Counterspells in Commander

53 posts / 0 new
Last post
How viable are they? Are cards like Cancel good enough to warant inclusion? Is the extra mana for Put Away, Discombobulate and others of their ilk worth it? Which additional effects are worth the extra cost? Which are not? How much mana is too much for a counterspell in this format?

Thanks for any answers to enlighten me on the subject. My U/B/R deck will certainly appreciate it.

I'm conducting a Draft experiment in the Limited forums. If you're interested in Draft, come and check it out. We've just openend the third boosters! Your input is always welcome.

http://community.wizards.com/forum/limited-sealed-and-draft/threads/4206961

(It will go on for several more weeks, probably until end of July)

 

Once again aced the Rules Advisor test (Feb 2015). (I still make mistakes now and then, but who doesn't.)

 

"Simple questions" usually need rather complex answers, while complex questions often come down to no more than a simple "yes" or "no".

 

They can come in handy but you generally want to get extra bang for your buck outta them in EDH. The good ones I think are; Forbid, Cryptic Command, Mana Drain, Dismiss, Mystic Snake, Desertion, Dissipate to name a few.

You generally want to counter something AND get a bonus of somekind when playing a 100 card deck.

At least thats what I think.


 


Note: The Extra Mana is worth it in this format, since nothing really happens until turns 4-6 in an average game anyway.


 


Cheers

                                                                                                                                                                                        <----- Loser.

I agree with Pontiac; however, I think counterspell is good in just about any deck that can use it.  While you don't get any extra effect, it is under-costed to begin with.  On the other hand, I would generally not inlcude cards like stoic rebuttal, mana leak, or cancel.
I've gotten quite a bit of milage out of Negate (in addition to other countermagic of course.)  All the big spells that you really want to counter tend to be sorceries or planeswalkers.

Glen Elendra Archmage is another one of my favorites.
Wizards ate my account that needed no sig, so I guess I need one now.
Hard counters are better than soft (Cancel is better than Mana Leak), Rethink is probably the exception to that though. Cheaper counters are generally better than the more expensive.

Counterspells are vital for the format. If you can play them do so, just don't go overboard. 

3DH4LIF3

Draining Whelk is always fun.  I wish Overwhelming Intellect was better.
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
It may be useful. It's even better if you've got a way to use them again from the graveyard or get them back in your hand.
I played against some decks which did that, and it was effective.

And I agree that Glen Elendra Archmage is good, and Mana Leak not so good.
Yes, taxing/soft counters are usually bad in EDH. I hear Logic Knot is usable, though.
Known as Blitzer on most forums. Despite the username, I am male. Both sex AND gender.
Ertai, Wizard Adept is stupid good. Voidslime Spelljack, and Rewind are also very good. As is Hinder.
Rewind, Spelljack, Pact of Negation, Foil, and Arcane Denial are personal favorites.
Play EDH? Interested in trying EDH? Want ideas for new and exciting generals? Have certain colors in mind for your next deck, but haven't picked a general yet? Boy have I got the thread for you! http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22946049/Comprehensive_Index_of_Generals
Arcane Denial is great for being a hard counter, a political maneuver and a cheap card.  Great great great.

It's an oldie, and I wouldn't recommend it in games with more than 3 people, but Power Sink can really ruin someone's turn. 

I'd say that Desertion though, is one of the best in the format.  You could use it to hard-counter any spell if you really needed to.

University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016

My Peasant Cube: A Cube for the Commoners

I actually disagree with pontiac. You don't play counters for value in multiplayer, you play them to protect your stuff or stop someone from winning outright. Spending a card to counter one of your opponents' cards isn't really profitable when there's 2+ opponents.

That means you want them to be cheap. You should be able to do things and develop your board on your turn, and be able to counter just with your leftover mana.

Shipping the turn with 5 mana open so you can desertion probably means you didn't do anything else - even in EDH, 5 is a lot of mana. So if you do that and no one plays a card that directly threatens you, you either 'waste' desertion by countering something irrelevant or waste your turn entirely. You might think "hey, 5 mana for a fatty that probably costs more than 5 and i screw an opponent out of a dude in the process? Sweet" but it really isn't that simple. You don't control when your opponents tap out for a fatty, and they aren't likely to risk their most valuable plays when a blue mage just shipped the turn without casting anything despite a full hand.

Keep your counters cheap, so you can play your deck AND counter that bant charm pointed at your general.

Plus, if your playgroup knows your counter suite in cards like dismiss, exclude, etc and you play a 6-drop with 8 mana on the table, they know it's safe. If your counter suite is cards like counterspell, negate, hindering llight, etc...they're probably just going to send their bant charm at someone else's general.
In my experience unless a counter helps you in some other way (hinder), counters should only be used in quantity.  By this I mean that relying on counter spells as a removal strategy in a 100 card singleton deck is only reliable if you have a good chance of drawing them.  For most of us that means having them in quantities large enough to draw them on an average game with our deck.  Consistent draw helps this, as does tutor, but lacking that you need plenty of counters.  I prefer to either build a deck that will use them to best effect or not use them at all, because playing a counter strategy is so different from playing a combat or combo strategy.

My faves:
Power Sink- this comes as a nasty surprise to people, especially if you cast it early in the turn.
Hinder and friends
Arcane Denial
Mystic Snake- oh how I love thee.
Rewind
Draining Whelk
Keep your counters cheap, so you can play your deck AND counter that bant charm pointed at your general.


This.


A good rule of thumb on counters... if it costs more than three mana it had better me Cryptic Command or Mystic Snake... or I guess Force of Will.  



Though I will occasionally play Rewind, and if I'm feeling particularly ornery Punish Ignorance. But I don't recommend that.   

3DH4LIF3

Mystic snake and whelk are really only good in decks that can reuse them at instant speed (ie: crystal shard, kiki-jiki, etc)

Playing a mass counterspell 'strategy' isn't viable in multiplayer. You will never be able to control all the plays of 2+ opponents - it's difficult enough with 1. Not only are your opponents drawing twice as many cards as you, but they're untapping twice as many lands each turn.

Counters are NOT an all or nothing prospect. Going all in means getting overwhelmed. Playing none means you're helpless against cards that you don't want to be helpless against - like cruel ultimatum, hallowed burial, rite of replication, insurrection, etc. Having a small number of counters to protect your gameplan or occasionally screw up someone else's is very valuable and doesn't require playing a 'counter strategy'. That's why they have to be cheap counters though - the more mana you have to leave up for a counter, the less efficient you are at executing your own gameplan.
I actually disagree with pontiac. You don't play counters for value in multiplayer, you play them to protect your stuff or stop someone from winning outright.



I agree this is why I play counterspells.

Mostly cause I know that my opponents know I'm playing with X card that will either piss them off or get me a win. And I need to be able to protect that spell.

I'd say easily 3-5 counters in a blue or blue 2-colour deck.  And maybe anywhere from 1-3 in a deck that has blue (3+ colours)

And no one sould knock counterspell It's simple, leaves you with plenty of mana to work with on your own and counters everything. That being said, I have no problem paying 4 mana for a Cryptic Command or a rewind or even 6 mana for a draining whelk.
According to everyone on these forums. You should only play the best decks in whatever format you want. You are a bad player and should just quit if you intend on using anything else.
6 mana for a draining whelk? oh the lulz...jk I just happen to run it in my animar deck so a UU draining whelk just seems obscene at that point.
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
Mystic snake and whelk are really only good in decks that can reuse them at instant speed (ie: crystal shard, kiki-jiki, etc) Playing a mass counterspell 'strategy' isn't viable in multiplayer. You will never be able to control all the plays of 2+ opponents - it's difficult enough with 1. Not only are your opponents drawing twice as many cards as you, but they're untapping twice as many lands each turn. Counters are NOT an all or nothing prospect. Going all in means getting overwhelmed. Playing none means you're helpless against cards that you don't want to be helpless against - like cruel ultimatum, hallowed burial, rite of replication, insurrection, etc. Having a small number of counters to protect your gameplan or occasionally screw up someone else's is very valuable and doesn't require playing a 'counter strategy'. That's why they have to be cheap counters though - the more mana you have to leave up for a counter, the less efficient you are at executing your own gameplan.


My experience has shown otherwise.  My U/W and Mono U control deck in EDH are nearly unbeaten in both 1v1 and multi-player.  As long as you play politically you can avoid every player looking at you as an opponent.  Having a small number of counters and relying on them, again in my experience, results in far too many games where you do not ever see them or you see too few.  That is of course with the exception of the decks I have that draw an obscene amount of cards, but even then it is chancy.  I try not to rely on things that "occasionally" help me.  The odds of my having that crucial counter when they play that "must counter" spell are very small if I have only a few counters.

Mystic Snake, while not as good as whelk, are excellent.  Any time you can get a body on the battlefield and counter an opponent's spell is a win.  My one issue with Whelk is that it tends to make you hold back on countering something that hurts because it is too cheap.  If you can bounce Snake it is even better, but I rarely want to bounce Whelk as it is a decent beater much of the time.
Having a small number of counters and relying on them...



The dichotomy was all or nothing. "A small number of counters" is really subjective and sort of what Tremor was getting at- a small number of cheap counters, but enough that you can rely on them to protect your junk.

3DH4LIF3

Mystic snake and whelk are really only good in decks that can reuse them at instant speed (ie: crystal shard, kiki-jiki, etc) Playing a mass counterspell 'strategy' isn't viable in multiplayer. You will never be able to control all the plays of 2+ opponents - it's difficult enough with 1. Not only are your opponents drawing twice as many cards as you, but they're untapping twice as many lands each turn. Counters are NOT an all or nothing prospect. Going all in means getting overwhelmed. Playing none means you're helpless against cards that you don't want to be helpless against - like cruel ultimatum, hallowed burial, rite of replication, insurrection, etc. Having a small number of counters to protect your gameplan or occasionally screw up someone else's is very valuable and doesn't require playing a 'counter strategy'. That's why they have to be cheap counters though - the more mana you have to leave up for a counter, the less efficient you are at executing your own gameplan.



I don't ever feel like I have to bounce my snake to get value out of it. He can hold an Argentum Armor, so I'm quite often willing to just let him hang out on the board.
Play EDH? Interested in trying EDH? Want ideas for new and exciting generals? Have certain colors in mind for your next deck, but haven't picked a general yet? Boy have I got the thread for you! http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22946049/Comprehensive_Index_of_Generals

I don't ever feel like I have to bounce my snake to get value out of it. He can hold an Argentum Armor, so I'm quite often willing to just let him hang out on the board.


I once countered a copied Warp World when my Reveillark left play from the first copy and brought back my snake. That was fun.

3DH4LIF3

Spell Crumple and Hinder are the main ones.

I also like Force of Will, Pact of Negation, Foil, Rewind, essentially anything that can be played for free.

Mindbreak Trap and Hindering Touch if someone tries to combo out.

Lots of people like Mystic Snake, although I personally feel he is a little underwhelming.

Mystic Snake + Crystal Shard + Seedborn Muse is a counterlock so I find it quite good.
Mystic Snake + Crystal Shard + Seedborn Muse is a counterlock so I find it quite good.

Or I could just counter your snake, or play Sudden Death... Its not a lock so much as it is pure awesome.

3DH4LIF3

Mystic Snake + Crystal Shard + Seedborn Muse is a counterlock so I find it quite good.

Or I could just counter your snake, or play Sudden Death... Its not a lock so much as it is pure awesome.



Split second does beat it. As far as countering snake goes i could have a another counter available. And as far as sudden death goes it shouldn't be on the field for more than one priority round.
Mystic Snake + Crystal Shard + Seedborn Muse is a counterlock so I find it quite good.

Or I could just counter your snake, or play Sudden Death... Its not a lock so much as it is pure awesome.



Split second does beat it. As far as countering snake goes i could have a another counter available. And as far as sudden death goes it shouldn't be on the field for more than one priority round.



What doesn't split second beat! Laughing 

3DH4LIF3

Mystic Snake + Crystal Shard + Seedborn Muse is a counterlock so I find it quite good.

Or I could just counter your snake, or play Sudden Death... Its not a lock so much as it is pure awesome.



Split second does beat it. As far as countering snake goes i could have a another counter available. And as far as sudden death goes it shouldn't be on the field for more than one priority round.



What doesn't split second beat!  

Voidmage Apprentice.
@Dummy2205: Tapping out for 6-mana artifacts, and being able to hold 4 mana open are two conflicting game plans. When you play argentum, opponents can seize the opportunity to make plays you'd ordinarily want to counter. When you hold back on your plays to keep mana open, they can also hold back, or just play things that don't directly threaten you that you're unlikely to want to counter (eg: stuff that hurts a mutual opponent). If you're just stopping a cultivate, or playing politics by defending another player's stuff, you aren't getting nearly the value out of the counter half of mystic snake that you would if you were un-cruel-ultimatumming yourself or somesuch. And if you have to alternate between being prepared to counter and making plays, then you're going to miss all the times when a counter would shine.

That's why effective counters need to be cheap (or free). Playing argentum with an extra mana or two to dispel or negate is a lot better than waiting for 10 mana to play armor and snake.

Unrelated: rewind is bad. It isn't a free counter, you still have to leave 4 mana up for it to be live.
@Dummy2205: Tapping out for 6-mana artifacts, and being able to hold 4 mana open are two conflicting game plans. When you play argentum, opponents can seize the opportunity to make plays you'd ordinarily want to counter. When you hold back on your plays to keep mana open, they can also hold back, or just play things that don't directly threaten you that you're unlikely to want to counter (eg: stuff that hurts a mutual opponent). If you're just stopping a cultivate, or playing politics by defending another player's stuff, you aren't getting nearly the value out of the counter half of mystic snake that you would if you were un-cruel-ultimatumming yourself or somesuch. And if you have to alternate between being prepared to counter and making plays, then you're going to miss all the times when a counter would shine. That's why effective counters need to be cheap (or free). Playing argentum with an extra mana or two to dispel or negate is a lot better than waiting for 10 mana to play armor and snake. Unrelated: rewind is bad. It isn't a free counter, you still have to leave 4 mana up for it to be live.



Argentum Armor is an example, not the only possible thing that has synergy with the snake. I mean "equipment in general". And what I was arguing for specifically is why the snake is worth playing even if you don't have a way to bounce it. Works with a sword or whatever. And obviously you don't and basically can't play it and equip it on the same turn. You use it to save your butt, then it picks up any equipment you have incidentally laying around, which in my experience is worth the slightly more expensive counter. I don't see conflicting game plans. "Running equipment" is very compatible with "using utility effects that are also creatures".

And Rewind isn't bad if you're playing instant-speed utility stuff. There's not a ton of difference difference between playing a Cultivate on your turn and then a free counter or leaving mana open for a Rewind and then playing Fact or Fiction after that. If all of the stuff you want to tap out for is sorcery speed it's not great, but if you can flash in a threat or a utility spell after your turn anyway, which isn't hard to do, it's fine.
Play EDH? Interested in trying EDH? Want ideas for new and exciting generals? Have certain colors in mind for your next deck, but haven't picked a general yet? Boy have I got the thread for you! http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22946049/Comprehensive_Index_of_Generals

Cheap, hard counters(Counterspell, Hinder, Pact of Negation, Force of Will) are always good.  Big, splashy counters can be extremely swingy cards in larger, slower games(Overwhelming Intellect, Desertion, Spelljack)  and some can be great given other cards in your deck(Mystic Snake, Draining Whelk).  If I run counters in my deck I always try and make sure I run enough that I'll have one in my hand by the time the endgame heats up.

Currently in the deck box: Ashling the Pilgrim Horde of Notions Merieke Ri Berit Lin Sivvi Ertai,the Corrupted Riku of Two Reflections Sliver Overlord In Progress: Garza Zol Thraximundar
The best counters in EDH are force of will, arcane denial, pact of negation, negate, and mana drain.

Foil, dream fracture, cryptic command, hinder, spell crumple, counterspell, mindbreak trap, rewind, dissipate, dismiss, and faerie trickery are also pretty good.

Time stop is also worth a mention just for being able to stop pretty much anything. Six mana sucks but you get what you pay for.
but if you can flash in a threat or a utility spell after your turn anyway, which isn't hard to do, it's fine.

Absolutely true, and the same thing actually makes expensive counters worthwhile (ie: your turn isn't wasted if you hold back counter mana and no one plays anything you'd want to counter).

However, in a deck that plays a lot of equipment and creatures...how many instants/flash creatures do you normally see?
If someone is looking to run several counterspells in their deck, Rewind is one I would include for obvious reasons. Other cards like the bounce lands from Ravnica and Temple of the False God can actually net you mana with cards like rewind.

True, I would not play it in my Hanna, Ship's Navigator deck, but Kira, Great Glass-Spinner loves it.
Absolutely true, and the same thing actually makes expensive counters worthwhile (ie: your turn isn't wasted if you hold back counter mana and no one plays anything you'd want to counter). However, in a deck that plays a lot of equipment and creatures...how many instants/flash creatures do you normally see?



Rewind doesn't necessarily go in the same deck as the snake, but if the deck is running Vedalken Orrery, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Leyline of Anticipation, or whatever it potentially works pretty well together. I don't tend to play blue like most people play blue, but if I was to build "control.dec" I would do it like that. Quite a lot of equipment, small creatures attached to utility effects, a lot of stuff with flash and ways to flash stuff in, Seedborn Muse, and every playable Rewind-type effect to generate extra mana so I can flash in big stuff unexpectedly.

Obviously that's a pretty specific deck, but all of that stuff tends to appear in at least small numbers in just about every blue deck, and you don't need it all at once to get your value out of Rewind.
Play EDH? Interested in trying EDH? Want ideas for new and exciting generals? Have certain colors in mind for your next deck, but haven't picked a general yet? Boy have I got the thread for you! http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22946049/Comprehensive_Index_of_Generals

Rewind.... What do I think? Its shined at times when I knew I would need to counter more than one sorcery speed threat but would have lacked the mana to do so. At most times its just a 4 mana counter that untaps lands that would have untapped at the beginning of my turn anyway. I would certainly play it over a number or other 4 mana counters, but I'd much rather play 3 cmc or less counters if my goal is to protect my junk.

3DH4LIF3

Best, IMO, are: Drain, FoW, Thwart, and Pact of Negation in that order, IMO.

Thwart I find consistently undervalued.  
Slave of Tibalt. Currently trading for foils of my bro. PM me. Tarmogoyf on Twitter. Follow me. Team GFG Guns, Fame, Glory Those that require a sig for the ego simply haven't had enough kind words thrown his or her way. Currently looking for prerelease Plains! People who have mailed me rares:
Show
Malpheas: THANK YOU FOR THE FOIL TIBALT, YOU BEAUTIFUL GUY, YOU! Suudsu2200: Armageddon! Sèance, Dominating Licid, Words of War, Gaea's Anthem, Momentous Fall, Nyxathid PM me to make it happen. Your username will end up here, as the cards you sent me. I reserve the right to order your usernames by the cards I liked the best. Oh, and if you send me some Islands in the package, I'll sign them and mail them back.
Best, IMO, are: Drain, FoW, Thwart, and Pact of Negation in that order, IMO.

Thwart I find consistently undervalued.  



Thwart would have been on mylist but I couldn't remember the name and was too lazy to go get a deck out. I like it.

Play EDH? Interested in trying EDH? Want ideas for new and exciting generals? Have certain colors in mind for your next deck, but haven't picked a general yet? Boy have I got the thread for you! http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75842/22946049/Comprehensive_Index_of_Generals

A guy with a name like Islands would like thwart...


i find it too niche. You have to be playing a lot of islands to make it work, much like Foil. Most decks I run with blue in them would rarely want to, much less be able to, play thwart for its free mode. At that point i'd rather play Arcane denial than set myself back three lands drops.   but this just goes to it being 'undervalued' I suppose.

3DH4LIF3

I personally think that Force of Will is probably the most over-rated counterspell in EDH.  It's good in 60 card formats full of one turn combos like Legacy, but in slower formats like Commander, I find that while force can stop any threat, it also two for one's you, which is never a good thing to be doing to yourself.  That being said, Force's value increases exponentially when playing 1vs1 opposed to multiplayer.  

My personal favourite counterspells in the format are:
Counterspell
Dismiss
Rewind
Cryptic Command
Hinder
Spell Crumple 
Decree of Silence
Dream Fracture
Exclude (although condidtional, creatures are usually among the biggest threats in EDH)
Grip of Amnesia (Although mostly as an extra grave-hate spell for my meta.  Also DESTROYS The Mimeoplasm)
Voidslime
Nullmage Husher
Mystic Snake
Draining Whelk

and a few others I can't remember off the top of my head.  I usually don't play all of these in the same deck, but each has it's purposes. 
Perhaps counterintuitively, leyline of anticipation and vedalken orrery aren't really playable for decks that want to play draw-go.

Either A) you play a lot of sorcery speed stuff and rely on finding/resolving/keeping one of these cards. In this case, whenever you don't fiind one, or find one and then lose it somehow, you're trying to play draw-go with a sorcery-speed deck (fail).

Or B) you play a lot of instants to mitigate your reliance on these cards, and in the process make them actually do little for you, since they don't affect a large portion of your deck.

Both options are pretty unexciting. You can get away with sorcery speed creatures if your general is teferi, but just creatures, and enh...

I'd rather just play good counters in my deck than design a whole new deck around turning mediocre counters into good ones.
By the way, force of will isn't overrated, based on how often I see it online I'd say it's severely underplayed (although, it is the most expensive card on mtgo - that almost certainly has something to do with it).

This is a format ruled by some seriously busted draw engines. Getting a live land tax+scroll rack, or necropotence, or sylvan library, or future sight, or mind's eye, or any number of other cards capable of filling your hand in a hurry is both easily possible with the vintage card pool, and for most deck is step 1 of their game-plan.

Once you achieve step 1, you become limited by the mana available to you, and not the cards to spend the mana on. At this point value per card doesn't matter nearly as much as value per mana. Force of will lets you do something very relevant for zero mana, and if you have necropotence in play, replacing the card lost is just a matter of paying 1 more life next turn.

Bad example maybe, since necropotence's awesomeness can make a lot of bad plays profitable, but it isn't the only way for decks to perform at the limit of their mana development.
Sign In to post comments