THS: Maindeck flyer removal

Today, we’ll use the updated card valuations to determine whether it makes sense to maindeck Shredding Winds in Theros. (Arbor Colossus and Bow of Nylea also kill creatures with flying, but those cards are good enough to play on their other merits, so I won’t evaluate them here.)

This spreadsheet lists all the flyers in Theros. Yellow highlight means that a cards can grant flying to another creature (e.g., Cavalry Pegasus); if the text is gray instead of black, it means the card does not have flying itself (e.g., Fleetfeather Sandals). A few things stand out:

  • Shredding Winds can kill all these creatures with the exception of Prognostic Sphinx and Sentry of the Underworld (if they have WB open), a really large Wingsteed Rider, and perhaps a bestow creature enchanting an already large creature.
  • White, blue, and black will have 9, 11, and 4 creatures with flying in an average 8-person draft. Each color is shared on average by about 3 players, so a typical W/U deck will have 7 flyers and Shredding Winds will usually have a target even if you don’t seen a flyer in game 1. Every other color combination will have 5 or fewer flyers, so it doesn’t make sense to side in Shredding Winds unless you see a must-kill flyer.
  • You don’t need flyer removal against red or green since they have almost no flyers. On the artifact side, neither Anvilwrought Raptor nor Fleetfeather Sandals are particularly exciting, and you’re better off siding in artifact removal against them anyway.
  • Nessian Asp is excellent in this format and so it likely to be played by every green deck that has it. It can block and kill all of the creatures listed in the spreadsheet except Abhorrent Overlord (rare) and Ashen Rider (mythic), which are marked with an S in the Must Kill column. In addition, there are 4 other flyers marked with a Y that I consider must kill — Cavalry Pegasus (white common), Wingsteed Rider (white common), Prognostic Sphinx (blue rare), and Shipwreck Singer (U/B uncommon) — each of which will win the game eventually if left untouched. These are flyers you need to be able to kill even if you have multiple Nessian Asps. Both commons in the list are white, so it might make sense to side Shredding Winds in against W/X decks if you have other cards you need to side out, even if you haven’t seen many flyers and they are not W/U.

From the analysis above, I would say it doesn’t make sense to run Shredding Winds maindeck, but it is a great sideboard cards against decks with flyers, and it can be brought in preemptively against W/U decks which tend to have a lot of flyers, and even against other W/X decks which may have fewer flyers since white has a couple of common flyers that can take over or win the game given enough time.

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