With twenty separate printings to date, as well as two separate printed types, counterspell is one of the single most prolific cards within Magic: The Gathering. Furthermore, it should be noted that counterspell has also turned into a type of card denoting any card that "counters target spell" with a specific condition.

Basic Specs:
Cost: UU
Oracle Text: Counter target spell
Type: Instant/Interrupt (depending on set)
Edition: Last edition printed was 7th
Flavor Text: Varies from each edition, in fact some older editions even have two versions of the card.
Artist: See flavor text.

If asked, any veteran magic player will describe counterspell as the single card that defines blue. Consequently, it is also the easiest of the colors to define with a single card.

The extreme beauty behind the card comes from its simplicity. Simplicity allows for more advanced strategies to arise. A card with a specialized role does not allow for creativity on the part of the player, as it caters to a single deck type.

Take each card as a Lego. Counterspell could be considered a 1x2. The absolute simplicity behind such a block makes it versatile and able to fit into any structure. Furthermore the abundance of such a block allows you to build hundreds of varied structures proving its versatility. An over-specialized block such as the pieces that come in kits used to create castles, there is truly only one use, and it will never see nearly as much constructed time.

Abstract Lego analogies aside, counterspell causes a player to play actively instead of passively, and brings true skill into the game. This skill of course, is the skill of the bluff.

When faced with an opponent weilding two untapped blue mana, any experienced magic player will be forced to attempt to perform a read. Naturally, if the blue player has a decent poker face they can destroy plans without ever even carrying the card.

Assume for a moment that you are facing a control deck and you are in the middle of a heated game. You draw your game-breaking card, but your hand is empty due to the amount of counter-magic thrown your way throughout the rest of the game. So you have sitting in your hand the single card that could possibly keep you from losing, and across the table your opponent is sitting smugly with two untapped blue mana, and at least one card in his hand.

You will not play your game-breaking card. Its that simple. You won't play it for the fear it will get shot down, and that you will have given your opponent the satisfaction of destroying your ingenious plan.

Truth be told, your opponent is holding an island in his hand. If he's a truely good blue player (which obviously he is, because he thought to hold that island in his hand) he's also laughing inwardly at the slight contortions your faces are going through. He's watched you glance at his two blue untapped mana, he's watched you glance at his hand to count his cards and determine the probability of it being a counterspell and now he's watching you search for a dummy card to attempt to draw his (non-existant) counter out.

The horrible position you're in is amplified by your reaction to the two open mana. Your opponent now knows that you will be throwing out a card to try to throw him off the scent.

Quite obviously this turns the game into a hard, mental competition, something that no other card can hope to ever emulate.

    Tips for Decks Using Counterspells:
  • Always keep two blue mana untapped. Even if you don't have the spell in your hand. Furthermore, if they play something pivotal debate with your two untapped land. Make them believe that you are simply "letting something slide."
  • Never empty your hand. If its unavoidable that you empty your hand, you may as well tap out.
  • Keep a straight face. If you bluff your opponent away from playing something, stifle the victory dance until after the game has finished.

    Tips for playing against a deck that is known to use Counterspells:
  • Do not fear the counterspell. Play normally, otherwise you will cast far fewer spells than you should.
  • Count the number of counters your opponent uses. Remember that unless he is using retrieval, he can only have four copies in his deck.
  • Keep in mind that even though he may say "I'm going to counter that... wait... no... I'll see how this goes" he probably doesn't actually have a counter.

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