Suppose that my opponent plays an Aethering:


, and I can't counter it so it arrives on the battlefield. How can I remove that card from the battlefield? I'm playing Standard Constructed.

  • what do you mean? this is a very broad question. Are you asking how can you get rid of it? cast a creature removal spell and when they try to react by flickering it, counter the ability with Stifle
    – Pow-Ian
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:10
  • @Pow-Ian Well, as long as they have mana, they can respond to the Stifle by using the ability again.
    – Alex P
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:36
  • yeah you are right.
    – Pow-Ian
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:39
  • 1
    @Pow-Ian Trickbind to the rescue. That extra "can't be activate again" clause is so nifty sometimes. :D
    – Alex P
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:50

4 Answers 4


Removing Aetherling is useful, but not always necessary. The key thing is: how can you use the cards you have in your deck to deal with the threat?

  1. Turn off its abilities

    Aetherling is only powerful because of its activated abilities (in particular, the unblockable and bounce abilities). Pithing Needle will turn it into a vanilla 4/5, which really isn't a very powerful creature at this stage in the game. Which is a pretty good deal if you're stopping your opponent's best win condition or hosing multiple copies of it.

    Outside of Standard, cards like Linvala, Keeper of Silence and Damping Matrix can play the same role.

  2. Race it

    While an Aetherling can do significant damage every turn, it's not actually the fastest kill card in Standard. When the Aetherling comes down, look at the board position — are you better off trying to kill it or just killing your opponent?

    If you plan to race, focus your removal on swinging the game's tempo. Use it to get rid of blockers (including Aetherling, if only for a turn) so your guys can get in more damage. You can also use instant-speed removal like a Fog against the Aetherling.

    Life gain can be very useful to keep you afloat. If you're playing Bant or BUG in a control mirror against UWR or Esper, for instance, you'll likely have more life and more ways to gain life than your opponent. Even if you can't hold out forever, you can try to use your life gain to force your opponent to commit more than just U (for the unblockability) to the Aetherling each turn in order to kill you quickly. At which point you can take advantage of the next tactic...

  3. Overload your opponent's mana

    Aetherling is only survivable as long as your opponent has access to blue mana. Watch you opponent's mana usage. If you have more ways to kill the Aetherling than he has blue mana, it's dead. You may need to spend more than one spell to do this, but it's better than losing the game altogether.

    The easiest example is right after he casts it. Say you're playing Jund and your opponent just cast Aetherling with one Island in reserve to flicker it. You've got Liliana of the Veil and Putrefy in hand. Play Liliana's edict. When they put the Aetherling's exile trigger on the stack (spending their last U to do it), Putrefy the Aetherling in response.

    "Machine-gun" combos also work pretty well. I've seen Olivia Voldaren and Nightshade Peddler overload an Aetherling pretty easily.

  4. Prevent it from attacking

    Aetherling is annoying to get rid of, but it's still just a creature that has to attack you to end the game. Sphere of Safety and Stormtide Leviathan are the only such cards in DGM Standard, but if you have access to a wider card pool you can play cards like Moat, Blazing Archon, or Ensnaring Bridge (your opponent could pump down the Aetherling to allow it to attack, and then pump it back up to allow it to do damage, but that costs a ton of mana, so it's not exactly a problem for you).

"TurboFog" decks are also very effective at blocking out creature damage, even from nasty creatures they can't kill outright.

  1. Split second

    The "phasing" ability won't save Aetherling from a split-second card. These are cards like Take Possession, Trickbind, and Sudden Spoiling.

  • What is a "mirror"? Like the "control mirror" you mentioned.
    – Adam Arold
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:37
  • @AdamArold "Mirror" is jargon for two of the same kind of deck (or sometimes just the same deck) playing against each other. It's a different experience from two very different decks playing against each other because there aren't necessarily any "natural" strategies to adopt, since our decks have very similar strengths and weaknesses.
    – Alex P
    Jun 21, 2013 at 16:48
  • @AlexP, the description of "Pithing Needle" says it only affects non-mana based abilities. Which means it would have no affect on Aetherling or am I reading this wrong?
    – Damainman
    Aug 29, 2013 at 18:31
  • 1
    @Damainman "605.1a An activated ability is a mana ability if it meets three criteria: it doesn't have a target, it could put mana into a player's mana pool when it resolves, and it's not a loyalty ability."
    – Alex P
    Aug 29, 2013 at 18:57
  • 1
    @Aethercrush667 Please read the comp rules (there's even a citation in the comments - 605.1a). A "mana ability" is an ability that produces mana (and doesn't target) -- cards like Elvish Mystic or Chromatic Star. An activated ability isn't a "mana ability" just because it has mana as its activation cost.
    – Alex P
    Nov 13, 2013 at 7:10

Debtor's Pulpit was used in Pro Tour Dragon's Maze to lock down Aetherling. It's a CMC-5 aura that gives the enchanted land the ability to tap a target creature. You can tap Aetherling at the beginning of combat. It they blink it, it can't attack during that combat anyway.


As it has already been said, but I will second Pithing Needle. You don't need anything more than that, as it can turn Aetherling into a 6 mana cost vanilla 4/5 creature. You don't even need to let the Aetherling hit the table; On the first turn you can drop Pithing Needle naming Aetherling and he's taken care of. Plus there are many other targets in Standard, like Planeswalkers and Olivia Volarden.


To be honest you can't do anything if they 3 or mana up as they resolve it. However you can stall for the win. Remember this card has 2 downsides it cost mana to keep it alive and it cost mana to end the game. Keep your removal spell to create a fog effect and keep swinging. If he blinks his creature its fine it just means he loses 1 attack step

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