times.

#49. Omen

Omen

Next up is Omen, an old cantrip from Portal that costs and does exactly what Ponder does. That’s a great effect, don’t get me wrong, but you have a strictly better version available.

I’d be happy to play this card in slower formats if I forgot Ponder existed.

#48. Fists of Flame

Fists of Flame

Fists of Flame is a newer red instant that costs and draws you a card on top of giving a creature you control trample and +1/+0 for each card you’ve drawn already, and at instant speed. Sort of like card draw in a storm-y way, and I think this would be great in basically any Niv-Mizzet EDH deck.

#47. Crystal Spray

Crystal Spray

Crystal Spray is another blue cantrip. This one costs three mana and changes a spell or permanent’s colors to one of your choice, all while drawing you a card in the process.

I like these effects. They’re neat. But not too much removal or interaction is based on color, which makes it hard to find use for outside of a Sen Triplets EDH deck.

#46. Cleansing Wildfire

Cleansing Wildfire

Currently limited to being in fringe Standard decks, Cleansing Wildfire destroys a land and replaces it with a basic from its controller’s deck, and draws you a card in the process. It’s a great piece of interaction for 3-color decks that often get greedy with their mana base.

#45. Foresight

Sphinx of Foresight

Foresight isn’t exactly the nuts either, but it’s still a unique cantrip in its own right. It sort of does what Surgical Extraction does, but to yourself.

I could see myself playing this card and then removing the rest of the copies (or some other dead card) from my deck to play with a smaller deck size.

#44. Flux

Flux

Flux allows for each player to sift some of the cards in your hand and lets you draw an extra one. It’s a cute card, but I’d rather this force players to discard as many as you do. That would make it much more viable in wheel Commander decks, which is pretty much the only place where I can see this being used.

#43. Blur

Blur

Blur is a newer card from Battle for Baldur’s Gate that flickers a creature you control and draws you a card. This is borderline good for three mana, but only borderline.

Flicker effects are pretty accessible in Azorius. I think I’d rather just play Ephemerate or some other cheaper engine that I can cast earlier though, even though this one draws you a card. Still, it’s decent.

#42. Stun

Stun

Another 4-letter instant here, Stun is a red card that forces a creature to not block that turn, plus it draws you a card. It’s a great way to preemptively set up your opponent’s blockers (or lack thereof) with the upside of drawing a card.

This is cute. I could see it being used in budget EDH decks, particularly Voltron, but that’s about it.

#41. Kenrith’s Transformation

Kenrith's Transformation

Kenrith’s Transformation is great removal in Commander. And if you’re like me, you probably forgot that it draws its controller a card in the process. That’s great creature removal in green, especially for so cheap, and I love playing this card in just about every green deck I own.

#40. Kaldheim Runes

In this spot I’ve chosen to include each of the runes from Kaldheim: Rune of Sustenance, Rune of Flight, Rune of Mortality, Rune of Speed, and Rune of Might. These are all cantrips with various effects that work best in different situations. They currently make up the Runes deck in Standard and occasionally see use in casual EDH decks.

#39. Implode

Implode

Implode is some basic red land destruction that also draws you a card. I’m sure this was nasty back in the day, but it’s since fallen to the wayside thanks to power creep.

Though there is something to be said about the fact that it doesn’t award your opponent with a new basic or some other bonus. It just completely Strip Mines them.

#38. Wheel and Deal

Wheel and Deal

This is an interesting one, and by far the most expensive cantrip on today’s ranking. Wheel and Deal forces your opponents to wheel and draw a fresh seven, and it rewards you with one card yourself.

It’s not too good, and while it’s exceptional when paired with a Narset, Parter of Veils, that’s about all you’ll be doing with it.

#37. Electrolyze

Electrolyze

Once a 1- or 2-of in Modern Izzet () decks, Electrolyze has since fallen to the power creep that has taken the lives of many previous staple cards. This is still decent removal that also cantrips on its way out, which makes it much more playable.

#36. Disrupt

Disrupt

Disrupt is a cheap counterspell meant to counter instants and sorceries whenever your opponents tap out. It also draws a card in the process, which makes it a much better and blue version of Mana Tithe (assuming you only care about countering instants and sorceries).

#35. Peek

Peek

Peek is a cantrip you probably haven’t heard of before, and that’s because it’s just a worse Gitaxian Probe. You might think that this is a good alternative where the Probe is banned, but it’s really not.

The power of Gitaxian Probe comes from the fact that it’s free, not necessarily that it looks at an opponent’s hand and draws you a card. Though those are great aspects of it.

#34. Scale the Heights

Scale the Heights

Green’s got a few cantrips, surprisingly, and another one is Scale the Heights. This spell gives a creature you control a +1/+1 counter, gains you two life, and lets you play an extra land that turn at sorcery speed. To top it all off, it draws you a card.

This is sweet, and it would be great if it cost less mana or did another potent effect that doesn’t require a creature on turn 2.

#33. Arcum’s Astrolabe

Arcum's Astrolabe

While it does require snow mana to be functional, Arcum’s Astrolabe is a great cantrip and artifact in decks that can run snow basics. Previously a dominant card in Modern before it was banned, this card is most commonly used in Urza, Lord High Artificer cEDH decks as a cantrip and combo piece.

#32. Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand

One of the more unique cantrips, Sleight of Hand is really only used in older Modern storm decks, and not much else outside of that. It just doesn’t offer as much information as Brainstorm or Ponder, so it isn’t used outside of that.

#31. Ichor Wellspring

Ichor Wellspring

Ichor Wellspring is a cheap little artifact sludge guy that’ll draw you a card when it enters and when it eventually goes into the graveyard. It’s not a creature, though, so good luck having it destroyed!

#30. Cryptic Command

Cryptic Command

Ah yes, Cryptic Command. How this card has fallen from grace since the printing of Archmage’s Charm. Once a blue staple, this spell has proven to be just too expensive, even if you do get two options.

#29. Visions of Beyond

Visions of Beyond

Visions of Beyond is a card you’d think would be an auto-include in mill decks, but for some reason it’s not. 20 cards is certainly not a high barrier in formats with fetch lands and cheap spells like Modern where this is legal, but it just appears to be too bad before that period to be worth running, at least in a playset.

#28. Opt

Opt

Opt is a cantrip that can be called both disappointing and decent. It’s no Preordain, but you also get instant speed to make up for the lack of scrying. I think I’d rather have the extra card knowledge, though.

#27. Insist

Insist

Green hates having its creatures be countered, and Insist is a great way to get around that. It’ll tank at most one counterspell, and you know you’re good to go if it resolves. It sort of got outed by Veil of Summer, though.

#26. Scout’s Warning

Scout's Warning

Scout’s Warning is a cheap white instant that gives your next creature spell flash and draws you a card. This is pretty nuts for a white card and costs as close to nothing as you can get without using Phyrexian mana.

#25. Growth Spiral

Growth Spiral

Simic () loves two things: drawing cards and playing lands. Growth Spiral does both. Two mana to draw a card plus ramp out a second land for the turn is just sweet, and practically any Simic deck in Commander will play this.

#24. Spirited Companion

Spirited Companion

Spirited Companion certainly deserved some recognition as a cantrip. It’s mostly only used in Standard since it can be an early body and can be used as a sacrifice outlet or enchantment counter later on, but it’s still good value.

#23. Wall of Omens

Wall of Omens 2X2

Wall of Omens is a surprisingly great card for being a wall. It’s got four toughness, which keeps it out of Lightning Bolt and Shock range while also being able to tank early creatures. But the card draw is what seals the deal for me.

#22. Aura Blast

Aura Blast

Enchantment removal in white for ? Count me in. Drawing a card is a nice bonus too since Aura Blast can’t hit artifacts.

#21. Omen of the Sea

Omen of the Sea

While it’s recently fallen out of play, Omen of the Sea is a great cantrip that offers some extra value later in the game when your resources start to dwindle. You get to essentially cast Preordain for at instant speed and then can scry again later on.

This card is great in slower formats if Yorion, Sky Nomad is legal.

#20. Abundant Growth

Abundant Growth

Abundant Growth being a cantrip is just too good. It fixes your mana incredibly well in Modern and it doesn’t even cost early game card advantage since it draws you another card on turn 1.

#19. Spreading Seas

Spreading Seas

Spreading Seas is some great mono-blue land hate that also replaces itself in your hand. This one is great at hitting utility lands and multicolored lands.

Hitting basics is a small plus since you won’t often have an opportunity to lock down a mono-colored deck, but it can still hit a multicolored deck’s singleton basics.

#18. Dress Down

Dress Down

Dress Down is a sweet card on its own, but it acting as a cantrip in situations where it would otherwise be dead in hand is what makes it a great card. Specific hate pieces like this are only as good as situations can make them, and the “draw a card” text on this saves it from the bulk rare pile.

#17. Remand

Remand

Once a great counterspell in Modern, Remand has since fallen to the sidelines thanks to Counterspell entering the format. It was a great counterspell (and still is), but it’s now just a victim of power creep.

#16. Thought Scour

Thought Scour 2X2

Thought Scour was once the premier cantrip for graveyard or delve decks, but that time has since past (say hello to Consider). Regardless of its past triumphs and more recent failings, this is still an exceptional cantrip that you shouldn’t underestimate if you see it across the table.

#15. Explore

Explore

Green doesn’t have too much card draw to speak of, at least not before four mana, but Explore is one of the few exceptions. It does the greenest thing imaginable, giving you a land, and replaces itself in the process.

One of the ways green ramp decks flop is if they have plenty of mana but nothing to spend it on, and this sort of circumvents that situation.

#14. Consider

Consider

Consider was one of the more powerful cantrips that came to players in Midnight Hunt. It’s a great cantrip in any deck that cares about filling up the graveyard, like the Modern and Legacy Murktide Regent decks, and appropriately replaced Thought Scour’s role there.

#13. Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl is just Simic Baleful Strix with a snow land prerequisite, and that’s just fine and dandy. Love this card.

#12. Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix is one of the greatest value cards around. Two mana to draw a card plus you get a 1/1 flier with deathtouch. This is a great blocker and great way to deal damage over time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve see somebody die because they underestimated this card chipping away at them every turn since turn 2, and losing 14 life to it.

#11. Manamorphose

Manamorphose

Manamorphose is one of the most important and famous storm cards of all time. This is a free cantrip assuming you can pay the two mana and have something to do with it after.

Storm decks love this because they usually have plenty of mana but not always enough cards (at least, not the right ones), and this plays the role perfectly.

#10. Predict

Predict

Starting off the top 10 is Predict, which is where things get a little interesting. This card requires you know the top card of your library for certain, which can be easily accomplished with cards like Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Brainstorm, and Mishra’s Bauble.

In case you couldn’t tell, this is used in Legacy Delver and a few fringe combo decks, but not much else.

#9. Serum Visions

Serum Visions

We’re into the single digits now looking at Serum Visions. This cantrip is the reversed version of Preordain, which ends up being worse but still Modern-playable.

#8. Quicken

Quicken

While Quicken isn’t always the most potent spell to cast, it’s a surprisingly great cantrip for what it does. It only makes your sorcery-speed spells instant speed instead of the infamous non-cantrip Flash.

The difference there is spectacular, which is why the latter is banned everywhere but Vintage. But the card draw on Quicken kind of makes up for the fact it takes up a card slot in the first place.

#7. Veil of Summer

Veil of Summer

Veil of Summer is the ever-present thorn in my side as a mono-blue Commander player. This card is top-notch interaction for green decks looking to lock down interaction and clear the way for combos in multicolored decks.

This is a must-run in any green Commander deck and often even makes the sideboard in Legacy.

#6. Preordain

Preordain

Next up we have Preordain, one of the more powerful cantrips that cost just one . I’m a big fan of this card because it works quite well without deck manipulation, which you can’t say for cards like Ponder or Brainstorm.

This isn’t good enough for Legacy, but it’s also too good for Modern. Just throw it in your Commander deck and call it a day.

#5. Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation counts as a cantrip in my book, so it makes its appearance in the top five. A 4-mana 4/4 that draws a card and maybe gains some life is spectacular, and it’s the main engine of 4-color blink in Modern for a good reason. But it’s a little slow in Legacy.

#4. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is banned in so many formats for a reason. Three mana to draw a card, game some life, and ramp up is bonkers.

In eternal formats with fetch lands and plenty of cheap spells, you can often play this on turn 3 and have it online from the graveyard as early as the next turn.

#3. Gitaxian Probe

Gitaxian Probe

Gitaxian Probe is as close as you’ll get to running a 56-card deck, and I’d personally say it’s better. Having that information as to not only what your opponent is playing but how their first few turns will shape up is often game-deciding.

#2. Ponder

Ponder

Ponder is our runner-up today, and for good reason. This gives you some of the best card selection and sees the greatest number of cards out of any cantrip.

Like all three? Have all three. Like some of them? Use a fetch land to select your favorites. Like nothing? Shuffle it away and roll the dice!

#1. Brainstorm

Brainstorm

Brainstorm is the first-place cantrip today, to nobody’s surprise. This card is exceptionally strong. It’s basically a nerfed-Ancestral Recall, and it becomes a nearly equally powerful card if you combine it with some shuffle effects or other hand manipulation. A+ here.

Best Cantrip Payoffs

Cantrips are best used in conjunction with fetch lands, which can provide an on-demand shuffle effect. That obviously requires a way to know what’s on top of your library, but some cantrips (like Brainstorm) can help you get there.

There’s also the surveil mechanic, conveniently placed on Dragon’s Rage Channeler, which lets you peak at the top card before your cantrip resolves. This can allow you to toss it into the graveyard to avoid being drawn.

Why’s it Called a Cantrip Anyway?

The term “cantrip” is a Scottish word for a small spell. It was popularized in Dungeons & Dragons as similar slang for a cheap spell with no real cost, like Ponder. “Cantrip” is a small little spell you can cast for cheap, often just one blue mana, that does a minor effect like draw a card and maybe scry.

What Are Cantrips Good in MTG?

Cantrips are great because they allow you to generate card advantage over your opponent, further gathering resources and extending a lead or catching up. They also can be amplified through other knowledge effects or shuffling, which can help you setup your deck to draw you the cards you actually want.

Are Cantrips Card Draw?

Yes; cantrips are cards that draw you a card on top of doing something else.

Are Cantrips Card Advantage?

Card advantage is much different than card draw, and cantrips generally are not card advantage.

Card advantage means the spell generates more cards than just one. If you look closely, while spells like Brainstorm and Ponder allow you to see a lot of cards, they don’t actually do anything more than replace themselves, meaning they’re card neutral.

Is Ancestral Recall a Cantrip?

Ancestral Recall

Ancestral Recall is a cantrip since it’s a spell that draws you a card. It doesn’t do much else, but it’s a cheap spell that ends up replacing itself (and more), so it’s considered one. I didn’t include it in the rankings because I feel like it’s in a class of its own.

Wrap Up

Preordain - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Preordain | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

That wraps up everything I have for you today. I love these massive ranking lists because they usually result in me finding some new pet cards or cards that are perfect for some specific Commander decks I own.

What did you think of my rankings? Were there any cards you wish were included but weren’t? Any rankings you’d move around or generally disagree with? Let me know in the comments or head over to chat about it in the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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