Last time on New Perspectives we looked at the board wipes we could consider while building a Commander deck that contained White, Blue, or Black. Today we finish up this two-part series with a look at what Red, Green, Colorless, and Multicolored board wipes have to offer!
Red doesn’t have any simple Day of Judgment-like effects that can unconditionally destroy all creatures. Something like Mogg Infestation kills all creatures for a singular player, but the fact that it replaces those creatures with two goblin tokens means we’re not coming out too far ahead of where we started. It’s even worse if they control Cathars’ Crusade or Impact Tremors (I’m beginning to think I should target myself with this spell…). It’s an okay way to change someone’s board state, but it’s hardly a “board wipe” in the traditional sense.
Devastation, Jokulhaups, and Obliterate destroy all creatures, artifacts, and lands. They will certainly wipe the board, but they practically reset the game to square one, dragging the game out long, which isn’t ideal. Breaking Point isn’t very useful in a format where everyone has forty life to start off, and Puppet’s Verdict is only relevant in a coin flip deck. Destroying creatures is not something red does very well, but that doesn’t mean we can’t kill every creature on the battlefield…
Dealing damage is something red does very well. Lightning Bolt is a staple spell for a wide variety of reasons, but in Commander, it’s an underwhelming card. But what if we could extend that three damage to each creature? Anger of the Gods and its counterparts (Slagstorm, Sweltering Suns) are effective cards in a game of Commander, especially against opponents who go wide as their strategy. Even so, three damage is on the underwhelming side, likely only killing half the creatures on the battlefield. To compete in Commander, we’re going to need to think even bigger.
Blasphemous Act may cost nine mana, but we will never pay that much for it. In fact, we’ll likely end up paying three or less mana for it, and that’s a great return on mana invested (or ROMI for short)! Thirteen damage to each creature should kill practically anything. There will be times where it doesn’t, but if our creatures aren’t the ones with more than thirteen toughness it might be time to move onto the next game anyway.
Red’s board wipes are pretty narrow in terms of what can be accomplished. Magmaquake, Earthquake, Fault Line, Molten Disaster, Rolling Earthquake, and Torrent of Lava all do basically the same thing with slightly different conditions; ultimately they let us dump some mana into them and kill what we can. Chain Reaction is a great way to kill a lot of creatures, and Subterranean Tremors can double as an artifact annihilator if the price is right. Unfortunately, without something to make them extra spicy like a Pestilent Spirit for auto-killing, Everlasting Torment for indestructible creatures, Hostility (which we’ve discussed before), or Mark of Asylum for an overloaded Cyclonic Rift-esque shenanigans, they have the same basic function as Blasphemous Act, just with a limitless ceiling.
Red does have some very specific board wipes that focus on destroying things that red despises. Shatterstorm is Wrath of God but for artifacts. Pulverize does the same thing, except it either costs six mana or two mountains. Getting even more specific, Anarchy destroys all white permanents while Flashfires will burn all Plains away and Boil and Boiling Seas will evaporate all Islands.
The way green handles mass destruction is quite similar to red: focus on the things it doesn’t like and get them off the board. This means artifacts, enchantments, and flying creatures should stay on high alert; green is coming for you with a vengeance.
Bane of Progress is a prime example of what a board wipe in green looks like. Bane of Progress will destroy all artifacts and enchantments upon entering the battlefield, plus it will grow bigger as a result. Creeping Corrosion corrodes each artifact while Back to Nature and Tranquility dissipate every enchantment. Multani’s Decree, Primeval Light, and Tranquil Path have extra effects on top of their mass destruction, which allows us to pick one that fits our deck’s needs. Wave of Vitriol hits nonbasic lands in addition to all artifacts and enchantments, but replaces those nonbasics with basics. It’s a friendlier land destruction spell than what we’ve seen so far, and has the added benefit of enabling a sarcastic “I helped thin your deck” towards a salty opponent.
When it comes to true creature destruction, the thing green eliminates the most efficiently is things with flying. Whirlwind is green’s Day of Judgment. Whiptongue Hydra is a Bane of Progress for flying creatures. Corrosive Gale and Silklash Spider blow up all fliers (with the right investment of mana). Hurricane and Squall Line do this as well, with the added bonus of damaging each player, which shouldn’t be understated in the color with the best mana ramp. Polukranos, World Eater can eat a whole battlefield with enough mana, and Apex Altisaur can fight and kill the most problematic creatures on the battlefield for us.
In the “weird, specific” toolbox we have Tsunami, which destroys all Islands. There’s also Venomous Breath which makes one creature extremely deadly, especially if it has a Lure effect on it. Green also has Glyph of Reincarnation, which definitely does something… but it’ll take three reads to figure it out and I’m still not sure I get it.
Colorless board wipes mostly come in the form of artifacts. These can be extremely useful because we’re allowed to slot them into any deck we want. Just need to find the ones that suit our needs!
Nevinyrral’s Disk is not just a hard to pronounce card name; it’s also a staple card in Commander. It enters the battlefield tapped, telegraphing the impending doom, but being able to hold this up as a threat at any time will gives us some political sway over the board. It may also cause players to force us to use it so they can get out from under our thumb. Either way, destroying all artifacts, creatures, and enchantments is truly a “clean slate” board wipe, and it costs just five total mana to cast and activate. Oblivion Stone is another powerful artifact that can board wipe, though its steeper mana cost can make it slow unless we have plenty of mana to spare. If we take the time to put a fate counter on a few cards that we want to keep, the destruction that follows can close out the game.
Steel Hellkite, Engineered Explosives, Blast Zone, Powder Keg, and Ratchet Bomb all take out all nonland permanents with a specific mana cost. These are very useful tools, but Commander games tend to have a wide spread of mana costs, so we won’t be killing an entire board in one swing. However, if there is a token player in the game we can easily kill all of their tokens since most tokens don’t have a mana cost.
Coercive Portal lets us either blow stuff up or our opponents let us draw a card. Worldslayer has a knack for making everyone throw all their hate directly at it, because it can literally destroy the world. Boompile can blow everything up for just four mana, but it requires winning a coin flip. Luckily for us, Krark’s Thumb is colorless! Lastly, All is Dust is a powerful board wipe that can remove most non-artifacts from the board (if you’re comfortable playing something with the subtype “Eldrazi”).
We end our board wipe journey in the world of multicolored. This is where our Commander’s color identity will have the most influence over our choices, since there are a surprisingly limited number of board wipes that have more than one color.
Supreme Verdict removes the main weakness of Day of Judgment: the fact that it could be countered. Time Wipe lets us return a creature to our hand prior to the destruction of the board, keeping our most important creature alive. Duneblast does the same thing but doesn’t require us to recast our creature, allowing us to keep something with counters on it like Ghave. Novablast Wurm is sort of similar as well, as it destroys everything around it upon attacking, leaving it the last wurm standing. Speaking of, Last One Standing is very cheap but comes with the risk of keeping our opponent’s best creature alive.
If we’re a fan of democracy, Magister of Worth either reanimates each player’s graveyard or fills them. Kaya’s Wrath gains us life just like Fumigate does, but for less mana that’s more restrictive. If we’re playing all five colors, then all we need to do is kill Child of Alara!
If we’re willing to jump through hoops, we gain a solid list of options. Pernicious Deed needs a specific amount of mana to be spent and enough similar converted mana costs among nonlands to be worth the investment. It also can’t hit planeswalkers. Crime // Punishment requires three colors in our deck, but Punshment is just a sorcery speed Pernicious Deed. These are all similar to the colorless board wipes, so we just need to pick our poison.
If we’ve built our deck a particular way, Culling Sun or Gaze of Granite could make sense to play. We’d want to be killing smaller creatures and every token on the board while keeping our large creatures alive. Fight to the Death can be entertaining if we’ve goaded our opponents’ creatures. If we have a weird tribal theme, Rakdos, the Showstopper flips a ton of coins for our opponents’ creatures and kills the losers. We can pair this with Krark’s Thumb, if we don’t think we’ll get sick of hearing a coin flip.
A weird discovery I made while researching this article is that Savage Twister is the only “X damage to each creature” card in multicolor. It’s nice because it combines green and red to make a spell that will just deal damage to all creatures regardless of flying or lack thereof. Heaven // Earth technically does this too, but as two separate spells so it would cost double the mana for the same effect. Most of the spells in this category do damage “divided as you choose” so they technically could kill everything on the board, but due to the nature of commander I’d advise spending your mana on other, more effective things.
We finish off this tour through the multicolor landscape with Fracturing Gust. Blowing up all artifacts and enchantments while gaining life is a solid play, and can potentially keep us from imminent death. Otherwise, we’re mostly stuck to blowing up just creatures when attempting to find multicolored board wipes.
Equipped for Mass Destruction
That puts a wrap on our two part series on board wipes! I hope I was able to show you some of the different board wipes you may or may not have been aware of. I also hope I’ve shined some light on the weaknesses of each color when it comes to mass removal of permanents in a game of commander. I think it’s important to know what is in your wheelhouse when constructing a commander deck so you know what your potential soft spots will be. Join me next time, when I’m starting a twenty-part series on every token-creating spell in Magic.