Superior Numbers – Wondering What Wipes Wreck What

Welcome to Superior Numbers, where I try to do numerical analysis on cards and deckbuilding trends using a little bit of math.
Board wipes. They’re a pretty important part of EDH, and often are what helps knock the player in the lead back down to parity with everyone else. For discussion purposes, we’re going to limit board wipes to ‘things that kill creatures or have the option to kill creatures.’ A card like Cleansing Nova, for example, would count for these purposes, while Back to Nature would not.
What I want to look at here is which of the most popular board wipes on EDHREC takes care of what specific breakdown of popular permanents from among the top 100, starting from most played to the least played.

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake

Blasphemous Act tops our list of wipes, showing up in 44,062 decks, and with good reason; it might very well be the best board wipe in the game. More often than not, one single red mana winds up destroying all the creatures in play, as it will kill anything with toughness 13 or less that does not have indestructible, protection from red, or regeneration.
So how many creatures is that? Let’s look at indestructibility first:
  • 4 of the top 100 most popular creatures in the past 2 years have indestructible, with another 1 that has conditional activated indestructible.
  • 128 different total Commander-legal creatures have indestructible or the ability to grant indestructible to another permanent.
  • 84 noncreature cards grant indestructibility either permanently or until the end of the turn.

Next we have regeneration. Given that regeneration is no longer a supported keyword, how often is that relevant? Not often, but not zero times, either:

  • 15 different legal commanders either regenerate themselves or regenerate a target.
  • Ezuri, Renegade Leader is currently the most popular mono-green commander in the last two years, and he has regeneration.
  • Additionally, cards like Asceticism (10,644 decks), Golgari Charm (9,110 decks), and Yavimaya Hollow (5,572 decks) see a good bit of play and show up in their respective category top lists.
Lastly, we have protection from red, a keyword used even less frequently than regenerate:
  • 43 different legal cards in our format have protection from red.
  • 2 legal commanders have protection from red.
    • Lavinia of the Tenth 89 decks
    • Tivadar of Thorn in 4 decks

Since Blasphemous Act is a damage ability, protection from things beyond just the color red are relevant here, too. Progenitus with protection from everything and Haktos the Unscarred with protection from converted mana costs also get around it.

Those’re a few things that specifically dodge Blasphemous Act, but they’re probably not enough to dissuade you from running such an efficient spell. We’ll revisit these numbers when we look at different wipes. Beyond the above criteria, we also have to look at cards with 14+ toughness, since Blasphemous Act deals 13 damage. How often does that matter?
  • There are no commanders in our top lists with more than 14 toughness by default.
  • There are no legendary creatures with 14 default toughness.

Obviously there are creatures with variable toughness that might show up in decks, things like Malignus, in 2,494 decks, and Bane of Progress, in 12,805 lists, but those aren’t guaranteed to be over the 14 toughness threshold.


Birds and snakes and aeroplanes, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Wrath of God is next as the second most popular board wipe, and since we’re looking at Wrath we may as well look at her color-shifted sister, Damnation. They show up in 28,081 and 23,827 decks, respectively. Both destroy all creatures and prevent regeneration. That means that only indestructible creatures will dodge these spells. So how many is that? Well, we touched on it when we looked at Blasphemous Act.
  • 4 of the top 100 most popular creatures in the last 2 years have indestructible, with another 1 that has conditional activated indestructible.
  • 128 different total Commander-legal creatures have indestructible or the ability to grant indestructible to another permanent.
  • 84 noncreature cards grant indestructibility either permanently or until the end of the turn.
So you’re going to kill almost all the things save a few exceptions with these two very efficient spells. Also worth noting is that these stats apply to Decree of Pain, located in the tenth place spot on our list in 16,873 decks.

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn

Merciless Eviction appears in 27,821 decks. Modular spells are always great since they can be sculpted to solve whatever current problem needs solving. In this case, the choices are between creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers. Eviction solves these problems by exiling them, too. The math here isn’t complicated; barring an ‘until end of turn’ blink effect or something like Teferi’s Protection, Merciless Eviction will get rid of every single target that qualifies for whichever mode you select. Indestructible, protection from colors, and power and toughness are irrelevant.
The downside here is that the second most popular Orzhov commander, Athreos, God of Passage, has indestructible. It’s nice to use your commander’s indestructibility to survive non-exile board wipes, but with Merciless Eviction, you void that strength.
Beyond just the first Athreos, there are multiple other popular commanders in color variants running black and white where this matters: Sliver Hivelord, Zurgo Helmsmasher, Silvar, Devourer of the Free, and Kathril, Aspect Warper all either have or can obtain indestructibility, which would be nullified by an efficient wipe like Eviction.
Commanders like Alesha, who Smiles at Death, Karador, Ghost Chieftain and Teneb the Harvester[ also interact with the graveyard in ways that might make you second-guess exiling a specific permanent type.
Still, it’s a very effective wipe that is constrained by nothing but what you, yourself, don’t want to lose.
Toxic Deluge is our first variable board wipe, showing up in 27,264 different brews. For three mana, you can kill creatures with any toughness equal to or less than the life you pay. Being able to work around your own creatures is very, very useful. It also invalidates indestructible. So let’s break down how much life kills how many creatures:
  • 0/20 of the top commanders in the last 2 years die to paying 1 or 2 life
  • 3/20 die to paying 3
  • 11/20 die to paying 4
  • 16/20 die to paying 5
  • 18/20 die to paying 6
  • 19/20 die to 10

As a planeswalker, Lord Windgrace will be the lone holdout, but a Wrath of God or Blasphemous Act would miss Cat Daddy as well.

As for creatures in the 99:

That’s pretty impressive, though a little misleading, as a lot of those are just mana dorks.

  • 25/100 most popular creatures in the last 2 years die to paying 1
  • 50/100 die to paying 2
  • 57/100 die to paying 3
  • 74/100 die to paying 4
  • 85/100 die to paying 5
  • 97/100 die to paying 6
  • 99/100 die to paying 7
  • 100/100 die to paying 9
Supreme Verdict has a home in 23,583 decks, and it cannot be countered, which is great, but it loses out on Wrath and Damnation‘s ability to get around regeneration. For Verdict, you’d look at the numbers for Wrath and also factor in the regen stats from Blasphemous Act. Similarly, anything from Verdict applies to Fumigate (18,311 decks) and Day of Judgement (13,837 decks).

World serves its own needs, don’t mis-serve your own needs

Austere Command shows up in 23,030 decks. When it comes to blowing up creatures, it cares about their converted mana cost. Let’s look at commanders first:
  • Most popular commanders in the last 2 years that have 3 CMC or less: only 2 of the top 20
  • Most popular commanders in the last 2 years that have 4 CMC or more: 4 of the top 5, 9 of the top 10, 17 of the top 20

As for the most popular creatures in the last 2 years:

  • Most popular creatures in the last 2 years that have 3 CMC or less: 5 of the top 5, 40 of the top 100
  • Most popular creatures in the last 2 years that have 4 CMC or more: 60 of the top 100

Another note here is that most (though not all) tokens have a CMC of 0, meaning that an Austere Command set to the mode of destroying creatures with 3 CMC or less will blow them up as well.

As for the ability to hit enchantments or artifacts:

Lastly, we have Living Death, showing up in 18,047 decks. As a sacrifice effect, it basically hits everything that an exile creature sweeper like Merciless Eviction would hit, except you still get death triggers. The only other difference is that it won’t do anything to your enemies who have Sigarda, Host of Herons or Tajuru Preserver on the battlefield. Still, Sigarda 1.0 is only the 7th most popular Selesnya commander, and Perserver is in under 1,500 decks. That shouldn’t be much of an issue considering how easily recurrable Living Death is in decks that want it. That’s the trick with the card, really: nobody who casts it wants to cast it once. No, they want to cast it every turn via a recurred Eternal Witness or something similar.


It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Hopefully all of this is at least a little helpful in deciding which creature sweepers you’re looking to slot into your decks. There’re a lot to choose from, and more are printed with every new set. They also make up an important part of the game, operating at times as a way to break a stalemate, reset parity, or as an outright win condition. Make sure you run a couple in decks that support the colors, and sound off below about which wipes are your favorites, and why.

Thanks for reading, and, as always, may your numbers be superior.

Dana is one of the hosts of the EDHRECast and the CMDR Central podcast. He lives in Eau Claire, WI with his wife and son. He has been playing Magic so long he once traded away an Underground Sea for a Nightmare, and was so pleased with the deal he declined a trade-back the following week. He also smells like cotton candy and sunsets.