For the majority of spells in Magic: the Gathering, a cost must be paid. This is one of the fundamental concepts of the game: you must exchange something (usually mana) in exchange for a spell’s effect.
But what if you didn’t have to do this? What if a spell cost you nothing?
There actually are spells like this. If you’re a Commander player, you’ll want to pay attention because we’re about to talk about the best MTG free spells for Commander.
Let’s dive right in…
What is a “Free” Spell and How Does it Work?
New players are going to have one question at the forefront of their minds: what’s a “free” spell? After that question, they’ll be wondering, how does a free spell even work?
We don’t mean free monetarily. Expanding your Magic collection will almost always cost you money in some way.
When we say “free,” we are talking about their mana cost. Some spells do not cost you any mana to cast them initially.
These spells can work in many different ways. Some might not have a mana cost at the time of casting but may require you to pay something later. Others might be free to put on the battlefield but require you to pay something into them in order to activate their abilities.
There are also spells that are completely free. For these few, you can put them on the battlefield and begin using them right away. Some of them are permanent fixtures, and some others may require you to sacrifice them in order to use them.
Regardless of their specific mechanics, good free spells that are legal in Commander tend to be mana rocks or other artifacts.
Best MTG Commander Free spells
When we began this post, our first thoughts immediately went to Mana Crypt. This is an infamous and jaw-droppingly powerful free spell that will regularly give you two colorless mana.
The drawback is that Mana Crypt requires you to flip a coin at the start of your turns. Should you fail the coin flip, it will do three damage to you. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small price to pay, and there are many ways to gain that life back.
Related Article: 10 Best Life Gain Cards in MTG
Force of Will is another famous card. It is considered by many to be one of the best counterspells in all of Magic: the Gathering.
It has a mana cost you can choose to pay at the top. However, if you don’t have that mana open, you can also cast it for “free.” The clincher is that you’ll have to pay one life and exile a blue card from your hand in exchange for casting it without having to pay its somewhat steep mana cost.
You could argue that this isn’t technically free. Many players agree that the option to skip paying its price in mana is amazing, though, and we couldn’t make this list without mentioning it.
If you’re struggling to build a reliable mana base in your Commander deck, Chrome Mox could help you fix it. It doesn’t cost you any mana, but you will need to exile a card from your hand that’s not an artifact.
Whichever colors are part of the card you exiled, Chrome Mox can produce a single mana for. Like paying with life to cast Force of Will, this is a relatively small price to pay for reliable mana production.
Lotus Petal gets its name and mechanics from a much more famous card called Black Lotus. Like its much rarer Black Lotus forebear, it costs zero and you must sacrifice it in order to activate its ability.
Once sacrificed, Lotus Petal gives you a single mana of any color. Basically, it is giving you free mana for a single turn. That may sound underwhelming to beginners, but it’s actually extremely useful.
It will put you ahead of where your opponents are at for that turn. Alternatively, it may help you catch up and cast a spell that’s just out of reach for your current mana pool.
Blue has most of the greatest counterspells in Magic: the Gathering. It’s not surprising that there’s another phenomenal counterspell, Pact of Negation, also available in blue.
You don’t need to pay any sort of mana cost up-front to cast Pact of Negation and counter a spell. The important thing is that you will still need to pay for it on your next turn. It’s kind of like taking out a loan and paying interest on it.
Its up-front cost of zero is what makes it so special. Even if you’re all tapped out on mana, you can use Pact of Negation to protect yourself, should an opponent take advantage of your seemingly defenseless state.
Read Also: 10 Best MTG Commander Board Wipes
Here’s a rule of thumb: if you have a mana rock and it begins with the word “mox,” it’s probably good. The same is certainly true for Mox Diamond, another mana rock that doesn’t cost you anything to cast.
The only “price” you’re paying here is the discard of a land card. Given that Mox Diamond will give you a single mana of any color, it’s a worthy trade.
Jeweled Lotus quickly became an extremely sought-after card in Commander after its release. This mana rock was tailor-made for the format, and it is strong.
First, you can put it on your battlefield without paying any mana. Sacrificing it will give you three mana of a single color, just like Black Lotus. The caveat is that you can only use this mana to cast your Commander.
That’s not a bad caveat to work with. Since Commanders get progressively more expensive the more you cast them from your command zone, Jeweled Lotus is a nice little artifact that can make having to re-cast your Commander less of a pain.
We discussed in our list of the best MTG black Commander cards how easy it is to bring something back from the graveyard. It’s not uncommon to make decks centered around this strategy, in which a player’s graveyard is nothing more than another library.
If you have an opponent playing that same strategy, Tormod’s Crypt is the card for you. This card is graveyard hate to its fullest potential. You can play it for free, then sacrifice it to exile all cards from an opponent’s graveyard.
For an extra burn, be sure to use it when the opponent in question has tons of cards in their graveyard.
We wanted to make sure we discussed all kinds of free spells on this list. It would be only too easy to limit it purely to free mana rocks, but that would be boring.
That’s why we’ve picked Ornithopter. It costs you nothing, of course, and for that modest price, you get a flying creature with 0/2 on your battlefield.
That may sound useless to you since it can’t initially do any damage to anyone. But it gives you a flying blocker that is accessible right from the beginning of the game. Plus, if your deck is using equipment artifacts, you can load it with equipment to turn it into a creature to be reckoned with.
We’ve said it repeatedly and we’ll probably say it again many more times: card draw is pretty much always a good thing. It starts to become a problem when you have too many cards and are forced to discard back down to your maximum hand size.
If your deck is one that focuses on drawing as many cards as possible, you need something like Spellbook. It will make it so you can have an infinite number of cards in your hand, so you never have to discard them unless forced to another way.
Free Spell Questions
Do lands count as spells?
Lands don’t cost you anything, so if it was just “free cards” that we were putting on the list, it would probably be dominated by lands. The reason we didn’t do this is that lands do not count as spells.
A land is its own special type of card. It cannot be countered, and it does not go into the stack.
What counts as casting a spell?
If a land doesn’t count as a spell, then you may be wondering which cards are considered spells. We’ll have to develop an extremely specific definition to explain it.
If you want to keep things simple, you can say that everything that isn’t a land is a spell. To be more specific, you can define a spell as any card that is played and then goes into the stack.
Defining what the stack is can be tricky. The best way to put it is that the stack is a line. Cards go into the stack to indicate which order they will be resolved in depending on their speed. A card is officially cast once it has gone through the stack.
When a spell is countered, is it still cast?
Yes, a spell is still considered cast even when it is countered. This is because you can’t even technically counter a spell until it has been cast.
You can kind of liken it to interrupting someone when they’re talking. That person has still started to talk, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to interrupt them. In fact, instants used to be called interrupts for this very reason.
Do you find yourself consistently struggling to get the mana to cast spells? In that case, using the free spells on this guide may be able to help you get on the right track.
You may also want to think about adjusting the ratio in your deck. If you need our advice, we’ve got a guide to the MTG Commander deck ratio to help you build your mana base effectively.