Last updated on August 16, 2023

Jeweled Lotus - Illustration by Alayna Danner

Jeweled Lotus | Illustration by Alayna Danner

As someone who fits into the collector profile without always having cash to splash on hobbies, I’m always on the lookout for a bargain. Deals are great, but do you know the word I like most? “Free!”

Free spells in Magic take on many forms, from cheerios to Leylines. Some free spells are also among the earliest and most infamous cards ever printed.

Consider this your curated MTG coupon book. What are you going to do for free? Hint: it’s another word for a “package deal.”

What Are Free Spells in MTG?

Ancient Stone Idol - Illustration by Josh Hass

Ancient Stone Idol | Illustration by Josh Hass

Free spells in Magic either have a as their casting cost, have cost-reduction that can reduce them to 0-cost spells, or have other ways of casting them without paying mana. Spells with as their casting cost are known as “cheerios.”

Some keywords that can lead to free spells include convoke, improvise, and affinity. Some cards with flashback ask you to tap or sacrifice creatures rather than pay mana to bring them back. There are cards with a madness cost of zero, and others with a suspend cost of zero.

You can start the game with a Leyline in play if it’s in your opening hand. You can always pay zero for the of an X spell, although there aren’t usually benefits to that unless you just care about cast triggers. Other cards like Khalni Hydra, Hollow One, and Not of This World cost less depending on the state of the board or other actions taking place.

Looking for something more involved? Some free spells have conditions that depend on the permanents that you or your opponent control. Mogg Salvage and Snuff Out care about lands, while the free commander spells like Fierce Guardianship care about your commander.

I have to draw the “free” line somewhere. What do you do with cards like Snap and Cloud of Faeries that untap lands? You still have to pay the initial mana somehow. How about mana dorks and mana rocks that are eventually net-positive? Net-positive doesn’t negate the upfront investment. That includes how Wild Growth refunds itself the first time the land it enchants is tapped. Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe can each cost you just two life thanks to Phyrexian mana, but isn’t life still a resource?

Some cards like Fallaji Wayfarer can grant convoke to other cards or otherwise make them free. Graveyard recursion and other effects can let you get spells back without paying their mana cost, or you could use Omniscience to make everything free. You could call them “free spell enablers,” but I’ve left them off this list because that would feel like comparing apples to apple trees.

For these reasons, I’m also leaving behind spells that ask you to sacrifice permanents, discard cards, or pay with other resources to cast them. We’re looking for free. There can be conditions, but nothing that acts as a substitute cost. Tapping creatures with convoke and similar abilities is pretty much the highest cost I’m willing to pay.

You can obviously build around discarding your cards, sacrificing your permanents, or playing around with your life total. You might find somewhere that you’ll be happy to pay life and sacrifice creatures for your Demon of Death's Gate, but I still don’t consider it “free.” I’m also leaving off the pacts (e.g., Summoner's Pact). While they’re free when you initially cast them, they won’t be free if the game lasts until your next upkeep.

Honorable Mentions

Black Lotus

Black Lotus

I considered actually ranking this, then I considered slotting it above the #1 spot as #0. But frankly, Black Lotus is banned nearly everywhere. It’s even restricted in Vintage. Also, if you can afford to go out and get one, may I introduce you to my tip jar?

Original Moxen

The original Moxen are all part of the Power Nine along with Black Lotus. They face the same bans, and they’re also a pretty penny on the open market. It’s just impractical for the average or median Magic player. Lovely for bragging rights and peacocking, I guess.

Gemstone Caverns

Gemstone Caverns

Gemstone Caverns takes the luck involved with Leylines and literally puts a luck counter on itself if it was in your opening hand. Having it in play before you start gives you a massive early mana advantage. It also asks that you exile a card from your hand, which technically doesn’t make this free. But it’s cool, and it’s not on the actual list.

Chrome Mox + Mox Diamond

These two are extremely good, and painfully close to squeezing in. Since I want to spend more time on other cards, and since they each cost an extra card, I’m just going to stick these here and move on. Don’t worry, you’ll be reading about a ton of mana rocks.

Elvish Spirit Guide + Simian Spirit Guide

These two spirit guides are technically free spells in that you get their abilities by exiling them from your hand. But the creature part isn’t free if you want that (hey, you might!), so it’s another “close, but no.” Simian Spirit Guide is more highly sought and used than Elvish Spirit Guide because ramp options just aren’t as abundant in red.

Unranked: Astral Cornucopia + Other X Spells

Astral Cornucopia

Yup, a huge bucket here, but I’m going to use Astral Cornucopia as my starting point. You can technically cast a spell that costs all s with X = 0. In the case of an artifact like Astral Cornucopia, you’re dropping a free artifact that doesn’t do anything. It still counts as an artifact so you can animate it, sacrifice it to another effect, or run it out for a spell-casting trigger.

An creature spell that relies on that X for its power and toughness enters the battlefield and goes straight to the graveyard. That’s an ETB and a death trigger in one neat package!

#40. Frogmite


Frogs in Magic make me happy, and free frogs in Magic make me very happy. Frogmite’s affinity for artifacts can make it easy to cast for nothing. It’s good enough for Commander, but Modern and Pauper affinity decks can take advantage of being able to sleeve up more than one.

#39. Darksteel Relic

Darksteel Relic

No, seriously. This indestructible 0-drop is actually a decent card. You can animate your Darksteel Relic with Katsumasa, the Animator or turn it into a mana rock with Meria, Scholar of Antiquity. The worst thing this artifact does is take up a slot in your deck.

#38. Conclave Tribunal

Conclave Tribunal

Bonus points because you can actually convoke a tribunal. That makes sense. Good job, MTG design team. If you’ve got the creatures to convoke it, Conclave Tribunal is a free exiling piece of removal that’s only limited to opposing non-lands. I’m sure you can find a target among those.

#37. Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time lets you play it for free as your first spell of the game. It’ll help you if you’re low on creatures or lands to start off, and it’s not too expensive to cast normally later on.

#36. Myr Enforcer

Myr Enforcer

Myr Enforcer can be a big myr for your Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch deck, and it can be high mana value sacrifice fodder for something like Bosh, Iron Golem. You need lots of artifacts to get this for free, though.

#35. Claws of Gix

Claws of Gix

Claws of Gix is a sacrifice outlet that gains you life for per sacrifice. Perfect for getting curses in your graveyard for Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor!

#34. Ancient Stone Idol

Ancient Stone Idol

Ancient Stone Idol’s cost reduction depends on each attacking creature when it’s cast. Good thing this golem has flash. Its 12/12 power and toughness combo and a mana value of 10 make it perfect to sacrifice to something that deals damage depending on any of those numbers.

#33. Call to the Netherworld

Call to the Netherworld

I debated what to do with things like a free madness cost. At the end of the day, discarding a card isn’t part of this spell’s cost, so it’s valid. Call to the Netherworld is perfect for a discard deck since you’d be happy to discard this one to freely get a creature back to your hand.

#32. Shield Sphere

Shield Sphere

You don’t see -0/-1 counters too often; most counters are evenly positive or negative so that they can cancel each other out. Shield Sphere is a wall that’s a dwindling blocker, but Arcades, the Strategist can make use of a defender like this, as could some other decks that care about toughness like Geralf, Visionary Stitcher. Shield Sphere also works anywhere else you could use a free artifact.

#31. Jeweled Amulet

Jeweled Amulet

Jeweled Amulet is a mana rock that’s more involved. The color it gives you back depends on the color you last spent to charge it up. You can’t stack them with Jeweled Amulet itself, but proliferation effects don’t care.

#30. Mogg Salvage

Mogg Salvage

Mogg Salvage depends on the lands you and your opponents are running, but Islands shouldn’t be too hard to find in EDH. Krark, the Thumbless can make especially good use of it if you successfully flip to copy it.

#29. Mycosynth Golem

Mycosynth Golem

The life of the party. A real Fun Gus. Mycosynth Golem can make itself free, but it can also give your other artifacts affinity. Artifacts and artificers are its natural homes, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see this at Karn’s right hand. Karn, Silver Golem can do the trick, but you can also make Karn, Legacy Reforged huge by giving it a Mycosynth Golem.

#28. Lotus Bloom + Mox Tantalite

Suspend is a keyword that exiles a card before you cast it on a later turn, and Lotus Bloom has a suspend cost of . You have to sacrifice it for mana, but that doesn’t matter so much if you have ways to bring artifacts back to your hand or the battlefield.

Mox Tantalite goes to exile with the same number of time counters on it, but it gives you less mana so that it can stay on the battlefield. The pun is too obvious to make. I shan’t allow myself to be tempted.

#27. Mindbreak Trap

Mindbreak Trap

Traps are instants with alternate costs depending on specified events, Mindbreak Trap lets you cast it for free if an opponent has cast three or more spells this turn. You can target whatever you need to among spells, including uncounterable spells.

#26. Obscuring Haze

Obscuring Haze

Commander 2020 introduced a cycle of lieutenant-like instants that care about whether you control a commander, even if it’s not yours. If you do, congratulations! You’ve got a free spell. Obscuring Haze is the least powerful of this cycle, “only” preventing the damage your opponents’ creatures do during the turn.

#25. Paradise Mantle

Paradise Mantle

Paradise Mantle is an equipment artifact that turns a creature into a color-fixing mana dork. Sure, it’s got an equip cost, but that comes after it’s on the battlefield. There’s plenty of artifactfall and similar triggers to use before you even worry about paying (or avoiding) that one mana.

Paradise Mantle isn’t the only free equipment spell, but most of the others don’t do much beyond a power/toughness buff.

#24. Urza’s Bauble

Urza's Bauble

Urza's Bauble can at least be sacrificed to draw a card. We like card draw. It’s a small bonus if you have an opponent with a hand you’d like a slight peek at. You’re not looking at the entire hand, but the selection is at least random rather than curated by your opponent. Of course, if they only have one card….

#23. Phyrexian Walker

Phyrexian Walker

It’s an Ornithopter without wings. Phyrexian Walker has construct and Phyrexian typing if you’re looking for those, on top of its artifact creature status.

#22. Welding Jar

Welding Jar

Free artifacts are always good. The question is, are you running your Welding Jar to actually regenerate something, or are you running it as another artifact so you can do something else with it? If your commander is an artifact, like Slicer, Hired Muscle, maybe you want to regenerate it. Or maybe you want to sac the Jar to make Dargo, the Shipwrecker cheaper. Definitely a useful, thrifty item.

#21. March of the Multitudes

March of the Multitudes

No, not that MOM. March of the Multitudes is an X spell with convoke, and it pumps out Soldier tokens with lifelink. This just begs to be paired with a token doubler.

#20. Obelisk of Urd

Obelisk of Urd

Obelisk of Urd is a solid piece to buff your creatures if you’re focusing on tribal support. Anowon, the Ruin Thief is probably one of the better commanders to take advantage of the Obelisk given how buffing your rogues mills your opponents more and gives you more chances to draw cards.

#19. Memnite


For decks that are running lots of free spells, Memnite packs at least a little punch of its own. Most free spells are noncreature artifacts, and those that are creatures often don’t have any power.

#18. Metalwork Colossus

Metalwork Colossus

Metalwork Colossus has cost reduction that counts your noncreature artifacts. Tokens are valid, though they need a mana cost to count. The Colossus can also use those artifacts to return itself from your graveyard to your hand, so it’s never truly gone.

#17. Zuran Orb

Zuran Orb

Zuran Orb allows you to sacrifice lands to gain life. There are so many good cards that pay you for sending your lands to the graveyard, whether it’s how The Gitrog Monster gives you cards or how Titania, Protector of Argoth gives you 5/3 Elementals.

#16. Spellbook


I may be showing my age, but here’s a quote from one Charles Emerson Winchester III (M*A*S*H): “I do one thing at a time; I do it very well; and then, I move on.” There’s lots of free spells that fit this line, and Spellbook’s speciality is giving you an infinite hand size. Take that, Cyclonic Rift!

#15. Tormod’s Crypt

Tormod's Crypt

Tormod's Crypt is free graveyard hate. The only way to shut it down is to get rid of it or tap it before you can activate it, which isn’t the worst of weaknesses. The fact that you have to sacrifice it to activate it also positions it to set up some infinite combos that need a free artifact in the ‘yard.

#14. Mishra’s Bauble

Mishra's Bauble

Chess is a game about planning ahead. What lets you plan ahead more: looking at what your opponent currently has in their hand, or looking at what they’re about to draw?

If the choice is one card, as it is with Urza's Bauble, I’m peeking at the library a la Mishra's Bauble. Easier to force an opponent to mill that card than it is to force them to discard a specific card from their hand.

#13. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

That’s right! A free spell can be your commander. And it has partner! Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is a kobold with a trio of combat keyword abilities (first strike, menace, and trample) that make it perfect to target with your favorite creature-buffing strategy. The most obvious partner is Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist for its ability to slap a bunch of auras and equipment onto a creature of your choice. You can also just go for flavor and play it unpartnered in the 99 of Rohgahh, Kher Keep Overlord.

I’m trying to pack in as many cards as I can, so other free kobolds like Crimson Kobolds, Crookshank Kobolds, and Kobolds of Kher Keep have to settle for a mention here. But isn’t it fitting to keep in the minions with the son of their Overlord?

#12. Lion’s Eye Diamond

Lion's Eye Diamond

Activating your Lion's Eye Diamond costs you your hand, which doesn’t matter if it’s already empty. It’s also good if you’ve got discard triggers, madness, graveyard triggers, or effects that count what’s in your graveyard. As with many of the other 0-cost 2+ mana generators, it’s pretty expensive to go out and buy as a single. Being on the Reserved List probably doesn’t help.

#11. Ornithopter


Good things come in small packages, including a free 0/2 thopter. Ornithopter is all kinds of useful, and virtually anywhere. It was even printed at common in Antiquities and Dominaria Remastered, so you can play it in Pauper!

If you’re an EDH brewer, here’s a few ideas for your Ornithopter. It’s a historic, cheap creature for your Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle deck. Its zero power is perfect bait for ninjutsu, including commander ninjutsu from Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow. How about turning it into a flying 5/3 thopter juggernaut with Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut? Those are just some basics, not to mention artifact-counting effects, artificers, and even “flying matters” decks.

#10. Leyline of Anticipation

Leyline of Anticipation

Leylines are enchantments that you can start on the field if they’re in your opening hand. It’s very situational, and each Leyline has its own abilities. Leyline of Anticipationis a flash-enabler, making it one of the best of the bunch.

#9. Flawless Maneuver

Flawless Maneuver

This card almost feels mandatory if your commander runs certain flavors of white. Flawless Maneuver can grant your board indestructible, which is great if you’re swinging widely.

#8. Mox Amber

Mox Amber

The phrasing on Mox Amber makes it like a Command Tower that works in any format. We like mana rocks. We like color fixing. We like color-fixing mana rocks.

#7. Deadly Rollick

Deadly Rollick

Roughhousing gone wrong. Deadly Rollick is situational free removal, which is absurd. Exiling gets around indestructible creatures or regeneration, too.

#6. Mox Opal

Mox Opal

Mox Opal is a legendary artifact and a free mana rock with metalcraft. Three or more artifacts shouldn’t be too hard to turn it on, even if your deck isn’t centered on them. When you’re there, you have yourself a mana fixer.

#5. Lotus Petal

Lotus Petal

It’s a Lotus Petal. It ain’t the whole flower, so you don’t get the same amount of mana as you would from a whole lotus. Simple enough, but still incredibly powerful.

#4. Deflecting Swat

Deflecting Swat

It does what it says on the packaging. Now just think about all the spells your Deflecting Swat can redirect. The most powerful free spells are almost cartoonish.

Daffy Duck kanone gif

#3. Jeweled Lotus

Jeweled Lotus

My eyes are like Abu from Aladdin (1992) looking over the Cave of Wonders with the greediest eyes in ‘90s animation.

Abu happy eyes Aladdin gif

Jeweled Lotus is so pretty. Free artifact. Sac it for mana. And you can do all the other fun things with it, like the infinite combos and the artifact animation and all that.

#2. Fierce Guardianship

Fierce Guardianship

“Free counterspell.” That’s what Fierce Guardianship is when you control your commander. Incredibly powerful, no getting around that.

#1. Mana Crypt

Mana Crypt

The margins are thin: if this were banned in Commander, Mana Crypt would rank back with Black Lotus and all the other honorable mentions. Instead, it has to “settle” on number one. Mana Crypt can be used to enable infinite combos, including mana production and milling.

Best Free Spell Payoffs and Synergies

Free spells are extremely powerful for how they can enable infinite combos. I’m not going to go through all of them, but mana combos feel mandatory and I like milling.

Mana Crypt, for example, can be paired with Hullbreaker Horror and Sol Ring (or any other mana rock that generates more than it costs to cast) to create infinite colorless mana.

You can also use any artifact cheerio with Underworld Breach and Grinding Station to get an infinite targeted mill engine. Mana Crypt is the default, but anything that you can sacrifice to Grinding Station and escape for free does the trick.

A global infinite mill engine can be made with Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle on the battlefield along with Salvager of Ruin and Altar of the Brood. You’ll need a free artifact in your graveyard, and sac-happy Tormod's Crypt does the trick. Sacrifice the Salvager to return the Crypt to your hand, then cast Tormod's Crypt. This triggers Teshar to return the Salvager to the battlefield and triggers the Altar to start milling. Tap and sacrifice the Crypt to return it to the graveyard. Repeat ad infinitum ad nauseum.

Free spells are also a great way to get that storm count climbing. Nothing leaner than a free spell to get Grapeshot going, is there? Other casting triggers like Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain also take advantage of free spells and efficient mana curves. Or maybe you just want to cast a bunch of free spells so you can get Thrasta, Tempest's Roar out for .

Convoke has its own synergies, including token decks. Fallaji Wayfarer is a convoke enabler, and it’s much more direct than a Hoarding Broodlord.

Free artifacts have all kinds of synergies with artifact commanders. Emry, Lurker of the Loch can tap to recur your Lotus Petal. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain cares about historic spells, as does Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle. Meria, Scholar of Antiquity turns them all into mana rocks and ways to play more cards per turn. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas can turn any artifact into a 5/5, which is important given how many artifact animation effects rely on the artifact’s mana value.

Krark, the Thumbless

Less of a payoff, but Krark, the Thumbless punishes you less for using free instants and sorceries. Losing a coin flip doesn’t lose you mana if you didn’t spend any. Win the flip and you get a cast-one-copy-one deal, all for free!

Wrap Up

Deadly Rollick - Illustration by izzy

Deadly Rollick | Illustration by Izzy

Free spells can be benign, but they can also enable all kinds of combos. They’re extremely powerful, even if they’re circumstantial and depend on the state of the game.

Which free spells do you use the most? Do you use them “as intended,” or do you use them to power your infinite combos? If so, which ones? Let me know in the comments below, or over on Draftsim’s official Twitter.

Thanks for reading and keep bargain hunting!

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