Legion Loyalist - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Legion Loyalist | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Engaging in combat is one of the most critical parts of Magic. Usually, the bigger creature is the most valuable one, and it often wins fights if the field is fair. Because of this, evasion abilities like flying or menace have been introduced to spice things up and keep games from stalling forever.

Other options to bypass blockers are to kill them or to use combat tricks to win fights, but what if I told you that there's another way? Yes, you can hit your opponent's life total without engaging in combat or worrying about what their blockers look like. How?

Falter effects. What are they, and how can you use them to your advantage? Hopefully my tips will halt your hesitation!

What Are Falter Effects in MTG?

Concussive Bolt - Illustration by Johann Bodin

Concussive Bolt | Illustration by Johann Bodin

These effects were originally introduced as global ones with cards like Falter, which makes your opponents’ creatures unable to block. At first, this kind of effect was only restricted to creatures without flying, but it later started affecting all creatures or specific subsets.

I’m only looking at cards that affect the whole board and don't target creatures today, so cards like Mythos of Vadrok are excluded.

Honorary mentions go to cards like Abandon the Post and Nightbird's Clutches, though. They were prevalent effects back in their day in Limited.

Best Black Creatures Can’t Block Card

#1. Dread Charge

Dread Charge

Falter effects aren’t well spread among colors outside of red. If you’re looking for this kind of effect in black, Dread Charge is the only one I could find that meets the Falter criteria I set out. There are other effects like Baleful Beholder’s second ability that can act as a decent mimic, but it's not the same according to the definition.

Best Red Creatures Can’t Block Cards

#20. Concussive Bolt

Concussive Bolt

I love that Concussive Bolt exists, but as a Magic card, I think it's too much to consider playable. Its sin is that it's too pricey for what it does. A 3-mana card would have been better.

#19. Art Appreciation

Art Appreciation

This is a fun card to play in Commander. Some would fool around and give 5 to a card just to see how the game develops from there to annoy the caster’s opponents.  That’s assuming Art Appreciation sees play: even at its total value, it's not that appealing to run.

#18. Awe for the Guilds

Awe for the Guilds

I like Awe for the Guilds more than other similar effects because it can be backbreaking against some dedicated decks.

#17. Barrage of Boulders

Barrage of Boulders

Barrage of Boulders is perfect as a pseudo board wipe and a potential global falter effect. If you need one mode, it's good enough to run in some decks.

#16. Blow Your House Down

Blow Your House Down

At some point, I thought about using Blow Your House Down as a sideboard card against wall decks in Pauper. The deck lost popularity, but it was a decent choice if the problem had persisted.

#15. War Cadence

War Cadence

With enough mana investment, War Cadence can be a one-sided Bedlam.

#14. Bothersome Quasit

Bothersome Quasit

It feels like Bothersome Quasit doesn't belong on this list. The key here is that its first ability is static, so it affects all of your opponents’ goaded creatures.

#13. Coronation of Chaos

Coronation of Chaos

Coronation of Chaos is a fine card to spread chaos on the battlefield. Your opponent can’t retaliate against you if you attack them for a bunch.

#12. Ember Gale

Ember gale

Ember Gale is like Cosmotronic Wave, but it targets a narrower set of cards.

#11. Cosmotronic Wave

Cosmotronic Wave

This effect is going to appear lots here. Dealing one damage and causing a falter effect is very common in red.

#10. Demoralize


If you don't have Threshold, this basically gives menace to your other creatures. If you do, it's a one-time Bedlam.

#9. Destructive Tampering

Destructive Tampering

I like cards that give different options. Destructive Tampering is a perfect sideboard against artifact decks or if you’re looking to open breaches in your opponent's defenses.

#8. Eunuchs' Intrigues

Eunuchs' Intrigues

This is the closest thing to Bedlam, but it's hard to tell if it's good or not because your opponent can choose their best creature. Of course, only one creature isn’t enough to block a whole army.

#7. Flash of Defiance

Flash of Defiance

Flash of Defiance is an excellent sideboard against decks that primarily run blue or green creatures. On top of being cheap, it also has a cheap flashback casting cost.

#6. Heat Wave

Heat Wave

I like MTG cards that have the same name as Pokémon moves. Geeking out aside, this is a funny card to play because it's straight hate against blue decks. It also affects non-blue ones by punishing your opponents if they block.

#5. Raging River

Raging River

Raging River is hard to understand, but I think I’ve got it? When you attack an opponent, they get to split their non-fliers into two piles, Left and Right. It’s up to you to choose which pile can block each attacking creature.

There’s so much strategy at play: how many attackers should you declare? How does your opponent divide their blockers? Which pile do you assign to each attacker you have? The card doesn’t specify that the piles have to be even or anything, either….

#4. Bedlam


This does what it's intended. Creatures can’t block while Bedlam is on the battlefield.

#3. Hero of Oxid Ridge

Hero of Oxid Ridge

Hero of Oxid Ridge saw some narrow play when it was Standard legal, but it didn't have enough impact to stay around. Over the years, it's been a critical part of Vintage Cubes on MTGO for red decks.

#2. Falter + Magmatic Chasm + Seismic Stomp

Falter has the effect’s name, and it's the blueprint for similar cards. This one is cheap; the only drawback is that fliers can still block. Magmatic Chasm is just a shameless copy of Falter, and so is Seismic Stomp.

#1. Legion Loyalist

Legion Loyalist

It's weird for a cheap creature to have a falter effect on it, but Legion Loyalist is the perfect choice against token-themed decks.

Best Green Creatures Can’t Block Cards

#2. Bower Passage

Bower Passage

This is like the anti-Falter. Flying creatures can't block with this one.

#1. Song of Serenity

Song of Serenity

Song of Serenity is the perfect sideboard card against enchantress decks because it prevents enchanted creatures from blocking and attacking.

Best Multicolored Creatures Can’t Block Cards

#3. Order // Chaos

Order // Chaos

For the purposes of this article, the Chaos part is of interest. Its Order part can also be handy as a removal spell.

#2. Temur Charm

Temur Charm

Temur Charm doesn’t see play very commonly, but it has multiple modes. The falter sure is one of them.

#1. Kulrath Knight

Kulrath Knight

Counter-themed commander decks are common, and Kulrath Knight is the perfect card to hate on them.

Best Colorless Creatures Can’t Block Card

#1. Void Winnower

Void Winnower

Void Winnower is somewhat expensive to play, but it limits a lot of what your opponents can do.

Best Falter Effect Payoffs

It may be somewhat intuitive, but the better payoffs for this kind of effect are creatures that significantly impact your opponents when they deal combat damage. This is true for effects that trigger when your opponent is dealt combat damage.

Master of Cruelties

The first creature that comes to mind for falter payoffs is Master of Cruelties. It can reduce anyone's life points to one if it hits.

Vraska, Golgari Queen

Another payoff for falter effects is Vraska, Golgari Queen’s ultimate. Any creature able to attack becomes a deadly finisher. As commander, you can even aim to finish all your opponents with the right card combination.

Raven Guild Master

If you want to mill your opponents, Raven Guild Master is one of the best ways.

Sword of Body and Mind Sword of Feast and Famine

These are the cycle of swords that were originally printed in the first Mirrodin sets. Each of them gives protection from two colors and has combat damage effects attached. The most powerful are Sword of Body and Mind and Sword of Feast and Famine.

Coastal Piracy

Card advantage is key to winning games, and falter effects and Coastal Piracy are like bread and butter.

Glistener Elf

Last but not least, infect is a mechanic that benefits greatly from hitting your opponents. They’re basically starting with half of their life in some formats.

Wrap Up

Coastal Piracy - Illustration by Matthew D. Wilson

Coastal Piracy | Illustration by Matthew D. Wilson

As you may have seen, falter effects are designed so that your opponents can't interact with them, so creatures that have combat damage effects on them rise in value.

The key to making the most out of these effects is the surprise factor. The more creatures you have, the better your chances are of winning.

What do you think? Did you like the list? Was there any card that I missed? Please let me know in the comments or over on the Draftsim Discord.

T-t-t-that’s all folks! (See what I did there?)

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