Mass Removal by Colors
Wrath of God
is a very intimidating card. Its text box contains few words but it is one of the strongest effects in Magic: “destroy all creatures”. They can’t even be regenerated! The effect is quite appropriate for white, clearing the battlefield and starting fresh. But there is more than one way to end the world and the concept of clearing the board has been altered by many cards in white as well as all other colors.
White usually wants to balance the odds with its mass removal. Cards like Day of Judgment
Day of Judgment, or even Final Judgment
Final Judgment, are similar to Wrath of God in that they destroy all creatures indiscriminately. There are no special rules in place that protect your creatures, they all suffer equally. The newest white piece of mass removal, Phyrexian Rebirth, seems a little unfair for your opponents. It may look odd, but I think it fits the Phyrexian ideology in white perfectly. The idea behind this bit of flavor is that it has not only a “Wrath” effect, but it takes the corpses of your opponents creatures for your own monstrosity, re-purposing them into a more perfect being. In this case it is equally destroying all creatures yours being, in the Phyrexian orthodoxy, also unfit to live. White allows you to totally clear the board and sometimes, if you’ve got the extra mana for it, get yourself a pretty big creature as well.
Blue is very different from many of the other colors with regard to mass removal. It isn’t a color that will destroy much of anything but instead uses trickery and deceit to outwit and outmaneuver threats. Frequently Blue uses spells which clear the way by returing creatures to their owners’ hands, the simplest example being Evacuation. Sure, opponents can try to recast those spells, but that’s no problem for blue. With Evacuation at instant speed, it can be played at the end of their turn when your opponent is tapped out and has turned play over to you, leaving them no chance to play anything new. Then you have the chance to recharge your mana for some handy counterspells against the most dangerous creatures you know are hiding in your opponents newly full hand – unless he has discarded them. You could have some of your own creatures reappear with handy abilities that trigger upon entering the battlefield like Mnemonic Wall
Mnemonic Wall which, incidentally, can bring back Evacuation to your hand, if you’d like. While blue doesn’t outright kill everything on the board, it makes your opponent re-cast spells, giving blue mages a chance to do what they do best – employ counter-magic.
Black was the lucky recipient of a planeshifted Wrath of God, Damnation
Damnation. Black is the other color (along with white) that has a plethora of removal hardware, sporting a wide array of cards able to destroy, or at least permanently cripple, everything on the board. The thing is, however, black doesn’t like making the board equal again. It’s best when the mass removal ends up in the black mage’s favor. They are willing to pay a lot for this effect whether it is extra mana to destroy everybody else’s creatures with a Plague Wind
Plague Wind or extra life to destroy all the creatures one opponent controls through a Rain of Daggers
Rain of Daggers. The latest in these kinds of cards is Life’s Finale, which unfortunately destroys all creatures. However, this card isn’t content with leveling the playing field as white spells often do, it takes things a step further by ripping out the best cards your opponent was hoping to play from their library, perhaps the next victim of some of black’s many cards that tamper with the graveyard.
Red is probably the first place many would look if they want a quick, cheap way to clear the board. It seems the perfect color to go on a rampage, destroying everything in it’s path – and, at times, it certainly can do that. The best way to destroy creatures with red is through damage. There are cards starting from Pyroclasm
Pyroclasm that can deal damage to each creature on the board. If you were looking to destroy more than creatures, red is definitely the best color for targeting lands, and one of the best for dealing with artifacts. If a red card says it destroys creatures outright, it probably also does the same for artifacts and creatures, like in Jokulhaups. Red, being unpredictable and impulsive in flavor, also has a number of mass removal spells that just ruin everyone’s plans without any clear advantage for the caster. Warp World
Warp World is a favorite of mine because after the mass removal it completely randomizes the board. It usually doesn’t end in my favor, but the shortsighted and random nature of cards like this make red’s mass removal a whole lot of fun.
Green is the color that can produce the biggest, baddest creatures in the game with huge mana ramp. It is appropriate that green doesn’t have very many mass removal spells for creatures. What it does very well though is destroy artifacts and enchantments. Green has these in their most basic forms in Tranquility
Tranquilityand Creeping Corrosion, which simply destroys all enchantments or artifacts. While green excels in its ability to fill the board with hulking creatures, subtlety isn’t its strong suit, so artifacts and enchantments draw a lot of hate from this color. Green also has some trouble with flying creatures. While green is usually rich in creatures with reach, there are times when they can’t possibly block an attack by an entire swarm of birds or angels. To handle situations such as these there are cards like Whirlwind
Whirlwindor Corrosive GaleCorrosive Gale to destroy or deal damage to all flying creatures.
Colorless cards have come to fill a unique role in Magic, as they are able to be used in any deck. There are a few mass removal artifacts like Nevinyrral’s Disk
Nevinyrral’s Disk that can be used in any deck, but recently colorless cards have emerged as a distinct category with a unique flavor and often the ability to do things no other color can. All is Dust
All is Dust was given to us in the last block and forces players to sacrifice their colored permanents. This is a strong card that can be put in any deck but it really only shines in a deck that is mostly colorless. It also can shut down the battlefield of an opponent without having to worry about regeneration or indestructability. In the latest set we received Karn as a planeswalker who is more friendly to decks that use colors. His is a very different form of mass removal that even removes the game you’re playing! These are some especially cool effects given to cards that have transcended the 5 colors of mana.