Hello and welcome to part five of my five-part series on how to combat specific powerhouses you’ll find in your various EDH games. In this, the last section, we will cover the remaining section of cards not yet covered – artifacts (and, by extension, colorless nonland cards) and lands. A lot of the cards are supplementary, and some are color-aligned (or they lend themselves to a specific strategy), but for the most part, they can go in any deck, so let’s take a look!
COLORLESS CARDS TO WATCH OUT FOR
I wanted the post about Eldrazi out of the way first. These abominations of design draw legendary amounts of hate. Entire tables cringe when you attempt to resolve them. They produce disgusting board states (especially if you Clone the nonlegendary ones), and are the most unfun way to grind someone slowly out of the game. If you want a countermeasure, preventing them from attacking is your best bet (Blazing Archon, Ghostly Prison, Ensnaring Bridge), but preventing your opponent from making you able to sacrifice is an excellent deterrent as well (Tajuru Preserver, Sigarda, Host of Herons). If all else fails, stealing them for yourself is always useful (Treachery, Sower of Temptation, Enslave).
Another fun fattie to throw around in people’s faces, Papa Infect is another creature you never want to stare down in an EDH game. For the most part, the same countermeasures to Eldrazi apply to Blightsteel Colossus – prevent it from attacking (Propaganda, Peacekeeper, Koskun Falls) or steal it for yourself (Bribery, Molten Primordial, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker). Alternatively, bouncing it is a powerful tempo play against it (Tidespout Tyrant, Capsize, Tradewind Rider).
Memnarch is a real pain in the bum to deal with. Not only does the control effect not depend on Memnarch being in play to remain, but the fact that you can steal anything, multiple times a turn with enough mana, means that this card is an absolute nightmare to deal with late game. Countering Memnarch by giving your permanents hexproof (Privileged Position, Fountain Watch, Leonin Abunas), having anti-theft measures (Homeward Path, Brand, Gruul Charm), or just outright preventing Memnarch from activating his effect (Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Stony Silence, Damping Matrix).
Everyone’s favorite mana doublers. Sometimes you’ll see the former two’s Glorious Anthem-esque effects be useful, but most people use this for the mana it provides. My favorite thing to do with these effects is to get more of them (Phyrexian Metamorph, Sculpting Steel, Mizzium Transreliquat), but mass LD can also deal with these effects quite nicely (Jokulhaups, Armageddon, Wake of Destruction). Often times, players with a lot of mana will cast a large density of spells, so slowing them down by restricting the amount of spells they can play a turn is powerful against this effect as well (Rule of Law, Arcane Laboratory, Curse of Exhaustion).
Everyone’s favorite cow, often paired with its BFF Life From the Loam and its cousin Strip Mine to grind out disgusting advantages. Even with a fetchland this thing can let you keep otherwise really bad hands and just go to town getting whatever colors of mana you need. To stop this, generally graveyard hate will win you the day (Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace, Bojuka Bog), but getting your own copy helps deter them from trying to grind you out (Phyrexian Metamorph, Copy Artifact, Stolen Identity). If they run an Exploration effect, you may have to 1-up them and steal it for yourself (Memnarch, Volition Reins, Aladdin).
These are the most popular of the five that I’ve seen overall in EDH (Sword of War and Peace is powerful in any blue meta, though, which is why more than a couple are featured in lists the CG Realm’s players use), and they’re a pain to deal with. Not only can they let creatures bypass your “don’t attack into me” blockers, but the effects they provide can grind out insane advantages. An interesting counter and perhaps my favorite is to steal the creature they’re attached to (Insurrection, Evangelize, Enslave), but alternatively, you can prevent the creatures these from attacking (Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, Koskun Falls). Flexible sweepers also cure the problem of both the Swords and the creatures they can equip themselves to (Akroma’s Vengeance, Jokulhaups, Planar Cleansing).
These two equipment serve a different purpose than the Swords – protecting their creature from answers entirely while letting them have an explosive turn by giving them haste. Generally, shroud and hexproof are beaten by sweepers (Obliterate, Austere Command, Neivnyrral’s Disk), but Edict effects work just as well for the strategies that rely on less creatures (Barter in Blood, Chainer’s Edict, Tribute to Hunger). If all else fails, “freeze” effects help negate the haste that these two cards give, which is definitely worth noting against some generals that tend to rely on cards like these (Blind Obedience, Frozen Aether, Urabrask the Hidden).
Mimic Vat is a unique contender – it provides an interesting effect in that it happens to have a graveyard ability that can actually supersede a lot of popular graveyard hate, and it works extremely well with a powerful ETB. While the vast majority of targets for the Vat get beaten by Torpor Orb, graveyard hate is still a prime choice against it, provided you pick your effects carefully (Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, Samurai of the Pale Curtain). Stealing the Vat for yourself is another powerful option to 1-up its effect (Master Thief, Hellkite Tyrant, Confiscate).
An extremely annoying card to deal with in the right deck, Winter Orb provides a crushing advantage for aggro and certain control and combo shells alike. The card can shut entire strategies down, so try to 1-up it by playing nonland mana sources (Sol Ring, Coalition Relic, Gilded Lotus). Effects that untap your lands also really help counter the effect (Seedborn Muse, Sword of Feast and Famine, Bear Umbra). Since Winter Orb tends to pair itself with creatures, effects that destroy both artifacts and creatures are very powerful here (Orim’s Thunder, Decimate, Thornscape Battlemage).
Karn functions much like Nicol Bolas – his presence is made immediately after he enters the battlefield. He can literally deal with anything, and because he can do it at least twice, he provides a very intimidating effect to any board state. To counter his abilities, start by giving your permanents hexproof (Privileged Position, Asceticism, Oak Street Inkeeper). If the Karn player targets your hand more than your battlefield, give yourself hexproof instead (Leyline of Sanctity, Ivory Mask, Witchbane Orb). If all else fails, do what you can to directly stop its effect (Pithing Needle, Phyrexian Revoker, Faith’s Fetters).
Skullclamp is a card that has use in every color, and can create stupid amounts of card advantage with the right enablers. Stop the Skullclamp first and foremost by negating its effect (Null Rod, Stony Silence, Damping Matrix). If that doesn’t work, punishing their draws is an effective way to offset the card advantage they gain (Underworld Dreams, Spiteful Visions, Phyrexian Tyranny). If all else fails, try to punish your opponent for having their creatures die (Black Market, Blood Artist, Vicious Shadows).
Sunforger is a great toolbox card for finding a good suite of answers from your deck that you need to answer whatever opponents try to stop your gameplan with. If left alone, this thing can literally stop entire strategies in their tracks. Stop them with library lockout (Aven Mindcensor, Stranglehold, Mindlock Orb, negate activated abilities (Pithing Needle, Stony Silence, Phyrexian Revoker), or use versatile sweepers to destroy the Sunforger and the creature it’s attached to (Austere Command, Akroma’s Vengeance, Jokulhaups).
LANDS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Because while untapped 5-color lands are really strong, they’re not what you actually want to get rid of, believe it or not.
Basically, while writing though the individual lands that make up this section, the counterplay options to all of them were generally the same – destroy them. LD is a douche strategy, but sometimes, it’s a necessary evil to rid yourself of the lands people will abuse to get ahead of the curve.
Generally, these two work together to generate a billion black mana. You typically don’t have to deal with both of them – dealing with the Urborg while a lot of Swamps aren’t in play will generally cripple the Coffers, but if the Coffers player can still net mana from you destroying Urborg, it’s generally a good idea to destroy the Coffers.
Generally, these cards tend to grind out advantages by resurrecting whatever you’ve disrupted to make whatever board presence they have stick, making these disgusting engines of attrition. While destroying them is fine, keep in mind that graveyard hate like a Relic of Progenitus is a great strategy against these.
Cradle makes creature decks go stupid if they get ahead on board. It doesn’t help that it’s in the same color as Genesis Wave. While destroying it is undoubtedly the best way to stop it from bowling you over, sweepers like Wrath of God are great against the card as well.
Township functions a lot like Cradle in that it’s great at helping creature decks get a foothold in a matchup. Like Cradle, sweepers solve the problem if destroying the Township isn’t an available option, but a Ghostly Prison lets you stave them off really well – Township is absurdly mana-intensive, and you really don’t want to pay mana to attack when that mana can actually progress your board state.
Wolf Run is in general an incredibly powerful resource in Voltron decks, or in general decks that need a specific creature to stick damage. Spot removal like Putrefy is really good against the creature that will threaten to annihilate you. Much like Township, the mana-intensiveness makes Ghostly Prison effects strong against Wolf Run as well.
The bane of Voltron strategies everywhere, a single one of these effects mean that your key creature won’t be dealing any damage anytime soon. Voltron decks, though plentiful in the effect, need hexproof or shroud through Swiftfoot Boots or a similar effect to prevent these effects from stopping them in their tracks. If this card is a problem, send your aggression elsewhere, and you should be fine.
Probably the most innocuous card at the CG Realm’s metagame, almost every deck that has a single repeatable draw effect will want one of these. If you can’t destroy it, punish your opponent for the cards in their hand with an effect like Vicious Shadows.
Yavimaya Hollow is a very annoying card that most green decks utilize to protect their generals. Generally, while you can destroy it with a Strip Mine effect, remember that because it’s legendary, Vesuva and Thespian’s Stage copying it will also destroy it. (This counterplay applies to Kor Haven, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Volrath’s Stronghold as well.) Sweepers that bypass regeneration like Damnation counter the Hollow as well, and effects that reduce toughness work just as well, like Mutilate or Black Sun’s Zenith.
Some men just want to watch the world burn…
Because there are a lot of them, I’m going to provide a list of LD options you can access that aren’t douche-y in nature and still get the job done against the aforementioned lands.
Rain of Thorns
Angel of Despair
Spine of Ish Sah
Well, all five parts of this article series are now written and up on the CG Realm. If this is the first part of the series you’ve read, here are the links to the other four:
Part 1 – http://www.thecgrealm.com/events2.php?id=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/events2.php?id=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/events2.php?id=1317
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/events2.php?id=1370
(I get a lot more aggressive with my titles as the series progresses. Remember, kids, caps lock is cruise control for cool!)
Anyway, thank you for reading all of this pointless, repetitive rabble. I know the stale nature of how I wrote out the counterplay options must have gotten to you by part 4 at the latest, but I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read my writing.
Regardless, next week I’ll be showing you how to make EDH decks on a budget, something I’ve been asked quite a lot, especially recently.