How Many Ragavans Could You Destroy With a Nuclear Bomb?
March 20, 2024
By Gami

Important Questions

After the release of the Fallout Universes Beyond set, someone I was in a game with asked how much damage a nuclear bomb would deal within the rules of Magic. Today, we’re answering that question and more! This won’t help you win your next game of Commander; it won’t take you to the Top 8 of your local RCQ, but it will give you a funny number to shout when casting Fireball!  

Setting a Baseline

So, the first thing we need is something that can convert real numbers into Magic: the Gathering damage points. For this, we turn to the closest thing we have to real-world single-target damage; Lightning Bolt. If we can work out how much energy is in a Lightning Bolt, we can start to make comparisons. According to MIT, lightning releases around one million Joules of energy. This would mean that three damage = 1 million Joules, so one damage = 333,333 Joules. We now have a baseline that we can work from.  

The Math

With that in mind, how much damage would a nuclear bomb deal? According to Nuclear Weapon Archive, Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested, was 50 megatons. One megaton of TNT is equivalent to 4.18 x 10^15 Joules, so in total the test released 2.09 x 10^17 Joules. Writing one MtG damage in standard notation to make the maths easier means that (2.09 x 10^17) / (3.33 x 10^5) is the amount of damage that a nuclear blast would deal. This comes to 6.28 x 10^11, 628 billion damage. Or for your average Izzet Storm deck, just another Tuesday.  

Ending the game and the world

  The follow-up question to all of this was “How much damage would I have to deal to overcome the forces holding the planet together?” Not wanting to disappoint, of course, here’s that as well. The force we need to inflict to break the Earth in half is called its gravitational binding energy. This is 2.24 x 10^32 Joules, using our Lightning Bolt damage calculation means that we’d need 2.24 x 10^26 Lightning Bolts, or 6.72 x 10^26 damage, which is 6 with 26 zeros after it. What about one step further? What if we wanted to cast Crackle with Power to destroy the Earth? Assuming we can use Earth for all the targets, what value of X would we need? Crackle with Power deals 5X damage to X targets. Since all the targets are the same, we can say it deals 5X damage X times, or 5X^2 damage. We need 5X^2 to equal 6.72 x 10^26. Dividing both sides by 5 gives us X^2 = 1.34 x 10^26 and taking the square root of both sides gives us 1.16 x 10^13. So, next time you’ve gone infinite in a Commander game and really want to make sure that the number you choose would end the game, Crackle with Power for X = 11.6 trillion. It’s scientifically enough to end the world!  


If there are any other real-world equivalents I should calculate, leave them in the comments below! Hopefully I can solve those too, as long as I’m not taken away by the government for repeatedly searching up nuclear bombs and how to destroy the planet. Stay safe out there!

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