Commander Spotlight: Worldpurge

If you were to ask a typical American of 50 years ago to define what a typical family household looked like, you’d probably get the boilerplate nuclear family line. It’s not that diversity didn’t exist back then (far from it), but society was much more inflexible in its belief of what the correct answer to that question should be. In today’s world though, our societal definition of family is much broader – to a point where there is no rubber-stamp answer. The makeup what family means to you is going to look much different than mine, and odds are both of ours are going to differ from those of our neighbors.

The same holds true for Magic communities. Even within the heavily segmented spheres of Magic-based adoration, the game is far from homogeneous. You can find laid-back tournament groups even within highly competitive Standard play, and it doesn’t take much searching to find EDH groups that are much more into hyper-tuning their decks than the casual-focused format embodies. As a result, even within specific subsets of the Magic umbrella, the voices of the community will be wide-ranging on a host of opinions. Is a particular set good for your format of choice? How much time should you invest into making a deck? And which cards should you be including in said deck for that matter?

Ultimately, the value of any Commander card is going to be determined by two factors: the usefulness that the player feels it has in their particular deck, and the usefulness of that card in that person’s regular game group.

Take something simple like Black Knight. You may want to run that card, for instance, because it’s an efficient choice for a “White Weenie” deck, an Equipment deck, or a Knight tribal deck, but it’s also entirely possible that someone may want to include it simply because a large percentage of the decks they play against tend to run Black. This would given even their lowly 2/2 creature a decided advantage in those settings.

Outside of their play group, however, the argument can be made that many better options exist for that deck slot. Unless it directly benefits your own deck (using whatever personal metrics you have to define that), the only other reason to add such cards is to contend with your current opponents.

This is why across the internet you hear people swear by certain cards that you may not immediately consider otherwise. If someone insists on including cards like Shatterstorm or Energy Flux, you can bet it’s because their play group is big on artifacts. A lot of thumbs ups for Ruination? They likely have a ton of nonbasic lands to contend with. Are they huge proponents of Aether Snap or Thief of Blood? Chances are they routinely fight against counter-heavy creature decks and / or a bevvy of planeswalkers. Sure you’ll have people independently advocate for such cards regardless of who they’re facing, but even then it’s usually because it will benefit them somehow from using it anyway.

One such variety of opinion in the EDH world comes with respect to massive upheaval cards – usually in the form of board wipes. A staple of Commander games, board wipes come in three strength categories:

  1. Targeted (e.g. Day of Judgment destroys all creatures)
  2. Resetting (e.g. Planar Cleansing, which destroys everything except land)
  3. Game-Ending (e.g. Worldfire, which takes out everything, and in tandem with another move, usually kills one or more players immediately afterwards)

All board wipes / upheaval cards operate with the same idea in mind: stopping your opponent and giving you a chance to swing the board state more in your favor. And although plenty of EDH players grumble at them being used, they’re a well-accepted tool for the format.

At least, when they’re used defensively.

When they’re used to pivot into immediate wins, however, they become problematic. To a point where they end up being banned. Just ask Balance, Biorhythm, Sway of the Stars, Sundering Titan, Upheaval, and the aforementioned Worldfire. All of those cards can be set up (usually by floating mana) to immediately win you games. Which is why the format is better off without them.

Curiously, there is another board sweeper that seems like it should be among the ban-worthy but isn’t. And that’s the card we’re looking at this week.

Today we have: Worldpurge

Name: Worldpurge

Edition: Shadowmoor

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Board Wipe

Highlights: Worldurge is a certifiable board wipe in every sense of the word. Unlike those that target a specific permanent type or goes after everything except for lands, this massive maelstrom in the sky sucks up everything in its path. The intent of this card is about a straightforward as it comes – you cast it when you want to hit the giant reset button.

On the one hand, Worldpurge allows you to affect every card on the battlefield, including those that may be untargetable, indestructible, or otherwise protected in some way. This trait alone makes the card worthy of consideration, even at an eight mana casting cost.

Rather than attempting to destroy or exile, though, Worldpurge bounces everything to your hand then forces you to choose and keep only 7 cards. This can be devastating to those with a massive board presence. It does give players the opportunity to choose which cards to keep, which some may love given that it allows your opponent to potentially keep some of their most potent cards, this also alleviates the sting of such a massive board wipe – especially since most of the time this means keeping a hand of mostly lands to drop back out over the course of subsequent turns.

Additionally, Worldpurge upends the board without inherently giving the caster the upper hand. Unlike similarly costed sweepers, Worldpurge doesn’t easily allow the caster to pivot the casting of it into a game-ending combo move, mostly because of its final four words: ‘Empty all mana pools.’ This prevents you from floating extra mana to cast another spell immediately afterwards that your opponents would be unable to cope with. Despite its reputation to the contrary, Worldpurge is fairly balanced and keeps its focus as a board wipe over a victory condition, even if it behaves more like a chaotic Red card than a Blue / White one.

That all being said, you will want to be mindful that while Worldpurge isn’t as broken as some of its brethren, it has its share of detractors. For one, Worldpurge targets the third rail of casual multiplayer by going after players’ lands. To this group, the fact that it targets everyone equally will be irrelevant. Moreover, although most EDH players are accepting of board wipes overall, not everyone enjoys the notion of having to scoop up their entire board and start laying the groundwork all over again halfway through the game – despite that it can sometimes help them in the long run.

All together, this Worldpurge a bit of an oddity in the board wipe family, as it doesn’t have the game-ending power it seems, but it still has a tendency to get under people’s skin.

But hey, no one said every family member has to behave the same way.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

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