Hi All! For this week’s Commander Focus, I wanted to take a look at something a bit different from usual. It was brought to my attention by a few friends who are recent additions to the realm of Magic that there are a whole bunch of different board wipes that are featured in the various preconstructed decks: especially so in white. Like, a stupid amount of different board wipes. This got me thinking: what makes a good board wipe? Is it efficient cost, raw power, flexibility, or even something else? Will I ever stop having evil villain monologues regarding Magic? Today, we can look to answer… well some of these questions.
The goal of this article is to check out the various “wrath” effect that available to decks that can access white, compare them with other options, and gauge their overall effectiveness and what decks can best utilize them. Instead of using a typical “tier list” type format, I’d rather dive into each one and explain my reasoning behind it, however we are Goonhammer, and it would be a shame if I didn’t at least absolutely slam-dunk a minimum of one card per article, so I’ll use a general scale as to how cards fare with a D-to-S scale.
S: The only reason you wouldn’t include this is personal choice, other synergy, or budget.
A: Always a solid choice, can’t go wrong taking up a slot.
B: Generally a good pick, can work well in most decks or very well in others with synergy.
C: Good in niche situations, but might be outclassed by other picks.
D: Generally outclassed by other picks. Only playable in extreme niches or if you just like the card/it fits your deck’s theme.
Before we jump into it, I want to quickly define what defines a “board wipe.” For the purpose of this article, a board wipe is any card that destroys, exiles, or removes all creatures and/or other cards from the board. While some may also exclusively remove other permanent types, we’ll be focused on ones that hit creatures. Any other effects will be included in how we rate the card, but to keep things consistent all of them will have to have a way to sweep a board of nasty little critters.
Alrighty, lets break down some of these cards!
We’ll start with a classic, as this is the card that dubbed this entire archetype. This card is an absolute staple, and truthfully I think this card will always be the baseline that these cards are compared to for one reason alone: its rate. It’s four mana, which is quite cheap for an effect that can wreck the whole board. That being said, I personally don’t believe this card is necessarily the best board wipe: it’s a one-track minded card. It doesn’t have any frills and it does its job well, but realistically the cost and ease of inclusion are the real upsides here. I’d never fault someone for running it, but I don’t think its the crème-de-la-crème of board wipes like it was back in the day.
Regardless, it’s a solid card and is never a bad thing to use, but if you’re a purist and always run this: I’m hoping to show some other flavors to try. This card being four mana does make it a sort-of baseline for everything else, since realistically if all you want to do is wipe the board, this is the cheapest reliable way to do it.
This is an interesting card, because in some decks it can be an absolute behemoth and in others it can be useless. The viability of this depends on how small your creatures are as well as if you plan to give them permanent buffs or temporary ones. If your creatures will ever sit big on the board, I’d avoid this one, but in any decks that run a lot of small dudes like Soldiers, Humans, or even just Selesnya Tokens, this can be a great inclusion. Keep in mind it’s not always consistent if your foes are also running low-to-the-ground decks.
This card is a great example of a trend we’ll see with some wipes: trading value for flexibility. Austere Command costs two more mana, but allows you to really target what you want to get rid of. You can just take both creature modes to full wipe the board, but the ability to pick and choose your targets both means you can target a variety of decks as well as the ability to slot into many decks. You can run this in an Artifact/Enchantment deck without fear of blowing up your own stuff if you’re far ahead, but can still have an answer if you’re behind.
Special quick call out to this card, since it’s a pet card of mine. If your deck goes wide, you can almost always get more value out of this than other people by picking a number in the middle. If not, just blow up the board, only the widest of boards can survive the 13 sac-slap. Sacrificing also means you can get around indestructible, which is always a nice touch.
Rating: C (It’s an S in my heart though)
This is one of the premier 5-cost board wipes, as it’s a great example of extra lifegain in decks that don’t need it. You never realize how much gaining an extra 10-20 life can help stabilize against creature decks. I think this card still isn’t anything crazy, but it’s definitely a great inclusion in lifegain decks or really control-heavy strategies.
Niche, but good lord is this card just pants-on-head stupid in that niche. If you’re in a token deck (and I mean a really token heavy one) this is arguably one of the best ways to just swing you ahead of everyone. Sure, it’s 7 mana, but Convoke is so easy to get value from in a big-board deck that you’ll rarely pay that even when you’re behind.
Rating: B, but like a real good B
Rout is a weird one. At base level, you’re paying a premium for nothing extra. What you get in return is the ability to basically kick it to 7 mana to play it with flash. This can be amazing, but in reality that really depends on how much you want to play at instant speed. Since I think board wipes in particular benefit a lot from this (as wiping right before your turn means you’ll, on paper, hit the most stuff and still get to untap right after), I think this is a pretty well rounded inclusion for the extra 1 mana over a standard Wrath.
…Oh… I mean, look at this beast. This card is everything Austere Command is with the added bonus of Exiling what it hits as well as the ability to run as many modes as you want. That exile can be huge in so many games, and the flexibility means it can hit everything you want it to, all the time. The only downside to this is the cost: both in real dollarydoos and in-game mana.
Sleeper great card in my opinion. If you play a go tall deck (especially equipment), leaving one massive body the board in the wake of a board wipe can let you instantly have a game winning threat ready to go. Seriously, I play this in Sram, Senior Edificer and have won multiple games off of the token. Give it a whirl, trust me, it can be a powerhouse.
Alrighty folks, remember how I said I would absolutely dumpster at least one card? This one is it for me, and here’s why. This card in theory is great in enchantment decks, but enchantment decks usually won’t have a lot of their supporting pieces enchanted (see: Mesa Enchantress), meaning you might be clearing out a lot of your value engine. The counter-argument for that is that it won’t matter if you win the game anyway, but with so many defensive enchantments that can give anything from protections to Indestructible to Totem Armor, do you really want to risk blasting your own board? If you’re playing this from behind, you probably don’t have much enchanted anyway.
That’s all I have for today folks, but let us know if you enjoyed it! I had a blast putting this together, and we have plenty more to dive into with this topic in the future.
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