Now I am not much of an expert when it comes to Magic lore, but I read that The Immortal Sun stops planeswalkers from running away. Which is similar to the feel evoked by the card from Ixalan: it stops planeswalkers from using their abilities. Now this article is not about the six-mana artifact or Magic lore. Instead, let’s discuss how to combat the planeswalker menace that Standard has become. We will look at how we should attack these walkers by attacking them in the hand, on the stack, and on the battlefield.

Attacking Their Hand

The current Standard metagame is really leaning on sorcery speed interaction thanks to Teferi, Time Raveler. Fortuntely, black discard spells fit into this plan. Unfortunately, black is the only color that can interact on this level. Three cards come to mind, and two of them are already popular. We have standard reprint staple Duress, new standard staple Thought Erasure, and a pesky two mana pirate in the likes of Kitesail Freebooter. All these cards really fit under different shells and I will go over each one.

Duress right now has been sliding its way into the starting sixty of a bunch of Standard decks. If you look at current builds of Esper Control, they are moving away from heavy permission spells and going towards more of a tap out style discard package. Many lists have two Duress in the main deck, often with two more in the sideboard. One-mana discard spells are the bread and butter of Constructed black decks. They fit anywhere along the curve, strip opposing counterspells, and enable double-spell turns. Aggro, Midrange, and Control archetypes can all use Duress.

Thought Erasure only fits in a few decks, but it has been a mainstay since printing. Esper, Grixis, and Sultai archetypes all take advantage of the card. The bonus to surveil one attached to this card provides a lot of extra value in card selection, sequencing, and potential graveyard shenanigans.

Kitesail Freebooter is the worst option on the list, but one that may pop up a bit. It can be a liability that they get the card back when the Freebooter goes away, but that does pressure them to find the removal spell. Attacking for one in the air pressures any walkers that manage to hit the board, which gives some added appeal.

Fighting on the Stack

Discard can’t stop cards from the top of the deck, and sometimes your timing is off. When your opponent tries to cast a planeswalker, the next logical answer is to counter the spell on the stack. We have many two-mana counterspell options in Standard now, but let’s focus on three spells that has been popular.  We have reprint staple Negate, newly printed Dovin’s Veto, and Spell Pierce.

Dovin’s Veto and Negate fit in similar decks. These two spells are very good against planeswalker decks because they can counter all of the three-mana walkers. Disdainful Stroke loses out in this metagame for exactly this reason, especially with the dominance of Teferi, Time Raveler. Dovin’s Veto is a bit better than Negate even though it is two colors thanks to the “can’t be countered” clause.

Spell Pierce is a card I like that is similar to Duress. One-mana interaction slots well into tempo decks as well as Aggro variants and even Midrange decks, and nothing feel better than countering a key planeswalker for one blue mana. The Jeskai Superfriends deck that Lotus Box championed at SCGNY used the efficiency of Spell Pierce really well by tapping out for a three-mana planeswalker followed by Mox Amber.

Controlling the Battlefield

Well here we are.  We tried to get them to discard and that did not work. We tried cheap counters to fight against them and again were not successful. Now we must fight on the battlefield. In Standard we have two ways to do this. We can use removal spells like Bedevil, Vraska’s Contempt, and The Elderspell; or we can physically attack them with armies of creatures.

Bedevil only sees play Grixis variants, but it is one of their best ways to deal with a walker. For three mana you don’t lose to much tempo when you tapping out to answer one before they untap. That generally gives you a clean answer. Vraska’s Contempt does the same thing for a little more mana, though you only need black. The exile clause is a nice bonus against cards like Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, and The Eldest Reborn.

The Elderspell is great when you fall behind against multiple walkers. It can restore parity in some tough situations, and it might even fuel an ultimate of your own. The rate is really nice for a potential four-for-one.

Decks that have been performing well against walkers tend to get on the board fast. I am looking at Mono Red and White Weenie decks. The planeswalker decks are very good at one-for-one-ing your threats but pretty bad when you go wide. That is exactly what these small aggro decks do. Creatures like Viashino Pyromancer help keep opposing planeswalkers under control when they aren’t simply winning the game. Having a developed board allows you to pressure planeswalkers the turn they hit the battlefield, and sometimes you can ignore them totally because you are so far ahead.

I think as a community we should band together and send these planeswalkers back to where they came from. These tips can help make that a reality.

Zack is a SCG grinder with one ultimate goal: getting to the Players Championship. Based out of NYC, you can find him in other cities every weekend trying to hit that goal. When he isn’t traveling he streams. Follow his journey on Twitter!

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