Daily Dose of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths #10 – Guide to Combat Tricks and Removal Cards by Colour
Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Today I get to write one of my favourite articles of every preview season. It’s time for the Guide to Combat Tricks and Removal Cards by Colour for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. One of the biggest mysteries when playing Limited Magic is wondering what spell your opponent could possibly have for the mana they have available. This guide is here to help you figure that out and be a step ahead of your opponent. You will see all the possible removal spells and combat tricks that you can use and that can be used against you. Armed with this knowledge, you will be ready to enter the Ikoria Limited Arena.
To make it easier, I’ve broken it down by colour so you can have easier reference to what you’re looking for.
White Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
White has some of the best removal cards in the set, so let’s start off with those. There are some situational instant speed spells like Blade Banish that allows you to exile creature with power 4 or greater and Divine Arrow which can deal 4 to an attacking or blocking creature. At sorcery speed, you have Pacifism which will shut down the combat side of a creature and Swallow Whole which can exile a creature for only 1-mana while pumping up one of your creatures.
What you will have to watch out for are the 6 different pump spells that white has ranging from one to five mana to cast. The best of the bunch is Fight as One that can pump two creatures for only 1 mana. Spontaneous Flight and Will of the All-Hunter both give +2/+2, but can have some added bonuses as well. Solid Footing is a solid Flash Aura for 1 mana that could add a lot more power if used on a creature with Vigilance. Splendor Mare doesn’t pump a creature, but it can give it lifelink, which could affect life total calculations during combat. The only mass pump spell you need to worry about is the 5-mana Coordinated Charge. Light of Hope is another 1-mana option that can also destroy an enchantment.
The only sweeper type spell that White has is Mythos of Snapdax which will still leave some permanents on the battlefield, but maybe not the best ones.
Blue Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
When it comes to blue spells, there isn’t really any removal spells in this colour unless you include the possibility of the Mythos of Illuna token fighting a creature. Blue does specialize in counterspells though. It has 3 situational ones in Convolute, Essence Scatter and Keep Safe. They do have one counter all spell in Neutralize that can also be cycled if needed. Blue can lock down creatures with the Aura Capture Sphere and the spell Frostveil Ambush.
Where Blue does excel is in having several nice combat tricks. The creature Avian Oddity can be cycled to give another creature flying at instant speed. Mystic Subdual is great at shutting down 1 creature. If you need to affect multiple creatures, Hampering Snare will lower the power of all your opponents’ creatures. Finally, there is the combat trick Startling Development that can power up a creature into a 4/4 at instant speed.
Black Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
Black is always the premier colour when it comes to removal spells and Ikoria is no different. You can start off with the instant removal spells. Blood Curdle, Easy Prey and Heartless Act are all instant speedways to kill creatures for either two or four mana. You might be able to play around some of them if you have the right creatures. One of the best overall removal cards in the set is Mythos of Nethroi. It can destroy any creature at instant speed, but in the right deck can be upgraded to take out any nonland permanent. For sorcery speed removal, you can use Dead Weight to kill a small creature and Mutual Destruction to kill any creature if you sacrifice one of your own as well. Black also has a Mutate creature in Dirge Bat that can mutate and destroy a creature or planeswalker.
Black has two solid combat tricks in the form of Unexpected Fangs and Unlikely Aid. The creature Void Beckoner can also cycle at instant speed to give a creature deathtouch as well. Black does have two situational sweepers including the mini-sweeper Suffocating Flames and the choose your fate of odd or even sweeper in Extinction Event.
Red Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
Red is always high in damage spells, but in Ikoria there is only one that has a chance of dealing damage to your opponent. It is high in creature damage spells though, starting with a couple of situational instants in Blitz of the Thunder Raptor and Shredded Sails. Both have the chance to be great in the later game, but could also be dead cards in your hand. (luckily you can cycle Shredded Sails) For other instant damage spells, Flame Spill can kill larger creatures or kill smaller creatures and deal damage to your opponent as well.
At sorcery speed, both Go for Blood and Rumbling Rockslide can deal with one creature at a time. Mythos of Vadrok can hit multiple creatures and/or planeswalkers and has the chance to make them unable to attack or block until your next turn as a nice bonus. Blazing Volley is a way to finish off a group of creature post-combat after an attack or remove a bunch of pesky 1/1 Human tokens. When it comes to combat tricks, beware of a creature dying to first strike as Heightened Reflexes, Raking Claws and Sanctuary Smasher can all give a creature that keyword.
Green Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
Green doesn’t usually have any direct ways to kill creatures, but it still has some tricks up its sleeves. To start off you get a trio of situational removal cards. Barrier Breach can clear the battlefield of enchantments, Wilt deals with an artifact or enchantment, while Plummet will deal with anything the Azorius Flying deck can put on the battlefield. Some other green removal spells to deal with creatures can be done at sorcery speed thanks to Charge of the Forever Beast and Monstrous Step. They both require another card/permanent to make them work. If you do need to kill a creature at instant speed, Ram Through provides a 1-sided fight that has a chance of doing damage to your opponent if your creature has trample.
Green does have some combat tricks to use as well. There is the 1-sided Fog card Thwart the Enemy. Fully Grown adds some power and trample to a creature, while Sudden Spinnerets allows you to untap a creature and block a flying creature thanks to giving it reach. Finally, you have the 11/11 Titanoth Rex that can be cycled to allow you to put a trample counter on one of your creatures.
Multicolour Combat Tricks and Removal Cards
Not a ton here, but Springjaw Trap can be used in any deck. Back for More is expensive, but is an instant way to get a 2-for-1 removal spell. Dire Tactics is one of the best removal spells for creatures in the set. Channeled Force is an instant damage spell, but won’t often be for a large amount. Inspired Ultimatum can deal 5 damage to one target, but it does require 7 mana at sorcery speed to cast it. To close it off is the ultimate sweeper in the set, the extremely one-sided Ruinous Ultimatum.
I hope that this Ikoria Guide to Combat Tricks and Removal Cards by Colour will provide some value and give you some insight into what to expect in some of your first Limited games of the set. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Ikoria. Join me in the coming weeks as I breakdown the set with deck archetypes, decklists and strategies for Standard and Limited.