Notion Thief | Illustration by Clint Cearley
Of all the mechanics, themes, and strategies in the game of Magic, drawing cards is the most potent of all. Magic is a game of resources, and there’s no better way to win a game than by just having more cards than your opponent. Limited players especially live and die by this ideology.
But it can be a daunting world. Every color and archetype has access to some kind of card draw engine, and there are hundreds of options to go with in eternal formats like Commander. That’s why today I’m coming to you with a comprehensive list of some of the best card draw cards in each color, and what makes them so great.
Let’s get started!
What’s Card Draw in MTG?
Preordain | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Card draw refers to the general mechanic or action of drawing cards. It’s often used to refer to specific cards that draw more cards, like Ancestral Recall or Ponder. “Card draw” also includes card selection, like looting effects and wheels, not just scrying or card information on its own.
Card draw also comes in many forms. Blue cards typically give you a card on top of some other benefit, like scrying or drawing from a selection of cards. Meanwhile, black offers cards in return for sacrifice.
Best White Card Draw
#9. Mentor of the Meek
Starting off the white rankings today is none other than Mentor of the Meek. This is one of the best White Weenie cards around. It keeps your deck from running out of gas in the midgame while providing decent value on rate.
This card obviously requires some build around, but paying for a card whenever you’re casting your small creature is a great way to keep up the pressure.
#8. Scout’s Warning
Scout’s Warning is a much more fringe card, but it’s uniquely a 1-mana cantrip in white. Giving something flash is also incredible in the right mono-white stax deck, which further adds to the power. This card sells online for just a couple of bucks which I think is a steal, and I half expected this to be banned in Commander.
#7. Mesa Enchantress
Ah yes, Mesa Enchantress. We all love our enchantress effects, and having this in white helps empower Selesnya () enchantment decks further.
Turning every one of your relatively cheap enchantments helps keep the party going and makes sure you never run out of answers or ways to threaten your opponents. The only downside is that your turns will take forever once your enchantments become card positive.
#6. Dawn of Hope
Dawn of Hope certainly wasn’t one of the first cards I thought of when I first pondered white’s card draw options, but it absolutely deserves some recognition today. It’s a 2-mana enchantment that turns every lifegain trigger into a card draw opportunity for just two mana. It also generates 1/1 Soldiers with lifelink for when you stall out, providing both a humble board state and opportunity for more cards!
#5. Alms Collector
This is another card I didn’t initially think of, but absolutely deserves being showcased today. Alms Collector is a 3/4 for that has flash and draws you cards whenever an opponent would draw two or more.
#4. Kor Spiritdancer
And next up for white is Kor Spiritdancer. This is very similar to Mesa Enchantress specifically for auras. The benefit here is that Spiritdancer itself is a great target for protective auras, and it better insulates your card draw engine. Which is what this ranking is all about!
#3. Mangara, the Diplomat
Mangara, the Diplomat is another banger that draws you a card whenever an opponent casts their second spell each turn.
An absolute spit in the face to Ledger Shredder, but it’s still probably worse being a 4-drop in white instead of blue. It also gives you a card if you’re attacked with two or more creatures, which is a great reason to put this card in the command zone.
#2. Archivist of Oghma
The little bit of lifegain is great and also on-theme for white. I see this as a great 2-drop in any white lifegain Commander deck that needs a little more card advantage but doesn’t want to run more cantrips.
#1. Esper Sentinel
It was inevitable that Esper Sentinel would find its way onto the white rankings today, and here we are. This card is a total pest.
One mana to draw multiple cards over the course of the game (assuming it goes unanswered) is just tremendous. It gets even stronger if you manage to raise its power by any means, which is a decent strategy in its own right.
Best Blue Card Draw
I absolutely love this card. I love evoking it as a 3-mana unconditional draw 2, and I love playing it as a 5-drop that gives me a decent 2/2 flier to go in for beats with. I love everything about this card, and you should too.
Gush is a free draw 2, but isn’t legal in basically any format but Commander plus it’s restricted in Vintage.
This card’s power level comes from the cards you can play in conjunction with it, specifically in storm or combo decks. Drawing two at the expense of two lands isn’t particularly powerful in Commander, but it often contributes to game wins in Vintage.
#12. Thought Monitor | Thoughtcast
Similar to the previously mentioned situation with Gush, these cards function best with specific cards, particularly in affinity decks with many 0- or 1-drop artifacts. That’s easy in most eternal formats but is a bit more difficult in singleton formats like Commander.
#11. Mystic Confluence
Mystic Confluence is everything Cryptic Command wants to be. It’s a great utility spell, can provide excellent counterspell protection, and can be a decent 5-mana draw 3. It’s good because it almost always has a use, which is something you can’t say about the previously ranked cards on today’s rankings.
#10. Consecrated Sphinx
Starting off the top 10 is Consecrated Sphinx, a massive 6-mana sphinx that draws you two cards whenever an opponent draws one. This is a great way to win the game in my experience, but it often just gets immediately killed upon resolving (if it even gets that far), and rightfully so.
#9. Rhystic Study
Up next is one of my personal favorite cards in all of Magic, Ponder! This is one of the best cantrips, sees the most cards for the least amount of mana, and can help you sculpt your next few draws and open up the opportunity for interaction through fetch lands. Nothing left out here.
Slightly better than the previously mentioned Ponder, Brainstorm allows for similar hand and deck sculpting with the unique ability to hide cards from your hand on the top of your deck, or get rid of them all together with a shuffle effect. This is a great way to have the ultimate say in card selection, and even play around some hand disruption while you’re at it.
#6. Mystic Remora
The boon of turbo and storm decks in the early turns of Commander games, Mystic Remora finds itself in the #6 spot on today’s list. This card is great. Its 4-mana tax on card draw makes it effectively infinite, especially in the early turns. This won’t draw too many cards against the right players, but it will give you some free turns to think and play out your own turns.
#5. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
Starting off the top five is Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. This iteration of Jace is a great early creature and is often seen as less threatening than card]Mystic Remora[/card]. This is great because it means it often gets passed over being used as a target for permanent removal until you get closer to flipping it, which provides equal value to the front face.
#4. Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe is ultimately where it’s at. An effectively free cantrip that also gives you excellent information about your opponent’s deck, game plan, and capabilities is quite frankly too good to be true. Play this card in whatever format you’re allowed to.
#3. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
And the bonus ability to bounce something or win the game much later down the road makes for an excellent walker. It’s no wonder this card was nuked off the face of Modern for so long.
#1. Ancestral Recall
Ancestral Recall is the king of card draw. A 1-mana draw 3 at instant speed that can even target opponents (for the rare instances where that matters) is downright insane. You’ll only get to play this card in a no-banlist playgroup of Commander or in Vintage. And that’s only if you can get your hand on the card in the first place.
Best Black Card Draw
#7. Waste Not
First on the list for black is a pet card of mine, Waste Not. This cheap enchantment turns your opponent’s trash into your treasure.
They discard a creature? You get a 2/2. They discard a land? Here’s . They discard something else? Free card for you. Discard decks thrive on this card, and it provides plenty of cards for those decks to then immediately pitch.
#6. Undead Augur
Undead Augur is a cheap creature that turns each zombie death into a card for you. Black has access to so many zombie creatures regardless of whether or not you’re in the tribe, and this is a great way to take advantage of that. The one life is nothing in terms of getting a card as we’ll see later on.
Into the top five and we’re greeted by none other than Big Griz. Griselbrand is banned in several formats, and for good reason.
Drawing seven cards is simply too good, regardless of whether you have to pay the seven life or not. This the ultimate reanimator target in the formats where it’s legal, specifically Legacy.
#4. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
A terrorist in the Modern format, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician provides great card draw for a low cost. For just one life and some pathetic creature you own, you too can draw a card and even put a -1/-1 counter on something you don’t like.
This card absolutely dominate games, acting both as a value engine and even an excellent combo piece.
#3. Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Arena is one of the more passive yet powerful card draw cards in black. An extra card on your upkeep for just one life is very overwhelming for your opponent and will quickly provide you with enough resources to kill them before the life matters. This card is practically free in a format like Commander where you start with 40 life.
#2. Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Bargain is one of the more extreme cards on this list. A whopping 6-mana enchantment, Bargain lets you draw as many cards as you can pay life for at instant speed. While it’s not Ad Nauseam, it’s certainly more cards than you can handle, even in Commander.
Necropotence is a enchantment that also skips your draw step, but instead of allowing you to draw a card for one life it puts it into your hand at your end step.
This is far faster than Yawgmoth’s Bargain which is why it’s a tier above. Not to mention that it can allow decks to win multiple turns ahead of schedule.
Best Red Card Draw
#5. Daretti, Scrap Savant
Starting off the much shorter card draw list for red is the classic Commander, Daretti, Scrap Savant. Daretti offers great card advantage through its +1 effect, which is a loot ability for up to two cards. The additional artifact synergies help bring this planeswalker to life by offering reanimation capabilities that blow players out of the water pretty quickly.
#4. Seasoned Pyromancer
Next up is, of course, Seasoned Pyromancer. This human shaman for three lets you pitch some trash cards in your hand (but also none if you don’t have any) in exchange for two fresh cards, creating a 1/1 Elemental in the process.
This is a sweet value engine that also brings some extra value from previously-cast cards already in your graveyard. The Pyromancer is a classic red card and I’m all here for it.
#3. Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting made the cut today and is one of the best red sorceries, period. This 1-mana spell loots two cards and has flashback to be cast later down the line. Storm decks, red prison decks, and even reanimator decks all love this card because it uses the discard mechanic as an advantage.
#2. Winds of Change
Almost to the end already and we have Winds of Change, a sorcery that wheels each player for the number of cards already in their hand. Time it right and you’ll get a fresh new hand while everyone else suckers out.
Putting the cards you don’t want to your advantage is a classic theme in red, and the better you can use that mechanic the better these cards will end up being for you.
#1. Wheel of Fortune
In the #1 spot is none other than Wheel of Fortune. The namesake card forces each player to pitch their hands and draw a fresh seven, regardless of how many cards they have left. This benefits decks that quickly run out of resources the most since it’s incredibly card positive for them, while it’s often neutral or only slightly positive for their opponents.
Best Green Card Draw
#9. Greater Good
While green may not have the card drawing capabilities of blue, it certainly doesn’t leave its players wanting. First on the list for green today is Greater Good, a simple enchantment for that allows you sacrifice creatures and draw equal to their power.
This is an incredible sacrifice outlet, which is hindered only by the fact that it costs three cards to fire off. This can still be great, but it doesn’t eat up your 1/1 dorks later in the game.
#8. Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Toski draws a card each combat by dealing combat damage to a player and is insulated from spot removal by being indestructible. Four mana isn’t too much to pay in green either, which makes it a decent choice.
#7. Elder Gargaroth
Elder Gargaroth isn’t exactly the epitome of card draw, but believe me when I say this card has value. Drawing a card once per turn through combat is a great mechanic, as I already mentioned. The bonus of creating a body or gaining some life is exactly the utility that green craves and that helps take the color to the next level.
#6. Argothian Enchantress (and similar effects)
In the #6 spot today for green are any “enchantress” effects that draw you a card from playing enchantment spells. I think that Argothian Enchantress is one of the better ones and is well protected from everything but board wipes with shroud. This protects your engine from cheap removal, which other enchantresses fall victim to.
#5. The Great Henge
Into the top five for green now and we’re greeted by The Great Henge. The Henge is a massive 9-mana enchantment that turns every creature into a cantrip with a +1/+1 counter on top. It’s a massive engine that will win the game if it goes uncontested, and is an absolutely insane artifact.
#4. Garruk’s Uprising
Garruk’s Uprising is similar to the Henge, but it only hits creatures with mana value four or greater. This is pretty easy to take advantage of in green in particular since most of your non-mana-generating creatures are going to be in this category anyway. The card draw on ETB and trample for all creatures also makes this card an excellent on-curve 3-drop.
#3. Beast Whisperer
Beast Whisperer is where things get interesting. This is a simple 4-mana enchantment that turns every creature into a cantrip.
It’s a straightforward card, but its effect and impact on the board state are to die for. Resolving this against a table with no answers will let the green player absolutely dominate the game via creature strategies.
#2. Glimpse of Nature
Next up in the #2 spot is Glimpse of Nature. This absolutely insane card has an identical effect to Beast Whisperer except it only lasts one turn and costs . This game-winning card allows the player to churn through their deck and end the game with a Craterhoof Behemoth in an ideal combo deck (coughelvescough).
#1. Sylvan Library
You probably guessed this one. Sylvan Library is a nuts card all around, especially in formats that grant high life like Commander, or formats that offer excellent hand manipulation and shuffle effects like Legacy and Vintage. The Library is a supreme card that offers the green player more card advantage than they deserve, and it’s absolutely the best card draw in the color.
Best Multicolored Card Draw
#9. Baleful Strix
This card is sweet. It replaces itself, provides an excellent blocker, and can even go in for beats if the game gets locked up and you need to push some damage. I love everything about this card.
#8. Sphinx’s Revelation
Sphinx’s Revelation has won multiple Pro Tours, and that’s because it’s just a great and powerful card. The lifegain helps control decks stabilize while offering great card draw from the midgame and beyond. It even has a place is midrange lifegain decks as a way to refill your hand and trigger various other abilities later on.
#7. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
Speaking of lifegain, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is in today’s #7 spot. This Esper () commander is one of the most played commanders in Magic thanks to its incredibly persistent lifegain and card draw effects. It helps keep the deck up and running with fresh cards, provides consistency in lifegain triggers and abilities, and does so without ever even leaving the command zone half of the time.
Next up is Reparations, which I think has slipped under the radar for far too long in Commander. It’s a cheap 3-mana enchantment that taxes spells that target you by drawing you a card.
This isn’t something that happens more than a half dozen or so times in a given Commander pod, but it will almost always pay for itself in terms of taking up space in your hand. It’ll likely even cause players to pass over you in their quest to remove some pesky permanents, which is arguably better!
#5. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Into the top five again and this time we’re greeted by Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. This iteration of Teferi draws you a card and gives you two free untaps of lands in the process. It also comes in at four loyalty counters, which means it offers itself decent protection as you pass the turn with a 5-loyalty walker up with at least two mana (i.e., a Counterspell).
#4. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Banned from most formats, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath still wreaks havoc wherever it’s legal. It offers the player two cards, plenty of life, and even some mana ramp each time it gets cast, regardless of where it’s coming from. And a 6/6 body is no joke either, which makes it an excellent threat in any control deck that would otherwise burn out or struggle to close games.
#3. Notion Thief
I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of many copies of Notion Thief in my lifetime, and it’s always been wild. It steals cards from players and draws you many more in the process. It stops tempo decks in their tracks and still provides an excellent one-way stax effect versus all of your opponents.
#2. Tymna the Weaver
The runner-up for best multicolored card draw today is, of course, Tymna the Weaver. This Orzhov () partner commander offers incredible card advantage for creature decks that can deploy mana dorks or early weenies that attack on turn 3. It can even work as an engine itself, attacking with lifegain to offset the cost of drawing the cards.
#1. Thrasios, Triton Hero
In first place we have Tymna the Weaver’s best friend, Thrasios, Triton Hero! Thrasios is an infinite mana outlet in the command zone that also provides some mid-game card advantage. It also comes in at just two mana, which makes it easily to redeploy as the game continues.
Best Colorless Card Draw
#6. Mishra’s Bauble
Mishra’s Bauble is an interesting card because it’s a free cantrip with a unique twist. You won’t get the card right away, but you get to see a single piece of information from any player’s deck. It’s also a cheap artifact, which helps delirium come online quick for Delver decks in Modern and Legacy.
#5. Memory Jar
First up in the top five is the Vintage Cube storm-empowering Memory Jar! Who doesn’t love a fresh hand of cards, especially later in the game when you can play them all before your time is up?
#4. Coercive Portal
Coercive Portal likes to play the long game and is great in 1v1 situations as a semi-permanent monarch ability. But this card does get a little dicey in multiplayer situations when players start wiping the board, but you don’t. That’s still some great interaction, and you can enjoy your free cards until then.
#3. Vanquisher’s Banner
In third place is a card that I didn’t initially think of when I started thinking about mono-brown card draw, but Vanquisher’s Banner absolutely makes the cut. This makes each turn a Glimpse of Nature turn and more in any tribal deck. It’s incredibly powerful, dodges creature removal, and sticks around until it eventually get blasted.
Skullclamp is the best card in the game in the right deck. But unfortunately it’s limited by the cards it’s shuffled up with, which makes it much worse in a mono-blue sphinx deck than, say, mono-red goblins.
That said, this card offers great value, aggressive pressure, and nuts card draw. It can even be used as a combo piece!
#1. Sensei’s Divining Top
In first place is, of course, Sensei’s Divining Top. This card offers incredible card information that easily provides the opportunity for deck and hand manipulation. It can also grant you whatever you put on top at instant speed, which makes it one of the most incredibly potent tempo artifacts in the game.
Best Card Draw Payoffs
The best types of payoffs for drawing cards are midrange and control decks that require consistent refueling to apply adequate pressure or control their aggressive opponents. While there are obviously cards like Niv-Mizzet, Parun to convert that card draw into direct damage, card draw benefits just about everything in the entire game of Magic.
It’s a mechanic not like any other because it’s truly neutral, and Magic is a game of resources (especially Limited) where the player to put the last unanswered threat into play typically takes home the crown. So the question you should be asking isn’t “what can my deck do for the card draw?”, but “what kind of card draw can I incorporate into my deck?”
Sylvan Library | Illustration by Bryan Sola
We’ve reached the end of the list! I really enjoy putting these kinds of lists together as I inevitably find new cards to run in my jank Commander decks that I’ve never heard of before, but are surprisingly powerful.
What did you think of my rankings? Were there any cards or selections you’d swap around a bit? Any cards I missed that you think are worthy of recognition? Let me know in the comments or the official Draftsim Discord. If I think they’re as good as you say, I’ll maybe just include them in the list.
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