Every play group sees plenty of creature removal. Whether you see old school standards, Terror and Wrath of God, funky midrange Chill to the Bone and Rout, or recent Victim of Night and Blasphemous Act, creature removal is everywhere. But how often are you packing enchantment and artifact hate?
This has been a topic of conversation with my group for over a year. Gradually, more and more decks began playing artifacts and enchantments. The increase in artifacts was expected, simply because Scars of Mirrodin had come out. Of course you are playing artifacts, they are the new cards. The “it” thing. No one particularly cared though, since many of the artifacts that caused problems with our group were creatures, and an artifact creature dies to creature removal just as well as a non-artifact creature.
The unexplainable were the enchantments. A number of players were building decks that used ridiculous numbers of enchantments. My friend Josh built a deck that used enchantments to produce inordinate numbers of angels. Many of my decks used a variety of enchantments to buff my creatures or cause effects to imbalance the game in my favour.
Many of the decks we started to see revolved around a single enchantment to great effect. Sacred Mesa, Soulcatchers’ Aerie, and Infernal Genesis were three of my decks that came about and were completely reliant on a particular enchantment. Jesse’s deck relied on Quest for Ula’s Temple. These decks all came about because no one was packing enchantment removal. I had Sterling Grove in a deck to protect my enchantments but it soon proved pointless; no one was even trying to take out the enchantments.
This shift to enchantment decks was unusual, but no one expected it to last. The metagame would allow them to exist for a while, but gradually, people would start playing hate for them and they would go away and would not come back until the metagame made them valid again. The problem was that no one would play the hate. A year later and still these decks survive and thrive in our metagame. As far as I know, only Jesse and I pack enchantment hate, and that little amount of hate is not going to deter either of us from continuing to play our enchantments.
In an effort to help you fight any enchantment metagames in your groups, I’ve listed the Top 10 enchantment destruction cards. Putting these cards in order is a little arbitrary since many of them are on the list because they do their job in dramatically different ways, and there are times when any of these options may be the best choice. In spite of that, I still ranked them, so deal with it. There is no questioning this particular list, so don’t even bother to go to the comments and suggest other alternatives. You would just be wrong since everything on this list will be better than what you choose.
Honorable Mention (aka. An extra card you want in the Top 10 but just can’t fit in): Scour. It only gets enchantments and it costs four mana. Those are serious problems with a utility card with such limited use, however Scour is just amazing in a particular metagame. If your group plays decks that rely on a particular enchantment to run, Scour is your card. Scour just shuts those decks down in their tracks, forcing the deck to play to a much inferior Plan B, while you roll along. The extremely limited use is problematic, but if ever there was a “sideboard” card in casual play, this is it.
#10. Fracturing Gust. Sometimes you need a fresh start. Fracturing Gust takes out all the enchantments and just lets you take a nice deep breath and try again. There are times when you wish it wasn’t quite so thorough. There are times when you wish it wasn’t quite so expensive, but it gets the job done. The hybrid mana is handy, letting you get away with running this in a one, two, or even three color decks. Just be warned that the life gain involved should not factor into the cost. Life gain is simply a bonus that is there to try to encourage you to wait for your opponents to play another artifact or enchantment. Don’t get suckered. Play it at the right time and don’t wait.
Note: Before going further, you’ll note that most of the cards on this list also destroy artifacts. This is no mistake. You want this range of use from all of your cards, but particularly with the utility cards in your deck. Whenever possible, I’ll choose the card that provides a wider range of use. The ability to destroy an artifact can make the ability to destroy an enchantment seem like an afterthought, since artifacts are so prevalent in most metagames.
#9. Allay. Right after the note above, I include a card that doesn’t do anything but kill enchantments. I’m reluctant to have a card on the list that only kills enchantments, but there is only one that does it better than Allay. The ability to target particular enchantments and then to do it again and again is the reason Allay makes this list—just like its cousin, Shattering Pulse, belongs on any list of artifact removal spells. Allay lets you play a deck that has enchantments in it that don’t die to Fracturing Gust. Often you’ll want to hit something meaningless early on, just so everyone knows you have it. That can be enough to discourage your opponents from playing enchantments at all. The best part is that if the card is not commonly seen in your group, most players will assume it can also kill artifacts. This doesn’t last long, but if you can sucker even one opponent, everyone will have a good laugh.
#8. Calming Verse. With the current rules eliminating mana burn, this card now says, “Destroy all opponents’ enchantments. Tap your lands if you control any enchantments.” It is a sorcery and costs twice as much as Back to Nature, but the ability to keep your enchantments in play puts this on the list. Primeval Light gets an honorary mention here but Calming Verse gets the spot since it takes out all of your opponents’ enchantments, not just one opponent’s enchantments.
#7. Aura of Silence. Not only does it destroy an artifact or enchantment, but it slows your opponents down as well. Consider this for a minute; if your opponent plays this and you had planned to play an enchantment the next turn, do you? Not only are you going to have to pay two extra mana, but your opponent can now destroy it with a card already in play. What generally happens is that low-level threats continue to be played for the extra mana, but no one is going to drop their powerhouse enchantment since they expect it to be destroyed.
The other benefit comes with the powerful auras. You will play those auras with the expectation that Aura of Silence guy will not destroy them unless you attack him with that creature. Yet another benefit to the Aura.
Don’t get too wild about this card though. Once you destroy an enchantment, you can be sure the next one to hit play will be something you wanted gone even more. The Aura also paints a big target on your head from anyone who is reliant on enchantments or artifacts. Just hope you have neutered them enough that you can deal with them.
And by the way, if you play out a second one, opponents are now paying four extra mana and you are much more likely to actually take out an opposing player’s threat since you’ll still have one left.
#6. Qasali Pridemage. This guy rocks it out. He is the “gold” standard for creatures who destroy enchantments. I have been using this card since it came out. I put him just behind #5 due to the two color mana requirement, and the fact that you are forced to sacrifice the Pridemage. The Pridemage does take good advantage of his 2/2 body while he is still around, but remember the 2/2 body is not why this card should be in your deck.
Capashen Unicorn was my star before this guy came along and I still use him regularly as he doesn’t need green mana. It is far slower and more clumsy than the Pridemage, but it gets the job done without the heavier mana requirements of the Pridemage or Acidic Slime. Indrik Stomphowler is a big bodied version that destroys an artifact or enchantment when it enters the battlefield. This makes it more difficult to time it, but you get to keep the vanilla creature afterwards. Consider these two more on the Honorable Mentions cheat list.
#5. Acidic Slime. Kill an enchantment, or an artifact, or a land, and get a 2/2 body with deathtouch? While I’m not thrilled with the five mana casting cost, this guy is your own personal Swiss Army Knife. I’m not foolish enough to think that you are going to be destroying many enchantments with this guy. EDH and multiplayer Magic generally has far too many very dangerous lands that need to be dealt with, and there aren’t too many ways better than Acidic Slime to deal with them. It is this flexibility that makes him so good, so he comes in as the top creature on the list. He is not going to go on the attack too often since a 2/2 deathtouch wards off so many creatures in a multiplayer game, and at five mana, sending in a 2/2 to attack at that stage of a multiplayer game is probably pointless. If you’re in green, you should be running this in every deck.
#4. Austere Command. I love Austere Command. The flexibility in this utility card is impressive. While Akroma’s Vengeance takes out everything, this allows for a little more versatility. The ability to destroy all enchantments and all big creatures, or whatever mix and matching you choose, can really make the situation hellish for your opponents and delightful for you!
#3. Krosan Grip. I know this seems boring, but the split second should never be underestimated. I generally only keep four copies of any one card, but Krosan Grip is an exception to that rule. So many enchantments have an ability that your opponent will use as soon as you target the enchantment.
“In response to you killing my enchantment, I’ll make an Angel Token.”
“In response to you killing my enchantment, I’ll remove the counters and get a 5/5 Zombie.”
“In response to you killing my Aura of Silence I’ll sacrifice it and kill your…”
“No response to split second pal. Just toss that Aura in the graveyard and let’s move on.”
#2. Tranquil Grove. Back to Nature is great but it is a one-time effect. Tranquil Grove just sits there and says “No,” to all other enchantments again and again. It is admittedly risky, since you clearly are not playing enchantments if you are using it, and the card is completely useless if you end up in a game where your opponents have no particularly dangerous enchantments. However, this card completely stops enchantment shenanigans. This card stops Rancor since you can use the effect after the attackers are declared, and you can do it again on the next attack.
#1. Aura Shards. I don’t think Aura Shards sitting in the Number One spot is a surprise to anyone. If you can cast this card you are already in two colors that play plenty of creatures, so this ability will go off again and again. Play this with something that gives your creatures flash, or lets you put a token creature into play on your opponent’s turn, and you can deal with anything at instant speed. This also lets you run your own enchantments, so it ranks above Tranquil Grove. Even if an opponent has Elesh Norn in play killing all of your creatures as they come into play, Aura Shards still works (although if Elesh Norn is out and killing all of your creatures, you likely have bigger problems). Enchantment removal simply doesn’t get any better.