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January 2, 2019

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Daily Dose of Ravnica Allegiance – Ranking Standard Counter Spells

Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Ravnica Allegiance. We are in to our second week of previews I want to talk about one card and one card only today. It is a counterspell that could bring Control decks to the forefront. In the beginning there was the simple Counterspell, which did just that, counter a spell, any spell. This was deemed too powerful, so since that time, they have come up with plenty of 3 mana counterspells that provided you a little something extra for the extra mana you need to spend. Counterflux helped you end the counterspell war. Disallow allowed to also counter and activated or triggered ability. Dissipate allowed you to exile the spell you were countering. Most recently we have seen Ionize which dealt 2 damage to that spell’s controller. All are great, but this reprint could be one of the best.

Let’s have a look at this Azorius reprint, here is Absorb.

This counterspell allows you to counter any spell, while also giving you the very important matter of 3 life. How important is that 3 life, I’ll tell you about it in a bit. I believe that this is the counterspell that control decks have been waiting for in the format. Here are the current options for countering spells in the Standard format.

Situational Counter Spells

Bone to Ash, Essence Scatter, Hornswoggle, Lookout’s Dispersal, Negate, Spell Pierce, Syncopate, Unwind, Disdainful Stroke

Hard Counter Spells

Admiral’s Order, Cancel, Devious Cover-Up, Ionize, Sinister Sabotage, Spell Swindle, Wizard’s Retort.

There are a lot of options currently for counter spells in Standard. When it comes to situational counter spells, some are better than others. If its creatures you are worried about, Essence Scatter is the best in the lot. When it comes to noncreature spells, there are two that stand out, Negate and Spell Pierce. Both have their places and is dependant on the type of deck you are playing. Negate can hit more targets and more often, but Spell Pierce is a sneaky unexpected counter spell that your opponent most often will not play around.

When it comes to hard counter spells there are only 3 that see any play at all. Sinister Sabotage and Ionize seem to be the go-to in Jeskai Control decks although I prefer Sinister Sabotage myself. I find that the Surveil 1 is much more important for card selection than doing 2 damage to my opponent. Wizard’s Retort can be seen in Mono-Blue Tempo decks most often as a two mana counterspell.

The question is, where does Absorb fit into all of this? I think that it should replace any of the hard-counter spells you decide to play in your Control decks. Here is why. Control decks are all about outlasting your opponent until you can take over the game with the value cards in your deck. In the case of Ionize vs Absorb, the 3 life you gain from Absorb is much more valuable than the 2 damage you will deal with Ionize. In the case of Absorb vs. Sinister Sabotage, right now decks that play Sinister Sabotage will often also play Revitalize to be able to gain some life throughout the game to be able to turn the corner against aggressive decks. Now you will be able to save a slot in your deck for something other than Revitalize by playing Absorb. You will get the counter spell you need plus the 3 life you want to gain.

As you can see, Absorb makes a strong point for being the best counterspell in Standard right now. Any Blue/White or Jeskai control deck should be playing this in the coming months. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Ravnica Allegiance. Join me again tomorrow as I look at some more cards from the new set!