Fatal Push
22, Mar, 24

Top Five MTG Best Removal Spells of All Time

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Throughout MTG’s history, Creatures have gotten stronger and more efficient. Many of the best Creatures in MTG nowadays come with excellent triggered abilities stapled onto them or can completely take over the game if unanswered. Look at a card like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Despite costing only one mana, it threatens to dominate the game by creating a huge mana advantage and letting you cast extra cards.

This, of course, puts your opponent to the test. Do they have removal? Basic removal spells have a vital purpose in the world of MTG. The best removal spells often offer some level of versatility or allow you to trade up on mana by answering a problematic threat in an efficient manner. Today, we are going to highlight the best removal spells ever printed.

Of note, we will only be focusing on single-target removal. As such, board wipes like Supreme Verdict will not be included in our rankings. Additionally, cards like Wrenn and Six that technically can act as removal but aren’t primarily relied on for that role won’t show up on our list. The goal is to highlight cards that are generally utilized for their role in answering problematic Creatures. With that in mind, here are the top five MTG most powerful removal spells of all time!

#5 Snuff Out

Snuff Out

First up, we have the ever-powerful Snuff Out. Released back in 1999, Snuff Out still sees consistent play in Pauper and Legacy. This is because Snuff Out can be played for zero mana at a surprisingly low cost. The card was originally printed in Mercadian Masques, which featured multiple cards that could be cast for zero mana if certain criteria were met (such as Land Grant and Misdirection, for instance).

Snuff Out in particular is quite strong because it doesn’t ask much of you to cast it. Obviously, you do need to be playing Swamps to utilize it and paying four life isn’t nothing, but the upside of removing a threat even as massive as Murktide Regent or Tolarian Terror on the cheap can be game-breaking.

You even get the bonus of being able to do it at Instant speed, so your opponent may get baited to make plays when you’re tapped out under the assumption that you don’t have interaction at the ready. If it weren’t for Snuff Out’s restriction to only killing non-black Creatures, it would likely be higher on this list.

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#4 Fatal Push

Fatal Push

Fatal Push is another top tier black removal spell that is efficient and a bit restrictive. This time, you can only kill Creatures with mana value four or less, and three and four mana cards are off the table if you don’t trigger Revolt. Luckily, in formats with Fetchlands, this is extremely easy to obtain. From there, you end up with a cheap removal spell that can kill threats that your opponent invested significantly more mana into.

While Fatal Push does miss on some threats like Murktide Regent that Snuff Out can answer, Snuff Out misses on Creatures like Orcish Bowmasters that Fatal Push can remove. Meanwhile, not having to pay four life to utilize Fatal Push in the early game is a big deal. Fatal Push is a potent card from Pioneer down to Legacy and certainly deserves recognition in our rankings.

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#3 Swords to Plowshares

Swords to Plowshares

At number three, we have the first of our premier white removal spells. Swords to Plowshares is absolutely incredible, and frankly, a pretty big step up from Fatal Push. For any control deck, giving your opponent some extra life is rather inconsequential. However, even for more aggressive strategies, getting to answer almost any problematic Creature your opponent plays for one mana is still well worth it. From Death and Taxes to Cephalid Breakfast shells, almost every white deck in Legacy makes use of this card.

The fact that Swords exiles the opposing Creature is big game as well. This means that even something as scary as a Marit Lage token from Dark Depths can get answered for one measly mana. All these signs showcase how strong Swords is, so what can possibly top it on this list?

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#2 Solitude

Solitude

Well, at number two, we have a card that has a lot of similarities to Swords to Plowshares. Both cards can exile a problematic Creature at little cost, and the Creature’s controller gains life equal to its power. While you can cast Solitude for zero mana, you need to pitch a card to do so. So, what makes Solitude such an amazing card?

As it turns out, there are a plethora of reasons. First and foremost, there are tons of ways to abuse Solitude. Cards like Ephemerate allow you to Evoke Solitude, but before it goes to the graveyard, blink Solitude. Sure, you had to pitch a white card from your hand to Evoke it, but now you’ve exiled two problematic threats and are left with a 3/2 Lifelinker in play.

The 3/2 can be a real threat, which leads us to the second reason Solitude is so strong. Getting to five mana and simply casting the card is a great option to have. Solitude’s ability to function as a removal spell and a win condition cannot be overstated.

On top of that, there are some decks where getting to exile an opposing Creature for zero mana instead of one mana is a big deal. Take the Initiative decks in Legacy and Vintage, for instance. Getting to tap out and slam White Plume Adventurer in Vintage or Seasoned Dungeoneer in Legacy is strong, and Solitude does a great job making sure you maintain the Initiative even if your opponent can get an attack in. All of these scenarios we believe earn Solitude a slightly higher spot, but there’s still one card left.

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#1 Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt

Printed way back in Alpha in 1993, Lightning Bolt is still a force to be reckoned with to this day. As a removal spell, Lightning Bolt doesn’t quite answer the vast range of targets that Swords to Plowshares does. Instead, what makes Lightning Bolt so amazing is its versatility. Aggro, midrange, and control decks alike all get to make use of this removal spell with virtually no drawbacks, but the fact that it has the ability to deal damage to the opponent is a game changer.

The majority of the time, Lightning Bolt is going to be utilized like any other piece of Creature removal. However, in tight games, getting to deal three damage to the opponent’s face can be the difference between winning and losing. Tempo decks like Izzet Delver in Legacy have made excellent use of Lightning Bolt for years.

Part of the reason Splinter Twin decks were so scary in Modern for years comes from the fact that if you paid too much attention to disrupting the combo, the sequence of casting Lightning Bolt followed by Snapcaster Mage targeting Bolt could end the game out of nowhere. Nowadays, Bolt can be used in conjunction with Underworld Breach as a way to win games, while still helping you remove Creatures in the early game. This level of flexibility on a single-target removal spell helps Lightning Bolt earn the top spot in this list.

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