VIDEO: Top 5 Best Tax Cards Ever in Magic! Pay your Debt!

Magic, though a fantasy game, mirrors many aspects of the real world, and the need to pay your taxes is one of them. Whether it's casting spells or getting to enjoy your creatures, sometimes there's a debt to pay. Join Snapbooster for a roundup of the best — and most annoying — taxing effects in the game!

Time StampTranscript
00:00 Hello everyone! I am Snapbooster, and today we will be reviewing a bunch of cards that you hate to see at the other side of the board. Cards that make you grumble, and sigh, and force you to do extra mental math in some cases.
00:13 The bank always wins and always reclaims what is theirs. Also in Magic, so let me tell you my personal favorite top five tax cards from MTG.
00:29 So first, let's establish what a "tax card" is or, rather, the definition I will be using for this video. A tax effect on a card means a player will have to pay extra mana or resources to activate an ability, play a card, or do a specific action. For example, Ghostly Prison taxes opponents by forcing them to pay two mana for each creature to attack.
00:50 Taxes effect make you pay for something you don't have to pay for normally. Tax effects are usually considered permanents; artifacts, creatures, enchantments. Mana Leak could technically be considered a tax effect because it forces you to pay extra mana, but we will not include this type of counters, we only want permanent effects.
01:09 Here we must also distinguish between tax cards and punishing cards, namely Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge. These two limit player options but aren't really making them pay extra resources, just limiting them.
01:23 Examples as such will not be included either. Likewise, Rhystic Study may not be included because it's not really forcing opponents to pay, only giving the option to. So as usual, quick criteria. I will include cards that follow these lines; recyclability over formats, cards that are extensively and popular in those formats, not of isolated use, and overall power level, the impact of its board presence in a game.
01:51 So that's pretty much it. Let's begin with the honorable mentions, the first of which goes to The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Printed in Legends and run in Golas Stax, Doomsday, and Bridge in Vintage, and Dark Depths, Four-Color Loam, and Cloudpost in Legacy. As a land, it does not produce mana, but rather makes every creature have an upkeep cost of one mana.
02:05 Meaning they will be destroyed unless you pay one mana for each of them. The upkeep cost can be avoided in Vintage easily thanks to the mana power creep there, especially if you run control, or simply don't have mana creatures.
02:22 Also, it is only ran as a one-of as it does not produce mana, so it remains as an honorable mention.
02:29 The second mention goes to Thorn of Amethyst, printed once and only in Lorwyn. This artifact taxes for one extra mana for every single noncreature spell and is mostly run in Vintage Colors and Ravager Shops, as well as in some Legacy lists like Dragon Stompy and in Commander.
02:44 It can be a little narrow sometimes and thus it remains an honorable mention. So, into the actual tab, one number five on this list is an artifact with a converted mana cost of two, and that is Defense Grid. We could say this card was the ancestor of Teferi, Time Raveler in the sense that it taxes your opponents if they want to play something during your turn.
03:04 Namely, instants and flash cards. With Defense Grid, every single card they attempt to play during your turn will have an extra cost of three. This card is played in a bunch of decks and formats, namely Vintage Colors, Legacy Epic storm, and in some of the sideboards like Belcher Lands.
03:20 Defense Grid renders cards like Force of Vigor useless and let's you play calmly with no stress during your turn. Tax him, but not always, our number five on this list.
03:32 Number four is another artifact for three, recently reprinted in Double Masters, and that is Trinisphere. Though we could argue Trinisphere is not a tax effect as such, I do believe it is since it forces you to pay three for whichever card you cast under that cost. Meaning Mox Opal will now cost three to cast, and likewise your not-so-free Force of Will now costs three mana and 1 life.
03:55 Trinisphere is also played in a wide variety of decks throughout formats, namely Vintage Colors and Ravager Shops, Legacy Prison, Commander, and Modern Tron and Eldrazi Tron as a sideboard piece.
04:04 Coming down to number three, we have yet another artifact. I swear not all the cards are artifacts, but this one has a similar effect to Thorn of Amethyst. That card is Sphere of Resistance. Originally printed in Exodus and only reprinted as a Kaladesh Invention. The premise is simple: at two mana, all spells cost one more to play. You may think, why is the Thorn of Amethyst an honorable mention and Sphere of Resistance at number three?
04:28 Well because the targets are wider, Moxen — one mana, Force of Will — a whole one mana, creature — one mana, planeswalker — one mana, It may seem dull, but taxing every possible spell can be overwhelming.
04:44 The card is split in Vintage Colors and Ravager Shops, Legacy Cloudpost and Dark Depths, and some Commander decks.
04:49 Number two is not an artifact, hooray! But arguably one of the most iconic taxing creatures in existence, and definitely one of the most popular. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben must then be on this list. As a creature, it's fragile, yes, but it drops for two, has first strike, and, most importantly, makes every noncreature spell one mana more expensive, which, in formats like Modern, creates a huge impact as soon as it enters the battlefield. It sees extensive play in Legacy Death and Taxes and in Modern Humans, and in the freshly made Taxes for the same format, as a three- or four-of in every case.
05:19 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is then a symbol for the list. The number one is, oh well, another artifact. Sorry! But it seems that we have a special taste for spheres, and Damping Sphere is no exception. This thing disables all lands that would add more than one mana, adding colorless instead. But then it also makes all spells cost an extra one mana for each spell played previously. A second spell will cost an extra one, the following will cost an extra two, and so on.
05:49 This renders many combo decks like Storm unplayable. Damping Sphere has been an extremely popular card since its release, and its been played almost everywhere: Modern Humans, Modern control decks, Pioneer decks like Reclamation, and then some Legacy and Commander tax decks.
06:05 Its first ability is not really a tax effect as such, but it impacts the game enormously and, for that overall effect, and it's popularity, mostly in sideboards, it's the number one for the list.
06:14 I honestly hope you have enjoyed this video. If so, do not forget to leave a like, subscribe, and share this video with friends. Do you agree with the resulting top cards? If so, please let us know in the comments. I am Snapbooster and thank you very much for sticking around with us. Bye

Opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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env03059(19.11.2020 12:01)

No Lodestone Golem? Not even as a honorable mention? It was so powerful that it got restricted in Vintage!

Piupiu24(19.11.2020 14:11)

Env03059 :-) Indeed !

NayRained(23.11.2020 11:56)

I did think of it! But I have never really played against it or seen in play, so I guess I underestimated it. My bad! :(

Vayra86(19.11.2020 11:45)(Edited: 19.11.2020 11:46)

Why is Grand Arbiter Augustin IV not in here?

He's double trouble - tax cuts for you, more tax for the rest.

NayRained(23.11.2020 11:58)

Indeed he is! I think I didn't include it because it "only" sees play in Commander (very powerful there, I reckon). Maybe for a second video? :)

OnionInvests(19.11.2020 09:09)

Tabbernackle>ghostly prison
+ when you buy tabbernackle the tax is the highest for this card lol

NayRained(19.11.2020 11:26)

It really is! Haha.

Sergio19(19.11.2020 00:19)

I would include the Tabernacle in the top 5 actually, because it forces to pay over 1000 bucks to its owner if he/she wants to buy the card

NayRained(19.11.2020 11:28)

It really is a pain in the wallet! Haha