Hey Commander enthusiasts! Today I’m covering a card that has a ton of fun with numbers. While a lot of people turn up their noses at the thought of doing math, it’s a whole different story when it works out in your favour. We also can’t help giving some numbers special significance to which they don’t actually have any claim. Looking at you, number 13. But just looking. I don’t want to cross you. Throw some wacky numbers and a red sweeper spell together and you get today’s Staple!
Blasphemous Act offers not just one, but two huge numbers, plus some bonus math to do, right on the card (hooray!). The numbers are both significant to Magic in a small, endearingly arbitrary kind of way. 13 of course has cultural significance involving bad luck and irrational fears. There’s even a Magic card for that! Triskaidekaphobia!
Blasphemous Act was first printed in Innistrad, a Plane which is some sort of horror-based, depending on the set. We’ve seen Classic, Gothic, and Occult Horror so far. Maybe next time, Innistrad will be all about B movie monsters and stilted acting. 13 has been a subtheme for both trips to Innistrad, on nearly a dozen cards across the five sets.
The number 9, the CMC of Blaphemous Act, calls back to the very early days of Magic, and a shift in printing. Early magic knew of double digit numbers, but sometimes struggled with how they might manifest in print.
The Arabian Knights’ Aladdin’s Lamp above has a CMC of 5 + 5. Because the little CMC bubbles weren’t calibrated for double digits. That was fixed, eventually, but for a time, 9 was the highest number you could put in those bubbles without some facepalm like the Lamp. And Colossus of Sardia happened along in the very next set to push that envelope.
High CMC like this is usually a hindrance, but Blasphemous Act is the best of all worlds. While the CMC is high to start, it drops rapidly, and often costs a single red mana in the situations you need to cast it most. That’s amazing, and makes it one of the most efficient damage spells ever, when you consider scaling. The high CMC can also be used for profit, with things like Combustible Gearhulk. ‘CMC matters’ is a small but growing niche in Magic, and this can only make a great card even better.
What’s fundamental to Blasphemous Act, and truly cements it as a Staple, is how far-reaching that 13 damage is. There are currently 3 legal creatures in Commander with toughness greater than 13. Autocthon Wurm (14), Worldspine Wurm (15), Impervious Greatwurm (16). That last one is also indestructible. Barring stuff like protection, damage reduction and indestructible, Blasphemous Act kills pretty much everything that a card that destroys all creatures would. For red, and for a potential one mana, that’s the top of the heap. And unlike some red cards, it hits flyers.
A common ‘spicy’ move with Blasphemous Act is to play it with creatures like Stuffy Doll, Boros Reckoner, Spitemare, Mogg Maniac, etc. that allow you to turn around and send that 13 damage to a target of your choice. You can also pair it with Repercussion to end some games and probably friendships.
Why not play Blasphemous Act? Nearly all of red’s other relevant sweepers are X-spells, meaning their CMC and damage is both variable. It’s possible your deck or your meta might prefer that sort of thing. If you’re also playing white (and to some degree, black) you might prefer non-damage sweepers, of which there are many to choose from. Maybe you’re the one who needs sweeping in your group, but even then I’d recommend keeping a sweeper or two of your own around for emergencies. Maybe nobody you know ever plays more than one creature at a time. The all-Voltron/Control meta. It could happen. But if you ever play with new people, it’s unlikely to be a dead card.
The current obstacle to Blasphemous Act is price and quantity. Since the Innistrad printing, the card has only appeared in Commander precons, 2014, 2016, and 2018. It also appeared in the 2018 Anthology, which does add some supply. Based on the pattern, it will probably see a reprint this year, although being in precons means no more foils than we had. Non-foil copies are steady in $5-10 range, and foils are around twice that. Not bad, but a decent chunk of change. Sometimes newer players have to be convinced that sweepers/boardwipes are good. ‘But doesn’t it kill all my creatures, too?’ Yes. But you play it when their board will kill you. Or even better, long before that. Blasphemous Act does that job in red, and is worth investing in.
In summation, Blasphemous Act is a numerical oddity which, despite the name, celebrates our love of numbers. It is arguably the most powerful red sweeper, and a strong consideration for any deck that can cast it. It can absolutely be exploited for shenanigans, even though you’re going to have to do some math. Even the CMC can play a part in your techie mayhem, making the card an all-around all-star and another true Staple of Commander. Thanks for reading!
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