THS: Commentary on removal

Theros appears to have a normal amount of creature removal, but very little of it is unconditional; most of it cares either about a creature’s toughness or its power. This means that unconditional removal like Sip of Hemlock is likely to be more valuable than it would normally be, even at 6 mana.

While Theros does have cheap creature removal, there’s also a lot of common removal spells that cost 5 or more, so you should probably prioritize the cheaper removal early in the draft as you don’t want to end up with too many of the expensive ones. The cheaper removal spells kill creatures with toughness 1-3, while the more expensive removal spells handle creatures with toughness up to 4 or 5.

Blue pseudo-removal spells like Voyage’s End and Griptide are likely to be more valuable due to the high number of Auras in the set. (There are 15 creature Auras in Theros, if you count Chained to the Rocks, and another 15 enchantment creatures with bestow that be played as either a creature or a creature Aura. Of these, only Chained to the Rocks, Viper’s Kiss, and Ordeal of Purphoros are removal Auras, while the rest are enhancing Auras.)

There is very little reusable removal, so Spear of Heliod, Agent of the Fates, Labyrinth Champion, and Titan of Eternal Fire are likely to be even better than they would normally be.

Be aware that 4 colors have access to mass removal in Theros, although it is all either at rare (Curse of the Swine in blue and Anger of the Gods in red) or at mythic (Elspeth Sun’s Champion in white and Hythonia the Cruel in black).

Theros also has a lot of enchantments (41 vs. 28 in Magic 2014 and 29 in Return to Ravnica), so let’s also look at the enchantment removal available in the set. At common, we have Ray of Dissolution (costing 2W), Fade into Antiquity (2G), and Priest of Iroa (R+3W). At uncommon, we have Artisan’s Sorrow (3G) and Destructive Revelry (RG). And at rare, we have Polis Crusher, although that does cost 2RG to cast, 4RG to make monstrous, and still requires you to do combat damage to your opponent. 1 of the commons and 2 of the uncommons are instants.

Ignoring the rare, a typical 8-person draft will have about 9.5 enchantment removal spells. All the enchantment removal spells require access to either green or white mana, so U/B players won’t have access to any enchantment removal, but players from each of the other 4 color pairs in Theros (R/G, G/U, W/B, and R/W) will. Assuming that there are 1.6 players in each color pair, there will be 6.4 players with access to green or white mana, and each of them will have access to 1.5 enchantment removal spells on average. In practice, the R/G and R/W players will have access to more enchantment removal than the others since they can make use of Destructive Revelry and Priest of Iroa respectively. It is also worth noting that Theros does not have mass removal for enchantments, or even a spell that can destroy multiple enchantments.

There are also a fair number of artifact removal spells in Theros (3 at common and 2 at uncommon), even though there are only 18 artifacts, few of which are scary to face. 3 of them also destroy enchantments, and the remaining 2 are in red (Demolish and Wild Celebrants).

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