Magic: The Gathering – What Is Menace?

Officially introduced to Magic: The Gathering in 2015 with Magic Origins, menace was brought in as a replacement for the intimidate mechanic, which in turn, was brought in to replace fear. Even then, menace can trace its beginnings to the Fallen Empires set in 1994.

But importantly for us, menace can make regular appearances when you first start playing — especially in red or black decks — and if left unchecked, it can be a real nightmare to deal with. So in this guide, we’ll run through what menace is, how to use it, and where you can find it.

What is Menace?

Simply put, if you attack with a creature that has menace, it can only be blocked by two or more creatures.

Menace is a static ability as it's always considered active while on the board. Menace is a specific type of static ability called an evasion ability, which means a creature increases its odds of damaging a player by ‘evading’ other creatures that can block it.

This is important because whilst a defender chooses which creatures will block, the attacker chooses the order in which they block.

A player faced with an attacking menace creature must either risk two or more creatures to block or take the damage — if they only have one blocker they have no choice but to simply let the creature hit.

Menace doesn’t stack to avoid being blocked by even more creatures, so applying it to a creature multiple times is useless.

The last thing you need to know about menace is that Wizards of the Coast views it as an evergreen ability. This means it can appear in any set and will usually pop up at least once in every set too.

How To Use Menace

The ways to use menace successfully boil down to three factors: maximising your creature’s combat damage, making it difficult for your opponent to defend, and keeping your creatures alive.

Let’s start with increasing the combat damage. There are plenty of cards that boost your creature’s power, from the classic Giant Growth that adds +3/+3 to a creature until the end of turn, to the almighty Colossification that grants a whopping +20/+20.

However, a quick way to increase creature power is with double strike. This ability means a creature deals combat damage equal to their power, twice. Once during the step reserved for first strike, and again during the regular combat step. Not only does this let you deal double the damage, but it gives you the chance to kill any blocking creatures before they can deal damage — boosting survivability.

Cheap cards like Raking Claws — a one-generic, one-red instant — are great at throwing your opponent by adding double strike to a creature at the last minute.

Meanwhile, Embercleave — a four-generic, two-red equipment — initially costs more, but also gives other fantastic benefits. Flash allows it to be cast at instant speed, the spell costs one generic less for each attacking creature you control, plus, alongside double strike, the creature gains +1/+1 and trample, making any excess damage dealt to blocking creatures hit your opponent’s life total.

Keeping the enemy defences low can be done in a few ways. Kheru Mind-Eater is a two-generic, one-black creature with menace, that exiles cards from an opponent’s hand whenever it deals combat damage to the player. This reduces their options while giving you information on their deck, and the creature lets you play the exiled card.

It’s also worth having dedicated removal or damage spells too, like Bedevil, a two-black and one-red instant that destroys an artifact, creature, or planeswalker. Of course, Lightning Bolt is a tried and tested one-red instant that deals three damage to any target, perfect for taking out small creatures or dealing the killing blow.

Lastly, we’ve got creature survivability. This isn’t a huge problem since cards like Weaponize the Monsters allow us to sacrifice creatures that are about to die and get extra utility out of them. But having cards like Call of the Death-Dweller and Agadeem's Awakening can bring our creatures back from the graveyard, keeping us safe from enemy attacks.

Nonetheless, if you’re running a deck with white as one of the colours, it’s worth looking into cards like Adamant Will, a cheap one-generic, one-white instant that gives a creature +2/+2 and indestructible until the end of turn. Even the relatively expensive Soul of New Phyrexia can be useful here. As a six-generic artifact creature with five-generic cost abilities, the price is hefty but worth it.

How Many Menace Cards Are There?

310 cards have menace or feature it as an ability. In single colours, three are white, one is blue, 114 are black, 89 are red, eight are green, and 26 are colourless.

As for dual colours, eight are Dimir (blue and black), 19 are Rakdos (black and red), four are Gruul (red and green), five are Orzhov (white and black), one is Izzet (blue and red), 14 are Golgari (black and green), and six are Boros (white and red).

Finally, 12 multicoloured cards use menace. Three are Esper (white, blue, and black), one is Grixis (blue, black, and red), one is Jund (black, red, and green), three are Mardu (white, black, and red), one is Abzan (white, black, and green), two are Sultai (blue, black, and green), and one uses all five colours.

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