Top 10 Evasion Abilities in Magic: The Gathering
How to Make Creatures Unblockable in Magic
Some spells can make units completely unblockable in Magic, but these are rare and often temporary. However, you'll commonly encounter permanent traits that restrict the types of creatures who can defend your units, letting them slip through unimpeded.
Scoring direct damage decreases an opponent's life and can trigger special effects, making it worthwhile to invest in blocker-deterring cards. But with dozens of abilities available, which best cloak your army? Here are ten awesome traits that make creatures hard to block in Magic: The Gathering!
Taking various forms depending on which type of basic land it applies to (forests, islands, mountains, plains, or swamps), landwalks make creatures entirely unblockable against opponents who control the corresponding type of terrain.
While this can be very powerful, it depends on luck, as you generally don't know what types of land your opponent will run. Additionally, several multi-color lands (like the "Temple of" cards) don't actually count as the land types they produce, meaning multi-color decks are often immune. That said, you can combo swampwalk with the infamous "Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth," (which turns all lands into swamps), bending chance to your favor.
Predominantly seen in the white faction, you can have any number of creatures with banding (and up to one without) attack as a group, letting weaker units join forces with behemoths to discourage blockers.
Sadly, many banding cards are old and lack secondary effects, limiting their usage. Fortunately, the artifact "Helm of Chatzuk" can grant the trait to any unit, helping it stay relevant in modern play. Just note that all creatures forming a band must possess an ability (like trample or deathtouch) for the entire group to have it.
Prevalent among black and red, menace forces rivals to block with at least two creatures or not at all, preventing lone guardians. While this means that any sufficiently-filled field can still defend, it's still a nice restriction, especially since it's more common than most of today's traits.
You can also apply menace with equipment spells like "Captain's Hook," and some creatures carry unique variations of menace, like the three-blocker requirement seen on "Pathrazer of Ulamog."
Seen in red, black, and green, intimidate only lets artifact creatures or ones sharing a color with your troop block it. This works best when both you and your opponent use mono-colored decks, lessening the chances you'll duplicate colors. Just watch out for spells like "Ghoulflesh" that add colors to creatures, increasing the number of valid defenders.
The generally-black fear trait functions similarly to intimidate, now allowing only artifact or black creatures to block your units. Comparatively, this works better for multi-colored spells and lets you better predict which cards can defend your forces.
Plus, in case you face a swamp-using deck, you can use cards like "Sword of Light and Shadow" to grant your cards protection from black, letting only artifact creatures guard your intimidating forces—but more on protection soon.
While it's relatively rare, skulk is a handy addition mostly seen on blue or black creatures. It prevents enemies with power greater than your own from blocking you, meaning you'll only have to contend with weaker or same-strength minions. Thus, low power isn't especially bad for skulkers (especially if they compensate with other effects), as the weaker the stats, the fewer applicable blockers.
Horsemanship is arguably the best ability in today's list, only letting other creatures with horsemanship block a card. However, like banding, it ranks lower since it's an old ability spread among cards that simply aren't as strong as most modern spells.
Thankfully, some riders are still worthwhile (like the above "Sun Quan, Lord of Wu," who grants horsemanship to your entire army), but you can easily find better cards than this trait's outdated members.
Protection normally defends against certain colors, preventing a unit from being blocked, targeted, or dealt damage by sources of that color. While this somewhat depends on luck, it's a powerful ability that does more than just make your units difficult to block. Creatures can also have protection from certain types or subtypes, like being shielded against instants or zombies.
The handy "Sword of" artifact equipments each provide protection against two colors, +2/+2 stats, and some unique direct-damage effects, making them great ways to counter specific colors.
Flying is easily the most abundant ability in today's list, seen on angels, demons, dragons, and many other creatures. Flying units can only be blocked by cards with flying or reach, letting them soar over land-based forces.
Flying dabbles in every color, but it's least common in green, which can struggle to defend against aerial troops. That said, several spells specifically punish airborne warriors, so don't drop your guard when facing grounded decks.
Similarly to horsemanship and flying, only opposing creatures with shadow can guard shadowed units, and since few decks contain it, this generally makes them unblockable.
The downside is that shadowed troops can't defend creatures without shadow, but since you should be consistently swinging with them, they likely wouldn't be available to block anyway, mitigating the disadvantage. As you'd expect, many of the best shadow cards are black, but the trait carries a surprising number of white and blue members as well, letting several themes access its powers.
Which ability do you prefer?
More Combat-Related Traits in Magic
In addition to today's abilities, don't forget traits like trample, which doesn't technically make a unit harder to block, but bleeds excess damage through defenders. Similarly, deathtouch kills any damaged foes regardless of toughness, and first strike lets you deal damage first (and avoid a counterattack if you kill blockers).
Thus, while they don't limit the types of creatures who can defend, these effects discourage blockers with their boosts and shouldn't be overlooked. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of blocker-preventing cards, vote for your favorite trait, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
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© 2019 Jeremy Gill