Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Annihilator Work in Magic?
The Eldrazi clan are an infamous set of creatures in Magic who bear hefty mana costs but compensate with incredible battle stats and abilities. Since they're colorless, they fit snugly into any deck, and many of the strongest Eldrazi possess the valued annihilator trait, forcing your opponent to sacrifice a number of permanents whenever your Eldrazi attacks.
But not all annihilator abilities are created equal, with some initiating sacrifices of a single card, others of several. So, which creatures offer the most destructive rampages? Based solely on the strength of their annihilation, these are the 10 best annihilator effects in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Hand of Emrakul
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 9
For such a high mana price, Hand's stats are a mediocre 7/7 (seven power and seven toughness), but he carries annihilator 1, forcing an enemy to sacrifice a permanent whenever he attacks. He also lets you disregard his mana cost if you sacrifice four Eldrazi spawn tokens, offering a sweet alternative summoning method.
Thankfully, annihilator's forced sacrifice takes place immediately when you attack, meaning your opponent doesn't have time to block with creatures they just sacrificed.
9. Ulamog's Crusher
Crusher bears an impressive 8/8 stats as well as annihilator 2, now causing the defending player to forfeit two permanents. Remember, if they're out of creatures, they'll have to start tossing enchantments, planeswalkers, artifacts, and lands, meaning they can't avoid annihilator by simply not casting monsters.
Crusher acts as a berserker, forced to attack whenever able, but considering his annihilator powers, you'll rarely not want to swing, making it a negligible downside.
8. Artisan of Kozilek
One of my favorite Eldrazi, Artisan carries a fantastic 10/9, and when you cast him, you can return a creature from your graveyard to the battlefield, summoning an ally to further decimate your foes. He also wields annihilator 2, and like other Eldrazi, you can take immediate advantage of his powers by granting him haste with equipment spells like "Swiftfoot Boots" or "Lightning Greaves."
7. Eldrazi Conscription
Conscription is a rare tribal card, counting as an Eldrazi even though it's really an aura enchantment that adheres to a creature. It needs eight mana, but its recipient gains +10/+10, trample (letting them bleed excess damage through blockers), and annihilator 2.
These are some of the best powers in the game, and if your rival doesn't have a removal handy, they'll soon fall prey to your brutal assault. As a bonus, since you'll probably attach Conscription to a creature who was previously fielded, you won't need haste for them to immediately attack and activate annihilator.
6. Bane of Bala Ged
Bane of Bala Ged is a comparatively weak 7/5, but he's the cheapest annihilator available, needing only seven mana. Well, he doesn't technically possess the trait, but his effect essentially serves as an upgraded form of annihilator 2, now forcing opponents to not sacrifice but exile two permanents whenever Bane attacks them.
Sacrificing cards is bad enough, but at least players could potentially recover them from their graveyard; exiling gives little hope of ever reclaiming the lost units. Powerful and not quite as costly as his peers, I also enjoy using Bane in mana ramp commander decks (like with "Omnath, Locus of Mana"), especially since he costs less than a single dollar!
5. It That Betrays
One of the most expensive cards in the game, It That Betrays needs a whopping twelve mana and arrives as a fierce 11/11 with annihilator 2. Better yet, he places nontoken cards that your opponents sacrifice onto the field under your control! Thus, whenever they forfeit units (whether through annihilator or other effects), you'll gain them for yourself.
Few opponents will last long against this ruthless combo; be sure to employ other annihilators to quickly turn your opponent's own army against them.
4. Pathrazer of Ulamog
Pathrazer needs a substantial sum of eleven mana, and he's comparatively weak at 9/9, but he wields a fierce annihilator 3, now making foes sacrifice three permanents whenever he swings. Additionally, he has what I call super-menace, meaning he can only be blocked by three or more creatures.
After having to toss three cards, your adversary might not even have three creatures to block with, let alone ones that can survive the battle, ensuring Pathrazer quickly earns his name by plowing through your opponent's field.
3. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Now we're entering the legendary Eldrazi realm, home to some of the undisputed strongest titans in Magic. Ulamog requires eleven mana but enters as a 10/10 with indestructible, and if you cast him, you can immediately destroy any permanent.
Plus, he brandishes a fierce annihilator 4, forcing defending players to trash four units whenever he attacks. A terrorizing force who can ever serve as a colorless commander, but note that Ulamog shuffles himself into your deck if ever placed into your graveyard, so you won't be able to gimmick him into play with graveyard revivals.
2. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Kozilek needs a bit less mana than Ulamog and arrives as a stronger 12/12. Plus, when you cast him, you draw four cards, a huge hand replenishment that leaves you with plenty of spells and lands available.
Like Ulamog, Kozilek wields annihilator 4, bulldozing through potential blockers whenever he swings, and he carries the same graveyard-to-deck trait. Kozilek's sturdy toughness should keep him safe in most battles, but note that he doesn't have indestructible, so he can still die to an enemy with deathtouch.
1. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
The queen of Eldrazi and arguably the best Magic creature ever made, Emrakul's fifteen cost can easily be avoided with free-creature gimmicks like "Mosswort Bridge" and "Elvish Piper." She's an amazing 15/15, can't be countered, and when cast, you take an extra turn, making it easy to quickly swing for her annihilator.
Emrakul enjoys flying, protection from colored spells, and a brutal annihilator 6. She shuffles herself into your library if ever placed into the graveyard, but considering her abilities, you'll probably win the game long before your opponents defeat her. Sadly, Emrakul is banned in most competitive formats, so exercise caution when deck-building for official tournaments.
The Best Eldrazi in Magic: The Gathering
Today we've reviewed some of the best Eldrazi in Magic, but remember that several of their aces carries abilities beyond annihilator. For instance, "Void Winnower" prevents your opponent from casting or blocking with cards that have even mana costs, and "Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger" exiles twenty cards from an opponent's deck when it attacks, perfect for mill strategies.
Eldrazi are a dominating theme to anyone who can afford both their mana and real-world costs, and I look forward to seeing future additions to their ranks. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of annihilator-wielding gargantuans, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Why do people always rate kozilek over Ulamog? I don't think it's fair to overlook a 10/10 with Indestructible for only one more mana.
Answer: They're both great, but as you say, Ulamog costs one extra resource, which can be the difference between a big play or an empty turn. And while Koz lacks indestructible, he has superior 12/12 stats and his casting effect (draw 4 cards) is arguably better than Ulamog's (destroy a permanent).
Indestructible is always handy, but remember that many removals can bypass it (exile, return to hand, counterspell, etc.).
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Rex H on November 16, 2019:
I know. Cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn really annoy me. In competitive Magic, you are going to have a hard time winning anything if you don’t have a good budget. Have you ever used a thirty dollar deck against a three hundred dollar deck? It’s the reason I don’t do tournaments.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 15, 2019:
Fair point, but Emrakul's still an officially-printed card and was legal for several years in commander format.
Rex H on November 14, 2019:
I noticed that more than half the people in the poll voted for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. That’s funny, since he has the biggest handicap in the game: illegal. Besides that though...