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I have always wondered this when I played Magic the Gathering, whether or not you can use a counter spell on a land. I know a land is technically a spell, but it is a special type, hence the confusion.

It may be kind of a waste to counter spell a land but still it could be a good strategic option.

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A land is one of the few things in the game of Magic that is NOT technically a spell! –  thesunneversets Apr 6 '11 at 22:03
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up vote 23 down vote accepted

Nope; it's a land (which is a special kind of not-a-spell card), not a spell. In particular, a land never goes on the stack (where all the spells go); it goes directly from your hand into the battlefield as a permanent.

(If you could, it would completely not be a waste to counterspell a land. Magic works on a steady acceleration of bigger and better spells as more land comes out. Anything that puts your opponent a turn behind on that curve is useful. Destroying/countering a land is about equivalent to delaying everything your opponent does for the rest of the game by one turn.)

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Indeed. One the basic strategies at the start of the learning curve for MtG is doing anything you can to make an opponent's land less useful. Blow it up. Change it's colour to be inappropriate for them, and more appropriate for you. Have it cause damage to the opponent when tapped, and so on. This same principle also seems to me to vastly reduce the cost efficiency of powerful spells that nerf your own land capacity... –  Viktor Haag Apr 6 '11 at 16:28
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I disagree with your second para, actually. If you put 4 Boomerangs into your deck, you can "sort of" counter an opponent's land on turn 2 by bouncing it back to their hand and setting their mana development back a turn. The computer AI on Duels of the Planeswalkers does this to me all the time. In practice though trading a card for a small tempo advantage of this kind seems to me a losing proposition. Yes, this isn't quite the same as land destruction, because they are much less likely to get landscrewed. But I still say that snap-bouncing a land or killing a mana Myr or elf is bad. –  thesunneversets Apr 6 '11 at 22:08
    
@thesunneversets: Everything you say is true, but that is getting a bit more sophisticated than the level implied by the question - as you correctly point out, Boomerang really isn't the same as a counterspell in this case. (I don't say that countering land is always the right move, only that it's not always a waste.) –  Tynam Apr 6 '11 at 23:30
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Well, certainly, if your opponent misses a land drop or two and sits there unable to do anything, countering the next land would be an amazing (if evil) play. Wizards have made a point of reducing the power of land destruction and denial in recent years, mostly because this kind of thing is no fun at all to be on the receiving end of... –  thesunneversets Apr 6 '11 at 23:33
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Note that playing a land does not use the stack, and cannot be responded to. Therefore a player playing a land does not pass priority and may tap it immediately for mana and cast something before someone tries to destroy/bounce it to slow development. –  ghoppe Nov 30 '11 at 18:20
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Accepted answer is a good and correct answer — but no references! Comprehensive rules. Emphasis mine.

305. Lands

305.1. A player who has priority may play a land card from his or her hand during a main phase of his or her turn when the stack is empty. Playing a land is a special action; it doesn't use the stack (see rule 115). Rather, the player simply puts the land onto the battlefield. Since the land doesn't go on the stack, it is never a spell, and players can't respond to it with instants or activated abilities.

Since you can't respond to it, you can't counterspell it.

.. snip ..

305.9. If an object is both a land and another card type, it can be played only as a land. It can't be cast as a spell.

Even if you added another card type to the land somehow, you cannot cast it as a spell.

There are those who don't like to slog through the comprehensive rules, that's understandable, but Wizards was pretty clear in the Basic Rulebook on this point too:

Land

Although lands are permanents, they aren’t cast as spells. To play a land, just put it onto the battlefield. This happens immediately, so no player can do anything else in response. You can play a land only during one of your main phases while the stack is empty. You can’t play more than one land a turn.

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Excellent point, ghoppe; I should have taken a moment to find the rule. Thanks for fixing the gap. –  Tynam Nov 30 '11 at 18:25
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Another major consequence of the 'land cannot be responded to' is that if you play a duplicate copy of a legendary land (e.g., Gaea's Cradle) then the player who owns the other copy doesn't have a chance to tap it for mana before the Legend Rule makes it vanish. –  Steven Stadnicki Nov 30 '11 at 20:57
    
Yay! Now I don't feel bad for bumping an eight-month-old question just to fix the title. :) –  Alex P Dec 1 '11 at 3:16
    
@AlexP Woo and I totally got a Necromancer badge :) –  ghoppe Dec 1 '11 at 7:36
    
@ghoppe it might be useful to add some further detail, there are multiple lands that are other card types already. such as Dryad Arbor, or the artifact lands like Ancient Den/Darksteel Citadel. i dont know of any tribal or planeswalker lands but who knows what the future holds? –  Patters Jul 3 '13 at 8:34
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