Best Removal Spells In Standard

Discussion Standard 
Genoslugcs · December 29, 2022 · 11 min
Best Removal Spells In Standard

Regardless of the format, having ways to slow down opposing game plans is imperative to success in Magic: The Gathering. Your deck simply has to have ways to deal with things. That said, the current Standard meta-game for BO3 has some very good interaction. Not only does each color (except for Green) have access to some great removal options, most have a variety of answers. Let's take a look at the best removal spells in Standard right now.

For Red, we have Lightning Strikeimage, Obliterating Boltimage, and Flame-Blessed Boltimage. White has Destroy Evilimage, Fateful Absenceimage, and Lay Down Armsimage. Black has Infernal Graspimage, March of Wretched Sorrowimage, and Cut Downimage. For Blue, Fading Hopeimage, Rona's Vorteximage and Make Disappearimage are solid answers.

The quick rundown above serves to show some of the best removal or interaction in Standard right now. However, there is much more to be discussed below. We'll also go over what makes each of these spells so good in the meta right now and why some of the other options available aren't seeing play.

lay-down-arms-art

We'll break things down by color. That said, Green doesn't have anything worth mentioning at the moment. As a result, Green is the least played color in the format at the moment. The list will be in WUBRG order - So, let's start White.

White

I think White has some of the best removal right now.

3. Destroy Evil

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The first spell I want to mention is Destroy Evilimage. This card isn't seeing play in abundance but if you're in White you'll probably want a few copies in your 75. Here's why. First, it's one of a few cheap ways to answer Sheoldred, the Apocalypseimage which is seeing a ton of play. It can also hit Archangel of Wrathimage, Haughty Djinnimage, Myrel, Shield of Argiveimage, and Sanctuary Wardenimage. Valorous Stanceimage is another card that has a similar effect that is worth mentioning here.

Next comes the other half of Destroy Evil. There aren't a ton of problem enchantments in the format but having an answer for Kumano Faces Kakkazan // Etching of Kumanoimage and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jikiimage in addition to the cards mentioned above is quite nice.

With that said, there is a lot of stuff this misses as well. Therefore, it's far something every single deck will run.

 

Pros Cons
Removes Enchantments Misses Most Smaller Threats
Removes Larger Threats That Other Spells Miss  
Instant Speed  

 

 2. Lay Down Arms

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At number two we have Lay Down Armsimage. For a single White mana, it can hypothetically exile opposing creatures regardless of their size. However, you've got to have a number of plains equal to or greater than the creature's mana value. There isn't much ramp that's putting creatures out ahead of curve (save for Tolarian Terrorimage) seeing play right now. So, if you hit your land drops consistently, this is a reliable answer.

Especially when you consider that most of the creatures seeing play now have pretty low mana value. There are exceptions like Sheoldred, the Apocalypseimage, Sanctuary Wardenimage, and Phyrexian Fleshgorgerimage but even these aren't impossible to answer.

The only real downside here is that the lands have to be Plains. That, and that your opponent gains three life. But let's be real if a creature is worth a removal spell it's probably worth its controller gaining three life as well. After all, the iconic Swords to Plowsharesimage never saw any lack of play. Regardless though, it's worth mentioning.

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Back to the Plains clause though - This makes it so that Lay Down Armsimage is really only viable in heavily White decks. As of right now, it's really only seeing play in Mono-White Control and some Mono-White versions of Soldiers. However, with things like Raffine's Towerimage and Spara's Headquartersimage in the format I think it's possible to play while splashing other colors.

Pros Cons
Exiles Creatures Sorcery Speed
Can Hypothetically Remove Any Creature Opponent Gains Life
  Requires Plains To Be Played

1. Fateful Absence

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In my opinion, Fateful Absenceimage is the best removal spell in White. And that's because of its consistency. Cards are often evaluated based on their ceiling (how good they are at their best) versus their floor (how good they are at their worst) and Fateful Absence is very consistently good and hardly ever bad.

To elaborate, Destroy Evilimage, mentioned above can remove some threats for the same mana cost without giving opponents a clue token at its best. But at its worst it completely misses things like Bloodthirsty Adversaryimage, Harbin, Vanguard Aviatorimage, and Ledger Shredderimage.

image

While Lay Down Armsimage can, at times, answer the biggest creature on the board for a single mana, this is situational. These spells are great at their peak but can also be somewhat narrow in other situations.

Now let's look at Fateful Absenceimage through this same lens. No matter what deck it's in, what turn it is, or what you're targeting, Fateful Absence gets the job done all the same. Granted, the downside of having the opponent create a clue token is consistent too but to me, that's better. Furthermore, it's an answer to not only creatures but planeswalkers as well.

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If you're in White and want the most consistent answer to the widest variety of threats, look no further.

Pros Cons
Removals Planeswalkers Without Condition Opponent Investigates
Removes Creatures Without Condition  
Instant Speed  

 Blue

Blue usually has pretty good answers in the form of Conterspells and/or bounce spells. Each of the cards I'll cover today falls into these categories. That said, Blue has enough answers to support a Mono-Blue strategy that can be found here.

3. Fading Hope

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There's a lot to like about this spell. Bouncing an opposing creature for a single mana is often a huge tempo play. You don't always need a threat gone forever and at times this will more or less "undo" your opponents' whole turn. Fading hope also comes with the added benefit of allowing you to scry if the creature has a mana value of three or lower.

That said, there are some lower mana-value creatures that you won't want to be pointing this at. For example, Spirited Compainion, Inspiring Overseerimage, Bloodthirsty Adversaryimage, and Bloodtithe Harvesterimage all have solid ETB effects that opponents might be happy to get a second time.

Pros Cons
Cost-Effective Way To Answer Any Creature Can Allow Opponents A Chance To Recast Spells
Can Allow You To Scry Only Hits Creatures
Can Return Your Creatures As Well  

2. Rona's Vortex

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Rona's Vorteximage is very similar to the card above. There are two things that give this the edge over Fading Hope. First, is that this can hit creatures and Planeswalkers for a single mana. This gives it some nice versitility and means it has a lot of play against some of the walkers mentioned above.

The secomd thing is the optional kicker cost. For an additional three mana, you can send troublesome creates or Planeswalkers to the bottom of their controller's library instead of back to their hand. Again, there's some versitility here - You have the option of a temporary solution for a small investment of mana or a permanent one at a higher cost.

This is a card that I have spent a lot of time playing in Modern recently and I have found it to be a flexible spell even there.

Pros Cons
Can Bounce Creatures And Planeswalkers Can't Bounce Your Own Creatures
Kicker Cost Can "Tuck" Instead Of Sending To Hand Needs Black For Kicker Cost
Cost-Effective  

1. Make Disappear

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Perhaps this wouldn't be considered a "removal spell" by some, but I think it is. It removes the threat preemptively but it removes it all the same. With that out of the way, let's talk about why I choose this for the number one spot for Blue.

First, counterspells are great answers. Assuming you've cast this at a time your opponent can't pay an extra two mana, this will thwart anything coming your way - All creatures (regardless of size), Planeswalkers, opposing removal spells, artifacts, or enchantment; Anything you don't like. But I'm sure you're familiar with why counters, in general, are good.

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What sets this one apart is "casualty 1". This allows you to mitigate some of the downside of opponents being able to pay mana to save their spell by being able to create copies of Make Disapper and target their spell multiple times. If you're playing Standard right now and there are islands in your deck, you can't do much better than this.

Pros Cons
Very Versitile Opponents May Be Able To Pay For It
Can Create Copies Of Itself  

Black

I think as of right now, Black has the best removal In Standard. There are too many good cards to mention here, so if you don't see a card mentioned below its not necessarily because it's not a good card. Some honorable mentions are Invoke Despairimage and Go for the Throatimage. With that out of the way, let's jump right in.

3. Cut Down

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This is a card that I was very interested in from the moment it was spoiled. My initial thought was to compare it to Fatal Pushimage for Modern. After I tested some, I realized that Fatal Push was the clear winner for that particular format.

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With that said, there aren't many creatures in Standard right now this doesn't list. It misses Archangel of Wrathimage, Corpse Appraiserimage, Graveyard Trespasser // Graveyard Gluttonimage, Haughty Djinnimage, and Phyrexian Fleshgorgerimage. Everything else seeing a lot of play will die to this card.

Pros Cons
Hits Most Creatures In The Format Misses Larger Creatures
Instant Speed Creatures Can "Pump" Themselves Out Of Range
Cost-Effective  

 2. March of Wretched Sorrow

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This card isn't seeing play in too many decks at the moment. However, there is a lot to like here, assuming you're leaned pretty far into black. If you are, you can remove very large threats quite early in the game. This includes Planeswalkers as well. That said, the cost reduction is of course optional, and simply paying mana into this is always an option too.

The versatility here is huge and if that wasn't enough - You also gain life equal to the damage this deals. This is great if you're behind, ahead, or at parity in the game. If you have Black in you're deck and want a flexible removal spell, you've got it.

Pros Cons
Removes Creatures And Planeswalkers Can be Expensive Without Exiling Cards
Gains Life  
Has Cost-Reduction  

1. Infernal Grasp

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Black is no stranger to paying life to get what it wants and that's exactly what is happening here. There are no restrictions here - For two mana, you can remove whatever creature is causing you trouble and then you lose two life. This downside is well worth it for such a clean, cost-effective way to get rid of problems regardless of their size.

  Cons
Removes Any Creature Costs Life
Cheap To Cast Doesn't Hit Planeswalkers

Instant Speed

 

Red

Red is another color where there are several good spells that could be listed. Cards such as Voltage Surgeimage, Abradeimage, and End the Festivitiesimage are all fine cards, but I think others are a bit better,

3. Flame-Blessed Bolt

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If you've ever played in a Standard meta with Shockimage, I don't need to tell you how good two damage for a single mana can be. Granted Flame-Blessed Bolt can't hit your opponent's face - The two cards remind me of one another quite a bit.

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There are of course lots of creatures this won't take down but there are many it does. For example, it hits Valiant Vetaran pictured above, as well as Bloodtithe Harvesterimage, Giada, Font of Hope, [[Evolved Sleeper, and many more. It also damages Planeswalkers and has the upside of exiling anything it kills.

Pros Cons
Can Damage Creatures And Planeswalkers Only Deals Two Damage
Exiles Things It Kills  
Cheap To Cast  

2. Obliterating Bolt

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At number two we have a similar effect as the one above but with a few key differences. First, this gives you twice as much damage for twice the mana cost. The extra damage is well worth the mana too - Make no mistake about it. It's still cheap to cast but can take down much larger threats.

That said, you still get the ability to hit creatures and Planeswalkers. As well as the exile effect if they should die. I like to think of this as the bigger, stronger version of Flame-Blessed Boltimage.

Pros Cons
Higher Damage Sorcery Speed
Exiles Things It Kills  
Can Damage Creatures And Planeswalkers  

1. Lightning Strike

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Lighting Strike does everything you want a removal spell to do and then some. Three unconditional damage for two mana, at instant speed is hard to beat. Further adding to the versatility, if at any point in time you draw this and there are no threats on board, you can simply burn your opponent. That said, Lightning Strikeimage is never a dead card.

Regardless of the board state, when you draw it, or who is winning the game, you'll usually not mind seeing this card come off the top of your library. It's simple, it's effective, and in my opinion, it's the best removal spell in Standard, if you play Red.

Conclusion

There you have it ladies and gentlemen - The very best removal spells Standard has to offer. I think the format has a plethora of answers right now and I am all for it; Interaction is good. That said, it's no wonder that Grixis is at the top of the meta right now considering it plays about five of the spells mentioned in this article.

Comment down below and let me know if you agree with my picks. Until next time, let's hope Green gets some more playables moving into these next sets.

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