The Demolish Demolition Derby!

Mikeal Basile
October 20, 2020
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection--thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.


Welcome to the Demolish Demolition Derby, where I rank all thirteen printings of Demolish! This little wrecking ball of a card has seen frequent reprinting since its inception in the Odyssey expansion. I have analyzed this card’s effect, rarity, casting cost, artwork, and flavor text, thus providing you with a handy guide to selecting the best Demolish printing for your home brew!


What it does:

Demolish is a card that lets you destroy an artifact or a land at sorcery speed for four mana. That’s not exactly stellar, but that is part of evaluating a card after all.


How it feels:

Demolish is a common, and is therefore lower end Magic. It should not feel uncommonly, rarely, or mythically powerful. Since it only has one red mana symbol in its cost, it should feel like a red card, but not overtly red. Demolish does not have to feel overly passionate, impulsive, or chaotic. It should have a vibe along those lines, but it should not be oozing hedonistic impulsivity (yes, those are real words worth looking up).


How it looks:

I’m not saying we judge this book by its cover, but I am saying that you need to judge it by some aesthetic standards. I’m employing a combination of the previous factors and how well those line up with both the artwork and the flavor text. Questions for us to consider include:

  • Does the artwork on the card feel like the right level of red?

  • Does the card’s art and flavor text give you a feeling that this is not overly grand, nor quick and simple?

  • Does the artwork give a sense of artifact destruction? How about land destruction?

  • Does the flavor text make Demolish feel better or worse?

Now that we know what Demolish should feel like as a common, average, red card, it is time to evaluate each printing to find the best one yet!




13th: IT'S JUST. . . THE WORST

The worst of the bunch is the M11 printing. The artwork does look like it fits the idea of destroying a land, but that is about where it stops. I cannot award any points for the flavor text as it is absent. I understand that a clean looking card can look neat, but this art is too busy to blend well with a clean and boring text box. Clearly, this is the stinker in the bunch.





Eighth edition reprinted the original artwork from Odyssey. The art nails the artifact destruction concept. When we get to the flavor text we find that we are being bludgeoned with artifact destruction. However, the song in the flavor text also is a forging song? Wait, so the card that destroys artifacts references a song that is supposedly about forging things? Doesn’t seem very Demolish-y to me. That’s why this is down here at the bottom of the list. The sense of land destruction is utterly absent from both art and flavor text. Wizards repeated this set of art and flavor text for ninth and tenth editions. The set symbol is weaker on 9th, but the black border does help to balance the feel of the card, and the tenth symbol is better than 9th’s. The original Odyssey printing is the best of this batch, and that takes us through 9th place.


8th & 7th


The M11 reprint of Zendikar’s art was a stinker for this list because of the lack of flavor text. M14 used the original flavor text and comes in just behind the Zendikar printing. This artwork does look sufficiently ominous for a land destruction spell, and yet it lacks any references to artifact destruction in both art and flavor. It technically ranks even with the original Odyssey printings, but I’m giving it a slight edge here. Unlike the Odyssey flavor text, it fully fits with half of its supported flavor, whereas the Dwarven forging song doesn’t quite fit as well as it should.



Ixalan reimagined Demolish with a dinosaur. The card evolved from a focus on artifact destruction to emphasizing land destruction in Zendikar. Ixalan’s iteration brings it back to emphasizing the artifact destruction. The artwork clearly favors the idea of artifacts being destroyed. The destruction seems to be wide-spread, and so it feels like more than one artifact is being wrecked here. This sense of total destruction is echoed in the flavor text. Leaning into that whole vibe is fine for an artifact destruction spell, but Demolish can also destroy a land. Perhaps that’s why this picture and flavor text reference a dinosaur? They are the thunder lizards that can shake the earth after all. I can almost grant this a vague reference to land destruction, but almost only counts in Unhinged set symbols and Goblin Grenades.



The Theros printing goes back to an artifact focus. The indirect reference to the Colossus of Rhodes is pretty sweet. The destruction of the Colossus in the picture is clearly driving home the idea of artifact destruction. The rather cryptic flavor text seems to be suggesting that fire will burn those that attempt to cage and belittle it. I guess that means destruction for artifacts and potentially for the land itself. The destruction of the land is possibly being referenced in the picture as we see the entrance point to the settlement being blown apart. That is what we call reaching. The card doesn’t do enough to support the ideas of land destruction to warrant placing it higher in this list. Also, the destruction of such an epic figure seems a bit too grandiose for a four mana artifact destruction spell. Overall, OK, but not great.



The War of the Spark printing seems to be pointed clearly at the land destruction end of this spell. The artwork demonstrates burning land and a very epic confrontation. This image is just too epic for this spell, and so I’m not sure it fully fits the overall feel. The flavor text completely nails down the concept of destroying the land, but seems like it would’ve fit a sacrifice theme better. Perhaps Raze could have used flavor text like that? The text also seems to be hinting at not leaving any artifacts behind as well, so that hits a bit on the idea of destroying artifacts, but not as clearly as it should. We are inching closer to a solidly fitting printing.



Elegant flavor text and a fitting piece of art puts this in the top 3. Origins reused the artwork from Zendikar’s printing, but it’s not with the rest of the batch because they switched up the flavor text. I like how Zendikar leaned into the lands-matter concept, but sometimes you have to know when to pull back and reassess. This new flavor text actually adds another layer to this card. For the first time, this card actually has a bit of balance, “Nothing of nature nor of mortals can stand forever.” This actually references both land destruction and artifact destruction. I am so pleased to see this card coming so close to the balance promised by the game play and card design.



These top two printings are very close. I feel like both of them are close to being the perfect fit for Demolish. The Kaladesh printing is excellent. The picture clearly references artifact destruction. If there had been more gremlins lurking in the background it probably would be the best printing. However, they are not there, and we only have one artifact that has been destroyed by one gremlin. The flavor text saves the day by balancing the ideas of land and artifact destruction almost as well as the Origins text. The reference to gremlins eating the city’s artifacts and by extension destroying the city is on par with the card’s mechanics. The gremlin doesn’t look overly epic or flashy and seems a totally acceptable creature to feature on a common four mana sorcery. This is a nearly perfect printing for Demolish.



The Avacyn Restored printing is nigh perfect. This does not hammer things home, rely on epic quotes, or even employ overly epic artwork. The art depicts a man demolishing a laboratory. The art suggests both artifact destruction and land destruction. This is the first artwork that actually does this. It doesn’t clearly define a destroyed artifact as Kaladesh does, so it’s a little weaker there, but the destruction of the lab suggests land destruction as well. Destroying someone’s Riptide Laboratory with this is a big flavor win (grounds for asking others to simply scoop to your mastery of flavor). This printing is not as overtly suggestive as the Zendikar art, but it is clearly there. The flavor text accomplishes balance as well. The artwork depicts a place and a thing being destroyed. There’s a reference to destroying a creature too, so that’s actually a strike against this card, but overall this is really the closest thing we have to a perfect Demolish. Can Demolish be improved upon? Absolutely. Am I actually going to be checking future spoilers for reprints of this very common card? Absolutely!


Fiery Conclusion:



Well, that is the end of the Demolish Demolition Derby. I find myself diving into individual cards like this from time to time. I find it is especially important to me when I am fine-tuning a deck I love to play. I would not think of including the Ixalan printing over the Odyssey original in a dwarves deck. Likewise, the Ixalan one would easily go into any lizards or dinosaurs decks over the other printings. However, when the theme is not so obvious, then it is time for a derby to help determine the optimal printing. Do you pay special attention to artwork and flavor text? Do you have favorite pet cards that you prefer certain printings over others? Let me know in the comments below!