There are so many abilities and mechanics in Magic: the Gathering. Luckily, new players don’t need to go out of their way to learn all of these mechanics. You learn a lot just by playing the game.
There are, however, some fundamental mechanics and abilities that show up on cards over and over again. These abilities are important to learn and understand fully, both for new and old players. Today I’m going to talk about one such mechanic: Indestructible.
Indestructible is an Evergreen keyword ability found on all types of permanents. Cards with indestructible cannot be removed by rules or effects that use the word “destroy”. This includes destruction by lethal-damage, to which they are also immune.
Although this might seem pretty straight forward, as with most things in Magic, indestructible can get pretty complicated. Not to worry. In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know. I’ll also give my picks for the best indestructible creatures in the game today.
What Is Indestructible?
Indestructible is an ability that makes it impossible for your opponents to destroy your stuff. All types of permanents can have the ability, but it’s most common on creatures, artifacts and lands.
How Does It Work?
Indestructible stops your card from being “destroyed”. This means that any effect that would “destroy” your card, just doesn’t work. Let’s take a look at a few examples of these effects.
Lets say you have Darksteel Myr. Your opponent casts Murder targeting the Myr. Murder says “destroy”, but your Myr can’t be destroyed because of its indestructible ability. Your opponent wasted their spell. Darksteel Myr survives.
Now lets say your opponent casts Lightning Bolt and deals 3 damage to your Myr. Normally, since Darksteel Myr only has 1 toughness, it’d be destroyed. Its indestructible ability, however, saves the day, and once again, the Myr survives.
Now lets say your opponent attacks you with a 5/5 creature. You use Darksteel Myr to block. If your Myr didn’t have indestructible, it’d be toast. Thankfully for you, it does. And so it survives.
Can Deathtouch Kill Indestructible?
If a creature has deathtouch, any amount of damage it deals to another creature is lethal, regardless of the defending creatures toughness. But how does that work against indestructible? I’ll explain.
Put simply, indestructible beats deathtouch. If a deathtouch creature damages an indestructible creature, the indestructible creature does not die.
This is because indestructible creatures don’t die to lethal damage, no matter how it’s dealt, deathtouch or otherwise.
Do Creatures With Indestructible Take Damage?
Yes, creatures with indestructible can still take damage. They won’t be destroyed by the damage, but they can absolutely still take it.
Why does this matter?
Well, there are a lot of cards and effects in MTG that care about damage. Take lifelink for example. Anytime a creature with lifelink deals damage, that creature’s controller gains that much life.
So if a creature with lifelink damages your creature, your creature won’t die, but your opponent will still gain some life.
Does “Destroy” Kill Indestructible?
No, “destroy” effects do not work on permanents with indestructible.
How Do You Kill Indestructible?
So now you know, cards with indestructible are really hard to kill. It’s not impossible, however. There are, in fact, several ways to deal with permanents that have this pesky ability. You can:
- Exile them: Cards like Path to Exile are great options to get rid of indestructible permanents. You might not be able to kill them, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them on the battlefield.
- Enchant them: Enchantments like Pacifism and Bind the Monster are great for shutting down your opponents annoying toys.
- Reduce their toughness to 0: If you can get an indestructible creature’s toughness to 0 by means other than damage, the creature will die. Cards like Defile are great options.
- Make your opponent sacrifice them: One of the best ways to get rid of pesky creatures is to make their owner sacrifice them. Cards like Lilliana of the Veil are perfect for this.
- Bounce them back to the hand or library: While this method doesn’t really “kill” stuff, it’s still a nice option. Cards like Stern Dismissal and Vanishment are good choices.
- Counter them as they’re being played: One of the best way to deal with indestructible permanents, is to not even let your opponents play them. Using cards like counterspell is a wonderful way to do this.
Do Boardwipes Kill Indestructible Stuff?
That’s a good question. The answer is: it depends on the wording of the boardwipe.
Boardwipes like Damnation that say “destroy” all creatures, will not kill indestructible creatures. Boardwipes that deal damage, like [Blasphemous Act[/c] will also not work. A lot of boardwipes fall under these two categories, meaning indestructible creatures fair pretty well against boardwipes overall.
There are, however, certain boardwipes that will work perfectly. Let me give a few examples.
- Boardwipes that exile, like Settle the Wreckage.
- Boardwipes that reduce toughness, like Meathook Massacre.
- Cards that force players to sacrifice permanents, like All Is Dust.
- Boardwipes that put cards back in the library, like Terminus.
So, as you can see, boardwipes vs indestructible is decided on a case-by-case basis. Just remember. If it says “destroy”, or if it deals damage, it won’t work. If it exiles, bounces, or reduces toughness, it will.
Can You Sacrifice an Indestructible Creature?
Yes, you can. Whether you want to sacrifice the creature yourself, or if your opponent is forcing you to makes no difference. Indestructible creatures are sacrificed just the same as regular creatures.
Enchantments that Give Indestructible
Indestructible is a powerful ability. In Magic, removing your opponents threats is crazy important. And on the flip side of that, protecting your best cards is equally important.
Wizards of the Coast understands that importance better than anybody. And so, they don’t pass out the ability lightly. Luckily for us, however, there are ways to give this powerful ability to any card we want!
Here I’ll list my favorite enchantments that grant indestructible.
Indestructibility is as simple as it gets both in name and function. For four mana, you can give any permanent you want indestructible. The only downside is that Indestructibility isn’t indestructible itself. Still, the versatility of this enchantment makes it a nice option.
While not an enchantment, Eldrazi Monument is one of the best cards in the game for protecting your bvoard. This five mana artifact gives all of your creatures indestructible and +1/+1! The downside, however, is that you have to sacrifice a creature each turn, and if you can’t, you have to sacrifice Eldrazi Monument.
Bonds of Mortality
Bonds of Mortality doesn’t actually give indestructible. Instead, it takes it away! For one and a green, you get an enchantment that draws you a card when it enters. Then, at any point, you can pay one green mana and Bonds of Mortality strips your opponents’ creatures of indestructible and hexproof! Since it replaces itself when it enters, and takes away two powerful abilities, Bonds of Mortality has the potential to be a great sideboard card.
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Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Kytheon, Hero of Akros is one of my favorite cards.
Okay, so he doesn’t actually have indestructible. But you can give him the ability until end of turn by paying three mana.
The downside of having to pay mana is easily outweighed by all of Kytheon’s upsides. First off, he costs just one mana to cast and has two power! Secondly, he has the ability to transform into a planeswalker! You just have to attack with him and two other creatures.
Fleecemane Lion is similar to Kytheon, Hero of Akros in a lot of ways. It has amazing stats, (3/3 for just two mana) but you have to pay a bit extra to give it indestructible.
Getting a three power and toughness lion for just two mana is really nice though. Having the option to make it even more powerful is really just a bonus.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is one of many Eldrazi cards to feature indestructible. For an insane 10 mana, you get a 10/10 abomination. As soon as you cast Ulamog, you get to exile two of your opponents permanents. And, whenever he attacks, the defending player has to exile the top 20 cards of their library.
Another important thing to note, is that unlike some other Eldrazi cards, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is cheatable. This means that you can potentially put him into play from your graveyard, giving him a lot of potential playability for a 10 mana creature.
Iroas, God of Victory
Iroas, God of Victory is a beast of a card. This is one of several “God” cards in MTG that require you to have a certain amount of devotion to their colors before they become creatures.
With Iroas, your devotion to red and white has to be at least seven. Once you manage that, however, you get a 7/4 creature with indestructible for just four mana! And that’s not all. Iroas also gives all of your creatures menace, and prevents all damage that would be dealt to them while they’re attacking!
Iroas, God of Victory is amazing for aggressive strategies using lots of red and white creatures, especially in the Commander format.
Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn the Purifier
Archangel Avacyn is probably my personal favorite indestructible card in all of Magic. For five mana, you get a 4/4 angel with flying and vigilance, and flash! The best part about Avacyn, however, is when she enters the battlefield, she gives all of your creatures indestructible until end of turn, including herself.
Being able to flash her in on your opponents turns, add a blocker, and protect all of your creatures makes for some huge swings!
And that’s not all! She can also transform into Avacyn the Purifier, a 6/5 angel with flying. When she does, she deals three damage to each creature and player. This is just so much nastiness to have on one card.
Avacyn Angel of Hope
Avacyn Angel of Hope is an 8/8 angel with flying, vigilance, and indestructible. As if that’s not enough, she also gives all of your other permanents the ability as well! Not just creatures; every permanent on you side of the field becomes really hard to kill as soon as Avacyn arrives.
The one obvious downside is that she costs a whopping eight mana to cast. This high casting cost makes her a bit unrealistic for most decks in faster formats like Modern. In the Commander format, however, she is an absolute powerhouse. And, regardless of the format, if you can manage to get her on the battlefield, victory is almost assured.
Indestructible is a powerful ability that’s been around since the very beginning of the game. If you can get a permanent with the ability onto the battlefield, there’s a good chance your opponent is in for a rough time.
I hope this article has answered any and all questions you might have. If not, drop a comment down below and Ill be happy to answer!