Counteracting large hexproof creatures.

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Sept. 15, 2020, 11:05 a.m. by StopShot

The subject of this thread revolves around dealing with and counteracting against the commanders: Uril, the Miststalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Dragonlord Ojutai, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, Thrun, the Last Troll as well as commanders that consistently or typically give themselves hexproof through various equipments/auras.

While it may not be the most prevalent strategy these types of commanders can be annoying to deal with. I'd like to create a discussion on what are the best ways to deal with these commanders. Given how niche these commanders can be, running cards that exclusively dedicate themselves to their removal may be detrimental to draw into when playing a game where none of your opponents run them. Therefore cards that can both combat massive hexproof creatures as well as still being useful to have if none of your opponents are playing with big hexproof creatures should be taken into consideration when deciding what is the "best" or "most practical" solution to combating hexproof strategies.

The first cards that come to mind are Arcane Lighthouse, Detection Tower, Bonds of Mortality, Shadowspear and Glaring Spotlight. These cards entirely dedicate themselves to combating hexproof strategies, and while this may be a detriment when used against non-hexproof strategies, these cards do lend themselves some extra utility. Arcane Lighthouse and Detection Tower can be seeded into your manabase so at worst they're just a Wastes however they can be more inefficient in comparison. Given that both are lands, tapping them costs you an extra mana resource effectively making their abilities cost to activate. Not only that, but they have no effect at stripping indestructible which can be a common keyboard which may be used alongside most hexproof strategies. Cards like Bonds of Mortality and Shadowspear cost only one to activate and they can bypass indestructible, however given they're not lands you have to dedicate a nonland slot in your deck to accommodate either of them which means taking out a card that may better synergize with your deck's main strategy in their place. They also lend themselves targets for counter spells and given hexproof decks contain white and/or green, artifact/enchantment removal will pose a high potential risk. This is all not to mention you still need to provide a removal spell in tandem with these cards in order to remove the threat.

Another solution is board wipes. Cards such as Wrath of God, Damnation, Day of Judgment, Supreme Verdict, Blasphemous Act, etc. Mass creature removal is incredibly strong given that its always relevant in most metas making it a highly flexible solution that isn't too narrow to rely upon. It's biggest drawback however is if the massive hexproof creature that needs to be dealt with has indestructible, totem armor or Gift of Immortality. Even a card such as Toxic Deluge can be a risk as you may have to pay a huge amount of life if the creature is incredibly big. Cyclonic Rift is another effective card. One thing to note about boardwipes are they affect the whole table which makes them also more likelier to be countered than by effects that impact a single individual.

A more narrow solution would be through damage prevention effects such as Story Circle, Forcefield, Runed Halo, Rune of Protection: White, etc. Given each card never "targets" they can be used to infinitely "Fog" a problem creature that you can't put up with. These effects are more narrow than boardwipes but broader than hexproof removal. Cards like these still run into problems with artifact/enchantment removal and they don't run enticing side effects such as drawing a card upon entering the battlefield like Bonds of Mortality or giving a creature lifelink and trample like Shadowspear, however you won't need to exhaust your removal spells to keep the large creature(s) either. In more broader metas such as combo, stax and prison, these effects may not be as useful however. More broader variants of these protection cards exist as Ensnaring Bridge, Divine Presence, Peacekeeper and Meekstone though these cards may make multiple opponents unhappy enough to remove them than the more narrower options.

The last effect used to combat large hexproof creatures is sacrifice effects such as: Fleshbag Marauder, Innocent Blood, Vona's Hunger, Liliana's Triumph, Doomfall etc. These effects can bypass not only hexproof but also indestructible, regenerate and totem armor. Their drawback lies in if the player with the large hexproof creature has any other creatures to sacrifice in their place. Because of this caveat this effect isn't too strong unless ran in multiples which can be difficult to commit to in a 100-card format. Instead selective sacrifice effects may be the best way to devote to this solution with cards like: Crackling Doom, Soul Shatter, Slaughter the Strong, Council's Judgment, Renounce the Guilds and Wing Shards. While these cards won't always guarantee the large hexproof creature will be removed, they provide a stronger case than not compared to most traditional sacrifice removal.

Lastly there are counter spells to remove hexproof creatures. While they may be the best all purpose solution they can be rendered ineffective if a Cavern of Souls or some other can not be countered effect is in place. With exception to Withering Boon, the biggest downside to counter spells are they are entirely exclusive to blue meaning other color combinations without blue do not have this option available.

Which method do you rely on to stop massive hexproof creatures? Is there a card or solution set not listed here that you use? If you happen to play EDH decks with big massive hexproof creatures, which effects annoy/counter you the most?

RiotRunner789 says... #2

Well if it's their commander that is the problem, there's Leadership Vacuum. As for non-targetting board wipes, there is also Settle the Wreckage and Winds of Abandon.

September 15, 2020 11:21 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #3

I like how Leadership Vacuum has Uril in the art

September 15, 2020 11:24 a.m.

Joe_Ken_ says... #4

For the Hexproof Voltron commanders I've always had issues with sac effects like Dictate of Erebos

September 15, 2020 12:34 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #5

Cheating auras like Darksteel Mutation and Song of the Dryads onto the battlefield is another option that you did not mention. This takes a little more effort than simply using a boardwipe, so I would not recommend this as a strategy unless you are in a dedicated enchantress deck and going to be cheating enchantments onto the field as-is.

September 15, 2020 1:50 p.m.

hejtmane says... #6

Leadership Vacuum hosed many of people with that card

September 15, 2020 1:55 p.m.

enpc says... #7

There's also cards like Meddling Mage and Nevermore which allow you to proactively hate on one card at a time. And they're really easy to just name a troublesome commander.

September 15, 2020 6:16 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #8

Black has a lot more options. Name Hate removal galore and punishment cards that get rid of creatures for attacking you.

Dread, No Mercy and cards like it destroy creatures without targeting them. Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts will even give you token creatures for killing stuff.

Also limited to black, Name Hate cards like Extirpate which even has split second so it will resolve before your opponent can do something about it. Another good one is Cranial Extraction. It does not target a creature and the creature you name does not need to be in play. If their yard is loaded, then Haunting Echoes will ruin their day. Surgical Extraction can get cast without black mana. The big drawback is you need to know the name, or there needs to be a copy in their yard. There are some that let you look at their hand, like Lobotomy and then get rid of them.

September 15, 2020 11:35 p.m.

RNR_Gaming says... #9

Doing your own thing faster than they do their thing is usually my approach. I like all these suggestions though I'll add Grave Pact since someone already said dictate

September 16, 2020 5:59 a.m.

EleshNornsFs says... #10

Best way to deal with a hexproof indestructible creature is Merciless Eviction. Guaranteed to piss off the Progenitus player every time.

September 16, 2020 7:05 a.m.

MagicMarc says... #11

Another option for Blue is to run Dissipation Field. And then once the card is back in their hand, hold a counter for it or use hand disruption to get rid of it. Or just keep returning it with the field.

The best thing about the Dissipation Field is that it works on any permanent that damages you and it does not have to be combat damage. It sounds narrow, but depending on your meta could be pretty strong.

September 16, 2020 12:07 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #12

Oh, yeah, I have Dissipation Field in my Tuvasa deck and it's the terror of my Korvold deck. Korvold needs to get rid of it in order to pull of some of the more effective kills. Works wonders against Impact Tremors, Purphoros, Konrad and more. Also deters token decks a lot.

Decent for Hexproof enemies, but it's a great piece in some metas.

September 16, 2020 12:27 p.m.

hejtmane says... #13


Love that card run it in my Neksuar deck to help slow the attack roll along with some other grixis staxs.

By the way it can kill NIv-Mizzet loops and Neksuar wheel damage since it bounces it to hand after the first trigger so they will have the return to hand trigger on the stack now.

September 16, 2020 1:13 p.m. Edited.

Caerwyn says... #14

hejtmane - Dissipation Field will not stop Nekusar wheel damage. Nekusar will be bounced after the first damage trigger resolves, but all the rest are already on the stack. It does not matter that Nekusar leaves the battlefield before they resolve, the triggers exist independent of the source.

Also, as a note, you can tag users as follows:

September 16, 2020 1:18 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #15

Field will, however, still be annoying to Nekusar mostly because it throttles the death-by-a-thousand-cuts process.

September 16, 2020 4:39 p.m.

Juuluk says... #16

My fave method of dealing with hexproof is through gravepact and similar effects like annihilator. Only ways I know to avoid this method is to have a ton of weenies with hexproof that can’t be wiped, or with a Tajuru Preserver. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the sac effect targets players and not creatures. It’s imprecise, but can be worked around, and avoids hexproofing.

September 17, 2020 1:40 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #17

Actually, Both Grave Pact and Dissipation Field do not target anything at all. And a few other cards that have similar effects also do not target anything. Not the creatures or the players.

September 17, 2020 4:57 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #18

I wouldn't ever use Tajuru Preserver unless you have multiple players running Grave Pact in your meta. Even then, it's gotta be one of their more prevalent strategies, so if you don't see mass sac effects almost every game it's a pretty useless card.

Also, All Is Dust is pretty good. Barter in Blood is also scary if you run 0 or tons of creatures.

September 17, 2020 5:07 p.m.

Juuluk says... #19

Does Annihilator count as a targeted effect since you have to target them with the attacker though?

September 17, 2020 7:14 p.m.

Juuluk attacking is not targeting. Even if it was, a triggered ability is separate from an attack. The only effects that target are effects that specifically say “target”, or auras while being cast.

September 17, 2020 7:20 p.m.

TotesMcGoats says... #21

Righteous Aura is so underrated. Notice how it doesn't say 'target'. 2 mana to play, 1 mana and 2 life, and it prevents the damage completely. Never take Commander damage again.

Also, can confirm, Arcane Lighthouse goes in all of my decks. The opportunity cost is so low because its just a land, which makes it hard to interact with, and you forever get the ability to shut off your opponents' protection. Detection Tower is less good, but still very playable, and the next best is Shadowspear. The others are a bit more niche and I've never really played them.

November 5, 2020 7:14 p.m.

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