Let's say I'm playing limited and my opponent has an unbeatable bomb. The bomb is so powerful that it effectively beats my deck on its own if it resolves. Examples of such bombs could be: Dream Trawler, The Immortal Sun, Primeval Bounty, The Scarab God.

After losing game 1 to the bomb, it's now sideboarding time for game 2. I have a narrow hate card in my sideboard that specifically beats the bomb. Examples of such cards for the bombs above could be: Run Afoul, Deconstruct, Cursebreak, and Leyline of the Void. However, I haven't seen any other targets for these hate cards in my opponent's deck, making them very narrow.

Should I bring the narrow hate card in, or should I hope opponent never draws the bomb?

  • I wouldn't easily put Deconstruct or Cursebreak in my sideboard (instead of Disenchant or Broken Wings), unless the meta is either very artifact heavy or very enchantment heavy (or one is practically non-existent), or my deck is already capable of dealing well with one of the two. If you're sideboarding "hate cards", I'd aim for something more general if it's not too expensive. Instead of "destroy target artifact", go for "destroy target artifact or enchantment". Keep in mind that your opponent may also sideboard in more such cards, or support cards, if you've shown that you can't deal with it
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 23:45
  • 2
    @NotThatGuy it's limited, so one doesn't get to choose the best sideboard cards.
    – Allure
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 23:50
  • Consider whether your sideboard card is even good enough - how likely are you to lose the game anyway? Without graveyard synergy, The Scarab God is still a 5/5 beater in a deck that has probably been doing a good job of keeping the board clear; and even with graveyard hate that specifically interferes with the removal-dodging, you still need fairly high quality removal (not a lot of red spells do 5 damage). Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 3:39

3 Answers 3


It depends on your deck and the rest of your opponent's deck. If you have a relatively fast, aggressive deck and your opponent's deck is relatively weak without its bomb, you can hope to get under your opponent's bomb and you can focus on winning without the removal. Otherwise, it's better to include the removal.


The answer is a definite maybe.

It depends on a lot of things that the situation is too general to really answer:

  1. How fast is your deck, how fast is theirs?
  2. How much of a bomb is it?
  3. How narrow is the answer?

For point 1, if you're fast and their deck is slow, you have a lower chance of seeing their bomb and are less likely to need to deal with it.

For point 2, some things are bombs but can be worked around. There's a difference between "If they play and I don't answer this I lose" and "this is annoying but I still have a chance win after it"

For point 3, a lot of the answers may be meant for their bomb, but can still be useful in other situations. From your examples, Run Afoul is a pretty bad choice to deal with an Azorius bomb, they likely have other less important sac options, but unless their only enchantment is their bomb, you can still make some use of Cursebreak and Leyline of the Void can interfere with a lot of other cards in Dimir colors, not just Scarab God.

It really depends on a lot of variables, there's no single perfect answer to "should I sideboard this hate card" and the question is even more difficult in limited than it is in constructed formats. Usually though, if it's enough of a bomb you seriously feel the need to ask yourself the question, the answer will be yes.


Balance and Overkill

The answer is quite involved, but a balance you'll constantly need to run in limited pools - being careful and mindful about probabilities when you can afford to

View a potential game as if the opponent will always have their bomb and it takes 5-6 turns before they attempt resolve it, in that time you'll see 12-15 cards
If you only put 1 anti-bomb in which is useless otherwise, you still actually always want it, but you may not find it - play exactly 1-2 if you can make space, and 3-4 if their deck is otherwise very weak or they may counter your solution(s)

Assuming 12-15 cards are available to you, the chance of you having at least one anti-bomb when they're resolving it will be1 2

Card QTY 40c deck 60c deck3
1 30-37.5% 20-25%
2 51-61% 36-43.8%
3 65.7-75.6% 48.8-57.8%
4 76-84.7% 59-68.4%

You can of course aggressively mulligan, draw more heavily, etc. to offset this further, but this will likely make your deck play further worse in the matchup than not if the chance to draw is more in your favor.

Therefore, if you must stop them, you must put at least 2 solutions for a limited pool 40 card deck, or 3 for a 60 card deck3 to have any reasonable chance of finding a solution, and consider that more will be early dead draws (which you may actually need, and so be glad of)

Where to Focus

Opposing Strong Deck Single Threat (stable) Single Threat (unstable)
Your Weak Deck <LOSS> measured counter threat pack in removal
Your Strong Deck aggressively attack casting ability aggressively counter threat aggressively attack casting ability

If the resolution is so dire, they have nothing else which is quite as dangerous, and especially if they have an otherwise low-output, but stable deck (no color problems, <5% 4+ power creatures), you should consider they will aggressively attempt to find and resolve their bomb and you should attempt to aggressively counter it by following what they do (if they are)

  • play enough solutions to it
  • aggressively mulligan, prioritizing getting a solution
  • lots of draw

If you find you have a stable constructed deck facing their stable one and far more so if they have a very unstable one, work to their weaknesses to debase their ability to cast the bomb at all by destabilizing their deck

  • aggressive artifact/land-destruction against rarer colors they need to cast it
  • high-count discards (even if the cards aren't considered particularly good; 2+ cards at 3-4 mana, 3+ at 5-6 mana)
    • prevents powerful abilities from being immediately active
    • forces them to choose immediately useful cards or their bomb if it's in their hand
  • put in every efficient creature you have and attempt to aggro them out while they ramp
  • stalling them so they suffer from their early and mid card draw to get at their threat
    • you can often stall out quite strong creatures indefinitely with a hexproof wall or discarding to create a 1/1 token every turn
    • luring them down and using some big mill; even a humble each draw X=8 is sufficient to take out many strong opponents if they've been drawing heavily
  • play activated abilities that involve discarding and many more solutions to their bomb, as the dead draws can be discarded and even lure them into playing their bomb at a good time for you when you really have 2+ solutions and discard 1


  1. Only intended to show a relative and naive balance of the card counts
  2. The chance of finding exactly one will be lower than at least one
    Yes, you can endlessly improve the model beyond this, these are
    total probability
  3. 60c only included to show how the quantity is proportionally worse with more cards

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