Last updated on October 23, 2023

Boros Charm - Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Boros Charm | Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Drown in the Loch was such a powerful card in Standard decks because of its flexibility. A counterspell or a removal spell? Great! I’ll take four.

Choices are always great in Magic card design, whether that’s modal double-faced lands from Zendikar Rising, split cards that have appeared over the years, or even kicker-type effects.

One of the oldest designs in Magic to explicitly foreground this idea of a player choosing their own adventure with a card is Charms. With the return of Charms in Streets of New Capenna, this is a good time to rediscover the charm of Charms!

What Are Charms in MTG?

Izzet Charm (Izzet vs. Golgari) - Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Izzet Charm (Izzet vs. Golgari) | Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Charms are modal instant spells that allow you to choose one of the three listed modes when you cast them (unlike commands, which allow you to choose more than one). First created for Mirage as single pipped spells in each color, the Charm cycles expanded over the years to incorporate guilds, shards, and other multicolor identities.

Charms offer flexibility, but that flexibility comes at a cost that’s almost always mana. These effects usually cost more than they would on a standalone card, or the mana symbols make it harder to cast, or the effect is more limited than on a standalone card.

There’s also the question of the combination of effects. For the best Charms you want all those options in a deck. For the worst, some of the options are so useless for a particular deck that those modes are usually ignored.

Which Charms are the best, and are any of these going to be the lucky charm for your deck?

Best White Charms

#3. Hope Charm + Ivory Charm

Hope Charm Ivory Charm

Hope Charm and Ivory Charm. Nope. Next!

#2. Dawn Charm

Dawn Charm

Dawn Charm is bottom tier as far as white fogs go. There aren’t that many fogs in white so this may be worth packing for that alone. You can always use a Dawn Charm moment to laboriously explain the regeneration mechanic if that’s not enough. I hear the kids dig that.

#1. Piety Charm

Piety Charm

You might want Piety Charm‘s first mode against a Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice that just tutored up a Timely Ward, but that’s too narrow. The second mode is a blank, so the question is if giving your team vigilance is worth it.

The answer is yes, especially for one mana. There are only a handful of instants that do this, and most cost three or four. This seems especially good for white aggro Commander decks.

Best Blue Charms

#5. Vision Charm

Vision Charm

Vision Charm hardly shows up in EDH mill decks, which is odd because Merfolk Secretkeeper is in quite a few. Who cares about the creature in a mill deck after you throw down the adventure spell? This Charm is nice if you're running Swampwalk or Islandwalk creatures, or just throwing down Dandân as a meme-y flex.

Phasing out an artifact seems rarely useful. But if you’re rocking Izzet () affinity this allows you to toss in that Furnace Dragon you bought for sideboards in 2004. Or save something from a Vandalblast.

#4. Piracy Charm

Piracy Charm

Why isn’t the only instant spell that grants islandwalk in more EDH decks given infect, ninjutsu, and Scroll Thief effects? I don’t know about Piracy Charm‘s mono-blue discard option, but the removal option isn't useless, and removal is hard to come by in mono blue. Piracy Charm needs a fresh look.

#3. Trickery Charm

Trickery Charm

Trickery Charm‘s second option is loopy unless you’re playing a Gor Muldrak, Amphinologist deck, in which case it's gold. This is solid for the instant speed Spire Owl ETB alone, not to mention the flying.

You also can use this as a Jump, but the flying can be cast on an opponent’s creature and alter the course of a significant combat between your neighbors once attackers are declared.

#2. Sapphire Charm

Sapphire Charm

In a world where players have discovered the joys of Slip Out the Back, it’s ridiculous that Sapphire Charm doesn’t see more EDH play. This can’t save your creature from removal but it can blunt a huge swing.

Giving a creature flying is nice offensively or defensively. And casting this on an opponent’s end step is a fine way to cantrip. Making an opponent draw a card can be useful politically or if you’re playing something like Consecrated Sphinx. This is the cheapest you get that ability compared to, say, Oona's Grace.

#1. Archmage's Charm

Archmage's Charm

A brutally good card if you’re mono blue or Azorius () with enough dual lands, Archmage's Charm shows up more in the Historic meta than in Modern where you can just pack Subtlety into your Yorion elementals pile.

The first two modes are Cancel and Divination in mono-blue EDH decks. The unique final ability is great for nabbing pesky things like Mana Crypt at Commander tables.

Best Black Charms

#4. Midnight Charm + Misery Charm

Midnight Charm Misery Charm

Midnight Charm and Misery Charm. Nope. Next!

#3. Ebony Charm

Ebony Charm

I imagine that the graveyard hate was thought to be the worst of the three options when Ebony Charm was printed, but now it might be the most useful of the options?

#2. Umezawa's Charm

Umezawa's Charm

Cute. Other cards let you choose similar effects more than once, like the broken Umezawa's Jitte or Life of Toshiro Umezawa, which was the nuts in Neon Dynasty Draft. But once like Umezawa's Charm offers probably isn’t enough.

#1. Funeral Charm

Funeral Charm

The only instant spell that grants swampwalk should be in more EDH decks with infect, ninjitsu and Scroll Thief effects floating around. Weak removal and a discard option are a nice bonus for a 1-mana spell. Funeral Charm is looking to be resurrected.

Best Red Charms

#4. Chaos Charm

Chaos Charm

Power creep has left Chaos Charm behind, like most of the original series of Charms. There are better haste enablers so this shouldn’t see a lot of play until we have to worry about a walls deck.

#3. Fever Charm

Fever Charm

I’m not sure why Fever Charm is making the cut in your deck unless you’re boarding it in against a sick Izzet Lavamancer's Skill wizards deck in Onslaught Limited.

Which is too bad, because it’s one of only eight Magic cards with “fever” in the name. It’s been a while since you could ask for more cowbell…

#2. Fury Charm

Fury Charm

The Zada, Hedron Grinder deck wants Fury Charm for a goblin overrun, and the Jhoira of the Ghitu player absolutely needs this. But aside from those, a strictly better Shatter is not where the game is at anymore.

#1. Hearth Charm

Hearth Charm

Of the 13 instants or sorceries that can make a creature unblockable for a turn, Hearth Charm is the only mono red one. This oddly doesn’t show up in many red Voltron builds like Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh or Feather, the Redeemed. Is it too old a card?

Also, you can buff your team! Also also, you can kill an artifact creature. Let’s goooooo!

Best Green Charms

#4. Evolution Charm

Evolution Charm

For the Commander player who has yet to be convinced it’s okay to draw ramp spells on turn 15, I present for your consideration: Evolution Charm. This isn’t the ramp you want, but the Raise Dead effect makes you feel secure when sleeving it up and imagining desperate, dramatic topdecks.

#3. Vitality Charm

Vitality Charm

Trample or a token for your off meta insect tribal deck? We can do that, but the regeneration option is even worse than usual. Vitality Charm is useful in tribal or changeling tribal decks as long as WotC keeps printing Maskwood Nexus effects.

#2. Seedling Charm

Seedling Charm

There are lots of other 1-mana spells that grant trample or regenerate a creature, but no other spell that gives you the choice. Is that choice more valuable than the card draw of another trample enabler in Charge Through? No. Is it better than a kicker for lifelink with that trample in Vigorous Charge? Yes.

I suppose you could use Seedling Charm to bounce auras like Dead Weight or Abundant Growth, and some trample and regeneration might be nice in a deck that wants to do that.

#1. Emerald Charm

Emerald Charm

The enchantment destruction (“global” means non-auras) and classic green flier hate are both more useful than you’d think in a Commander game. Emerald Charm gets slotted into the 99 for its untap ability, useful in decks ranging from Alaundo the Seer to Codie, Vociferous Codex.

Best Multicolored Charms

#30. Darigaaz's Charm

Darigaaz's Charm

Meh. There’s a reason Darigaaz's Charm has only been reprinted once in 20 years. Most of this is overcosted by two mana, too big a tax to pay for options.

This Charm does not, in fact, charm.

#29. Treva's Charm

Treva's Charm

Treva's Charm is too expensive for the low-impact options on the card. I can easily imagine this just rotting in my hand.

#28. Crosis's Charm

Crosis's Charm

Crosis's Charm is for Bolas fanfolk only, I think. Every mode on this is decent and only overcosted by one, but tempo or removal that you can’t use on black creatures and don’t want to use on creatures with strong ETBs feels a little over the hill.

#27. Dromar's Charm

Dromar's Charm

In short, Dromar's Charm is a Cancel with options. Gaining five life for three may be the worst individual option on any Charm, but this takes out Toski, Bearer of Secrets when you need to.

#26. Orzhov Charm

Orzhov Charm

Orzhov Charm is a twitchy card that hasn’t really found a home, which may be why its most popular commander is Killian, Ink Duelist even though Killian's cost reduction doesn’t apply.

Someday there will be some kind of auras deck in Commander that breaks this. Today is not that day

#25. Dimir Charm

Dimir Charm

Twitchy and intricate, Dimir Charm mostly matters for the topdeck manipulation with some bonus interaction in EDH decks like Xanathar, Guild Kingpin or ninjas.

#24. Mardu Charm

Mardu Charm

Would you like removal, Coercion, or some tokens? I can see that in theory for Commander. I’m not sure most Mardu () commanders really want the Mardu Charm combination of effects, though.

#23. Sultai Charm

Sultai Charm

If you’re playing Sultai () you want to get cards in your graveyard, and the baseline of Sultai Charm is that it does that. The sneaky wording of the second ability hides the fact that this is effectively the only Charm with four modes, not three.

It still sounds a lot to ask to pay three for any of these abilities.

#22. Gruul Charm

Gruul Charm

The anti-Mind Flayer ability is a fun bonus to a card that's most often used in Gruul () aggro decks that usually alpha strike with the first ability. Aggro decks only have so much room for noncreatures, so I’m not sure that Gruul Charm makes the cut in 2022.

#21. Selesnya Charm

Selesnya Charm

Trample and an instant token are nice enough, and that makes the removal easier to handle. Selesnya Charm can really handle a big Eldrazi for you, but you’d rather have the removal of other charms in response to an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.

#20. Brokers Charm

Brokers Charm

The Divination fail case seems a bit typical these days, and it works. The mana seems hard to cast for a bite spell or for an enchantment destroyer, so those you might only use those if you’re desperate.

I can’t see Brokers Charm having legs outside of Commander, where options are king.

#19. Azorius Charm

Azorius Charm

Azorius Charm‘s third mode shines, but each one is a good sideboard resource against aggro matchups. The trouble is that this does a lot of nothing in a control mirror and that limits its utility.

This is a sad topdeck against a combo or a superfriends deck in Commander, but it’s a great response to a Voltron emergency.

#18. Jund Charm

Jund Charm

I don’t think Jund Charm is that good, but I still kind of want to play it. Maybe that’s the theme for all these Charms? You can do a small creature board wipe or Tormod's Crypt a graveyard or drop two counters with this.

It’s not efficient enough for 60-card formats, but you could play it in a Commander deck with Jund () colors. Crush the Weak effects are useful but Limited, so being able to do something else with the card makes it more appealing. That’s especially true if my Jund deck is filled with chonky dragons instead of tokens.

#17. Cabaretti Charm

Cabaretti Charm

Cabaretti Charm makes you two tokens if you really need to, or if you decide not to use its blowout-prone removal option. You’re usually packing this for the mini Overrun.

Being able to do that at instant speed is a reasonably rare thing aside from creature effects like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, so having this and Stampede in your Naya () tokens EDH deck is probably a good idea.

#16. Rith's Charm

Rith's Charm

There are three good abilities on Rith's Charm, but neither the two control modes of land destruction or making an attacker whiff really fit in a Naya tokens deck.

There are very few spells that make three tokens for three mana, so perhaps Rith's Charm is worth it for that alone? Then you can pop a Cabal Coffers as needed. This is the best of the Planeshift Charms, which isn’t saying an awful lot.

#15. Simic Charm

Simic Charm

Simic Charm is in a lot more Simic () EDH decks than you might expect. Most of those are led by Commander-centric decks that like three modes that can all protect your Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait, Combine Chrysalis, or Simic Ascendancy.

Simic Charm may not be as relevant as it once was. Heck, it may be one of the only cards in your Simic deck that doesn’t draw you a card of some kind!

#14. Maestros Charm

Maestros Charm

Maestros Charm is removal. It’s some filtering and self-mill. Or it domes everyone for three.

Put another way, it can be a supersized instant-speed Strategic Planning, but you might prefer it as the fail case to the Divination variants that often show up on 3-color Charms. I think I’m talking myself into this for my Kess, Dissident Mage deck.

#13. Riveteers Charm

Riveteers Charm

When you really need another copy of Soul Shatter in your Jund control deck, Riveteers Charm is your huckleberry. The impulse draw you can play on an opponent’s end step is nice, and graveyard hate is a plus.

This value-centric combination makes Riveteers Charm more Jundy than Jund Charm. If that sounds good to you, go for it. If you hear Jund and think “awkward and clunky midrange pile,” then this is not your card.

#12. Bant Charm

Bant Charm

Bant Charm was overpowering in Commander before they adjusted the “tuck rule” so that you can put your commander into the command zone instead of in the deck in response to Bant Charm and other similar effects.

That mode is still good removal for something in the indestructible Eldrazi range. The other two modes are fine, but overcosted enough that you might mostly focus on the 3-mana removal.

#11. Grixis Charm

Grixis Charm

Grixis Charm is a pretty good upgrade to Crosis's Charm. Bounce is still there, the removal is better, and the team buff might just get you over the top.

#10. Jeskai Charm

Jeskai Charm

Take Jeskai Charm and the three guild charms in these colors. Slap in a Galvanic Iteration or two and you’ve got a janky burn deck you could play in Modern. Is it good? No way. Do I want to try it out? Absolutely!

From a Commander perspective, what's not to love about Jeskai Charm in Jeskai () colors? You’ve got two key abilities from Azorius Charm and Boros Charm. That awesome lifelink team pump can save you against a big attack or give you a win if you’re making a lot of tokens.

The mana should be doable if you’re choosing to play Jeskai colors in the first place.

#9. Abzan Charm

Abzan Charm

Abzan Charm was a key part of certain builds of Abzan () midrange decks during Khans of Tarkir Standard (add Siege Rhino or not, to taste). It also has a version of Divination as its fail state.

Exile-based removal is ever more important especially in EDH. The counters are a bit expensive but often fit an Abzan structure, though this can also serve as an inefficient combat trick if you need it to.

#8. Temur Charm

Temur Charm

A fight spell, a Mana Leak, or an alpha strike enabler? Sure, I’m on board with that for Temur Charm.

If Charms are supposed to be flexible, this is the standard bearer.

#7. Golgari Charm

Golgari Charm

You know there’s a Jund player at your LGS who still sleeves Golgari Charm up like 10 years haven’t passed. But this is the perfect card for Golgari Commander, whether it acts as a combo piece for a deck like Grismold, the Dreadsower or just as utility.

Killing all of an opponent’s tokens is nice. Regenerating all of yours is even better.

#6. Naya Charm

Naya Charm

Naya Charm‘s last ability wins the game if you have enough creatures. Why are you playing Naya colors in Commander if you’re not playing a lot of creatures? That’s good, but this also has some removal.

The trippy part about this card is the Mine Excavation riff. It’s one the few cards in Magic that lets you return something from an opponent’s graveyard to their hand. You can return your own thing, but you can also yoink Parhelion II or Serra's Emissary or whatever back into the reanimator mage’s hand.

Even better, the political possibilities of this are endless and largely unexplored. What could you give an opponent from their graveyard on their upkeep that could turn the tide of the game?

#5. Esper Charm

Esper Charm

Still used in Modern Esper () control and Stoneblade decks, the rate and options on Esper Charm are top notch.

Divination? Check. Overcosted enchantment destruction? Check. Adding a Deception that can really hit hard to clear out some counterspells or removal late game is gas.

#4. Obscura Charm

Obscura Charm

The modes here are potentially very powerful. Obscura Charm can return a wide range of permanents from your graveyard, act as a weakened Hero's Downfall, or be counterspell in a pinch. These are all effects that you want.

This is just a bit too slow to show up in the Esper midrange Standard deck this summer, but this seems perfect for Commander.

#3. Rakdos Charm

Rakdos Charm

Rakdos Charm‘s third ability can end a token player’s day, full stop. That’s enough for two mana.

I have lost to this Charm more than my fair share. Add graveyard hate and an artifact hit when you need one and this has utility outside of the tokens scenario.

#2. Izzet Charm

Izzet Charm

Spellslingers in Pioneer and Modern still play Izzet Charm, and why not? You get to choose between a target-limited Quench, a Shock, or a non-flashbacking Faithless Looting for two mana.

I want all of those options in blue and red, and so do 20k other EDH players.

#1. Boros Charm

Boros Charm

The artwork may feature a minotaur, but this charm is the GOAT.

Boros Charm is in almost 90k EDH decks and is a key piece for burn stalwarts in Modern. Every mode of it pops. You feel sad for the modes you’re missing when you cast this card. It makes playing Boros () aggro or burn a lot easier at a strategic level.

The Temur Battle Rage mode feels like a lurking Embercleave in a prowess deck. Alternatively, you can just keep everything alive when the Supreme Verdict drops. Or you can simply dome someone for four, which adds up quickly in a deck with other burn spells.

Best Charms Payoffs

Few charms are powerful enough to keep pace in 60-card formats, so their advantages come out more in Commander.

General Flexibility

The best thing about these cards is that they can slot into your deck to serve multiple purposes. If you have the mana base, especially for the 2- and 3-color Charms, paying a bit more for removal that you could also run as a counterspell in a pinch seems like a good deal.

You can pack a few of these in your deck’s colors if you’re the kind of player who dreads losing a topdeck war in Commander. If nothing else you should have a better time overall because the fear of drawing the wrong thing in a tight spot is diminished.

Including a few hidden gems from the 90s, these are all pretty cheap cards except for Archmage's Charm. It’s pretty accessible to experiment and see if Charms are right for you.

Charms Tribal

I know! This is a thing!

Pick your favorite 5-color commander, pack in a bunch of Charms and a few potential wincons, and enjoy your wealth of many, many options. I can't vouch for the quality of these decks but you'll have some meme-y fun while losing.

If you’re tired of your OP Cromat or Ramos, Dragon Engine deck, swap out 50 great cards for a $40 pile of Charms to power it all down. Maybe swap out your polarizing commander for something truly awful like Atogatog if you want to avoid being the bad guy with the evil general.

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

This card is a powerful engine that can do amazing things in Niv to Light Modern decks that pair Niv-Mizzet Reborn with Bring to Light and a series of other powerful multicolor cards.

Charms provide a nice set of options in these decks for Commander because it’s harder to get the right mix of effects from a Niv ETB in a Singleton 100-card format. Charms are a nice budget way to explore the Niv space. The card itself isn’t that expensive, but a lot of the cards you want in a Niv deck are.

There are lots of ways to skew the deck, from creature swarm to control, so a stack of Charms can allow you to figure out the rhythms of the deck before you invest more expensive and more specialized cards. Once you have the hang of it, power it up!

Charming Conclusion

Emerald Charm (Visions) - Illustration by Greg Spalenka

Emerald Charm (Visions) | Illustration by Greg Spalenka

I fell in love with Charms back in the Mirage block, where the profusion of choices just seemed like a different way to play Magic. I’ve found myself drawn to cards that offer a lot of choices as the years have gone on. Nowadays I still try to pack a few Charms in every EDH decks for old time’s sake (and for luck).

Do you have any favorite Charm spells? Are there any you’re looking forward to trying out? Let me know down below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Stay safe and take care!

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