This week at Brew Corner I am touching upon the recent controversy surrounding counterfeit cards because I was challenged to brew a Counterfit deck. The specifics of the challenge was to brew a Nic Fit deck with counter magic. I was instantly intrigued at the possibilities and ideas for the deck began pouring through my brain. For those of you who are not familiar with Nic Fit, the deck is designed to get to the mid game by turn 2 or 3 by using [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven] alongside sacrifice outlets like [casthaven]Cabal Therapy[/casthaven] flashback, [casthaven]Phyrexian Tower[/casthaven], trading through combat, etc. in order to get 2 basic lands from our deck in order to ramp into cards like [casthaven]Huntmaster of the Fells[/casthaven], [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven], [casthaven]Broodmate Dragon[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven]. Dropping any of these cards turn 2 can be enough to gain an early advantage and end the game in short order from there.

Naturally the deck will need a lot of basics for our [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven]s to find, we want some top end threats that could take over the game by themselves, and we want counter magic. What better way to take advantage of all the mana available and protect our investments than [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Sensei’s Divining Top[/casthaven]? If we’re going to have a lot of mana, we also need some fun things to do with it. [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] costs six mana you say? No problem as a potential turn two cast given the correct scenario. I did take this brew out for a spin and [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] came down as early as turn three versus an Abzan Nic Fit deck and I was able to steal a [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven] turn three on the draw. Without further ado, this is playing with Counterfits.

Playing with Counterfits

Lands (24)
Misty Rainforest
Phyrexian Tower
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea

Creatures (6)
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Veteran Explorer

Spells (30)
Abrupt Decay
Cabal Therapy
Force of Will
Green Sun’s Zenith
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sensei’s Divining Top
Toxic Deluge
Sideboard (15)
Far // Away
Pithing Needle
Surgical Extraction
Thrun, the Last Troll
Toxic Deluge
Vendilion Clique

Naturally in having a Countertop and Nic Fit shell we have many basics in order to facilitate the ability to have a mana base safe from [casthaven]Wasteland[/casthaven], [casthaven]Blood Moon[/casthaven], [casthaven]Back to Basics[/casthaven], etc. We do still have duals for early game searching when we need to have multiple colors until we can start cashing in on our [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven]s to ramp and fix our mana. [casthaven]Phyrexian Tower[/casthaven] led to quite a few very strong early plays. Casting a [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] as early as turn three was nothing short of impressive. Otherwise it is simply fetchlands to mana fix and trigger the ability of [casthaven]Titania, Protector of Argoth[/casthaven].

Spells—Counter Suite
[casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] in combination with [casthaven]Sensei’s Divining Top[/casthaven] is often spoken about very negatively by anyone who has played against it. It can be downright impossible for some decks to beat. Although [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] was relatively useless in several of my match ups, I got to play with it for the first time ever. It was interesting to say the least, but I also got to see how effective it can be from a first person perspective in one match that I played.

Since we ramp hard and fast, we can take full advantage of this soft lock very easily while advancing our board. I have also included four [casthaven]Force of Will[/casthaven] for that early disruption versus fast combo decks and early power plays like [casthaven]Dark Ritual[/casthaven] into [casthaven]Liliana of the Veil[/casthaven], etc. Two copies of [casthaven]Counterspell[/casthaven] join our suite of countermagic from there as a cheap hard counter for any spell I may need to shut down.

The last “bomb” counterspell at our disposal was [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven]. This card was insane all night. I almost had to run without it, but the store I played at had one foil copy of it. As much as I hate foils, I had to have it for this testing. I feel as though had I not purchased this card, I would not have had nearly as much fun as I did. Spelljacking a [casthaven]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/casthaven], [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven], or even just a [casthaven]Swords to Plowshares[/casthaven] aimed at my Titania was delightfully fun. I would even consider a second copy of [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] just for the fact that it was extremely relevant multiple times throughout the night.

Here we have [casthaven]Guile[/casthaven]. Although I did not see at all throughout the night, it could have been great nonetheless. The fact it requires three blockers and can get six damage through each attack step is not too bad. The ability combined with Countertop can lead an opponent to just downright not want to ever cast a spell, even as a test, as being countered could be detrimental to them. I hope to one day have a match up where this synergy actually comes up.

[casthaven]Titania, Protector of Argoth[/casthaven] was great all night. The speed at which she can get out of control by spamming 5/3 tokens was something that many of my wins came from. We also have two [casthaven]Green Sun’s Zenith[/casthaven] to increase the number of “copies” that we are running of Titania as well as some of our sideboard “beef” in [casthaven]Thragtusk[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Thrun, the Last Troll[/casthaven].

[casthaven]Cabal Therapy[/casthaven], a staple of all Nic Fit style decks gives us early disruption as well as an easy sacrifice outlet for [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven]. Therapy gives us the option to possibly two for one our opponent should we name a card that our opponent is holding multiple copies of, as well as the chance to three for one our opponent if we get to immediately flash it back. For removal in the main we have [casthaven]Abrupt Decay[/casthaven], [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven] and you could even include [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven]. Decay is our uncounterable removal spell versus many decks. In a Countertop mirror, it can be the ultimate game breaker to ensure that we control the game and resolve our spells. [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven] is a maindeck sweeper which can be necessary on occasion to answer swarm strategies as well as common decks like Death and Taxes, since we don’t have access to [casthaven]Terminus[/casthaven] as Miracles would have. Other considerations for this slot are [casthaven]Cyclonic Rift[/casthaven] (which I do plan to test), [casthaven]Devastation Tide[/casthaven] since we can easily replay everything we have bounced and [casthaven]Decree of Pain[/casthaven] as another fun sweeper effect that could help us answer most any creature, and draw a lot of cards.

Brief Tournament Report 1-3
Naturally none of the cards were counterfeit when I did get to take this list out for a spin. Combined though, they were certainly Counterfit. My first night out with the deck wasn’t exactly dominating. Matchups were a GR 12 Post that I brewed (piloted by our own Kate Donnelly), Lands, Abzan Nicfit, Mono Black Control. I will mention that I had to borrow four [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven], two [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven], one [casthaven]Underground Sea[/casthaven], and four [casthaven]Sensei’s Divining Top[/casthaven]. I don’t own nor have I ever played with [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] and the Tops were in Kate’s 12 Post deck. Here is my first run with the deck.

Round 1
12 Post is a match up that I anticipated would be tough as both Miracles and Nic Fit are heavily weak against the 12 Post deck. I was able to almost take game one by using a [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] to counter [casthaven]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/casthaven] and get it for myself. I did get to take game two by Spelljacking a [casthaven]Mina and Denn, Wildborn[/casthaven], and using [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven] to keep top decks from ruining my day. Game three 12 post did what it does quickly and I lost in short order.

Round 2
Lands had a very early combo turn game one and I got mana screwed in game two. Not much more to mention. Games were short and anticlimatic.

Round 3
Abzan Nic Fit was a fun match up at the least. A friend of mine has been piloting it so when we both decided a turn one [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven] was the right call, we also decided they should die in combat. Four basic lands later I was using [casthaven]Spelljack[/casthaven] to steal his [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven]. Unfortunately [casthaven]Sigarda, Host of Herons[/casthaven] is better and he followed up with that. Game two I was able to get [casthaven]Titania, Protector of Argoth[/casthaven] down turn five and began streaming tokens as I was able to find many fetchlands to follow. Game three I just couldn’t answer the Sigarda that he found and rode to victory.

Round 4
Mono Black Control was a weird game. I took it in two, but it was certainly a struggle where my experience with the archetype definitely helped me take him down. Game one he began [casthaven]Dark Ritual[/casthaven] into [casthaven]Hypnotic Specter[/casthaven]. The Spectre was able to get two hits in before I was able to play out two [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven] and cast a [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven] to ramp us both 4 land and answer his specter. His follow up was [casthaven]Phyrexian Obliterator[/casthaven]. My follow up was a [casthaven]Green Sun’s Zenith[/casthaven] for [casthaven]Titania, Protector Argoth[/casthaven]. I was able to block and kill it with a token I made from returning a fetch land to play.

Thinking back on this now, I sacrificed five lands to the trigger on Obliterator and I did not put my tokens into play for losing lands. He was able to play another Obliterator which I was able to kill in combat trading the last of my lands and again not realizing Titania would provide me with tokens. Game two he never really took off and I was able to easily win the game riding an early [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] plus [casthaven]Sensei’s Divining Top[/casthaven] with an unanswered Titania and two fetchlands coming off the top.

Initial impressions and changes that I would consider include taking the deck in a more serious route. [casthaven]Phyrexian Tower[/casthaven] led to some impressive turn two and three plays, but they were still few and far between. I may consider losing Tower for either an additional win condition in either a third [casthaven]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/casthaven] or a [casthaven]Dragonlord Silumgar[/casthaven] as a powerful [casthaven]Sower of Temptation[/casthaven] effect with deathtouch. [casthaven]Guile[/casthaven] wasn’t found at all throughout the night so I can’t really comment on it, but it does fill a role that we want as a win condition and value engine. I will likely put a [casthaven]Cyclonic Rift[/casthaven] for the next time I test this deck in place of the [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven] in the main board. It is fine as an early single card answer and amazing as a blowout later in the game which could potentially cause our opponent to have to discard half the cards on their board.

The sideboard originally had two [casthaven]Chill[/casthaven]. This seemed incorrect in hindsight. We are going to rarely lock a burn player out of the game with a [casthaven]Chill[/casthaven] considering the way [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven] works just as well for them as us, if not better. I am hoping the pair of [casthaven]Thragtusk[/casthaven] and two [casthaven]Green Sun’s Zenith[/casthaven] are sufficient to solve that issue so I swapped the two [casthaven]Chill[/casthaven] for two [casthaven]Surgical Extraction[/casthaven]. Everything else I would likely leave for now as it was all relevant at some point.

This deck was certainly fun if nothing more, hopefully with some fine tuning and practice proving the deck is viable we could see more people playing with Counterfits.

Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges in the comments. 🙂

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas.

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