Magic: The Gathering is a game that revels in the versatility that it gives its players. With thousands of cards at your disposal, the possibilities are basically infinite. And more and more cards are coming out each year, ensuring that things never get stale.
Bounce spells are instants or sorceries that return a target permanent to their owner's hands. They are mostly relegated to the color blue and feel right at home in a variety of decks. Over the years, all archetypes have made use of certain bounce spells, with some of them becoming iconic in various formats. Here are some of the most powerful bounce spells that MTG has to offer.
10 Venser, Shaper Savant
Venser is a solid bounce option for any blue deck, whether it's a control deck or a midrange that focuses on tempo. The fact that you also get a 2/2 out of the deal is excellent, giving you some solid board interaction. Plus, it has flash, which means that you can potentially bounce an attacker and block the other one — it isn't bad for just four mana.
Because Venser can bounce any permanent and even spells, it's a very versatile card that has found a place in multiple decks over the years in various formats.
An instant that bounces all lands that are in play, Sunder can quickly turn the tides of battle in your favor. Best used whenever you have board control and want to lock your opponent out of the game while you whittle him down with your creatures.
As an added bonus, you can use Sunder at your opponent's end of turn, possibly forcing him to discard some cards. Even though it's a little expensive at five mana, the effect is strong and can even be a handy sideboard tool against ramp decks.
An enchantment that costs one generic and two blue mana, Equilibrium allows you to pay an extra generic mana every time you play a creature and return another target creature to their owner's hand. A card that can truly shine in a tempo-focused aggro deck, allowing you to pretty much bounce any threat for one single mana.
There are other uses for this card since you can take advantage of "Enter the Battlefield" effects and bounce your own creatures. Even though it would be kind of slow for actual competitive play, it could lead to some fun interactions for kitchen MTG.
7 Hurkyl's Recall
An instant that costs one generic and one blue mana, Hurkyl's Recall will bounce all artifacts that a target player owns. This might sound like a very lackluster effect, especially since you can't guarantee that an opponent will even have any artifacts that can be bounced.
But this card has found a lot of success in multiple combo decks that make use of artifacts, especially in formats like Vintage, where you have Moxes, Lotuses, and plenty of other ridiculously powerful artifact cards. Just like a lot of cards that have found new success in older formats, it took a while for people to realize the potential that this card has.
6 Cyclonic Rift
Cyclonic Rift is a bounce spell that costs one generic and one blue, and it can return any nonland permanent to its owner's hand. But its true power lies in the Overload mechanic, which states that for seven mana (six generic and one blue), you can instead bounce all nonland permanents that a player owns.
What made this a very popular spell over the years is the versatility that it offers since it's not just an expensive spell with a powerful effect that you might never get to play. The fact that you can make use of it in the first few turns of the game if needed makes it a solid addition to a variety of decks.
5 Vapor Snag
Vapor Snag costs one blue mana and will bounce a creature card while also dealing one damage to its owner. A very effective card, especially when faced with a midrange deck that loves playing big creatures.
While a lot of people will argue that one point of damage doesn't mean much, in decks that make good use of tempo that one point could mean the difference between a win or a loss. Given that it only costs one mana, Vapor Snag is probably one of the most mana-efficient bounce spells in the game.
Even though a lot of people will argue that Remand is a counterspell, it is essentially a spell bounce with some extra wording. Remand costs one generic and one blue mana and will counter a target spell, afterward putting it into your opponent's hand instead of his graveyard. Then you also get to draw a card.
It saw a lot of competitive play back in the day since it slows down your opponent while also giving you an extra card, making it an excellent addition to any deck that wants to keep tempo advantage.
3 Brazen Borrower / Petty Theft
A double card that allows you first to cast Petty Theft, which costs one generic and one blue mana and bounces a nonland permanent. Afterwards, the card goes into exile, and you can cast Brazen Borrower, which is a 3/1 creature with flash and flying that can only block creatures with flying. Keep in mind that you can directly cast Brazen Borrower, even though you forfeit the option of casting Petty Theft.
A potent card that saw a lot of competitive play, Brazen Borrower gives you the best of two worlds. You get to bounce a nonland permanent while also playing a pretty strong creature, especially if your opponents have no flyers in play.
Snap costs one generic and one blue mana. It allows you to return a target creature to its owner's hand with the added bonus of untapping up to two lands. This essentially means that Snap is a free creature bounce, which can make a huge difference in an aggressive tempo deck. The fact that you can bounce a blocker and then still get to play a creature on your second main can be huge for most aggro decks.
This card will seem even more potent in a deck that makes use of lands that give more than one mana. Untapping any of them will give you an extra mana, allowing you to play even more spells afterward.
1 Cryptic Command
Even though we have talked about multiple bounce spells that also offered versatility, none of them can compare to Cryptic Command. You can choose two of its four effects (bounce, counterspell, freeze, or card draw), allowing you to break out of a sticky situation with the use of a single card.
A staple in multiple formats, Cryptic Command is one of the strongest blue spells around. Even though it hasn't been reprinted in any recent sets, it still sees a lot of play in the Modern format as well as Historic on MTG Arena.
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