Mindbreak Trap – Midnight Hunt
Date Reviewed: October 28, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Yesterday we were talking about what happens if you make all spells uncounterable, and one possible answer is people making decks with Mindbreak Trap. In the absence of something like a storm deck or an Enduring Renewal combo, you won’t get the discount as often, but four mana does seem to be the standard going rate for counterspells with significant or universal upsides. That can definitely be worth it against the nastier uncounterable spells or things which can come back from the graveyard. In formats that do have storm (or Enduring Renewal), it’s a perpetual threat which opponents will likely keep in mind when they make decks, and though you’ll have to watch out if they start using Duress or similar effects, it will at least take the heat off your other answers and/or gameplan.
I wouldn’t sleep on this card in casual and multiplayer formats, either: if you’re in a setting where games go long, you may have mana to spare more often and/or an opponent who uses their time to set up a multiple-spell turn where you can surprise them.
Mindbreak Trap is one of the answers to “how do you stop an uncounterable spell?”, and while it doesn’t hit all of them (the split second spells still dodge this), it hits a surprising swath of cards all the same. Unlike spells like Time Stop, Mindbreak Trap is far more selective, and you can wipe out the spells you want to and still leave yours to resolve. And, of course, it being a trap spell gives it ambush potential; it’s technically able to be played in any deck, though not all decks will want this, and it’s a good way to tell a Storm player “no” when they’re trying to kill you. All the same, this isn’t the worst thing to be forced to hard cast, because exiling a spell is one of the best ways to say “no”.
Mindbreak Trap tends to be most powerful when decks are most degenerate; it sees some niche play in Modern, but its most common use is actually as a stop to decks in Legacy and Vintage that want to snowball hard. It’s a defensive tool, and it’s not a perfect tool against every deck, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to simply stop something from happening, and that’s all you need sometimes.
Constructed: 4 (probably a sideboard card in 96% of cases, but some control decks can justify this in their main board)
Limited: 3 (Zendikar Limited, this card’s sole outing, was notoriously fast-paced, and this could sometimes be a step too slow to stop the things it needed to stop)
Depending on the current meta for modern or legacy will determine whether this card is in your sideboard or not. The whole point of this card is to interact with the stack, and that’s about it…Whether it is storm copies or “counter wars” this will likely be played for free to stop your opponent’s strategy but again this really depends on the current metagame. If storm isn’t in the meta or counter heavy decks then it’s not worth running in the sideboard. I would stop a card like abrupt decay, but again do you really want to use a valuable sideboard slot for just that? I don’t think so…
Commander and constructed will depend on the meta, but that will require a lot of research to determine if this is worth it over literally anything else. I don’t see storm as being a dominant strategy for a long, long time given the current card pull and WOTC’s disdain for the storm mechanic, so this is a hard pass in almost all circumstances.
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