What Do You Mean Blue is Unfair? You Have Counterspells Too!
The best non-blue counterspells in EDH
Blue is the king of the counterspell. It could be the classic original recipe Counterspell, a powerhouse like Force of Will, or maybe it's a spicy pet favorite like Desertion.
Regardless, blue has an easy time saying nope to your spells. But why does blue get to have all the fun?
Today let's focus on the other colors, and how they counter spells. If you would like to follow along or check out all the non-blue counterspells check out this Scryfall query!
o:/counter target.*spell/ ci<=wbrg f:edh
Many counterspells love to hate on other colors. The best kind of color hate is usually the kind of hate that deals with blue. Whether it is countering a blue player's counterspell or a creature like Thassa's Oracle with a powerful trigger when it enters the battlefield, sometimes you need a counterspell, not just removal.
When dealing with blue specifically you have a few options. Some familiar faces are the dynamic duo of Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast.
They are cheap, efficient, and arguably some of the best counterspells in the format. Whether it is a game with regulars or a table of new faces at Friday Night Magic, you can practically guarantee another player will be playing blue.
These two cards also have the added utility of being a removal spell for blue things that are already in play! It is no wonder they see play. These aren't even that fringe, they're just solid!
As we continue on, the spells do lose some of their luster. Order of the Sacred Torch is a strange little creature you might enjoy in your hatebears decks. Tapping this creature lets you counter a black spell. This is a bit more fringe but sees play in cEDH lists now and again.
It is a great answer to Demonic Consultation and other powerful black spells. With black being second to blue as the most popular color, it is a nice include if your meta suits it.
Lastly, let's shout out two cards I just think are weird. Lifeforce and Deathgrip each cost two mana to cast and two mana to activate to counter a black or green spell respectively. These are just bizarre. They just sit on the board threatening the green or black player.
Color hate is a strange topic. Outside their utility for hosing your opponent who plays that color, you can also make use of them in color manipulation decks. Cards like Painter's Servant can make use of Death Grip by turning all cards and spells green making everything counterable. I will admit this is a very fringe use case, but it doesn't mean a few people aren't crazy enough to try it!
Colorless is a surprisingly good source of counterspells. Kozilek, the Great Distortion is a fantastic big mana payoff. They grant you a fresh grip of cards to fuel their second ability to counter your opponent's cards. To back this up, we also have Not of This World. A bizarre seven-mana counterspell that costs seven less if it is countering something targeting one of your big beaters. This one often gets played in Eldrzai decks for good reason, however, I believe this could even see play in some Gruul stompy decks. Additionally, in a pinch, it could just be a very expensive counterspell if it's protecting a small creature that you care about. Consider trying this out if your deck plays effects that let you untap your lands during your opponent's turns so you can hold up some interaction.
Outside these two mana-intensive options you also have Warping Wail. This one is a bit odd, and admittedly only sees play in colorless decks. Countering a sorcery isn't exactly much to write home about but the other two modes are interesting, and I'm always happy to have the counterspell as a backup if someone decides to cast a Torment of Hailfire for a million mana.
Warping Wail does see decent play in Modern Tron lists since it can hit threats like DRC and Ragavan as well as counter important sorceries like Expressive Iteration and Thoughtseize.
This breed of counterspells are more like protection spells. They aim to stop a counterspell. These spells are pretty narrow, and I would argue they are best suited if you have a very specific meta that you are trying to sideboard against.
Even at that, I think these cards are still pretty fringe, but fun to discuss nonetheless!
Gutteral Response and Avoid Fate perform pretty similarly. Their scope is limited meaning you will probably be using these as reactionary spells to stop someone from countering your threat. Though, the latter can also protect your stuff on the board from certain removal. If you have extra mana to spend Burnout is another card that fits this category, and it even replaces itself on the next upkeep making it a bit less of a dead card.
In another vein, we have Dawn Charm and Rebuff the Wicked. The latter of the two acts somewhat like "target permanent gains indestructible until end of turn" protecting it from a removal spell. It's cheap and might be useful in decks that aim to protect a small few key creatures. This will often be used to counter a removal spell. Dawn Charm I think has real legs as a counterspell because it isn't just a counterspell. All three modes here are quite versatile. I think in a durdly deck that just wants to stay alive all modes can help fulfill that goal.
Pay the Tithe
The next set of counterspells is usually played more as a nuisance rather than an outright counter. Mana Tithe and Mage's Attendant require your opponent to pay one mana to counter a spell. These aim to be a sort of once-off Thalia effect. They slow the opponent down and try to dissuade them from playing spells. In particular, I like Mage's Attendant in a flicker deck so you can reuse this effect. I think in low-to-the-ground metas or just an occasional answer to turn one Sol Ring these are a fun include.
This is Just a Burn Spell
These next two spells occupy a similar design space to Risk Factor. You will realistically never actually counter a spell with these, you will be burning your opponent. Molten Influence, Dash hopes are not good as counterspells. However, in a burn deck such as Torbran, you may get some mileage out of that additional damage.
I love these kinds of spells although I wouldn't blame you for giving them a miss. One exception to these "burn spell counterspells" is Mage's Contest.
This is a counterspell only limited by your determination, or more accurately your life total. This one could in earnest save your skin no matter what situation as long as your life total allows it.
Actually Pretty Good
Alright, now to the moment we have all been waiting for, what non-blue counterspells are good? First off, a mention to two counterspells we have already seen in this article, Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast are all stars, especially in higher power metas. As stated before almost every table will have at least one blue deck making these rarely a dead card.
Outside these two we have Withering Boon, a black counterspell. This is two mana and three life to counter a creature's spell. While black has plenty of two mana destroy target creature effects I think withering boon is a worthy include as it denies entering/leaves the battlefield shenanigans. This card has only seen one printing back in Mirage. For what in most cases will perform identically to a doom blade $3.00 might be a bit much. However for the gotcha element of this card, and disruption against powerful ETBs like Craterhoof Behemoth I think it is worth the slot.
Another great option can be found in white with Lapse of Certainty. Putting the target on top of the opponent's library is not ideal, however it could just be enough to guarantee you victory if you are trying to win, or deny your opponent a win.
Lastly, let's look at my favorite counterspell outside of blue; Tibalt's Trickery. Everything else on this list you could argue is a gimmick, and I would not disagree with you. However, Tibalt's Trickery is not that. Trickery counters any spell for two mana with the cost of a chaos warp-like effect where the opponent gets another spell as a replacement. While this will sometimes result in a Blightsteel Colossus, in most cases your opponent will get a menial spell that is not as big as whatever you just countered. This card rarely disappoints and I would say is a staple in any deck running red.
There we have it, a rundown of some of the most interesting and potentially playable counterspells outside of blue.
What do you think? Are you going to start countering spells in your red decks, or are you going to stick to more traditional on-color removal?
Regardless I hope you give some of these some thought in your next Commander deck and remember, counterspells aren't just for blue decks. With our most powerful non-blue counterspell to date, Tibalt's Trickery being printed as recently as Kaldheim I think the future of non-blue counterspells is bright.
With only 30 or so spells in this category, it is certainly a design space that is ripe for exploration.
How would you design a non-blue counterspell or should counterspells stay in blue? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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