UR COUNTERBURN: SIDEBOARD GUIDE

Hello folks! It has been a month or so from my last article, the first part of the UR Counterburn deck. We started with the history and some insights on the deck, so today for the second part we are going to get more “modern” and put in a sideboard guide. As you may know, this is my favourite deck and I put hours, a lot of effort and so much love to finish this deck full black bordered with Swedish rules. So let´s start with a photo of what I am playing today!

Disclaimer: this is my UK rules version (1 strip, 1 Shop, no FE) and is adapted to the metagame of our league El Norte no Olvida (North Remembers). Also, I am not a pro player or anything like that so don´t think that this guide is the law ;).

The main thing that changes playing UK rules is the mana base: I play 25, including all the jewelry, and with four strips we could easily play 28 or 29. The deck looks easy to play but is more difficult than you think. It was the first agrocontrol deck as we saw in the history article, so you may want to study well this classic article from Mike Flores called “Who’s the beatdown”:

https://articles.starcitygames.com/premium/whos-the-beatdown/

Why? May you ask. It’s simple: You have to know very well when you are the aggressor and when the control role. To put an easy example: if you waste a bolt killing a creature that didn’t bother you instead of keeping it for later to burn the opponent, maybe the match will end with they at two life and you are missing that bolt you cast on a Lion when you had a Mishra to block. In this kind of deck you are going to be evaluating all the time which role are you according to the cards on your hands and on the table; there are situations that from control you would become the aggressor to kill the opponent with an alpha strike or viceversa, moments that you may stay untapped to block.

Well, the best place to start is taking a look to the maindeck. Is a somewhat standard list, what Olle Rade and Stephen Menendian had been playing and tweaking for years. The only addition that can be considered “mine” is playing four Black vise in the main. It makes your start more explosive, your Wheel and Twister become better, and above all, there is a very important reason: it makes your deck less weak to a City in a Bottle. Also, in UK rules, the strongest card is Library of Alexandria, and with 4 Vises the opponents think a lot about using it or no. People play a lot of cards on the place of vises, and I think they are okey too:

  • Flying men: this card is great, but if you play Vise in turn 1 I think it will do more damage than a flying men during the match. Flying men is easier to kill too, because is a creature. Also, City in a Bottle.
  • More control cards: a Recall and a pair of Power sink or maybe more Fireballs. It´s not a bad option if you wanna play more controllish. But for the aggro plan, the vises are better than more burn because you already play the best burn spells of the format.
  • Trump cards: this is the option I could choose if weren´t playing vises. Strong cards that can change the match on his own, like Blood Moon, Serendib Djinn, Control Magic… the best thing is you only play 1-2 of these so you can combine them.

The rest of the cards are in “normal” numbers, is more or less what people play. But if you want to discuss them I am always up in the comments. Let’s get to the central part of the article: The Sideboard. That’s what I play:

I’ve tried to make it polyvalent. You can change cards to adapt it to your metagame, I normally play more artifact hate (Artifact blast) because I hate Shops, you know. I am putting here the top matchups and how to sideboard against them from my point of view. To make it easier, I have put deck photos from the latest Winter Derby (Editor’s note: maybe is not the latest, the original article is old).

THE DECK

+ 4 VS artifacts + 2 Blood moon + 2 REB + 2 Gloom

(Abyss version) – 1 Timetwister – 1 Time walk – 4 Serendib efreet – 4 Chain lightning

(Moat version) – 1 Mana Drain – 4 Counterspell – 4 Chain lightning

The best way to start is with the all around the world hated control deck, because is the most difficult to side again. You really want all the burn to kill him, but at the same time you want the REBs and the artifact destroying cards to kill that damn Jayemdaes. The problem (as always with the SB) isn’t what to get in: is what to get out. Keep in mind that the Deck player will get in Ivory towers, the BEBs and two (always two) CoP: Red. I get out Chains because they are sorceries, but never forget in this matchup you are the aggressor 100%.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can sideboard differently on the play or on the draw. For example, if I have seen no Abyss and I go first I keep the Serendib in. If I am on the draw, I´ll probably get them out. Other option versus deck like this that you know the match will be long is to put in one more card and play 61 to change the Land / Spell ratio. Never forget that sideboarding is nor a perfect technique, it depends on them too. If you can sneak the Blood Moon and destroy the colored Mox that’s all! But if the game goes long is probably worse for you.

UR COUNTERBURN (MIRROR)

+ 2 REB + 2 BEB

– 4 Chain lightning OR -2 Chain -2 Counterspell

This pairing is all about who draws better, because both play the same cards. It depends on your hand if you want to tap to play spells or if you want to wait with mana up to cast Counterspell and when they tap, dump your hand. That said, we are favoured in the mirror because we play the vises and if we have one on turn 1, he will likely tap to cast spells.

If you play Control magic on the SB is a great card for the mirror, but be careful for the REBs. Also, if the opponent plays Flying men, you can side in Psychic purgue to kill them (better than the Chain, in the mirror is horrible) and if they cast Mind twist on you… well is funny to watch their expression.

LAUTER.DECK (UWb CONTROL)

+ 2 Blood moon + 2 REB

– 2 Chain lightning – 2 Counterspell

Is a similar deck but better than UR I think, because they gain access to Swords and Disenchant. But they don’t play a lot of basic lands so here is the deal. If you play a Moon, he can at least give you some turns to put the match ahead and win with the reach of our burn spells. REBs are great and the vises are MVP because they have high casting costs.

MONOBLACK

+ 2 Psychic purgue + 1 Earthquake + 1 Shatter

– 4 Chain lightning (on the play) – 4 Black vise (on the draw)

It´s not a difficult pairing because without Fallen empires Monoblack loses his Hymn to Tourach that was their best card, so we change some burn for another. If you have seen a blue splash, you can also put in the two REBs. In this pairing you are gonna be the control, shooting to anything that moves and countering the big spells. When the match is controlled, then we play our Dib and run it to victory. They don´t play much kills, so if you have a turn two Serendib and some counters, play it and cross fingers.

The vises go out against this deck because they dump their hand fast. If you have seen a creature heavy deck, take out the vises on the play too. Another thing to keep in mind is the blue splash. If you see Underground seas or Citys or the Library, maybe it’s worth to take the four vises and a burn spell to take in the Moons, because it shuts up Mishra´s too. I always keep Shatters in because of the Nevynirrals but it is all on you.

WHITE WEENIE

+1 Earthquake + 1 Shatter + 2 Gloom

– 4 Black vise

+ 1 Earthquake + 2 Gloom + 2 BEB

(Pink Weenie) – 4 Black vise – 1 Counterspell

The same as before: take the vises out because they dump their hand fast. A turn 1-2 Gloom is the best play you can achieve against them, and the Earthquake is MVP. I have searched it with the Demonic so many times against them. In this pairing we are the control player, because they play as much Swords as we play Dibs, so it’s always better to keep control of the board and play them as a finisher.

Against Pink Weenie we have the BEB, but they put in REBs too. Take care of the CoP: Red that they will likely put in. Our burn is for the creatures in this matchup, and we don’t have to worry to finish the match until we have the board clean. If we see a lot of toughness 1 creatures, we must put in the Psychic purgues; they can kill a Lion or a Javelineer.

ARABIAN AGGRO (QUICKSILVER)

+ 2 Blood moon + 2 REB + 2 BEB

– 4 Chain lightning – 2 Counterspell (-2 Shatter si no lleva muchas Mishras)

As you can see, I almost always take out some counters for Elemental blasts. We have a card that does the same for 1 mana less and we don’t want to overload on counters. Our MVP here is the Blood Moon because they don’t play basics. The Chain always goes out because is our worst burn spell and they can fork it to us. Another option, if there are a lot of Quicksilver in your LGS, is to put two City in a Bottle on the SB and take Serendibs out, playing a full Counterburn deck.

Against no basics decks our primary plan is to cast a Blood Moon and play defending it until we ride to victory, including shattering coloured moxen. One of the best things of playing UR is our rock solid manabase, that can win easily 4-5 colour fantasy decks.

RG AGGRO

+2 psychic purgue + 2 BEB + 1 Earthquake

– 4 Black vise – 1 Chain lightning

In this case, they play smaller critters but a lot of growing spells. We have to be carefull when to play the burn spells because a Giant growth can make us cry. We are on control here and Earthquake is MVP. As you can see, the general idea vs aggro is to take out vises and put in control cards. For example, against Monogreen Stompy, we could sideboard similarly.

ATOG

+ 4 petacacharros + 2 BEB + 2 REB

– 4 Chain lightning – 4 Black vise

Most Atog decks play a UR base with some splash for powerful cards: black for Demonic and Mind twist, green for Regrowth or Berserk, white for Balance and Disenchant. The main idea is that all the Atog deck play the same burn spells and a lot of continuous damage artifacts. The chains here go out because they can pay RR easily. Here we are the control but be careful with the slow keeps because turn 1 Vise and turn 2 Ankh is an easy win for Atog…

WORKSHOP AGGRO

+ 4 VS artifacts + 2 REB

– 2 Chain lightning – 4 Black vise

Similar to Atog on how we have to play, we have to be very careful here because they can have a very strong start. Energy flux are MVP here, but they can do a lot of damage with Triskis. Be aware that they can animate a Triskelion and play a “lightning” to finish you. This kind of deck is very powerful and that’s why I put a lot of more artifact hate in my SB.

ERHNAMGEDDON

+ 2 REB + 1 Shatter

– 3 Chain lightning

They play basic lands and a lot of birds and jewelry so the Blood moon are no great here. But as always, is up to what you have seen in the first match. You have to save the counters for the big spells or the big creatures and forget the rest. Pro tip: if you can, keep always lands in hand. It’s obvious but people forgets about this, and our decks works with 3-4 mana easily. The vises here are great because punish a slow start.

DISCO TROLL

+ 2 BEB + 2 REB + 1 Shatter

– 4 Chain lightning – 1 Timetwister

Dificult pairing, where counters are going to be cast on both sides. Ours are gonna trying to get those pesky regenerating trolls. The matches are going to be win (or lose) because of the card advantage; with Library, a timely Mind twist or a big Geyser. It’s not worth keeping burn spells on hand because they don’t have lifegain and we can’t kill their creatures, except for bolt for Mishras maybe.

SUMMARY

Take out bad cards and put in the great cards J. Jokes aside, the cards you don’t want on the second match are Vises and Chains. If we put in Elemental blasts, we can take out counters. We have always to have clear what we want to put in, and the rest is all about math.

That’s all for today, folks! I hope you aren’t bored, and if you have read all it down here, thank you! As I have said it in the beginning this is my point of view, but I am always open to discuss and to learn new things. You can contact me here on the comments or in Twitter @diliz13. See you son and keep your decks black bordered!

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