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Best MTG counter spells 2023

An MTG counterspell can completely change the board in a game of Magic: The Gathering – here are the best counter spells the trading card game offers.

MTG counter spell - Wizards of the Coast art of a woman using magic from the card Counterspell

There are plenty of MTG counter spells to choose from in the trading card game, so you’ll need to be choosy. Each different MTG counterspell have varying mana costs, side effects, and targets to account for. Additionally, while most counterspells are blue, other Magic: The Gathering colours sometimes get in on the action too. How do you pick the right counter spells for your deck?

The answer: this guide. We’ve collected the best MTG counterspells from across a variety of MTG sets, MTG formats, and MTG colors. Before we get started, though, you might also be interested in the latest Magic: The Gathering updates, whether that’s from the MTG 2023 release schedule or the ever-changing list of MTG Arena codes and MTG Arena decks.

Here are the best MTG counter spells:

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Force of Will and Counterspell

Blue counter spells

The vast majority of counter spells you encounter will be blue, so let’s take a look at them first. Here are the best blue counter spells:

Counterspell

You can’t write a counterspell list and not talk about the card literally called Counterspell. This instant has been knocking around since the Alpha set, giving players a cheap and cheerful way to thwart their opponent’s plans. Step one: pay two blue mana; step two: counter target spell; step three: profit.

Force of Will

Five mana may seem steep for an instant, but Force of Will lets you pay a life and exile a blue card from your hand rather than pay its cost. Being able to pay for a spell without mana has a huge effect on play. Your opponent may think you’re defenceless with all your lands tapped, but with Force of Will in hand, you’re still in the negation game. Bear in mind this card is only legal in Commander, Legacy, and Vintage.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Mana Drain and Remand

Mana Drain

If you’re playing blue decks in Vintage or Commander, you can’t go wrong with Mana Drain. This two-mana instant lets you counter a spell, then add colourless mana equal to that spell’s mana value to your own pool in the next main phase. Being able to negate a powerful spell then use its mana to cast something even more powerful next turn is frankly ridiculous.

Remand

Remand is another cheap instant that throws an extra bonus in with your counterspell. Two mana gets you an instant that counters a spell and a free card draw. The only downside is you’ll return the card to its owner’s hand rather than put it in the graveyard. Still, at least you’ll know what’s coming up in a future turn.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast

MTG red counterspell

Though it directly opposes blue on the colour pie, red still has a few counterspell options in certain formats. Here are the best choices for an MTG red counterspell:

Red Elemental Blast/Pyroblast

Red Elemental Blast might be the best red counterspell ever printed, and it can comfortably compete with some more traditional blue counterspells under the right circumstances. You could argue the same for Pyroblast, but they do functionally the same thing. Both are one-mana instants that let you choose between countering a blue spell or destroying a blue permanent. Since most counterspells are blue, this can be a great ‘no you’ response to someone else’s counterspell.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Tibalt's Trickery and Izzet Charm

Tibalt’s Trickery

Tibalt’s Trickery is a counterspell card that comes with some risk. It’s a two-mana instant that lets you counter a spell, and it then forces the spell’s owner to mill cards – either one, two, or three, a number you choose at random. After your target has milled that many cards, they must then exile cards until they exile a nonland card with a different name from the spell you countered. Sure, they can cast that card for free, but you’ll get to rinse through some of their deck in exchange. This is a card you’ll only find in Legacy, Vintage, Commander, and Pioneer.

Izzet Charm

Izzet Charm requires a red and blue mana, but it remains a useful card, combining blue’s love of control with red’s love of direct damage. Play this instant, and you can choose one of the following options:

  • Counter a noncreature unless its controller pays two mana
  • Deal two damage to a creature
  • Draw two cards, then discard two

It’s cheap, and it’s flexible. It’s also a fun one to pull out when your opponent has used their last lands to cast a spell.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering card, Mana Tithe

MTG white counterspell

There are fewer options when it comes to an MTG white counterspell. Here are the best instants you’ll find in this rather limited pool:

Mana Tithe

White counterspells are rare beasts, and Mana Tithe gives you a negation option that only costs one mana to cast. The downside is your opponent can pay one mana to negate its effects, but if you can play Mana Tithe when their lands are exhausted and they aren’t expecting a counter, it can still be effective.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering card, Dawn Charm and Rebuff the Wicked

Dawn Charm

Dawn Charm is a useful white counterspell as it isn’t just about negation; it gives you other options too. The two-mana instant lets you choose one of the following to resolve:

  • Prevent all combat damage dealt this turn
  • Regenerate a creature
  • Counter a spell

Having a counter in your deck is a nice surprise, but it’s not a major mechanic for white. This added flexibility is a nice touch.

Rebuff the Wicked

Another one-mana instant, Rebuff the Wicked lets you counter a spell that targets a permanent under your control. You’re not going to stop any beefy creatures from entering the battlefield, but you’ve got a cheap way to keep your own alive. Protection is never a bad thing, especially when it comes this cheap.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Withering Boon and Dash Hopes

MTG black counterspell

An MTG black counterspell is typically only found in Commander, Legacy, and Vintage. Still, if you are searching for one, there are a handful of options. For example, Withering Boon will let you counter a spell in exchange for three life. There’s also Dash Hopes, a counterspell that can only be cancelled if any player offers to pay five life.

MTG counter spells - Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering cards, Avoid Fate, Bind, and Heroic Intervention

MTG green counterspell

Finally, there’s green. An MTG green counterspell is pretty hard to come by. You’ve got cards like Avoid Fate and Bind (the latter of which gives you some card draw as well as a counter), but you’ll also need to rely on cards that technically counter spells. For example, Heroic Intervention is an instant that gives permanents you control hexproof and indestructible until the end of the turn – which is a great way to negate any effects your opponent is trying to give them.