CounterHammer T2



Here is an interesting U/R CounterHammer deck by Sean McKeown as posted at Neutral Ground Online recently. Anyone care to comment, tune, or provide a sideboard?

Sean's deck and comments:

2x Nether Spirit
3x Tsabo’s Web
3x Earthquake
3x Hammer of Bogardan
4x Scorching Lava
4x Fact or Fiction
4x Counterspell
4x Foil
4x Prohibit
2x Daze
2x Misdirection
10x Mountains
15x Islands

Both Tsabo’s Web and Earthquake aid against beatdown decks by eliminating mana-control elements and providing a “Wrath of God”-like effect to give a portion of the edge that the U/W design has against creature decks to the Counter-Hammer deck. Unlike the Blue-White design, however, the creature control elements (Scorching Lava, Hammer of Bogardan, Earthquake) are still reasonable choices in the control-on-control matchup, especially the Hammer (which is most of the kill mechanism) and Scorching Lava, which is able to remove Nether Spirits and Pyre Zombies and all sorts of nasty threats from the game, with the ability to make Earthquake a must-counter spell as the Red deck has the ability to gain the advantage over the life totals. A deck bearing both Nether Spirit as a time-gaining perpetual chumpblocker and Earthquake as a board clearer has the advantage over a plain Nether-Go deck against aggressive decks, and with a better kill mechanism in the “mirror” matchup and almost no truly wasted spells, Counter-Hammer has the definite advantage over Nether-Go as a control-on-control strategy, not to mention it has the ability to do kooky things and sideboard uncounterable spells like Urza’s Rage for the kill.


I really really really really like the deck design and archtype (Did I spell that right?) Mr. Mars! However, I think that the 3 webs should be replaced with either Stone Rains or Pyre Zombie! I think the web is pretty useless, and better cards are avalible for the slot.

*whew* this is like, my 3rd post! HAHAHA! Im on fire tonight! I hope that helps ya'll!


That was my impression at first as well, Zero, but I can only comment best by again cut-n-pastin' Sean's wiords about that card later in the article in which he does an excellent Single-Card Strategy analysis of Tsabo's Web:

Sean writes:

.....of great interest is Tsabo’s Web. Some immediately suspected that Rishadan Port would curl up and go away with the printing of both Tsabo’s Web and Teferi’s Response. However, the best Land currently in Type Two had no such inclinations to suffer a SMEF {Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure, for the Douglas Adams-impaired} just because a few new pieces of cardboard turned up. Tsabo’s Web is an affordable answer to that Land for any control deck, as control decks previously had two answers: either play Ports themselves and try to nullify the difficulty to their mana supply brought about by the “Port Wars”, or make their deck able to function despite a harried mana supply. Now, there is a third answer, which is perhaps a better answer, since it also makes Tangle Wire resolving less of a problematic thing. Tsabo’s Web is a two-mana Artifact that replaces itself when it enters play, which means if it has any effect on the board whatsoever it is probably quite a powerful Cantrip. Tsabo’s Web prevents lands that have purposes other than tapping for mana from untapping, which shuts down Rath’s Edge, Keldon Necropolis, Terrain Generator, Kor Haven, High Market, Tower of the Magistrate, Rishadan Port, and Dust Bowl in Type Two. Now, while most of those do not see play, Rath’s Edge and Kor Haven are quite likely to turn up as a ‘one-of’ in a variety of opposing decks, Keldon Necropolis is currently seen as “sideboard tech” for Nether Spirit decks able to pay its red mana cost, and Rishadan Port and Dust Bowl are potentially quite huge and devastating in Type Two.

In addition to stabilizing your mana base from external harm, Tsabo’s Web is a Cantrip, and can in some parts directly replace Lands from your deck in a proportion to how many Cantrips you play, as can be seen by examples such as the “Turbo Xerox” control deck of days past, which played 17 Lands and a functional overload of Cantrips to correct for that fact. In the above example of the Counter-Hammer deck, which in my initial design played 27 Lands quite happily, is now playing 25 but functioning somewhere more along the lines of 26.5 Lands, and in some ways more against a deck bearing Rishadan Port as a mana-harrying technique. As a small bonus, it’s an Artifact, which means that it reduces the damage inflicted by Tangle Wire on your mana base every turn, as it taps without shutting off its effect and can happily become tapped rather than forcing you to tap one of your Lands. The second bonus is that any deck of any color can play it, as it costs a mere two Colorless mana, and therefore is not limited in any way as to what deck it can fit into.

In my eye, so far, New Standard is going to be defined by two types of decks: decks that are bearing Rishadan Ports, and decks that are going to be susceptible to said Rishadan Ports. So, while the superior card-drawing of Accumulated Knowledge may help you get to your mana faster as well as eventually generating significant card advantage, Tsabo’s Web will have every bit as much effect on how fast you find your actual Lands as that Accumulated Knowledge did, as well as generating you a virtual Land for every Rishadan Port shut down, which can be insanely crucial in the formative turns of the game against a deck using Rishadan Port. It’s never going to be a wasted draw no matter its immediate effect on the game, since it is a Cantrip, and in the matchup where playing fewer Lands but still getting as much mana as you need will be an important thing, Tsabo’s Web makes an awful lot of difference in an awful hurry, which can be the difference between winning and losing. I determined that the Counter-Hammer design above was profiting more by playing Tsabo’s Web over Accumulated Knowledge, and that’s a control deck that is immune to Dust Bowl due to the fact that it uses only Basic Lands. It will be interesting to see exactly how many control decks pay respect to this innocent-looking little Artifact, and how well they fare in comparison to the original designs that chose not to play Tsabo’s Web. I suspect that the Web will make quite a difference, even though it’s not obvious that it would do so when you see the deck on paper.


An interesting point made! Well, I think the entire subject merits argument by parties that know what there talking about. Im out!

*Dawn gets up and walks away.*

Oh well, its not like it will matter THAT much, it is a cantrip...


Before launching into considerable criticism of Sean's deck, please try to remember what he's trying to pull off here:

He is trying to marry two NON-allied colors!

That's pretty amazing to me, because it's so very, very tough to do, especially now, and especially since Rishidan Port is quite legal and WILL be a force even though most of us would like to see the vile thing just go away (hey, Masticore's going away tomorrow, so life CAN be sweet sometimes).

As far as I know, the ONLY time R/U or U/R was good was in CounterPhoenix. And that deck suffered from HAVING to get to 6 mana sources available to it to control the game. Not easy, but it often did and won plenty.

Also, take all these U/B designs many people are trying to master. WHAT a challenge! Black's strengths are its sorceries and its instants are usually weak, whereas the opposite hold true for blue.

And Sean's Fish decks? Creatures (cast your turn...and bad creatures (merfolk) at that?) combined with instants (counterspells cast your opponents turn). How tough do you think THAT was to pull off?

I like the way Sean challenges the accepted "status quo" and tries (often succesfully, sometimes not) to come up with something really different and unexpected. That's what makes Magic deck design exciting for me....when someone can pull that off.

[Edited by Mars on 10-31-00 at 12:33 AM]


Well, first off, The Fish was easy. It's t2 countersliver. You play early threat and protect it.

Secondly, COunterhammer is an old trick, and this deck is a revision of it. It's actually netherhammer. But I'd play with more bounce.

BTW, you have no manna acceleration, so prohibit is some bad if he goes first.