Unexpectedly Absent
Unexpectedly Absent

Unexpectedly Absent – Commander

Date Reviewed:  June 29, 2023

Constructed: 3.37
Casual: 5.00
Limited: 4.00
Multiplayer: 3.75
Commander [EDH]: 4.13

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


Unexpectedly Absent is a rather unusual design for white, if you just go by the letter of its game text – the instinctive historical analogues are Oust and Excommunicate, and beyond that there really aren’t many examples of the effect in white. Usually it’s blue that puts things from play into libraries, but I think of this as a spell-based variant of the assorted “jailing” effects they make on enchantments: the target’s controller will get it back, eventually, but at the cost of time and perhaps one of their draw steps. That actually makes it surprisingly powerful in many circumstances – consider the times somebody reanimates a creature they don’t have enough mana to cast. Consider when you get your expensive angel or dragon on the table, and you are reasonably certain that making your opponent draw a 2/2 creature next turn is more favorable to you than having them draw a random card from their deck. Consider that it can reset a planeswalker they may have spent multiple turns building to an ultimate. While it’s not quite at tournament level right now, partly because of the inflexible mana cost and because it can be high for some of its applications, there are a lot of things it can do which the tournament spells can’t.

Constructed: 3.5
Casual: 5
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


Despite debuting in a Commander precon, Unexpectedly Absent got a lot of its early attention from potential applications in Legacy and Vintage. It’s a two-mana removal spell that can hit any nonland permanent and has that sort of Memory Lapse-style effect of setting your opponent’s board back by a full turn. If you have mana to spare, this can even be a good mana sink by burying it far away, but I feel like X is going to equal zero more often than not.

I do think Unexpectedly Absent has been hurt by better removal spells coming along; while tucking to a library is still powerful, and this is flexible, there are plenty of white exile spells that hit what you need them to. This isn’t weak by any stretch, though, and it is a solid choice in Commander if you aim it at one of the format’s eponymous permanents. It’s sort of in the awkward spot of being overshadowed while still being playable enough, which has led to it seeing less play (also on account of it being confined to Legacy and Vintage).

Constructed: 3.25 (Prismatic Ending, March of Otherworldly Light, and the one-mana creature removal options all see more play than this will usually see)
Casual: 5
Limited: 4 (it’s pretty solid removal in Eternal Masters)
Multiplayer: 3.5
Commander [EDH]: 4.25 (interacts interestingly with Commanders, and it’s flexible besides that)

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