Top 10 Low-Cost Creature Removals in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on October 6, 2018
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in-between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Good Removals in Magic

Whether your Magic deck emphasizes mana ramp, aggression, lifegain, or any other strategy, you'll want some removals to deal with opposing threats as you amass your army. Almost all decks utilize creatures, so anything that annihilates them without draining much mana can really save your bacon.

Whether you need to stop green from taking an early mana ramp lead with its tapping creatures, or simply want to kill an imposing attacker, these sorceries and instants will slam foes with death or damage and carry them off the field. I mixed and matched the best of both standard and EDH, so regardless of your preferred format, these awesome and inexpensive removals will adeptly eliminate opposing monsters in Magic: The Gathering!

Dreadbore
Dreadbore

10. Dreadbore

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2

Dreadbore's two disadvantages are its specific mana needs (one red and one black) plus its sorcery status, meaning that unlike today's instants, you can only play it during a main phase of your turn.

However, it can destroy either a target creature or planeswalker, no conditions attached. Nearly all two-cost creature removals come with some sort of restriction, and the added ability to blast planeswalkers make it a versatile card that scales well even into the late-game.

Go for the Throat
Go for the Throat

9. Go for the Throat

CMC: 2

Like today's other instants, you can cast Go for the Throat at any time, even during your opponent's move. For two mana, you simply destroy a target nonartifact creature.

You'll hardly mind the inability to nuke artifact creatures, as their twin status makes them vulnerable to both creature and artifact removals, giving you plenty of alternatives for eliminating them. In the meantime, you'll be assassinating nearly any target at quick-play speed, often killing them before your opponent can utilize their effects.

Bile Blight
Bile Blight

8. Bile Blight

CMC: 2

Like Throat, Bile Blight is a monoblack instant, but this time, both mana need to stem from swamps, so it's a bit trickier to fit into multicolor decks. Still, Blight gives a target creature and any troop sharing its name -3/-3 until the end of the turn.

This will kill weaker creatures outright, and can finish off bigger units who were previously injured in battle. Remember, even creatures with indestructible will perish if their toughness hits zero, making Blight a handy removal against fortified units. Since it also impacts like monsters, Blight excels in non-EDH formats (since commander mandates each card be unique), and it can also mass-wipe a swarm of tokens.

Lightning Helix
Lightning Helix

7. Lightning Helix

CMC: 2

Using the mountain lands of red with the plains of white, Lightning Helix functions similarly to the famed Lightning Bolt but costs an extra mana. However, it compensates with an added restorative benefit.

This instant first inflicts three damage to any target creature or player, destroying weaker units or maiming your opponent. Then, you gain three life. Bam, just like that, you've either eliminated a weaker enemy or scraped your opponent, simultaneously buffing your own health reservoir in case things take a sour turn.

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Pongify Rapid Hybridization
Pongify
Pongify
Rapid Hybridization
Rapid Hybridization

6. Pongify/Rapid Hybridization

CMC: 1

These two blue instants are very nearly the same card. For a single island's mana, you destroy a target creature and it can't be regenerated! That's a wonderful removal for such a low cost; however, in Pongify's case, you give your opponent a 3/3 (three power and three toughness) green ape token, while Hybridization bestows a 3/3 frog lizard token.

Either way, they're getting a green 3/3 soldier, so pick whichever subtype you feel your opponent is less likely to combo with. Sure, handing them a unit isn't great, but an effectless token won't bear any added traits, and you were able to transmute a bigger creature while preventing a regeneration and spending minimal mana. This also helps blue counter decks eliminate creatures who were able to slip past their negations (and are now ineligible for countering).

Path to Exile
Path to Exile

5. Path to Exile

CMC: 1

Similar to Pongify, this white instant removes a creature for low cost but bears a drawback. In this case, you don't destroy the target, but exile it instead, a fantastic removal that circumvents indestructible and prevents graveyard recoveries as well as unearth opportunities.

However, your opponent gets to search their library for a basic land and place it tapped onto the battlefield, so save Exile for something you really want to banish, as you'll be increasing your rival's mana production in future turns.

Terminate
Terminate

4. Terminate

CMC: 2

Terminate needs both red and black mana, but at instant speed, this two-cost spell destroys any target creature, bearing no restrictions on what it can and can't blast. Plus, it prevents regeneration, helping ensure you successfully eliminate your victim.

It's as simple as that. The monoblack removals are great for pure black decks or structures with so many colors you're worried about drawing the wrong mana types, but for focused black/red builds, there's little reason to choose other spells over Terminate.

Unsummon
Unsummon

3. Unsummon

CMC: 1

Like Pongify and Hybridization, Unsummon grants a cheap instant removal that doesn't rely on countering. For a single blue mana, you simply return a target creature to its owner's hand. Used against an enemy, sure, this means your adversary can potentially recast them, but they'll have to respend the necessary mana and again wait for summoning sickness (assuming the troop don't have haste) to wear off before attacking.

An excellent removal, especially since Unsummon can also bounce your own unit back to hand, skillfully saving it from a removal and granting additional chances to reactivate "when cast" abilities.

Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares

2. Swords to Plowshares

CMC: 1

Arguably the best removal in commander format, Swords to Plowshares operates similarly to Path to Exile. At instant speed, you target and exile an opposing creature, making it nearly impossible to recover them. This time, rather than granting your opponent a free tapped land, they instead gain life equal to the banished creature's power, a generally preferable price for you to pay.

Plowshares works particularly well against walls and defenders, as they typically wield low power scores and won't regain your opponent much life when removed from play.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt

1. Lightning Bolt

CMC: 1

Useful in both standard and EDH, Lightning Bolt costs a single red mana and hits either your opponent or one of their creatures with three damage. For its negligible price, your ability to pick any type of creature or your adversary makes this a surprisingly versatile and reliable card that keeps foes sweating whenever you have leftover mana and their needed units have three or less toughness.

Lightning Bolt is a must-have for any red deck that's contributed to many of my victories, and I'm genuinely surprised it costs well under five dollars, avoiding the hefty $20+ price tags that other renowned spells often bear.

Which card do you prefer?

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Good Field Wipes and Blue Counters

With these units, you're well-equipped to start obliterating foes with a variety of accessible spells. However, to eradicate larger groups rather than individuals, you may want to look at potent field-wipes, which will run more mana but blast the entire field. Of course, rather than destroying creatures after entering, you could always negate their arrival entirely using powerful blue counterspells.

However you conduct your creature punishment, the right array of removals will buy the needed time to perform your own plays and seize the win. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of formidable creature removals, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Jeremy Gill

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