- Ancestral Recall
This is without question the greatest card in the game. Black Lotus is more expensive because any deck can play it, but the real question is why aren’t you playing blue if you could be playing Ancestral Recall? There is never really a situation that I don’t want all four copies of this card in my hand. Other cards are situational, but this is universally powerful. Draw three cards! It’s three Time Walks if you’re stalled on an empty board. I say proudly that I have actually seen one of these in person, and while I will never own this card, it’s a universal signifier of how powerful blue can be as a color in Magic. This is such an obvious choice that after making my list I looked at other lists and effectively everyone puts this as the greatest Magic card of all time. The all-star of the “Power Nine,” no card printed since has come even close to this. It’s simple and elegant and far too powerful.
- Mana Drain
Card draw isn’t fun. Do you know what’s fun? The other player not having fun. And not just stopping their fun, but then proceeding to throw a party with the failed illusions of the fun they wish they had so you can keep laughing at them. Well, anyway, if you’re playing blue that probably sounds like fun to you (I wanted to clarify I was joking when I said “card draw isn’t fun–it is). Two mana to counter the other player’s spell is strong, but add on this effect and you have a card that only escalates in power as the game progresses. I can’t imagine a more frustrating way to have something countered than this. There are almost no situations where this card is worthless (but they are conceivable), and it can be immensely powerful at any point of the game. Did I mention this is an uncommon?
- Force of Will
Counterspells are powerful because they can stop whatever the other player’s plan is and therefore both enable you to do what you want safely or protect you from the other players. Force of Will enables a player to counter something without spending mana. My greatest Magic regret is that I didn’t buy a playset of these when I first got back into the game. They have skyrocketed in value since then. New players tend to struggle to understand the value of this one, but the important thing to remember is that the more advanced formats often end in just a few turns, when you haven’t had time to play many lands yet for better answers, but this card will ensure even if you tapped out your lands, you are still safe from your opponent’s hidden plans. Another uncommon! For experienced players, the power of this card is enshrined in the card Storm Crow. The thoroughly mediocre Storm Crow is jokingly venerated as the most powerful card ever printed but these jokes began because Force of Will was so strong when it was printed that any card that was blue (even the lowly Storm Crow) was considered better than any card in the game what wasn’t blue because you couldn’t exile it with Force of Will.
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
My best explanation for how powerful this card is that previous to Jace, Mono-Blue Control Legacy and Vintage decks would usually run one copy each of three unique creatures (Meloku the Clouded Mirror(because of her ability to end the game on the next turn), Rainbow Efreet(because of his effective invincibility to all removal), and Morphling (because of his flexibility), but once this card was printed a full playset of this card was the only win condition blue decks needed. Experienced players say the best planeswalkers have to have a way to defend themselves, and the third ability can get rid of a single dangerous creature while the first ability can ensure that your opponent won’t get any new dangers. The last ability ensures your opponent will lose in the most frustrating way possible, and it only takes five turns of controlling your opponent’s draws to get there! This card was so powerful in standard that before it was banned players would run four copies of Jace Beleren in addition to their four copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor just so they’d have four more cards that could kill the opponent’s Jace. I doubt they will ever print a card quite this powerful again, but every new Jace seems to try to push the boundaries. However, this is the card that not only smashed those boundaries, but pushed aside dozens of other cards that had previously been legends.
- Snapcaster Mage
I went back and forth between this and Time Walk, but I wanted a creature (sorry True-Name Nemesis) and I tried to decide which I would rather have in my hand. Snapcaster wins because while unlike the other cards on this list it doesn’t win games by itself (although I realize suddenly that as a creature this is the only card that can win games by itself), it opens up more options for you than a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Effectively adding the best cards in your graveyard to your hand, it’s practically an Ancestral Recall (even better than Ancestral Recall if you’ve played an Ancestral Recall–wait, would playing this when you had an Ancestral Recall in your graveyard make it an Ancestral Recall Recall?). Timetwister is very strong, but the major reason it is strong is that you can replay cards, which this lets you do with more finesse. So this little recent creature beats out two “Power Nine” cards! Impressive.
- Honorable Mention: Counterspell
My favorite card that I own, this is the original counter spell. While countering other players’ cards may be one of the best things in this game, blue would still be a fantastic color if it couldn’t (note: top card on this list is card draw not a counterspell), but countering spells has always been a part of Magic for me.
- Bottom: Pale Moon
Pale Moon does effectively nothing. You’re basically throwing away two mana and a card. While there are of course always situations where this might be useful, there are far stronger forms of disruption available to blue. As another comment, this card effects you as well, so you can potentially lock yourself out of a useful opponent’s turn. Then again, if you’re playing this, you probably weren’t the sort of person who had many plans to do useful things on their turn anyway.