Last time in Smoothing the Curves, I’d identified a particular phenomenon which we can refer to as the “Lightning Rod Characteristic”. This describes how likely a board piece is to being targeted specifically for removal by your opponents. Today we’ll be looking at dishing that out that single target removal!
Increasingly, the meta seems to be shifting away from board wipes or “sweepers” in favour of single target removal, or “interaction”. This is your response to what an opponent does when they get something critical into play that needs to be addressed post haste!
Reliability and consistency are the keys to the kingdom here and we need to be able to interact with as broad a range of permanent types as possible, for the lowest cost, at the quickest pace.
There are great examples of spot removal in cards like Hull Breach and Epic Downfall at Sorcery speed however the loss of instant speed reactivity can really back you into a corner. Leaving open mana open sends some very strong messages, but unless you actually deliver a response sometimes, we need to be able to say “at the beginning of your end step I….”
I try to scale a lot of my interaction in such a way to get around Indestructible as much as possible since it feels like the increasingly popular way to shelter big targets. The other problem with “Destroy” is that it means the target goes to the graveyard, which has a lot of opportunity for re-interaction, especially in black with the myriad of Reanimate-esque and Reanimate-adjacent type effects. Exiling a permanent is optimal, shuffling it back into the library is a very close second with destruction and back to hand (or “bounce”) effects being the least desirable since the spell remains at the disposal of the player.
I’d like to use my remaining space to highlight a couple of cards you may not be aware of and are worthy considerations.
Deglamer: hits an artifact or enchantment at instant speed and the owner shuffles it back into their library. Hits 2 permanent types, skits around indestructible, hard to recover unless they use a tutor, in which case, you spent 2 mana to at worst: remove a priority threat, at best: removed a priority threat they tutored for and had to re-tutor for.
Oust: Sadly, this is a Sorcery which REALLY makes this a lot more narrow and it only hits creatures, but putting it into their library second from the top is really a crappy spot to be on the receiving end of, for just 1 white mana!
Try to consider your spot removal spells against these 4 criteria:
- Speed – both CMC and Instant vs. Sorcery
- Flexibility – hitting multiple target types
- Distance – how easy will it be to recover a key piece for the owner impacted?
- Drawback – what does my opponent gain in exchange?