Hello Awesome People! Today I have something fun for y'all. I want to look at the best Curses of all time and rank them. We'll also toss in a few Honorable Mentions as well. We'll rank them in kitchen table play formats like multiplayer generally, Commander specifically, other Highlander formats, Cube, Type Four, Five Color and more!
Let's do it to it!
Honorable Mention #1 (#13 Overall) - Curse of Echoes
Check out this five-mana mono-Blue hoser. When the cursed player casts an instant or sorcery then everyone else gets a free copy! From removal like Vindicate to card draw like Fact of Fiction, that's a lot. And then remember that modern Commander regularly removes things like Phyrexian Arena for Sign in Blood and Ravenous Chupacabra for Murder and Eternal Witness for Regrowth, so this is much more powerful in the modern Commander metagame. I've seen players under it just stop casting those two types. It's very strong. Also those copies will trigger your magecraft triggers. The main issue here that drops it to my Honorable Mentions is that it's five mana to cast and many players may only be running 12 or 17 instants and sorceries so the hosing might not be where you want. It's also harder to know who to target in pickup games at the card store where you don't know who you are playing against.
Honorable Mention #2 (#12 Overall) - Curse of Obsession
Also a five-mana curse, but this time on a Red shell. The enchanted player draws two cards, and then discards their hand each end step no matter the size. Nice right? I like this in a few shells. First, when you are in a Rakdos Group Slug deck built around Howling Mine to draw and Underworld Dreams to punish them for doing so. Here's another two cards and another two damage, then you discard so they cannot punish your stuff! It's also great against Control decks loaded with counters and instants that they don't want to be forced to play on their turn to tap out.
I also like this a lot in one more spot...on yourself! You can easily build around this, as well as artifact powerhouse Grafted Skullcap where you draw more but discard each end step. This was a mono-Red combo in Standard called Burning Bridge with Ensnaring Bridge where you discarded and now your foes cannot attack you with anything other than a zero power. It's also a great way to ensure that your hellbent stuff will trigger in Rakdos Hellbent brews. Also note that the Skullcap is in a Modern-legal creature with Avaricious Dragon and Bridge is also legal there. I love this loads. Also a key way to stop the discard is Reliquary Tower effects, so you'll need to take out those if you plan to enchant others. This flexible thing is awesome here in kitchen table formats.
Honorable Mention #3 (#11 Overall) - Maddening Hex
Back-to-back Red Curses! This is a cheaper three-drop and when the enchanted player casts any noncreature spell they take d6 damage and then it enchants another randomly chosen opponent of you. A d6 of damage will kill pretty quickly, and then this will go away, so people will play into it in multiplayer, or 40-life formats, just to get rid of it. But in duals this is rough since there are no others to attach this too. This is much better in duals or 20-life formats, but this is still a strong game winning force of nature. Love it loads! But it's here in my Honorable Mention since everything here is random from the damage to who gets it next, so it cannot be a reliable form of player kill.
Top Ten Time!
#10. Curse of Disturbance and shout out to Curse of Shallow Graves
Each of these are three-mana uncommon Black Curses. The key one will give the player who attacked the enchanted player a 2/2 Zombie token, as well as you, so you both get something. Nice! That really encourages them to attack since they are getting something valuable. The second Curse will give the one attacking the Cursed player a tapped 2/2 Zombie token - so close! But you don't get anything, sorry, unless you are attacking yourself. I love the first one generally, in loads of places. It scales up for multiplayer, unlike other Curses which are worse in multiplayer. I also like them in Zombie decks since you have a reliable way of making those Zombies, as well as token matters in black, like Orzhov Tokens.
#9. Curse of Chaos
Want another Red Curse? I've got you! When anyone attacks, they can discard and draw a card so that's nice card flow. It's called "Rummaging" and it's one of Red's ways to draw cards - discard to draw. The other one exiles from the top of your library for the turn and can be cast with a limited window. In this case you are netting sweet discard to draw. You might prefer this in multiplayer since it's not card draw, since they are trading one for one.
Want to really have a crazy idea for a deck? I got ya! How about this on yourself in a discard deck built around Megrim, No Mercy and Liliana's Caress? There the idea is to make attacking you too painful to do so. That would be nasty, right? I hear ya! Craziness assaults us!
#8. Curse of Bounty
Our first (and only) Green Curse is this cheap 2-drop. When someone attacks the Cursed player, they and you untap your non-lands. I love this by tapping your mana rocks and dorks like Birds of Paradise and Sol Ring and casting something on your precombat main phase, and then swinging and getting your mana stuff untapped to cast something else post-combat. I also like this with the untapping of your dorks after tapping out for combat so you cannot be counter attacked, so it's like you have pseudo-vigilance. I also like this with green Commanders with a tap ability, like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds since you should get a few attacks each round of turns as more and more people attack the Cursed one for the untapping benefit. I also love this in a Simic Pinger Deck built around the tapping of Prodigal Sorcerer and similar tappers to get a bunch of untaps. Great stuff!
#7. Curse of Unbinding
One of our more expensive Curses today at 7 mana is this! It's worth it though. In their upkeep, they reveal cards until a dork is revealed, and then you get it! Nasty card advantage over time as more and more creatures come under your control from your foe's deck. Also note that the other cards revealed are milled, so this is great in a Mill deck as an adjunct mill effect and win-con in one card. It's great fun in many places too, like control, Curses, Simic Ramp, and more. I hope you enjoyed our halfway mark as much as I did!
#6. Curse of Bloodletting
Want yet another mono-Red Curse? I got cha! Check out this. As damage is dealt to the Cursed foe from any source, it's doubled. This will really punish them and will even be a fast clock in a 40-life format like that Commander thing you might have heard of. I really like this in a few shells. First, Mono-Red and Boros Burn built around things like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and then Firesong and Sunspeaker. Nice there! I also super secretly like in in Boros decks built around sweepers like Pyrohemia and Earthquake that will be prevented to your things by protection from red things or protections in the Command Zone like Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer as a way to speed up player kill. Love this thing loads! But's it's just outside of my Top Five.
What did? Great question! Let's find out below! We have all four non-Green Curse colors left, so one color will hit twice.
#5. Overwhelming Splendor
Ah yes, our most expensive Curse. The one people think of as a win condition. This drops all their dorks' size to 1/1 and strips off their abilities that the Cursed one controls. Then they cannot activate abilities unless they are mana and or loyalty. That's rough too. You can see why it's thought of that way. This is a powerhouse against the Archenemy in Commander - the one with the nastiest Commander. It'll shut it down without removing it so it cannot just be recast. Very strong there! But it's 8 cost and not in a color of Cabal Coffers or Rampant Growth, so it'll be a while barring something like Academy Rector dying. Most white ramp heads to your hand, like Land Tax or Tithe. I like this thing though, don't sleep on it, as a late game closer. See also Type Four where this is amazing too. Ready?
#4. Cruel Reality
Check out this fun 7-drop, and unlike the Splendor above this is in the color of Cabal Coffers. I'd also like to put this out there as a "win con" too. At the beginning of the Cursed one's upkeep they either sacrifice a dork or a planeswalker or lose a massive 5 life. It's both board control and player control in one card, hence it's very strong, and worth the price of admission. That'll kill quickly even in a 40-life format like Commander. This is our last high-cost Curse, the other three left are no more than 4. But given how powerful this thing is, it's earned its cost. This is the Winner of Games, and the Destroyer of Battlefields of the Cursed one. I also love this in Type Four with infinite mana but just one spell per turn, since you can drop this as early as turn 1 there, and one sacrifice per turn will stop their one turn spent casting the thing too. Get ready!
#3. Curse of Verbosity
We began with Blue, and we hit the third spot with our last blue Curse. This three-drop was designed for multiplayer, thus hitting higher than anything else in that color. This uncommon will give the player who attacks the Cursed one a free card. No discard first, just free cards. Then you do too! That's really a strong signal to attack that person from all directions as everyone wants to draw cards. Especially if they didn't have to spend mana or a card to do so! It's great in any blue multiplayer deck since the more players you have, the more likely people are to attack the one Cursed. But there are a few shells where it's even stronger - the first is Group Hug, where you want people to draw cards with Temple Bell effects that include Blue, so you can encourage them to attack someone and kill them off while drawing. The second shell that strikes me is hand size matters around things in Blue like Soramaro, First to Dream or Alrund, God of the Cosmos where you can draw multiple cards from it over four turns in a multiplayer game and then have something like Reliquary Tower to stop discarding. Nice!
#2. Curse of Exhaustion
Our penultimate Curse. The Cursed player cannot cast more than one spell per turn. This ability was originally printed in Blue and affected everyone (Arcane Laboratory, which is still pretty heavily played in Commander at 6,237 decks over at EDHREC.com). This was colorshifted to White in Rule of Law, which is even more of a staple at 26,247 decks. Nasty. Getting that for just one foe is pretty strong, and it's why it's my second-hitting Curse overall. Sure, in multiplayer, that doesn't hit your other foes, but many aren't really hurt by this that much anyway, like Ramp with one big spell per turn or Midrange too not really being hurt. But this shuts down Cantrips, Wheels, and Storm all day long. It's also strong against Spellslinger killing with triggers like Guttersnipe on Jeskai or Izzet decks casts of sorceries and instants. This thing is very strong!
But it's not even close to my top card. What Red card hit my top spot?
#1. Curse of Opulence
Could anything else be here? Again, like Curse of Verbosity, this is designed for multiplayer. This is a super cheap one-drop that gets cast on the first turn prior to Negates and Counterspells coming online. It's awesome in so many brews, since you get a free Gold token which makes any color of mana when the Cursed one is attacked, as well as the attacker, so that's free ramping mana. You know how much this is beloved at Commander and similar multiplayer formats. You can get your Commander out a turn or two earlier just by attacking the Cursed one. It's registered in a massive 44,740 decks over at EDHREC.com! It's too good not to be here. Also note that the most common archetype to build around in Commander is artifacts, and here you'll get a free artifact on your turn by attacking as well as when your foe's attack too. This is also great in red that wants to sacrifice artifacts for things like Goblin Welder to grab the best artifact from your graveyard to the battlefield or Kuldotha Forgemaster to Tinker out the best artifact from your library to the battlefield. Also, note that this is great in token matters decks like Jaheira, Friend of the Forest with a Red Background, where you can tap them for mana and keep them around for mana later. Good stuff there! Nothing else could be here!
And there we go! So, what did you think of my 13 choices ranked here of the Curse subtype? I hope you enjoyed it!