Combo Breaker - Enters the battlefield Effects

Magic: the Gathering

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Combo Breaker - Enters the battlefield Effects

This article is for you who have difficulty dealing with combos at Commander tables. And, in this article, we're going to see how to deal with ETB effects!

By Luiz, 09/28/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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Combo Breaking

In this article, I want to reduce your frustrations when playing against that combination of cards that ends the game. But before, a quick explanation about the influence of the game environment: In a linear environment (1v1 games) it's much easier to contain a combo because usually the combo deck is made for that, and often you're already partially prepared for that combo. That's why the lists and the study for assembling a sideboard are so important. It's extremely more leveled because in addition to this previous preparation and possible card changes, you have your attention directed to just one player.

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This focus no longer happens in Commander. It's normal for some players to prepare and most of the time have an answer, or even negotiate, but they won't always be prepared for you and your deck. Getting away from this discussion of how and when to contain a combo threat, here I'll show you some options of what to do to deal with combos, separating them by the means to answer them. And today, we'll be considering combos that win the game with ETB interactions.

ETB - Enters the Battlefield

Enters the Battlefield refers to the effect that triggers the moment a card enters the battlefield, either by the permanent itself or by another permanent that is already in play, commonly establishing some advantage or immediate impact. We have as the main representative of this effect this well-known wincondition:
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So let's start with the color with the most answers, Blue. Blue can directly counter these abilities and is the easiest color to deal with combos, so in addition to any other counterspells, you can wait for the effect of other cards to happen, to cast a Stifle or Trickbind to counter the ETB effect. Do not forget the malice in waiting for your opponent to exile their entire deck first so that you have one less combo at the table. There is also another way to break self mill combos: Make your opponent draw a card before the effect works. Cards like this deserve an honorable mention:
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But what about the other colors?

White

White has 2 counterspells that can deal with some combos. The first is Mana Tithe and the second is Lapse of Certainty, but both are circumstantial. The best option to answer is the following (and it's as beautiful as Trickbind):
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White also has passive defenses to ETB, such as:
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Red

In red, there are few options other than counterspells like Red Elemental Blast, but they are very specific. My preferences are these:
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Black

For black, oddly enough, we have options. When the spell is cast, you may remove its ETB effect with this card.
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Green

The most deficient color in this kind of answer is green. But green and other colors can still use simple answers like:
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And others that are more mana expensive, but that might be useful, such as:
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Conclusion

I hope these examples will clear your head about how to defend yourself against ETB effects. These are not the only cards available for that, but they help to deal with the problem. If you know any more cool combo breakers, leave your comment below. Until next time!
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Luiz

Luiz Clรกudio de Souza Reis Besamat, personal training, jogador de magic desde 1995, ex-jogador de legacy, atual commandeiro.Entusiasta de todo magic!

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