Top 5 Counterspells Of All Time

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Posted on July 16, 2021, 9:13 p.m. by Mtg_Mega_Nerds

Feel free to comment if you disagree with me, that's fine! I was considering these cards, but they did not make the list: Cryptic Command , Flusterstorm , and Swan Song .

5: Counterspell - Nothing really to say here. Counters a spell for 2 mana and under no conditions. Decent card, have it in many of my decks with blue in it. It is the most affordable.

4: Pact of Negation - Non-conditional and can be easily bluffed, but you are limited to using it later in the game when you have the mana to pay for it. Plus if you only have 5 mana at the time, you won't be able to do much on your turn.

3: Force of Negation - Conditional so it can't always be cast for free and it only targets noncreature spells, but extremely powerful when used on an opponent's turn to stop one of their plays or protect something of yours. Plus, it will be very easy to bluff having this counterspell, and also gives the added benefit of exiling.

2: Mana Drain - Counters a spell for 2 mana under no conditions, and most likely repays itself and gives you more mana to cast things. Can easily put you ahead in the game.

1: Force of Will - Same thing as Force of Negation but better, because it can counter any type of spell and it can be cast for free on your turn as well. Easily the best counterspell in the game. One life is a small drawback, and you will most likely have a blue card in hand to exile.

shadow63 says... #2

This is highly format dependent

July 16, 2021 9:28 p.m.

magwaaf says... #3

Force of will Mana drain Counterspell Pact of negation Daze (if you have to ask, you are too young)

July 16, 2021 9:39 p.m.

magwaaf says... #4

shadow63 i disagree, this is a. old discussion and we are talking overall every format drom casual to vintage to edh. Pick your 5

July 16, 2021 9:42 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #5

The best counterspell is the one you can keep in hand because your opponent is trying to play around it.

I feel Mental Misstep needs to be in the discussion somewhere, because it's actually powerful enough to be actually restricted in Vintage, and banned almost everywhere else. So:

1 . Mental Misstep

2 . Force of Will

3 . Mana Drain

4 . Chalice of the Void - debatable to call a counterspell, but it literally counters spells.

5 . Hard to choose between Daze , Pact of Negation , Force of Negation or Fierce Guardianship , so I'll just go with Negate , for its omniprescence and reliability in every format from limited to commander and everything in between.

My wildcard goes to Mana Tithe . Noone expects the Mana Tithe !

July 16, 2021 10:21 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #6

I don't think Pact is played enough to be in the running.

Replace it with Daze and that's my list.

July 16, 2021 10:43 p.m.

shadow63 says... #7

1 Cancel 2 Essence Scatter


But seriously

I dont see any of card coming close to 1 Force of Will it's an obscenely powerful card I've played with it. It feels so good knowing your safe even when tapped out.

So that leads me to 2 Force of Negation they tried to nerf fow but didn't nerf it enough. At worst it's a bad Negate

Now it gets hard to place the rest so I'm gonna just concentrate on edh as that's the format im familiar with.

3 Fierce Guardianship yeah it's free where the other two cost you a card. But having your general out isn't always a guarantee.

4 Negate from my experience from playing commander counter non creature spells is far more important then countering creature spells. And this card doesn't that effectively and efficiently and is super splashable.

Now my controversial pick 5 Swan Song I know it cost less mana then Negate but it can't hit artifacts or planeswalkers and it gives out a 2/2 ird.

Honorable mention to any of the free counter spells I didn't say. Not having to pay mana for a spell is designe space they maybe should of never touched

July 16, 2021 11:19 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #8

Pact of Negation is the default "I'm comboing off this turn, and if you try to interfere, I got this up my sleeve, because there will be no next upkeep"-counterspell. Its function is much more defensive and therefor different from actual Counterspell , which' main use is to stop your opponent from progressing the game, not just to stop them interfering with your plans. It's typically played in decks that draw their entire library, like modern Ad Nauseam -combo decks, where Counterspell , while iconic, doesn't see much play outside of EDH anymore, mostly because there's many better options fitted for your specific needs nowadays, as this discussion shows.

Another cool idea to use Pact of Negation is Hive Mind -shenannigans to troll out non-blue decks.

July 16, 2021 11:29 p.m.

Naksu says... #9

Lists here address all but Memory Lapse and Remand , my favorites along with Mana Tithe and Guttural Response .

July 17, 2021 3:58 a.m. Edited.

Homelessguy says... #10

Withering Boon and Lapse of Certainty . Why? Because,nobody ever expects these cards.

July 17, 2021 7:27 a.m.

Naksu says... #11

I had forgotten Lapse of Certainty , the off color brother of Memory Lapse . Dash Hopes is also fun.

July 17, 2021 9:45 a.m.

berryjon says... #12

Naksu, you're thinking of Mana Tithe . There's also Guttural Response , which I used to beat up Cryptic Command when both were in Standard.

July 17, 2021 10:31 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #13

Yeah, lapse of certainty is meant to evoke memory lapse. Mana tithe is force spike.

July 17, 2021 11:35 a.m.

Basically any free counterspell is the best counterspell in my opinion. So it’d be Force of Will , Force of Negation , Pact of Negation , Misdirection , Fierce Guardianship , Mental Misstep , etc.

After those, the one mana counters.

July 17, 2021 12:58 p.m.

shadow63 I'd say those are the best commander-wise. Overall I think the original list is good, although I would never pick Mana Drain over Swan Song as a matter of personal preference. I'm not sure how the actual numbers stack, I'm sure Drain is used more but Song is pretty effective.

July 17, 2021 2:11 p.m.

magwaaf says... #16

TheOfficialCreator what??? Mana drain is 10x the card swan is

July 17, 2021 3:08 p.m.

Naksu says... #17

berryjon Did you read my comment above my last comment ? Or I don't understand what you mean.

July 17, 2021 5:56 p.m. Edited.

DemonDragonJ says... #18

I think that Mana Leak is severely underrated, and I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned it. It is a soft counter, rather than a hard one, but it still is very effective, as it can counter any spell unconditionally and most players will not be able to afford to pay 3 mana until later in the game, and the fact that it costs only 2 mana (and only one of which is colored) means that it can be cast early in the game.

Counterflux is another excellent card, in my mind, because it, itself, cannot be countered, and its overload ability is very nice, as well.

I also think that Countersquall , Undermine , and Thought Collapse deserve to be mentioned, as well; while they may not be the most powerful counterspells in the game, the fact that they add insult to injury with their additional effects should not be overlooked.

Arcane Denial is also an excellent counterspell, as well; while allowing an opponent to draw two cards may be less than ideal, the fact that it can unconditionally counter any spell for a very low and easy cost.

July 17, 2021 6:36 p.m.

Naksu says... #19

Hmm, I don't think Mana Leak is underrated at all. It's been a staple in modern for atleast a decade.

July 18, 2021 8:14 a.m.

magwaaf says... #20

DemonDragonJ leak would make my top ten, now I gotta think of a top ten....


July 18, 2021 10:54 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #21

I think there are interesting counters that deserve to be known, but they're not in the running against the GOATs

July 18, 2021 11:05 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #22

I also feel that Disallow is a very powerful counterspell, since it can counter anything that is capable of being countered; the list of spells or effects that cannot be countered by it is very small, which is very impressive for a mono-colored spell that costs only 3 mana.

July 19, 2021 6:30 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #23

Pay more and deal with entire game-winning stacks of spells and abilities, and you get Summary Dismissal , which can counter the Storm trigger, something Disallow can't do.

On top of that, it exiles the spells instead of just countering them, working even through a Boseiju, Who Shelters All -like can't-be-countered effect. If we go by power, it's hard to beat that.

July 19, 2021 6:57 p.m.

plakjekaas when it comes to... well, most cards, the lower the mana cost the better. When it comes to interaction, that rule is even more important.

In most scenarios, Disallow is a better card than Summary Dismissal --that isn't to say there are a few places where Dismissal shines, but those are corner cases. To show this sort of comparison in action, the reason people play Counterspell and not Dissipate is that, although Dissipate has upside, it costs more. And that's enough to make a huge difference.

July 19, 2021 8:01 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #25

Unless you're going to count Force of Negation or Mystical Dispute , there are no 3cmc in the running for the all time greats.

July 19, 2021 8:26 p.m.

I have a question about counter spells but I'm not sure how to post a new topic on this site.

If anyone can answer I'd be in their debt.

I'm playing a Red/Blue deck and I'm curious, say I have Harness the storm on the field and a copy of Remand in the graveyard. If I cast remand from my hand on my opponent's turn can I cast the spell again from the graveyard and cancel two of my opponents spells that turn or do both copies resolve at the same time on the stack?

July 20, 2021 3:55 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #27

RedPillRageMage I looked up the rules information on Harness the Storm , and here is what I found:

(2016-04-08) You choose whether to cast the targeted card as the ability resolves. You can’t wait to cast it later, and there’s no way for your opponents to set up a situation where you have to cast the card but don’t want to.

So in the case of your Remand example: your opponent's spell is on the stack, and you cast Remand , targeting that spell. Casting that will trigger Harness the Storm . You can choose to cast a copy of Remand resolving that trigger. The only targets for your graveyard- Remand are your opponent's spell or your hand- Remand . So you can either counter the opponent's spell, fizzling the Remand you cast from hand, or you can Remand your own Remand , ensuring your opponent's spell will resolve.

In short, your Harness the Storm -spell will be placed on the stack immediately on top of the hand spell, so it's very hard to constructively use a counterspell this way, unless you expect a counter war and there's a spell you really need stopped.

July 20, 2021 7:48 a.m.

9-lives says... #28

Most of these cards are extremely high mana cost/sacrifice to do what something cheaper can easily do, besides Counterspell (probably one of the best for MV).

Ionize (on the higher MV yet dealing damage as well as countering)

Siren Stormtamer (very low MV sac counter as well as creature)

Izzet Charm (toolbox counter used if not needing to soft counter)

Disallow (one of the best for for all around denial)

July 20, 2021 10:27 a.m.

Kazuhahaha says... #29

if you've got reliable card draw then Rune Snag becomes better than Mana Leak .

July 20, 2021 12:19 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #30

I can't think of a single deck that had Snag performing better than Leak. Maybe early modern Delver?

July 20, 2021 12:40 p.m.

Kazuhahaha says... #31

Grubbernaut it's helpful to tag a person if you want them to know you responded. btw it's not about "which deck", its about how much card draw you have. after that first Rune Snag , the rest become better than Mana Leak . hence with reliable card draw, it will outperform mana leak in any deck it's put in, even today. if you can't think of a deck for something, make a new one. no netdecking required.

July 20, 2021 12:47 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #32

Kazuhahaha there's a lot more to it than that; most decks that successfully leverage Leak don't run 4, whereas Snag makes you basically have to run a playset. Beyond that, the first use of it is the most important to swing a game, in general, and Leak will usually be a hard counter for the first four turns.

I'm very much a brewer, but it's still helpful to realistically evaluate cards. If it's been legal for ages and never seen real competitive play, I don't think it's worth comparing to the best counters of all time.

To add more: decks wanting to leverage card advantage, where you're saying Snag would be better, are typically going to be more successful with hard counters because they don't mind playing the long game. And therein lies the problem: Snag is best in decks where other cards are actually better. It's got nothing to do with netdecking, so much as the design being tilted in two directions that aren't synergistic (tempo and hard control).

July 20, 2021 2:06 p.m.

Kazuhahaha says... #33

Grubbernaut: personally, the fact a card hasn't seen competitive play "yet" doesn't mean it's not good. it's just that most formats had Counterspell and/or better already, or they didn't have enough draw spells. as someone else mentioned already, the choice of counter spell can also be dependent on deck. i brought up netdecking because of your "i can't think of any deck..." comment. as for the decks with lots of draw, its not that they prefer hard counters because they prefer the long game, it's that those decks are typically combo and can use things like Dispel or Pact of Negation to protect their combo.

July 20, 2021 11:55 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #34

Kazuhahaha I don't think card advantage is tied to combo intrinsically like it is to control; they are plenty of combo decks, perhaps the majority, only trying to filter to their pieces rather than actually go up on cards. But in either case, Snag isn't used in either of those archetypes.

Regardless, I'll have to disagree if you're implying that there's some deck, somewhere that Snag is the best option for, and it just hasn't been found yet - and I'm saying this as a terminal brewer with pages upon pages of zany jank decks. However, I wouldn't say that Snag is strictly unplayable, and I'm entirely guilty of having my own pet cards. But it's healthy to acknowledge when we "just like" something, rather than trying to assert that it's as good or better than cards that have continually put up wins by people whose full time job it is to find and perfect the best possible decks. If Snag was ever going to be good, it would've happened by now, and it's not one of the corner cases of a card with a unique effect that needed a newer card to become good (perhaps like Living End, or the Neobrand deck).

July 21, 2021 12:16 a.m.

Kazuhahaha says... #35

Grubbernaut i didn't say card advantage, i said draw. "you" said card advantage. btw, i also never said snag was the "best" option for anything, simply that it's better than Mana Leak in a deck that could consistently get a 2nd copy. i never denied that there were counter spells that were better than both. so this is at least 2 examples of where you misinterpreted what i said.

July 21, 2021 12:24 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #36

Okay. Good talk.

July 21, 2021 12:35 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #37

I always got the impression that Mana Leak was a reluctant staple in Modern--it reached staple status not because it was a great counter, but because there was a dearth in good Modern counters at 2 mana.

Looking at MTGTop8 for 2020, 10.2% of decks ran Mana Leak, and they ran an average of 2.2 copies. Compare to Force of Negation at 16.8% and 2.8 cards and Cryptic Command at 17.2%. This data shows players were running a few copies of Mana Leak because they wanted to fill in some additional counters--but the card itself is not good enough to warrant much investment.

Flash forward to decks for the past 2 months. Mana Leak is no longer the 3rd most common counterspell--it is the 10th, seeing play in only 1.8% of decks. There are a number of reasons for this massive decline.

The most significant is the introduction of the better two-mana counterspell, Counterspell , which immediately established itself as the second most common counterspell after Force of Negation , sitting at 16.3% of the decks and an average of 3.7 copies per deck. This indicates people are not just running Counterspell , but they are running playsets of it--a clear indication that Mana Leak was simply filler until something better came along.

The remainder of the counters that have overtaken Mana Leak are more niche cards such as Drown in the Loch (which doubles as removal), Metallic Rebuke (which can be cast for one mana), and Spell Snare (which is a strong meta counter for one mana). These cards are generally going to be better than Mana Leak in any deck/meta that can utilize them effectively.

All told, I think Mana Leak is valued exactly where it should be - a second-rate card that's inferior to other two-mana options, but held a disproportionate sway in the Modern meta for a long time due to Wizards' not printing Counterspell in Modern. I could see it finding a home in Standard, for the same reason it found a home in Modern--lack of better competition.

July 21, 2021 11:58 a.m.

legendofa says... #38

I think Mana Leak is a solid Standard/Limited baseline for counterspells, similar to Giant Growth for pump or Shock for burn. It has a reasonably cheap and flexible mana cost, and it's effective without being overly complicated or overpowering. It's not the best counterspell in the world, but it's reliable and easy to use. It's a perfect Core Set common.

July 22, 2021 8:46 p.m.

9-lives says... #39

Whirlwind Denial to me is amazing.

July 22, 2021 8:48 p.m.

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