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 Post subject: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-26 3:40 pm 
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(Assume this is for a playgroup that likes to push the limits -- where soft locks are routine and accepted -- so we can skip the "is this social or no" discussion. I would not endorse testing this out on the random guy who just sleeved up his Commander precon)

This is one I've thought about before an never come up with a good answer... is there a way to make Counterbalance genuinely powerful in EDH?

Most of the time I've seen it pop up have been in sort of chaos for the lulz kind of decks (which admittedly is pretty funny when someones Bringer randomly craps on Iona). But for trying to make it good, I've only seen a few people try, usually with mediocre results, usually with a "cares-about-top-card" commander like Melek.

I'm wondering if a Prime Speaker Vannifar/Birthing Pod deck would be a better way to go. You tend to end up with a long mana curve to keep your tutor chain alive anyway, plus having the option to keep reshuffling helps you set up cards like Top, Jace, or Soothsaying. And green has solid options for manipulating the top card (Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix, Reclaim effects).

(Also this is me fishing for someone to build the deck and try it out... I almost never play U/G/x...)

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-26 4:04 pm 
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Broadly speaking, it has been ass- even in the most absolutely asinine top-of-deck fixing deck. CB is particularly potent in eternal formats because 4+ drops are much more scarce. It struggles with X spells, since X has a value once the manacost is paid. It's also often hot-nothing against cards with high CMCs and built-in cost reduction.

EDH decks also tend to have more complicated (or chaotic) mana curves which makes predicting the right places to land for countertop to get value much harder (since paying for the Top dips into the amount of spells you can play in a turn.)

Not saying it's impossible to make a strong card effective in EDH, but I do feel like it's a long way to go for a card that still won't be as nuts as Dovescape for all of that extra effort.

Cheers!

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-27 2:22 am 
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Kemev wrote:
is there a way to make Counterbalance genuinely powerful in EDH?


I don't know about powerful, but if this were a challenge deck and I had to use counterbalance in a deck, I would go with a Dimir mill deck. Volrath's Stronghold and Academy Ruins to place the right CMC on the top of the deck from the graveyard along with all of the deck manipulation and top-of-deck tutors already in UB. Seem like a good fit.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-27 9:39 am 
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I agree with treamayne, i would likely run AMINATOU, THE FATESHIFTER as the general and use her plus ability to have the top card matters as a sub-theme.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-28 5:27 am 

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I think it is one of those cards that gets worse at lower power levels because curves can be really all over the place. It sees play in a few cEDH decks because the curve of cEDH is so much lower than most Commander tables. When everyone at the table is playing an average CMC of less than 3 its value goes way up. Toss in the obligatory Top and then you have a legitimately powerful card.


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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-28 11:38 am 
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So I've used counterbalance to some REALLY great use in an All Enchantments deck, to the point where I removed it after some time.

Counterbalance + Widespread Panic + Night Dealings

Even activating dealings for 0 is powerful if you happen to have the right CMC in your hand. I run other effects that allow me to draw extra cards, so {2}{B}{B} counter target spell is really good in an all permanents deck.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-28 11:48 am 
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Mr.Mauler wrote:
I think it is one of those cards that gets worse at lower power levels because curves can be really all over the place. It sees play in a few cEDH decks because the curve of cEDH is so much lower than most Commander tables. When everyone at the table is playing an average CMC of less than 3 its value goes way up. Toss in the obligatory Top and then you have a legitimately powerful card.


Which cEDH decks? I've only seen it in maybeboards, or very specific piles which people use similar to sideboards.

Your logic isn't bad- but it's missing several key factors of higher power and competitive EDH
-1. The ideal deck for Counterbalance in particularly high power meta is Baral, Chief of Compliance- since the card can generate CA. The problem therein, is that Baral tends to want to win in the same ways as Teferi and Arcum- but is significantly worse at facilitating that. The more stax you put into it though, the fewer slots are occupied by real gas. IE; you COULD in theorycraft build it, but the card rarely pans out remotely similar to it's older Legacy or Modern counterparts.

-2. Even with Scroll Rack setup, you're likely only getting to piledrive the guy whose turn comes immediately after your own- if that. Then, your opponents get more breathing room with the information. CB is strong in the way that Chalice of the Void is strong, but like Chalice, it gets significantly worse in EDH because...

-3. While higher power decks tend to have more cheap stuff, the cards which cost 4+ are usually significantly powerful. X spells are fairly common because of manabase power, and CB is especially awkward against Split cards or cards with built-in cost reduction (which doesn't effect their CMC.) Ontop of the sheer necessity to have tools that get around counter-based recursion locks, the amount of information you constantly have to give to 3 other opponents makes the whole ordeal much more awkward than when you're just trying to mise down one other player's cumulative resources.

-4.UU is a very real cost. The earlier you play it, the more you starve yourself on Blue, the more colors you play, the more likely you are to get choked on Blue by playing it even after the first couple turns. Some cards fix that, but require additional investment.

-5. Opportunity cost, in the purest sense. What do we play Counterbalance over? Another Enchantment? More reliable instant removal? With which Generals? Mystic Remora, Rhystic Study, Standstill, Copy Artifact. in other colors, Sylvan Library? Food Chain? Necropotence... Point is, the biggest issue with Counterbalance is that compared to other do-nothings in any environment, it falls short because it's baseline as a play is completely knee-capped by having to give information to 3 opponents. It doesn't necessarily push you more towards amassing your winning combo, or riding your wincon to victory in a control deck.

-6. Lastly, the Brainstorm principal. The type of cards that enable Counterbalance get stronger as you're able to hold onto them throughout the game. Resource efficiency (mana, cards, life etc.) is paramount in higher powered EDH. Even with a Top, if you keep rearranging to try to make Counterbalance work, you lose mana efficiency by making fewer plays that directly effect the game, and have a reasonable chance of whiffing. The more passive you get to be with Top, coincidentally, the stronger it becomes. Burning cards like tutors or Brainstorm early to fuel any of this costs you every possible other line you could have taken.

Cheers!

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-28 2:49 pm 
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I think Seer's Vision type cards would really turn counterbalance on. You can now leave cards on the top of your library preemptively to shut out the tables best cmc threats. It makes it a really interesting mind game too, did you not reveal the top card because you don't have a 5 cmc card or because you want me to think it's safe to play my 5 cmc bomb.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-30 1:58 am 
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moraff wrote:
So I've used counterbalance to some REALLY great use in an All Enchantments deck, to the point where I removed it after some time.

Counterbalance + Widespread Panic + Night Dealings

Even activating dealings for 0 is powerful if you happen to have the right CMC in your hand. I run other effects that allow me to draw extra cards, so {2}{B}{B} counter target spell is really good in an all permanents deck.

I gotta say, this definitely surprised me. What an interesting combo!

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-30 5:13 am 
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Sinis wrote:
moraff wrote:
So I've used counterbalance to some REALLY great use in an All Enchantments deck, to the point where I removed it after some time.

Counterbalance + Widespread Panic + Night Dealings

Even activating dealings for 0 is powerful if you happen to have the right CMC in your hand. I run other effects that allow me to draw extra cards, so {2}{B}{B} counter target spell is really good in an all permanents deck.

I gotta say, this definitely surprised me. What an interesting combo!


Yeah, that's quite crafty.
How often did you activate Night Dealings for 0 and fail to find for the free shuffle + stack?

I feel like there's a way to loop together some of these things... something like Grixis Counterbalance with Volrath's Stronghold, Academy Ruins, Widespread Panic, and repeatable tutor effects to keep restacking the top card... Maybe bring Baneful Omen and Heretic's Punishment along for the ride.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-30 11:56 am 
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Well with Rhystic Study out, I would use search for 0 a lot. Especially since I would stack to resolve Study first. I would draw a card, then with balance still on the stack search for 0.

If you ran Nekusar a grixis commander, you could even get more Night Dealings triggers from draw steps, which would allow you to even go further with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-Apr-30 12:10 pm 
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Adding to the above, cause on mobile and quote button hates me on mobile, fetch lands are a LOT more scarier when they lead to countering a spell.

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 Post subject: Re: Counterbalance in Commander
AgePosted: 2019-May-08 10:46 pm 

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Mr Degradation wrote:
Which cEDH decks? I've only seen it in maybeboards, or very specific piles which people use similar to sideboards.


You are correct it, it isn't a very popular card in cEDH but I've seen it included in Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Baral, Chief of Compliance off the top of my head (pun intended).

I think the value for them isn't so much that it is going to stop a massive threat but that it may just randomly stop several set-up cards.


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