One of the worst cards in the game is Fire and Brimstone: for 5 mana, you can deal 4 damage to yourself and target player. Except that this would clearly have been too powerful, so it’s restricted to only a target player who has attacked this turn.

But I’m having a hard time finding a card which is strictly better. Pierce Strider is close, but that’s only 3 life rather than 4.

And yes, strictly better means no other mana costs besides white. I’d be ok with {W}{W}{W}{W}{W} if needed.

  • Even given the damage difference, Pierce Strider is not strictly better than Fire and Brimstone as it is sorcery speed. Aug 25, 2023 at 13:50
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    A card that is identical to Fire and Brimstone except that it costs {W}{W}{W}{W}{W} would generally be considered strictly worse, because the mana cost is more restrictive.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 25, 2023 at 16:34
  • @murgatroid99 I get the feeling Charles is looking to add burn to a mono white commander deck, so amount of colored symbols isn't particularly going to matter there. Amount of colored symbols isn't exactly considered strictly worse since it can situationally better in something like mono devotion.
    – Andrew
    Aug 25, 2023 at 17:23
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    @Andrew Treat it as a puzzle problem, not a deckbuilding problem.
    – Charles
    Aug 25, 2023 at 17:42
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    Whether you use your definition or the more standard definition, Andrew's answer is correct: there is no card that is strictly better.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 25, 2023 at 17:44

4 Answers 4


Knight Paladin, from Warhammer 40,000 Commander is probably as close as you're going to get.

Knight Paladin can only be cast at sorcery speed, rather than instant speed, but in all other respects it is equal to or better than Fire and Brimstone.

Both cost 5 mana
Knight Paladin is colorless rather than requiring white mana
Knight Paladin damages every opponent, not just one who attacked you this turn
Knight Paladin doesn't damage yourself
Knight Paladin comes with a spiffy 6/6 trample crew-1 vehicle once you're done dealing damage.

  • Amazing, you found one!
    – Charles
    Aug 26, 2023 at 2:39

There really are no strictly better versions of "Fire and Brimstone" using the definition of strictly better as (with at least being an improvement):

  • More powerful or equal effect
  • Faster or equal speed
  • Lower or equal mana cost (including less colors and colored pips)

The closest card to following these rules is Chalice of Life, the back half of the transforming artifact, Chalice of Death, taps to cause target player to lose 5 life, (loss of life being considered slightly better than damage as it's harder to prevent), but needing you to have gained significant life and needing to be on the field as a sorcery speed artifact makes it slower.

White isn't the color for direct damage or life loss, that's the job done by Red and Black in the color pie, so cards that deal direct damage that are playable in white are very narrow and niche.


Assuming "strictly better" does not include "must be mono white", a trivial Scryfall search finds many options:

and then a ton of spells which deal more then 4 damage. If you do want mono white, that's sort of the point: white does not do direct damage.

  • Exactly: I’m looking for mono-white or colorless. (Yes, stepping out of that color gives lots of options, especially in red.)
    – Charles
    Aug 25, 2023 at 13:02
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    Please edit that into the question, but again the answer is: white doesn't do that. You should find a different strategy for your deck. Aug 25, 2023 at 13:31
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    "Strictly better" is a common term among magic players when analyzing cards, it means: The same or lower mana value, the same or fewer colors, the same or stronger effect (ie more damage, more power). Adding as color makes the card situationally better, but not strictly better
    – Andrew
    Aug 25, 2023 at 15:35
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    @Andrew is Consuming Sinkhole strictly better than Fire and Brimstone? It has lower mana value (4), fewer colors (0. Yes it does. It says so on the card) and better effect. Things are not as simple as you would like to make out. Aug 25, 2023 at 16:10
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    @PhilipKendall being the same fewer colors and costing the same or fewer colors are two very different things, it is not strictly better because the cost adds a color making it unplayable in many decks that could (but wouldn't) play Fire and Brimstone, my comment wasn't clear I should have said same or lower mana cost not mana value which does include color
    – Andrew
    Aug 25, 2023 at 16:13

This Scryfall search should reveal any strictly better cards. (with false positives)

They are all orthogonal (neither strictly better nor worse) to Fire and Brimstone, all involving preventing damage and dealing that much to a player.

mv<=5 # costs at most 5 mana
-m:www -m:u -m:b -m:r -m:g # does not include 3 white, or any other color
(t:instant or o:flash) # can be cast at instant speed
  o:/deals.*([4-9]|\d\d+|X|that much) damage/ # could deal at least 4 damage
  o:/loses? ([4-9]|\d\d+|X|that much) life/ # or drain at least 4 life
o:/(target|each) (opponent|player)|any target/ # can affect an opponent

Removing the requirement to deal at least 5 damage reveals Springjaw Trap. Which, for mere 5 generic mana can deal 3 damage at instant speed.

  • id:w probably isn't the right check here. That is a color identity search, not a color search. The point here is to search for cards with costs that are no more restrictive, and the most accurate way to do that is directly: mana<=3ww or mana<=4w or mana<=5
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 27, 2023 at 23:38
  • You are right, I'll update it. It won't include any hybrid costs, but I can't see any that match. Aug 28, 2023 at 4:35
  • I didn't even think of hybrid costs. I don't think there's a concise way to include them in the search. But the color identity search wouldn't include them either.
    – murgatroid99
    Aug 28, 2023 at 4:38
  • There are also X costs to consider, for Divine Deflection. Luckily that can easily be included Aug 28, 2023 at 4:41
  • As powerful as Scryfall is, it would be great if it could recognise 1 < R/W < W Aug 28, 2023 at 4:43

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