While creatures are typically seen as the game’s cornerstone, removal spells are among the most important types of cards in a player’s arsenal. As the name indicates, removal spells target a troublesome permanent under an opponent’s control and remove it from play.
Countless removal spells have appeared in every hue throughout Magic’s history. But which ones are the most effective, adaptable, and worthwhile of a player’s time? Today, we’ll delve into Magic: the Gathering’s enormous sea of removal spells and look at the finest of what the game has to offer!
For an uncommon removal spell, Ikoria’s new instant Heartless Act seems ridiculous. Due to the huge amount of +1/+1 and keyword counters on some creatures, it can be more problematic in Draft and Sealed, but in most built formats, it will nearly always read “Destroy target creature.”
Most countered targets would be removed by removing them from it, but just a few of the most frequent creatures have counters by default, and you can cast Heartless Act in reaction to abilities or spells that would neutralize it on a regular basis. It’s an excellent budget removal spell for virtually any deck or format at such a low cost.
Fall From Favor
In Commander Legends, many spells with the Monarch ability were reprinted and new printed, allowing players to draw a card at the end of their turn if they weren’t removed by battle damage. Fall From Favor, for example, is so powerful that it was quickly removed from the Pauper format following its debut.
While this may merely tap down an opponent’s creature, having the Monarch while removing creatures that may take it away is extremely effective. Not only will their most dangerous threat be removed, but you’ll be drawing almost twice as many cards as your opponent for the duration of the game, thanks to a defensive board and additional removal spells.
In comparison to the other items on this list, Spikefield Hazard is a unique sort of powerful. While it can’t kill every creature in the game, it can frequently deal with a surprising amount of threats on Turn 1, making it seldom worthless in many matchups against typical rapid aggro decks.
This is so much better than other comparable cards that if you don’t have any targets worth stabbing, you can play it as a tapped land. Because of its flexibility, it can be used in almost any red deck in Standard right now, and outside of slower and friendlier games, it will likely be all you need.
In Throne of Eldraine, adventures were a dubious mechanism. On the one hand, it felt fantastic to have two spells linked to one other, especially because most of them were cheap and simple to use to their full potential. Unfortunately, several are now staples in every standard deck, and Murderous Rider, despite lagging, is arguably the most effective removal of them all.
Swift End, the Adventure on this card, will instantly kill any creature or planeswalker, an effect not frequently found for three mana these days and well worth the two life cost. The fact that you may reclaim that life by blocking and attacking with the 2/3 monster thereafter is just the cherry on top of this lethal cake.
Removal in White may be quite varied, with a broad range of targets and disadvantages that make things riskier. Skyclave Apparition is a great example of this since the permanent it exiles get replaced with an X/X token when it dies, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a staple in every format that allows for a three-mana creature.
This ability can be readily manipulated. Protecting the creature not only prevents your opponent from acquiring a token in the first place, but it may also hit additional tokens, annihilating them permanently and removing the danger of another token appearing after the Apparition dies.
Even if your opponent gets their token, a vanilla creature is seldom better than the creature or planeswalker you’ve eliminated, especially if your opponent wasted a spell to kill the Skyclave Apparition.
Effects that require an opponent to sacrifice a creature have been known as “edict” effects throughout Magic’s history. Because these effects aren’t strictly targeting or killing a creature, they can bypass both indestructible and hexproof.
Chainer’s Edict, an all-star in Pauper, is a black two-man sorcery with an edict effect and a flashback cost of seven. This implies that, even after it has completed its task, this spell can be recreated for additional value later in the game.
A player’s removal should ideally cost as little mana as feasible, generally only one or two mana while providing as much versatility as possible. Fatal Push is a black instant that may kill any creature with a converted mana cost of two or less for one black mana.
However, because this card has Revolt, it can remove a creature with converted mana cost four or less if any permanent its caster controls leaves the battlefield that turn. In the Modern format, where mana curves are low and fetch lands are abundant, this makes it an ideal removal spell. Fatal Push may revolt and take out an opponent’s most threatening threats if a player sacrifices their fetch land.
Song of the Dryads
It’s difficult to find a card as generally beneficial as Song of the Dryads when it comes to Green removal options. Song of the Dryads is a three-mana enchantment applied to any permanent, regardless of type, to turn it into a colorless forest.
While this effect technically ramps one’s opponent, it can deal with a wide range of threats and may be extremely tough to counter, especially in colors like red and black, which have trouble removing enchantments from play.
For two mana, Assassin’s Trophy is a fantastic Golgari removal spell. Assassin’s prize may permanently demolish any target in a moment. The controller of that permanent can then search their library for a basic land and play it.
The versatility of Assassin’s Trophy cannot be emphasized, as it can deal with powerful planeswalkers, creatures, and artifacts, as well as destroy critical lands to disrupt plans like Tron.
In the Commander Format, Chaos Warp is one of the most powerful red removal spells. Chaos Warp is an instant that can deal with any permanent, even ones with indestructible, despite the fact that it costs three mana to cast.
When you shuffle a permanent into its owner’s library, the top card in that library is revealed, and if it’s permanent, it’s placed onto the battlefield. While Chaos Warp has the ability to send another strong card into play by accident, it may also destroy critical combo components in an instant, regardless of their card type.
Swords To Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares, an iconic removal spell included in the first Magic set, has stood the test of time. Swords to Plowshares is a one-mana white instant that can exile a creature. For only a single mana, this is an extremely valuable ability to have for an instant.
While the disadvantage of this spell is that it heals the controller of that creature an amount of life equal to the targeted creature’s power, this is usually insignificant, especially when targeting a utility creature.
Dreadbore and Terminate
Rakdos is one of Magic’s most aggressive color combinations, so it’s no wonder that Rakdos decks excel at killing opponents’ creatures. Dreadbore and Terminate are two-man Rakdos spells that can destroy any creature they target.
Dreadbore is a sorcery with the extra benefit of being able to target troublesome Planeswalkers. While Terminate is an instant that stops the targeted creature from being regenerated, Dreadbore is a sorcery with the added benefit of being able to target bothersome Planeswalkers.
Vindicate is a straightforward and highly versatile Orzhov removal spell that can be used in any scenario. Vindicate is a three-mana spell that may destroy any permanent, including lands and planeswalkers.
Vindicate may make one’s troubles disappear, whether it’s a single creature that might finish a game, an artifact that creates large quantities of value, or a land like Gaea’s Cradle that provides massive amounts of mana.
While many players think of spells that can deal with creatures when they think of removal, there are plenty of spells that can deal with other sorts of permanents as well. Krosan Grip is one such card.
Krosan Grip is a three-mana green instant that can destroy a target artifact or enchantment. The fact that Krosan Grip has “Split Second” is crucial. This ability implies that no other spells or abilities can be cast or activated while this spell is on the stack. This guarantees that Krosan Grip will always resolve without any help from opponents and that the spell will always hit its intended target.
Go For The Throat
Go For the Throat is unquestionably one of Black’s most versatile creature removal spells. Go for the throat can kill any non-artifact creature in an instant for two mana.
Go For the Throat, like the classic spell Doom Blade, may destroy any creature with the exception of a stated exception. On the other hand, Doom Blade cannot destroy black creatures, but it may target any creature, regardless of color, as long as it isn’t an artifact.
Pongify and Rapid Hybridization
Pongify and Rapid Hybridization are two blue instants that are virtually identical. These spells can kill any target creature for a single blue mana, preventing it from being regenerated. The controller of the creature then plays a green 3/3 token.
While this spell does not destroy an opponent’s ability to block, it can help cope with powerful abilities and offensive monsters that could cost a game. While these 3/3 tokens may theoretically be utilized to attack, in Commander, a vanilla 3/3 has a very low probability of having any influence on the game.
Beast Within and Generous Gift
Beast Within and Generous Gift, both green and white instants with indistinguishable abilities, are two spells similar to the preceding entry. Beast Within and Generous Gift can each kill any target permanently for three mana, then give the controller of that permanent a 3/3 green creature token.
While this token has a disadvantage, the ability to instantly destroy any permanent should not be overlooked. While Vindicate has the ability to destroy any permanent, these cards have far more flexible mana costs, allowing them to be employed in a larger variety of decks.
Defile is one of the most mana-efficient black removal spells in the game, and it’s one of the more recently printed spells on this list. Defile bestows -X/-X on target creature for one black mana until the end of the round, where X is equal to the number of swamps under its caster’s control.
This spell is quite effective for a variety of reasons. For starters, owing to the nature of this spell, it evolves through time, remaining useful even late in the game despite its cheap cost. Second, because this card decreases toughness rather than causing damage, it may destroy indestructible creatures.
Path To Exile
Path to Exile is difficult to beat when it comes to low-cost, long-lasting removal. Path to Exile is a white instant that exiles a creature at a single mana cost. The player may then search their library for basic land and play it.
Even with this drawback in mind, this is a fantastic tool for eliminating risks. Few cards are more effective at eliminating intimidating creatures later in the game when most players already have enough mana.
Lightnighg Bolt has long been the gold standard for red burn and removal spells. Lightning Bolt does three damage to any target for one red mana. Lightning Bolt is a low-cost and versatile weapon that may be utilized in a variety of ways.
Bolt may assist close out a game by inflicting direct damage to a player in the late game, or even be used to trip up opponents during battle by killing off a surviving creature they’d blocked with the previous turn.