Last updated on January 25, 2023

Beckon Apparition - Illustration by Cliff Childs

Beckon Apparition | Illustration by Cliff Childs

Magic is a complex game, but one trend is clear: the more spells you play, the higher your chances are to win. There’s lots to consider, like curves, creatures, and other spells. Creatures spells are the most common way to deal damage to your opponents, but other cards like instants or sorceries are often paired with them to clear the board or provide you with some card advantage to expand.

Cheap instants and sorceries are a great way to fill out your deck, and I’ve highlighted the best and brightest of them. How are they usually played, and which decks do they fit into best? Let’s find out!

What Are Cheap Instants and Sorceries in MTG?

Lightning Bolt - Illustration by Christopher Moeller

Lightning Bolt | Illustration by Christopher Moeller

The cheapest cards in Magic are instant or sorceries with a mana value of one, sometimes less.

There are many other cheap spells, like Cast Down and Demonic Tutor, that are among the best in their niche, but I’m going to focus on cards with mana value two or less. Otherwise this list would be endless. Cards with an X in their casting cost are also excluded as is anything that has built-in reduction, like Dismember and Treasure Cruise.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into it!

Best White Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#14. Sunlance

Sunlance

Sunlance is a cheap removal spell that reminds me of a budget Lightning Bolt for white decks that can’t run red.

#13. Brave the Elements

Brave the Elements

What makes Brave the Elements a unique card is that it protects your white creatures for just one mana. This can be used to either protect your creatures from removal or to push through damage and make most of your army unblockable.

In a manner of speaking it’s both a defensive and an offensive spell.

#12. Holy Day

Holy Day

In a nutshell, Holy Day is the white Fog.

#11. Karametra’s Blessing

Karametra's Blessing

White has a variety of combat tricks, and I find that Karametra’s Blessing is the best around. It’s seen so much play in competitive Magic.

#10. Mana Tithe

Mana Tithe

Mana Tithe is one of the cards I assume has caught most players off guard because counterspells are usually used only in blue decks. Imagine casting your board wipe with exact mana only to have your hopes shattered because you don’t have the to pay. Heartbreaking, to say the very least.

#9. Alliance of Arms

Alliance of Arms

Alliance of Arms is a fun card to play. You can pay, say, 20 life to create 20 bodies. It can quickly become a win condition if you run it in a lifegain deck like Oloro, Ageless Ascetic.

#8. Emerge Unscathed

Emerge Unscathed

Like Brave the Elements, Emerge Unscathed is a cheap instant that can be used either on attack or defense. You’ll usually use it is to protect a creature on your opponent’s turn and then rebound it on yours to go on the attack.

#7. Condemn

Condemn

I’m not a big fan of situational spot removals, but Condemn is one I like because of how cheap it is. The lifegain is minimal considering how it can save you from death. Bonus points for using it on your creature to gain life if needed.

#6. Defiant Strike

Defiant Strike

Defiant Strike is a white cantrip that’s used along with creatures like Illuminator Virtuoso to cheaply pump them and hit for big chunks while replenishing your hand. The trick is to stack as many of these spells as you can in one turn.

#5. Ephemerate

Ephemerate

God, I hate Ephemerate. Not because it’s bad; quite the opposite. If you pair it with ETB effect creatures (looking at you Mulldrifter) it can become arguably one of the best cheap white spells around.

On top of that it isn’t exiled after the rebound effect is resolved, so its potential rises if you can use Regrowth effects on it.

#4. Steelshaper’s Gift

Steelshaper's Gift

Steelshaper’s Gift is the second best white tutor ever printed only outclassed by its older friend, Enlightened Tutor.

#3. Enlightened Tutor

Enlightened Tutor

Cheap tutor effects are rare in colors other than black, and Enlightened Tutor is one of the best around.

There are plenty of overpowered mana rocks that can be used to push you ahead on mana, plus other artifact bombs. It mostly sees play at Commander tables.

#2. Path to Exile

Path to Exile

In my opinion Path to Exile is the second best cheap white spell ever printed. It gets things out of the way for minimal value (giving opponents basic lands).

#1. Swords to Plowshares

Swords to Plowshares

If Path to Exile is so strong, what can possibly be better? Let me introduce you to Swords to Plowshares, the card that Path to Exile dreams of being.

Lands and life are resources in Magic, but the easiest to overcome is life. There’s a big difference between ramping up your opponent and giving them a couple life.

Best Blue Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#39. Whispers of the Muse

Whispers of the Muse

Looking for a way to draw a card every turn? Listen to the Whispers of the Muse.

#38. Curfew

Curfew

Speaking of Pauper, Curfew is a decent sideboard card against creatures that can’t be removed easily, like Slippery Bogle or Guardian of the Guildpact.

#37. Fading Hope + Vapor Snag

Fading HopeVapor Snag

Now that’s efficient. The one that started it all was Unsummon, and from there, many other similar effects have been printed. The ones that stand out the most from the rest are Fading Hope and Vapor Snag, and the minimal extra value is very welcomed.

#36. Force Spike

Force Spike

This is Mana Tithe, but blue! I think Force Spike was the model for the latter, and I like it. It always catches someone off guard.

#35. Gigadrowse

Gigadrowse

Gigadrowse was popular in Modern for a while. In that format you can tap all your opponent’s lands at the end of their turn and use your combo without the fear of getting disrupted.

#34. Mental Note

Mental Note

Like Consider, Mental Note fits perfectly in decks that want to fill your graveyard quickly. Unlike Consider, this one doesn’t give you the option to not send things to your graveyard from the top of your library.

#33. Obsessive Search

Obsessive Search

Obsessive Search is a very basic cantrip with the upside that when it’s discarded, you get to play it anyway. Honorary mention to Reach Through Mists for pioneering these cycle effects.

#32. Peek

Peek

Early versions of Splinter Twin decks would let Peek see some play to check if the “coast was clear.” Clear? Proceeded to combo. I don’t think it sees play in any format, but only time will tell if it’s eventually reprinted.

#31. Opt

Opt

The scry part of Opt significantly improves cards that serve as cantrips. This one is very popular in modern Magic in formats like Pioneer or Explorer.

#30. Careful Study

Careful Study

Careful Study doesn’t give you card advantage. The upside is that it lets you put cards from your hand into the graveyard, which is perfect for reanimation strategies.

#29. Distortion Strike

Distortion Strike

I’m adding Distortion Strike to the list as is the cheap blue spell with rebound. It saw a decent amount of play in infect decks.

#28. Steel Sabotage + Annul

Steel SabotageAnnul

Steel Sabotage is a simple and effective way to battle artifacts. Annul can also handle enchantments, but it can’t fight back once a pesky artifact has already resolved.

#27. Hard Evidence

Hard Evidence

This is one of my favorite cards. Hard Evidence gives you a decent blocker with an artifact that can be used with mechanics like metalcraft or improvise, or just be cashed as an extra card later in the game.

#26. Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand

Another cantrip that’s used mainly because Ponder and Preordain are banned from Modern. I think the archetype isn’t popular anymore post MH2, but Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions shined in Pyromancer Ascension decks.

#25. Stream of Thought

Stream of Thought

Stream of Thought is one of the few ways I know to mill an opponent out in Pauper. I mention that format because I don’t think this card is playable in any other.

#24. Pongify + Rapid Hybridization

Pongify Rapid Hybridization

Pongify and Rapid Hybridization are the same card, except one gives you a monkey and the other a frog.

#23. Quicken

Quicken

I like cantrips that give you an unorthodox form of value. Quicken lets you play sorcery spells as though they had flash. Nothing is more fearsome than casting Day of Judgment at instant speed.

#22. Retraction Helix

Retraction Helix

Retraction Helix is the kind of card that’s there to shine when the meta least expects it. It’s one of the main combo enablers for strategies like Jeskai Ascendancy.

#21. Rona’s Vortex

Rona's Vortex

As you may know already, I like when cards can be versatile in how they’re cast. In Rona’s Vortex case, it’s an Unsummon that can become a hard removal with just a little kick.

#20. Shore Up

Shore Up

Protection spells aren’t unusual in blue. Shore Up is the latest one, and it’s set apart from the rest because it also can be used as a combat trick when needed.

#19. Shadow Rift

Shadow Rift

Shadow Rift is very similar to Distortion Strike. It’s often paired with Precursor Golem and Rite of Replication to draw most of your deck in wild Commander brews.

#18. Spell Pierce

Spell Pierce

Like Dispel, Spell Pierce is a cheap way to combat counterspells in eternal formats. Don’t be fooled: its scope is greater than just instants. Your artifacts, enchantments, and even planeswalkers can be countered if you aren’t paying attention and don’t have enough mana to pay the tax.

#17. Spell Snare

Spell Snare

Spell Snare is Mental Misstep’s big brother. I remember it saw tons of play in the early Modern days. Then again, this is one of the cards that decreased in playability once MH2 entered the scene.

#16. Stifle

Stifle

Stifle a Phyrexian Dreadnought is one of the oldest combos I’ve seen. It was very popular in Legacy back in the day, but it’s almost a forgotten strategy nowadays.

#15. Stubborn Denial

Stubborn Denial

Blue is infamous for having a wide selection of counters for the deck that needs them. Stubborn Denial is used as a 1-mana hard counter in the right deck, perfect for aggressive strategies that run cheap but mighty creatures.

#14. Swan Song

Swan Song

Giving a Swan token to an enemy with Swan Song rather than letting them resolve a win condition is a price I’m willing to pay every time.

#13. Thought Scour

Thought Scour

Thought Scour is another cheap cantrip that can be used to fill your graveyard quickly. Unlike Mental Note, you can also choose to target your opponent instead.

#12. Visions of Beyond

Visions of Beyond

Visions of Beyond is Ancestral Recall’s younger brother, except you need twenty cards in your library to exploit its full potential.

#11. Wash Away

Wash Away

Wash Away is best known as a 1-mana counterspell for commanders.

#10. Blue Elemental Blast + Hydroblast

Blue Elemental BlastHydroblast

These two cards are equivalent to each other, and there’s just a minor difference between them. Hydroblast can target any spell, and Blue Elemental Blast can’t. Regardless, both are excellent hate cards against red spells.

#9. Dispel

Dispel

Dispel is one of the best sideboard cards ever printed. It’s cheap and deals with some of the best spells around, like Force of Will or Counterspell.

#8. Flusterstorm

Flusterstorm

One could say that Flusterstorm is Force Spike with storm. One would be wrong.

Force Spike can only counter instant or sorcery spells. Still, it’s a very good card that’s often used in sideboard plans against other cards with storm, or against combo decks that like to stack things.

#7. High Tide

High Tide

High Tide may not have the same impact as some higher ranked cards, but it’s without a doubt one of the best combo enablers ever printed. Generating double the amount of mana that you’re allowed to naturally is an excellent way to win games, especially if you pair it with the likes of Turnabout and Time Spiral.

#6. Mental Misstep

Mental Misstep

Mental Misstep is a very narrow card at first glance. Its power level is still such that it’s only legal in Commander while being banned/not legal in any other format. Except Vintage, that is, where it’s restricted.

#5. Gitaxian Probe

Gitaxian Probe

There’s something going on with cards with Phyrexian mana that cost one. Gitaxian Probe, like Mental Misstep, is banned from most formats aside from Commander and is restricted in Vintage. The issue is that it’s a very cheap cantrip that can be played for free.

#4. Consider

Consider

I’d Consider running this spell in decks that want to fill your graveyard quickly with other cards. It’s recently been a multi-format staple for decks that can exploit it, like Izzet () Phoenix in Pioneer or Dimir () Terror in Pauper.

#3. Ponder + Preordain + Serum Visions

Ponder, Preordain, and Serum Visions are very similar in what they do: manipulating your library’s top X cards while cycling into another card. Of the three, only Serum Visions isn’t banned from Modern.

#2. Brainstorm

Brainstorm

Brainstorm draws you the same number of cards as Ancestral Recall, but you only get to keep one in hand. The rest go back to the top of your library.

This may not seem like much but it’s a good spell regardless. It lets you look deeper into your library at the very least. It also has other applications, like hiding your best spells against hand hate spells like Duress and some cute synergies with the likes of Squadron Hawk.

#1. Ancestral Recall

Ancestral Recall

Many other blue spells cost one mana, and yet, nothing compares to Ancestral Recall. It’s simply the best card draw spell ever printed.  If it weren’t enough that you get to cheaply draw three cards, you can also do it at instant speed.

Best Black Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#27. Duress

Duress

Duress is one of the cards that’s been reprinted the most. It’s a very good sideboard card against control strategies. It’s even run in the main deck to surprise opponents from time to time.

#26. Ghastly Demise

Ghastly Demise

Ghastly Demise can be one of the best removal spells for your deck depending on the meta. If black creatures aren’t prevalent and you happen to put multiple cards into your graveyard, this is probably the best thing you could be running.

#25. Peppersmoke

Peppersmoke

Peppersmoke was a decent spell in Limited when Lorwyn was around. Outside of that I think it didn’t see much play in Constructed. If you happen to run a faerie tribal deck, it’s worth considering.

#24. Village Rites

Village Rites

There aren’t many other sacrifice effects better than Village Rites. In early Historic days it was run with Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger to get the extra benefit of sacrificing a creature that was going to hit the graveyard anyway. Nowadays it sees play in Pioneer sacrifice decks that run cards like Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar.

#23. Rotten Reunion

Rotten Reunion

There are better graveyard hate cards, like Relic of Progenitus, but Rotten Reunion has its reason to be played. For example, it’s useful if you’re trying to get bodies on the field to protect your real treats from sacrifice effects like Diabolic Edict.

#22. Bone Shards + Bone Splinters + Spark Harvest

These three spells require you to at least sacrifice a creature to kill another. Bone Shards and Spark Harvest can also be used to get rid of planeswalkers, while Bone Splinters limits you to creatures.

Honorable mention to Mutual Destruction, which is technically a fancy Bone Splinters.

#21. Bump in the Night

Bump in the Night

I refer to Bump in the Night as the black Lava Spike. This is slightly better because it has flashback and doesn’t deal damage. It can’t be prevented from the likes of Prismatic Strands.

#20. Cabal Therapy

Cabal Therapy

Cabal Therapy is a card that has mostly seen play in Legacy. It’s arguably one of the most skill-intensive cards to play because you need to consider the right time to cast it. It could be better than a Hymn to Tourach on its best day.

#19. Deathmark

Deathmark

I’d like to see Deathmark reprinted and downshifted in rarity. It’s an excellent sideboard that could see play in newer formats like Pioneer.

#18. Innocent Blood

Innocent Blood

Black has lots of efficient removal spells. Innocent Blood can act as a prime removal against some decks like Legacy reanimator that don’t run many of them.

#17. Raven’s Crime

Raven's Crime

Raven’s Crime is another discard card that can be used along with other cards like Life from the Loam to leave your opponents potentially without any cards in hand.

#16. Darkblast

Darkblast

Darkblast has been very good historically, and it’s a decent sideboard option against decks that run creatures with one toughness.

#15. Darkness

Darkness

Darkness is the black Fog.

#14. Extirpate

Extirpate

Extirpate is one of the best hate cards against combo decks. You can’t interact with it once it’s on the stack, and it shuts down strategies that rely on specific cards to win.

#13. Disfigure + Lash of Malice

DisfigureLash of Malice

These two are very similar in what they do. Lash of Malice can be used as a pseudo-pump spell when required, but its downside shows up when an opponent finds a way to pump the creature it’s targeting. The creatures survives, and now your removal spell has become a combat trick in your opponent’s favor. Not great!

Lash of Malice is acceptable to run if that’s a negligible risk for you. Otherwise, run Disfigure.

#12. Bloodchief’s Thirst

Bloodchief's Thirst

The main thing with black cheap spells is that they like to make things dead, and that’s precisely what Bloodchief’s Thirst does. I like it because it kills small stuff for one mana, and everything else for three more.

#11. Entomb

Entomb

Reanimation decks love Entomb because it’s a card that tutors for the creature you want to Reanimate and puts it into the graveyard.

#10. Urborg Repossession

Urborg Repossession

Urborg Repossession is one of my favorite cards from the last set for its ability to return any other permanent from the graveyard to your hand when it’s kicked. The lifegain is also convenient.

#9. Unearth

Unearth

I’ve had very good experiences with Unearth. It’s a great way to get creatures back from the graveyard with minimal effort. For example, you can get your Drannith Stinger back without running any red land to cast it in some decks like cycling storm in Pauper.

#8. Cut Down

Cut Down

Cheap removal spells are always welcome in any format. If you want to Cut Down some small creatures, this card is for you.

#7. Fatal Push

Fatal Push

Since its printing, Fatal Push has been one of the most reliable removal spells available. In formats like Modern where fetch lands are present, it’s straightforward to trigger the revolt ability, so it can kill just about everything your opponents may be playing.

#6. Surgical Extraction

Surgical Extraction

Surgical Extraction is very similar to Extirpate, and both fill the same role. This one’s better because it can be played as a sideboard card in any deck regardless of the colors you run.

#5. Dark Ritual

Dark Ritual

Rituals” has become shorthand for spells that net you more mana than you spent on casting them. Because of that they’re usually played in combo decks that want to chain spells together to cast big threats or make big plays in a single turn.

Dark Ritual is key to that kind of deck and a must-have in any that runs black.

#4. Imperial Seal

Imperial Seal

Tutor spells are very prevalent in black. Imperial Seal is the cheapest available in its color, and it’s crucial in Commander combo decks.

#3. Vampiric Tutor

Vampiric Tutor

Vampiric Tutor is an upgraded version of Imperial Seal that can be used at instant speed.

#2. Inquisition of Kozilek

Inquisition of Kozilek

Discard spells are another signature from black, as you may already know, and Inquisition of Kozilek is one of the best. It can hit a lot of the popular cards in the formats where it’s available.

#1. Thoughtseize

Thoughtseize

This is the best discard spell ever printed. For the mere cost of two life points Thoughtseize can get rid of your opponent’s best card in hand or tempo them out to slow them in their plans.

Best Red Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#35. Assault Strobe

Assault Strobe

Assault Strobe hasn’t been played a lot. If you ask me it’s one of the best cards ever printed.

I have to confess that I’m a bit biased because it gave me a very important title back when I played competitive Magic IRL. I paired it with Kiln Fiend, and it gave me such joy that I couldn’t leave it off this list.

#34. Shard Volley

Shard Volley

Shard Volley is the Lightning Bolt that leaves you without a Mountain.

#33. Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Winds of Change is one of those effects that’s very common on some red spells, but not this cheap. Consecrated Sphinx is a big fan of it.

#32. Brightstone Ritual

Brightstone Ritual

There are a handful of red rituals, and Brightstone Ritual is a very particular one. It’s supposed to work based on the number of creatures you control. This may seem hard to pull, but wait until you see it in action in Zada, Hedron Grinder Commander decks. You’ll be amazed!

#31. Ancestral Anger

Ancestral Anger

Similar to Defiant Strike, Ancestral Anger is a cheap cantrip that’s usually used in Boros () heroic decks that want to make their creatures bigger while chaining spells back-to-back.

#30. Chain Lightning

Chain Lightning

Chain Lightning is one of the very first burn spells printed. It’s one of the key cards for red decks to this day, regardless of what’s been printed since.

#29. Claim the Firstborn

Claim the Firstborn

Claim the Firstborn pairs very well with Village Rites. In Pioneer, the dream play is to steal an Old-Growth Troll and get rid of it for good. Otherwise it’s a creature that always gives value to the deck that runs it.

#28. Devastating Summons

Devastating Summons

I had tons of fun with Devastating Summons way back when I managed to pair it with Kuldotha Rebirth and Goblin Bushwhacker.

#27. End the Festivities

End the Festivities

The power level in Standard and any recent sets may be too much for End the Festivities to be played. In Pauper, it’s an excellent board wipe while Kuldotha Rebirth strategies are rising in popularity.

#26. Firebolt

Firebolt

Four damage for six mana may seem a lot. If you split Firebolt’s casting cost over different portions of the game, you’ll see that this card is worth running in decks that want different removal options.

#25. Forked Bolt

Forked Bolt

Forked Bolt is very good when you want to kill multiple X/1 creatures, or just split damage post-combat.

#24. Goblin Grenade

Goblin Grenade

Do you have a goblin tribal deck, and are you having trouble getting through your opponent’s creatures for those last points of damage? Look no further! Goblin Grenade has you covered.

#23. Kuldotha Rebirth

Kuldotha Rebirth

Kuldotha Rebirth has to be one of my favorite cards in modern Magic. Back in the day there weren’t many good artifacts to sacrifice. Recent sets have introduced cards like Experimental Synthesizer that make creating Goblin tokens easier.

#22. Lava Spike

Lava Spike

Burn at its finest. Lava Spike is usually compared to Chain Lightning in burn decks, but the difference is that the first can only target players.

#21. Pillar of Flame + Flame-Blessed Bolt

Pillar of FlameFlame-Blessed Bolt

Two points of damage may not seem like much, but there are some creatures like Cauldron Familiar and Arclight Phoenix that need to be exiled. Otherwise they can take over games the longer they remain unanswered.

Pillar of Flame has the upside to hit players while Flame-Blessed Bolt’s niche is that it can be used at instant speed.

#20. Rite of Flame

Rite of Flame

Rite of Flame is one of the best rituals ever. It’s banned in Modern and key in Legacy storm decks.

#19. Shattering Spree

Shattering Spree

As far as sideboard cards go, Shattering Spree is one of the best to use against artifact decks. It may be slow and sometimes outclassed by the likes of Shatterstorm, but it’s another excellent option if needed.

#18. Strangle

Strangle

Recent red removal spells try to emulate Lightning Bolt. Strangle is cheap and effective, but I see it as something that’s specialized with the extra reach of hitting planeswalkers.

#17. Electrickery

Electrickery

Electrickery is very similar to End the Festivities. And yet, it’s kind of different. It can be used at instant speed, and you can always decide not to kick it if needed to just kill a single small creature.

#16. Fiery Impulse

Fiery Impulse

Fiery Impulse is a card I’ve seen used in Izzet Pioneer decks where meeting “spell mastery” conditions is easy. If there’s no Lightning Bolt in the format you have to work with what can impersonate it the best.

#15. Galvanic Blast

Galvanic Blast

Galvanic Blast is a better Lightning Bolt in decks with high artifact density.

#14. Gut Shot

Gut Shot

I think at this point I’ve established that every card with Phyrexian mana is very good. Gut Shot is no exception, even if it’s dealing one point of damage.

#13. Lava Dart

Lava Dart

This was a card that barely saw play in Constructed until very recently. Since the introduction of Monastery Swiftspear and its downshift to Pauper, Lava Dart has risen to become a staple on certain decks.

#12. Lightning Axe

Lightning Axe

Lightning Axe is very good in madness decks or decks that want to send creatures like Arclight Phoenix to the graveyard from your hand.

#11. Reckless Rage

Reckless Rage

I like Reckless Rage in prowess decks as a 1-mana hard removal against creatures.

#10. Redcap Melee + Rending Volley

Redcap MeleeRending Volley

Both are very similar. Redcap Melee is a sideboard card against red decks, and Rending Volley serves against blue or white creatures.

#9. Rites of Initiation

Rites of Initiation

Rites of Initiation is an unusual pump spell for some creature decks. What’s funny about it is that I’ve seen it played in decks with no themes like madness or flashback to at least get some value from it.

#8. Shock

Shock

Shock is a Lightning Bolt that only deals two damage. This might not seem relevant, but it’s the mold for other spells like Play with Fire, which has the same effect plus a little upside.

#7. Skred

Skred

I remember when Skred wasn’t popular and was one of the most underplayed commons in Pauper. Now it’s a staple in the format for Izzet decks.

#6. Spikefield Hazard

Spikefield Hazard

Spikefield Hazard is the only MDFC of this list, and it’s the only one that has seen competitive play.

#5. Pyroblast + Red Elemental Blast

PyroblastRed Elemental Blast

Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast are the counterparts of Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast.

#4. Unholy Heat

Unholy Heat

I see why Unholy Heat is very popular in Modern decks. It’s a reliable spell to kill big creatures that Lightning Bolt can’t.

#3. Faithless Looting

Faithless Looting

The red Careful Study with flashback is very popular in red decks across formats that want to fill the graveyard quickly. It’s usually paired with Arclight Phoenix in Pioneer, and with many delirium cards in other formats.

#2. Vandalblast

Vandalblast

Remember when I mentioned that Shattering Spree was one of the best sideboard cards against artifact decks? Well, Vandalblast is the best red one because it only focuses on killing artifacts you don’t control.

#1. Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt

When it’s used as the mold for every other red burn spell, there’s clearly no doubt why Lightning Bolt is the best cheap red spell.

Best Green Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#17. Turn the Earth

Turn the Earth

I love Turn the Earth because it’s a card that no one expects. It’s saved me from dying more than once. It’s key to shuffling your best spells into your library and a reasonably decent one against graveyard hate decks.

#16. Autumn’s Veil

Autumn's Veil

Autumn’s Veil is a reasonable sideboard card against blue and black decks. It’s not higher on the list because it don’t see much play and there’s something better.

#15. Fog

Fog

The original Fog. All other cards with this effect in other colors are just copies of it.

#14. Abundant Harvest

Abundant Harvest

What’s funny about Abundant Harvest is that it’s often cast as a cantrip in green combo decks. In the end it’s never used because those decks usually have better cantrips, like Preordain or Ponder.

#13. Ancient Stirrings

Ancient Stirrings

Ancient Stirrings is another card that mostly sees play in mono-green Modern decks. It’s worth pointing out that its Secret Lair art is one of the few that makes me want to buy IRL products again.

#12. Blizzard Brawl

Blizzard Brawl

Fight spells are very usual in green, and Blizzard Brawl is an upgraded version of Prey Upon. In theory you’ll win every fight if you control enough snow permanents.

#11. Commune with Spirits

Commune with Spirits

Commune with Spirits is one of the cards I’m excited about the most from Neon Dynasty because it’s a cheap tutor for enchantress decks. The archetype needed that.

#10. Dig Up

Dig Up

Speaking of tutors, I like Dig Up for its versatility. You can tutor for any card in your deck if you put enough mana into it.

#9. Savage Swipe

Savage Swipe

Similar to Blizzard Brawl, Savage Swipe is a fight spell that pumps creatures with two power. You usually win fights with it and swing for a big hit.

#8. Groundswell

Groundswell

Groundswell is basically an upgraded version of Giant Growth.

#7. Might of Old Krosa

Might of Old Krosa

Might of Old Krosa is somewhat hard to play right because you need to protect your creature first and make sure it gets through. This is one of the best pump spells you can use if these conditions are easily achievable for your deck.

#6. Mutagenic Growth

Mutagenic Growth

Mutagenic Growth is the green Phyrexian mana spell that often surprises opponents who try to kill your creatures with damage or shrink spells. Remember when I mentioned that Lash of Malice can backfire? This is the main culprit.

#5. Mystic Repeal + Nature’s Claim

Mystic Repeal and Nature’s Claim are dedicated artifact removal spells that can be used depending on the where format they’re legal. Mystic Repeal is better overall, but it can’t be used in Pauper.

#4. Snakeskin Veil + Vines of Vastwood + Tamiyo’s Safekeeping

Snakeskin Veil, Vines of Vastwood, and Tamiyo’s Safekeeping are very similar to each other because they all protect your creatures from getting killed, and each provides a different value.

#3. Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation

UrzaTron decks love to use Crop Rotation as their main way to assemble the infamous combo. It mostly sees plays in Modern Eldrazi green decks, but it’s also used in Pauper Ephemerate decks.

#2. Glimpse of Nature

Glimpse of Nature

Glimpse of Nature is a staple for elves decks in Legacy, where your goal is to put as many of those green creatures in play as possible and draw most of your library to finish things off with Craterhoof Behemoth.

#1. Veil of Summer

Veil of Summer

In the first spot for green is Veil of Summer, the upgraded version of Autumn’s Veil. It’s one of the most used cards in Modern.

Best Multicolored Cheap Instants and Sorceries

#7. Fossil Find

Fossil Find

A random Regrowth effect for one mana is nothing to look down on. Fossil Find isn’t reliable, but it’s good enough to make the list.

#6. Safewright Quest

Safewright Quest

Tutors for lands are rare, especially the ones that can fetch Triomes. If you’re looking for that kind of effect, Safewright Quest is the card for you.

#5. Slip Through Space

Slip Through Space

Slip Through Space is a peculiar card because its casting cost has blue in it, but it’s technically colorless. The effect on it is nothing outside of the ordinary, but it made the list thanks to its uniqueness.

#4. Memory Sluice

Memory Sluice

Memory Sluice is probably one of the best hybrid cards because you get to copy it if you control other creatures that share a color with it.

#3. Scar

Scar

I like the design of this card and its name. Shrinking your opponent’s creatures definitely leaves a Scar.

#2. Make Your Mark

Make Your Mark

Make Your Mark is a combat trick that leaves a body behind, so it’s a good deal in my opinion.

#1. Beckon Apparition

Beckon Apparition

Beckon Apparition is very similar to Rotten Reunion, except that the creature you get is more reliable. The only downside is that it doesn’t have flashback, but it can be used in white decks if needed.

Best Cheap Instant and Sorcery Payoffs

There are certain strategies that love to play as many spells as they can in a row, and you’ll be surprised how different they are from one to another.

Pyromancer Ascension is the signature card for combo decks that rely on cheap cantrips or cards like Rite of Flame to turn it on. Once that’s accomplished, the next step is to chain as many of those spells as possible to finish your opponents with a Grapeshot.

Tolarian TerrorConsider

With Tolarian Terror decks, the goal is to play self-mill spells like Consider or cantrips to fill your graveyard and cast the serpent for just one mana.

Tendrils of Agony

Decks that use Tendrils of Agony are very similar to the Pyromancer Ascension ones. The main difference is that the first is mostly used along with Legacy cards, so its faster and deadlier because you also get access to cheap ramp spells like Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond.

Monastery Swiftspear

Most burn spells that are popular in strategies with the same name are usually paired alongside Monastery Swiftspear as a permanent that grows every time a noncreature spell is cast. This translates to more damage dealt to your opponent.

Dreadhorde Arcanist

Another creature that likes cheap spells is Dreadhorde Arcanist. There’s nothing more oppressive than going for a turn 1 Thoughtseize into a turn 2 Dreadhorde Arcanist. From there you can use cheap removal spells like Fatal Push to clear the board or keep attacking their hand from the graveyard with the vast selection of discard spells you have at your disposal.

Tenth District Legionnaire

Some aggressive strategies, like Boros heroic in Pioneer, benefit greatly from running cheap spells to get through your opponents. Tenth District Legionnaire is the standard bearer of the deck.

Wrap Up

Thoughtseize | Illustration by Lucas Graciano

Thoughtseize | Illustration by Lucas Graciano

As you can see, cheap spells are a fundamental part of the game, especially in formats like Legacy and Vintage where the average converted mana cost of all cards is around two.

What do you think? Did you like the list? Was there a card you expected to see higher on the list or that I missed? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

As always, writing about the game I love the most has been a pleasure. Take care, and have a good rest of your week!

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