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The Best Ways to Remove Annoying Commanders


By now I'm sure you've all heard about the new Tuck Rule. Previously, if a commander would be tucked into your library or bounced into your hand, that's always where it would go. With the rule change, now you can choose to put the commander back into the command zone instead of your hand or library. Love it or hate it, them's the rules now.

Once you've gone through the five stages of grief and have come to accept the new change, it's time to adapt. Yes, it's harder to deal with commanders now, but we still have plenty of tools to do so. Let's see which cards are best suited for this task in a tuckless meta.

Changing of the Guard

Many of the best removal spells in Commander were the best specifically because of their ability to tuck commanders. With that key ability removed, are these cards still good? The short answer is "yes," but in some cases there are now better options. Let's go over some of the best tuck cards and see how they hold up:
 

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Hinder and Spell Crumple put countered cards back in the owner's library instead of going into the graveyard. Because so many decks in Commander have some degree of graveyard recursion — cards like Sun Titan and Eternal Witness are staples — putting a card back into the library is often a safer bet.

However, while tucking is nice, exiling the problem card entirely is even better: Dissipate and Faerie Trickery do these things for the exact same casting cost. They make for obvious replacements.

 

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Proteus Staff loses some of its oomph, but most decks running Staff were using it primarily on their own creatures, and that ability remains the same. Decks that wanted to run it before still do after the tuck change.

Spin Into Myth is a card I never liked due to its high casting cost. Post-tuck, I'd never recommend it. Run Pongify and Rapid Hybridization instead.

 

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White has the lion's share of the best tucks. Oblation and Unexpectedly Absent stand out due to their versatility. I can't think of any other White instant removals that are as flexible, so they still serve a purpose.

I've never been a fan of Condemn even before the tuck change because it's so conditional. I prefer removal that works whenever I need it. With Condemn becoming worse after the tuck change, I wouldn't recommend this card at all. You're probably running Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares, and if you need a third instant creature removal, I'd recommend Crib Swap.

 

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Both Hallowed Burial and Terminus are still good board wipe options in White. For one more mana than Wrath of God or Day of Judgment, Burial gets rid of indestructible creatures and denies the creatures from going to the graveyard where they can potentially be recurred.

Meanwhile, Terminus is less appealing than Final Judgment when hardcast since exiling is now superior to tucking, but it has a ridiculously cheap alternative casting cost. In a deck that runs cards like Mystical Tutor or Scroll Rack, Terminus remains an excellent board wipe.

 

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Even after the tuck change, Chaos Warp remains one of Red's best removal options. There are very few reliable ways to deal with enchantments in Red, and this is probably still the best one. Instant speed removal that can hit any nonland permanent is great stuff.

 

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The versatility of Bant Charm keeps this card amazing. You'll still want to play this.

 

The New Best Anti-Commander Removal

Most of the best tuck cards are still fine additions to your deck, but they're no longer amazing at dealing with pesky commanders. To deal with those, we'll need to look elsewhere. Here are my top choices for answering powerful commanders:

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The best answer to pesky commanders is not letting them get played at all. Nevermore does just that: you lock out the named commander until the enchantment is destroyed, which may be quite a while! One of the best answers to commanders even before the rules change, Nevermore remains a top choice to express your utter loathing of your buddy's Maelstrom Wanderer

 

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For commanders that made it onto the board, these auras are excellent ways to deal with them. All three strip the enchanted commander of its abilities, making it as good as dead — except it's stuck on the battlefield and the commander's owner can't send it back to the command zone to be recast.

The best of the bunch is Song of the Dryads, which turns the enchanted creature into a forest. Since it's a forest and no longer a creature, you cannot kill it with creature removal, only enchantment or land destruction, which makes it far more likely to stick on the board for a while. Not only is Song of the Dryads the best of its kind in dealing with commanders, its sheer versatility in dealing with any permanent makes this card one of the very best removal spells in the entire format, period. 

Instead of turning the enchanted commander into a land, Lignify turns it into a durdly 0/4 creature. A vanilla creature is much more likely to be removed than a land, so this is a step down from Song of the Dryads, but it's still better immediately sending off the commander back to the command zone where it can be recast.

A step up from Lignify is Darksteel Mutation: adding indestructibility is a huge boon, as it makes the affected commander much more resilient to creature removal that would put it back in the command zone. 

The best part about both Lignify and Song of the Dryads is you get to tell your opponent, "make like a tree and leaf," which itself is worth playing these cards.

 

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Blue is the best at stealing creatures. By stealing your opponent's commanders, not only do you deny your opponent access to its sweet abilities like the other options do, but you get to use those abilities. Nothing feels better than sending an opponent's Thraximundar right back at his/her face.

Some options, like Treachery, steal the commander, which gets returned to its owner if the enchantment is destroyed. Others, like Gilded Drake, make the trade permanent for as long as the commander remains on the battlefield. That's crazy good value for 2 mana! Finally, some steal spells, like Cultural Exchange, don't even need a target to work, making them perfect for stealing annoying hexproof generals like Narset, Enlightened Master.

 

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Another way to deal with commanders is to just keep killing 'em. The mana to recast the commander will start adding up fast thanks to the commander tax. Black is the master of repeatable commander killing thanks to staples like Grave Pact, which in the right deck will keep the board clear of any opposing commanders. 

Other repeatable commander removal tricks are out there. For example, in my Budget Brago decklist, you can use cards like Oblivion Ring to send the commander back to the command zone. When the commander is recast, use Brago, King Eternal's trigger to blink the Oblivion Ring and target the commander again.

 

That's All, Folks!

I hope this article gave you some ideas on how to hate out commanders now that tucking no longer fills that role. If you know of a sweet anti-commander card that I didn't cover, please let me know! I love the discussion these articles generate: I always learn something new. 

Follow me on Twitter @BudgetCommander for notifications on when the next article is up, updates on future decks, and input for what to work on next. Thanks for reading!


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