Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Flying and Reach in Magic
The blue and green factions are polar opposites when it comes to creatures—green creatures have big power and toughness ratios but rarely contain flying. Meanwhile, blue creatures tend to be weaker but often have flying, making them unblockable except by other flyers or creatures with reach.
So no matter how bulky green's troops are, they can struggle against aerial assaults—how can you best defend their ranks? Here are the ten best anti-flying green spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Hurricane/Squall Line
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): X
These two spells have the same effect, but with different costs and timing. Hurricane only operates at sorcery speed, but is cheaper at X+1; Squall Line activates as an instant, but requires X+2 mana.
But whether you prefer a lower cost or instant speed, the effect remains constant, dealing X damage to each creature with flying and each player. Not only is this a solid anti-flying countermeasure, it's one of few green spells to directly damage opponents (and you), offering a red-like potential finisher.
9. Emerald Charm
For just one mana and with instant speed, Emerald Charm chooses one of three effects. You can either untap a permanent, destroy an enchantment, or have a creature lose flying until end of turn. Both the first and third abilities can catch attacking flyers off-guard; untap a reach unit for a surprise blocker, or simply have the attacker lose flying to let anyone block them.
8. Jagged-Scar Archers
Perfect for tribal decks, Jagged-Scar's power and toughness become equal to the number of elves you control; counting herself, that should be at least 1/1. Swarm elves to skyrocket her stats, then put them to good use with her tap effect, dealing damage to a creature with flying equal to Jagged-Scar's power.
This is similar to the fight mechanic except the opponent won't hit back, letting Jagged-Scar safely snipe aerial enemies.
7. Thornweald Archer
For just two mana, Thornweald Archer wields decent 2/1 stats alongside elf synergy. More than that, he has both deathtouch and reach, making him a perfect blocker for aerial threats (and grounded ones when need be).
6. Kraul Harpooner
Harpooner's biggest disadvantage is that he lacks elf synergy, instead carrying the insect and warrior subtypes. However, he compensates with excellent 3/2 stats, reach, and his undergrowth effect. On entrance, this gives Harpooner +X/+0 until end of turn (where X is the number of creatures in your graveyard), then he can fight an opposing creature with flying.
Now, the enemy unit will hit back and possibly kill Harpooner, but it's a good way to trade a low-cost troop for a bigger threat. And if you find a way to give Harpooner haste, he can capitalize on his temporary boost by swinging that turn.
A mainstay in my own green decks, Harpooner is also surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
5. Ezuri's Archers
One mana for an elf with 1/2 and reach is already tempting, but Archers really shines against flyers, getting +3/+0 for the turn when blocking one. Similar to Harpooner, this only increases power and not toughness, so Archers might not survive the exchange, but you're getting four blocking damage (alongside tribal support) in ideal scenarios.
4. Spidersilk Armor
Up until now, we've seen many units that help fend off flyers, but maybe you want all your creatures to do so. For that use, Spidersilk Armor, which simply grants your team +0/+1 and reach, providing a small toughness bonus plus the constant ability to guard flyers.
You might also consider "Tower Defense", whose reach boost only lasts a turn, but is cheaper, gives +0/+5, and can surprise opponents thanks to instant speed.
Cloudthresher's numerous symbols make him hard to splash outside green, but he rewards you with fierce 7/7 stats plus reach and flash, letting you cast him as an instant. He also provides a Hurricane-like effect on entrance, dealing two damage to each creature with flying and each player.
This might not be enough to kill all flyers, but it's a nice bonus on top of everything else. You can also evoke Cloudthresher for four mana, which activates his entrance effect, then sacrifices himself. Top it all off with elemental synergy for a versatile card.
2. Tornado Elemental
Tornado has higher cost than Cloudthresher, but his more-lenient symbols work better in multi-color decks. He's a 6/6 elemental, and though he lacks reach, he hits all flyers for six damage on entrance, more than enough to kill most foes.
Tornado is also one of few "super-tramplers" who can assign combat damage as though not blocked, preventing foes from thwarting his direct attacks.
1. Whiptongue Hydra
Whiptongue trades Tornado's super-trampling for a lower cost and superior effect, outright killing all creatures with flying. Plus, for each flyer destroyed this way, Whiptongue gains a +1/+1 counter, often propelling his base 4/4 stats above Tornado's 6/6 and synergizing with proliferate decks.
Whiptongue also has reach, so he can actually block flyers who arrive later, and his hydra subtype has some support (albeit not as much as elf and elemental).
Recommended Reach Creatures in Magic
Today we've seen many spells that counter flying, whether with direct damage or cheap blockers that power up against it. But if you're only somewhat concerned about facing aerial decks, you can take the middle road by simply using creatures with reach; favorites include "Sylvan Primordial" (banned in commander), "Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar", and "Arbor Colossus".
And even green has the occasional flyer, like "Hornet Queen" and "Jugan, the Rising Star", but for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next set of anti-flying spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill