Too-Specific Top 10 - Counter-Counter
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know thatis the only card that can remove a counter from a permanent you control to specifically put a charge counter on an artifact?)
In a rare moment that is thankfully getting a tad less rare, March of the Machine has brought us a couple new cards that can remove counters from permanents.
isn't priced to blow anyone away, but it does make up for it a bit by adding on a cantrip. Add in the fact that it's one of only two spells that can currently remove counters from permanents (as opposed to creatures) and it may have just found a niche. As for , its front side may just be an expensive board wipe with options, but its backside is one of the best counter-removers that's ever been printed. What with battles joining planeswalkers and Sagas as another card type/mechanic that will be heavily influenced by the manipulation of counters, I only see interest in these rather rare cards growing (we've even already seen some price spikes to that effect, in fact).
Since we've gotten a bit more of these effects recently, I've started to wonder where these new options fall in the hierarchy.
Top 10 Counter Removal Cards
Criteria: Cards that can remove counters from permanents (or nonland permanents) you do not control. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
I said we've been seeing more of this effect, and we have, but even with that increase, I still only found 12 cards total, includingand . In other words, this was the perfect time to dive in.
(237 Inclusions, 0% of 485,338 Decks)
With counter removal being a core black mechanic, options are limited for Selesnya mages. Still, if you're in aor you just , I think we've reached a point where is worth consideration, or at least more consideration than 237 inclusions. Honestly, that number already means that Saga decks aren't playing this, which is a huge miss. A 2/1 for two that can let you repeat chapters? Sign me up.
(647 Inclusions, 0% of 1,214,409 Decks)
I'm only more convinced that folks are sleeping onwhen I see how much play is playing in just Golgari Elf decks. Sure, it's a that's an Elf, but it also costs an extra mana. The flexibility is nice, as is the lack of double-black pips in a deck that's going to be mostly green, but I just don't see why even budget decks would be stooping this low for options.
(756 Inclusions, 0% of 1,791,408 Decks)
is the of counter removal. If you're in black, there are way better options, but if you're not, this card's here!
Of course, that's ignoring half of the Puppet's ability, which can also add counters as well as remove them. For me, that's what actually makes this card worth it, as removing a single counter for four mana doesn't really make much sense from a cost perspective. If you are in a Saga or Superfriends deck, or have managed to put together a Weird Counter deck, that's where I think this is worth the price of admission. Most of the time, you're just going to use it to tick yourup to her ultimate, but every once in a while there will be a lone counter sitting across the battlefield that needs eliminating.
(1,520 Inclusions, 0% of 1,065,212 Decks)
Like all good Aristocrats cards,gets those counters coming and going. Unlike pretty much every great Aristocrat card, however, it also costs six mana. Which is not to say this isn't worth it; we're always looking for seamless graveyard removal cards that have useful primary effects, and this qualifies. At a 4/4 with menace, it's a legitimate threat on the battlefield that's supremely expendable. The ETB/death trigger is also flexible, allowing for either the removal of a battle, planeswalker, the resetting of a Saga, or the killing of a creature. In short, if you can afford the six mana, then this is a great option as both modes of Desecrator's triggers become equally useful in this newfound meta.
(2,493 Inclusions, 0% of 2,361,862 Decks)
There was a time when three mana for a 1/1 unblockable seemed like a fairly good rate, but that time passed about a decade ago., then, finds itself in the same boat as old-school EDH cards like . It's not unthinkable that you'd find a deck that wants to play them, but given that the combat damage trigger will sometimes take a swing and miss, while the unblockable body just doesn't do enough damage to be worth the price of admission, you'll probably pass on it more often than not.
(Helms 607 Decks, Rank #800; 4,855 Inclusions, 4% of 130,489 Decks)
Instead, why not take a swing with a 3/3 "evasive" legend that has the combat damage triggers of bothand , with some card draw tacked on in case none of that is what you want right now? is the most prominent example of just how far we've power creeped in Magic I can think of. To think that back in the day was considered as pushed as anything could get just because it had more power and toughness than its casting cost and had upsides besides. Well, hold my beer, because here's a 3/3 for three with a combination of keywords that used to be considered too good to exist on the same card, along with a trio of all-relevant combat damage triggers that put any singular card you can think of that does something similar to shame. is , , and all in one, with an insta-kill in the package as well for any creature that jumps in the way.
Now, all of these creatures have since been outclassed in their own right, with once-Standard-All-Starpaling in comparison to , then , then , then , then , then , then , then moving entirely outside of blue with , , and finally .
I'm not saying this is the end of Magic, but it's a concerning trend. As for Glissa, she'll be near the top of this list soon, at least until something better is printed. Soon.
(5,792 Inclusions, 0% of 1,216,23o Decks)
That'll be particularly heartbreaking for fans, like myself, of. Number four on this list is already much too low for this little Phyrexian Insect, so to see it fall to five will be a sad day indeed. Why do I think it should be in the top two instead of the top five? One, it can repeatedly remove counters without even a trigger needed. Two, it costs less than any other option that can do the same (and that's before it can be a combo engine by becoming a zero-cost creature with a cost-reducer). Three, it's an aggro threat in its own right.
In short, I don't really get the buzz of most of the cards ahead of this, at least in comparison.
(8,007 Inclusions, 1% of 1,216,230 Decks)
Now, none of that is to sayis a bad card. It should probably be at least number six on this list! The reason it's not has almost nothing to do with its counter removal ability. No, put simply, the reason for 's 8,000 inclusions is because it is the sole one-mana Extort card. Sure, the counter removal is good, too, but what folks are actually looking for is a means to start repeatedly draining their opponents early and often, and who can't relate to that?
(8,095 Inclusions, 1% of 1,216,230 Decks)
Similarly, I wouldn't say that the price for it has doubled overnight, putting it at just over a quarter! Oh my! In all seriousness, a 2/1 first striker with the ability to trade for planeswalkers and Hydras without ever resorting to combat is just a good, efficient threat. There's every reason to love this thing, especially as counters become more prevalent in the format.is a bad creature, or a bad option to remove counters. Most people, off the top of their heads, probably would have put it as the number one card on this list. Indeed, with the printing of battles,
I just likemore, is all. Sure, I've gotta pay the mana, but that seems more than worth it for repeatable removal. Which, it must be said, is also something that Hexmage can do if you're deep in recursion, so it's not like there's no place for it!
(9,635 Inclusions, 1% of 1,165,834 Decks)
I'd never say never on any subject in Magic, but unlike along with a heck of a series of entries over on Commander Spellbook. Most of those things are looking to abuse the adding ability (or just the fact that it can target ), but I know in the two decks I play in, I've used the removal option several times to take out low-lying fruit in the form of planeswalkers and +1/+1 counters. Those options will only be more prevalent as you look to start "winning" your battles.and , I think it's unlikely we'll ever see outclassed. With the ability to add or remove counters and to be repeatedly recast with Buyback, it's a mainstay in Superfriends, Saga, +1/+1 counter, and Spellslinger decks all at once,
With this top ten and the two new entries being the entire spectrum of counter removers that can hit all permanents (or at least nonland permanents), rather than just creatures, there's not much to mention this week!
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
Counter removal has more or less been retconned to be a mono-black option these days, which, at least to me, seems a bit restrictive. What do you think?
Finally, what's your favorite counter-remover? Do you think I'm off my rocker to be claiming thatshould see more play than ? Will end up at the top of this list?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table we've been trying to balance with cheap drink coasters. Actually, Tim, can you take one more out on your side? I really think we can get this thing level.