Magic School . . . How to Play vs. Counters

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Crackdown, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. Crackdown New Member

    Although I've played off and on for several years, I don't consider myself a very good Magic player. I have managed to take reasonably good decks to astounding 0-30 records, with many of the losses against a Blue Counter deck of some sort.

    How does one play against Blue's counters? I've read a few messages from experienced players indicating that newer players don't understand how to play against a Counterspell laden deck. Well, this "older" player doesn't really know either. Usually I just try to run through their counterspells. But they usually have some weird card like a Thran Foundry that shuffles their greaveyard back into their library and it continues. Or they play a Tim deck behind massive countermagic.

    So how about it? Anyone up for enlightening this casual player? :rolleyes:
  2. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    Usually there's two sides to it. The WORST way to play against counterspells is to try and run through them... you trade 1/1 with your opponent's cards until you both go down to like 2 cards in hand - but he'll have card drawing to restock his hand up and he'll just draw a bunch more counters till you have 2 cards and he has 5, then he wins. If you play like that you gift the game to your opponent, its exactly what he wants you to do.

    Firstly you can stop that by sitting on your spells - if you both have 7 cards in hand then your opponent cant use his card drawing spells to gain advantage over you because he'll just have to discard down to 7 again. So dont panic, just sit back and hold onto your cards and try to improve your hand and wait for an opening when he taps for something, or when you draw a card you've been waiting for to create an opening.

    Secondly the main restriction on the counterspell deck will be not how many counters does he HAVE but how many counters can he PLAY without untapping. This is where you using relatively cheap spells helps a lot. Say the average cost of his counters is UU1, and the average cost of your spells is B1, then it's obvious that he needs to have way more land than you to even be able to keep up with you. This is especially hard for him if his deck is two colours as most counters need UU. Chances are you opponent is used to you letting him counter one or two things per turn and isn't prepared for you changing strategy and making him need 8 blue mana in play at once. So play cheaper spells and you give yourself a better chance of forcing him to be unable to counter everything.

    Thirdly, play instants. You have one ENORMOUS advantage... all you have to do is get your spells to resolve, he has to stop everything. But you can double the mana you have available by making him tap out at the end of his turn, then you untap and play more threats. Pack some instants he'll need to stop, need to counter, and you're halfway to getting that mana edge you need to resolve spells on your own turn.

    In short, how NOT to play against counterspells...
    1. Use 4cc cards
    2. That aren't instants
    3. Then try to run your opponent out of counters
  3. Limited Yes, but we won't care

    I don't play a lot of one-on-one games and thereby don't encounter a lot of CounterDecks, but when I do I try to do the following things:
    Keep On Casting: You don't know how many counters they have left. The only way to know is to just keep on playing your creatures and make them counter. This way you'll draw out their counters and make sure they can't play card drawing spells.
    Keep Tempo: Don't wait until you can cast a lot in one turn; a counterspell is always cheaper. I you can cast three creatures in one turn, he can cast three counterspells. The longer you don't cast things, the more the game stalls, the more the counterdeck is likely to stabilize and win.

    And try to realize that they (probably) don't know what you are holding and/or playing. For every spell you play, the Blue Mage has to make the descission to counter or not. An obvious powercard will be countered, but he can't see how many you have. Try playing the spells which might seem important (good cards or combo pieces) which you don't really need (because you have multiple copies in your hand or it's not a main combo piece). You can take this really far and play mindgames.. casually cast an important creature and act surprised when it gets countered; make them feel like they made a wrong move and they probably will :)

    And think about your deck. What are the cards that can save you from this CounterDeck? Did you put an Outpost in there? A blurred mongoose? A Scragnoth? What cards will expedience the finding a said card?

    That's what I would do.. don't know if it makes sense or if it's just all terrible obvious :rolleyes:

    Man, how much can two people NOT agree?
  4. Killer Joe Active Member

    Has this been an 'effective' form of strategy for you? I don't know a better answer from myself but I would be inclined to think that holding cards and biding my time maybe the way to go. With the "runnunig him out of counters" method even if he DOES start to run low a simple Wrath of God will take care of your creatures. Especially if he has life gaining spells, he could wait you out forever.

    This is a tough question but I like G's answer for now.
  5. Limited Yes, but we won't care

    I feel that if you have to bide your time, you give the other player more chance to get the cards he needs. I found that this gives the Blue Mage the time to deal with everything. Especially when you play a lot of cheap creatures in one turn, you're very vulnerable to that WoG. If you played them early on, at least they came in for some beats.

    Because I mostly play multiplayer decks, the mana curve is kinda high. So the whole "average casting cost of creatures is lower than that of an average counterspell" isn't true for my decks (and I would suspect a lot more decks..).
    Furthermore, I don't get the carddrawing argument; a control deck is not going to cast card drawing spells when it has 7 cards in hand? Of course it is.. Impulse, Brainstorm, Whispers of the Muse.. all these just replace cards so more counterspells are found and a hand of sufficient counters and removal is achieved. Better not wait for that to happen.

    I do agree with instants giving you an edge.

    The truth is a counterdeck is going to stabilize given enough time. Clear the board and counter everything.. eventually. I'd rather he die before that, or get there with about 7 life and no cards in hand. That way, a couple of bad draws on his side will give you the game.
    Reaching turn six, both at 20 life and 7 cards in hand, the game is his. No matter what.
  6. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    ie. if you're playing a green deck, try throwing in 4 Beast Attack. These are instants that he has to counter TWICE. The only reason they might be weak would be how much bounce he uses, but even then if he Repulses it, he's still only dealt with half of the Beast Attack. Capsize would wreck that strategy tho.

    But the very best situation he can have is say 4 counters, 2 removal, 1 card drawing - thats probably the ideal for him. Against which you'll have 7 spells that are threats, and seeing as you draw, 8 spells that are threats. Yeah, both players are improving their hands, but it sure beats the 'run myself out of cards then let your card drawing spells give you more cards in hand than me' approach. It's a choice between you both having 7 cards in hand, or you having 4 cards and him having 7. I know which one I would prefer.
  7. Crackdown New Member

    Look at the posting times for them. They were probably writing at the same time. :)

    Both sound so convincing . . .
  8. Killer Joe Active Member

    "How do you make a deck that WRECKS counter magic decks?"

    ~or~

    "How can you make your own deck but have some cards that help improve your chance against a counter magic deck?" (Gizmo sorta answered this question already with including instant spells and such to your deck).
  9. jorael Craptacular!

    Aether Vial is quite hot these days.... :)
  10. TheCasualOblivion 10 year Veteran Newbie

    I've played against countermagic, and never had much trouble. That being said, I'm really not sure what the secret is. I play mostly aggressive combat decks, and I find the best way to build them against countermagic is to make every card in the deck a threat, more specifically, make them need to counter everything. You help a countermagic deck by having spells/permanents they can ignore. Build a deck where everything needs to be dealt with.

    I must admit, this seems much easier with an agressive attacking deck than it would be with a combo or control deck. Both of those decks inherently have cards that can be ignored.
  11. Nightstalkers Creature — Nightstalker

    Remember folks: The smart counter deck will have some creature control.


    You can play your fancy pants 5/5 creature... but he's just going to counter with a spell that lets him take it. That's one of the biggest nasties I've come across yet. Wait till you are in a situation where he has even one of your 2/2 critters and he's swatting away your other spells till you have nothing.
  12. Limited Yes, but we won't care

    Those Steal-Upon-Summoning spells are usually of higher cc.. So, cast your creatures early?
  13. Mikeymike Captain Hiatus

    I feel this strategy is effective in MP where it is likely that your opponent is not packing as many counterspells. This is the type of counter I tend to run into myself (and tend to play) b/c heavy-counter just doesn't show up too much in our play.

    It really depends on the competition. If you know their counter total is low (say 4-6), then be aggressive and don't be afraid to play your deck, as Limited suggests. The chances of them being able to respond with counters in succession is slim. Still, always be wary of those untapped islands.

    If you know their counter total is high (say 10-16), then you need to bide your time and pick your spots well, exactly as Gizmo suggests.

    In either case, playing instants on their EOT is a great way to tie them up a bit and force a decision for them at an inopportune time.
  14. Nightstalkers Creature — Nightstalker

    Not with new Vedalken Shackles and stuff out nowadays. You'll be able to get out your 2/2 only to get it nabbed.
  15. TheCasualOblivion 10 year Veteran Newbie

    Use man-lands, Mishra's Factory, Treetop Village, Faerie Conclave, Blinkmoth whatever and the like. I once tore up a draw-go deck with a pair of Mishra's Factories.
  16. Melkor Active Member

    Are we not all forgetting the best way to fight counterspells? Just pack more counters than the other guy.
  17. Limited Yes, but we won't care

    Evil! .. and yet, very true :(
  18. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Unless you're in a setting where you play the same people a lot and they play the same type of decks, you never really know when or what kind of counter deck you might face. Which if you're lucky is what the sideboard is for (if you manage to play a best 2 out of three with a "stranger"). So knowing that, some decks are just bad matchups against counters.

    But taking my MP play and theorizing with single play :), a control deck with re-usable permanents to get stuff back out of the graveyard should be pretty good (and assuming you don't face a counter deck that does the same thing). Gaea's Blessing would probably get countered, so my current deck might have to be adjusted to mill it to use it's ability, but Genesis to keep re-using creatures sounds good to me as a start.

    Or pack a discard deck to make sure the counter guy just either has one or no counters in hand by mid-game...
  19. Crackdown New Member

    Would Uba Mask in a fast, aggro deck work against Blue? A quick "use it or lose it" approach?

    I'm really appreciating this information, even if the opinions appear to be somewhat dissimilar. :D
  20. Limited Yes, but we won't care

    I think Uba Mask would be really good; but it costs four which is just a little too much.. But surely, it's a must counter and that's a good thing. You could also try counterhosers like City of Solitude and that monk that does the same.. but I don't know if we're crossing the line from 'adapting to better cope' to 'counterhate' :rolleyes:

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