I hinted in my last article that I’d been working on a couple of MBC decks, namely Counter-Burn and Counter-Rebel. The Counter-Burn deck is a block version of my Type II deck, and isn’t working too well at the moment. I’m not sure I’ve got the levels of counterspells and burn spells quite right. Not having Stroke, Morphling and Powder Keg hurts a little too.
The Counter-Rebel deck I’ve been working on is a modification of a deck that Team Spike were playing on the run up to the National Qualifiers this year. It seemed to be one of those decks that should win, but doesn’t for some reason.
With Rishadan Port now banned in MBC, everyone seems to think that two-colour decks are now a viable option. They are. Team PhatBeats has been playtesting MBC for the last three weeks, and we’ve been playing all sorts of decks against each other. Rising Waters (two versions), Cowardice Blue Control, Green/White, Green Beatdown, Black and a red deck with Brawlers in. This has given me the opportunity to build and play a few decks of my own. The deck list we started with was as follows:
PhatBeats Counter/Rebel (version 1).
4x Ramosian Lieutenant
1x Defiant Falcon
1x Ramosian Captain
2x Defiant Vanguard
1x Thermal Glider
1x Nightwind Glider
1x Ramosian Commander
1x Ramosian Sky Marshall
1x Jhovall Queen
1x Ballista Squad
We’ve playtested this a lot and against certain decks it’s a beating – mainly due to the control element and the enchantment removal: A couple of Aura Fractures on the table, and Rising Waters isn’t a happy bunny at all. Brainstorm is amazing when you’re looking for that one extra land or a counter to win you the game.
Now the problems. If you look at the deck it’s very much a singular chain of command, one of each of the cards necessary to get the next into play. If your opponent kills it, there’s no Lin-Sivvi to put it back into your library. If your opponent steals it, it’s gone for good. There are also no Sergeants in this deck at all. Just about every serious MBC player is saying that Sergeants are broken and should have been banned instead of Lin-Sivvi. In a ‘bear-rebel’ deck I agree. In this deck I’m not so sure, I’m not trying to put lots of 2cc rebels into play every turn – and the Sergeants could only go and get
Lieutenants or Falcons.
Last Breath is also has me worried. Looking at the deck lists I have for MBC it is very good against some decks and useless against others. Against Roshambo, it shuts down the Divining Witches. Against blue decks, it kills Waterfront Bouncers and little fliers just great. Against green decks they seem to be useless. I ended up with two of them in my hand in several games in a row.
The counterspells work just great. MBC is slower and so a lot of the spells cost more to cast, making Rethink a little more effective than it is in Type II. I also love saying”Are you sure you want to do that” or singing a line from”Think” in the style of Aretha Franklin when countering spells – it really cheers me up…
What can we do to make the deck a little better? To do this we need to know a few of its weaknesses. From playtesting they seem to be:
1. When big creatures get into play, we have a problem. We can’t chump block without losing a creature. We can’t gain control or kill it, so it remains on the board as a threat. Once a few of these are built up we’re in real trouble.
2. Against more controlling decks they have a lot of time to get everything ready because we don’t deal damage very fast. We only have two real big threats, too: The Skymarshal and the Queen.
3. Black has a field day against this deck. They have so many ways of killing all the creatures as an instant that it’s difficult to see how the counter capability is going to help. I’m missing out on some info here, as I haven’t playtested this match-up very much yet.
So, I think the Rebel ‘chain’ and the Last Breaths need looking at a little more. Here’s the chain as it stands:
we then also have some utility rebels:
The Vanguards, Squad and Queen are our defense against big green creatures, but we need a lot of mana for the last two. The Gliders help us against red, black and green – although green decks seem to be packing lots of anti-flier cards these days.
There are lots of different cards, and we’re hoping that the searching ability of the Rebels will help us get around that. There are two ways we can go from here: We can strengthen the chain, or we can cut it short and make it more of a bear-rebel deck.
Strengthening the chain could go along the lines of:
That leaves us a couple more Rebel slots, and whilst the Gliders are good against some decks they are situational – so why not go with a pair of Squads and a pair of Vanguards? That raises the number of Rebels to 15. The other way we could go is to make the more traditional ‘bear-rebel’ style deck. If we do, it becomes something like:
Leaving us two or three slots for other cards – they could be Rebels, but we can only search for 2-cc ones. If, on the other hand, we go with Waterfront Bouncers we’re solving another of the deck’s problems; its inability to cope with big creatures. We just bounce them back. We might also be able to drop the land count a little, as we won’t be trying to cast Jhovall Queen at any point.
The next thing to look at is the Last Breath. I’ve had Afterlife and Topple suggested as replacements. If you look at a number of current decks, Topple finds its way into a few sideboards and Last Breath seemed (at least in New York) to be a great way of dealing with Rebels, so perhaps we leave things alone and add some cards to the sideboard to help us out. At the same time, we shouldn’t overlook Ramosian Rally. Rally is being called the new Fireblast by some players and it fits nicely in with the bear-style deck. It doesn’t fit so well with the chain of command deck though.
Casting an eye over the counterspells, we see that there are only eight. This gives us only a limited amount of control. In my games I’ve found that I don’t have enough counters to play the deck as a traditional control deck but enough to counter most serious threats. Thwart is probably not going to fit in, as we’re playing two colours. Foil may fit in – but only one or two. So what do we do? I’ve mentioned that the enchantment removal is very good – but perhaps, with the addition of a few more deck types, we have too much in the main deck? I don’t know. In any case, with the ‘strengthened chain’ Rebel base above we’re already looking for one more slot, so maybe we just increase the number of counters a little.
Bearing all this in mind here are two decks for you to think about:
PhatBeats Chain of Command Counter-Rebel:
If either of these is going to be a good deck against the field, my money would be on the latter. It looks more consistent, can handle creatures better and has a touch more control. The former looks like it’ll suffer the same fate that it did in Type II: It looks interesting and should win games, but in practice I don’t think it will.
I welcome any feedback on these as usual. In playtesting I’m playing the latter more now and would value thoughts on sideboarding and the counterspell mix.
Thanks to everyone who emailed me regarding my last article: It pepped me up a little. I’ve also been on holiday in Ireland – that helped a lot too. I start my new job on Monday, so I’m hoping I’ll have time to write an article next week, but I might not – I’ve got a lot to do.