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5 More Amazing Free Spells Under $5 | Commander Quickie

Recently I did an article covering 5 amazing free spells under $5 and the response was very positive, plus it got more eyeballs than anticipated. So let's do a second round of sweet budget cards that can be cast for free!

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 but will shine bright in specific types of decks or specific types of metas. We'll go over the strengths and weaknesses of each card and what decks they work best in. Let's get started!

1. Force of Despair

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Force of Despair is a flashy removal spell that has single handedly saved me from many lethal situations. If it's not your turn, you may exile a black card from your hand rather than pay the spell's three mana cost, destroying all creatures that entered the battlefield this turn. You can use it to remove a single threatening creature cast on an opponents' turn and that can be a very strong play itself, but Force of Despair shines brightest when it's taking out entire armies worth of creatures. Whether it's Avenger of Zendikar flooding the battlefield with tokens or Rise of the Dark Realms mass reanimating everyone's creatures, Force of Despair can completely undo your opponents' potential game-winning plays.

As much as I love this card, it's not without downsides. First of all, in order to cast it for free you need to exile another black card, so you're spending two cards for your removal and the card is mostly restricted to Mono Black or 2C Black decks. Usually exiling an extra card isn't that big of a deal for such a powerful effect if you're running a good amount of card draw to keep your hand full, but there will be times where you're hurting for cards and exiling an extra one can be a real pain. However, the regular casting cost is just three mana, and while keeping three mana up is obviously much harder to do than not having to keep up any mana at all, it's not impossible for some decks to consistently just cast it for mana instead, especially decks that regularly play at instant speed aka Draw Go decks.

The other drawback is Force of Despair's timing restriction: it only destroys creatures that entered the battlefield this turn. This means that if there's a threatening creature entering the battlefield, you only have that turn to decide whether or not to kill it, you can't wait a few turns and do it later. While this sometimes forces you to pull the trigger on killing a creature earlier than you'd like to, I personally haven't had much issue with the timing restriction.

Overall Force of Despair is a really unique and powerful removal spell that I think is currently underrated in the Commander community. It's a strong choice in any Mono Black or 2C Black decks, but it's especially powerful in decks that regularly hold up mana on opposing turns. By far my favorite home for Force of Despair has to be Toshiro Umezawa, which absolutely loves instant speed kill spells and can easily cast it for mana or for free as needed.

2. Misdirection

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Misdirection is one of my favorite "gotcha!" cards that enables super swingy plays. You may exile a blue card from your hand rather than pay its five mana cost to change the target of target spell with a single target. It's a fantastic way to protect yourself from targeted removal, redirecting format staples like Swords to Plowshares and Beast Within away from your stuff and hitting your opponents' stuff instead, effectively a 2-for-2 if you cast it for free (or 2-for-1 if you paid the mana cost). You can also use it to counter countermagic, such as protecting your spell from a Counterspell by redirecting it to target your Misdirection instead. On rare occasions you'll even get to live the dream and redirect an opponent's huge Blue Sun's Zenith or Time Stretch to your own face and fill like a million bucks!

Just like Force of Despair the most obvious drawback to Misdirection is that you need to exile another blue card from your hand in order to cast it for free, which can hurt if you're low on cards in hand and does restrict you to playing it in Mono Blue or 2C Blue decks. Also unlike Force, the regular casting cost is a whopping five mana, which is difficult for most decks to keep that amount of mana up, except Draw Go decks. The card is pretty bad if you aren't casting it for free.

But the biggest drawback to the card comes down to expectations. A lot of people look at Misdirection expecting it to work like flexible countermagic, but it's not. It's a relatively narrow spell that is used primarily as protection against targeted removal. If your deck isn't overly concerned about protecting a specific permanent against targeted removal then this card isn't useful to you. However, in Blue decks that want this effect, particularly Blue decks that are heavily reliant on their commander sticking around, Misdirection is a consistent mana-free way to protect them. For this reason, I highly recommend Misdirection in Blue decks like Niv-Mizzet, Parun, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and Talrand, Sky Summoner, Blue-heavy decks that really want to protect their commanders and are usually swimming in card draw to pay the cost of this sweet free spell. Misdirection gives these commander-reliant decks the breathing room they need to establish their board presence and snowball out of control.

3. Abolish

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

White has a lot of sweet ways to remove target artifacts and enchantments: cards like Return to Dust, Crush Contraband, and the flexible Generous Gift all show up fairly often. But White also has a powerful option that costs no mana as well: Abolish can be cast by discarding a Plains from your hand instead of paying its mana cost to destroy target artifact or enchantment. 

Now some people may dismiss Abolish right away as an inferior option to other similar forms of artifact/enchantment removal: it doesn't exile or hit two targets like Return to Dust, nor does it have the ability to target other kinds of permanents like Generous Gift. But the ability to cast Abolish even when you're fully tapped out is incredibly potent since Commander is full of artifacts and enchantments that must be answered the moment they enter the battlefield. Whether it's someone combo'ing off with Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal or dropping down a Rhystic Study that you know Seth proooobably known as "I never pay the 1" will just hand them the game the moment he untaps, sometimes you need to act immediately or you'll lose the game. And that's where the difference paying four mana for Return to Dust versus paying zero mana for Abolish becomes highly relevant.

Discarding a Plains from your hand is a pretty restrictive cost, probably more restrictive than just exiling a white card in most decks, though pretty much any Mono White deck could pull it off. White is particularly good at filling hands with excess Plains, however: while not what I'd call budget-friendly, one of the most powerful cards in the format, Land Tax, ensures you'll always have Plains in hand to discard. Another card that I love in Mono White, Endless Horizons, provides a similar role to Tax even if significantly weaker.

Overall I'm happy to recommend Abolish in just about any Mono White deck and some 2C White decks, especially if you're running ways to fill your hand with Plains cards like Land Tax. Free flexible spot removal is always great to have!

4. Invigorate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Invigorate has one of the easiest requirements to cast for free: all you need is to control a Forest (nonbasic Forests like Temple Garden count too) and have an opponent gain 3 life and you can give a creature +4/+4 until end of turn. The drawback to this card is almost nonexistent: pretty much any Mono Green, 2C Green, and most 3C Green decks will consistently have a Forest in play and giving an opponent 3 life is totally negligible. You'll always be casting Invigorate for free without issue.

With a nonexistent drawback, the question for running Invigorate becomes, "is giving a creature +4/+4 worth it?" And while most random generic decks will say "no," in many decks the answer is a resounding "YES!" Some of the most powerful Green cards are keyed off a creature's power/toughness. By boosting the creature for free with Invigorate you can draw four more cards off Return of the Wildspeaker, generate four more mana off Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, or effectively give a creature +8/+8 after Xenagos, God of Revels doubles its power and toughness. 

In many green decks that scale heavily off power/toughness, Invigorate is a powerful free way boost other cards. It's an allstar in Gargos, Vicious Watcher, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Infect decks like Saskia the Unyielding, and so much more. 

5. Reverent Mantra

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Reverent Mantra is an oddball card that hardly anyone knows exists, let alone plays. You may exile a white card from your hand rather than pay its four mana cost to give all creatures protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. Just like Misdirection, Mantra's primary role is protecting important creatures, usually your commander, from targeted removal, but it can be devastating in other more rare situations as well. You can use its protection offensively by giving your attacking creatures protection from the color of would-be blockers, letting them swing in unblocked. Or if you're ahead on board you can effectively counter red damaging board wipes like Blasphemous Act by giving creatures protection from red.

Also note that all creatures gain this protection, not just your own creatures, which has interesting implications! You can use this a political tool to help an opponent, or you can mess with your opponents' board, fizzling an opponents' Hunter's Insight by giving creatures protection from green so it becomes an illegal target, or giving all creatures protection from black so an opponent's Animate Dead falls off and the creature dies. These situations, while uncommon, are an absolute delight when they do occur and you get to entertain the table with a sick obscure card.

Now Reverent Mantra isn't some obscure format allstar. Casting it for free requires exiling another white card from your hand, it doesn't protect noncreature permanents, and it does nothing to protect your creatures from most forms of board wipes such as Damnation. When it comes to protecting your creatures it's certainly weaker than Flawless Maneuver overall. However, despite its narrow applications, Reverent Mantra is a powerful budget tool for Mono White or 2C White decks looking for good ways to protect important creatures, usually their commander, from targeted removal. I've been testing it in a bunch of Mono White decks like Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle, Darien, King of Kjeldor, and God-Eternal Oketra and so far I've been impressed with the results.

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed these five additional free spells that won't dent your wallet. There are even more free spells to cover so if there's interest for more then I'd be happy to oblige. Thanks for reading!

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