Last updated on September 1, 2022

Eerie Ultimatum - Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Eerie Ultimatum | Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Magic has had its fair share of busted and broken spells along the way, like any good card game should. These often aren’t intended to be so format-wrapping and eventually get caught up in a banned & restricted announcement a few months after release.

But there are a few spells that are meant to be more powerful than most others, and their mana costs often reflect that. I’m of course talking about the Ultimatum spells. These are massive 3-color spells that require exclusively colored mana to cast and have the most potent effects their color combination can muster. But they’re not all made equal.

So today I’m coming at you with a brief ranking on all the Ultimatums in Magic, talking about why some are good and why some are a little disappointing. Let’s get started!

What Are Ultimatums in MTG?

Brilliant Ultimatum - Illustration by Anthony Francisco

Brilliant Ultimatum | Illustration by Anthony Francisco

Ultimatums are massive 3-color sorceries with incredible effects. They always cost seven colored mana, which requires incredible mana fixing to play on curve, and they’re usually reserved for play in Commander with a few exemptions.

They’re powerful, they’re huge, and they often completely change the course of the game when they resolve. Some wipe the board clean, others pile creatures on your side, and some focus on drawing your cards. They’re each a little different and are thematically in line with their color combos.

#10. Clarion Ultimatum

Clarion Ultimatum

First on the rankings today is Clarion Ultimatum, the Bant () Ultimatum that basically duplicates a bunch of permanents you have in play that are also still in your library. This is obviously dead and unplayable in EDH outside of grabbing five new basics, but there are far better ways to have the same effect with less cost in the format. Especially in Bant colors.

I won’t lie to you, this is about as bad as it gets. The upside is that it’s all up from here!

#9. Brilliant Ultimatum

Brilliant Ultimatum

Brilliant Ultimatum, the Esper () Ultimatum, is basically just a worse Fact or Fiction. You get to play the spells for free, sure, but you don’t even get to choose which ones you want out of the pile and you’re paying an extra three mana. At best I see myself “profiting” two or three mana overall, and I’d rather just have Fact or Fiction over taking that chance.

This is just really poor for such a powerful type of card. I’d much rather have seen this just straight-up give me the five cards for free, or even let me pick three of the five. Anything else, really…

#8. Titanic Ultimatum

Titanic Ultimatum

Next up is Titanic Ultimatum, the Naya () iteration that does very-Naya things and buffs your entire board with +5/+5, first strike, lifelink, and trample. The trample is certainly the most important keyword here. This is basically just Craterhoof Behemoth on a sorcery, and that’s fine.

The first of the Ultimatums seem to be much weaker than the newer ones from Ikoria, but I think that’s mostly able to be chalked up to power creep. This Ultimatum is still actually playable, and I’d be equally scared of this as a Craterhoof Behemoth. Assuming the board is full.

#7. Violent Ultimatum

Violent Ultimatum

Violent Ultimatum is the Jund () version, and this one just destroys three permanents. It’s very simple, very Jund, and it’s just okay in the grand scheme of things. Destroying lands is always fun, and this is great removal for basically anything that doesn’t have indestructible. Unfortunately it’s just a little narrow in scope and too weak to make me excited in any way.

This has to compete with much better specific removal spells in EDH where you’ll be playing it most, and the 7-mana cost is really holding it back here.

#6. Genesis Ultimatum

Genesis Ultimatum

Genesis Ultimatum is, without a doubt, a step above the rest of the Ultimatums we’ve seen so far. This one, which uses Temur () colors, flips any number of permanents from the top five cards of your library onto the battlefield and puts the rest into your hand. This is what Brilliant Ultimatum wishes it was. And so do I quite frankly.

I’ve personally cast this card a number of times. And while it can sometimes whiff you’ll usually get at least seven mana back and basically draw a few cards after. It’s pretty sweet.

#5. Cruel Ultimatum

Cruel Ultimatum

Into the top half of the rankings and things have already gotten good. Cruel Ultimatum was the bane of my 14-year-old self’s existence at one point because it absolutely wrecks whoever it ends up targeting, but that same upside is also its weak point. This card has to target, which means you won’t be applying much pressure to the other two people at the table (assuming you’re playing a multiplayer format).

Downsides aside, this is a super fun card to cast. It’s great at taking revenge on a specific player while also getting three free cards.

#4. Inspired Ultimatum

Inspired Ultimatum

Inspired Ultimatum is a card I underestimated for a long time, but it seems to be one of the better ones out there. You just drain a target for five life and draw five cards, which isn’t as crazy sounding as what Titanic Ultimatum does, but it’s certainly better.

Drawing five cards is basically just getting a fresh hand if you’re hellbent, and the five damage can remove most creature-based threats.

#3. Emergent Ultimatum

Emergent Ultimatum

Next up is Emergent Ultimatum, which is sort of what Brilliant Ultimatum wanted to be. But this one needs some setup in deckbuilding on your part. You can easily set up your deck to have three massive and redundant spells that combo kill your opponents.

Grabbing Thassa’s Oracle, Tainted Pact, and Demonic Consultation can probably set you up too. You get two of the three and basically just win from there regardless of what your opponents choose.

#2. Ruinous Ultimatum

Ruinous Ultimatum

In the #2 spot we have Ruinous Ultimatum, which is about the most potent 1-sided board wipe in Commander besides Cyclonic Rift. This card is serious beats and is often the game-deciding card if it ends up resolving.

Obviously you still have your opponents’ hands to worry about, but you’re sitting pretty if you have any discard effects or land destruction.

#1. Eerie Ultimatum

Eerie Ultimatum

In first place we have Eerie Ultimatum. This card is absolutely insane as it reanimates all permanents with different names in your graveyard. You’re just flipping your entire graveyard into play in singleton formats like Commander.

And Abzan () is the color combination to be in for this effect. You’ll have plenty of ways to put things into the graveyard, and odds are you’re running a graveyard or reanimator deck anyway.

Love this card, and it’s absolutely the best ultimatum in Magic. It’s not even close.

Best Ultimatum Payoffs

Each ultimatum has its own payoffs, and most of them are easy to take advantage of in the deckbuilding process.

For instance, if Eerie Ultimatum is your sorcery of choice, then you just need a graveyard deck (maybe a sacrifice-based one?) and a full graveyard to take advantage of it. In the case of Emergent Ultimatum you just need a redundant combo that you can fetch three cards with to always win, like the Thoracle combo discussed.

Other Ultimatums can be a little harder to make use of. While Titanic Ultimatum just needs some bodies on the board, Violent Ultimatum doesn’t really have any room for synergy or combos. It’s just a removal card.

What makes some of these Ultimatums so powerful is that they change the state of the game, often rapidly throwing you ahead of everyone else, and don’t need too much setup beforehand. They’re sort of as close as you can get to an “okay, I probably win now” spell, and I think that’s awesome.

Wrap Up

Violent Ultimatum - Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Violent Ultimatum | Illustration by Raymond Swanland

That wraps up everything I’ve got for you today when it comes to all of the sweet Ultimatum spells in Magic! I’ve always loved these cards. They’re super fun to cast, have some crazy effects, and often give you your mana’s worth when they resolve… if they resolve.

What do you think of these cards? Are you like me and a little disappointed in the worse and older ultimatums, or are you just excited at the prospect of playing such massive battlecruiser spells? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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