Stromgald Cabal - Illustration by Anson Maddocks

Stromgald Cabal | Illustration by Anson Maddocks

Counterspells are some of the strongest effects in Magic. They’re largely responsible for blue’s status as the best color and offer unparalleled control by denying your opponent’s cards before they’ve affected the game.

While blue is the king of counterspells, the other colors have a few options they can use. Black’s countermagic is scant but offers a couple of genuinely powerful effects.

Let’s take a look at black’s best countermagic!

What Are Black Counterspells in MTG?

Dash Hopes - Illustration by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Dash Hopes | Illustration by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Black counterspells are spells or abilities that allow you to counter a spell while it’s on the stack, which means it goes straight from the stack to the graveyard without resolving.

Countermagic gives you incredible control over what happens in a game. Saying no and removing an opponent’s card is one of the best actions you can take. Black’s no stranger to removal, but an opponent’s spell must resolve for removal to interact. Those spells don’t stop any powerful ETB abilities and give your opponent time to protect their piece. Countermagic circumvents all of that.

#5. Dash Hopes

Dash Hopes

Dash Hopes is an incredible burn spell that deals 5 damage for . Jokes aside, cards such as this that give your opponents a choice are often weak because they choose the option that benefits them the most – which is often the outcome you want the least. With Dash Hopes, your opponent almost always pays the 5 life to let their spell resolve. A super-aggressive deck might be able to leverage this card by putting their opponent between a rock and 0 life, but Dash Hopes is rarely effective outside of specific scenarios where you’ve likely already won.

#4. Deathgrip


Deathgrip is a fascinating little card. It’s super limited since it only hits green spells, but a repeatable counterspell offers so much protection. This enchantment is a great surprise for the Ghalta, Primal Hunger player. There are some ways to make broader use of this; Painter's Servant turns this into a startling powerful enchantment.

#3. Stromgald Cabal

Stromgald Cabal

Stromgald Cabal gives you another repeatable counter ability, though this one hits white spells. Paying a life instead of mana gives this one an edge. Getting to comfortably tap out while holding up countermagic counteracts one of the biggest weaknesses of counterspells. This creature could get paired with cards like Thousand-Year Elixir or Intruder Alarm to untap this multiple times for more than one counterspell a turn.

#2. Brine Shaman

Brine Shaman

Brine Shaman does require you to have access to blue mana, but black is more than happy to have a sacrifice outlet that defends it from opposing creatures. Getting to sacrifice cards like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast to counter a spell and trigger effects like Pitiless Plunderer or Blood Artist can generate incredible value in the right deck. Getting to sacrifice one creature to pump another can also make attacking or blocking hard for your opponent. This card is certainly an interesting option for blue-black sacrifice decks.

#1. Withering Boon

Withering Boon

Withering Boon is such a strong black counterspell that it’s practically a color pie break. Paying an extra 3 life for Essence Scatter is hardly a downside, especially in Commander, and it can even be an upside if you’re running something like Vilis, Broker of Blood. This card is just a solid interactive spell that most black Commander decks that don’t tap out too often could benefit from playing; you can get a lot of value from a card like this that your opponents won’t play around because they don’t expect the Abzan () player to have Essence Scatter.

Wrap Up

Pitiless Plunderer - Illustration by David Palumbo

Pitiless Plunderer | Illustration by David Palumbo

A deck with countermagic often has an edge over a deck without it. Countermagic lets you decide what impacts the game and what would be better left as a suggestion. While blue unquestionably has the best counterspells in Magic, black has a few contenders that could surprise your opponents and throw a wrench in their game plan.

Black’s counterspells are narrow but could be an excellent meta call, especially if you have a small Commander playgroup. What are your favorite counterspells? Do you run non-blue counterspells in your decks? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord!

Stay safe, and keep the stack controlled!

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