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Top 10 Ultimatums in Magic: The Gathering

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Color Wedges and Shards in Magic

In magic, both "wedges" and "shards" refer to groupings of three colors, each with a unique name listed below. Wedges are colors that form a triangle on the color wheel while shard groupings sit next to each other. The Ikoria set also introduced triomes, three-color groupings that emphasize a specific creature subtype.

But no matter which category your favorite color trio belongs to, all triple pairings have a seven-cost "ultimatum spell". Not only do these require a whopping seven mana, but each of their color slots needs to be a specific color. So, they're tricky to cast, but reward players with devastating effects—which reign supreme? These are the ten best three-color ultimatum spells in Magic: The Gathering!

Color wedge, triome, and shard names in MTG

ColorsWedgeTriomeShard

Black, White, Green

Abzan

Indatha

-

Blue, Red, White

Jeskai

Raugrin

-

Black, Green, Blue

Sultai

Zagoth

-

Red, White, Black

Mardu

Savai

-

Red, Green, Blue

Temur

Ketria

-

Green, White, Blue

-

-

Bant

White, Blue, Black

-

-

Esper

Blue, Black, Red

-

-

Grixis

Black, Red, Green

-

-

Jund

Red, Gree, White

-

-

Naya

Brilliant Ultimatum mtg

Brilliant Ultimatum mtg

10. Brilliant Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Esper

White, blue, and black remain perhaps my favorite control-deck colors, but sadly, this spell falls flat. Like all Ultimatums, it needs seven mana and very specific colors; Brilliant reveals your deck's top five cards, has an opponent separate them into two piles, then lets you play any number of cards from one of them.

Yea, free spells are nice, but you'll only get two or three cards and chances are that some of the revealed cards are lands, of which you can only play one and only if you haven't already played a land that turn.

Clarion Ultimatum mtg

Clarion Ultimatum mtg

9. Clarion Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Bant

Clarion's interesting, and its effectiveness largely depends on your format, useless in singleton modes like commander but decent elsewhere. You choose five permanents you control, and for each one, you can play a card with the same name from your deck tapped onto the field without paying its cost.

You're potentially scoring five free duplicates, but it doesn't work well with legendary cards and the permanents enter tapped, so it's situational even outside singleton play. That said, I do appreciate that you can choose both lands and non-lands.

Titanic Ultimatum mtg

Titanic Ultimatum mtg

8. Titanic Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Naya

Titanic Ultimatum provides a massive boost for a final push—if you already have the creatures for it. Once resolved, all creatures you currently control gain +5/+5, first strike, trample, and lifelink for the turn.

That speaks for itself, making it nearly impossible to survive a mass assault with those boosts, but the spell's weakness is its complete dependency on other cards; you don't get much if your opponents have dwindled your field to just one or two creatures.

Violent Ultimatum mtg

Violent Ultimatum mtg

7. Violent Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Jund

Simple yet versatile, Violent Ultimatum destroys and three target permanents. On the one hand, you get to hit absolutely any card types you like, from creature to land to planeswalker. On the other, you'll find many cheaper board wipes that also have the benefit of not needing to target. And since the spell has three colors, anything with hexproof or protection from black, red, or green is immune.

Inspired Ultimatum mtg

Inspired Ultimatum mtg

6. Inspired Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Jeskai

Inspired Ultimatum offers a nice mix, giving you five life, hitting any target for five damage, and providing five draws: lifegain, removal, and advantage all in one. I've been seeing red added to traditional white/blue control decks more every since Ikoria, and this provides a nice ace that works well in multiple formats.

You can even target other players for the lifegain effect, useful in rare situations where you have anti-lifegain tools like "False Cure" in play.

Emergent Ultimatum mtg

Emergent Ultimatum mtg

5. Emergent Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Sultai

Here's one that might not see much standard play, but can be devastating in EDH. Emergent searches your library for three mono-colored cards; your opponent shuffles one of their choice into your deck, then you can play the others for free!

Emergent is then exiled, but you'll now have two powerful aces hitting the field. Colorless cards don't count, so you won't be able to gimmick the eldrazi into play, but any other mono-colored spells (including instants/sorceries) are fair game. Pick carefully to ensure you get a strong board state no matter what your opponent shuffles away.

Eerie Ultimatum mtg

Eerie Ultimatum mtg

4. Eerie Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Abzan

Like Emergent, Eerie Ultimatum thrives in singleton formats like commander, returning any number of permanents with different names from your graveyard to your field! In permanent-focused decks, especially ones with self-milling, that's an amazing revival that can easily put you in a position to win on your next turn.

Plus, lands are included, so you can also recover fetch lands. My one complaint is that the spell is vulnerable to common graveyard hate like "Bojuka's Bog", but when it works, it works.

Ruinous Ultimatum mtg

Ruinous Ultimatum mtg

3. Ruinous Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Mardu

Other than its taxing cost, Ruinous provides a dominating board wipe, simply destroying all non-lands you don't control. Not only does this hit every card type except lands, it leaves your own field unscathed, letting you safely bombard foes no matter your own situation. Like most nukes, it also doesn't target, bypassing hexproof and protection defenses.

Cards with regenerate or indestructible will survive, but other than them, your opponents can kiss their permanents goodbye.

Genesis Ultimatum mtg

Genesis Ultimatum mtg

2. Genesis Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Temur

Genesis exiles itself after usage, but lets you see your deck's top five cards, place any permanents among them (including lands) onto the field for free, then puts the other cards in your hand.

Heck, if things go well, that's five free cards, and I like that even non-permanents still go to hand, so finding instants/sorceries isn't a total waste. Also, any lands you find don't count towards your land-per-turn.

Cruel Ultimatum mtg

Cruel Ultimatum mtg

1. Cruel Ultimatum

Wedge/Shard: Grixis

With the colors of infamous planeswalker Nicol Bolas, this spell both builds your own resources while attacking an enemy's. A target opponent loses five life, discards three cards, and sacrifices a creature. Meanwhile, you gain five life, draw three cards, and return a creature from your graveyard to your hand.

This is basically a better version of "Inspired Ultimatum" and offers a healthy amount of lifegain outside its home in white. A staple in Grixis themes, Cruel Ultimatum is surprisingly cheap for such a powerful rare, costing well under a single dollar!

More Ultimatums in Magic

It might seem like the Ultimatum series has run its course since every color trio has one, but Wizards of the Coast could still make more by emphasizing a different color in the trio. For instance, Cruel Ultimatum needs three black (and just two red and blue), but a different card could use the same colors while prioritizing a different color.

In other words, future sets might treat us to more of these high-risk high-reward spells, and I eagerly await their arrival, often winning you the game with a successful resolution. But for now, vote for your favorite finisher and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill