Last updated on March 10, 2023
Animate Wall | Illustration by Dan Frazier
The fun of Magic as a new player is playing creatures and turning them sideways at people. So the fact that more than 10% of creatures in Alpha couldn’t attack was just the kind of nefarious genius of intermittent reinforcement that social media apps use to addict us today.
You could always open Animate Wall! #gotem
In all seriousness, though, there’s some interesting design space in walls in terms of stat levels higher than that of similarly-costed regular creatures and interesting abilities because they can only rarely attack. But which of them are the best, the most sturdy, the most well-built? Grab your hammer and nails, let’s find out!
What Are Walls in MTG?
Wall of Omens (Rise of the Eldrazi) | Illustration by James Paick
Wall is a creature type of creatures that can’t attack. Kind of.
This was true of walls since their introduction in Alpha, but things changed when Champions of Kamigawa introduced the defender mechanic in 2004. Defender is a static ability that makes it so the creature can’t attack. Walls were thus errata’d to have defender.
This change opened up defender design space and made it so that a card like Trickery Charm couldn’t make an opposing creature unable to attack by turning it into a wall (a possibility that led to a lot of awkwardly-worded cards like Artificial Evolution). Although there are now many more defenders that aren’t walls, WotC still prints walls, and there are a lot of sneaky good cards in this category.
Let’s take a look!
Best White Walls
You say you like cards and lifegain? Well, let me show you what we’ve got today.
#9. Clockwork Drawbridge
Clockwork Drawbridge‘s tap ability is expensive, sure, but wall decks always like 0/3 1-drops, and this is an artifact. This feels underplayed in EDH right now to me.
#8. Wall of Essence
Wall of Essence is fine in wall decks, but it’s not as good as the next card because its trigger is specifically combat damage.
#7. Wall of Hope
Doran, the Siege Tower loves 1-drop 0/3 walls, but I think the future for Wall of Hope is in Brash Taunter plus Phyrexian Vindicator decks with, say, Piru, the Volatile commanding?
#6. Sunscape Familiar
Sunscape Familiar is perfect ramp for Arcades, the Strategist wall decks, but the greatest hits of durdly Bant () commanders play this card as well.
#5. Wall of Shards
This is a nutty effect in group hug given how quickly cumulative upkeep scales. Wall of Shards is probably worth it in regular walls decks as well since it has some political punch and can be sacrificed whenever you want to stop the lifegain train.
#4. Wall of Mourning
Wall of Mourning gets a lot cards, but it’s twitchy. I like it best in Ranar the Ever-Watchful blink because you get a token right away.
#3. Jeskai Barricade
Flash creatures that save your stuff are always popular, and Jeskai Barricade does that while synergizing with wall/defender tribal.
#2. Wall of Reverence
Wall of Reverence is great in a lifegain deck. It’s a bit of a non-bo with walls decks where creatures have low power, but this is your card if you want a lifegain trigger each turn.
#1. Wall of Omens
Wall of Omens was bank back when it was printed in Rise of the Eldrazi. White’s creature ETB card draw standard was still Carrier Pigeons.
There’s still not that much, so this card still sees heavy Commander play.
Best Blue Walls
On top of the other reasons you might want these walls, Geralf, Visionary Stitcher decks are a growing thing, and high toughness matters for that deck. Is it competitive? Of course not! But it’s more fun to play than you’d think.
#11. Secret Door
A 1-drop 0/4 is even better than what we got in white for all those decks that want to run High Alert. Five mana is a lot to get to the dungeon with Secret Door, but if you can regularly stall out games in your Hama Pashar, Ruin Seeker deck, then sure.
#10. Wall of Tears
Wall of Tears is at its best when it’s bouncing attacking tokens to their doom. But it isn’t doing much for you if you’re being pummeled with tokens.
#9. Coastal Bulwark
Coastal Bulwark is no Sinister Starfish, let me tell you! But repeatable surveil is no joke for self-mill decks like Lazav, the Multifarious because there aren’t that many cards that do this.
#8. Wall of Kelp
Wall of Kelp makes plant walls! Someday that’s going to be bank when we get a plant commander with a blue pip instead of just Phylath, World Sculptor.
I’m gonna talk about this card when we get to Wall of Mulch, just so you know.
#7. Wall of Lost Thoughts
Although most mill decks in Modern use the 8-crab build, Wall of Lost Thoughts joins Doorkeeper and Coral Colony for a budget mill deck in Pioneer that relies on Shield-Wall Sentinel as a tutor. It’s just not quite there yet, like mill in EDH.
#6. Coral Colony
Coral Colony is repeatable mill which makes it better than the previous card in these try-hard mill builds.
#5. Academy Wall
I think I want Academy Wall for my Alandra, Sky Dreamer-style spellslinger token decks. The filtering really matters to keep the spells coming, and it survives a lot of the nonwhite board wipes they’ll deploy against your tokens.
#4. Wall of Runes
Wall of Runes is a 1-drop 0/4. The scry ETB is fine for various decks. I imagine this is in the mix if you’re playing any walls at all.
#3. Mnemonic Wall
A classic for blink decks, Mnemonic Wall lives its best life grabbing Time Warp over and over again in Thassa, Deep-Dwelling decks. Commander is getting a bit too fast for this card, though.
Raise your hand if you didn’t know this bonkers card existed!
Floodgate is a repeating board wipe for everything but blue fliers in some kind of blink deck with actual basics, likely a mono-blue one with our buddy Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. That’s not bad!
#1. Wall of Stolen Identity
Clone plus removal: yes please! Join the team, Wall of Stolen Identity.
Best Black Walls
These cards all have to fit niche archetypes since black walls can’t be played in the most popular wall EDH decks, and those archetypes might be a few subway stops away from playable.
#5. Barrier of Bones
Barrier of Bones is a cheap surveil. That’s typically not good enough.
#4. Concealing Curtains / Revealing Eye
Ertai Resurrected lets an opponent draw a card in replacement as well, but the effect is so much more powerful than Concealing Curtains. Still, that’s less of a thing in a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse control deck.
#3. Wall of Limbs
Wall of Limbs is strange win condition in decks like Dina, Soul Steeper. It’s like the last-resort wincon, but it’s a thing.
And this is a zombie, so you can do it all again with a bunch of cards like Lord of the Undead that recur it. We’re missing a few cards to make zombie drain and gain a thing, but all you need is a legendary Gray Merchant of Asphodel kind of thing and we’re there!
#2. Wall of Blood
Did you know that Gallowbraid decks are a thing? Yep. Cards that lose life like Wall of Blood are paired with key threats like Profane Transfusion, Repay in Kind, and cards that turn the tide and serve as win conditions like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose.
This seems just loppy enough to interest me.
#1. Wall of Souls
Wall of Souls makes your stompy opponents do math. But they play stompy to avoid complex thought, so checkmate!
Best Red Walls
Not much here, although I know you’ve lost to #1 on Arena.
Side quest: Be sure to check out that ‘70s prog rock album cover art David Ho did for Blistering Barrier.
#3. Battle Rampart
Battle Rampart may be the worst way to grant haste in the game, but red tutors for creatures better than spells, so there ya go.
#2. Tuktuk Rubblefort
Mass haste is better! Yay, Tuktuk Rubblefort!
#1. Electrostatic Field
You know the drill. Pair Electrostatic Field with Thermo-Alchemist and Kessig Flamebreather and play cantrips. A decent backup plan in a spellslinger deck.
Best Green Walls
Mana and cards. It isn’t easy being green.
#7. Overgrown Arch
There are only a handful of green cards that tap to gain life, and Overgrown Arch is one of the cheapest to cast. You better believe this is in my Dina, Soul Steeper deck!
The learn mechanic makes you discard a card to draw a card in EDH, which also is just fine in a deck with Blood Artist effects.
#6. Portcullis Vine
Portcullis Vine is like the straight-to-video sequel of your favorite ‘90s-ish movie, Wall of Mulch. It’s not great, but you’re gonna watch it if you really need to find out what happened to Jafar later.
#5. Wall of Mulch
Wall of Mulch is a pretty awesome as long as you’re playing some walls. Pair it with Wall of Kelp for fun and profit!
#4. Wall of Roots
Wall of Roots is classic ramp. Bolt the birds, sure, but bolt this!
There are nice synergies with Tayam, Luminous Enigma and Cazur, Ruthless Stalker as well.
#3. Vine Trellis
Vine Trellis is a mana dork that also survives Lightning Bolt.
#2. Overgrown Battlement
Overgrown Battlement makes a lot of mana in a walls/defender deck. Elves have like fifteen cards that do this, but this is your shot in walls.
#1. Wall of Blossoms
Blinking green card draw for all your Bant () and Selesnya () needs! Wall of Blossoms is a good card.
Best Multicolored Walls
Based on EDH color identity…
#4. Jungle Barrier
Overcosted, sure, but you know you could use a Jungle Barrier in your Volo, Guide to Monsters deck!
#3. Wall of Denial
Wall of Denial is really good in Arcades, the Strategist. Shroud is cracked.
#2. Pramikon, Sky Rampart
You can use Pramikon, Sky Rampart as a commander to do your Jeskai () things while changing the rules of the game. Usually that means Pramikon leads a prison deck with cards like Ghostly Prison and Propaganda along with your commander, making attacking decks sad they came to FNM this week.
#1. Tinder Wall
A key ramp card in Jund () colored cEDH decks, Tinder Wall has been ramping mana and storm count for a long time in Magic.
Best Colorless Walls
One vital card and some glorious nonsense. Come to think of it, I think that sentence describes all my favorite EDH decks…
#7. Wall of Shields
Unplayable, say you? Underplayed say I!
Banding is better than you think, so this should go in every wall tribal deck. Plus it gives you the chance to lecture other players on interesting rules trivia at much more length and in far more excruciating detail than similarly old and obscure mechanics like kinship, threshold, and landhome!
So play poor Wall of Shields.
#6. Excavated Wall
Colorless, consistent self-mill.
So how useful is Excavated Wall? I mean, this is still kinda meh, but I can see this in the stack of cards that might be number 98 or 99 in your Quintorius, Field Historian or similar decks.
#5. Shifting Wall
The purpose for Shifting Wall has got to be in the Ugin’s Conjurant lane to facilitate commanders like Colfenor, the Last Yew and Thrasta, Tempest’s Roar, or in any kind of Song of Creation build.
#4. Suspicious Bookcase
Suspicious Bookcase is there for your must-connect commanders like Neyam Shai Murad, and your repertoire of Scooby-Doo impressions.
#3. Shield Sphere
0-cost artifacts are always useful for combos, but Shield Sphere plays fair in Geralf, Visionary Stitcher decks.
#2. Weathered Sentinels
Weathered Sentinels is a wall card for the beatdown player? This is a pretty cool design to go alongside your deck of goad and Breena, the Demagogue-type cards.
#1. Crashing Drawbridge
Crashing Drawbridge is the only flexible option to grant haste outside of red. That matters in decks ranging from Siona, Captain of the Pyleas to Prime Speaker Vannifar to Aeve, Progenitor Ooze to my favorite nonsense commander of the day, Grunn, the Lonely King.
Best Walls Payoffs
There are a few key things you can do with your walls.
Walls Attack Decks
Usually helmed by Arcades, the Strategist with a smattering of cards like High Alert for redundancy, these decks turn walls into an efficiently-costed attacking force that can defend itself against aggro decks in the meantime.
There are only so many cards that animate your walls so this is a risky deck, but it’s on most players’ bucket lists of things they want to win with.
There are lots of good defender cards that can pair with your walls, including the pieces of the Wingmantle Chaplain decks that dominated Dominaria United Limited. Figuring out a top end that works outside of Arcades is a bit tough, but I’ve found that a big-mana walls package of 15 to 20 cards can be a nice module in a Commander deck that looks to durdle a bit and not get run over.
Is Wall the Same as Defender?
No. Defender is the more flexible static ability that replaced the design that walls were a creature type that couldn’t attack. All walls have defender, but many defenders are definitely not walls. For example, Doorkeeper isn’t a wall.
Are All Walls Defenders?
Yes. After Champions of Kamigawa introduced the defender static ability, all previously printed walls were errata’d to have defender, and all walls printed since have the defender ability.
Can Walls Block Flying Creatures?
If the walls have reach or flying, then yes. See Wall of Vines and Wall of Air as examples. Walls follow the same combat rules as other creatures when it comes to blocking.
Do Walls Have Reach in MTG?
Only if they have reach as a keyword static ability on the card. There are also walls that have a reach activated ability, like Wall of Tanglecord.
Can Walls Block Multiple Creatures?
Only one wall can block multiple creatures, and that’s Wall of Glare. The additional text on the card allows the it an exception to the normal rule that a creature can only block one creature in a combat.
Other non-wall creatures like Palace Guard have similar text. The only other way for a wall to block multiple creatures is with a spell or enchantment like Valor Made Real.
Can Walls Attack?
Walls can only attack if a card like Assault Formation allows it to happen. Otherwise they can’t.
Do Walls Count as Creatures?
Yes, wall is a creature type.
Wall of Blossoms (Stronghold) | Illustration by Heather Hudson
Walls aren’t for everyone. They’re at times a frustrating creature type to play, but they can do some weird and cool things. I guarantee there was something on this list either already in one of your Commander decks or soon to be after reading this.
Do you have a secret wall you love that we missed? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Discord.
That’s all from me for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: