Are counterspells overpowered?

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I recently got embroiled in a flame war with alanwescoat on the You Make the Card forums:

Original post
97563441 wrote:
It is pretty well known that MTG is skewed in favor of blue, and this problem worsens from standard to modern to legacy.  I think I have come up with a simple idea for a common card that could unskew the blue problem, thereby expanding the spectrum of useful cards and renewing the usefulness of thousands of cards now moldering because -- while the cards are good -- they just can't compete with unbalanced blue.

Equalizer
0 CMC
Artifact

Flash
Equalizer cannot be countered.
Tap and sacrifice: Counter target spell that targets another spell.

Frequency: common

With a common like this, I think that  everyone could sideboard up with them in whatever format and take that slightly overwhelming and unfair punch out of blue while enjoying trying out some other colors for a change.

My response
88993869 wrote:
Equalizer 
Artifact (C)
Flash
Equalizer can't be countered.
, Sacrifice Equalizer: Counter target spell that would counter another spell.

I don't think MTG is 'skewed in favor of blue' to the extent you're claiming. Yes, blue is strong, but hasn't been that overpowered and dominant since Urza's Saga. In Standard, pretty much the only card holding blue up is Delver of Secrets; in Modern, blue is rarely played except to smooth out combo decks; in Legacy, blue is the good guy who keeps crazy combo decks in check with Force of Will. I believe that blue has a tendency to rise to the top because its Ponders make blue decks naturally more consistent (as opposed to your typical mono-red deck, which comes blasting right out of the gates but gets hated out much more easily).

Everyone feels bad when their spells are countered, but the truth is that counterspells are totally balanced. Think of Essence Scatter as a Doom Blade that only works when the creature enters the battlefield and you'll realize just how narrow they are; when you figure out a blue deck's tricks, you can play around counterspells just like any other color's removal cards. It takes skill to play, and play against, blue.

Equalizer is probably not a common card. Its function is clear enough, but it's far too wordy for a new player to just pick up and read. I also think it's a rather ineffective and narrow answer to blue, as it only stops counterspells and ignores the bigger picture; in comparison, cards like Great Sable Stag and Thrun, the Last Troll directly threaten the blue player and are hard as hell to answer.

His response
97563441 wrote:
Thanks for the response.  The idea was to give everyone a simple answer to blue without hosing blue.  Giving everyone an easy answer to couterspells seems to me to be a way to do that.  In standard, card power always seems to be just slightly in favor of blue.  As we progress out of standard to modern and especially to legacy, the dominance of blue becomes more apparent, especially with outrageously powerful counterspells like Force of Will.

You claim that counterspells are totally balanced.  I think that between blue's card draw and capacity to counter most anything, blue's general character has a slight advantage over the other colors.  Countespells are cool, and they're a great part of the game.  However, far to often, the situation has boiled down to the fact that the most competitive decks simply must use blue.  Giving every color a fairly decent answer to one of blue's most powerful common effects I think would be likely to mitigate this.

I think your point about red being easily hated out is relevant here.  It's basically easy to hate out red most of the time.  However, we don't have regular printings of viable blue hate cards, which is motivation for proposing this card.

I'm not sure about your argument regarding the wording of the card and its frequency.  The aforementioned Delver of Secrets seems to me to be even more wordy and complicated.  Golden Urn likewise.

Thrun, the Last Troll is as you point out quite difficult to answer, but the fact that he is mythic and legendary and pretty close to unique means that you aren't likely to deal with him week after week.  On the other hand, it is highly likely that you might deal with cards like Mana Leak, Dissipate, and Negate in match after match.

Control seems to me these days to be just a little too easy, which is why I think this card might be a good idea.  Seriously, other than Red Elemental Blast, how much blue hate is there?

EDIT: Also, it wouldn't just stop counterspells.  It would also counter effects like Redirect and Fork.

I start running out of patience
88993869 wrote:
97563441 wrote:
I think that between blue's card draw and capacity to counter most anything, blue's general character has a slight advantage over the other colors.  Countespells are cool, and they're a great part of the game.  However, far to often, the situation has boiled down to the fact that the most competitive decks simply must use blue.

This isn't true. Looking at Standard alone, ramp decks have incredibly powerful finishers like Inferno Titan and Wurmcoil Engine, with Solemn Simulacrum to back them up; white weenie has access to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Lingering Souls, both cards that give control decks fits; and there's no trace of blue in FRites' Unburial Rites-into-Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. The reason blue is still dominating Standard is Delver of Secrets, not because blue is somehow inherently overpowered. Try playing a blue deck before you talk about how blue players have it easy.
97563441 wrote:
I'm not sure about your argument regarding the wording of the card and its frequency.  The aforementioned Delver of Secrets seems to me to be even more wordy and complicated.  Golden Urn likewise.

The problem is complexity. Both the Delver and Urn have intimidating front ends, but once you pick them up and read, it's easily grokkable. Delver of Secrets is a little guy who transforms into a bigger guy if you get lucky. Golden Urn is a trinket that gains you life. Equalizer... is a thing with 'flash'... that counters stuff if they target other stuff? Uh? It's a little more abstract than most cards and isn't an effect that's seen very often in Magic. This is why I don't feel that it should be common.
97563441 wrote:
Control seems to me these days to be just a little too easy, which is why I think this card might be a good idea.  Seriously, other than Red Elemental Blast, how much blue hate is there?

The point I'm trying is to make is that you don't need to have specific blue hate cards to fight blue. Instead of focusing on the obvious answer cards like Red Elemental Blast or Scragnoth, look a layer deeper: small, fast threats like Goblin Guide can come out a turn before the control player gets his counterspell mana up, forcing him immediately on the defensive, so they also work well as anti-control cards. As I said earlier, I'm sceptical of whether this card would actually be useful against counterspells in the first place, since it's a dead card in hand that only works against a fraction of your opponent's removal spells; why would you want a card that isn't as effective as other cards that already exist?
97563441 wrote:
EDIT: Also, it wouldn't just stop counterspells.  It would also counter effects like Redirect and Fork.

Before you edited it, it only stopped counterspells (hence the wording in my formatting fix). Besides, Redirect and Fork effects aren't exactly common either.

So does he
97563441 wrote:
88993869 wrote:
Try playing a blue deck before you talk about how blue players have it easy.

 

It is this kind of snide nonsense that makes using these forums so difficult.  Did I at any point claim that blue has it easy?  Did I?  Why do you snidely attribute assertions to me that I did not make?  What purpose does something like that serve?  How does it enhance communication and comraderie among MTG players?  I do play blue.  Often.  There is a nice advantage to be able to sit back and grant permission as an opponent assembles a strategy and then have the ability to counter the finishing card.

The fact of the matter is that blue very often dominates standard, and the dominance of blue increases the further one gets away from standard because of the pile of highly effective counters that have become available over the years.  Yes, Delver of Secrets is a very powerful card.  So is Snapcaster Mage, but only because it goes together with powerful blue staples such as Mana Leak and Negate.  The idea of the Equalizer artifact is to give an easy sideboard option for all player that provides a nice response to blue's most powerful staple ability.  It's only a dead card in your hand if you maindeck it.

I'm a bit surprised by your evaluation of the Flash mechanic.  It is so well understood that reminder text for it was not included on Snapcaster Mage.  Flash is not a difficult mechanic.  It is certainly not as difficult as things like Intimidate or Regenerate or even Protection.  The fact that blue hate is so rarely seen is the crux of the problem.  The excellent synergy of blue staple abilities in combination with the general absence of blue hate as a staple has resulted in a slight skewing of the power of blue in standard in many years and consequently a skewing of it in extended formats as well.

Look at the hate that is available.  RDW comes and goes, but red hate is always available.  Since green and white generally rely on creatures to win, green and white hate is always available.  While the creatures are generally kept weak for black, black creature and enchantment hate is always readily available, though also generally not very powerful.  What I find bothersome is that blue hate is not a staple, and I think it should be a staple for MTG to be healthy.  I don't think it would take very much blue hate since blue usually gets its minor edge from very subtle effects like deck manipulation, bouncing, card draw, and counterspells.  Too much hate would completely screw up blue, which would be a bad thing.  I'm proposing one fairly simple card that players could sideboard against one significant aspect of blue, four cards maximum in a deck, which is a small number compared to the counterspells that are always available to blue.

I take a step back
88993869 wrote:
97563441 wrote:
Did I at any point claim that blue has it easy?  Did I?  Why do you snidely attribute assertions to me that I did not make?  What purpose does something like that serve?  How does it enhance communication and comraderie among MTG players?  I do play blue.  Often.  There is a nice advantage to be able to sit back and grant permission as an opponent assembles a strategy and then have the ability to counter the finishing card.

To me, this looks like you're saying "I am not saying blue players have it easy! But as a blue player, I have things easy." I'm not entirely sure how to respond to that.
97563441 wrote:
The fact of the matter is that blue very often dominates standard, and the dominance of blue increases the further one gets away from standard because of the pile of highly effective counters that have become available over the years.

I have already answered this point. Please re-read what I said about Standard.
97563441 wrote:
The fact that blue hate is so rarely seen is the crux of the problem.  The excellent synergy of blue staple abilities in combination with the general absence of blue hate as a staple has resulted in a slight skewing of the power of blue in standard in many years and consequently a skewing of it in extended formats as well.

You should also take another look at what I said about answers to blue.

For the sake of clarity, here's what I think you have said so far: 
- There are not enough blue hate cards.
- Blue is overpowered.
- Counterspells are the most powerful cards blue has.
- Equalizer will keep blue in check.

Here's what I have been trying to explain:
- Blue hate cards exist. They're just harder to identify.
- Blue is not overpowered.
- Counterspells are not as powerful as people think.
- There is no need to keep blue in check.
- Even if blue was overpowered, Equalizer would not be an effective answer.

I feel you need to clarify your stance further.

He redoubles his efforts
97563441 wrote:
As I have been considering the objection to the complexity of the card I proposed, I've been considering the classic blue/red rivalry that used to be present in cards like Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast along with 0 CMC red cards like Crookshank Kobolds, Kobolds of Kher Keep, and Crimson Kobolds, which suggested a much simpler and slightly weaker card that accomplished the same objective.

Flame of Purity 
Instant (C)
Flame of Purity is red.
Counter target spell that targets a spell.

The aforementioned Autumn's Veil is a fine example of blue hate in Standard, but not much else fits the bill.  The point of this proposal is to design a card that would not only be useful and not broken in Standard but also useful in extended formats.

Some people have misunderstood me regarding counterspells.  In any given set, counterspell is not necessarily blue's most powerful ability.  It is, however, blue's most powerful staple ability.  Every set in every expansion has a counterspell.

For those who don't think that the color wheel in general is skewed in favor of blue and becomes more skewed in favor of blue as one goes through extended formats...um....are you kidding me?  The point of this design is to try to offer a reasonable one-card fix for all formats not to destroy blue but to bring the color wheel into balance across formats.

My last try
88993869 wrote:
97563441 wrote:
[Counterspelling is] blue's most powerful staple ability.  Every set in every expansion has a counterspell.

Every set in every expansion has a direct damage spell. Every competitive red deck in every format plays 4 to 12 direct damage spells. Direct damage is red's most powerful ability and gives it free answers to creatures its opponents play, and can even be aimed at the face to finish off a wounded opponent. Yet no one is making a card that says:

Numbing Frost 
Instant (C)
Numbing Frost is blue.
Prevent all noncombat damage that would be dealt this turn.

Your goals may be noble, but I don't think making an unconditional free answer to walk all over something you hate is the best way to solve a game design problem.
97563441 wrote:
For those who don't think that the color wheel in general is skewed in favor of blue and becomes more skewed in favor of blue as one goes through extended formats...um....are you kidding me?

If you really want to continue this discussion, why don't you ask on Magic General or any of the competitive forums? I'm sure they'd be happy to discuss your feelings.

He rebuts again
97563441 wrote:
There are lots of staple answers to red's direct damage such as life gain and white instants like Stave Off.  They're printed in almost every set.  They are staple answers to staple effects.  There are hardly any staple answers to blue effects.

The proposed card is very weak, and would utterly fail to "walk all over" blue.  I think what it would actually do is balance the color wheel, which should be a significant goal of WoTC.

EDIT: Also, using a card is not a "free answer".  If it said, "Then shuffle Flame of Purity into your library and draw a card", it would be a free answer.

I move the discussion to Magic General
88993869 wrote:
97563441 wrote:
There are hardly any staple answers to blue effects.

76281685 wrote:
[Your response] is not a very well thought response since their are absolutley tons of direct damage hate cards in existence, some very much like that.

As I have already said, the answers to blue exist. They're just more difficult to recognize than other answers. In the same way that lifegain counters direct damage, lots of small, fast threats stop counterspells from being relevant.

Anyway, it's clear that we aren't making any headway by butting our heads like this. I created a thread in Magic General; let's take the discussion there instead, so we don't clutter YMtC with our disagreement.

(burkettryan just randomly appeared in the thread to support alanwescoat, so he's included here for completeness.)


tl;dr alanwescoat thinks that blue is too strong because there are no answers for counterspells. I disagree.

It's clear that this discussion is going nowhere, so I decided to open up the matter. How powerful do you think counterspells are, and why? In your opinion, do they affect the balance of the game?

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Keep your personal arguments where they started. No need to drag them all over the boards.

As for there being no answers to counterspells, counterspells are answers.

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It is easier to stop removal (by using Shroud, Hexproof, Regeneration, Indestructibility, Protection etc in response) than it is to stop counterspells, but then again removal has a far bigger window of opportunity than counters do.

There are uncounterable spells, things like Reverberate and Silence, as well as things that increase the cost of your opponent's spells. There are also spells that arent affected too much by being countered in the first place (Unearth, Vengevine, Flashback etc). So it's not like there arent any answers to counter spells. You can also play around them, to an extent.
 
IMO counters are powerful, but not too powerful.

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56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
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56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
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Is algebra really that difficult?
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57799958 wrote:
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I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
It's kind of obnoxious when you build an elaborate Johnny deck that dies to a well-placed counterspell, but there are those that would say 5 card combo decks are obnoxious, too.
Counterspells are fair.  They used to be mildly overpowered, but not much.  It was only noticable because overpowered counterspells are much less fun than overpowered anything else.
@****eeyong If you've just admitted to breaking the rules and flaming, you should realize you were just out to prove you were right fromt the start of that argument and weren't going to properly consider the other side.

Counterspells are in fact overpowered. But, we don't notice it as much because each color has their own overpowered concept (creature pump is also overpowered). The game can't do without them now, there is no point to debate their existance. Also, it's all that blue has, so without them, blue wouldn't have a fighting chance. As important as it is to ensure counterspells aren't overpowered, it's also important to ensure that they aren't underpowered as well.  

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It depends on what you're talking about.
Cancel is pretty fair.
Mana Drain, I'd say, is pretty overpowered.
Counterspells are fine; it's just that if you're netdecking expect your opponent to know to hold his 2cc mana leaks for your finisher/key card and not spend it on decoy.
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Counterspells are just removal (with a tiny window of usefulness).  Any apparent difference is purely psychological.
Counterspells are just removal (with a tiny window of usefulness).  Any apparent difference is purely psychological.


Would you rather see your Solemn Simulacrum Mana Leaked or Shocked?
That's one of Magic's many, many exceptions.
Overpowered? No. Unfun? Yes.
Overpowered? No. Unfun? Yes.


 
Overpowered? No. Unfun? Yes.
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Counterspells are perfectly fine.  Mana Drain is an obvious exception to this statement (and Counterspell is maybe a bit too efficiently costed) but, in general, there's nothing wrong with the cards.  There are plenty of answers to them, too: Split Second, uncounterability, targetted discard, other counterspells, certain tricks, man lands... even flashback, unearth and the like work to counteract the strategy.  Any one of these cards can directly counteract the advantages of playing with counterspells, which can also be achieved by playing around the counters, baiting out the counters or casting things underneath the counters (ie, the aforementioned example of Goblin Guide.

Really, with very little exception, counterspells are kind of like Cradle to Grave.  They're good and versatile, yes, but their severely limited in terms of exactly when they can be used.
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Overpowered? No. Unfun? Yes.



Check: Yes.
Counterspells are fair.  They used to be mildly overpowered, but not much.  It was only noticable because overpowered counterspells are much less fun than overpowered anything else.

In the early days of Magic, it was attempted to penalize players who ran Blue by having creatures that could only attack an opponent if that opponent controlled an Island. The trouble was that those creatures were all Blue themselves, and so this wasn't much of a disincentive.

Perhaps what would have worked more effectively than simply going from Counterspell to Cancel would have been to give Island a major drawback.

Suppose a player could have Plains and Forests and Mountains in a deck... but if a player chose to have the ability to generate Blue mana, then he could not generate mana of any other color.

This would mean that a player who chose to have access to Blue counterspells would be basically limited to Blue creatures or artifact creatures. While it's too late to do that in Magic, are counterspells so potent - or so unfun - that this level of limitation is what should be designed into new CCGs?

Of course, most competitive CCGs are much more timid than M:tG when it comes to things like counterspells or tutors. But one that strikes a balance between playing it safe and the boldness of M:tG might be hailed as fun to play. (Achieving popularity with a new CCG, though, is very difficult, since you need opponents for your cards to have value.)

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I remember a card in EPIC that basically said "Split Second. Counter target spell. Draw two cards." and it cost nothing. And in EPIC if you try to draw from an empty library you win instead. No wonder why that game died so fast.

I think the problem with blue is that it got a lot more than counters. Blue has been generally much better at gaining real card advantage than the other colors. With that in mind it made blue a lot better at competing in attrition fights. You can certainly have critical mass hands where a heavy counter spell deck will literally counter every spell you play. I know I've played games like that.

Something else I want to kick out there before I go to class (so this won't be that thought out (its also some venting)) is that I keep playing against mono-blue control decks with very VERY bad pilots who stick Delver and make horrible inefficient decisions. Then they win the game because Delver happens to be one of the best aggro cards ever printed. I had a player Force of Will my Thrun! (the guy who did that was not a bad pilot, though, he just forgot what Thrun did). I lost that game because he out attritioned me even though he threw away two cards like that. I had another game where my opponent Counterespelled my Loam with no targets, and Stifled a fetch when I already had 5 lands. Blue's draw power and card manipulation gives you a LOT of leniency for it's pilot to screw up bad and still get there. I think it's the fact that blue doesn't rely on drawing the right cards off the top, or even making the right plays, that makes it dominant.
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I would not mind an artifact counterspell. It should not however be free. Yes counterspells are very powerful but they are not broken powerful. Making something an artifact pretty much doubles its cost, and something that only target counterspells should cost one blue. The correct mana cost for such an artifact would be 2. Additional utility could be added to it if it included a mana cost.

There should be more effects that hose countering. Thrun is by no means the only one though. vexing shusher is my choice normally but both red and green have many options.

His artifact could be made better.

Equalizer
artifact

This artifact cannot be countered.
0: sacrifice this artifact to counter target spell that targets a spell on the stack.

: counter target spell or activated ability that targets a spell or ability on the stack.

Blue does tend to be overly strong but it is not because of counters it is because of card draw. Counters are just annoying and that is the real reason to print extra hate against them.
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I remember a card in EPIC that basically said "Split Second. Counter target spell. Draw two cards." and it cost nothing. And in EPIC if you try to draw from an empty library you win instead. No wonder why that game died so fast.

I think the problem with blue is that it got a lot more than counters. Blue has been generally much better at gaining real card advantage than the other colors. With that in mind it made blue a lot better at competing in attrition fights. You can certainly have critical mass hands where a heavy counter spell deck will literally counter every spell you play. I know I've played games like that.

Something else I want to kick out there before I go to class (so this won't be that thought out (its also some venting)) is that I keep playing against mono-blue control decks with very VERY bad pilots who stick Delver and make horrible inefficient decisions. Then they win the game because Delver happens to be one of the best aggro cards ever printed. I had a player Force of Will my Thrun! (the guy who did that was not a bad pilot, though, he just forgot what Thrun did). I lost that game because he out attritioned me even though he threw away two cards like that. I had another game where my opponent Counterespelled my Loam with no targets, and Stifled a fetch when I already had 5 lands. Blue's draw power and card manipulation gives you a LOT of leniency for it's pilot to screw up bad and still get there. I think it's the fact that blue doesn't rely on drawing the right cards off the top, or even making the right plays, that makes it dominant.



That's the thing. For being a colour supposedly tied to being skill-intensive, blue's often the cheap way out. Combo's more difficult to play than control, imo.
Keep your personal arguments where they started. No need to drag them all over the boards.

As for there being no answers to counterspells, counterspells are answers.



Totally agree with all that. Nothing is funnier than 5 players putting counterspells on the stack to prevent the first card and then the counters lol.
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Counterspells aren't intrinsically more powerful than removal spells, except that they hit a wider variety of things. In return, the window in which they work is smaller.

They trade one-for-one, so they're not particularly efficient in CA.


What they are, though, is unfun (especially in large numbers). This is because they interact too much, and prevent the gamestate from progressing. This makes them feel less fun than simply trading creatures in combat or playing bear-terror-bear-terror. 
What they are, though, is unfun (especially in large numbers). 

What's interesting, though, is that counterspells become increasingly more tolerated (and then approach adored) as one becomes progressively more cynical about the game.

I think his argument is garbage because the colorpie shifted quite a while ago to give all colors the elements of blue that made it "the best color" (card advantage, broad strokes)- in just the same way that all colors have playable creatures on the cheap now. It's a common trap for newer players to invest far too much into the identity of the color pie. Counters are still the broadest stroke, but no longer the only one.
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Solemn is not a narrow case. There are tons of great creatures that do fantastic things even when hit with removal. Counters stop that. In Standard, there's something called the "Vapor Snag test" where you want your creature to get value before it gets bounced. Pretty much the only creatures that pass the VST and the Mana Leak Test are Thrun and Snapcaster Mage.
Also, think broader. You have three mana floating. You cast a Goblin Charbelcher, hoping to win the game. Shatter, smash, naturalize, nature's claim, all of them are useless, but any counterspell is going to win the game for your opponent. I'm not saying that counters shouldn't exist to defeat charbelcher decks, but comparing counterspells to "removal with small windows of opportunity" is insane. That window of opportunity is when a spell is cast, and you will ALWAYS have mana up, you will ALWAYS have a counter in hand, and your opponent will RARELY have a better follow up play.
The fact that you take counterspells with your early hand disruption rather than removal spells in any game where you open with a black mana source just means you have common sense. The fact that you're playing Duress in order to INB4COUNTERSLOL means that they are indeed something that cannot be ignored.
I'd like to mention that not all counterspells are back-breaking. It's usually just the metagame they come in. Mana Leak is a nightmare for decks with spells that cost 3 or more. Thoughtbind, however, is a very balanced card, and not half bad either. Spell Blast is bad only because you can do the same thing for a lot cheaper. The thing that makes good counters good is their brutal efficiency.
Solemn is not a narrow case. There are tons of great creatures that do fantastic things even when hit with removal. Counters stop that. In Standard, there's something called the "Vapor Snag test" where you want your creature to get value before it gets bounced. Pretty much the only creatures that pass the VST and the Mana Leak Test are Thrun and Snapcaster Mage.
Also, think broader. You have three mana floating. You cast a Goblin Charbelcher, hoping to win the game. Shatter, smash, naturalize, nature's claim, all of them are useless, but any counterspell is going to win the game for your opponent. I'm not saying that counters shouldn't exist to defeat charbelcher decks, but comparing counterspells to "removal with small windows of opportunity" is insane. That window of opportunity is when a spell is cast, and you will ALWAYS have mana up, you will ALWAYS have a counter in hand, and your opponent will RARELY have a better follow up play.
The fact that you take counterspells with your early hand disruption rather than removal spells in any game where you open with a black mana source just means you have common sense. The fact that you're playing Duress in order to INB4COUNTERSLOL means that they are indeed something that cannot be ignored.
I'd like to mention that not all counterspells are back-breaking. It's usually just the metagame they come in. Mana Leak is a nightmare for decks with spells that cost 3 or more. Thoughtbind, however, is a very balanced card, and not half bad either. Spell Blast is bad only because you can do the same thing for a lot cheaper. The thing that makes good counters good is their brutal efficiency.



Counterspells are not efficient, or at least, no more so than removal tends to be.

What they are (when they're good) is very general - Remove Soul sees next to no play when it's legal, but Mana Leak sees lots even though it's not a hard counter.

Essentially, counterspells will stop almost anything in the game - but you only have once chance to use them. 
you will ALWAYS have mana up, you will ALWAYS have a counter in hand,


No. You won't.

Speaking as a control player, one of the hardest things to do is keep the other player convinced that you are holding the counter. If you aren't, and they realize it, you're in for a world of hurt. Counters are specialized removal. You get one shot at anything the opponent plays, and you have to decide immediately whether or not it's worth committing the counterspell. You don't have an unlimited number of counterspells, and each Boomerang you add to try and catch things that slip through the counter net is one less counterspell in the deck. Also, remember that Boomerang->Counterspell is card disadvantage for the control deck.

There are certainly games where the counter deck is able to win despite several misplays, but far more frequently I lose a game because I either countered the wrong spell or simply ran out of counters.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
I don't think counterspells are overpowered.

I have my share playing control and beatdown decks, counterspells are one way for blue to interact with the game.
Having counterspells in your deck won't make you win most of the time, even if you have the skill. Counterspells feel powerfull are likely because blue player have access to library manipulation cards, so they can counter threats at the time, and when they slips, they have cards like boomerang to help them.

IMO, You can't win with just 4 - 8 creatures and fill the rest with counterspells and lands in your deck,
Beware !!!! There are Zombies even in Spaces !!!
I remember a card in EPIC that basically said "Split Second. Counter target spell. Draw two cards." and it cost nothing. And in EPIC if you try to draw from an empty library you win instead. No wonder why that game died so fast.

Oh man, I wanna hear about this game.
What they are, though, is unfun (especially in large numbers). 

What's interesting, though, is that counterspells become increasingly more tolerated (and then approach adored) as one becomes progressively more cynical about the game.




Woah. You're totally right.
I tell you what, EPIC cards are hell of ugly.
@ The OP. I think the guy you are quoting was being more reasonable. He does have a valid point, especially in regards to Standard, if you look at the targetted hate cards the anti Blue ones are the weakest.

Flashfreeze
Celestial Purge
Deathmark
Autumn's Veil
Combust

Autumn's Veil is possible sideboard material, though Thrun is just better. Combust is completely worthless. Blue on the other hand gets to sideboard in Counterspell a spell so powerfull WOTC said they would never reprint it. Counterspells aren't just removal they will stop any type of card in the game that you cast, but only as you cast it. It can put the kibosh on anything from a Stormblood Berserker to Sorin's Vengeance.

I personally don't think targetted hate is the way to go, either with his artifact or things like Combust. I think more Cannot be countered in red or green would be good, or cards in white or black playable from the graveyard. And no Undying doesn't count, Counterspells will prevent it from ever triggering.
Combust was better when people played Baneslayer Angel.
Solemn is not a narrow case. There are tons of great creatures that do fantastic things even when hit with removal. Counters stop that. In Standard, there's something called the "Vapor Snag test" where you want your creature to get value before it gets bounced. Pretty much the only creatures that pass the VST and the Mana Leak Test are Thrun and Snapcaster Mage.
...


This seems to say less about counters and more about the upward creep of creature power in standard.  Without the few counters that still exist in standard those creatures would be completely unstoppable.

Atleast mana leak potentially makes you stop for half a second to think before tapping out and slapping "big creature that will smash your face" on the field.

...
I'm not saying that counters shouldn't exist to defeat charbelcher decks, but comparing counterspells to "removal with small windows of opportunity" is insane. That window of opportunity is when a spell is cast, and you will ALWAYS have mana up, you will ALWAYS have a counter in hand, and your opponent will RARELY have a better follow up play.
...


This is just false.  The control player will sometimes have a counter in hand, and sometimes not.  But their game plan relies entirely on convincing you that the extra island they just drew IS a counter.  If I can convince you that a card in my hand is a counter, that card functions identically to a counter unless you can afford to call that bluff.

Whether you have a better follow up is entirely up to you.  You can bluff too.  And once you start doing that we're playing poker instead of solitaire.  The psychological game can be even more fun than the game on the table.

Current decks
Comments or suggestions are always welcome

Modern
nothing at the moment

What they are, though, is unfun (especially in large numbers). 

What's interesting, though, is that counterspells become increasingly more tolerated (and then approach adored) as one becomes progressively more cynical about the game.




Woah. You're totally right.

Not only does the hatred of countermagic go away, but it becomes expected.
"Arrgh! I can't believe you countered my [thing]!" eventually transitions to "Yeah, I'm gonna play [thing].  Gonna counter it?" as a player's overal temperment shifts from "Awesome! Spells! Monsters! Yeah!" to more or less procedural untap/upkeep/draw/main/combat/main/end/go.
A bit off topic, but I find I play a lot better when I am more cynical about the game. I never go on tilt, I stop over thinking because I dont mind if I make a huge blunder, and I play much more controlled.

Last PTQ I played in I had no excpectation to win. I dindnt even have a desire to win. I got the deck cheap from store credit from judging FNMs. I had nothing to lose. No rating to lose. No money to lose. And you know what? I did very well in that tournament and won half a box of boosters. Cynisism FTW.
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Combust was better when people played Baneslayer Angel.



And Exarch Twin.
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Before they banned the format out of existence, I was a proud supporter of Modern.

Hell, I have more fun when I'm more cynical about it. You're a mage. You're either a bit detached or else you're dead/on your way there. Even pyromancers probably spend a lot of time thinking about not hitching a ride on the Gunpowerder Supply Wagon and charge extra if someone wants them to get on a boat (but they get paid it, because... well, floating bits of wood are totally worth paying someone to set on fire).

It's like goldfishing my EDH decks (mostly to get a feel for how reliably they can get things up, because intuitive understanding is sometimes neccesary) "ok, that's a t2 Marit Lage, but no protection, so... hrmz, how fast can I churn it up again?".

It's like getting frustrated while refusing to run answers. It IS beatable, and being cynical helps you with that. You see the same thing in Warhammer 40k, and you'll notice that roleplaying characters without any cynicism tend to die (especially in Amber. Look at how bad Merlin's life got).



But cynicism also means seeing through the other guy's illusions. Yeah, that CheatzorMage may be mocking you, driving you nuts, condescendingly deciding what he'll allow to happen and what he won't... in apearance, but in the secrecy of his sanctum he's sweating, looking at his options, desperately buying himself time and trying to figure out how to play things out next. I mean, really - you don't think "Tattermunge Maniac , but then he's got two more cards in hand and another mountain or two up" illicits a certain amount of anxiety when you're on five life?

People hate permision because they remember it as it is once they've stabilized. That's what we want you to think in game, but it's not actually how it works. You don't remember the games where fast aggro beats control because they're short and what you expect to happen. You don't remember the games where fast aggro creams some janky deck because it's over fast and it just seems lucky that you didn't have any early board presence. Etc.
76783093 wrote:
Luckily, we have stop-having-fun guys to remind us that having anything more than 60 cards in your deck is tantamount to being a rapist and anyone considering it should be strung up by their ****.
The best way to counter counterspells is to make the opponent waste their counterspell on something that they think is a threat, but in reality, you have a bigger threat.
Nah Nah Nah... Nah Nah Nah... SPORTSCENTER... THE PLACE FOR SPORTS

This is just false.  The control player will sometimes have a counter in hand, and sometimes not.  But their game plan relies entirely on convincing you that the extra island they just drew IS a counter.  If I can convince you that a card in my hand is a counter, that card functions identically to a counter unless you can afford to call that bluff.

Whether you have a better follow up is entirely up to you.  You can bluff too.  And once you start doing that we're playing poker instead of solitaire.  The psychological game can be even more fun than the game on the table.



I'd like to suggest you watch some Standard games on Youtube. Snapcaster Mage means that they always have a mana leak or a negate or something to grind you out and tempo you at the same time they are killing you. You can't afford to pass the turn to play around a counter because they can still do things with their mana. You can't afford to play your four-drop because getting it mana leaked off of a snapcaster is a hard enough hit to lose you the game. This is why Delver is universally the best deck in standard, not because they have a flying Wild Nacatl. Though that does give the deck speed and aggression.
I understand you can play around counters in EDH games easily. I know you can play into counters in eternal/modern formats by playing your combo with a Spell Pierce and a Force or a Pact in hand. But if we're talking about printing something that is strong against countermagic on the whole that will be played as a Standard sideboard, I'm all for it.
Cavern of Souls from Avacyn Restored is the ideal card to make countermagic less of a catch-all. I could see it being played in other formats for sure as well.
Counters aren't unbeatable, but to suggest that they are a weaker counterpart to removal spells is pretty ignorant in my opinion is all.

This is just false.  The control player will sometimes have a counter in hand, and sometimes not.  But their game plan relies entirely on convincing you that the extra island they just drew IS a counter.  If I can convince you that a card in my hand is a counter, that card functions identically to a counter unless you can afford to call that bluff.

Whether you have a better follow up is entirely up to you.  You can bluff too.  And once you start doing that we're playing poker instead of solitaire.  The psychological game can be even more fun than the game on the table.



I'd like to suggest you watch some Standard games on Youtube. Snapcaster Mage means that they always have a mana leak or a negate or something to grind you out and tempo you at the same time they are killing you. You can't afford to pass the turn to play around a counter because they can still do things with their mana. You can't afford to play your four-drop because getting it mana leaked off of a snapcaster is a hard enough hit to lose you the game. This is why Delver is universally the best deck in standard, not because they have a flying Wild Nacatl. Though that does give the deck speed and aggression.



You have absolutely no understanding of why Delver is good.