Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Exiling Graveyards in Magic
In Magic, when most cares are destroyed or discarded, they're sent to a player's graveyard. Here, their powers aren't active, but they can potentially be recovered or rejuvenated, remaining a lingering threat. This is especially true for cards with self-reviving traits like flashback and unearth.
But very few spells can retrieve exiled cards, meaning banished threats are usually gone for good. Luckily, many effects help deplete opposing graveyards, preventing foes from recovering their tools. You'll see many among the black faction, but a fair number exist elsewhere; with dozens of options available, which reign supreme? These are the 20 best graveyard-exiles in Magic: The Gathering!
20. Angel of Finality
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Finality has several advantages. She only needs a dash of white, offers a solid 3/4 flyer, and exiles all cards from a player's graveyard on entry. You can blink her to reuse the effect, and you can even pick yourself in the rare cases you want to leave opposing graveyards intact.
19. Deadeye Tracker
Tracker begins weak at 1/1, but by tapping and exiling two opposing graveyard cards, he explores. This reveals the top card of your deck, adding it to hand if a land, and giving him a +1/+1 otherwise (then letting you place it back on top of deck or in graveyard). Either way, you benefit while eliminating potential threats.
18. Klothys, God of Destiny
Klothy is an indestructible 4/5, but like many god cards, she doesn't count as a creature until your red/green devotion (mana symbols) reaches seven. But whether creature or not, she banishes any card from a graveyard at your first main phase, giving you a red or green mana if a land and sapping two life from opponents otherwise.
While slower than some graveyard hate, it's a nice ongoing effect and offers some rare lifegain for the Gruul colors.
17. Remorseful Cleric
As a flying 2/1, Cleric provides respectable early-game aggro and can immediately sacrifice himself to exile all cards in a player's graveyard. Since this effect doesn't require tapping, it can be used immediately and makes a great response to a spell that would remove Cleric anyway.
16. Nezumi Graverobber/Nighteyes the Desecrator
2/1 Nezumi can spend two mana to exile a card from an opponent's graveyard. You really want this to hit their last card, because when a graveyard becomes empty by this effect, Nezumi flips into his stronger 4/2 Nighteyes form.
In addition to his increased power, Nighteyes can spend five mana to instantly play a creature from any graveyard. Since you just exiled an opponent's, you might have to stick to yours for a bit, but you can steal opposing creatures once their graveyards restock.
15. Ashiok, Dream Render
Accepting either blue or black mana, Ashiok offers a devastating passive effect, preventing opponents from searching their decks with spells or effect. That's a great block on tutors/fetch lands, and Ashiok can also -1 to mill four cards from a player's graveyard, then banish all opposing graveyards.
Ashiok's one weakness is an ability to gain loyalty, but with his starting 5, he can usually take a few hits before falling.
14. Phyrexian Scriptures
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Like other sagas, Scriptures activates its initial effect immediately and its next two abilities during your following upkeeps. First, it places a +1/+1 on up to one creature, also granting it the artifact type. Not only does this boost the unit's stats, it saves it from your upcoming removal, as Scriptures's second effect destroys all non-artifact creatures.
Finally, you'll exile all opposing graveyards, an excellent removal that leaves your own cemetery untouched, affects all opponents in multiplayer, and should have plenty of fodder thanks to the recent nuke.
13. Haunting Echoes
Echoes's effectiveness really depends on the format you're playing, preferring non-singleton arenas. It costs a fair chunk of five mana, but exiles all cards from a player's graveyard other than basic lands. Then, you search their library and also exile all cards with the same names.
It singleton formats like commander, you won't find any duplicates in your target's library, but in playstyles like standard, this eliminates numerous threats and works towards a deck-out mill loss. Either way, you also get to peek at your foe's arsenal, gaining knowledge of their upcoming plays.
12. Ebony Charm
For a single mana, Ebony Charm lets you pick from three abilities at instant speed:
- Target opponent loses one life and you gain one
- Exile up to three cards from any single graveyard
- Target creature gains fear until the end of the turn (it can't be blocked except by black or colorless creatures)
That's a versatile spread of effects for such a low price, and you'll often find three exiles more than enough to eliminate key threats in a graveyard.
11. Rakdos Charm
Another of the multi-option Charms, Rakdos needs two colors and a bit more mana than Ebony, but offers greater power and three impressive choices at instant speed:
- Exile all cards from a player's graveyard
- Destroy target artifact
- Each creature deals one damage to its controller
Here's another interesting spread with no clear highlight. Banishing an entire graveyard can really save you against zombie decks, artifact destruction counters commander staples like "Sol Ring," and mass creature punishment is handy for non-creature builds or against swarming opponents.
10. Nihil Spellbomb
Despite accepting any mana type, Spellbomb requires a black commander due to its text's symbol. Still, it only needs a single resource to cast and can tap and sacrifice itself to exile all cards from a player's graveyard, a formidable removal you can set ahead of time.
As if that weren't enough, when Spellbomb enters a graveyard from the field, you can pay a black mana to draw a card, skillfully replacing itself to maintain your hand advantage.
9. Deathrite Shaman
Although he can only exile one card at a time, Deathrite has an amazing number of traits for such a cheap unit. He only needs one mana and accepts either black or green, ensuring early access. His stats are also an impressive 1/2, and he carries the elf subtype, blending well with green's most abundant faction.
Then, by tapping, he can exile a land from any graveyard and grant you one mana of any color. Alternatively, by tapping, spending a black mana, and exiling an instant or sorcery, he can drain two life from each opponent. Or, he can tap, spend a green, and exile a buried creature to grant you two life. Thus, he'll slowly but surely diminish opposing graveyards while activating bonus effects, and you can even target cards in your own discard pile.
8. Tormod's Crypt
When it comes to easy graveyard exiling, Crypt is about as simple as it gets. This relic costs zero mana, making it a free play, and it can tap and sacrifice itself to exile all cards from a player's graveyard. Remember that artifacts (unlike creatures) can exhaust as soon as they arrive, meaning you can activate it immediately if you like.
Simple yet efficient and available to all colors, Crypt's an excellent counter to graveyard-dependent structures and a frequent member of my own commander builds, especially since it costs well under two dollars!
7. Ravenous Trap
For four mana, this trap card exiles an entire graveyard. Fortunately, it resolves at instant speed, and if an opponent had at least three cards placed into their graveyard (from anywhere) in a single turn, you can cast Trap for free!
Many turns, particularly during a match's later nuke-heavy stages, will see three units die at once, making Trap an easy trigger that (unlike today's artifacts) should catch opponents by surprise. You can also use black and blue's variety of mill spells to hasten the process and ensure easy access.
6. Scavenging Ooze
Ooze gives green just about anything it could want. Stats start at a fair 2/2, but by spending one green, Ooze can instantly exile any card in any graveyard. Then, if it was a creature, Ooze gets a +1/+1 and you gain one life.
You can definitely hit non-creature threats with this when needed, but the bonuses gained via creatures mean you might even want to target your own cards, especially in proliferate or lifegain builds.
5. Soul-Guide Lantern
A colorless artifact that can go in any deck, Lantern exiles a card from a graveyard on entry. From there, it can tap and sacrifice itself to exile an opponent's graveyard, or tap, sac, and spend one to draw a card.
Versatility and efficiency make this an excellent spell, either handling a whole graveyard or taking out one problem card while refilling your hand.
4. Phyrexian Furnace/Scrabbling Claws
These guys are almost exactly the same card. Each taps to exile one card from a player's graveyard (Furnace does the bottom card while Claws lets the player choose), and can spend one mana and sacrifice itself to draw a card.
Both offer useful and continuous graveyard hate; when you have the option, go with Furnace to give opponents less control over what they lose.
3. Leyline of the Void
Like its Leyline brethren, you get to start the with Void in play (for free) if it's in your opening hand! That's an amazing advantage to begin with, as Void exiles any card that would go to your opponent's graveyard.
While it won't handle anything sent there before its arrival, just beginning the game with this thing out can cripple many decks.
2. Bojuka Bog
One of the best lands in the game, Bojuka Bog functions similarly to a basic swamp except it enters tapped; try playing it on a turn where you don't need the extra resource immediately.
But as a trade-off for that small disadvantage, Bog exiles all cards from an opposing graveyard, a fierce bonus on top of a mana-generating terrain.
1. Relic of Progenitus
Relic provides a good option for multiplayer games. For a single mana, this artifact can tap to have a player exile a card from their graveyard. Opponents get to choose what they forfeit, but repeated uses will soon leave them with few options.
Plus, if you need a faster removal, you can spend one mana at any time to exile Relic plus all cards from all graveyards. Not only does this immediately wipe evert cemetery (including your own), it also lets you draw a card. With both continuous and immediate exiling options, Relic works well whether drawn early or late, adjusting to suit your needs.
Exiling Cards in Magic
In addition to today's list, you can exile cards that leave the field (lessening the need to banish graveyards) with spells like "Anafenza, the Foremost". Planeswalker "Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver" also offers several dispelling traits, and you can take advantage of exiled units with units like "Wasteland Struggler," who reward you with bonus effects who if you return exiled cards to an opponent's graveyard.
The effectiveness of banishment depends on which themes you face, but nearly every deck relies on the graveyard to some extent; limit your rivals' ability to retrieve their aces with today's spells. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of graveyard-punishing effects, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill