Tibalt’s Trickery – Kaldheim
Date Reviewed: December 28, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale: 1 is bad; 3 is average; 5 is great.
Tibalt’s Trickery is quite fun as a chaos card. You know something is going to happen, and in the right formats (Commander, etc) you can be pretty sure it’s going to be huge, but you might not know what. Unless, of course, you do know, because you’re not using it as a chaos card, but intend to target your own spell with it and have a deck constructed to maximize your chances of putting Emrakul into play. And that’s the short version of how the innocuous, top-down designed, flavor-centric viking set joined the likes of Darksteel in having one of its cards banned the same year it was released. But that, of course, doesn’t affect what you might do with it in casual and Commander settings, where it is sure to remain the kind of trick that will catch people completely unprepared if they don’t see it coming (and sometimes even if they do). And if you can make it work as a combo piece in limited, you win at Magic for ever and ever!
This card was 7th on my Top 10 Cards of 2021 list.
2021 was generally a better year in terms of how many bannings happened, though Tibalt’s Trickery was a notable outlier, getting banned from Modern (and Historic in Arena) fairly quickly because of all of the decks it enabled. Because, despite saying “counter target spell” in red, the main use of Tibalt’s Trickery was to, more or less, turn a small spell from you into something leagues more unpleasant for your opponents to face down. Combo pieces like Tibalt’s Trickery get a lot more dangerous with deeper pools of cards, and while the Trickery itself isn’t guaranteed to get you something to remove your opponent’s face with, the odds aren’t bad if you build carefully enough, and Trickery also has the fun of not hitting the spell originally countered.
The combo-enabling nature of Tibalt’s Trickery is what made it stand out; as a fair card, it fares a fair bit worse. It can be a nice weapon to try and buy some time if you get lucky, but the danger with luck is that it can always spurn you when you least expect it. All the same, having a home is certainly worth note, and Tibalt’s Trickery had quite the home before the hammer dropped on it.
Constructed: 4.5 (don’t think of this as countermagic; think of it as a combo piece)
Limited: 3 (not without its risks, but countering someone’s bomb can take them out of the game, and this is just 2 mana)
Commander: 4 (a fairly unique tool in red, even if not used as a combo piece; it’s not too hard to make Tibalt’s Trickery a pretty effective counterspell)
I was so excited when I saw this card I sent it to everyone who had a remote interest in Magic. A red counterspell?? Really?? Did Maro get replaced by an imposter who is out to destroy the color pie?? Alas…there’s a catch that makes this card a very, very red card. Choosing the number at random and milling cards helps prevent this card from being a combo breaker and format destroying card because of the difficulty setting up the combos through library manipulation. It is a big gamble and that is something that red likes to do so it fits the color pie theme despite being a hard counter spell. You have to think twice before you use this on your opponent (or yourself if you have something up your sleeve) because something really big and nasty could come out. I had this used on me in Commander and thankfully the person put a spell that fizzled and didn’t do anything and it did eliminate a threat. There is a reason this was banned in modern, it’s a very good card with a ton of potential for downside. I like it but I don’t love it.
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