It’s only the end of June and the weather is HOT! Yesterday, the Pacific Northwest absolutely shattered records for heat as the temperature climbed to nearly 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The elemental forces of heat and fire are also quite deadly in Magic and in today’s article I’ll be exploring the hottest Magic cards in the multiverse. In particular, I’m interested in which cards would give off the highest temperatures!
Today’s article will ultimately focus upon the temperatures of various types of cards, with that said, let’s start with some fun word-play:
As we all know, fire is pretty hot! It burns between 600 °C (1000 °F) and 1500 °C (3000 °F). A human being will receive third degree burns by immersing in 56 °C (133 °F) water for 15 seconds. So, don’t let your creatures get too close as prolonged exposure to the heat would cause some serious damage!
Speaking of soup….
How hot is soup?
Culinary experts recommend serving soup at a temperature of 100 °C or 200 °F, which is easily hot enough to burn a person with prolonged exposure to such temperatures. So, remember to blow on it!
The boiling point of water is 100 °C (212 °F) which is pretty hot and more than capable of causing injury.
The surrounding steam is also roughly 100 °C.
What about spicy? Is that hot?
Perhaps this dragon ate some very hot and spicy soup! Spiciness, as it pertains to spicy peppers, is measured in units called Scovilles:
Toward the top of the scale, hot peppers like the Carolina Reaper, Dragon’s Breath and Pepper X have such a high Scoville rating because of the amount of capsaicin present that eating too much can actually put a person into the hospital and trigger stroke and heart attack.
I enjoy growing hot peppers in my garden and I’ve learned it’s important to be careful because some peppers are unbearably spicy!
Lut Desert in Iran has the hottest climate on the Earth’s surface. Temperatures have been recorded as high as 81 °C (177 °F).
Temperatures that hot are extremely dangerous.
Heat stroke is caused from overexertion in extreme hot temperatures. If the human body overheats to 104 °F, it’s at risk of experiencing heat stroke and vital organ shutdown, so always be mindful when working or exercising outside in hot temperatures.
Another “hotspot” with regard to geography:
Volcanoes are a geographic phenomenon known to exist not just on Earth when material such as rock is heated under extreme pressure and forced to rise to the surface in molten form. A lava flow reaches temperatures of between 600 to 1500 °C (2000 °F).
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle earns my checkmark as the hottest land in Magic. Few lands ever printed are capable of dealing so much damage! The card spits hot lava.
Red is typically thought of as the hottest color in Magic, and for good reason: fire, lava and even lightning are all neatly woven into red’s slice of the color/flavor pie.
The color of a flame or fire can tell us much about how hot it is. Different materials burn at different temperatures and thus radiate different color wavelengths of light. As an interesting aside, the Darksteel Fireball (with white flame at the center of the fireball) is hotter than the OG Alpha Fireball.
What about “a lot of fire?”
“An average surface fire on the forest floor might have flames reaching 1 meter in height and can reach temperatures of 800°C or more. Under extreme conditions a fire can give off 10,000 kilowatts or more per meter of fire front. This would mean flame heights of 50 meters or more and flame temperatures exceeding 1200°C.” – Farmzone
Keep in mind that is “per meter of fire front.” The 2019-2020 Australian wildfires were the second largest record and consumed 180,000 acres of land. The largest wildfire was 2003 in Russia and consumed more than 200,000 acres of forest. That is an absurd amount of hot, hot heat but we’ve still not reached the zenith of Magic hotness.
Sulfuric Vortex is one of the hottest, meanest, cruelest and “reddest” cards ever conceived. The planet Venus is known to have a superheated, dense atmosphere that is more than 100 times more massive than Earth’s. The surface temperature of Venus is roughly 500 °C (900 °F) which is hot enough to melt lead! So, when an opponent casts a Sulfuric Vortex and you’re wondering why it’s dealing so much damage, the reason is because it’s really, really hot.
We’ve already investigated the basics of how hot various things are, so let’s apply what we know to some fan favorites.
A wizard who hurls molten rock truly brings the heat!
Chandra is the patron planeswalker of all things hot and fiery and has sort of a Johnny Torch from Fantastic 4 thing going on. In terms of temperature, Chandra is clearly the hottest Mage in the interplanar multiverse.
I also have to give a flavor mention to…
Obviously, this is a famous color shift of black’s Pestilence:
But, the flavor of the card is pretty neat in a discussion of hot Magic cards. The concept is that the player (a planeswalker) has come down with a case of pyro-hemia (hemia meaning a condition of the blood) and becomes a fire hot planeswalker like Chandra for as long as the enchantment remains in play! So, if you ever wondered what it would be like to become a red mage – Pyrohemia is it!
Last, but clearly not least, in terms of creatures that bring the heat:
Few creatures embody the flavor of indiscriminately burning an opponent’s forces to a cinder better than the mighty Inferno Titan. As we’ve learned today, fire is clearly not the hottest thing in the universe, but in terms of dealing damage in Magic, Inferno Titan is quite a heater.
Inferno from The Dark. So much fire and so much damage.
Lightning is ridiculously hot. When lightning shoots through the sky, it’s capable of heating the air around it to temperatures of more than 50,000 °F. For reference, that is roughly five times hotter than the surface of the sun! Unreal.
Lightning is one of the leading causes of wildfires (another is human error). When conditions on the ground become hot and dry, the superheated air adjacent to a bolt of lightning can instantly ignite grass and trees.
It may seem strange that people are able to survive lightning strikes with only third degree burns, and the reason is similar to why a person can run their hand quickly through a flame without being burned. Lightning travels extremely fast (roughly 270,000 MPH) which means the air surrounding the bolt is extremely hot for a split second.
A ball of lightning would be an extremely hot and fast object. One of the hottest in the multiverse, which is reflected in the flavor and mechanics of Ball Lightning.
Stars are hot. Inside a star, fusion takes place and lighter elements fuse to form heavier ones. The process requires extreme heat/pressure to occur (roughly a million degrees!).
So, the sun and fusion are pretty hot….
“For the most modern nuclear weapons, with high efficiencies, the fusion plasma plasma temperature can be over 500 million kelvin by the time the reaction is complete. The Sun’s core is 16 million kelvin. So hydrogen bombs can produce temperatures up to 31 times hotter than The Sun’s core.” – Quora
Leave it to Urza to “outhot” everybody:
Urza is a planeswalker who’s not afraid to bring a nuclear bomb to a mage’s duel. In The Brother’s War (Antiquities), when Urza and Mishra’s armies met face-to-face on the battlefield, Urza detonates the Golgothian Sylex to completely nuke both forces (as well as the entire Argothian forest). He again dabbles with nuclear devices at the end of the Invasion story arc (Apocalypse) when he tells the crew of the Weatherlight the secret of constructing the Legacy Weapon and instructs it be used to seal the portal to Phyrexia.
I don’t have a background in science (I hold advanced degrees in writing and literary theory), but it was certainly fun and interesting to do a little bit of reading about how hot various things are and how that translates to Magic design. I’m sure there are many with science and engineering backgrounds that could point out even more specific and more interesting phenomena that I’ve either overlooked or am not informed about and if that is the case, I’m interested to hear about it in the comments! It’s fun to think about how the cards in a game would translate to IRL phenomenon and today’s article is just for fun.
On a more serious note, with the high temperatures and heat, if you’re going outside to exercise or do work be sure to be mindful. Heat stroke is nothing to mess around with. Be sure to stay well hydrated and remember to use sunscreen. Try to stay cool out there!