Saturday, February 22, 2020

CCDD 022220 - Mental Block

Holding up mana for Cancel (and other counterspells) during an opponent's turn is stressful. You more or less commit to countering whatever they cast, and hope they don't figure out your plan. So a counterspell enchantment that you can cast in advance and use on demand is appealing. In fact it's too appealing. It shuts down interaction and creates frustrating play patterns-- at least, I assume that's we've never seen one (unless you count Common Courtesy). But maybe there's a similar effect that could work.

The Force Spike counterspell-enchantment just sits there taxing the opponent's spells like Dovin, Hand of Control, at least until they decide to bite the bullet. For a while I thought it should automatically cash in to counter the first spell the opponent didn't pay for. But then I realized that would be strictly worse than Lunar Force. Most of the time it would be strictly worse even than the current version of Mental Block; the only exceptions I can think of are weirdly specific situations. (A fun exercise: find a board state where version 2, below, wins and version 1 loses.)

The other weird exception is that in a multiplayer environment version 2 can be much better than version 1, maybe even better than Lunar Force. Just like no one wants to pay for Rhystic Study, no one wants to sacrifice a useful spell to save everyone mana. It's a neat case where not having an option-- which is usually a drawback-- becomes an important feature.


  1. The second iteration is a multi-player GEM.
    It sacrifices itself so it not ever oppressing.

    I started thinking about "whenever a player casts a spell, put a rhystic counter on cardname. They may pay {1} for each counter on cardname. If they don't counter that spell and sacrifice CARNAME" which put you also in the loop of having to decide if to pay or to waste a spell. I was tempted to remove all rhystic counters after resolution of the countering and remove the sacrifice clause.

  2. "(A fun exercise: find a board state where version 2, below, wins and version 1 loses.)"

    You are at 1 life and control Mental Block.

    Opponent is in their second main phase. Their library is empty. They control a Mountain and a Burning-Tree Shaman. Their hand contains the single card Shock.

    1. Haha, yes, that technically works. But there are also answers that don't rely on the activated-ability-ness of version 1.