The Top Counterspells in Competitive EDH
CEDH is a very powerful format. Most players are putting together their game plan very quickly and winning the game within the first few turns. They are putting powerful engines and combos together that simply must be stopped. If you're going to play in these types of games, you will need very powerful and efficient ways to stop your opponents from winning. Below, I've listed the very best counterspells available in the format. Here's a sneak peek.
- Force of Will
- Swan Song
- Pact of Negotiation
- Spell Pierce
- Pyroblast / Red Elemental Blast
- Mana Drain
- Mental Misstep
1. Force of Will
Force of Will is a format staple in Legacy and Vintage, and it's no different in CEDH. Games go fast and it's difficult to develop your board and still have mana open to stop your opponents from carrying out their own game plans. Free counterspells really go a long way in addressing this issue.
Although Force of Will carries a card disadvantage downside, it's typically worth the extra card to prevent your opponent from outright winning the game.
2. Swan Song
Swan Song is, in my opinion, the best of the one-mana counterspells. You will be running very tight on your mana at all times and having a super-cheap spell that counters multiple types of spells is invaluable. The downside of giving an opponent a 2/2 swan is a non-issue as players have 40 starting life and small creatures rarely can finish off players fast enough to matter.
3. Pact of Negation
Pact of Negation is probably the best counterspell for linear combo decks. This card goes a long way in helping you push your combo through and win this turn. However, this might not be the best card for control-based decks as it will tie up your mana for the following turn.
Flusterstorm is really one of the best counterspells of all time. It's cheap and it is the definitive way to win any counter war. This spell definitely deserves one of the top spots.
One downside for this card in CEDH, however, is that storm decks in this format do not typically use an actual "storm" card. Once they get Aetherflux Reservoir down, they just want to cast cantrips and draw tons of cards until all opponents are dead.
Super-powerful instants are very common in CEDH. In fact, most combos can be disrupted by countering one of their key instants. Some examples of must-counter instants are Ad Nauseum, Cyclonic Rift, Entomb, Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor and even some prime remove cards like Swords to Plowshares.
6. Spell Pierce
Unlike the lower power decks, CEDH decks run very tight on mana and depend on overall efficiency to achieve their goals. Spell Pierce is a very good, cheap counter spell that usually is a hard counter against most decks.
7. Pyroblast / Red Elemental Blast
This is our only non-blue counterspell on the list. These two cards see play in Legacy and Vintage for the same reason they see play here—there are a lot of powerful blue cards in the format. Pretty much any deck playing red should run at least one of these cards.
Now we're getting to the point of the list where these cards are here because there are no better alternatives.
Two mana counterspells in this format are definitely not ideal. With that said, we've already put one of each of the really good counterspells in our decks already. Negate is really the best of the two mana counterspells in this format. It counters pretty much everything you would want to counter and only requires one blue mana.
9. Mana Drain
Mana Drain is a very powerful counterspell. The ability for it to ramp you ahead of your opponents on the following turn is really insane. The main downside of this spell is that it costs two blue mana. This requirement pairs poorly with artifacts like mana crypt and Sol Ring.
10. Mental Misstep
The number ten spot on this list was a tough decision. Mental Misstep is a card that can sometimes feel completely dead in your hand. But it is so powerful in the first few turns of the game where you can, for free, counter a Mystic Remora, a Sol Ring, a Vampiric Tutor, or any number of super powerful one mana cards.
So, now you have the very best counterspells in your deck, but you need to add a few more. What are your other options? The cards pictured here can, situation-ally, be a good supplement to the very best cards.