Last updated on March 15, 2023
Kaya’s Guile | Illustration by Jason Rainville
Options in a game are always good, and entwine is one of those mechanics where the more options you have, the merrier. Cards that are flexible in their mana cost and their use are always good in my book.
Today I’m talking about all the options entwine cards provide, which sets have the mechanic, the best entwine cards. And as a little bonus I’ll even showcase a deck where entwine shines.
Ready? Let’s get into it!
How Does Entwine Work?
Tooth and Nail (Modern Masters) | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Entwine is a keyword ability that appears on instants and sorceries. Cards with the mechanic always offer two options, like a modal spell. Both modes usually work well together (with Kaya’s Guile as an exception).
When you cast an entwine spell you need to choose between one of the two modes. You can also pay the entwine cost as an additional cost to cast the spell, in which case both modes resolve.
If you cast a card for its entwine cost, the first mode always resolves before the second. Let’s take Reap and Sow as an example. The spell costs . You need to choose between the land destruction or ramp mode. If the entwine cost is paid, first you destroy a land and then you search for a land and put it into play.
The History of Entwine in MTG
Entwine was created during the first Mirrodin block in 2003. The mechanic was printed on 24 cards between three sets.
After that we saw entwine in Modern Horizons, Modern Horizons 2, and Commander 2019. Although the mechanic isn’t evergreen, we’ll probably see it on a few cards in future Horizon or Commander sets.
Is Entwine Like Kicker?
Entwine and kicker are similar in the sense that both mechanics allow the caster to pay more to get more benefits. But kicker just adds an extra benefit while entwine allows you to resolve both options on a card instead of having to pick only one of two.
The mechanic that most compares to entwine is escalate from Eldritch Moon. The fuse mechanic from Dragon’s Maze is also similar in this regard because you may cast either side or both.
Is Entwine an Alternate Cost?
No, entwine is an additional cost. Mechanics that offer an alternate cost have two distinct costs, like evoke. You can cast Mulldrifter for , or evoke it for the alternate cost of .
Is Entwine an Additional Cost?
Yes, it is. You can cast the spell paying its normal mana cost, or you can pay an additional cost (which is the entwine cost), similar to how kicker and escalate work.
What’s the Mana Value of an Entwined Spell?
The mana value of an entwined spell is always the mana value shown in the top right corner of the card, regardless of whether the entwine cost was paid.
What Order Do You Resolve Entwine Abilities?
The order in which entwine abilities are resolved is from top to bottom because the entwine spells were designed with this in mind.
Let’s take Tooth and Nail as an example. The first effect is to search up to two creatures from your library and put them into your hand. The second one is to put creatures from your hand into the battlefield. Paying the entwine cost means that first you’ll search for the creatures and then put them into the battlefield, in this order.
Can You Entwine off of Cascade?
Cascade lets you cast a spell for free, and the additional cost (in this case the entwine cost) can be paid. Let’s see an example.
I cast Bloodbraid Elf, which cascades into Barbed Lightning. I cast Barbed Lightning for free and also pay the entwine cost to have both options available.
Can You Entwine When Casting from Suspend?
Suspend works the same was as with the cascade ruling. Let’s say you suspended an entwine spell via Jhoira of the Ghitu, a commander that allows you to suspend spells that don’t have suspend. You can pay the entwine cost as the suspended spell resolves to have both options.
Gallery and List of Entwine Cards
There are 30 cards with the entwine mechanic, almost all from the Mirrodin block (Mirrodin, Darksteel, and Fifth Dawn). A few designs are from the Horizons sets and Commander sets.
- Abuna’s Chant
- Barbed Lightning
- Betrayal of Flesh
- Blinding Beam
- Dream’s Grip
- Flourishing Strike
- Goblin War Party
- Grab the Reins
- Incite War
- Journey of Discovery
- Kaya’s Guile
- One Dozen Eyes
- Plunge into Darkness
- Promise of Power
- Rain of Rust
- Reap and Sow
- Road of Return
- Roar of the Kha
- Rude Awakening
- Savage Beating
- Second Sight
- Shriveling Rot
- Solar Tide
- Spectral Shift
- Stir the Pride
- Temporal Cascade
- Tooth and Nail
- Twisted Reflection
- Unbounded Potential
- Wail of the Nim
Best Entwine Cards Ranked
#16. Flourishing Strike
A mix between a Giant Growth and a Plummet kind of effect is interesting because it’s never dead, and five damage kills most fliers. Flourishing Strike is very good for Limited, and a good card if combat tricks are playable in your deck.
#15. Shriveling Rot
Shriveling Rot lets you transform small damage effects or attacks with tokens into wraths, and wraths into damage effects. A bit overpriced, but good enough to make the list.
#14. Journey of Discovery
Journey of Discovery is a good card in ramp decks, but not stellar. The ability to play extra lands from your hand may be great or terrible depending on what your hand looks like.
#13. Solar Tide
Solar Tide is probably one of the first selective wraths ever, but there are probably better ones out there in white.
#12. Goblin War Party
Paying four mana to make three Goblin tokens isn’t the worst in a goblin deck, and these 1/1 tokens are usually 2/2s or bigger. But I’d only play Goblin War Party in a goblin deck because it’s just unplayable otherwise.
#11. One Dozen Eyes
Go wide or go tall, but none of One Dozen Eyes‘ effects is spectacular. But making five 1/1s can be very good with enough token synergies and creaturefall effects since few spells can produce that many creatures.
#10. Unbounded Potential
Both effects on Unbounded Potential are somewhat playable by themselves, the first one being good for +1/+1 counter synergies. A single proliferate effect can be good enough on its own depending on your board.
#9. Incite War
Incite War is a tough way for your opponent to lose some creatures depending on your board. Both modes are nice, but forcing an opponent to attack you can be game-winning. You can beat some attackers with the lethal combination of deathtouch and first strike if your board has some deathtouchers.
#8. Savage Beating
Savage Beating is a spell that can end the game once seven mana is payed because giving double strike to all creatures is already a beating, and you get an extra attack step after that. A nice card to play in Godo, Bandit Warlord or Aurelia, the Warleader decks.
#7. Twisted Reflection
A fine addition for the entwine list, Twisted Reflection reminds me of when Twisted Image was a playable card in Modern. And it’s kind of like that.
For two mana you can kill a 0/X creature, and for you can kill an even bigger creature. There’s also the possibility of combining this with Unhallowed Phalanx, but that doesn’t seem like a great idea.
#6. Promise of Power
Black loves to spend some mana and life to draw cards, right? Promise of Power not only draws a healthy number of cards for you, you also have the option of putting a big demon creature into play.
#5. Reap and Sow
Playable in Ponza decks (decks that combine ramp, land destruction, and aggression) and Pauper, Reap and Sow combines ramp and land destruction in the same package. It’s better in 1v1 formats than EDH.
#4. Road of Return
It’s almost all upside with this one. Regrowth is already a nice card, and you can also “reset” your commander tax. All that for four mana total makes Road of Return a nice card for green in EDH.
#3. Rude Awakening
Rude Awakening was the win condition in some Modern decks a while ago, especially ramp decks. It was possible to untap all your lands, turn all your creatures into lands, and attack for a bunch. Just make sure that your opponents can’t surprise you with wrath effects, because losing all your lands in a turn is a sure way to lose the game.
#2. Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail has been a win condition for ramp decks ever since it was printed. You can tutor for big creatures and cheat them into play with enough mana. Searching Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Xenagos, God of Revels is a sure way to wipe an opponent out in one swing.
#1. Kaya’s Guile
Kaya’s Guile is the only entwine card that lets you choose two of four options, acting like a Command. The entwine cost lets you choose all of them which makes it a bit different. It’s an Edict effect, a blocker, a lifegain effect, and graveyard hate. All very narrow, but powerful when put together.
Bonus: Sample Entwine Decks
It’s difficult to point a thematic deck around entwine since there are some cards that saw Constructed play in different scenarios, and it’s not a linear mechanic. But I’d argue that entwine goes well with green-based ramp decks because the more mana you have, the stronger the spell gets.
So I want to point out two decks that use an entwine card.
Modern Tooth and Nail
Arbor Elf x4
Birds of Paradise x4
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Eternal Witness x2
Xenagos, God of Revels
Wistful Selkie x3
Primeval Titan x4
Primal Command x3
Tooth and Nail x4
Utopia Sprawl x4
Wooded Foothills x3
Windswept Heath x4
Kessig Wolf Run
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx x4
Crumble to Dust x2
Force of Vigor x2
Relic of Progenitus x2
Veil of Summer x2
There was a Modern deck a few years ago that ramped to entwine Tooth and Nail for nine mana, allowing you to tutor two cards and put them into play. The options then were to tutor for Xenagos, God of Revels and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, since Xenagos would give Emrakul haste for immediate impact.
Arbor Elf x4
Greater Sandwurm x3
Krosan Tusker x4
Mold Shambler x2
Ulamog’s Crusher x4
Sprout Swarm x2
Reclaiming Vines x3
Mwonvuli Acid-Moss x4
Reap and Sow x4
Utopia Sprawl x4
Wild Growth x4
Gut Shot x4
Nature’s Claim x4
Nihil Spellbomb x2
Scattershot Archer x4
There are some options for land destruction in green in Pauper, like Thermokarst, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, and Reap and Sow. Together with good green ramp options like Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl and good finishers like Ulamog’s Crusher, you’ve got yourself a green ramp/land destruction deck.
Rude Awakening (Fifth Dawn) | Illustration by Ittoku
I love modal spells, options, and the flexibility of being able to cast a spell early or late, so I like the entwine mechanic very much. The ability to spend extra mana for extra effect makes it a lot like kicker, and it gives ramp decks in particular something to do with all that excess mana.
It’s possible that the mechanic makes a return in Standard, which would be nice, especially for Limited play. But it’s more probable that we’ll see it in another supplemental set as has been the case for the last few years.
Do you play any entwine cards that aren’t on my list? What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments below or in the Draftsim Discord.
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