Countermagic

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Countermagic, also occasionally called "counterspells" or just "counters," include spells and abilities that counter a spell or ability on the stack such that it does not resolve.

Countermagic is distinct from poison counters (Infect), +1/+1 counters, or other counters that stay on permanents. Confusion around the double meaning of the word counter is referenced in the silver-bordered card Ambiguity.

Types of Countermagic

Countering spells and abilities on the stack can take many forms. Generally, countermagic fall into the following categories:

Hard Countermagic

Examples:

Taxing Countermagic

Examples:

Recurring Countermagic

Examples:

Free Countermagic

Examples:

Conditional Countermagic

Examples:

Countermagic by Color

Blue is the primary countermagic color, but each color (and colorless) has access to some form of countermagic.

White

White has access to Taxing Countermagic, and to Conditional Countermagic where the conditions generally fit White's color pie.

Blue

Blue has access to all types of countermagic without restriction, including Free Countermagic.


Black

Black has access to Conditional Countermagic, and to countermagic that uses Punisher effects to give opponents a choice of having their spell or ability countered, or having something else negative happen to them.

Red

Red has access to Conditional Countermagic, to countermagic that uses Punisher effects, and to Chaos-based countermagic like Planar Chaos.

Green

Green has access to Conditional Countermagic.


Colorless

Colorless has access to Conditional Countermagic, and to Recurring Countermagic.

Countermagic in Commander

Countermagic is used in one-on-one formats in a variety of ways, whether disrupting an opponent's combo piece, countering a powerful creature, or temporarily offsetting the opponent's tempo to slip a player's own strategy into play more effectively. In Commander, many of these applications still exist, but they come with additional considerations that players must take note of.

Card Disadvantage

One of the main ways countermagic (other than Recurring Countermagic) changes when going from a one-on-one format to a multiplayer format is that it can become a form of card disadvantage. In a one-on-one game, countermagic is not seen as card disadvantage because it costs the player one card from their hand to negate one card from their opponent's hand. In Commander, this dynamic is changed by the presence of additional players. If, for example, Player A uses a Spell Pierce on Player B's Sanguine Bond, this exchange did cost Player A one card from their hand, and one card from Player B's hand, but Players C and D have not spent or lost any resources during this exchange, even though they also benefit from this countermagic. Additionally, using countermagic on a commander, which may return to the command zone, does not permanently prevent the threat, since that creature may be cast again later, disrupting their overall tempo but not necessarily setting them back on card advantage.
Countermagic is highly valued in two-player Magic, but Commander players should be cautious about including too many of these spells in their deck, or at least be wary of using them too wantonly during gameplay, as they may unintentionally provide advantages to other players when used unwisely.
Luckily, there is some countermagic that help mitigate this perceived loss of card advantage, either by drawing cards or by countering more than one spell or ability. Examples include Dismiss, Summary Dismissal, and Arcane Denial.

Synergizing Countermagic

Savvy Commander players are able to take countermagic a step further and utilize unique synergies it may have with their chosen commander. This can provide their decks with additional advantages that may make traditionally less-used forms of countermagic even more potent than the more common countermagic in the format.
For instance, Confirm Suspicions is not used by most players because of its mana cost, but Baral, Chief of Compliance's ability that triggers upon spells or abilities being countered, paired with its mana reduction, makes it a viable Hard Counterspell.