Stern Scolding
Stern Scolding


Date Reviewed:  June 19, 2023

Constructed: 4.38
Casual: 3.25
Limited: 3.00
Multiplayer: 3.00
Commander [EDH]: 3.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


The standard for very specific counterspells is one mana – see also Spell Snare, Swan Song, and others. But there are times when the very specific counterspell comes out a lot less specific than it reads, and that one mana goes very, very far indeed. In limited formats, decks often have diverse mana curves and go up to big expensive creatures, and Stern Scolding will end up having somewhat of a drawback: hitting anything you want to early and gradually becoming blank later on. In constructed, things get interesting, because decks tend to be more streamlined and, in big card pools, tend towards cheaper spells – which tend in turn to have lower power and toughness. The list of Modern creatures with low power or toughness and relevant abilities is positively enormous, and even if its only role was as a sideboard card against Sligh-style decks to try and counter their dangerous creatures when they play first, that’d still be significant.

And on top of all that, the concept of taking out a Dark Confidant or (sometimes) Tarmogoyf while throwing Gandalf’s famous mini-lecture at them is seriously cool.

Constructed: 4.5
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 3
Multiplayer: 3
Commander [EDH]: 3

 James H. 


Yet another spell seemingly meant for potential “staple” status in Modern, Stern Scolding is one that sits in an interesting spot. There are a lot of creatures that this hits before they hit play; creatures like Urza, Lord High ARtificer (and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician); Thalia, Heretic Cathar; Fulminator Mage; and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer all fall prey to this. I think, out of the list of 50 “most played creatures in Modern”, Stern Scolding counters at least 30 of them, and most of the creaturs it whiffs on are creatures that tend to rarely be cast.

Stern Scolding isn’t a perfect answer, but it’s an excellent and cheap way for blue decks to seize tempo, thanks to the surprisingly broad net this casts out. I don’t know if this will be a staple; it does have the issue of only hitting creatures, but it does turn out that a vast number of decks use creatures, and they use creatures this spell can hit. I would be surprised if this doesn’t see play, all in all.

One last note: this will hit creatures like Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker, as they’re 0/0 creatures that enter play with +1/+1 counters on resolution. There’s a chance it might whiff on Tarmogoyf, though, thanks to everyone’s favorite lhurgoyf seeing a rolling modifier on both its power and toughness in all zones. How relevant these qualities are is entirely up to you, I imagine.

Constructed: 4.25 (it hits a lot of what gets played in Legacy and Modern)
Casual: 3
Limited: 3 (probably a sideboard piece, since people just play what they can get their hands on)
Multiplayer: 3
Commander [EDH]: 3 (you might be able to hit some nice targets, but countermagic is better here if it’s flexible, not purely efficient)

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