How to Maximize Mishra’s Bauble in MTG

Mishra’s Bauble might be a staple of Modern today, but that wasn’t always the case. It took a decade after Bauble was released in Coldsnap for it to be more than a curiosity pumping up Tarmogoyfs and speeding out Frogmites. Around 2016, the floodgates opened, and Mishra’s Bauble rapidly went from an archetype staple in Death’s Shadow to the best cheap cantrip in the format.

Some of this delayed pickup was new cards being printed, and some of it is that Mishra’s Bauble is a tricky card to play correctly. It’s free to cast, free and instant to activate, synergizes with other free and instant to activate cards and being precise with when you do all these free and instant things seems small but can be game-changing.


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The Basics

The best use for Mishra’s Bauble is looking at your top card, then deciding if you want to shuffle it away with a fetchland.

As obvious as it seems now, the play pattern of using Mishra’s Bauble to look at your top card then using a Scalding Tarn to shuffle if you don’t like what you saw just wasn’t on people’s radars for years. A lot of the nuance of Mishra’s Bauble today comes down to making the most of this synergy, and knowing when to ignore it and just take the new Bauble card now.

Mishra’s Bauble is more a graveyard synergy card than an artifact or spells-matter one.

Mishra’s Bauble as an artifact on the battlefield is weak since it isn’t doing its job of replacing itself with another card, and Mishra’s Bauble as a spell for a big turn has the same issue of not immediately replacing itself. But if the best place for your Mishra’s Bauble is your graveyard after it replaces itself with another card, you get the best of both worlds. 

If you ever wonder why Mishra’s Bauble isn’t a commonly played card in Hammer Time, this is why. If you were wondering why Mishra’s Bauble didn’t see play for such a long time, remember that Gurmag Angler was released in 2015 and Traverse the Ulvenwald in 2016. Compare those cards to Murktide Regent and Unholy Heat. 

Mishra’s Bauble is at its best with instants to draw off it.

If you activate Mishra’s Bauble on your turn, you might draw an instant on their upkeep that you can immediately cast. But instants also let you use the fetch-plus-Bauble interaction without losing out on spending your mana.

Say you look at the top card of your library and its something you want to draw. So you don’t use your Scalding Tarn, activate Mishra’s Bauble, and draw that good card on your opponent’s upkeep. Your Scalding Tarn is still sitting there untapped and unused, and it sure would be great to have a Lightning Bolt you can cast off that untapped land. The less your deck can play on your opponent’s turn, the more likely the “see a good card” scenario off Mishra’s Bauble leads to a wasted mana and turns your free cantrip into an unexciting Opt.

Picking Your Spots

Make your critical plays on curve before worrying about maximizing Mishra’s Bauble. 

You take a peek at your deck with Mishra’s Bauble, realize you want the card but also want to cast something from your hand, and you get the worst Mishra’s Bauble has to offer. One of the easiest mistakes to make in Modern

In these cases, you can take a cue from Legacy and just wait on the Bauble play. A very common scenario for Izzet Murktide is having Mishra’s Bauble, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Scalding Tarn in your opening hand. Just play a different land, make the best turn one play of Ragavan, and worry about Mishra’s Bauble later. 

Default to immediately using Mishra’s Bauble on your turn.

When you are setting up the fetch-plus-Bauble play, the default is just getting it out of the way on your main phase. You could draw an instant on your opponent’s upkeep, cast it on their turn, and use your mana. There are a couple reasons to deviate from this plan.

If you don’t know what your opponent is playing, wait to use fetch plus Bauble until you know what you should shuffle away.

If you have to Lightning Bolt a Goblin Guide on their turn, you might lose the selection of that Bauble, but at the same time, was your decision on keeping a card on top going to be correct in that extreme case? On the flip side, if your opponent suspends a Crashing Footfalls on turn one, you know to start digging for Counterspell and shuffle away slower cards. This is just a general lesson for cantrips: if you’re digging for reactive cards, try to wait to dig for them until you know what reactive cards you want.

Wait to use Mishra’s Bauble against discard to draw more fresh cards after their Thoughtseize.

The second reason to wait is if you know your opponent is playing with Thoughtseize or Grief. As the saying goes, they can’t Thoughtseize the top of your deck. The weird delayed card draw off Mishra’s Bauble gives you more chances to hit a good card after they made their decision to strip away your best option at the time.

Hold or Cast

Whether you activate Mishra’s Bauble now or wait, it’s better on the battlefield than in your hand.

There are a ton of fringe reasons you could want to just cycle the Mishra’s Bauble immediately and have an extra card for your next turn, and having the option by having Bauble on the battlefield is better than not having the option because it is in your hand.

Another reason to cast Mishra’s Bauble immediately is Chalice of the Void. Chalice for zero has become a more common play with the influx of Grinding Breach into Modern, and it would be horrible to lose a card for no reason to an Eldrazi Tron player.

The exception is when you have specific cards that reward you for casting Mishra’s Bauble later.

Ledger Shredder is the main reason to hold Mishra’s Bauble in hand. The play of turn two Ledge Shredder, immediately cast Bauble and trigger connive is a big deal. Or if getting Shredder up to a 2/4 matters, you can hold Mishra’s Bauble as the spell you discard to connive.

Izzet Prowess also tends to hold Mishra’s Bauble to maximize multiple prowess triggers. A common scenario is having a Soul-Scar Mage, a Monastery Swiftspear and a Mishra’s Bauble to start the game. You could lead on Swiftspear, play Bauble, and get in immediate damage. You should start with Soul-Scar Mage, play Swiftspear on the second turn, get an extra prowess damage off Bauble and maybe even tie in a peek plus fetch. 

Mishra’s Bauble isn’t a reason to cast Expressive Iteration without mana or a land drop left.

This isn’t directly about when to cast Mishra’s Bauble, but don’t cast Expressive Iteration early with the hope of hitting Mishra’s Bauble. 80 percent of the time you will have cast a bad Impulse. It’s great to hope to hit a land or one-cost spell and find a Mishra’s Bauble giving you more options, but it should be an unexpected treat and not a primary game plan.

Need Cards Now?

The better your hand is now, the less important maximizing a Mishra’s Bauble peek is.

Extending out the turn one Ragavan scenario, sometimes you just have a bunch of good plays to make early on and no spot to line up Mishra’s Bauble and a fetch without wasting a mana. There’s nothing wrong with just taking the card right now off Mishra’s Bauble. Having more cards in your hand now gives you more options about how to play the game than just having a Bauble that has no direct impact. 

Another extension of this: mana-flooded hands should try their hardest to maximize Bauble to find a spell. Land-light hands have too many things to do and should just cash in Bauble. And if a land or a spell would be good, don’t worry too much about filtering with Bauble because what are you even shuffling away.

If you’re targeting your opponent with Mishra’s Bauble, do it sooner rather than later.

It took me a while to learn this lesson because the opposite feels so smart. You tap out on your turn and are going to cash in Mishra’s Bauble just to have a card next turn. If you look at their top card before they draw for the turn and they play it, you could have gotten that info for free. So you wait until their draw step, peek and feel smart.

Then they play their own Scalding Tarn, shuffle, and that minor info is gone. Just look at their top card that you know they’re going to draw. 

The same applies if you’re going to Mishra’s Bauble on turn one regardless of circumstances. Look at their top card, then look back at your hand because there’s a slight chance the matchup changes your play.

Bauble, Saga, and Breach Shenanigans

When your game plan is to make Construct tokens, Mishra’s Bauble is best left on the battlefield.

Mishra’s Bauble with Construct tokens is just power and toughness. Once your opponent clears out your tokens, you can cash in Bauble for a card, but until then, would you rather have a random card or a well allocated +2/+2? There’s also a natural synergy where having an active Urza’s Saga removes the need to activate Mishra’s Bauble. What are you going to draw off  Bauble that is better than making Construct tokens, and if the Constructs survive, how much does a card matter? Just win the game.

The other reason to leave Mishra’s Bauble sitting around is Emry, Lurker of the Loch.

This one isn’t tricky. If you have a Mishra’s Bauble and an Emry in your opening hand, you should try to cut a mana off your Emry before using the Bauble. 

Despite being fetchable with Urza’s Saga’s final chapter, you will rarely search up a Mishra’s Bauble. Some assured effect is just better than a random card most of the time. 

The good reason to find a Mishra’s Bauble off Urza’s Saga is a Grinding Breach specific one where the zero-cost artifact is the assured effect that matters. Often Breach will have hands with Urza’s Saga, plenty of mana and an Underworld Breach, but not the full combo and no zero-cost artifacts. Finding Mishra’s Bauble here gives you a card if your Constructs die, lets you Underworld Breach the fair way to loop Bauble for more cards and lets you chain towards a Mox Amber and a real combo kill if you draw Grinding Station. 

The bad reason to find Mishra’s Bauble is when you miss your third land drop with Urza’s Saga, don’t have creatures and are probably losing anyways. Hope to be lucky enough to avoid this one with your two-land Urza’s Saga hands, but that’s just life sometimes.

When playing Grinding Breach, sacrificing Mishra’s Bauble to Grinding Station can be worth more than a card when building to a low resource combo.

Underworld Breach can lead to tricky scenarios when starting from a small graveyard and limited mana. 

I’ve been playing Grinding Breach with Grapeshot over Thassa’s Oracle, so my combo chain often involves using blue mana off Mox Amber to cast Springleaf Drum from my graveyard, then using that to cast Ragavan, then using that to make red mana. That means I can’t exile specific cards when escaping my free artifact, and means I might need an extra escape of cards to cast something mid-combo. 

There are three things that raise a flag to think about using Bauble to fill my graveyard over drawing cards: using all my mana to start the combo next turn, having a small graveyard and having the wrong legendary creature for Mox Amber to cast my win condition. This precise scenario is rare, but the times it comes up are make or break. Knowing to look for it makes Grinding Breach a much more threatening combo deck

Paper Considerations

Mishra’s Bauble is a missable trigger. Come up with a basic plan to not miss it.

If you use Mishra’s Bauble in your turn, your end of turn is not saying “go,” it’s saying “go, I draw off Bauble.” If you use it on their turn, put a die on top of your library. Whatever works for you, come up with something simple and repeatable and you will miss as few triggers as possible. 

If you think you’re too good for this stuff and won’t miss Bauble triggers, remember the phrase used by some great players is hedged as “I think I didn’t miss any Bauble triggers today.” The Mishra’s Bauble triggers you notice you miss are bad, the ones you don’t notice are worse.

When you Bauble your opponent, look, put it back, then think as the game continues

I’m not here to get deep into the mental game of knowing your opponent’s top card. There are some absurd stories about baiting opponents to not shuffle away a blank card with theatrics, and that is only worth it if acting is second nature. 

For those just sitting down to game, the biggest tell you saw something concerning on top of your opponent’s deck is the pause as you reassess the game state. Do your best to just register the card as existing, put it back and worry about the details in the normal decision time of a turn. If you need to imagine you’re always going to look at a land, do that. Again, find something easy and repeatable and avoid the minor info leak with the least effort possible.

These last couple of things are minor edges, but so are most of the ways to min-max Mishra’s Bauble. They don’t always matter, but when they do, you end up ahead a good draw of where you would be otherwise. That extra five or 10 percent of value is what pushes Mishra’s Bauble from a forgettable trinket to one of the most important cogs in the Modern metagame.

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