Pass or Fail: Stern Scolding in Vintage

Zero and one mana spells are the core of Vintage. Not Mana Value, of course, but what you end up paying for something.

So how does Stern Scolding hold up?

Stern Scolding

Counter target creature spell with power or toughness 2 or less.

I've checked the top fifty creatures in Vintage with whether or not Stern Scolding can counter them – and if it's worth it.


✅: Yes, 🚫: No
Yes, but: 🤷: Who cares?, 😥: Cavern of Souls

Rank Card Countered Yes, But...
1 Hullbreacher
2 Archon of Emeria 😥
3 White Plume Adventurer 🚫
4 Seasoned Dungeoneer 🚫
5 Wurmcoil Engine 🚫
6 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 😥
7 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
8 Chancellor of the Annex 🚫
9 Containment Priest
10 Solitude
11 Loran of the Third Path 😥
12 Hollow One 🚫
13 Sphinx of the Steel Wind 🚫
14 Archon of Absolution
15 Phyrexian Metamorph
16 Atraxa, Grand Unifier 🚫
17 Displacer Kitten
18 Vengevine 🚫
19 Blazing Rootwalla 🤷
20 Basking Rootwalla 🤷
21 Phyrexian Censor 🚫
22 Master of Death 🤷
23 Squee, Goblin Nabob 🤷
24 Fury 🚫
25 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
26 Thassa's Oracle
27 Lodestone Golem 🚫
28 Opposition Agent
29 Anointed Peacekeeper 🚫
30 Phyrexian Revoker
31 Street Wraith 🚫
32 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
33 Collector Ouphe
34 Dreadhorde Arcanist
35 Narcomoeba 🤷
36 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 🚫
37 Walking Ballista
38 Patchwork Automaton
39 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse 🚫
40 Foundry Inspector
41 Stinkweed Imp 🤷
42 Shambling Shell 🤷
43 Ichorid 🤷
44 Prized Amalgam 🚫
45 Grief
46 Golgari Thug 🤷
47 Golgari Grave-Troll 🤷
48 Monastery Mentor
49 Silversmote Ghoul 🤷
50 Yixlid Jailer


• No: 16
• Yes, but who cares?: 11
• Yes, but Cavern of Souls: 2
• Undisputable Yes: 21

Yes, But who Cares? are Dredge or Bazaar cards. Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death are not being cast. Sure, you can nab a Walla, but when will you? The rest are Dredgers or designed to come back from the graveyard. We have other ways to deal with these creatures. The only thing of note is Grief out of Dredge. But you're most likely to get hit with it turn one, making Stern Scolding not exactly useful.

Still, 21 is a fair chunk that Stern Scolding counters. But let's look a bit deeper.

Mono White Initiative

Archon of Emeria, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Solitude, Loran of the Third Path, Archon of Absolution
Stern Scolding only counters these assuming no Cavern of Souls. The best value you are going to get is from when they pitch a card for Solitude. Most of the time you want to hit their mana rocks, so I don't see it doing much in this match.
I guess if you are playing Blue White or Esper Initiative then Stern Scolding can hit Archon of Absolution... if they don't have Cavern of Souls.

Shops (Three Different Kinds)

Phyrexian Metamorph, Phyrexian Revoker, Walking Ballista, Patchwork Automaton, Foundry Inspector
These are all hit by Steel Sabotage, which does enough work otherwise that it is not worth siding Stern Scolding for these. Other decks will have more removal to deal with them.
Only Jewel Shoppes has Displacer Kitten and sometimes Hullbreacher, but it doesn't play enough of the others to make this worth it.

Tinker Decks

Hullbreacher, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, Containment Priest, Opposition Agent, Monastery Mentor, Yixlid Jailer
This is where it starts looking interesting for Doomsday. Hullbreacher, Lavinia, and Opposition Agent are dangerous. But none of them do anything as they enter the battlefield. So removal works just as well. We can also see that when we look at...

Jeskai Lurrus

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Dreadhorde Arcanist, Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Jeskai Lurrus can be a tough match for Doomsday when they resolve Ragavan and then counter everything else you do. That makes Stern Scolding tempting. It counters every single one of their creatures! But Cut Down also kills every single one of them. Blue Count matters for Forces, but I would not trade that for something that doesn't seem to add much in many other matches.


Poor BUG. So low are its numbers that Deathrite Shaman isn't even on this list. I thought it might get a boost by the occasional AggroVine list, but no. Anyway. Hullbreacher, Opposition Agent, Collector Ouphe... I'd just be repeating myself with the Cut Down argument.

So, in Doomsday at least, I can almost see some players opting for Stern Scolding over Cut Down in some matchups. That it is a Counterspell and not Removal, however, makes it much more situational.
Any Jeskai or Esper lists likely don't want this since they have access to Swords to Plowshares. Grixis lists have Pyroblast for many of the problem creatures and Abrade or Lightning Bolt for everything else.

I suspect we'll see some number of Stern Scolding make it into lists as people test it out. But after that it should take a sharp drop to zero.

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Best of luck to everyone playing this weekend!
Remember: Always Be Casting Doomsday.
And thanks! I love you.