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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / 5 Amazing Free Spells Under $5 | Commander Quickie

5 Amazing Free Spells Under $5 | Commander Quickie

Commander 2020 recently introduced an incredibly powerful new cycle of free spells: the "free with commander" cycle — five instants that can be cast for no mana if you control a commander. These cards have generated a ton of buzz in the Commander community, with some already becoming staples in many decks. Well, at least if you can afford them. Four of the five cards in the cycle are currently over $10, with the most powerful of the bunch, Fierce Guardianship, currently sitting at a whopping $35. 

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However, these "free with commander" cards are far from the only sweet free spells out there. In this article, I'm going to highlight five other free spells that I think are worth running in Commander, specifically budget-friendly options under $5 that I think are underrated and deserve a look. 

Keep in mind that all these free cards come with extra conditions or casting costs in order to cost no mana. They are not generic staples and will shine best in specific types of decks or specific types of metas. However, in situations where their conditions are easily met, these cards are perfect inclusions that I strongly recommend trying out:

1. Snuff Out

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Snuff Out has very easy conditions to make it free: if you have a Swamp in play and are willing to pay a little bit of life then you can destroy any nonblack creature at instant speed. There's no shortage of creature threats in Commander that need to be taken out, especially when nearly every deck in the format has a powerful creature starting in the command zone. Any Mono Black or 2C Black deck will be able to consistently have a Swamp in play without even trying. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be a basic Swamp -- Swamp dual lands like Watery Grave count too, so even some 3C+ decks might be able to cast it for free with the right manabase (consistently finding Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth helps too). The ease of casting for free and the value of instant creature removal makes Snuff Out one of my favorite removal options in many black decks.

The main drawback to playing Snuff Out is that it can't destroy black creatures, so there will be situations where the creature you want to kill is an invalid target. While this is a significant drawback, especially at tables with lots of black decks, on average you generally won't be lacking for good kill targets with Snuff Out.

While I recommend Snuff Out for pretty much any Mono Black or 2C Black deck, there are a few decks that the card is particularly good in. While Snuff Out is rarely cast for mana, decks like Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow and Demonlord Belzenlok enjoy its 4cmc. The 4 lifeloss is usually a drawback but can actually be a benefit in decks like Vilis, Broker of Blood and Selenia, Dark Angel. And being a powerful instant that kills creatures makes it a perfect candidate for one of my favorite decks, Toshiro Umezawa.

2. Mogg Salvage

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mogg Salvage is instant artifact removal that is totally free -- no additional cost -- if you control a Mountain and an opponent control an Island. Again, the lands aren't restricted to basics, nonbasic lands that have the corrent land type count too (Steam Vents). While the most common nonland permanent type is creature, the second most common is artifact, and there's plenty of highly popular artifacts that are worth destroying, such as Lightning Greaves and Skullclamp. Being able to take out these threats at instant speed for no mana can be a huge play.

Controlling a Mountain is a trivial requirement in Mono Red and 2C Red decks, but having an opponent that controls an Island is out of your control, which is the real drawback to the card. Sometimes none of your opponents will control any Islands and you'll be forced to cast Mogg Salvage for three mana instead, which certainly isn't ideal but isn't the worst either. However, since Green and Blue are the most popular colors in the format, odds are pretty good that at least one opponent per game will have an Island.

Mogg Salvage is a pretty good artifact removal option in just about any Mono Red or 2C Red decks. More often than not you'll be able to cast it for free and there's usually a good artifact target for it to remove. It's also the ideal inclusion in Red decks that draw tons of cards quickly but are bottlenecked by mana to cast them all and therefore love free spells, such as Wheel decks like The Locust God or Spellslinger decks like Niv-Mizzet, ParunMogg Salvage also is a fantastic meta call in specific playgroups, such as ones dominated by Blue decks. For example, Mogg Salvage is Red's very best answer against decks running the Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal combo since you need instant speed artifact removal to break up the combo and it'll usually be free since the combo can only be done in Blue decks.

3. Submerge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Submerge is instant speed creature removal that is totally free -- no additional casting cost -- if you control any Island and an opponent controls any Forest, be they basic lands or nonbasic lands with the correct land type (Breeding Pool). The Commander format is filled with so many creatures that need to be dealt with the moment they enter the battlefield that having instant speed answers to them isn't just good, it's pretty much necessary, and instant creature removal that is free to cast is one of the best ways to handle them.

Controlling an Island is a trivial requirement for Mono Blue or 2C Blue decks, but just like Mogg Salvage, the requirement of an opponent controlling a Forest is out of your control, which is the drawback of the card. There will be games where Submerge is stuck in your hand as 5 mana spell, which sucks. However, since Green is one of if not the most popular color in Commander, chances are good that Submerge will be free to cast in the majority of your games, though it does depend on your own playgroup.

I'm aware that some people dismiss Submerge as a bad bounce spell that isn't true removal since the creature's controller can just recast it later. However, this overlooks some key strengths to the card. Submerge isn't a regular bounce spell because it doesn't return the creature to the owner's hand but rather puts it on top of their library. Not only does that mess with their card draw and arguably a 1-for-1 all by itself -- feel free to correct me in the comments section -- but you can make it much less likely that they'll recast the creature any time soon by bouncing it in response to the owner shuffling their library. The creatures owner cracking a Wooded Foothills, casting Rampant Growth or Demonic Tutor are all invitations for you to Submerge their creature in response, forcing them to shuffle it away.

Because of how powerful its ability is and how often you get to cast it for free, Submerge is one of my favorite targeted creature removal in Blue and one I find myself running often in Mono Blue and 2C Blue decks. Occasionally you'll sit at a table with no Green decks and it sucks, but I've had so many games where Submerge overperformed that I highly recommend it. It shines particularly bright in decks that care about its high cmc, such as Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, decks that want to put opposing creatures on top of their owner's library like Daxos of Meletis, and tempo decks that are happy to bounce opposing blockers for free such as Edric, Spymaster of Trest.

4. Faerie Macabre

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If you thought that I'd go an entire article without talking about how important graveyard removal is in Commander then you thought wrong. Graveyard decks are among the most popular in the format and on top of that nearly all Commander decks run some amount of graveyard recursion or use their graveyard as an engine in some way. Everyone agrees that interaction is important, yet a large chunk of the community neglects to run ways to interact with opposing graveyards.

Enter Faerie Macabre. It looks like a 2/2 flyer for 3cmc but I've never cast it this card. Instead, I use it exclusively for its activated ability, discarding it to snipe cards in the graveyard at instant speed for free. There are no hoops to jump through or extra costs to using it for free: you just discard it and you're good, so it's always ready to be used no matter what. Muldrotha, the Gravetide looping Plaguecrafter over and over? Exile it. Meren of Clan Nel Toth fogging all your combats with Spore Frog? Exile it. Lord Windgrace blowing up all lands with Strip Mine? Exile it! Since Faerie Macabre's graveyard removal is an activated ability, not casting a spell, it dodges most forms of countermagic as well.

As great as this card is, the drawback is that Faerie Macabre only exiles two cards, so it's a little less powerful against mass recursion strategies, such as decks looking to reanimate 10+ creatures at once with Living Death or similar. So while Macabre is great at sniping off key cards, you'll usually want a second piece of graveyard hate that does a more thorough job, like Bojuka Bog. Running both in the same deck is a really sweet combo, actually!

Because Faeire Macabre is so consistent and useful, I recommend running it in just about any Black deck. However, since it's a creature it's especially powerful in decks that care about either discarding creatures or having creatures in the graveyard, such as Garna, the Bloodflame, Syr Konrad, the Grim, and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. Also since it's a Faerie it's a nice thematic inclusion for Faerie Tribal decks such as Oona, Queen of the Fae. Also it's bffs with Phyrexian Reclamation!

5. Fury of the Horde

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Fury of the Horde is the most powerful card on this list but also the most restrictive in decks you can put it in. You can cast Fury for no mana to take an extra combat step, but it comes at a very steep cost: you have to exile two red cards from your hand. Many people will immediately dismiss this card as unplayable and for good reason: exiling two additional red cards is too steep a price for an extra combat step ... at least for most decks.

However, as high the cost is, there's actually quite a few Red decks where Fury of the Horde is one of the most powerful cards in their arsenal. The key here is to have a deck that is Mono Red or Red-heavy to the point that you'll usually have two other Red cards in hand, the deck's hand is either expendable or easily replenished, and most importantly the deck gains a lot from extra combats.

The first deck that I enjoyed running Fury of the Horde in was Narset, Enlightened Master, a deck built around Narset's powerful attack trigger and filled with extra turn and extra combat spells, casting them for free from the top of your library and chaining them together back to back until you eventually killed your opponents. Fury's massive 7cmc doesn't matter when you're casting it for free off the top of your library with Narset, and you're more than happy to exile your other Red cards from your hand if you drew Fury because you don't plan on casting spells from your hand once Narset gets rolling. If you're not a filthy degenerate like me however there's plenty of other Red decks that love Fury.

New kid on the block Winota, Joiner of Forces loves Fury. Like Narset, Winota's power lies entirely in her insane attack trigger, and casting just one or two extra combat spells once you've set up a decent board state can immediately snowball into a game-winning turn.

There's plenty of other Red decks that can put Fury of the Horde to work: Etali, Primal Storm trades those two exiled red cards for another round of attacking and gaining four more cards from the table, Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner draws even more cards from her ability, Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom draws another crazy amount of cards while Okaun, Eye of Chaos one-shots another opponent, and so on.

While Fury of the Horde isn't a good fit in most Red decks, in the decks that really care about extra combats it can easily be one of the best cards in the deck. It's my pick for most underrated, misunderstood free spell.

Want More Free Spells?

I hope you enjoyed this quickie. It was easy for me to write and hopefully helped a reader. I could easily cover ten more free spells in future quickies, so if this is something you want more of let me know!

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