The Best Spot Removal in Commander

The Perfect Removal Spells in EDH

Forget Terror, Play These Cards Instead!

Author: Philippe Zens

There are currently 27,349 different Magic: The Gathering cards in circulation. New sets of cards are releasing almost every month, and with them the pool of threats in the Commander format is growing and growing. What’s the best way to handle all those threats? That’s easy: With the best removal available!

Obviously, there are many top-notch removal spells available to choose from and depending on the colors of your Commander, some cards are off the table for you.

Therefore, we are going to look at 7 different categories:








A Quick Definition

To avoid unnecessary discussions, let’s start with a simple definition of what spot removal is (and is not):

Spot removal is a spell that destroys, exiles or that in any other way “handles” up to four permanents (= cards that are already on the battlefield).

For example: Terror is a spot removal because it destroys target non-black non-artifact creature. Damnation is not a spot removal, because it can potentially destroy all creatures.

Our definition might scratch the fine line between spot and mass removal, but we feel this will open the door to include some more great cards!

It goes without saying, that this is one man’s opinion, and you might not agree with all choices mentioned here.

Now with the boring rules and definitions out of the way, let’s take a look at the best spot removal of Commander.

Spot Removal for White

Stroke of Midnight only released recently with Wilds of Eldraine in September 2023. It quickly became one of the best  removal spells for White.


Because it checks almost every box we could wish for in a removal for our Commander deck:

  • Targets almost any permanent
  • Instant speed
  • Weak drawback

There’s no reason not to play this, except maybe its price point which is already creeping around the $2 cost for an Uncommon Standard card.

Stroke of Midnight WOE

Price is no problem for anyone considering Generous Gift! This card almost does exactly the same as Stroke of Midnight, but its drawback is a bit “heavier”. Your opponent gets a 3/3 Elephant instead of a 1/1 Human.

But for that, you can also destroy lands, and who doesn’t love land destruction?

On top of that, Generous Gift is in almost every preconstructed deck that plays White, so you got really no reason to pass on this fantastic removal.

Oblation has been around since Onslaught (22 years ago), when Commander didn’t even (technically) exist. At first glance, Oblation seems like a very bad trade-off, since ramping your opponent by two lands just gives them a too big advantage.

Here’s the thing:

Land drops become increasingly more meaningless the longer the game drags on and at some point, the drawback of Oblation will be very well worth it if it means you can just return any nonland permanent to the library!

On top of that, Oblation can be pretty flexible early on if you are struggling to hit your land drops. Just target one of your own things and get 2 lands for 3 mana. That’s about as good as Mono White Ramp gets!

Get Lost not only got the greatest name for a removal spell ever, it also gets the job done really well! Quick reminder for those of you that forgot, Explore means the following:

Reveal the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand if it’s a land. Otherwise, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature, then put the card back on top or into your graveyard.”

So yeah, the drawback can bite you in the ass, because your opponent can dig a bit and pump his creatures. That’s not too bad though, and Get Lost allows you to hit creatures, enchantments or even planeswalkers with it.

Get Lost LCI

Here’s the crème de la crème when it comes to creature removal. Swords to Plowshares has been around since Alpha and is still the champion for sending creatures into exile.

Its almost identical twin Path to Exile (not to be confused with the best video game of all time), almost does the same but instead of life you give your opponent a land. It’s a bit of a weaker Oblation and a weaker Swords to Plowshares.

Condemn is without a doubt the weakest of the three. The creature doesn’t get exiled, and you can only target attacking threats.

Swords to Plowshares LEA

Oblivion Ring and Others

There are many cards that fit the iconic O-Ring genre of removals. Most of the time enchantments or creatures, almost all the time weak to other removal.

Oblivion Ring was the first of its kind and beloved by many. It can hit almost any permanent, and depending on what colors your opponent is playing, it can be very difficult for them to remove the Ring. That’s probably the main reason it became one of the most famous types of removal for White.

The drawback is very obvious: Once your O-Card gets destroyed, your opponent gets back, which was lost.

Oblivion Ring LRW

Oblivion Ring has already been victim to power creep many, many times. Here are some of the best O-Ring alternatives so far: Grasp of Fate, Touch of Spirit Realm, Seal from Existence, Banishing Light, On Thin Ice, Borrowed Time, Act of Authority or Ossification.

Pacifism and Others

Pacifism and its counterparts are not necessarily removals, but they can be. If you are continuously beat in the face by a Voltron Commander, Pacifism gets the job done, maybe even better than a Swords to Plowshares.

The card stays on the battlefield, which can be in some cases worse than straight-up removal. If your opponent doesn’t have a sacrifice outlet (such as Altar of Bones), they won’t be able to get his Commander back to the Command Zone.

Planar Disruption is one of the best Pacifism effect at the moment, since it can deal with multiple card types, turns off activated abilities and has a low cost. Then there’s of course stuff like Faith’s Fetters or Bound in Gold that deal with whatever permanent for a little higher cost than Planar Disruption. Another fan favorite is Darksteel Mutation!

Planar Disruption ONE

Overall, the family of Pacifism suffers from the same drawback as Oblivion Ring. Once the enchantment gets removed, the threat is back in action.

Honorable Mentions: Crib Swap and Unexpectedly Absent

Two (or probably more) cards shouldn’t go unmentioned here, and that’s Crib Swap and Unexpectedly Absent.

Crib Swap is just a weaker Stroke of Midnight, with the benefit of having the Changeling ability. That means you could use Crib Swap in a Tribal deck with recursion effects such as Angel of Flight Alabaster, which is pretty cool!

Personally, not a big fan of Unexpectedly Absent, but it should be mentioned nonetheless because it can be useful in the right deck. Most obviously, Daxos of Meletis profits from this effect the most. In that case, it’s just a Confiscate with extra steps.

Crib Swap LRW
Unexpectedly Absent C13

Spot Removal for Blue

Ravenform KHM

Ravenform might be one of the coolest spot removal available to Blue, especially because it can target both creatures and artifacts.

That fact alone makes it quite flexible around blue removal spells. Then there’s the Foretell ability, which lets you cast it in preparation for later turns, where you can easily cast it for only one blue mana.

The drawback is quite marginal, since you’ll probably remove something way more threatening than a 1/1 flyer.

Similar to Ravenform, Imprisoned in the Moon lets you hit different types of cards, which is always a plus. This time it’s lands, creatures and planeswalkers.

Witness Protection and the later in Lost Caverns of Ixalan released Eaten by Piranhas basically do the same things as Imprisoned in the Moon, except that they can only target creatures.

The effect is a bit like the Pacifism cards in White. It lets you turn off entire Commanders until your opponent finds a way to remove Imprisoned in the Moon.

Very mean, but very effective!

Reality Shift CMM

Now Reality Shift, that’s a proper removal! Straight up exiles any creature that’s bothering you, and instead your opponent gets a weak 2/2. The coolest thing about this is, that you could get lucky without knowing it and remove two annoying cards at once!

Your opponent will be able to turn the 2/2 face up for its regular costs, but ONLY if it’s a creature. So, if the manifested card is a Cyclonic Rift, Farewell, Torment of Hailfire or anything else that might help them out of their misery, they can forget about that now!

This shouldn’t be the main reason to play Reality Shift, but it can be a funny side effect.

Cyber Conversion WHO

Cyber Conversion straight up turns a creature face down, making it a 2/2 creature with no abilities. This is arguably better than effects like Witness Protection or Eaten by Piranhas, since there’s almost no counterplay to this.

In some rare occasions you might run into decks that are all about face-down cards such as Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer or Kaust, Eyes of the Glade, which naturally can turn cards face-up or have supporting spells that can.

Pongify TSR

Pongify has been around since Planar Chaos (2007) and has been a staple in Commander since then. It works almost exactly like Ravenform or Reality Shift, but your opponent gets a “strong” 3/3 ape creature.

What speaks for Pongify above other blue spot removal is that it is instant speed and the super low cost of just 1 blue mana.

Resculpt does the same as Pongify, also at instant speed, but you’ll have to pay more and your opponent gets a 4/4, which is a bit more threating than the ape. Then again, you can also target artifacts with Resculpt.

Being able to have flexible removal on hand is always a plus!

Honorable Mention: Polymorph

Polymorph is actually a bad removal in comparison to all the other stuff we’ve already seen Blue can do. The cool thing about Polymorph is that you can also target your own creature to possibly hit the table with a huge Kraken/Leviathan such as Hullbreaker Horror or Inkwell Leviathan.

With all the Ponders, Brainstorms and Preordains Blue has to offer, Polymorph can be a valid choice for spot removal with alternatives.

Polymorph MIR

Spot Removal for Black

Deadly Rollick has specifically been designed for Commander (of course) and they did a fantastic job at that. Maybe a little bit too fantastic?!

If you control your Commander, you can exile any creature for free, otherwise the spell costs you 4 mana. Most of the time it will be free though, and it exiles, won’t get better than that!

Deadly Rollick CMM

Feed the Swarm is maybe not better than Deadly Rollick, but it is more flexible!

It’s also the only playable black spell that destroys enchantments.

You could of course play Ghastly Death Tyrant or Shatter the Oath, but nobody in their right mind would do that except if it fits their deck’s plan.

Feed the Swarm only costs 2 mana, but you’ll have to pay life, which can be a pretty big sacrifice depending on what you want to destroy.

Feed the Swarm LTC

Tragic Slip or Defile are great to kill indestructible creatures and due to their nature, they’ll almost always be able to hit big creatures.

Since Tragic Slip is an instant and Commander a multiplayer format, creatures will be dying left and right of you, so you can always count on that Morbid ability.

If you are playing mono black, then you’ll be swamped by Swamps, so Defile will grow with the game length.

Another valid option in this category is Dismember, which is pretty in Commander due to our 40 starting life.

For a very long time, Terror was one of the best removals in Black you could get, but that changed when Doom Blade was printed in Magic 2010. The power creep was real and shortly after it in 2011, Mirrodin Besieged gave us its counterpart: Go for the Throat.

The Regenerate part of Terror became more and more neglectable, since Regenerate itself started to disappear more and more from the following expansions.

Then in 2021, one of the best cards of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt got released and quickly became the overall “King of Terrors”. Infernal Grasp can hit every creature with no restrictions, which gives us perfect flexibility.

Infernal Grasp DBL

Spark Harvest or Annihilating Glare are honestly only worth it if your deck is running any kind of sacrificial theme, but then they can be a great alternative to the usual Terror effects.

That way, you can kill an opponent’s creature and get to kill one of your own!

The peak for this kind of removal is Attrition, which is borderline mass removal if you are playing the right deck!

Honorable Mention: Ashes to Ashes and Oubliette

Two pretty unusual removals for Black are Ashes to Ashes and Oubliette.

Ashes to Ashes will straight up exile two target nonartifact creatures for only 5 life! A stronger Infernal Grasp that exiles? Yes, please! Think about it that way: You pay 1 mana more than with Feed the Swarm, but you can directly hit two creatures AND you only pay 5 life, whereas you easily pay 4+ life with Feed the Swarm.

Oubliette plays like a stronger Oblivion Ring, since it also phases out all auras and equipments on the creature it targets.

Now Oubliette will shut down any Commander it targets, because Phasing doesn’t cause the Commander to change zones. Would this card be White, it would easily rank before all other cards of the same type.

Oubliette ARN

Spot Removal for Red

Chaos Warp 2X2

If we are not looking at burn spells, Chaos Warp is probably the most popular spot removal in Red. The very best thing is something we already mentioned with other removals:

It can target any card type!

Red generally focuses on creature and artifact destruction, so having a card on hand that can deal with enchantments, planeswalkers and lands is pretty neat.

The downside of that is that our opponent might put something onto battlefield that’s much worse than the card we removed. To be used with caution!

Wild Magic Surge is obviously a bit worse than Chaos Warp, but otherwise a good addition/replacement for it.

First, the card doesn’t get shuffled back into the library but gets destroyed instead. Secondly, the same kind of permanent will get put onto the battlefield, so you get a bit more room for speculation:

If you target an artifact, chances might be high that he gets a random mana rock in return.

If you target a creature and your opponent plays The Ur-Dragon as their Commander, chances are high that you might regret doing that.

Pyroblast PW23

Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast are just great for really cheap removal that can get rid of a lot of blue cards. You can get rid of a Rhystic Study with it or even the before mentioned The Ur-Dragon.

It’s flexible in a way that it can target enchantments or planeswalkers, and we already established that Red is pretty bad at killing those types.

Hence, including at least one of these two cards already gives you a tiny chance of not getting locked down by a Propaganda!

Zoyowa’s Justice at first looks rather bad in comparison to all the other artifact removal you can get in Red. What’s neat about it is, that you can also send back a creature to the library. So Zoyowa’s Justice gives us options (remember, we love options) and it’s also an almost non-restrictive removal!

The drawback is that the opponent can discover X. This can again, go either way. Maybe your opponent gets lucky and gets something useful or not.

Of course, some of the best spot removal in Red are burn spells.

Take your pick, there are infinite possibilities here and since we are playing Commander, it doesn’t always have to be the cheapest spells around.

The best options for burn spells are, of course, options with options! Abrade is great because it can straight up destroy an artifact or shoot damage.

Strangle, Soul Sear and Obliterating Bolt are cool because they can hit planeswalkers or creatures. In case of Soul Sear, you can even kill an indestructible creature.

Then there’s stuff like Nahiri’s Warcrafting that can target three different card types, and you get pseudo card draw from it.

Volcanic Spite and Fire Prophecy are great for the same reason Nahiri’s Warcrafting is great. Just getting some kind of card advantage in Red is always good!  

The second thing Red is exceling in besides burning players is artifact destruction!

There’s an abundance of great spells here and honestly, they are all not perfect but get the job done.

We are cheating a bit here with putting By Force in the mix and the same is true for Vandalblast, but they are two of the most effective artifact removals for Red and technically could still count as spot removal as per our definition!

Anyhow, if you don’t want to use By Force or Vandalblast, there’s cool alternatives with: Fury Charm also lets you pump your creature, Molten Frame lets you draw a card instead and Gleeful Demolition is really cool for Goblin decks!

Honorable Mention: Guff Rewrites History

Guff Rewrites History technically always targets more than one permanent but never more than four, so it’s still in the limits of our definition. Was the definition rewritten only to be able to include Guff Rewrites History? Maybe!

The card is somewhat the same as Chaos Wrap but can remove four things at once and brings a lot more Chaos with it instead. Just a fun card, that can get rid of many threats. Play at your own risk!

Guff Rewrites History CMM

Spot Removal for Green

Beast Within WHO

For a long time, Beast Within has established itself as one of the best Green spot removals out there. It can destroy any permanent (even lands) at instant speed, and the drawback certainly is something that Green players can handle.

According to EDHRec, Beast Within sees play in 42% of all Commander decks, which speaks for itself. The card is THAT good.

Song of the Dryads is a close second to Beast Within. It’s the same type of removal as Imprisoned in the Moon or Bound in Gold: An Aura that you attach to a permanent to make it unusable.

In this case, you are ramping your opponent a bit, but you can target any permanent, which is just so, so, so good in Commander. The other “Pacifisms” you can play in Green are for example Kenrith’s Transformation or Lignify. All of these got their pros and cons, but Song of the Dryads is by far the best of them.

Green is a bit short on classic creature removal.

Normally, you get either artifact and enchantment removal OR you get to destroy a creature with flying. Atraxa’s Fall combines both of these worlds into a very cost efficient 2 mana spell. Its biggest drawback is its sorcery speed, but for that you get a flexible, cheap removal.

You get instant speed with the classic artifact and enchantment removal Green has to offer: Return to Nature, Nature’s Claim, Wilt or Krosan Grip (if you really, really want something destroyed).

There’s also Sorcery options that give you a bit more for your mana like Broken Bond, Archdruid’s Charm or the before mentioned Atraxa’s Fall. And then there’s also the popular “removals on a stick” with creatures like Force of Vigor, Masked Vandal or Tranquil Frillback.

The choices are almost endless for artifact and enchantment removal. We are sure you’ll find something that will work for your deck!

Prey Upon AER

Prey Upon and Others

Another classic thing Green does is FIGHT!

There are plenty of cards that fight, the only problem is you also need enough big creatures that can fight. If you don’t, you are basically sacrificing your own creatures for a trade-off or, well, you are not killing anything.

Prey Upon is the purest form of this kind of removal, but there’s cool options such as Bushwhack or Khalni Ambush, which can alternatively be used if you would miss your land drop.

Then there’s Savage Punch, Primal Might or Hunt the Hunter, that let you pump your creatures before going into the fight.

Or you could play Ulvenwald Tracker and repeatedly start fights with your opponent. Or how about you play Barroom Brawl and give everyone the opportunity to join the fight!

Honorable Mention: Druid of Purification

Druid of Purification is just a fantastic card that has the potential of removing up to four artifacts or enchantments. Your opponents are also choosing what to remove, but the trick is: They can’t target anything you control! They also get the option not to remove anything, but who isn’t happy about a free removal choice?

Druid of Purification AFC

Spot Removal for Multicolor

Pretty much one of the kings among removals! Assassin’s Trophy gets rid of any permanent at instant speed for the low cost of only 2 mana. The drawback becomes more and more neglectable the longer the game goes on, which is also fantastic.

Now this card sees play in a lot of competitive formats such as Modern or even Standard now, so prices might be a bit higher than other removals. Then again, it recently got reprinted in Murders at Karlov Manor, which made the price drop significantly.

Assassins Trophy MKM

Anguished Unmaking is another great one! Exile any nonland permanent for only 3 mana and 3 life? Yes, please! There’s not much else to say, really. It got instant speed, the lifeloss is a drawback we very much like in Commander and even more so in an Orzhov deck.

Anguished Unmaking LTC

Void Rend can’t be countered, which is a big plus in comparison to most other removal so far. It’s also an Instant and can target everything except lands. Very strong spot removal, but it will come at a cost! A white, a blue and a black cost, to be exact.

Normally it shouldn’t be a big problem for any deck to gather those resources, but it still a little drawback that needs to be mentioned.

Otherwise, that’s almost the perfect spot removal right there!

Abrupt Decay is the even more competitive counterpart to Assassin’s Trophy, which essentially does the same but only against nonland permanents with cmc3 or less. And it can’t be countered!

It’s a great removal, but the restrictions on what you can target are pretty harsh for EDH, where Timmy cards get played left and right of you. That said, Abrupt Decay can almost literally always be used against stuff like Lightning Greaves, Rhystic Study, Song of the Dryads or anything else that’s bothering you.

The problem is that it will probably not remove any big threats any time.

Another good spot removal brought to you by the Orzhov guild!

It’s not hitting everything anymore, but it’s still an instant speed removal for creatures and enchantments! Even better: The card is super cheap, and you can get it for a buck or two!

Unlike Anguished Unmaking or Assassin’s Trophy, there’s no drawback to Mortify except its flexibility. There are still plenty of targets for it, so no reason not to play it!

Terminate is just a better Terror, but it will definitely get the job done. No matter what color the creature is, no matter if it’s an artifact or not, the creature will die (with or without regenerate). So that’s cool but Terminate can only target creatures which is a bit sad.

Nonetheless, Terminate is a great creature removal which you should include if you are playing those colors!

Terminate 2X2

Honorable Mention: Damn and Despark

There’s plenty of other multicolor spot removal, but two cards still need to be mentioned before we move on: Damn and Despark.

Damn is a Terminate that can be turned into a Wrath of God, which is why it’s not on the list. But wow, that’s just so strong and cool, and you should play it!

Despark is just a great removal for the big stuff. It EXILES any permanent with cmc4 or greater for only two mana. That’s worth considering, although Orzhov seems to be the overall king of spot removal, so there’s a lot to choose from!

Damn MH2
Despark STA

Spot Removal for Colorless

Introduction to Annihilation STX

Introduction to Annhilation is actually the most playable colorless spot removal there is. It got a pretty big mana cost attached to it, but you get to exile any nonland permanent, and you can put this card in any deck. That means you get enchantment removal for Black and Red with this, that’s worth considering!

Scour from Existence is the same as Introduction to Annihilation but without any drawbacks except its huge mana costs. Okay, those mana costs are a big drawback, which makes this card somewhat unplayable. Maybe you can make it work in the right deck, but there’s almost always a better alternative than this.

Turn your opponents’ creatures into Ox token with this simple trick!

Transmogrifying Wand turns any creature into a 2/4 Ox and can do that up to three times. If you are playing anything that proliferates, then you can turn this wand into an annoying card to deal with!

This is not as flexible as Introduction to Annihilation or Scour from Existence, but it’s cheaper and got more uses. Another drawback is that it itself is susceptible to removal, similar to all the Pacifism and O-Ring removals.

Spine of Ish Sah BRC

Spine of Ish Sah follows the footsteps of Scour from Existence, but the cool thing is that you can reuse it after it gets destroyed, so you only need some kind of sacrifice outlet to keep using it. Then again, you’d need 7 mana to recast Spine of Ish Sah, which is way too much.

Titan's Presence CMM

Titan’s Presence is great if you are playing a pure colorless deck. In that case, you probably have plenty of colorless creatures you can reveal, and they will probably be huge enough to exile any creature you want.

The drawback is, of course, that it will only target creatures.


That’s it! This scratched the tip of EDH’s best removal spells, but there are obviously a lot more cards that we could talk about and that might deserve a slot on this blog post.

Just when I was finishing the article, I remembered Putrefy and that’s probably not the only playable card I forgot to mention here.

Anyhow, I’m very excited to see what new removal we’ll get with Outlaws of Thunder Junction, Modern Horizons 3 and Bloomburrow. I bet there will be new kings of removal among these releases!

Don’t forget: If any of these removals are missing in your deck, you can get all of these cards on our Cardmarket page!

Putrefy STA