Last updated on February 18, 2024

Wrath of God - Illustration by Thomas M. Baxa

Wrath of God | Illustration by Thomas M. Baxa

Board wipes are some of the strongest tools in a Magic player’s kit. They generate a powerful card and mana advantage that makes them staples in control lists for many competitive, 60-card formats and auto-includes in many Commander deck lists.

Like any general staple category, such as counterspells and spot removal, players have plenty of options for wraths – some of which aren’t all that special. But what are the best wraths to send your opponents back to square one? Let’s find out.

What Are Board Wipes in MTG?

Balance - Illustration by Kev Walker

Balance | Illustration by Kev Walker

Board wipes are cards that remove most or all creatures from the board. They often do this by destroying all creatures, as we see in Wrath of God, but total destruction isn't the only way wraths wipe the board. Board wipes can deal damage to all creatures, exile them, or return everything to their owner's hands. Some even toss them back into the library.

Board wipes come in two primary flavors: hard and soft. They each have different strengths and weaknesses.

First up, hard board wipes do what you expect. They destroy or exile everything without regard for who controls it or what it is. Wrath of God, Damnation, and Farewell are all examples of hard board wipes.

Soft board wipes are more situational, usually because they impose a limit on the creatures they remove. This could be related to size, like how Anger of the Gods can’t kill most large creatures, and Dusk / Dawn ignores smaller creatures. There could be other factors, like creature type (Kindred Dominance) or the creature’s state on the board (Don't Move).

Commander players often utilize soft board wipes as one-sided effects. Asymmetrical board wipes destroy everything you don’t control, with Plague Wind being a notable example. For example, an Aura-based EDH deck would run Winds of Rath to destroy everything but their creatures, allowing them to leverage the board wipes as a catch-up mechanism and finisher.

When ranking boards wipes, there are a few important factors to consider. A sweeper’s primary role is to play catch-up. “Destroy all creatures” often results in you spending one card to remove multiple cards played by your opponents for card advantage. Efficiency is important because we want the most bang for our mana investment, and we can’t afford to wait too long to blow up the world, or we’ll take too much damage to stabilize.

Flexibility is also useful. Wraths that only destroy all creatures have weaknesses. They put you just as behind as your opponents, so casting them when you’re at parity isn’t always the best play. They’re also not a great replacement for spot removal. Using Wrath of God to kill a creature is incredibly inefficient and bad if you just want to remove an opposing Orcish Bowmasters but need to retain your board state. Wraths with options that mitigate these downsides are powerful.

Finally, one-sided board wipes tend to do much better in EDH than traditional board wipes. This is because they have flexibility; Cyclonic Rift is as effective at ending the game as it is at catching you back up. It’s also good at putting your opponents behind and keeping yourself ahead.

#30. Scourge of Fleets

Scourge of Fleets

Scourge of Fleets is far from the card many would expect in a list of board wipes, but I’m fond of this for casual EDH. It’s easy to reuse ETB abilities with cards like Displacer Kitten or Teleportation Circle, making this an excellent finisher that prevents your opponents from maintaining a board state.

#29. Planar Collapse

Planar Collapse

Letting your opponents know a sweeper is coming weakens the effect as they won’t play into it, but Planar Collapse is still quite interesting. A 2-mana wrath is the epitome of efficiency. When played late, it usually wipes the board and stops your opponents from playing creatures for a turn. When played early, it encourages them not to play creatures lest they lose them.

#28. Sunscour


Giving up two cards for Sunscour’s alternate cost is a genuine price, but a free wrath is still quite interesting. It weakens a wrath’s inherit card advantage, but removing seven or eight creatures in EDH can be worth three of your cards.

#27. Settle the Wreckage

Settle the Wreckage

Settle the Wreckage sets up incredible blowouts but becomes less effective if your opponent knows it’s coming, as they’ll attack with one or two creatures instead of all of them. An instant-speed wrath is still useful since you can hold up countermagic if you don’t need to wrath, and the devastation is immense if your opponents don’t know how to play around it.

#26. Burn Down the House

Burn Down the House

Burn Down the House doesn’t deal with everything as a 5-mana 5-damage wrath, but it has a few unique quirks. Unlike most wraths, this deals with opposing planeswalkers. The alternate mode helps this slot into more decks, like those interested in token production or sacrificing creatures.

#25. Phyrexian Scriptures

Phyrexian Scriptures

Phyrexian Scriptures works best in an artifact deck but can also be useful in enchantress decks. Sagas have seen a surge of support in cards like Tom Bombadil and Historian's Boon, so this has become even more appealing as a board wipe with functional Suspend 1.

#24. Anger of the Gods

Anger of the Gods

Anger of the Gods is a great example of a soft wrath that deals with early threats. 3 damage is enough to sweep aside the board of many white weenie-type decks. Exiling the creatures is a nice little bonus that’s effective against Bloodghast and similar persistent creatures.

#23. Single Combat

Single Combat

Single Combat works best in Voltron-style decks that focus on making one creature the best it can be. It’ll often be the best of the four surviving creatures and slows your opponents’ ability to rebuild post-wrath. Hitting planeswalkers is useful, as many wraths ignore them.

#22. Evacuation


5 mana to bounce all creatures is pretty strong. Evacuation is a fantastic tool for mono-blue and blue-green decks that often lack the tools to deal with creatures en mass. Being an instant also lets you leverage the ability by holding up countermagic, card draw, or bouncing your opponents’ board states to remove all blockers before your turn.

#21. Winds of Rath

Winds of Rath

Winds of Rath needs a specific deck to work, but it’s often a powerful one-sided board wipe in decks that can meet the condition. Unlike other wraths that ignore things like tokens or artifact creatures, not many people run auras, so this is more likely to be a true Plague Wind than others.

#20. Sunfall


Currently one of the best wraths in Standard, Sunfall can be devastating. Exiling is far better than destroying. It circumvents lots of protection spells, such as Heroic Intervention and Selfless Spirit, and prevents cards like Second Sunrise and Agadeem's Awakening from rebuilding boards. Getting a potentially massive threat ices this powerful cake.

#19. Martial Coup + White Sun’s Twilight

Martial Coup White Sun's Twilight

One-sided board wipes are so powerful because they leave you ahead while putting your opponents behind. Martial Coup and White Sun's Twilight are the next best thing, as they create an instant board state for a powerful one-two punch. Scaling up or down depending on your available mana is also a great trait of the twilight spells.

#18. The Battle of Bywater

The Battle of Bywater

3 mana for a wrath is incredibly efficient. You need small creatures to maximize The Battle of Bywater. This is at its best in stax decks leveraging cheap creatures like Collector Ouphe and Archon of Emeria or token decks building out massive numbers of 1/1s.

#17. Organic Extinction

Organic Extinction

Organic Extinction is pretty costly, but your artifact creatures can help cast it, taking quite the edge off. This is best with cards like Sai, Master Thopterist that focus on building a wide board of artifact tokens to churn it out as cheaply as possible.

#16. Wrath of God + Damnation

Wrath of God Damnation

We call board wipes wraths because of Wrath of God, and Damnation is its colorshifted cousin. 4 mana to destroy everything is the absolute going rate. Wraths don’t get better than this without restriction. For decks looking to remove everything cheaply that don’t care about leveraging one-sided wipes, it’s hard to do better than these iconic sweepers.

#15. Damn


Damn is one of the most elegantly designed cards in the game. It’s also quite powerful. Wrath of God that becomes efficient if you only want to remove a single threat is hard to beat.

#14. Dusk / Dawn

Dusk // Dawn

Plenty of wraths protect small creatures, but Dusk / Dawn is the best because it offers a secondary mode. This is a wrath for your small creature deck, but it's also wrath protection that helps you rebuild after an opponent casts their sweeper. It’s even better in decks with ways to discard it.

#13. Brotherhood’s End

Brotherhood's End

The versatility of Brotherhood's End is lovely. I especially love this in Gruul+ decks that use land- or enchantment-based ramp. So much of the early game in EDH, especially for non-green decks, involves curving out with Signets and Talismans; destroying all those cheap artifacts puts the rest of the table turns behind and potentially destabilizes their hands entirely.

#12. Hour of Reckoning

Hour of Reckoning

While tokens are commonplace in Commander, Hour of Reckoning is still a fearsome one-sided wrath. Token decks go wide quickly enough that convoke keeps this free. It’s trivial to set up a winning sequence by casting this and following it up the next turn with Craterhoof Behemoth or another Overrun effect.

#11. Kindred Dominance + Everything Comes to Dust

Kindred Dominance Everything Comes to Dust

The kindred wraths, Kindred Dominance and Everything Comes to Dust, are among the best one-sided wraths. Kindred decks are often about building up a massive force of their creature type, so they’re perfectly poised to take advantage of your card types. These get weaker when you're playing common creature types like humans, though.

#10. Obliterate

It’s hard to do better than Obliterate in terms of a total board reset. The best way to leverage this powerful sorcery is to look to the card types it doesn’t destroy: planeswalkers and enchantments. Using this to clear the way for cards like Mogis, God of Slaughter and Chandra, Legacy of Fire to slowly win the game is an exceptional way to lose friends.

#9. Cataclysm


Cataclysm requires you to control a card capable of winning the game, such as Blightsteel Colossus. If you can leverage this by having the best permanent left over, your opponents will rarely make a comeback.

#8. Terminus


6 mana is a lot for a wrath, but Terminus most often costs 1 if you have plenty of ways to get this on top of your library. Cards like Brainstorm and Sensei's Divining Top have historically aided Legacy decks, but Mystical Tutor and Vampiric Tutor are excellent options for Commander players as well. With a bit of work, this is the most efficient board wipe available that ignores all forms of protection short of phasing.

#7. Fire Covenant

Fire Covenant

Fire Covenant’s strength comes from not needing to be a wrath. Sometimes, this wipes opposing board states clean. Other times, it just handles the Collector Ouphe and Orcish Bowmasters preventing you from going off. That flexibility is well worth the life.

#6. Farewell


Farewell is one of the most brutal wraths you can play in Commander. It hits enchantments and artifacts, which are often unphased by sweepers, and exiling everything leaves pretty much no options for protection or rebuilding. 6 mana might be a lot, but it certainly gets its value.

#5. Supreme Verdict

Supreme Verdict

Wrath of God but uncounterable. Supreme Verdict is as close to strictly better than Wrath of God as you can get when making a card two-colored instead of mono. Many decks interested in wraths want to play blue anyway, and being uncounterable is way more relevant than preventing regeneration, since it’s mostly been phased out, and common protection spells use indestructible or phasing. This is the complete package for control decks.

#4. Blasphemous Act

Blasphemous Act

Blasphemous Act is a complete color pie break, which is part of its power. Dealing 13 is close enough to destroy all creatures that Wizards won’t make cards like it anymore. That gives Temur decks access to an effect they shouldn’t have, which is always powerful. It’s even better when you factor in the sheer efficiency of this spell. It’s often on rate with Wrath of God or better.

#3. Cyclonic Rift

Cyclonic Rift

Cyclonic Rift is the best one-sided board wipe in Commander. The flexibility of being an instant and bouncing an early problem is incredible. It doesn’t take much to turn an overloaded Rift into a win, especially since your non-green opponents need to rebuild their mana and creatures.

#2. Toxic Deluge

Toxic Deluge

Toxic Deluge is the best creature wrath in the game. Paying life is a real cost, but the efficiency! It’s also flexible. You can remove all your opponents’ small creatures while leaving your larger ones intact. Giving -X/-X rounds this out, evading most forms of protection.

#1. Balance


It takes a little work to leverage Balance, but boy is it worth the one copy in Vintage. Not only does this attack your opponents’ board state, but you get to go after their lands and their hand. A sweeper’s goal is to remove as many of your opponents’ resources as possible with one card, and no card does it better than Balance.

Best Board Wipe Payoffs

The best board wipe payoffs are conceptual. Decks that don’t care about building a board with creatures benefit the most from board wipes. Control decks are often filled with wraths and very few creatures for this reason. Other decks that benefit from board wipes are those that accumulate value through non-creature means, like many enchantress or superfriends decks.

How Do You Not Get Blown Out by A Board Wipe?

Firstly, there are plenty of protection spells you can use to protect your board. Cards like Selfless Spirit, Heroic Intervention, and Teferi's Protection help protect your board from a variety of sweepers.

To avoid a blowout without protection, you need to show restraint with your threats. Sandbag a few cards if you suspect a wrath is incoming instead of dumping your hand. The goal is to apply maximum pressure with minimal threats to force your opponent to crack their wrath for minimal value.

How Many Board Wipes Should I Run?

The number of board wipes you should run varies widely based on your general strategy. They’re a great option for controlling decks to set their opponents behind and buy them the time needed to win, but involve setting yourself behind.

In general, EDH players overrate board wipes. Resetting the game is occasionally necessary, and their value can really depend on local metas, but putting yourself behind often isn’t worth it. That said, one-sided board wipes like Cyclonic Rift and Winds of Abandon are incredibly effective tools. They fulfill the catch-up role of Wrath of God and friends but can be used offensively as finishers. I’d play as many one-sided wipes as my EDH deck can support, but I rarely want more than one or two universal wraths.

Do Board Wipes Destroy Indestructible Creatures?

Indestructible creatures can’t be destroyed by sweepers like Wrath of God that destroy all creatures or wraths that deal damage like Anger of the Gods. Board wipes that remove permanents through other means, like Cyclonic Rift or Sunfall, do remove indestructible creatures.

Do Board Wipes Hit Protection?

Board wipes that destroy, exile, bounce, or give all creatures -X/-X are unaffected by protection. However, protection does prevent damage, so wraths like Anger of the Gods and Burn Down the House are stopped by protection.

In A Game with Multiple Players, How Do You Know When to Use a Board Wipe? And When to Hold Off?

This is highly dependent on context, but the most important things to consider are: How many creatures are you removing, how much danger are you in, and do you benefit?

It’s rarely worth firing off a board wipe to destroy one creature unless that one creature wins. Sweepers often represent a huge card and mana advantage, so try to maximize that.

Secondly, how much danger are you really in? Your opponents have large board states that can be intimidating, but are they swinging at you? If the two biggest threats at the table are attacking each other to keep their greatest rival in check, you can probably hold off a turn or two (this is also a great stage where politicking can help).

Finally, how much do you benefit? Resetting the board is often tempting but can go wrong. Most wraths only destroy creatures, so players who have garnered a mana or card advantage can often maximize on the reset more than you. If firing off a wrath leaves you with nothing but allows an opponent with a planeswalker and the monarch to keep accumulating value unchecked, it’s likely better to try and deal with those threats instead of resetting the game.

Are There Any Board Wipes That Destroy Lands in MTG?

There are quite a few board wipes that hit lands. Armageddon and Ravages of War are two examples that only destroy lands, but some wraths like Balance, Obliterate, and Worldfire hit pretty much everything.

How Do Planeswalkers Interact with Board Wipes?

Planeswalkers and board wipes are among the best of friends. As long as the board wipe doesn’t destroy or damage the planeswalkers themselves, they stay on the board while all creatures get destroyed. This is often beneficial for the player with planeswalkers, as they don’t need to worry about creatures pressuring them.

Are There Board Wipes That Don’t Exile or Destroy Permanents?

There are a few options for board wipes that don’t exile or destroy permanents. Sweepers that bounce permanents, like Cyclonic Rift and Engulf the Shore, can provide great tempo and slow your opponents down. Black also has spells like Toxic Deluge that reduce the power and toughness of all creatures, which kills them without destroying or exiling them.

Wrap Up

Terminus - Illustration by James Paick

Terminus | Illustration by James Paick

Board wipes have incredible potential. For just a few mana and a single card, you can undo multiple turns worth of effort from your opponents at a fraction of the cost. Sweepers become even better when you work to make them one-sided cards that help equalize the board or finish the game.

What are your favorite wraths in EDH? How many do you run in your decks? Need an idea of how many creatures go in Commander decks? Let me know in the comments or in the Draftsim Discord!

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  • Avatar
    Alex White August 8, 2021 3:43 am

    Slaughter the Strong is insane three mana board wipe, let’s you keep your utility creatures while setting back the aggro player

  • Avatar
    Leo June 9, 2023 11:51 pm

    Surprised I didn’t see Worldfire for Red, I mean imo that card is the grandpapi of board wipes. For ONLY 9 mana, it exiles: ALL permanents (like everything on the board), ALL hands, ALL graveyards, and ALL life points become 1. I mean … talk about leveling the playing field.

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