The State of Modern: Counters Company, by Jacob Brown

Jacob Brown   July 28, 2017   Comments Off on The State of Modern: Counters Company, by Jacob Brown

Collected Company is a broken Magic card. The end.

OK, OK, I’ve got more to say, but let’s be honest: We’re going to end up at the same conclusion. Company is good. Really good.

You can play CoCo in just about any green, creature-based deck, but the deck that is currently abusing it the most is Counters Company. Abzan Company has always been a solid, under-the-radar combo deck, and the addition of Vizier of Remedies to enable another combo only makes it more powerful.

Counters Company is powerful and versatile enough that it’s time for it to be considered a tier 1 Modern archetype.

The Deck

My 75 right now:

Counters Company, by Jacob Brown

Counters Company can win the game three ways.

The flashiest one involves making infinite mana with Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies. The combo goes like this: Tap Druid for a green mana, activating the ability to place a -1-1 counter on it and untap it. Vizier’s ability says instead of placing one -1/-1 counter on Druid, you place one less, which is zero. You then keep tapping and untapping to make mana until you make some ridiculous amount. With your arbitrarily large amount of mana, you cast Walking Ballista for an absurd amount or use Rhonas to make your team huge. If you don’t have either you can dig for them by activating Duskwatch Recruiter a million times.

The second way to win involves an infinite life combo similar to the old Abzan Company deck. With a Vizier of Remedies in play, you sacrifice Kitchen Finks to Viscera Seer. You scry, and then Finks will trigger when it hits the yard, Persisting back. You’ll gain two life, but Finks will get zero -1/-1 counters thanks to Vizier. You do this a bunch of times until you have the perfect card on top and an absurdly large amount of life. Usually your opponent will concede at some point if you’ve got a life total in the hundreds of billions.

Finally, the deck can win by being a good creature deck. With a plethora of good cards, such as Company, Chord of Calling, Kitchen Finks, and Eternal Witness, you can just keep making value plays and attacking with a bunch of efficient creatures.

The Untouchables

You need to have the combo pieces, mana dorks and ways to get the combo pieces.

Combo pieces

3-4 Kitchen Finks for the infinite life combo
1-2 Viscera Seer for the infinite life combo
4 Devoted Druid for the infinite mana combo
4 Vizier of Remedies for both combos
2 Duskwatch Recruiter for the infinite mana combo
2 Mana sinks (Ballista or Rhonas) for the infinite mana combo

You can vary the numbers of some of these slightly for your meta, but the basic numbers are needed to enable you to combo off constantly.

Mana Dorks

Any mix of six Birds/Hierarchs. You need to get out fast every game, and the mana dorks enable this. However, they’re bad late game, so you don’t want too many. Bird is arguably better because it adds black and flies for when you are planning to win with Gavony Township, but I like Hierarch for Exalted. My split is 3-3.

Ways to get the Combo pieces

4 Collected Company
4 Chord of Calling
2-3 Eternal Witness to get back combo pieces or Chord/Company

These cards are all really good at getting value and leading you towards the combo. ‘Nuf said.

The Flex Spots

By playing four Company and four Chord you get a lot of flex spots for different tools. These are mine, but you can alter them for any meta.

Fourth Kitchen Finks and second Viscera Seer: Both can get value on their own, making them solid flex spots that also enable you to combo. If you want to go less of a combo route, you can exchange these for more specific cards to fade hate, such as mainboard Selfless Spirit for Anger of the Gods.

Scavenging Ooze: It gains life, it becomes a huge creature, it eats graveyards. It’s great. If you don’t have them I’d still use another card to interact with graveyards, such as Watchers of the Dead.

Tireless Tracker: I love this card. It draws cards every time you play a land. It two for ones with fetches. It’s a great threat in the long game. I would play at least one in any list, but you can move it between the main and side.

Fiend Hunter: A removal spell on a stick. The deck has few ways to interact with creatures, and some creatures, such as Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, just kill us. Fiend Hunter with Viscera Seer says exile target creature, scry one. This gets really good when you throw in a couple of Eternal WItness. If you wanted to play a different card I would play Big Game Hunter; you just really need a way to interact with creatures without having to run removal spells in the main.

One Rhonas the Indomitable/One Walking Ballista: You want two ways to win the game with infinite mana. I play one of each because Ballista straight-up wins, but Rhonas can be hit off Company and is better when not going infinite. Based on your local meta and preferences you can choose what combination of the two you want.

The Manabase

The manabase is simple, and about as finely tuned as possible due to the color demands of the deck. You need to be fast, so only untapped lands. You play fetches and shocks to get all the colors you need (at least two of each).

After that you have two Gavony Township and one Horizon Canopy as utility lands for the late game. Blood Moon can be a problem, so you have four basics to get around it.

The Sideboard

There are 8 cards that are needed to fight specific cards and decks.

After those 8 you can customize to the meta.

If you think there’s going to be a plethora of sweepers, Selfless Spirit is a good option to stop Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict and Damnation. Cards like Nihil Spellbomb and Relic of Progenitus are good against Dredge, Living End and other graveyard decks. I prefer Spellbomb, as Relic exiles your graveyard as well. Abrupt Decay hits Death’s Shadow and any permanents that shut off your yard and library. Eidolon of Rhetoric is good against Storm and Ad Nauseam.

You can tweak the sideboard a lot for your local meta.

Gameplay

The first step to playing this deck is being able to evaluate how the games are going to go. By the time your opponent is done with their first or second turn, you need to know the most likely way you’re going to win and what you need to do to get there.

Make sure you have a mana dork on turn 1 or 2, because the velocity they provide is key. For instance, if you’re in a matchup where you’re going to win by killing your opponents with creatures, you want to focus on putting as many creatures on the board as fast as possible.

If you’re on the plan of one of the combos, you want to hold your creatures until the perfect moment to strike. The deck is pretty linear, but small decisions, like attacking with Noble Hierarch on turn 2 and shocking to play a two-drop, or playing a tapped land and using Hierarch for mana, can make or break a game plan.

Finally, you need to be aware of how your win interacts with your opponents. Say you’re playing against Tron, a deck where infinite life doesn’t win. It’s very easy to throw all your guys on the table and try to kill them as a creature beatdown deck. This makes their sweepers really good. So while in the matchup you usually win as a beatdown creature deck, you may have to do so differently than in other matchups. Remember that the one thing you have more than almost any other deck in the format is flexibility.

Some general things: You usually need to fetch and shock on the first two turns to gain velocity as well. Mulligan aggressively. Sometimes the deck will just not have threats and get crushed. The best cards are Company and Kitchen Finks, so prioritize these cards. I cannot say this strongly enough: Know how you are going to win the game and play towards that.

Good Matchups

Grixis Shadow

They’re trying to play a creature deck and a bunch of our cards are super good against them. Each one of your ways to win gets there, but combo is usually the best. The game 1s that you lose are to keeping a fragile hand. They’re good at killing our mana dorks and ripping apart our hand, so you need to keep a hand with lands and with multiple threats as opposed to a couple lands, a bunch of dorks, and not much else. Again, just play towards a game plan and be aware of what spells they have access to pre- and post-board to stop you (Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, Anger, etc.)

Affinity

This matchup is great.  You just need to find one of your combos before they can get an insane Arcbound Ravager turn. Use mana dorks to get ahead and then get your combo out as soon as possible (make sure they don’t have Galvanic Blast when you go off). Post-board, the plan is the same. Just be aware of Rest in Peace and Grafdigger’s Cage.

Eldrazi Tron

Similar to the old Bant Eldrazi matchup. They have a bunch of creatures and that’s about it. Be aware of the one-of Ugin and All is Dust messing you up, but usually you can just combo through their Eldrazi.

Burn

This matchup is pretty simple. Cast Kitchen Finks and gain life until you can go infinite. Look out for Skullcrack. Post-board the game plan is the same, but be wary of Rest in Peace and Cage stopping your combos.

Titan Shift

They’re a combo deck and so are you. Keep a hand that can go off on turn 3-4 before they can. Be aware that some decks run Anger and Lightning Bolt in the main, so you may have to play out your combo all at once.

Bad Matchups

Storm

Storm is a combo deck that can remove our combo guys and ritual into comboing before we can. They use Goblin Electromancer and Baral to get ahead, so if you can Fiend Hunter on your turn you can screw up their math. Post board you get a little help, but the matchup is still unfavorable.

Ad Nauseam

Like Storm, it’s a combo deck that combos off before we can. Instead of getting ahead with rituals and Electromancers they get ahead with ramp artifacts. They also pack Phyrexian Unlife and Angel’s Grace to stop you from killing them and to enable their combo. Game 1 is usually a loss, but like storm, you get some post-board help to get past their combo.

Tron

Storm and Ad Nauseam can usually be won through solid play and a little bit of luck. Tron is even worse. This is just about the only super bad matchup for the deck. To begin with, Karn and Ulamog let them win through infinite life. Secondly, they have 5-6 board wipes in the main board. Their 1-2 punch of board wipes and game-ending threats is super hard for us to beat. You can’t interact with their lands, which is their engine. You just hope to combo off on turn 3 in game 1. Post-board you get some hand disruption and protection against Oblivion Stone, but they get more ways to interrupt your combo. The best way to play the matchup is dig for the infinite mana combo and hope they don’t hit Tron early.

Wrap up

Abzan Company decks are done lurking in the shadows of modern. Counters Company is the iteration of Company that can bring it to glory. This deck is legit. It’s got combos, it’s got versatility, it’s got speed. It’s got Company. Company is good. Modern is good. Play this deck.

Jacob Brown‘s Magic accomplishments include coming in second at the 2016 TCGPlayer States, winning a PPTQ, and winning infinite casual drafts. Contact him at nufan7@comcast.net.

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