Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Board Wipes in Magic?
Sometimes called wrath effects or field-wipes, board-wipe spells come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but tend to eradicate all cards of a certain type on the field—both yours and your opponents. Most aim for creatures, removing the rising threat from monster-happy opponents by nuking the entire play area.
Of course, when employing these spells you need to be careful or you'll end up annihilating as many of your cards as your adversary's, but clever deck builders will circumvent this hazard accordingly. For instance, use few or no enchantments if you include enchantment-wipes, few or no creatures for creature-wipes, and so on.
Board wipes are also handy for eliminating creatures with protection from your colors; these enemies can't be targeted or damaged by corresponding spells, but they can be destroyed by them. Point is, board wipes are devastating game-changers useful for a variety of situations, but with dozens of mass extinctions available, which reign supreme? These are the 10 best board wipes in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Day of Judgment
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
The white faction offers many field-cleansing options, and this one's about as simple as they come. With a comparatively low mana cost of four, Day of Judgment simply destroys all creatures on the field. No extra tricks necessary; this sorcery just offers a reasonably-priced and useful nuke.
Judgment lacks the ability to negate regenerations (more on that later), but you can actually exploit this by incorporating them into your deck, letting your monsters (and hopefully not your opponent's) survive the blast with their second wind.
9. Blasphemous Act
Blasphemous Act appears tremendously expensive at nine mana, but it automatically decreases its cost by one for each creature on the field, often letting you play it for four or less mana! Act deals 13 damage to every creature, more than enough to eradicate just about anything that doesn't have indestructible.
Since only one of Blasphemous's mana needs to be red, it's useful in multicolor decks because the majority of its cost can be paid for with any mana hue. Remember, your units will be affected too, so avoid the collateral damage by either building a non-creature deck or gaining indestructible.
Finally, as mentioned above, protection from a color doesn't prevent auto-destruction, but it does block damage, so in this case, protection from red will successfully fortify against Blasphemous Act—a trait you can exploit with cards like "Sword of Fire and Ice".
Whirlwind works wonders thanks to both its effect and its availability, being one of few creature-wipes green accesses. This gale-summoning storm simply destroys all creatures with flying; since green has the least aerial units of any color, most if not all of your units will avoid the detonation while any airborne opponents will be swept up in Whirlwind's wake.
A bit of a gamble since it's essentially worthless against land-based decks, but in its element, Whirlwind is a cheap field wipe that eradicates foes while leaving your allies unscathed.
7. Austere Command
Austere Command compensates for its higher price with versatility, able to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in. When activated, this sorcery lets you choose two of the following options to activate:
- Destroy all artifacts
- Destroy all enchantments
- Destroy all creatures with a CMC of 3 or less
- Destroy all creatures with a CMC of 4 or more
These choices give you plenty of opportunities to remove opposing threats without losing many of your own. Odds are strong your field will lack some of the above card types, letting you select options that won't detriment your own team, negating the main drawback of mass field-wipes. You get what you pay for, and those willing to shell out a few extra resources will be rewarded with an adaptable and daunting double-bomb.
Jokulhaups doesn't offer the choices of Command, but this mountain-requiring sorcery provides unrivaled destructive prowess. For six mana, you obliterate creatures, artifacts, and lands, offering a rare and valued land-wipe. Adding insult to injury, cards in the blast zone can't be regenerated, so there's little foes can do to defend against the detonation.
Of course, you'll be losing units as well, but as long as you've constructed your deck to focus on non-impacted spells (like instants, planeswalkers, and enchantments), you'll have far less to lose than your opponent.
5. Merciless Eviction
This multicolored board wipe requires one black swamp and one white plains to fuel its ability (and four other mana of any type). Similar to Austere Command, you choose between four options, although this time, you only get to select one effect:
- Exile all artifacts
- Exile all creatures
- Exile all enchantments
- Exile all planeswalkers
Sure, you're only getting one bang for your buck, but Eviction exiles your selected spell type, preventing future graveyard revivals and removing even indestructible foes. Banished cards are almost impossible to recover in Magic, and with the four selections available, you're bound to find an option that'll hit your opponent much harder than yourself.
Not only does black-faction Languish veer on the cheaper end of field wipes, but its ability also circumvents indestructible combatants. Instead of dealing damage or destroying creatures, Languish reduces every unit's power and toughness by four (-4/-4) until the end of the turn. As seasoned players know, when a creature's toughness hits zero, it's sent to the graveyard, even if indestructible.
By the mid-game stage where you can begin playing Languish, few if any creatures will possess more than four toughness, allowing it to defeat most enemies and bypass a common defense. A great card, but one that becomes less effective as the game goes on and higher-toughness behemoths are more likely to emerge, so take advantage of the lower CMC to strike when primed.
Another of white's bountiful nuking options, Terminus costs more mana than the most inexpensive blasts but provides two awesome benefits. First, it places all creatures on the bottom of their owner's library, simultaneously denying graveyard revivals and once again bypassing indestructible forces.
As if that weren't enough, Terminus bears the coveted miracle keyword, meaning if it's the first card drawn on your turn, you can cast it for its miracle cost—a single white mana! This can drastically turn a game around even if you're behind on mana, letting you play Terminus far before you could normally afford it. Use scrying or other deck-manipulating tactics to place Terminus on top and rig a miracle to your advantage.
2. Armageddon/Ravages of War
White strikes again with these twin spells, identical in both mana cost and ability, so choosing one over the other is really just an aesthetic preference. Both Armageddon and Ravages of War simply nuke all lands, resetting each player's resource generation back to square one.
That is, unless you've been cleverly playing artifacts and creatures that can tap for mana, placing yourself leagues ahead of your opponent in spellcasting ability. Since both cards only need one white mana (plus three of any hue), they work well in green/white decks alongside common mana-tapping green creatures.
1. Damnation/Wrath of God
Whether you favor dark or light, these two halves of the same whole offer identical abilities, just with different colors. White's Wrath of God and black's Damnation each demand only four mana and reduce all creatures to ash, instantly destroying them and preventing regeneration.
Both are fierce cards I've used to great effect and would recommend for any corresponding build. I especially value the cheaper prices of Wrath of God, often costing under 10 dollars—not a bad deal on a competitive Magic spell (some can run dozens or even hundreds of dollars).
Future of Board Wipes in MTG
We've seen how each color specializes in its own flavor of mass destruction. White and black outright destroy units, red deals damage, blue often bounces (returns to the hand), and green targets flying creatures, but these are generalizations—you'll find a few surprises in each camp.
Regardless of which route you choose for constructing an apocalyptic map, you'll want to include a field-resetting surprise in almost any deck list, granting an escape route to counter foes who have gained a lead. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of field-wipe spells, vote for your favorite nuke and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill