Extirpate Sketches

Posted in Arcana on February 20, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast

Extirpate is one of only two split second cards in Planar Chaos (the other being Sulfur Elemental). Early on in the set's creation, the card was a "mind-control" spell inspired by Word of Command. But as more and more rules problems developed with the card, it became clear that a new direction was needed, and Extirpate was born.


1. to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate.
2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up.

Source: dictionary.com. Perhaps this card should have been in a recent Lexicon.

However, the card art still contains a hint of the card's earlier persona. The very minimalist art of Word of Command depicts two eyes peering out of the darkness. Check out an early sketch for what would become Extirpate:

Extirpate sketch by Jon Foster

In the sketch, a mysterious face fixes its gaze at the viewer. See how the eyes are highlighted while the rest of the face is in shadow? A reference to Word of Command.

As Extirpate took on its new rules text, it gained the split second mechanic, which has a distinctive "jump cut" visual cue in card art.

Extirpate sketch by Jon Foster

In the final art, the art now depicts a jump cut between a victim right before having his thoughts ripped out of his head, and right after-a perfect illustration for the card as it is today. But it still retains that halo of highlighting around the eyes.

Extirpate art by Jon Foster

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