Wrath effects have been around since alpha ; heck, the very name ‘wrath effects’ is after the most well known of the bunch – Wrath of God. In my cube, I run 18 of these effects in my cube, and most of them are easily first or second pickable, and all are vital to a lot of strategies.
These effects are ostensibly symmetrical, if you cast wrath of god, you have to lose your creatures as well, if you play armageddon, you lose your lands. Through careful deck construction and clever play, the asymmetry is lost. The most basic example is a standard wrath play – your opponent goes one drop ,two drop, three drop, and you follow it up with a wrath. You’ve generated card advantage, since you have no creatures, and the effect is asymmetrical. This kind of asymmetry can be forced with all of these effects – replay stuff after upheaval, have a good board position with armageddon, have manafacts out with wildfire , whatever. Value is gained through the asymmetry of wrath effects.
Wrath effects are a vital part of a control decks armoury. They allow a deck to gain easy card advantage, and survive into the late game, where they can start dropping fatties. Against a midrange deck, wrathing away 2-3 creatures can be game winning for control, since these creatures will be usually be pretty large, and a couple swings would probably give the midrange player the win. It’s a common skill in magic to judge how likely it is your opponent can wrath, and how many creatures you can play before you’re ‘over extending’ – leaving yourself in a position where a wrath basically loses you the game. As a general rule of thumb, I’d say that four or five nontoken creatures is probably the maximum you should play at any time, in order to avoid giving your opponent incredible card advantage.
It’s a skill in magic to judge when to wrath. It used to be that you could wrath away two creatures, and whilst you wouldn’t have gained a huge advantage, it was CA. Three or four creatures, you wouldn’t feel bad about wrathing. However, in recent months, with the advent of even more ridiculous equipment and increasingly powerful four drops, decisions have become harder. In a game where a decent mid-sized creature can easily be big enough to be game-threatening, wraths start functioning as just protection-skipping removal. In short, I think as midrange strategies get better, redundant wrath effects become over-costed and unnecessary. Then again, as more of these midrange creatures get shroud,wrath effects may become more necessary , as conventional removal fails.
Thanks for reading,