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Budget Magic: $93 (33 tix) Standard UR Mindswipe Counterburn

Ahoy-Hoy Budget Magic lovers! It's that time of week once again. After our brief foray into Pauper last week we are heading back to Standard with a very cool, creature-free UR Counterburn deck. My favorite aspect of this deck is that it makes good use of some cards that are obviously powerful, including the namesake Mindswipe, Steam Augury, and Riddle of Lightning — cards that have been unplayed or at the very least underplayed in Standard. Anyway, let's get right to the videos and then we'll break everything down. Oh, and just a quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to catch all the latest and greatest.

UR Mindswipe Counterburn Deck Tech

UR Mindswipe Counterburn vs Four-Color Sidisi

UR Mindswipe Counterburn vs Esper Dragons

UR Mindswipe Counterburn vs Abzan Midrange

UR Mindswipe Counterburn vs Mono-Red Aggro


The Deck


If you have followed my videos or writings for any length of time, you know that I hate burn decks: they are just so linear, straight-forward, and boring in my opinion. That's why it's so strange that I love this deck. In reality, I love it because it plays like a draw-go control deck. Sure, we generally finish our opponent with some combination of burn spells, but for the ten or twenty turns before that, we are casing Dig Through Time, Dissolve, and Magma Jet

Maybe the best part of this deck is that it often turns what our opponent thinks is a very keepable (or even very good) game one seven card hand into a mulligan to five. Cards like Ultimate Price, Bile Blight, End Hostilities, and Crux of Fate are dead against us, while Lightning Strike, Stoke the Flames, and Hero's Downfall are barely passable. This leads to all types of strange situations; for instance our Esper Dragons opponent casting multiple Foul-Tongue Invocations into our creature-free board just to gain some life. 

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Nothing says counterburn like Mindswipe. It is literally a counterspell (Power Sink) stapled to a burn spell (a Banefire that can't hit creatures). It's obviously not all that efficient on turn three (although casting it as a Force Spike on a Courser of Kruphix or Siege Rhino is pretty sweet), but that's okay because in this deck we aren't really looking to cast Mindswipe early. Mindswipe is typically a finisher for us. 

It's important to note that the "deal X damage" part of Mindswipe resolves whether or not our opponent pays for "x", so simply leaving up a ton of mana isn't sufficient to play around the card. I've actually cast Mindswipe on uncounterable cards (like Dragonlord's Prerogative or Pearl Lake Ancient) just to get the damage.  As such, the awesome thing about Mindswipe is that it puts our opponent in a damned if you do, damned if you don't position. They either cast nothing in an attempt to avoid getting burnt out by Mindswipe (allowing us to win with our other burn spells or Keranos, God of Storms) or they play a spell into our Mindswipe and lose that way. 

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Riddle of Lightning, by its very design, is a high variance card. It's entirely possible (although unlikely) to spend five mana to deal zero damage. On the other hand, thanks to our four Dig Through Times, one [[Treasure Cruise], and one Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, it's not all that uncommon to deal eight damage at instant speed while also getting to scry away some chaff. They also chain together quite well (which would be an argument to up the count); we can cast one on your opponents end step, scry a second to the top, and cast the second copy the following turn which give us around 10 (although up to 13) damage out of nowhere, which is often enough to win the game on the spot.

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Radiant Fountain is an absolute all star in this deck; it's not all that uncommon to cast a Dig Through Time hoping and praying to find a copy. Admittedly this deck is slow. Apart from drawing a ton of burn spells, we really don't have any way of winning quickly. This means our main goal is the early game is to stabilize and survive until our powerful late game comes online. Radiant Fountain is an essential piece of this puzzle offering a low-opportunity cost way to gain life. It can be a Time Walk against mono-red and also reduces some of the pressure on our counterspells by getting us out of Lightning Strike/Stoke the Flames range. 

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Anger of the Gods is either the best or worst card in our deck depending on the matchup. Against Sidisi Whip, Den Protector/Deathmist Raptor, or Mono-Red decks, Anger of the Gods is basically a 3-CMC Plague Wind. On the other hand, against big Abzan (Courser of Kruphix builds) or Esper Dragons, it is basically a dead card. This is why we only run two in the main, although having four copies in the 75 is one of the main reasons to play this deck; it just gives us so many free wins against a large portion of the field. 


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Probably most important is suping up the mana base a bit. One of the ways I made this deck come in under budget ($100 in paper) was by cutting Shivan Reef and Temple of Epiphany for more basics and Evolving Wilds. While I think it plays fine with the current mana base (and I almost like Evolving Wilds for its ability to fuel delve), playing more duals will certainly help the deck function more consistently, especially considering that we have five colorless lands that we really want to keep in the deck. 

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This deck doesn't want Roast, it needs Roast. A resolved Siege Rhino or Courser of Kruphix is extremely problematic and we typically have to two-for-one ourselves just to get one of them off the board. I'd start by cutting both Crater's Claws and the Volcanic Visions from the sideboard and putting three Roast in their place. 

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After playing a a bunch of matches with the deck, I'm pretty sure the 4-to-1 split of Dissolve and Dissipate is just wrong. So many decks are on the Haven of the Spirit Dragon plan that having cards like Stormbreath Dragon and Dragonlord Ojutai hit the exile zone rather than the graveyard is extremely relevant at the moment, not to mention the omnipresent Deathmist Raptor. I think having five three-CMC hard counters is fine, so next time I play the deck I'll be running three Dissipates and cutting down to only two Dissolves. 

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Although I haven't tested it yet, I really like the idea of having a full set of Stormbreath Dragon in a semi-transformational sideboard. As I mentioned earlier, our opponent's removal is so dead in game one that typically most or even all of it comes out for game two. In theory, this would allows us to bring in a bunch of dragons and win a much quicker game while our opponent is trying to Duress and Negate us into oblivion. I'd start by cutting both copies of Nullify, which I've never actually sided in, the Pearl Lake Ancient because barring a resolved Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, we can typically out-control other control decks, and maybe a copy of Disdainful Stroke


Anyway, that's all for today. Make sure to leave your thoughts, ideas, and opinions in the comments. As always, you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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