Astrotog, Or: Why Spending Two Hours From Design To Tourney Is A Bad Idea

Then an idea – an evil, wretched idea – pops into my thoughts. Why not just take out red in AstroGlide, add a dash of black, and a ton of blue? I could just throw down a Slide, protect it with counterspells, draw some cards, Wrath of God, play a Psychatog, slide it out if necessary, and if I want to, Upheaval. Best of all, I could even kill on turn 6 with a decent draw.

Lately, I’ve been going through deck transitions: From Psychatog to Uzi, from Uzi to Psychatog, from Psychatog to U/G Threshold, from U/G Threshold to U/G Madness, from U/G Madness to U/G Opposition.

Then I experienced the evil that is boredom.

I was set on drudging through another trite weekend with U/G Madness (superbly teched-out with main deck Ravenous Baloths and a Quiet Speculation sideboard for the environment teeming with aggro that is Gamer’s Gathering). I went along my usual pattern: I woke up two hours before the tournament at three o’ clock, then sluggishly walked into the bathroom to take a shower.

Innocently washing and cleaning, I fall victim to thought.

I thought about playing Psychatog, but it loses to aggro – oh well. AstroGlide, so good! But everyone runs Upheaval, Counterspell, and Ray of Revelation these days; what a downer.

Then an idea – an evil, wretched idea – pops into my thoughts. Why not just take out red in AstroGlide, add a dash of black, and a ton of blue? I could run Psychatog, Upheaval, removal, card draw, Cunning Wish – and best of all, counterspells!

I could just throw down a Slide, protect it with counterspells, draw some cards, Wrath of God, play a Psychatog, slide it out if necessary, and if I want to, Upheaval. Best of all, I could even kill on turn 6 with a decent draw.

This was just all too tempting for me – and thus the deckbuilding began. I double check with my brother to make sure I could run the AstroGlide cards, as he had told me he was not running it. Okay, now I can begin construction.

I desleeved the white cards and my Psychatog deck right away, sorting through cards that possibly could find a place in the design. Eventually, I end up with only sixteen cycling cards, three Concentrates, and a beautiful mana base. Unfortunately for this beautiful mana base, it lacks certain dual-type lands – yet I am able to gather an Adarkar Wastes. As we arrive at the shop, my eyes glance at the display counter and see a Sliver Queen along with other random cards I don’t want. I noticed the price tag on it when I had glanced at the Queen, and I had to jump back in shock.

It was Forty Freaking Dollars.

“Forty Freaking Dollars for that?” I asked myself. Wow. Apparently, my brother’s complaints about prices at the shop were noticed, and the shop owner decided to”look a price up on AOL” and use it for a random card. I personally believe he just made up a ridiculous price, because there is no way any website would ever be stupid enough to sell Sliver Queen for forty dollars*. Heck, it wasn’t even foreign!

Anyway, I decided not to dwell on the insanity, so I immediately ask for the Onslaught binder. What is this? No fourth Astral Slide, no third and fourth Complicates! I desperately ask every single person in the shop twice if they have either of the cards I am in search of. Someone needs two Æther Bursts and two Krosan Reclamations; perhaps they have my needs as well. Indeed, I am able to acquire these last few cards through this simple trade, and I buy some silver Dragon Shield sleeves to start the task of sleeving a sixty-one-card main deck and a fifteen-card sideboard.

Just a second after I finish sleeving, signups are announced; I dash to the front as the third person in line, put my five Washingtons on the counter and step to the right in the Soup Nazi style, receiving a mark of ‘pd’ next to my name; I’m in. I locate a few friends and have begun chatting about random Magic topics when pairings are announced. So the show may finally begin.

Slide-A-Tog 2003, by Ryan Cimera

Engine (4)

4 Astral Slide

Creatures (3)

3 Psychatog

Search/Draw (5)

3 Concentrate

2 Cunning Wish

Counters (10)

4 Counterspell

4 Complicate

2 Circular Logic

Utility (12)

2 Upheaval

4 Wrath of God

4 Renewed Faith

2 Smother

Land (27)

3 City of Brass

1 Adarkar Wastes

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Plains

4 Polluted Delta

2 Swamp

4 Lonely Sandbar

5 Island

SB: 2 Opportunity

SB: 1 Boomerang

SB: 1 Circular Logic

SB: 4 Disenchant

SB: 1 Coffin Purge

SB: 1 Smother

SB: 1 Psychatog

SB: 4 Engineered Plague

Round 1: Tommy Luke with Sligh

Game 1: I had a decent start, though I was not able to draw into a Wrath, Astral Slide, or a Tog, and I was quickly rolled over by dorky little red men.

It’s all okay though, because after sideboard I can’t lose.

I sideboard in four Engineered Plagues, a Psychatog, and one Smother for two Circular Logics, two Cunning Wishes, an Upheaval, and a Concentrate.

Game 2: I get a turn three Plague, turn 5 Tog, and turn 6 Astral Slide. He scoops.

Game 3: I have a Smother and three Renewed Faiths, but all the turns in the world didn’t help me when my life was low as he Boils when my next card is a (much over-lethal) Psychatog. He only had a Goblin Sledder when he dealt that final point, so that Tog (along with my counter-filled hand) would have let me survive long enough to do him in. I shrug off the round 1 loss to a new deck and poor draws.

0-1-0, (1-2)

Round 2: Brandon Cimera with Graveborn Muse/Words of Worship Zombies

Game 1: He drops men, while I waste all three Togs. I forgot that I only run three, and lose via decking. This game wasted a lot of time for the match, so I try to hurry in my sideboarding.

I sideboard in a Psychatog, a Circular Logic, and a Smother for three Renewed Faith.

Game 2: He drops Withered Wretch, which I counter. He uses Unholy Grotto to get it back, I Smother it. Eventually he drops Graveborn Muse and Withered Wretch, so I Wrath. He brings the Muse back, and I drop Slide. For a long while he swings with Muse and Wretch, removes cards in my graveyard, and I Slide his men out before damage. I find an Upheaval, drop my Tog, Sliding it at end of turn, and Upheaval with exactly lethal damage.

Game 3: I get a good draw, so when I draw my Upheaval I am in great shape to win. I can’t find my Tog though, so I just keep playing draw, go, kill your men. I then get to the point where time is up, and on turn 2 I play a Tog, to which he responds to by Disenchanting my Astral Slide, then Edicting my Tog on his turn. I had no counters unfortunately, so this all just must happen. I was at eleven life, but he had nearly lethal damage, so I decided to just make sure we draw the game with an Upheaval.

I had card draw in hand, so I could have drawn into another Tog, which was only a few cards down. This game was drawn thanks to my unfamiliarity with my deck list, and my long abstention from pure control, making the game play slow down.

0-1-1, (2-3-1)

Right now, I’m doing awful, so I cheer myself up by remembering that I would play against worse players for the rest of the Swiss. Sure enough, pairings are posted, my opponent is about nine years old, and she is playing Slivers.

Round 3: Tryn McCardell with Slivers

Game 1: I drop three Togs and control the board. The only damage I take is from City of Brass, Polluted Delta, and some 3/3 Sliver that attacked twice.

Game 2: I get severely screwed, but I start mising whatever I need, be it Wrath of God, random cycling card, or Smother. Then, I don’t draw what I need, and I lose.

Game 3: I take heaps of damage from unblockable Slivers similarly to the last game, but I draw a Tog, so I win.

1-1-1, (4-4-1)

Round 4: George Williams with Turbo-Stoner

This isn’t exactly a well-known deck, so I’ll explain it to you. It runs Howling Mines, Millstones, Dreamborn Muses, counters, and Words of Worship.

Game 1: I counter everything important, drop Slide, drop Tog, Upheaval and Slide returns a Tog. He asked me how many cards in hand and in graveyard, so I handed him a large stack of cards to count, and told him I had eight cards in hand. It sure was lethal, heh.

I sideboard in four Disenchants, a Psychatog, and a Circular Logic for two Smothers and four Renewed Faiths.

Game 2: He plays a turn 2 Howling Mine, and I just counter anything important. I tap out for Wrath on his Dreamborn Muse, and then he plays another. I finally find another Wrath, and I’m low on cards. The turn before I would Upheaval, he drops Cephalid Coliseum and I lose.

Game 3: I play it smart this game, partially at least. I have few cards in library, try to Upheaval, but he wins the counter war. I then just drop a Tog, which resolves. I have few cards in library, and will deck if I can’t get rid of his Howling Mine, so I Wish for a Boomerang, and bounce it. What I don’t realize is, he has two Wall of Hopes out, and if I use my two cycling cards, I’d deck. I extend the hand, looking at the Upheaval in hand. This was on turn 3 of the extra turns, so he draws and says go, winning the game.

1-2-1, (5-6-1)

I’m really angry now, as 2-2-1 would not make it, so I just decide to play the last game for dignity. Pairings are immediately posted, and I find myself against a new face.

Round 5: Kory with U/G Madness

Game 1: He gets me low on life with random beaters, but my Wraths are too much for him, allowing me to Upheaval/Tog.

I sideboard in a Psychatog and a Smother for two Cunning Wishes.

Game 2: I destroy all of his creatures, and then he flashbacks Roar of the Wurm and drops Standstill. In response I Smother the Roar and play the waiting game. Eventually I have eighteen lands in play and decide to Upheaval/Tog with quadruple counter-backup. I won that game.

2-2-1, (7-6-1)

So the tournament is over (for me at least), and I pack up my cards.

What did I learn from all of this? Well, I learned that you should never play a deck you built two hours before the tournament while in the shower. This deck idea is a good one; you just have to build it correctly, and test it for a while. (I’m not so sure about that… – The Ferrett) The big reason I did poorly was my lack of playtesting whatsoever with the build. In addition to that, I had not played a straight control deck in a while, even if my U/G builds ran four Counterspells and two Upheavals (which, by the way, is so very good tech in type two right now).

Due to my current lack of testing, I am going to run U/G/b Opposition, almost strictly Frank Canu’s version, for the JSS in Thornton, Colorado tomorrow. Considering the whole field is U/G Madness up there, this will be a great choice (four maindeck Ravenous Baloth is very good against U/G). I would consider Slide-A-Tog for the JSS, but I would rather be assured a win, as I am not certain my current build is optimal for this tournament. For next week, tune in for my tournament report on the JSS, and perhaps some updates to Slide-A-Tog. By the way, Rocky and Bullwinkle are the best ever.

Anything you’d like to talk about is welcome at my email, and thanks for reading.

Ryan Cimera

SLManon on EFnet’s #apprentice and #mtgwacky.

* – I thought about it after the tournament, concluding with my brother that we should buy Sliver Queens on StarCity for $18.00 (the best internet price for the queen) and trade them for Tropical Islands and other cards for next week’s Type One tournament. In the end, we decided against it, because if the shop won’t trade”forty dollar” queens for Tropical Islands, we’d have wasted a lot of cash that has use for Type Two and Extended, as we don’t have any real use for any Sliver Queens. Our store’s prices really aren’t that bad, but I’ve always felt Scrye’s prices are way off, especially Scrye high. When crap rares are $3-5, you know something is fishy.