Counterfluxing Standard – A PTQ Tournament Report

Article submitted by Michael Sheng


Hello folks, this is the first of hopefully many tournament reports!

 

For those unaware, this past weekend I came 3rd/4th at a standard PTQ in Moncton, NB sponsored by the Comic Hunter. The attendance was average for PTQs but was the largest that we’ve ever had in the Maritime provinces at 114 players.

 

In the weeks leading up to the event I wasn’t sure what I was going to play and had tested out several decks: UW Control, WB Humans, Mono Blue Devotion, Mono Black Devotion etc., basically all of the pillars of the format.

 

What I learned from this testing is that UW Control was insane against most of the field but had a lot of ‘air’ in it that led to you losing games that you had no business losing just because you drew all lands at some point where a top decked Revelation made you instantly win. Azorius Charm was also underperforming consistently to the point where I hated the card in my decks. There are too many creatures with protection from White or Blue and the Lifelink mode was no longer relevant as it was last season with Restoration Angels and Snapcaster Mages. Finally, Esper control was a bad matchup now that they knew what the UW players were up to and I knew that Esper had been popular among some of the top players in the region.

 

So what did I play? Well, about a 2 weeks before the event, my team-mate, Rob Bull, from Fredericton, shipped me a sweet UW Control deck splashing red for Counterflux as a way to break the mirror. I tested the deck and was unimpressed by the mana and you lost a lot of game against the RW devotion decks just because you now had a lot of come into play tapped lands or had to shock yourself a bunch. I set the deck aside and started playing UW again until about a week before the event when Rob once again sent me a UWR control deck except this time, it wasn’t just splashing red, it was full on three colours. I wasn’t sure how much I liked the deck but I tested it regardless because Rob was convinced that the deck was good and his MODO results didn’t lie. Here’s the original decklist that was given to me:

 

UWR Control – Rob Bull

 

2 Azorius Guildgate

4 Hallowed Fountain

1 Izzet Guildgate

4 Steam Vents

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

5 Island

2 Plains

 

1 Elixir of Immortality

1 Mizzium Mortars

3 Izzet Charm

2 Last Breath

2 Turn//Burn

3 Divination

4 Counterflux

4 Detention Sphere

4 Supreme Verdict

4 Sphinx’s Revelation

 

4 Jace, Architect of Thought

1 Assemble the Legion

1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

 

Sideboard

1 Wear//Tear

1 Pithing Needle

1 Mizzium Mortars

2 Gainsay

2 Negate

2 Anger of the Gods

3 Izzet Staticaster

1 Warleader’s Helix

1 Psychic Spiral

1 Jace, Memory Adept

 

After playing with the deck for a couple of days, it was clear that this deck was real. This deck boasted a much better aggro matchup than UW or Esper and was very good in the control mirror. It was around this point in time that Alex Lavoie, Rob and I started making changes to the list. I didn’t like the mana base and wanted to jam as many basics into the list as possible to make sure that you didn’t randomly lose games against Mono Red and RW Devotion style aggro decks to your mana base. Mizzium Mortars was the worst card in the deck and we tried it as a lot of different things: Warleader’s Helix, Ratchet Bomb, Turn//Burn, etc. Eventually we ended up playing Quicken because of the value that it adds as a 1-of to find when you Revelation ‘for a million’ late in the game.

 

The sideboard also needed work and we ended up cutting the Mortars almost instantly once again. Helix also underperformed and Anger of the Gods seemed a little redundant since our matchup against aggro decks was already pretty reasonable with all of the 2 damage burn that we had in the maindeck. Finally, the day of the event, this is what I registered:

 

UWR Control – Michael Sheng

 

2 Azorius Guildgate

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Steam Vents

3 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

6 Island

2 Plains

1 Mountain

 

1 Elixir of Immortality

1 Quicken

3 Izzet Charm

2 Last Breath

2 Turn//Burn

3 Divination

4 Counterflux

4 Detention Sphere

4 Supreme Verdict

4 Sphinx’s Revelation

 

4 Jace, Architect of Thought

1 Assemble the Legion

1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

 

Sideboard:

1 Wear//Tear

1 Pithing Needle

1 Blind Obedience

2 Gainsay

1 Negate

2 Dispel

3 Izzet Staticaster

1 Psychic Spiral

1 Last Breath

2 Assemble the Legion

 

Round 1: UW Control

 

This matchup is the best matchup for the deck. The goal is to just counter their Elixir and then not die before they draw their deck. My opponent played a very early Elixir before I had 3 lands and I had to waste a Detention Sphere on it to make him crack it early rather than late. From here the game went according to plan. I Counterfluxed his 2 Elspeths, Aetherling, and Elixir and the game was essentially over. At one point I had 4 Counterfluxes in hand and he had 4 cards left in his Library. Nice.

Game 1 ended with 2 minutes left on the clock and I took the match 1-0. I’m positive that it’s correct to concede game 1 immediately if your Elixir gets countered and then try and win 2 post board games where you hopefully have some game against our plan of countering all the threats then winning by making you have 0 cards in deck. My opponent didn’t however so I got to win 1-0.

 

1-0, 1-0

 

Round 2: BW Midrange

 

Game 1 was close as he drew a Whip and 2 Obzedats against my 0 Counterflux draw. I eventually pulled out of it with some clutch Turn//Burns and a top decked Detention Sphere for the Whip. Game 2 I played an Assemble the Legion when my opponent had 2 lands in play and had discarded twice.

 

2-0, 2-0

 

Round 3: Esper Control

 

This matchup is slightly harder than UW since they have Thoughtseize but it’s still pretty favoured for UWR. Game 1 I gained control and my opponent conceded once he realized that Counterflux was backbreaking. Game 2 we had a long game where my opponent boarded in Trading Post in order to beat me Counterfluxing his Elixir. Unfortunately I drew a Detention Sphere and then Counterfluxed his Elixir and the game was basically over.

 

2-0, 3-0

 

Round 4: RW Devotion

 

This match was on coverage and I essentially burned all of his random bears and he drew a few too many Chained to the Rocks and Mizzium Mortars to come back. Game 2 I drew pretty well and my answers lined up perfectly to his threats.

 

2-0, 4-0

 

Round 5: Bant Nykthos Control

 

This deck looked awesome for the record. It was a green devotion deck running Sphinx’s Revelation, Jace, and Detention Spheres. Game 1 I didn’t play around the second Mistcutter Hydra and died with 3 Revelations in hand. Ooops. Mistcutter Hydra is the absolute nut against the UWR deck and was the card I least wanted to see. I boarded pretty aggressively and got to win games 2 and 3 with Elspeth/Assemble. If my opponent had drawn Selesnya Charm ever I was 100% dead but I’m not even sure he was running that card.

 

2-1, 5-0! Time to draw into top 8!

 

Round 6: ID

Round 7: ID

 

Having a 2 hour break before top 8 is amazing. It gives you tons of time to relax and not overwork your mind, as well as giving you a chance to grab some food during a long tournament which is invaluable.

 

Top 8:

Quarters: WB Humans

 

This matchup is interesting as it seems like you’re losing for the first 4-5 turns and then you get to stabilize at 1-3 life and they can almost never win again unless you make a mistake or draw all lands. The fact that they have no reach is pretty awesome for you and both games I stabilized with a turn 5 wrath into turn 6 Elspeth into turn 7 Jace. I didn’t draw them ever but Izzet Staticaster is insane in this matchup and I’m not sure how they realistically beat you drawing 2 ever.

 

2-0, 6-0

 

Semis: Dark Naya

 

This was the brewiest brew that I’ve seen in quite a while. Essentially, it’s a midrange Naya deck with 4 Blood Barons in the maindeck and a 10 card sideboard for control decks. We always joke that Mitch creates decks that only he can win with and this one is no different.

 

Game 1 I drew pretty unreal and my answers lined up perfectly once again. Game 2 though was very interesting; his draw was quite good and I end up in a position where I’m at 8 life with 7 lands in play and a Revelation and a Pithing Needle in hand and he has a Blood Baron and 2 cards in hand. He had already used a Ghor-Clan Rampager against me this game so I took the line where I passed and was going to Revelation for 4 to beat another Rampager. Unfortunately his last 2 cards were both Rampagers and I took exactly lethal. If I needle Rampager I don’t think I can realistically lose this game but things can happen and I made a lethal mistake.

 

Game 3 he curves Assemble into Elspeth against my Jace, Architect and we both derp around for a while until I sphere his Elspeth the turn before it gets to make an Emblem. He proceeds to play a Blood Baron to actually put damage onto my Jace and I draw 5 running lands. It might have been correct to -2 my Jace somewhere along the way but after the game I looked at the top of my deck and there were another 4 lands on top. Variance happens and I had run pretty well the rest of the day; besides, I had the ability to win game 2 if I had played differently so I had no one to blame but myself.

Mitch went on to lose to RW Devotion’s insane draws and his own mana base giving out on him (Finally…) in the finals but the guy gave him the ticket since he didn’t think he could make it to the Pro Tour given the dates. Congrats to him and everyone else that made the Top 8!

 

As for the deck, this thing is a beast. The only thing I would change is that I want another Blind Obedience for Mistcutter Hydra, possibly even in the main. Another option would be to run 0 Blind Obedience and 2 Celestial Flares but Obedience over-performed for me all day. The 3rd Assemble in the 75 might be a bit much and the 3rd Last Breath in the board was also mediocre so either of those could probably be cut for a 2nd Blind Obedience.

 

Hope you guys enjoyed this style of report where I outline my thought process and deck building considerations leading up to an event.

 

A special thanks goes out to Rob Bull and Alex Lavoie for their work and input on the deck.

 

Michael Sheng is a Masters student from Fredericton NB who has been playing Magic semi-professionally since qualifying for PT: Seattle. His love of the game and the Magic community is only surpassed by his love for casting Blue cards.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *