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Effectiveness of Low-Toughness and Non-Creature Removal in Eternal Masters Limited


Eternal Masters has a number of ways to kill creatures with one toughness, including the colorless Ticking Gnomes, Prodigal Sorcerer in Blue, Nausea and Plague Witch in Black, Mogg Fanatic, Flame Jab, and Honden of Infinite Rage in Red, and the multicolor Zealous Persecution. Many of these are good even if your opponent doesn't have one-toughness creatures, but it would be good to understand how prevalent one-toughness creatures are in this format, so we can value these cards appropriately.

Let's start by looking at the expected number (accounting for rarity) of creatures at each toughness, by color.

More than a third of the creatures in the set have one toughness, another third have two toughness, and a sixth have three toughness. Black and Green have the highest percentage of one-toughness creatures (about 45%), while Blue and multicolor/hybrid have the least, with 23% and 10% each respectively.

This analysis doesn't identify creatures you really need to spend removal on. Let's identify those creatures next, and then apply the same analysis. Here's a list of the creatures in Eternal Masters that I believe significantly impact the game if they're not dealt with relatively soon:

We can use this information to compute the expected number of "must kill" creatures by color and toughness:

Finally, let's look at the ten color pairs and their corresponding archetypes, to see whether one-toughness removal is particularly effective against some archetypes:

So one-toughness removal is very good against three of the ten archetypes (Blue/Black reanimator/recursion, Black/Red sacrifice, and Black/Green Elves), each of which is Black/X, since it kills some of the key enablers in those archetypes. One-toughness removal have few relevant targets in White/Blue flying matters, Red/Green fast aggro, Blue/Red Flashback/Retrace, Red/White tokens, and Green/Blue Threshold, and almost no relevant targets in Green/White enchantments and White/Black enters-the-battlefield effects/blink.

Enchantments

An eight-person Eternal Masters draft has an average of 42 enchantments, or about five per player. A third are Green, a fifth are White, and another fifth are Red. A sixth are Blue, but this is primarily due to the uninspiring Gaseous Form and Stupefying Touch.

There are 17 "must kill" enhantments in Eternal Masters:

An eight-person draft has 15.7 of these "must kill" enchantments, or about two per player. This is not a particularly large number, so it probably isn't worth running enchantment removal maindeck, especially since about 40% of enchantments are auras that White, Blue, and some Black creature removal can deal with without needing enchantment removal. Another 25% are Hondens, which are not usually particularly dangerous unless your opponent has two or more. You're relatively unlikely to encounter that deck, so you're really only worried about six "must kill" enchantments in an eight-person draft, or about 0.75 per player.

Consequently, you shouldn't maindeck enchantment removal in this format, other than War Priest of Thune. You will obviously want to side it in from time to time, especially if you can't otherwise deal with large aura-enhanced creatures. You're especially likely to need it against Red/Green, since those colors have about 55% of the enchantments in the format between them, and against the Green/White enchantments archetype.

Artifacts

An eight-person Eternal Masters draft has an average of 15 atifacts, or about two per player. However, there are only five "must kill" artifacts: Goblin Charbelcher, Isochron Scepter, and Nevinyrral's Disk at Rare, and Mana Crypt and Sphinx of the Steel Wind at Mythic. Inkwell Leviathan will also cause you to lose the game in short order, but it has Shroud and so can't be targeted by artifact removal. This means that only 1.7 of the 15 artifacts require artifact removal, or about 0.2 per player. Consequently, there is little need to draft or play artifact removal in Eternal Masters limited formats, or even to side it in.

Lands

There are no "must kill" lands in Eternal Masters, so you can leave Sinkhole and Wasteland in your sideboard. You should only side them in if you face an opponent who is particularly greedy with their colors.

Graveyards

Eternal Masters has 31 cards that care about the graveyard or can be played from the graveyard. (Quiet Speculation and Entomb are not included, since they don't do anything unless you have additional cards from the list below.)

16 are Common, 11 are Uncommon, and 4 are Rare, so an eight-person draft has an average of 53, or 6.5 per player. This means that graveyard removal is better than it is in many Limited formats, and it is quite effective against all colors other than White. Also, as I've noted previously, three of the archetypes in the format rely heavily on their graveyards: Blue/Black reanimator/recursion, Blue/Red Flashback/Retrace, and Green/Blue Threshold. Graveyard removal is especially effective against these three Blue/X archetypes. Consequently, Relic of Progenitus, Gaea's Blessing, and Deathrite Shaman should be valued higher than usual, especially since there's no graveyard removal at Common.

Conclusion

One-damage removal can kill only a third of the creatures and a third of the "must kill" creatures in Eternal Masters. Consequently, you don't usually want to run one-damage removal maindeck unless it's reusable or provides other benefits to your deck. Black and Green have the highest percentage of one-toughness creatures (about 45%), so you can usually side in some one-damage removal, even if you've only seen a couple of targets. It is especially effective against Blue/Black reanimator/recursion, Black/Red sacrifice, and Black/Green Elves, since it kills some of the key enablers for those archetypes. Removal that does two damage is quite playable maindeck since it can kill about two-thirds of the creatures and about half the "must kill" creatures in the format.

Eternal Masters drafts contain an average of five enchantments per player, but only two of those are "must kill", and only about 0.75 are problematic. Consequently, you don't usually want to play enchantment removal maindeck (except War Priest of Thune). However, you may want to side it in against Green/White enchantments, and possibly against Red/Green decks, which have most of the "must kill" enchantments in the format.

There are few "must kill" artifacts and no "must kill" lands in the format, so you shouldn't worry much about trying to pick up artifact/land destruction spells.

On the other hand, it is worth trying to pick up some graveyard removal since there are a relatively large number of cards that interact with the graveyard or can be played from the graveyard. Also, three of the ten archetypes in the format particularly care about cards in graveyards (Blue/Black reanimator/recursion, Blue/Red Flashback/Retrace, and Green/Blue Threshold), so you'll want to side in these cards more than you might in other formats.


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