Annihilation! And the Creatures Who Love It!

Posted in Serious Fun on August 12, 2014

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Welcome to Annihilation Week! This is the perfect time for me to bring you a Top 10 List of Mass Creature Kill (aka Wrath of God or "Wrath") cards. Unfortunately, I did that during God Week, thinking at the time that it would be funny to talk about what angry gods do, rather than the gods themselves. And now here we are in Annihilation Week.

Awkward.

Wrath of God | Art by Willian Murai

That article made a brief mention of creatures that can wipe a board, but really doesn't do the topic justice. I mean, I could probably do an entire Top 10 list of just creatures that wipe the battlefield clean.

Oooh, I could do an entire Top 10 list of the best Creature Sweeper Creatures! And you could help! I put out the call on Twitter and found plenty of helpful responses that included creatures I hadn't really thought of in a long time. Much thanks to all of you who responded!

Honorable Mentions

There are two cards that don't really qualify for this list, but sort of qualify for the list. Phyrexian Rebirth isn't a creature, but it leaves a creature after wiping out the board. Like many of the creatures on this list, it addresses the problem of wiping the board, but having no way to take advantage of it, by giving you a creature. Admittedly, the creature you get has no evasion, but it should be big enough that it will clear out any chump-blocker it runs into.

Another card is Worldslayer. Any creature can be a mass creature killer when equipped with Worldslayer, but ideally, you want an indestructible creature doing the work. Some people are reluctant to use Worldslayer, since the times when you most want to use it are those times when your opponent can block the creature wielding it. In multiplayer, though, you can often find an opponent who is trailing well behind the leader in the game, and is quite willing to take damage from your smaller indestructible creature in the hopes of resetting the battlefield and getting the advantage the second time around.

#10. Dread Cacodemon

This is one of the only cards that destroys only your opponents' creatures. You can build up your battlefield position however you want, then drop the Dread Cacodemon and watch the wailing from your opponents as your troops prepare to race across the now-open battlefield.

The obvious problem is the cost. Ten mana demands a lot of survival before the Cacodemon comes to help. With that kind of a cost, you really want Dread Cacodemon to be a death blow, but it isn't. Rather than get to take advantage of the opening, all your creatures are tapped, and the Dreadful One is not hasty, so everyone gets a turn to recover. If you have ten mana, others likely have something similar and will be able to put up some kind of defense. Not what I want from a ten-mana card.

The other problem is that the card must be cast for it to have the destroy-creature effect. This was an issue in the Kaalia of the Vast deck. Kaalia could bring the Dread Cacodemon into play without paying that ten mana, but then all you got was a vanilla 8/8. Even when it is on the battlefield, you can't bounce or flicker it to get the effect. The best you can do is bounce it and recast it for the full ten mana. Somehow I want more.

#9. Hythonia the Cruel

This Theros card is a true heavy hitter. Destroy all non-Gorgon creatures, which will likely destroy everything but Hythonia, then swing for 7! The card has flavor and is truly nasty. Since you get the effect when she becomes monstrous, you can run this out at instant-speed, making it work exactly when you want it to work, not just when you cast the creature.

The downside is the cost. While six mana to get her into play is pretty much par for the course for the creatures on this list, being forced to spend another eight mana to destroy the other creatures is a heavy toll. This is a card that will likely force you to wait until your next turn before you can take advantage of it. With a cost like that, you really nullify the benefit of instant-speed activation. If you have kept eight mana available, everyone at the table will know what is coming, and if you choose not to do it, you are locking up your own board position even worse than you would for anyone else.

#8. Child of Alara

Child of Alara is that reset button you can just hit again and again. Decks that run this card control when it dies, and when it comes back from the graveyard. While there are some hoops to jump through when using this in Commander (you have to choose to put it in the graveyard for the "destroy all nonland permanents" effect to kick in) it really isn't a problem. These decks just bring the Child back from the graveyard again and again, ready to wipe the board clean each time, until card advantage inevitably wears down the opponents.

The best example I've seen recently was a Child of Alara deck from Carlos Gutierrez over at gatheringmagic.com. This is an older version of the deck, but it demonstrates just how powerful Child of Alara can be when the deck is tuned to take advantage of it.

Child of Alara

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Child of Alara
Planeswalker (1)
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
99 Cards

The reason this card doesn't rate higher is that it demands the entire deck be built around its ability. Whether Commander or a 60-Card special, Child of Alara is a petulant child that has a miserable tantrum if you don't pay attention to it all the time. From its five-colored mana cost to destroying all nonland permanents, including your own, Child is not a throw-in.

#7. Bearer of the Heavens

Eight mana for a 10/10 creature. When you decide you want everything dead, kill off Bearer of the Heavens with some sacrifice trigger. At the end of the turn, all the permanents are gone and the game restarts. You can likely surprise your opponents with this, activating it the turn it entered the battlefield, or you can put it out and just wait, activating it when you want.

I rate it just above Hythonia the Cruel because it costs eight to play, not six to play and eight more to activate. While you lose Bearer of the Heavens when you do activate it, a completely clear battlefield is just not something opponents will be prepared for. Players understand that creatures will get killed, but few expect to see their Planeswalkers and lands go, along with their creatures and everything else. It does cost eight, demands that you activate it, and dies along with everything else, so I ranked it lower than the creatures above. However, for pure shock value, little beats Bearer of the Heavens.

#6. Reiver Demon

Reiver Demon was a popular choice among the responses I received, and with good reason. When you cast it, you get to destroy all nonartifact, nonblack creatures. That likely means that all your creatures survive, since playing the Reiver Demon in a multicolor deck can be trick with four black mana in an eight-mana-cost body. When all those creatures are gone, you wind up with a 6/6 flier to work over your opponents.

The downsides are the cost and limits on when you get to destroy the creatures. Eight mana isn't cheap, but for what you get, it is a solid card. Many other cards on the list let you decide when you want to pull the trigger, but the Reiver Demon has an "enter the battlefield" trigger that you can't control any further than deciding to cast the Reiver Demon or not. In spite of the limitations, I'll take it.

#5. Magister of Worth

My group has been playing a lot of Conspiracy lately, and Magister of Worth has shown up several times. Generally the player who is playing Magister of Worth has seen most of his or her threats end up in the graveyard and is vulnerable. Magister of Worth gets played and the conversation goes something like this:

Caster of Magister of Worth: "I'll choose condemnation." This player doesn't actually care. Getting all his or her creatures back or killing off all the creatures on the table are both great options.

Opponent with two creatures on the battlefield: "I'll choose condemnation." This player doesn't want to lose creatures, but his or her graveyard has no real threats in it. Easier to deal with just one threat on the board than everything in everyone else's graveyards.

The remaining two opponents: "It doesn't matter what I choose, condemnation will win."

The joy of Magister of Worth is that you really only need to convince one other player in your four-player games and you get condemnation and a nice clean battlefield. Six mana isn't cheap, but wiping a board and getting a 4/4 flier as the only remaining creature is well worth the six mana.

#4. Desolation Giant

If you haven't played it before, Desolation Giant seems like a bad deal. Four mana for a 3/3 that destroys all your other creatures unless you pay two white mana? The card almost sounds like it is trying to trick you into believing this is somehow a horrible burden.

Six mana gives you a 3/3 creature and kills everything else? Sign me up! Magister of Worth costs the same but doesn't give you the rock-solid guarantee of death like the Desolation Giant does. I know there is a double red mana and double white mana in the casting cost, but I'm sure you'll work it out. This guy is worth it all the time.

#3. Myojin of Cleansing Fire

Myojin of Cleansing Fire just isn't a card you see played often because white has so many other non-creature ways to destroy all the creatures. However, this card offers plenty of benefits. It starts as an indestructible 4/6 creature. There is no evasion, but stats like that mean it offers a powerful defense. Myojin of Cleansing Fire lets you destroy the battlefield at your whim, since you can remove the divinity counter whenever you want. That is not a flexibility that we see with many other creatures on this list.

The problems are similar to those we saw with Hythonia the Cruel. Eight mana isn't cheap and you can see this coming from miles away. While it doesn't cost the eight mana to activate that Hythonia does, the layout of the battlefield should make it clear to your opponents when you will activate it. The best option is bluffing. You can sit on that divination counter turn after turn, leaving your opponents constantly worried that you're about to wipe the board. Without using it, Myojin offers a 4/6 indestructible creature, which is nothing to sneeze at.

#2. Magus of the Disk

The Magus is Nevinyrral's Disk on a 2/4 body. It doesn't offer a big body like other creatures on the list, but it costs far less. Magus of the Disk isn't in your deck to do anything other than destroy creatures, artifacts, and enchantments.

The Magus doesn't survive the destruction. You can't activate it until your next turn at the earliest. It can be easily destroyed before you get a chance to untap. It isn't a beefy blocker. While it comes on a body, treating it any differently from Nevinyrral's Disk is pointless. The key for Magus is that it costs so little and it gets the job done, taking out more than just creatures. Its versatility puts it higher on the list.

#1. Novablast Wurm

Seven mana gives us a 7/7 creature that destroys all other creatures whenever it attacks. It doesn't have trample or flying, but given that all other creatures are destroyed, it should rarely need them. Novablast Wurm offers a repeatable board wipe and a large body to take advantage of the suffering of others. It is amazing that it is flying so low on the radar of so many players.

The only downside is that it is vulnerable to other removal. This is a real issue, but for what it does, you might want to try to work that out. Novablast Wurm is impressive, repeatable destruction.

Bruce Richard
@manaburned
mtgseriousfun@gmail.com

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