While I was reading thru the Magic spoiler lists looking for cards to include in my peasant deck submission, I stumbled across a card that inspired me to send yet another submission. This one was a rare 3 casting cost red instant. What, Urza's Rage? Nope. :)
Mages' Contest
1RR Instant
You and target spell's controller bid life. You start the bidding with a high bid of 1. In turn order, each player may top the high bid. The bidding ends when the high bid stands. The highest bidder loses life equal to the high bid. If you win the bidding, counter that spell.
Now here's a card with possibilities, and I'll tell you why. First of all, it gives Type 2 red decks the ability to once again play with counterspell magic, which it hasn't had since the days of Pyroblast back in Ice Age/Fifth Edition. Of course, with all the gold counterspells now available, you could argue that the Contest is second rate, if not total junk. Ah ha! It's true power is quite subtle. Don't think of it as a counterspell with a chance of failure. Think of it as a card that reads "either I counter your spell or you pay for it thru the nose, delusionally luring yourself into a false sense of security." So, once my opponent is deluded, what do I do? I have a few ideas. :)
First, I happen to think the Contest has a place in Constructed decks. The Contest would fit in nicely with red/black beatdown decks. These decks would have a nice little tool to use against any spells that slipped by the support spells. An example: "Say, you're at five life, I'm at ten. Shoot! I can't bolt your Spiritmonger. Say, how about I play Mages' Contest and counter it! I bid six life." That is the true power of Mages' Contest: if you're up on life, you can counter away. If not, your opponent has temporarily foiled your plans and brought himself that much closer into Bolt range. :) 
Even more fun is the high annoyance factor that comes with playing the Contest in a red/blue Counterburn deck. Another example: let's say I'm playing Counterburn holding 2 Shocks, Thunderclap, and the Contest. I have only basic land on the table. You're playing some multicolor monstrosity with a Scorching Lava and Undermine in your hand. You have basic lands and one Skizzix on the table. We both have 10 life.    
ME: My turn, upkeep, untap, do nothing else this turn, done.
YOU: Okay, upkeep, untap, bolt you with Lava, attack with Skizzix.
ME: Thunderclap!
YOU: You're bolting a creature that seems to be made out of lightning WITH lightning?
ME: Look, I don't know the science of it! Just go with it.
YOU: Very well, I Undermine your Thunderclap.
ME: I challenge you to a Contest! I bid 5 life
YOU: (sighing) Fine. 6 life.
ME: You win.
YOU: Now, as I said, attack with Skizzix, you're at 5 life, I should win big time!
ME: Five life?
YOU: Yes, 10 minus 2 from the Lava minus 3 from the Undermine equals five, minus the beating ol' Skiz will lay down on yo' butt!
ME: So, you're at 4 life?
YOU: Duh! Math's not your strong suit, is it?
ME: Hmmmmm! At instant speed, I cast Shock times two. Lessee, 2 plus 2 equals four. You are the weakest link! Goodbye!
Ugh! I feel total disgust after typing that, which brings me to a few final dirty tricks and combos you can pull off with Mages' Contest.
1) SOUL ECHO: So long as you have counters on this enchantment, you can't go below one life. Bid free, friend, bid free! :)
2) STUPID LIFE GAIN TRICKS: Pick your favorite green and white spells and load up! Show your opponent that if life points were
    money, you'd be Bill Gates.
3) ILLUSIONS OF GRANDEUR/DELUSIONS OF MEDIOCRITY: Blue "life gain" and more fuel for Counterburn decks.
4) VENDETTA/ RECKLESS SPITE/ SNUFF OUT: These spells usually require an opponent to lose life in order to kill a creature.
    Make them pay for it!
5) FORCE OF WILL: Any countermagic works, but this is just for theme. Your opponent won the battle of wills, now show 
    him whose will is strongest!
Oh yes, Mages' Contest can provide many hours of very evil and disgusting fun! I plan to run these in my peasant deck. As always, I'd love to hear some feedback. Just drop a note at the e-mail addy below. :)
Brock Siems
creator of Turbo Commons version 2.0