How They Brew It - Counter Challenge

Michael Celani • July 7, 2022

Perrie, the Pulverizer | Illustrated by Joshua Raphael

He's done a pacifist run of boxing. He holds the world record speed run on marriage. And, he's beaten rush hour traffic blindfolded. Though his recent 100% completion of  720 ILCS 5/29B in fifteen minutes and thirty-four seconds was impressive, professional gamer Stephen Hawking isn't done yet. "I still have to beat that game with that pervert," Hawking said on his Discord server, referring to the 2014 game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Since the Olympics made gaming an official sport in 2050, players across the globe have discovered a new world of challenge runs. The Olympic Committee only invites ten athletes a year to compete, so getting noticed is a huge part of the competition. The more outlandish the accomplishment, the more likely the invitation. "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it," remarked Stephen. Last year, Stephen, also known by his tag ELF FARTS, set the world record speed run for Tetris by filling the entire playing area with blocks in just 00:05.42. What's next? Only time will tell.


I Swear, This Isn't a Rejected CUT Idea

My name is Michael Celani, and you're watching Participation Trophies, the video game challenge run show my parents gave to me to make me feel better about myself. Last time, we discovered that you can beat Luigi's Mansion without Luigi. Today we'll be conquering an entirely new challenge:

Perrie, the Pulverizer demands a style of play so strange it makes Gubble look like Pac-Man. Unlike other commanders that care about how many counters you have on them, Perrie demands you have as many different kinds of counters as possible, so it's time for our new challenge run: can we build Perrie, the Pulverizer without repeating any kinds of counters?

The rules are simple:

  • Every nonland permanent must refer to some type of counter.
  • No two nonland permanents can share a counter type.

Behind the Counter

No turnabout this time, I'm afraid. Assembling a bizarre combo using unique counters without ways to manipulate them on permanents is too jank, even for me. What I can offer you, though, is a museum of some of the strangest text in all of Magic. Let's get started!

Creature Comforts

Of course, creatures have the widest range of available counter types due to a variety of creature-focused keywords, a penchant for one-off designs, and of course, being the most populous card type. Seriously, there are more creatures than any other card type by an order of magnitude, so what counters can we find here?

  • Of course, our deck's commander itself references a counter type: Perrie, the Pulverizer hosts New Capenna's shield counters and will be our primary win condition.
  • One of the tricks to building this deck was realizing that a lot of types of counters are built directly into keywords. Hexdrinker represents the level counter and is the most effective generic option for the mechanic.
  • Intrepid Adversary comes from a cycle in Midnight Hunt and buffs up our creatures with its valor counters. Your sweet spot here is either four or six mana; try not to spend too much and end up doing nothing.
  • Since Ikoria, many creatures have been printed with ability counters.
    • Kappa Tech-Wrecker is our only legal option for deathtouch counters and does a decent Reclamation Sage impression.
    • You'll usually want to cycle Splendor Mare to put a lifelink counter on Perrie.
    • No other card is more impactful with flying counters than Luminous Broodmoth. Though you'll have to see a creature die before you get the counter's benefit, the Moth's effect makes up for it as it literally grants your creatures a second wind.
    • Slippery Bogbonder can consolidate a lot of counters onto Perrie, and then grant him significant protection with its hexproof counter.
    • Avenging Huntbonder's the only legal card we can play that mentions double strike counters, which are obviously powerful when put on the Rhino.
    • And though not a creature, most of the remaining ability counters are wrapped up in Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's +1 ability, namely vigilance, reach, and trample counters.
  • Ludevic's Test Subject will usually just come down and give you a counter type buff; it's unwieldy to get to five hatchling counters, and your reward is a mildly annoying beater.
  • Sensei Golden-Tail is another cheap way to get a unique counter type, even though its training counter technically does nothing. You can stack activations on a single target to give it multiple instances of Bushido 1 if you're feeling voltronic.
  • Spore counters are one of the more fleshed-out types, but unfortunately we don't have the luxury of the Saproling deck synergies to play with here. Spore Flower was my final pick for this category, because fogging combat damage felt like the most useful effect, especially compared to making single tokens.
  • Thing in the Ice is our discount Cyclonic Rift, as long as we can melt the ice counters it comes with.
    • The 0/4 defender is much more useful to you than the do-nothing land Dark Depths would have been, anyway.
  • Wall of Roots mentions -0/-1 counters, which is your punishment for daring to make mana with it. It's also weird enough and in-the-precon-enough to be an easy inclusion.
  • Another common mechanic in Commander is Cumulative upkeep, where you have to pay a cost for each age counter on a permanent. Wall of Shards is our card of choice, because it's the only card we can reliably pay the cost for over many turns.
  • Aven Mimeomancer is the only card referencing feather counters that isn't specifically Bird-tribal-related. It's also a good way to get Perrie through crowds of blockers.
  • Of course, there's the most common counter: the +1/+1 counter. This spot has tons of competition, and with only one spot available, I decided on the most universally useful card I could think of: Chasm Skulker. Not only does it grow without needing anything other than to draw cards, it dies into a shower of Squid tokens that will keep you blocking for days.
  • Faithbound Judge has a behemoth of a stat line for just three mana, and both it and its transformed side rely on judgment counters for powerful effects. If you can ramp into the Disturb cost early, you can quickly take out a player without a lot of artifact and enchantment removal.
  • Yisan, the Wanderer Bard can steadily build up verse counters to fetch any creature in the deck.
  • Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle is basically a ramp spell that can turn into a huge beater if you remove all its slumber counters. You don't have to remove the counters when you cast spells, in case you find the buff Perrie gets to be more useful.
  • Cards with Vanishing use time counters, and since they generally put a clock on the permanents they're involved with, the only card we could play that can consistently benefit Perrie is Chronozoa.
  • You'd have a better chance winning an actual election than winning with Azor's Elocutors' filibuster counters, but they do come back each upkeep and might even prompt an opponent to waste some removal.
  • Djinn of Wishes is likely the best representation of wish counters (as Ring of Three Wishes is far too expensive), and who knows? You might just hit something valuable.
  • Arbiter of the Ideal ideally cheats a fat creature into play using a manifestation counter, but even if you only get a land that's still significant value each turn.
  • Liege of the Tangle turns those extra lands into huge beaters when it connects, and since Perrie will almost certainly be granting +5/+5 by this point, you'll soon end up with an army of Elementals with awakening counters at your back. Just be wary of board wipes.
  • Finally for creatures, we obviously need a big Myojin to represent divinity counters. Myojin of Seeing Winds will probably draw us around ten cards, and even if our hands are flush, we're still able to keep an indestructible 3/3 around as a blocker.

Artifacts Don't Care About Your Feelings

No Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, or even Lightning Greaves for us; they don't have any counters! What artifacts can we count on to help us in this deck?

  • First, the big one: charge counters. There are so many different artifacts and effects that deal with charge counters, you can build entire decks around them. Without the underlying synergy, though, we're forced to look for the most applicable single charge counter card, which I believe is Gavel of the Righteous. It grants Perrie, the Pulverizer some additional power, double strike, and you can even equip it for free if you remove a counter from it.
    • Note that the Gavel refers to counters, not specifically charge counters. If you've used Nesting Grounds to move something else onto the Gavel, that's fair game for all its abilities.
  • Keep a pesky creature out of combat by removing gem counters from Briber's Purse. If you need it immediately, make sure you leave one mana up to activate it; it's not free to spend money.
  • Investigator's Journal and Tome of Legends both keep your hand flush when you spend their suspect counters and page counters, respectively.
    • You don't need to worry about having a page counter on Tome of Legends before attacking: if you attack with Perrie, you can stack the triggers so that the Tome gets its page counter first.
  • Midnight Clock is also effective at refilling your hand if you allow it to build up twelve hour counters, and it even acts as a mana rock until that point.
  • There's a couple options for brick counters, but we'll use it for impulsive draw. Oracle's Vault eventually allows you to play cards from the top of your library for free each turn, which is much stronger than any of the other options open to us.
  • For our mana rocks, Noble's Purse is the only legal card in our color identity with coin counters, which is a shame, because there's probably some jank infinite nonsense using it alongside Athreos, Shroud-Veiled. Either way, you can treat this as a discount Arcane Signet.
    • Treasure Map is a useful combo with this, since once it gets three landmark counters it can start sacrificing those Treasures for extra card draw.
  • Component Pouch is essentially Coalition Relic, but it relies on component counters instead of the overcrowded charge counter slot. If you get lucky, you might even come out ahead on tempo.
  • Replicating Ring will almost never flip into eight Replicated Rings, but the night counters turn this Manalith into a Manalith with upside for our commander.
  • Strixhaven Stadium might just steal a win away from a strong player if you've got enough point counters. Make a deal to swing a few weak creatures at another opponent and get through with Perrie to deal the final blow to your true target.
  • On the removal side, Oblivion Stone and Fraying Line knock out all but a few creatures with their fate counters and rope counters. Since you really only care about Perrie getting in for damage, it's more effective than most board wipes for our strategy.
  • Eye of Doom can be spooky if someone chooses to place a doom counter on your commander, so it's best to play this from behind to hamstring someone about to run away with the game.
  • Finally, you might not have expected to see -1/-1 counters in the artifacts section, but they're also accompanied by arrowhead counters thanks to Serrated Arrows. It's mostly a buff for Perri, but it's also a Rod of Ruin in a pinch.

Enchantment Under The Sea Dance

Only one category of permanents left to go: enchantments. Enchantments don't deal with strange counter types to the same extent as artifacts and creatures, but there's still a few choice inclusions worth mentioning:

  • There's no way we're winning by putting one hundred tower counters on Helix Pinnacle, but the idea that you might could be enough to force an opponent to waste a Tranquility effect.
  • Even though more popular Auras like Lignify and Imprisoned in the Moon are better for soft removal, Heliod's Punishment is one of the rare few that uses counters to do it. It puts task counters on itself, meaning you get a Perrie buff while your opponent loses their commander for a few turns.
  • Luminarch Ascension is the clear winner for quest counters, and if you get it out early enough, you'll have Angels for days.
  • Since we're drawing a lot of cards thanks to our artifacts, it shouldn't be too unreasonable to reach eight foreshadow counters on Ominous Seas.
    • Similar is Hoofprints of the Stag, a card that uses hoofprint counters instead of foreshadow counters. Be wary of the activation cost.
  • Though it looks like Wedding Announcement has a finite lifespan, transforming it won't remove the invitation counters you've amassed getting to that point.
  • Bounty of the Luxa's flood counters play like the tides: on the first turn, you draw a card, and on the second you get the mana to hopefully play what you drew.
  • There's only thirteen legal cards with Fading, a mechanic similar to Vanishing that uses fade counters to put a limited lifespan on a permanent. The vast majority of these are trash creatures, but Parallax Wave gets rid of five threats for a turn cycle or one threat for four turn cycles.
  • And of course, what charge counters are to artifacts, lore counters are to enchantments. We have tons of Sagas to choose from, but I think the most generally applicable to any deck is Elspeth Conquers Death, which is removal, tax, and animation all in one.

Bean Counters

That's right, this deck has over fifty unique types of counters. Will it win? Probably not. But challenges are all about doing things because you can, not because you should. Tune in next week, where every time I take a point of damage, I take an electric shock. See you then!


Counter Challenge (Perrie, the Pulverizer EDH)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://discord.gg/xWWqD2G8Fj and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.