Art from the MTG card Avacyn's Memorial which depicts the statue of an angel among rubble.

Indestructible in Magic: The Gathering, Explained

Immune to damage but not immune to strategy!

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Reyadh is a writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction who loves to play video games full of monsters and magic. When he's not scribing unique and unrelenting speculative fiction or slaying demons in virtual worlds, he is writing strategy guides to help others reach their gaming goals.

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Key Takeaway

Indestructible is a static ability in Magic: The Gathering that means permanents with it cannot be destroyed.

With that said, permanents with Indestructible can still be targeted by effects, so you may want to protect them with abilities like Hexproof or Ward.

To get rid of an opponent’s permanent with Indestructible, try one of the following tactics:

  • Return the Indestructible card to your opponent’s hand
  • Exile it
  • Force your opponent to sacrifice their Indestructible permanent
  • Place enough -1/-1 counters on an Indestructible Creature to drop its toughness to zero

Magic: The Gathering is home to many mighty abilities, but, despite each’s strengths, there’s always a way to counter them. To bypass the effects of Indestructible during an MTG game, consider battlefield removal tactics that don’t involve dealing damage.

Table Of Contents

    What Is Indestructible in MTG?

    Indestructible is an MTG static ability that means permanents with it cannot be destroyed. In the case of Creatures, Planeswalkers, and any other type of permanent with toughness or an equivalent stat, those with Indestructible cannot take lethal damage.

    In this regard, lethal damage is defined by a permanent’s toughness, or equivalent stat, dropping below zero. On top of that, Indestructible permanents ignore checks for lethal damage—which is a state-based action.

    An Example of How Indestructible Works

    Let’s say your opponent has the Indestructible Creature Anya, Merciless Angel on the battlefield while you have the Fireball Sorcery and the Turn to Frog Instant in your hand. Normally, you won’t be able to destroy Anya if your life point value is lower than it was at the start of the game.

    However, if your life points rise above their starting value, Anya won’t have Indestructible. If that is the case, you can use Fireball to destroy it.

    Alternatively, if Anya does have Indestructible, you can cast Turn to Frog to remove all of its abilities (and other traits). Afterward, use Fireball to destroy Anya without issue.

    A Legendary Creature with Indestructible alongside a damage-dealing Sorcery and a transformation Instant. All are from MTG.

    This same tactic can be used against any Creature with Indestructible. However, for Indestructible Planeswalker and noncreature permanents, you’ll need another removal method.

    How to Use Indestructible in MTG

    As far as abilities go, Indestructible is easy to grasp and use. If your Indestructible permanent is a Creature, use it to attack and block without fear of destruction (for the most part). If it’s a Planeswalker, avoid using all of its Loyalty Counters. Finally, if it’s a noncreature besides a Planeswalker, let it do its thing; you don’t need to worry much unless it has a self-destructive effect.

    With that said, Indestructible does not mean invincible. Permanents with this ability can still be targeted by effects, so you may want to protect them. A great way to do so is by giving them Hexproof—which prevents them from being targeted.

    A green Creature card from MTG that gives other untapped Creatures Hexproof.

    Another solid defensive play is to give said permanent Ward, which, while not preventing targeting, forces your opponent to pay extra mana when doing so. Overall, Ward is less than perfect but still handy.

    A Legendary Enchantment that gives Legendary Creatures Ward in MTG.

    How to Counter Indestructible in MTG

    There are a few easy ways to counter Indestructible in MTG: bouncing, exiling, sacrificing, and using -1/-1 counters. What’s more, in the case of Indestructible Planeswalkers, they get sent to the graveyard if their Loyalty Counter drops to zero. Depending on your deck and preferred playstyle, you’ll want to use one of the aforementioned over the others for dealing with Indestructible threats.

    Bouncing Brutes

    The term “bounce” is slang for an effect that sends a permanent back to its owner’s hand. An immediate and amusing way to remove an opponent’s Indestructible permanent from the Battlefield is to cast an Instant like Stern Dismissal.

    An Instant spell that forces an opponent to put a Creature or Enchantment back into their hand.
    This spell can only target Creatures and Enchantments.

    Don’t forget that your opponent can play that same Indestructible permanent later. As such, this tactic buys you some time but does not solve the problem. Consider following up this maneuver with an effect that causes your opponent to discard their hand.

    Exiling Every Threat

    A more permanent way of dispatching an Indestructible permanent is to exile it. Tons of spells have exile effects, so pick your favorite! Why not choose the eponymous Exile Instant?

    An Instant that exiles an opponent's nonwhite Creature.

    It’s not the best choice for exiling, as it can only target attacking nonwhite Creatures. However, it does boost your life points, which can be useful. To use Exile, make sure you hang onto three mana as your turn ends. Otherwise, you won’t be able to cast it.

    Forcing a Sacrifice

    By definition, you can only sacrifice one of your own permanents. This does not mean that you cannot force an opponent to do so. For example, Akki Underminer is a Creature card that can set up such a situation.

    A red Goblin Creature in MTG.

    Hitting an opponent directly with a 1/1 Creature may be tough…unless you make it unblockable somehow. Then, when Akki Underminer reduces your foe’s life points, they must choose a permanent to sacrifice. If they only have one (their Indestructible permanent), your adversary will have no choice but to sacrifice it.

    Debuff to Destruction

    Negative counters (-1/-1) are a great way to decrease the toughness of a Creature without directly dealing damage. This effect is the most common among black spells. For such tactics, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can be a good pick.

    A Legendary Creature that can put -1/-1 counters on others.

    You need to pay 1 life point and sacrifice a Creature to use Yawgmoth’s negative counter effect. However, to rid yourself of an Indestructible nuisance, this may be worth the cost. What’s more, you can multiply the potency of this effect by triggering Yawgmoth’s Proliferate—an ability that works well with counter-related tactics.

    Now that you know the ins and outs of Indestructible, it’ll never hinder your MTG games again! Fun fact: did you know that the overflow damage from the Trample ability lets you damage your opponent through blocking Indestructible Creatures? There is no ultimate strategy—only those with less obvious weaknesses.

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