Black was never going to have good enchantment hate. And with the release of Wilds of Eldraine, I think this is a good place to ask: why? Seeing as one of the newest cards in Magic is the 3BB sorcery Shatter the Oath, perhaps now would be an opportune moment to look back at black’s paltry enchantment removal.

Black’s enemy colors are white and green. And it would easy to say with little pushback that those colors have the best enchantments in the entire game. Sylvan Library. Oath of Druids. Land Tax. Stony Silence. Smothering Tithe. Humility. Survival of the Fittest. Doubling Season. Exploration. Rancor. Black has some solid enchantments, as well. But nothing so game-shifting as the ones mentioned above. And so, this would seem to answer the question why does black lack so much enchantment hate? Is it because the game designers didn’t want black to have this enchantment edge over the enemy colors? Perhaps.

White and green also have, traditionally, plentiful creature decks. Decks that go wide and tall. Elves and white weenie being the two best examples. Or any type of stompy deck. And white has endless fliers. What does black have? It has lots of cheap removal. The best removal in the game (save all chair-throwing arguments about whether Swords to Plowshares is the best removal piece in the game, please). I’m referring to mono-color spells here, by the way. If I search Scryfall for only mono-black spells with the text “destroy enchantment,” I get back eight results. Three of which don’t mention exactly what I’m seeking (Assassin’s Ink, Cacophony Unleashed, Extinguish All Hope) and one which destroys enchantments creatures (Feast of Dreams). Sure, that’s good, but not exactly what I’m after.

The remaining four cards are all that mono-black has in the way of enchantment removal (so far as my meager knowledge of Scryfall has let me discover).

  • Feed the Swarm (1B): From Zendikar Rising. This is as good as it gets. Cheap(ish) casting cost and it destroys a creature or an enchantment. But, you take a hit on life in the form of destroyed item’s CMC. No good deed, huh? Sample decks it’s included in: Modern–Cabal Coffers, Pioneer–Rakdos Sacrifice.
  • Quagmire Druid (2B): The oldest one of the four is from Apocalypse. And it’s the most color pie-scrambled because the zombie is a 2/2 body with this activated ability: for one green mana, you can tap Druid, sac a creature, and destroy an enchantment. An enemy color! Makes sense, though. Black needs green to do what it can’t do itself.
  • Ghastly Death Tyrant (4BB): The most overcosted one, and it’s from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. It’s a 6/4 body with a binary mode choice: a Feed-the-Swarm-type mode or all creature gain deathtouch until end of turn mode. Six mana is a lot for a creature, let alone destroying an enchantment. For both, maybe it’s worth it. I’ve never cast this one before, though, so…*shrug*
  • Shatter the Oath (3BB): The newest kid on the block from Wilds of Eldraine. Another sorcery–oh why can’t we get instant speed enchantment hate!?–however, this one is a rather sanguine compromise. It can destroy a creature OR an enchantment…wait for it…and you don’t lose life. Glorious! Moreover–MOREOVER!–you gain a Wicked Role on a target creature you control. Well, well, well. I like to think the title of this card is a reference to Oath of Druids. Or any of the seventeen enchantment cards with the word “oath” in them. Also, notice Dominik Mayer’s callback to Brian Snoddy’s art from the Ice Age Disenchant where the hand is reaching for a sword’s hilt.

And that’s it. As far as my rigorous Scryfalling goes, those are the sum total of the enchantment removal spells in mono-black. Moving beyond that into multi-color, Orzhov does some pretty interesting stuff with enchantments. Some Golgari, too. And that makes sense. The colors clash together to do what each does best–white with instant speed enchantment removal and black with creature hate. Same with black-green.

I got started on this black enchantment lack because I’ve been playing so much Premodern lately. One thing you may/may not know about Premodern as a format is that it’s rife with artifacts and enchantments–all impossibly powerful ones, at that. Thus, removing them are of utmost importance. And most colors can do so–except black. And while Quagmire Druid is legal in Premodern, I don’t know if I’ll be running it anytime soon. Though, I’m sure there’s a deck out there with a bed made especially for it.

But then, what if black did have more accessible forms of plucking echantments from the battlefield? Would it forever throw the color pie out of whack? Would Magic players the world over rebuff the change? I think not. I think black players would shove those good cards in their decks and start blowing away every enchanting piece of cardboard they could find. And that’s why, here, at the end, I have to begrudgingly admit that I’m glad black lacks this specific power. Because if one side of the pie is just like the other, then the game ceases to have the compelling balance it started with. That’s the mystery of the game. Finding the unique balance with the flaws that each color comes saddled with. Your job, my job, is to try and wiggle our way past those constraints and fill the lack. Happy dechanting!

Kyle Winkler (he/him) is a teacher and fiction writer. While he was pre-teen when Magic: The Gathering was released, he didn’t start playing until recently. He’s the author of the cosmic horror novella (The Nothing That Is), a collection of short stories (OH PAIN), and a novel (Boris Says the Words). His favorite card is a toss up between Crypt Rats and Oubliette

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