Hello and welcome back to the Single Card Discussion series! After my pieces on Commander 2014’s Verdant Confluence and Theros’s Bow of Nylea, it’s time to take a look at yet another multiplayer gem that I feel has been sadly overlooked.
Today’s card is one that I’ve thought was highly useful since it was first spoiled, and though it does see play, I’m shocked that more players don’t play in EDH. Today’s card is a Dark removal spell, Ashes to Ashes.
Let’s take a deeper look at this potent removal spell!
Thus far in my Single Card series, I’ve looked at some great multiplayer gems.
• I started the series with Utter End, my favorite spot removal spell from Khans, here.
• I looked at a red card, Outpost Siege, my overall favorite card from Fate Reforged, here.
• Another red card, Greater Gargadon, a fantastic sacrifice outlet, here.
• I looked at the first monowhite card, the tricksy Seht’s Tiger here.
• The first blue card of the series, Gilded Drake, a potent thievery effect, here.
• I went over white control card World Queller and how to use its powerful effect here.
• I looked at the once-restricted blue recursion card Recall, the only blue card that can recur dead planeswalkers (plus any other type of card), here.
• I went over the first black card of this series, Commander 2014’s Flesh Carver, an excellent sacrifice outlet here.
• As part of my week-long look at Modern Masters 2015 cards, I looked at Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, and his token-making prowess here.
• We went over the red sweeper Magmaquake, which hits all planeswalkers at once, here.
• I looked at Shrouded Lore, a strange black recursion spell, here.
• We discussed the power of tapping down opposing creatures with a trio of white cards: Glare of Subdual, Sandsower, and Diversionary Tactics, here.
• I took a look at two green recursion creatures, Hua Tuo, Honored Physician, and Loaming Shaman from Ravnica, here.
• I looked at an Innistrad favourite, Reaper from the Abyss, an excellent card for killing off opposing creatures, here.
• I looked at the powerful Magic Origins card Chandra’s Ignition, a mighty Wrath effect/player killer, here.
• I spotlighted Vorinclex’s potent new win condition and mana-ramp spell, From Beyond, and the possibilities of an Eldrazi sideboard here.
• I looked at my favourite modal spell from Commander 2014, the deceptively useful Wretched Confluence here.
• I looked at new Ally tribal leader General Tazri and how she would interact with the Allies here.
• I looked at the Mana Reflection/Soul of the Harvest love child, Zendikar Resurgent here.
• I looked at the super Purify slash big dude, Kalemne’s Captain, here.
• I went over one of my favorite lands from Shadows Over Innistrad block, Westvale Abbey (and its flip side, Ormendahl) here.
• I took a look at Amonkhet’s new powerhouse card drawing spell, Pull from Tomorrow, which is deceptively good, here.
• I went over the aftermath all-star, Commit // Memory, a powerful and flexible bounce spell and draw 7, here.
• I looked at a third Amonkhet card, as I looked at a second aftermath card, Dusk // Dawn here.
• I took a look at a fourth Amonkhet card, Mouth // Feed, which was the third aftermath card that I really liked, here.
• I shared my thoughts on the simple-but-powerful Commander 2013 land, Opal Palace here.
• I looked at Hour of Devastation’s graveyard-hosing Scavenger Grounds here.
• I delved into Commander’s Verdant Confluence here.
• Finally, I looked at Theros’s Bow of Nylea here.
With the rise of more and more indestructible monsters in Magic in recent years (cards like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, all of the Theros block Gods like Keranos, God of Storms, the Amonkhet block Gods like The Locust God, Stonehoof Chieftain, and so on) I have found an increasing need to add exile effects to my EDH decks, to make sure I get rid of these bomby cards once and for all.
These gigantic indestructible monsters are normally very pushed mythics that Wizards uses to hype casual players up about their new sets, and while this is all well and good, they do tend to dominate games once they hit play, and they are very hard to remove by normal means (most Wrath of God effects or single-target kill spells do nothing to them, since they ignore ‘destroy’ effects.
(Everything I said about indestructible creatures also applies to creatures with regeneration… but in recent years, Wizards has been pushing creatures to have indestructible more so than regenerate, so you don’t see those very often.)
So, indestructible creatures can be a problem in multiplayer.
Enter classic card Ashes to Ashes, from The Dark. This removal spell not only does what we want — it will exile an indestructible creature — it will actually hit two opposing creatures at once, which is excellent for this casting cost.
It has two drawbacks. Its major drawback, of course, is that you have to pay 5 life to cast it. Lemme just say, when you are staring down Avacyn, or a Spearbreaker Behemoth or whatever, that 5 life is a bargain to make sure you don’t have to deal with those gamebreaking creatures for the rest of the game.
And it can’t hit artifact creatures. I will say, the number of artifact creatures that see play in EDH that I would want to exile is pretty small (basically just Darksteel Colossus and Blightsteel Colossus), so I count that as a very minor drawback.
I personally tend to use this card in very aggressive black-based EDH decks. Most recently, I had it in our tribal Vampires list (which started mono-black, as Anowan, the Ruin Sage, moved to R/B, as Olivia, Mobilized by War, and is now Edgar Markov). In that deck, Ashes to Ashes was excellent, letting you keep the pressure on your foes by removing two key blockers at once, or (of course) removing indestructible creatures, so you could keep attacking.
So that’s a quick look at classic removal spell Ashes to Ashes! It’s been around for a long time, but it’s still amazingly potent at getting rid of hard-to-deal-with creatures permanently. And if Wizards keeps printing ridiculously strong indestructible monsters for EDH players, this will only get better as time goes on.
If you have a black deck, definitely give this card a try.