The Planeswalker’s Apprentice – Counterspells

Serj dug deep into his spell pouch and grasped the warm orb. Energy radiated from between his fingers as he pulled it free. Not thinking, he cast the spell almost as quickly as he drew it.

With ease, the Orphan released a stream of moisture from his fingertips, dousing the half cast spell from Serj’s hands.

The impatient spellcaster looked back at the Orphan with disgust. His mana and spell all wasted…


Welcome back for another installment of The Planeswalker’s Apprentice.

Ever play a match and have your spells countered by counter magic? It’s a real pain to have your best spells stuffed with a quick tap of some mana by your opponent.

To play strategically against counterspells, new players must recognize when their opponent may have one and play around it. In order to do so players must do their homework.

Your first step against playing against a deck with counterspells is to know what kinds of counterspells your opponent might be playing with. Each format plays host to multiple types of counterspells of various casting costs and knowing what counterspells are most likely to be used by certain decks make guessing what counterspells they have a bit more predictable. When casting a spell, recognize how much mana your opponent has in reserve. Does your opponent have the available mana to cast one?

Understand that having your spell countered is not necessarily a bad thing. In most cases it would be considered a one for one trade off. The loss of a spell being countered could also be compared to creatures being blocked off and killing one another or having a creature die from removal. By casting the counterspell it removes it from your opponent’s hand which leaves it more likely that he won’t have another in future turns.

Sometimes you just know that an opponent has a counterspell in hand. Perhaps your opponent leaves mana untapped turn after turn or you just happened to look at the opponent’s hand with a spell or effect. When this happens you have three options.

First, you can do nothing and wait for your opponent to tap out. Waiting is probably the least effective option but in some cases can be potentially good for you. If the opponent is waiting for just the right spell to counter, his mana stays untapped which leaves him doing nothing during his turn and you can plink away damage with creatures you already have in play. This works less late in the game when land is at an abundance.

Second, you can just cast blindly. Aggro and blitz decks use this tactic and it occasionally works. the strategy is to cast what you have as if you are playing a deck without counters. Eventually, the opponent will run out of answers and something it going to stick. That’s when you begin to press your advantage.

Third, players can send out weak spell first in an attempt to bait a counterspell. Sadly, most players know this tactic and will allow the first spell to be cast and wait to counter the key spell you really want to play. Instants make good bait spells. When cast and countered during your opponent’s turn, that leaves them tapped out during your next turn, allowing free reign of casting for the entirety of your turn.

Want to know what aggravates a counterspell opponent later in the game? Keep unneeded lands you draw in your hand. The opponent will often assume you are holding onto something good and will often sit on his counterspell awaiting to cast it.

Opponents will do the same to you. Part of blues power comes from it’s ability to look strong even when it can’t do anything. With just a few worthless cards in hand and untapped Islands, blue mages look formidable. They bluff, it’s part of the strategy. Always apply some form of pressure to a deck that contains counterspells. Attack often and force the player to do something. Score with smaller creatures and slowly take away life.

When playing against blue decked opponents, you have to think for their deck. If you were them, what would you do? What would you counter if you were them?

Swing Last,


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