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MTG Indestructible Explained + Rules, Best Cards & Decks!

Indestructible is an evergreen keyword in Magic: The Gathering. A creature with indestructible can’t be destroyed by damage and effects which say ‘destroy’. If you want to understand the MTG indestructible ability better, or get some cards and build an indestructible deck, this article is for you! It covers all the need-to-knows – how indestructible works, how to destroy indestructible creatures and even features a 1/1 card that has been known to demolish players!

MTG Darksteel Myr with indestructible card illustration. Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Randis Albion.

MTG Indestructible Rules

What does the MTG Indestructible reminder text say?

Damage and effects that say “destroy” don’t destroy it.

See Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules, 702.12. “Indestructible” for more information.

Cards with the indestructible ability can’t be sent to the graveyard (killed/destroyed) by taking lethal damage or by cards that say “destroy”.

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Indestructible is an ability that is found on creature cards, enchantments, instants, and even sorceries. A card that has the Indestructible ability on it can’t be destroyed by any card that says “destroy” or by means of “lethal damage.”.

This means that any removal spells that say “destroy” or “kill.” Do not affect cards with indestructible, and they do not die when damage that would reduce their health to zero or less would kill them.

Although indestructible cards can’t be destroyed by lethal damage or by removal spells that cause damage, they can still be exiled. Plus, they can still be put into their owner’s graveyard if their toughness becomes 0/0 via anything that would give minus counters (-X/-X), such as the infect ability. They can also be sacrificed.

MTG Indestructible Example

MtG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Worldspine Wurm. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Worldspine Wurm. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

In this example, two creatures deal damage to each other, and one has indestructible.

Let’s say that you have Blightsteel Colossus and your opponent attacks you with their Worldspine Wurm. You block the Wurm with your Colossus. In a normal situation, the Wurm would deal 15 damage to the Colossus, and with only 11 toughness the Colossus’s health would be reduced to zero, sending it to the graveyard.

However, the Colossus has indestructible meaning it cannot die from lethal damage. So even though its health gets reduced to zero, nothing will happen to it. 

So at the end of combat, the Colossus’s toughness will be reset to 11, and neither the Wurm nor it will die.

Indestructible vs Destroy Creature Sorcery

MtG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Dreadbore. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Dreadbore. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

The next example uses a destroy creature spell. Again, we have a Blightsteel Colossus, and our opponent has Dreadbore. Our opponent casts Dreadbore, targeting our Colossus with the hope that Dreadbore will send it to the graveyard.

However, indestructible cards stop effects that would destroy them. So when our opponent casts Dreadbore, their card is spent and will go to the graveyard, but nothing will happen to our Colossus.

Indestructible vs Damage Instant

MtG cards Creepy Doll and Shock. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Creepy Doll and Shock. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

The last example uses a burn spell against our indestructible. Let’s say that we have a Creepy Doll out on the battlefield, and our opponent decides they want to get rid of it by using Shock.

In a normal situation, using Shock will deal two damage to Creepy Doll, take its toughness down to zero, and send it to the graveyard. 

However, having indestructible means that any lethal damage will not apply to it, and our opponent will cast Shock sending it to the graveyard, and nothing will happen to our Creepy Doll. This card is amazing at picking off creatures!

Indestructible vs Deathtouch

MtG cards Blightsteel Colossus and Deadly Recluse. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MtG cards Blightsteel Colossus and Deadly Recluse. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

What happens when indestructible is met with deathtouch? In essence, deathtouch deals lethal damage to a card no matter what its toughness is. 

Hence you can have a 1/1 with deathtouch kill any creature with any amount of toughness. 

For our example, our opponent is attacking with Deadly Recluse, and we are again blocking with Blightsteel Colossus

In a typical situation, if our Colossus did not have indestructible, the Recluse would kill it, sending them both to the graveyard.

However, our Colossus has indestructible (meaning no lethal damage can kill it), so it will not die, but it will still cause enough damage to send the Recluse to the graveyard. 

 

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Indestructible vs Trample

MtG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Worldspine Wurm. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MtG cards Brightsteel Colossus and Worldspine Wurm. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Creatures that have the trample ability will still not be able to destroy a card that has indestructible because lethal damage does not affect a card with indestructible. 

Instead, the amount of toughness the indestructible card has will take that amount of damage from the attacking card, and the rest of the damage (the Trample damage) will be directed to the player. 

Take our example, where we have our Blightsteel Colossus and our opponent attacks with the Worldspine Wurm.

If we block with our Colossus, the Wurm will deal 15 Trample damage. 11 damage will be used to reduce our Colossus’s toughness to zero, leaving 4 Trample damage to being applied to us. 

We will take 4 damage however, our Colossus will revert back to 11 toughness and will not die at the end of combat. 

Indestructible Equipment

MtG cards Disenchant and Darksteel Axe. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG cards Disenchant and Darksteel Axe. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Indestructible equipment works in a similar way to how creatures with indestructible work. No cards that say destroy will have any effect on equipment cards with indestructible. Indestructible equipment will not be destroyed if targeted with a removal spell, unlike other equipment cards that would be destroyed and placed into the graveyard. 

For instance, Darksteel Axe. If a player tried to remove it with a spell like Disenchant, nothing would happen to Darksteel Axe, although Disenchant would go to the graveyard after being played.

Remember that equipment cards are permanents. So if a creature dies that has equipment cards attached to it, those equipment cards will remain on the battlefield, whether or not they have indestructible. 

Best MTG Indestructible Cards

Bontu the Glorified (Black Indestructible Creature)

MtG card Bontu the Glorified. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Bontu the Glorified. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Bontu is a legendary God creature that, besides having indestructible, also has menace. It is relatively cheap, only costing three mana, but this 4/6 comes with a catch. 

It can only attack or block if a creature died in this turn. It does come with an ability to help achieve this by paying mana and sacrificing a creature. 

Used in conjunction with creatures that have regeneration, or ones that you can play from the graveyard, this card can effectively destroy your opponent from round three! 

Kefnet the Mindful (Blue Indestructible Creature)

MtG card Kefnet the Mindful. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Kefnet the Mindful. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

This 5/5 Flying, Indestructible creature has a similar drawback to our previous example in that it can’t attack or block unless you have seven cards in hand. 

However, its draw a card ability can help you out! Used in conjunction with drawcards such as Ancestral Recall, by turn four, you could be putting copious amounts of pressure on your opponent! 

Nylea, God of the Hunt (Green Indestructible Creature)

MtG card Nylea, God of the Hunt. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Nylea, God of the Hunt. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Another legendary God card but green this time, Nylea costs four mana while being a 6/6 indestructible. 

The only drawback is that you need the devotion to green to be five or more. If you’re using a mono-green deck, then this shouldn’t be a problem. Remember that Nylea’s casting cost will also add to your devotion pool, meaning once again, by turn four, you could have your opponent against the ropes!

Angel Indestructible Cards

Some of the best indestructible cards related to Angels in MTG. Here are my top picks for Angel indestructible cards.

Anya, Merciless Angel (Red Indestructible Creature)

MtG card Anya, Merciless Angel. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Anya, Merciless Angel. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Anya is a great legendary creature that offers quite a unique play style. Costing a medium amount of mana, you would probably play this mid-game. 

It can apply a tremendous amount of pressure because as your opponent’s health drops below half of their starting life total, Anya gets a +3/+3 bonus and becomes indestructible. 

If you’re playing a format such as Commander, where you have multiple players, this effect gets stacked for each player whose health drops below half! This effectively means +3/+3 for each player below half health. Sweet!

Avacyn, Angel of Hope (White Indestructible Creature)

MtG card Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

This legendary creature is incredible! It gives all other permanents you control indestructible. Needless to say, this effect also targets enchantments, lands, and artifacts! 

The card does cost eight mana to play and is reserved for the late end game, but when this flying, vigilant, indestructible 8/8 Angel hits the battlefield, your opponent is in some serious trouble!

Indestructible Planeswalkers

Gideon of the Trials (White Indestructible Planeswalker)

MtG card Gideon of the Trials. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
MTG card Gideon of the Trials. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

The most popular planeswalker built around indestructible has to be Gideon. Even though a few Gideon planeswalker cards feature indestructible, one of the most played has to be Gideon of the Trials.

This card prevents damage to a target permanent you control if you choose to add to its counter, but by adding no counters, it becomes a 4/4 indestructible creature that prevents all damage to it. 

Furthermore, an emblem that costs no counters will ensure you can’t lose the game and your opponents can’t win. Truly a card that players hate to see if it is not coming from their hand!

MTG Indestructible Decks

Modern Indestructible deck

We will cover a deck that does well in Modern. Remember that Standard sets rotate in and out, and sometimes there aren’t enough, or rather there aren’t enough complimentary cards to build an indestructible deck. 

This deck centers around indestructible artifact creatures like Darksteel JuggernautDarksteel MyrDarksteel Sentinel, and Manor Gargoyle.

Along with artifacts that grant indestructibility, such as Darksteel Plate, it focuses on cheap green creatures that can add mana to the mana pool. 

The final mechanic revolves around Worldslayer. Its ability states that when a creature who is equipped deals combat damage, destroy all other permanents other than Worldslayer! 

Because this entire deck is indestructible, nothing will happen to any of the player’s permanents when Worldslayer’s ability comes into play! Perfect! (Remember, the “destroy” effect will do nothing to indestructible cards.)

However, it will effectively board-wipe the opponent’s cards removing everything from creatures to enchantments, artifacts, equipment, and lands. Hah!

How to destroy indestructible creatures

Indestructible cards aren’t technically ‘destroyed’, but we can send them to the graveyard in a couple of ways. The first is by playing cards that will reduce the indestructible creature’s toughness to zero using negative counters, and the second way is to use spells that exile the card. 

Remember that indestructible will not be affected by destroying and lethal damage, but it is not hexproof, and if its toughness reaches zero by any other means than lethal damage, it will still be placed into the graveyard.

Using counters to reduce their toughness to zero

When using counters in -X/-X, you are not dealing damage. Instead, you are reducing toughness to zero usiung a different mechanic. So when an indestructible creature gets to zero toughness via negative counters it is placed in the graveyard. 

Infect is a mechanic that does this pretty well, but you can also use spells such as “target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn” or something similar.

Defile is a great instant that uses negative counters, and Blackcleave Goblin is a cool creature card with infect.

Exile the card using exile abilities

The other way we can get rid of indestructible cards is by using spells that send cards into exile. A card such as Anguished Unmaking works great! 

This card targets any non-land permanent, meaning you can destroy any card that had indestructible, including artifacts, equipment, and enchantments. 

Remember that a card like Abzan Charm would only be able to target creature cards with indestructible and not any other permanents.

Force its owner to sacrifice it

Indestructible creatures can be sent to the graveyard by being sacrificed. A card such as All Is Dust which forces every player to sacrifice all their permanents would do the trick!

MTG Indestructible FAQs

Does destroy all kill indestructible creatures?

Because indestructible cards can’t be destroyed by any effects which use the word ‘destroy’ on them, they are not affected by cards which say, ‘destroy all’.

Does sacrifice destroy indestructible creatures?

Sacrifice does destroy indestructible creatures. Well, it has the same effect as detorying them anyway, in that they are sent to the graveyard.

Can you sacrifice indestructible creatures?

You can sacrifice a creature that has indestructible if you want to.

Can you regenerate indestructible creatures?

You are able to use the regeneration effect on a card that has indestructible. However, since the card can’t be destroyed, the effect will not apply. 

It will only apply if the card loses indestructible before the end of the end step. Then you would be able to use regeneration and bring it back from the graveyard. 

A note: Indestructible MTG

The indestructible ability in MTG is one that causes a lot of grief when you find it sitting opposite to you in a game! There are many instances where a player will dominate the board only with one card, such as Adanto Vanguard. With this and many cheap enchantment spells and equipment, it is not uncommon that this single card breaks down the most experienced MTG players. 

Indestructible offers a significant advantage with cards that have this ability not being able to be taken off the board very quickly. This is due to lethal damage not destroying it, or any cards that would otherwise “destroy target card” not being able to do so.  

Finally, we discovered that there are three ways of getting around cards with indestructible – exile them, place negative counters on them to reducing their toughness to zero or forcing your opponent to sacrifice them.

Indestructible is a tricky ability to play against. Which indestructible card will you put in your deck today?

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