Top 10 Spot Removal Cards in Commander

Continuing the "Top Ten" list theme from my previous post, I've decided to explore spot removal in multi-player commander and attempt to put together a best of list for cards that fall into this category.   As before this top ten is for cards otherwise in a vacuum and doesn't take into account potential synergies that might benefit specific decks.  The goal is to create a short list of spells that can fit into almost any deck and be effective, provided they fall into the Commander's color identity.

10) Return to Dust

     Does a very nice job of nuking one or two or your opponents best artifacts or enchantments and making sure they never come back.   The cost is a bit steep, but you can pinpoint remove exactly what you don't want on the table, and flexibly use this during a main phase or an end step depending on what is necessary.   With apologies to Hull Breach, this one has an edge because although it costs more mana, the color requirement is easier to achieve and the targets are exiled instead of destroyed.

9) Decimate
    This is one of those borderline cards that I debated on whether it's really "spot" removal and rather falls into the mass removal category.  I stuck with the former term since it does target and only removes one of each category.   This spell is a bit clunky in that it "must" have 4 valid targets to actually cast and also has an obtuse casting cost and color requirements.   Despite all this in multi-player the 4 valid target dependency is easy to satisfy, which makes this sorcery an absolute monster.  Demolishing a Maze of Ith, Future Sight, Consecrated Sphinx and Sword of Light and Shadow for 4 mana is outstanding.  

8) Capsize

     I have a hard time not putting this at the top of my list for every blue deck I create.  It is incredibly versatile and once you ramp up fast enough becomes a recurring disaster for your opponents.   The cost is steep, but even then it can be cast for only three mana in a dire emergency.    Blue doesn't have many quality removal options and boomerang is pretty good.  In a format where mana is often plentiful capsize tops out at amazing.

7) Swords to Plowshares

    Sometimes you just have to appreciate the originals.   Plow has been exiling problem creatures since the 20th century and it still stands up just fine in Commander.   It's cheap and efficient, it is an instant, and the drawback is negligible, especially in a format where starting life totals are doubled.   If there is one downside to the plow is that it specifically targets creatures, but creatures are pretty common, so it's not going to sit in your hand unused for long.

6) Beast Within

    Pretty amazing unrestricted permanent removal in a color which usually doesn't have such options.  It's one of the few cards in green that can deal with creatures and it does it at instant speed for only three mana.   It also deals with artifacts, enchantments, lands and planeswalkers and in a pinch is an amusing combat trick when your forest transforms into a beast to eat an incoming attacker.  Yeah it leaves a token lying around, but when you're playing in a format with giant dragons and menacing Eldrazi, giving your enemies a 3/3 beast seems like a suitable trade off.

5) Bant Charm

     This card is incredibly under-rated and does a wide array of things in a format where versatility is king.   Demolish an artifact, tuck a general away into an opponent's deck, or counter an instant spell.   It's pretty amazing for only 3 mana.  The drawback is that you have to be playing Bant colors, so it's not applicable to a lot of decks, but if you are in this color combination and you're not playing this card you're simply doing it wrong.

4) Oblation

     This card isn't really a secret any longer since it was published in the commander pre-con decks, but it was under-appreciated during Onslaught's legality in standard and now is a top choice in most commander decks running white.    As a common refrain:  It is versatile.  It removes just about anything, including problematic planeswalkers and tucks the target away, allowing you to avoid recursion tricks or a general you simply don't want to come back.  In a multi-player format the 2 extra cards you give an opponent stings less.  In an emergency feel free to tuck away your Sol Ring when it's no longer exciting and simply draw two yourself.

3) Maelstrom Pulse

    The second clause on this card is less interesting in a singleton format, but it still can pay dividends against multiple opponents running the same problematic permanent.  It's also gratifying using it to nuke an army of saproling tokens without harming your own permanents.   The only drawback is that it can't touch lands, and that it requires an odd color combination to play.  If you have forests and swamps in your deck though, it's usually an auto-include.

2) Chaos Warp

    Another permanent removal tool that scores big in the versatility department.  It's also one of the few red cards that can actually deal with enchantments which makes it highly valuable in mono-red, Rakdos, and even Izzet or Grixis decks.     The drawback is likely to only hurt you at worst 30% of the time.   Often you're giving your opponent a land instead of the threat you wasted.   Tucks generals as well.   Just like Oblation, feel free to use this on your own card that's about to die anyway and hope for something useful.

1) Vindicate

     This card is at the top of the list because it has absolutely zero drawbacks.  If you're playing the colors it's hands down the best spot removal option in Commander, creature or otherwise.   It kills anything you need it to, including lands, and your opponent gets nothing in return.   It is unfortunately a sorcery, but for three mana it's hard to complain about this kind of efficiency.

Apologies to: Oblivion Ring, Condemn, Dreadbore, Hull Breach

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