MTG Keywords Explained: Wither

Chris Cornejo Strategy

Wither, from the back half of the Lorwyn block, is a pretty scary mechanic that leaves a lasting effect. 

Wither is a static ability that can appear on any card type. When a card with Wither deals damage to a creature, it deals that damage in the form of -1/-1 counters. Essentially, Wither is a way for damage to stick around on creatures rather than go away at the end of the turn. 

  • This applies to any damage, not just combat damage.  
  • Damage to players or Planeswalkers works like normal.  
  • Any Wither damage still will trigger abilities like Lifelink and can be redirected or prevented like any other damage.  
  • Multiple instances of it may be scary but are redundant. 

And that’s about it, but this mechanic can really make any creature that has it quite scary, as every attack or block it makes takes on a lot more weight. It also adds utility to direct damage Instants and Sorceries; where a Lightning Bolt might not be a good answer to a large threat, a Puncture Blast might not kill it but can shrink it down to a more manageable size. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmaaG7R9a9o

It’s a very good mechanic that does exactly what it sets out to do. The only reason it may not show up that often is that current MTG doesn’t like using -1/-1 counters that often. But that’s it. Nothing else out there keeping this one back. 

Okay, I suppose that there also the issue of Infect. Infect came in Scars of Mirrodin Block and basically combined Wither and Poisonous into one terrifying and highly contentious mechanic. While more high-profile, Infect comes with a lot of baggage that still leaves room for Wither to exist separately. 

But that does not change how powerful and effective the Wither mechanic can be on its own! Even if Infect does take a lot of the spotlight. 


If you want to make your opponents really have to think through every attack and block, we have all the Wither cards you will need at cardkingdom.com