Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Countering Blue in Magic
Many players consider blue the best Magic color, especially for formats like commander, where blue has enough time for its long-term control to dominate other factions. Blue's specialties include extra draws, counterspells, and bouncing creatures back to hand—all competitive abilities with few countermeasures.
However, some spells specifically hamper blue, helping other decks fight back. Many of these are red or green (blue's enemies in lore), but you'll find some across all colors—which reign supreme? These are the ten best blue-punishing spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Sword of Fire and Ice
CMC: 3 (2 to equip)
A simple way to thwart blue is to look for cards with protection from it, one of the best being the Sword of Fire and Ice. Once equipped, its bearer gains +2/+2, protection from blue and red, and upon dealing combat damage to a player, you draw a card and can inflict two damage to any target.
Use the damage trigger to kill blue's weaker utility units, and remember that protection makes your creature unblockable by corresponding creatures. Plus, equipment spells in general work well against blue because you only lose their base price in mana if countered (since you never got to equip them).
9. Guttural Response
Response simply counters a blue instant spell, offering a rare non-blue counterspell that beats blue at its own game. Remember, this only works on blue spells and only instants, but you're getting a remarkably cheap counterspell that accepts either red or green mana.
Shelve Response against other colors, but when you know what you're facing, it's one of the best defenses against dreaded instants like "Mana Drain" and "Cyclonic Rift". And blue might consider using the similar "Dispel" or...
8. Mystical Dispute
Ironically, blue itself contains tempting anti-blue countermeasures. Mystical Dispute does the exact same thing as "Mana Leak", but costs one more mana, countering a spell unless its owner pays an extra three mana. Timed right, they won't have it available and you'll thwart their play.
However, if you target a blue spell with Dispute, its costs reduces by two, letting you potentially cast it for a single blue mana! That's a big discount, and it's nice that Dispute can still be used against non-blue decks, you'll just have to pay full price.
7. Veil of Summer
Here's an excellent rebuttal to both blue and black. Summer only costs one mana and triggers at instant speed, making it an easy play. You draw a card if an opponent has cast a blue or black spell that turn, your spells can't be countered that turn, and both you and your permanents gain hexproof from blue and from blue until the end of the turn.
So you're trading versatility for power; Summer's pretty useless against non-blue and non-black decks, but in its element, you'll find few better defenses with a cantrip attached. And the fact that it can play off either of two colors increases your odds of success.
6. Llawan, Cephalid Empress
Ironically, blue itself contains tempting anti-blue counters. Llawan here enters as a weak 2/3 with unremarkable subtypes, but on entrance, she returns all opposing blue creatures to their owners' hands. That's a powerful board wipe that leaves your own creatures alone and bypasses most defenses (including hexproof, shroud, protection from blue, and indestructible).
As if that weren't bad enough, Llawan also prevents opponents from casting blue creature spells, which can mean game over against mono-blue decks. An easy choice in my own blue decks, Llawan is surprisingly cheap compared to today's other spells, costing under two dollars!
These spells simply destroy all islands, rare land-nukes that leave your own board alone (assuming you're not playing islands yourself). This only works with one land type, and not all lands that provide blue are islands, but when these blasts work, they work, completely mana-screwing blue foes.
They'll perform best against mono-blue, but can destroy non-basic islands too, so you'll still punish multi-color lands like "Hallowed Fountain".
4. Grand Abolisher
Arguably the best anti-counterspell measure available, Grand Abolisher wields respectable 2/2 stats, and his amazing ability prevents opponents from casting spells or activating creature, artifact, or enchantment abilities during your turn.
So assuming you're playing on your own turn, you can proceed unimpeded and unafraid of counters. And this isn't limited to just blue, preventing any and all colors from casting during your turn.
Choke is similar to Tsunami, but costs less mana and offers a continuous effect. Instead of destroying islands, you now simply prevent them from untapping. Used properly, your mana production will remain stable while blue-using opponents will struggle to cast anything.
Like Tsunami, this also works with non-basic islands, making it all the harder for adversaries to avoid.
Another of blue's most annoying tricks is its proficiency with extra turn spells, undeniably some of the strongest cards in the game. But you can throw blue's own tactic back at it with Seedtime, which can only be played after an opponent has cast a blue spell during your turn, granting you an extra turn.
Standard extra turn plays (like "Temporal Manipulation") cost five mana and are just sorceries; Seedtime gives you an off-color instant-speed one for just two with its condition met. In multiplayer games, you might even convince a blue rival to cast something during your round to help trigger the condition.
1. Red Elemental Blast/Pyroblast
These twins do almost exactly the same thing, either countering a blue spell or destroying a blue permanent. Both are excellent effects for one mana at instant speed, either thwarting a blue play or removing a blue threat.
Pyroblast has the very small advantage of being able to target non-blue cards (in which case it'll just fizzle out), but in the vast majority of your matches, these are the same card.
Playing Against Blue in Magic
Today we examined several great anti-blue tactics, but remember that blue is a versatile faction with numerous tricks. For instance, against counterspell-oriented decks, you'll want cards that can't be countered or prevent other spells from being countered, but when facing blue mill themes, you'll want things that can refill your deck.
Always consider the possibility of counterspells when you see blue lands untapped during your turn, but remember that sometimes blue players bluff, so do your best to gauge the situation and respond appropriately. But for now, as we await more blue-decimating spells, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill