Avoid the Scurvy Psychatogs – Pirates! In The New Extended… and PT: New Orleans?

This deck is much better than you think. My testing for New Orleans saw this deck perform insanely well against Psychatog, and pretty well against both versions of the Goblin Charbelcher deck (Mana Severance and Goblin Recruiter). It suffered against Red Deck Wins, which I didn’t expect to see in huge numbers, and The Rock gave it a tight game with its early disruption.

So, that’s the good stuff. Now, onto the bad stuff. The deck loses to Tinker. Very, very badly. Bye now!

Wait a minute… Tinker has been banned, you say? Well, sing hosannas!


Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

The scourge of the seven seas!

Insert your own witty”Pirates of the Caribbean” reference here (I’ve not seen it, sadly).

Yes, I played a pirates-based deck at PT: New Orleans. I did better than I expected, but not as well as I hoped.

But enough of my yackin’! Decklist ahoy!

Mono-Blue Land Destruction (U-LD):

4 Hoodwink

4 Boomerang

4 Parallax Tide

3 Ankh of Mishra

2 Gilded Drake

3 Seal of Removal

2 Counterspell

2 Capsize

2 Morphling

2 Stifle

2 Isochron Scepter

4 Rishadan Cutpurse

3 Rishadan Footpad

10 Island

1 Faerie Conclave

3 Dust Bowl

4 Rishadan Port

4 Wasteland


4 Powder Keg

4 Chill

4 Propaganda

3 Energy Flux

Ok, I’ve got rid of the”Christ-on-a-bike, what a bad deck” crowd. For the rest of you, here is the rather obvious drill:

Turn 1 you make a land.

Turn 2 you bounce a land with a spell.

Turn 3 you bounce/destroy something with a spell or a guy.

Turn 4, you make a Parallax Tide and fade out some things, or you make an Isochron Scepter and bounce a land.

Turn 5, you make an Ankh of Mishra.

Turn 6, you make a Morphling.

Turn 7, you shuffle up for game 2.

My God, it’s fun. The best part is watching your opponent simmer to a rage, emitting swearwords only known to sailors and pikeys.

Now I’ll tell you the good stuff, and the bad stuff.

The good stuff is that this deck is much better than you think. My testing for New Orleans saw this deck perform insanely well against Psychatog, and pretty well against both versions of the Goblin Charbelcher deck (Mana Severance and Goblin Recruiter). It suffered against Red Deck Wins, which I didn’t expect to see in huge numbers, and The Rock gave it a tight game with its early disruption.

Here are some stats. Everybody loves stats.

U-LD v Blue-based Charbelcher: 60-40 pre and post board.

If you’re playing first, you are the favorite. Bounce their early mana and they suffer: they have a problem doing anything. Without Voltaic Keys, their Grim Monoliths become a one-shot deal; it’s unlikely they’ll hit four mana to untap them. Of course, they can simply explode, but a cheeky Counterspell often spoils their plans. And Stifling the Belcher (then bouncing it at end of turn, untapping and casting Parallax Tide) will probably get you stabbed.

Going second, it’s a little closer, but the same principles apply. Combo decks do not like disruption, be it in the form of hand or mana tampering. Mess with their math and their mind. My best advice is to win as quickly as you can, because this deck can go off in a flash if unchecked. Try getting multiple Ankhs of Mishra on the board, and remember that you can bounce your own Parallax Tide to re-cast, if necessary.

U-LD v Red-based Charbelcher: 50-50 pre-board, 75-25 post-board.

The first game against this deck usually progresses along one of two lines.

If the Red mage across the table stays loyal to his honorable soul, he’ll attempt to beat down with the little guys. Bouncing a land in this situation seems pretty weak, and don’t get me started on the ugliness of the mighty Goblin Piledriver.

However, if the Red mage across the table decides to get”all fancy,” casting Charbelchers and Recruiters in an attempt to combo you out, then you have a good chance for the win. Bounce their mana, Counter their Charbelcher and slap down a quick Parallax Tide. Once this hits, you’ve a chance to get Superman on the table and have him do the old Krypton Shuffle. It all depends on the cards flopping where they may… the beatdown draw is tough to beat.

Now, games two and three are nothing but fun. Out come the Pirates and the Stifles. In come the Chills and the Propagandas. There’s even the option of Powder Keg for the weak among you who’d like some mass removal…

Drop Chills as quickly as possible. My favourite play is casting Chill after the Red mage Recruits his entire team to the top of his deck. Keeping the mana low will mean he’ll hardly cast another spell, and you both know that his precious mountains (and Charbelchers) won’t be arriving for quite some time.

Again, try and limit the mana to below four. Without a Propaganda (or Powder Keg if you’ve no balls), Piledrivers can still cause a problem. But see a Chill and a Propaganda, or multiples of each, and you’ll win like Flynn.

In conclusion: Game one is tight, but games two and three are good gravy.

U-LD v Psychatog: 90-10 pre and post board.






There’s too much that needs countering.

The Tog player needs land, which almost all your spells deny.

The Tog player wins with a single creature, which most of your spells can bounce.

The Tog player casts Upheaval, so you float bounce mana. This bounce needs countering once the Tog hits the floor. Then you lay a land and cast a Seal of Removal. Any deck that needs to use a Counterspell on a Seal of Friggin’ Removal cannot win this matchup.

You can even Stifle their fetchlands! I mean, come on!

I’ve lost games to Tog, mostly through manascrew, but I’ve never lost a match to Tog. Not in testing, not in a tournament.

You may scoff at everything I’ve written about U-LD so far, but I urge you to build it and throw it against Dr. Teeth.

You’ll have fun, and you’ll believe.

So, that’s the good stuff. Now, onto the bad stuff.

The deck loses to Tinker.

Very, very badly.

Bye then!

Craig Stevenson

Team Leeds

Scouseboy on MTGO

[email protected]







Wait a minute… Tinker has been banned, you say? Well, sing hosannas!

I’ll get to why I played this deck at the Tinker Tour in the Report section of the article. All I’ll say now is that any deck with Voltaic Keys, Metalworkers and Grim Monoliths will create far too much mana for this deck to deal with. Energy Flux from the board is a passable solution, but a little slow.

I’m now officially bored of writing about testing matchups and win percentiles. Onto the report!

I know that some people dislike reading tournament reports.

To them I say”pish” and, if pushed,”tish.”

I love reading tournament reports. They remind me that there is more to this game than, well, a game.

Still, for those fickle fools who forgo such fantastical fables of frippery, I’ll insert a cut here. When you read the word”how…” in letters of fire a mile wide, simply scroll down to the corresponding”…luuuucky!”

And so…

How… [This would be the previously mentioned letters of fire section… Ferrett and I are still working on that specific font style. – Knut]

“Play this deck,” my teammate said.”I bet you won’t.”

“I bet I will,” I said.

And I did.

I did a fair amount of testing for New Orleans. For the scientific amongst you,”fair” ranks above”none” and below”enough.” I was a member of the English newsgroup dedicated to the qualified and the talented, my membership decided by passing the first test if not the second. As PT-Day approached, we had defined the metagame pretty successfully, with most of our players plumping for a Charbelcher deck.

Everyone on the newsgroup thought that U-LD was rubbish.

I knew different.

The deck was a version of an old Type 2 deck designed by Team Leeds, namely Craig Smith (who is not me on Magic Online) and Matt Harper. I did all my real-life testing with these guys. Craig Smith played the Rock against me ad infinitum, and Matt Harper played almost everything else. He played Red decks, Charbelcher decks, Oath decks, Tog, U/G, W/W, and U-LD. And U-LD was looking pretty strong against everything. With the element of surprise thrown in, the rogue pirate-bounce was looking more and more tempting.

Yes, we didn’t test against Tinker.

I know, I know…

Why didn’t we test against Tinker?

I’m unsure. A few reasons, I think.

Firstly, our resident Tinker player, one Mike Major (team and housemate), no longer leaves his room. I think he’s agoraphobic. It’s all very”Willy Wonka” – nobody ever goes in, nobody ever comes out. And I keep catching glimpses of Oompah Loompahs when I pass his window.

Secondly, the Tinker decklist seemed to evolve at a horrendous rate, and we simply didn’t have the energy to keep up.

Thirdly, I didn’t think Tinker would be that popular, and thus I just couldn’t be bothered. This is perhaps the most important of the reasons, and definitely the most stupid.

“Tinker got a similar manabase to the Severance/Belcher deck,” so the reasoning went.”It shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”

The first game I played against Tinker was the night before the Main Event, against John Larkin. He repeatedly smashed me, his cheeky Irish grin never faltering as my skull bounced off the concrete time and time again.

“John’s an excellent player,” I told myself.”Nothing too alarming.”

I threw a few Energy Fluxes into my sideboard, and slept.

The next day, Magic.

Round One: Joshua X Claytor. Psychatog.

I’d not met Joshua before, but naturally I’d read all about him at Star City. He was cool, taller than I expected, and perhaps the most Canadian person this Englishman has ever met. [Which is funny, since Josh is the most Kentucky person I’ve ever met, and I grew up in Indiana. – Knut] He’d managed to grind into the Pro Tour the previous night, and therefore was on something of a hot streak.

Unluckily for him, he was playing Tog.

See above for the analysis of his chances against U-LD.

The first game, and the guy was manascrewed. I didn’t really want to tell you that, as now you’ll disbelieve me when I say that this matchup is a horrendous bumming. Still, Poor Joshua failed to draw a fourth land. To be fair, my draw was pretty savage, with Rishadan Ports tapping his mana and an early Isochron Scepter (imprinting Boomerang). If Josh had seen his 4th land, he still wouldn’t have more than three on the board in any given turn.

I dealt sixteen points of damage with a Rishadan Cutpurse in this game, proving conclusively that I Am The Beatdown!

The second game was much more fun, as we both cast spells. I applied some early pressure with my trademarked Bad Guy Beats, but Josh managed to stabilize with some removal and a Psychatog (over which there was a mini counter-war). Josh sat at five life and had about eight land in play, but only two Blue untapped. At the end of his turn, I ported an Island. This left me free to drop a Morphling and a Seal of Removal in my own turn, ensuring that little more than an Upheaval from Josh would prevent Superman flying for the win the turn he became active. Josh untapped, drew, cast Upheaval and laid down the Tog.

For reference, the following segment is why U-LD does so damn well against Psychatog.

Josh: Upheaval, land, Tog, go.

Me: Land, Seal of Removal, go.

Josh: Land, swing. Remove some cards from the graveyard. I bounce the Tog with the Seal, go.

Me: Land, go.

Josh: Land, Tog, go.

Me: Land, Gilded Drake, stealing the Tog. Seal of Removal, go.

Josh: Land, go.

Me: Land, bounce the Drake with the Seal, swing for the win with Tog.

The word is… Savage.

Josh was a nice guy, and consoled by the fact that no one else in the tournament would be playing U-LD.

Going rogue is definitely en vogue.

Record: 1-0

Round Two: Andrea Paselli. Tinker.

Andrea was a good fella, I think. I can’t remember, because my brain is still bleeding from the beating I suffered.

This was the match in which I realized that, while U-LD was perfect against Tog, it was ugly against Tinker

Anti-perfection in purple sleeves.

Below are conversational examples of this match:

Me:”Turn three, I cast Rishadan Cutpurse! Sac a permanent unless you pay One Mana! How’d ya like them onions, Sparky?”

Andrea: <looking down at his 500 open mana>“Pay one.”

Me: <crestfallen> “It’s your turn.”

Me:”Land, Boomerang your Seat of the Synod. Go”

Andrea:”Land, Monolith, Monolith, Key, Key, Dynamo, Upheaval floating two hundred, Monolith, Monolith, Key, Key, Dynamo, Metalworker, Incubator for thirty, Processor for ten, Masticore, Bosh, Crumbling Sanctuary, Draco, Karn, Millstone, Aladdin’s Ring, Tribal Golem, Tower of Murmurs, Barbed Sextant, go.”

Me:”Um… Land, Seal of Removal?”

I remember misplaying a Stifle in this game, allowing a Mindslaver to have a shot at me. I ended up Dust Bowling my own Rishadan Port before being swept beneath a wave of freshly Incubated Myr.

Aside to Tinker Players: If you’re going to win a match, do it with some friggin’ style. Kill me with a Bosh, Iron Golem, or a Lightning Greavesed Platinum Angel. Not with a Myr Incubator, for Maro’s sake! Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts… it all seems so, well…”petty.”

I’d like to think you Tinker players are nice people, but let’s face it: the facts don’t back me up.

So game two arrives, and I board in my Energy Fluxes. We shuffle. I choose to play.

I keep a two-land, bounce spells and Energy Flux hand.

Do I see a third land?


Record: 1-1

Round Three: Osamu Fujita. The Tinker Tendrils Twiddle thing

I’m faced with a Japanese opponent, whose grasp of English is somewhat limited. I shouldn’t complain, to be fair: despite visiting Japan on two occasions, my Japanese consists of the single phrase,”Hello, my name is Craig. I have morning wood.”

This has got me out of trouble a few times, and into trouble more than once.

On the same table, at 1-1, sat Kai Budde. He’s pretty good at Magic, all things considered. He said hello, and congratulated me on a recent article. I asked him if he minded that I mention him in every article I write. He told me he didn’t, as long as it never led to blackmail. Well, I can’t promise that, but here is a poem especially for him, and a handy guide to remembering the correct pronunciation of his surname.

His first name is Kai.

His second name is Budde.

On the farm, he can’t distinguish

One cow from the udder.

(Tip your waitress, folks. I’m here all week.)

Osamu won the toss and elected to play. Here is what happened in our first game:

Osamu: Saprazzan Skerry, go.

Me: Island, go.

Osamu. Untap, draw, Win.

Osamu cast some spells in order to win the game. They involved Twiddle, Tinker, and Meditate. They culminated with a Tendrils of Agony, stormed nine times, with mana to spare.

That’s about all I can tell you, I’m afraid. I was spellbound.

Hey, I make Goblins and swing for two: what did you expect? If you want detailed analysis of complicated decks, go read your Zvi.

The spell resolved, and I scooped up my cards.

Theoretically, anyway. It’s difficult to scoop up a single Island.

As I was doing this, Kai looked across.

“Turn two kill?” he asked.

“Yeah, I got smashed,” I replied.

“Me too,” he said with a smile, motioning to his grinning opponent.

As I pile-shuffled my deck for the second game, I began to think if there was anything I could have done with my single wetland. Force-spike was useless, obviously. Stifle, however…

And then I thought:

Did I have a Stifle in hand when Osamu cast the Tendrils?

I’ve thought about this a LOT since, and I’m still unsure.

I’ve concluded that even if I did have the Stifle in hand, I did not have the Stifle in hand.

I didn’t have the Stifle.

I didn’t.

Game two, yadda yadda yadda. I come out well, bouncing early land. Turn four, I drop a Parallax Tide, removing all my opponent’s land. Osamu, with his two untapped Grim Monoliths, took his turn and won. It had something to do with Mind’s Desire. It was probably great.

Kai won his match 2-1.

Record: 1-2

Round Four: Matt Linde. Psychatog.

When I started playing this game, about four years ago, I was rubbish. Some may argue that I still am, and they’ll hear little argument from me. One of the first things I bought was a copy of Matt Linde’s gold-bordered 1999 World Championship Deck, with which he reached the semi-final. At the time, I was enjoying beating down with creatures, and had never played a competitive match. I had no knowledge of the DCI or tournaments, and was getting ritually spanked in every multiplayer game I took part in.

I still have the deck. It’s in front of me.

Each of these decks contained a gold-bordered biography of the player in question. Here’s what it says on Matt’s card:

“Semi-finalist Matt Linde is no stranger to high-level Magic competition. The 18-year-old Maryland native was the U.S. National Champion. Linde played a very fast mono-Green”Stompy” deck with 26 creatures- 24 of which cost 2 or less mana to play. Supplementing this furious creature assault were four Rancors and four Giant Growths. Though the deck was designed to win by turn 5, it did feature four Cursed Scrolls in case the game dragged on.”

So, going into this match, I had a distinct advantage. I knew far more about Matt than he knew about me…

Matt was cool.

He was playing Tog.

I won.

Game one, Matt attempted to sac two Flooded Strands at the end of my fourth turn, presumably to make the four land needed for an end-of-turn Fact or Fiction. I Stifled them both, and Matt couldn’t recover.

The second game I lose, after seeing four land all game and not drawing a Parallax Tide.

Third game, going first, I bounced land after land after land, setting up an Isochron Scepter (imprinting Hoodwink) and dropping both Parallax Tide and Ankh of Mishra the turn after. Matt scooped.

Tog simply cannot win. If Tog is big in your area, this deck will own everyone.

Record: 2-2

Round 5: Antonino De Rosa. Tinker.

Not Tinker again

Where were the Charbelcher decks? Where were the Goblin decks? Oh yeah, they’d won their earlier rounds. Silly me.

Antonino was a friendly guy with an arrogant streak of trash-talk though him. As someone once sang,”He Got Game.” After I fell to the usual Myr Incubator on turn three or four, we shuffled up for the second.

“Why are you playing such a bad deck?” he asked. He sounded genuinely concerned.

“It’s fun,” I replied, bristling a little.

“Don’t you want to win?” he asked. I stared across the table.

“Apparently not,” I said.

I wanted to win the second game with all my heart. And it was soooo close.

I came out of the blocks like lightning, bouncing land and dropping Ankhs. Antonino didn’t have a stellar start, and I managed to lay down the beats with a 2/2 pirate. Land came down, and life dropped. Antonino cast Stoke of Genius, targeting himself, looking for an answer. He found an Upheaval, and re-set the board at one life. We both had no permanents. My”first turn” drop was an Island. Antonino did the Tinker thang and spilled his guts. After that, I couldn’t recover.

So, another 2-0 loss. Man, this deck has trouble with Tinker.

NB: after the game, Antonino relaxed a lot. He became much more personable. Whenever he bumped into me throughout the day, he’d enquire of my progress with a friendly grin. And his question, his”Don’t you want to win” comment, made me think. It has inspired an article, coming soon. For that, I thank him.

Record: 2-3

Round Six: Eduardo E Moreno. Red Deck Wins variant.

As I expected, I had a lot of trouble game one. Jackal Pups and Blistering Firecats brought on the beats with alarming speed. I didn’t worry. I had good times in the sideboard.

Game two, in came the Chills, the Propagandas and the Powder Kegs.

Out went the Rishadan guys, the Morphlings and a few one-ofs.

My way to win: Parallax Tide and Ankh of Mishra. Maybe a Faerie Conclave, with a little luck.

Game two was strange. I dropped an early Chill, followed by a Propaganda, and then managed to slap down both of my Isochron Scepters (imprinting Hoodwink and Boomerang). I then proceeded to no-permanent my opponent, and sat back waiting to draw a win condition.


After a few turns, I realised that all my remaining win conditions needed my opponent to actually lay permanents. If there were no lands to fade out, there were no lands to cause damage with the Ankh. And going first, I would deck myself quicker than my opponent. I did have a Faerie Conclave in the deck, but if was sat in the bottom ten cards of my deck, I could not win.

So, I grinned at Eduardo, and feigned exasperation whenever I drew a card. Soon, my body language told him, I’d draw a win condition. Nobody boards them all out, after all.

Eduardo did the right thing, and scooped. I breathed a sigh of relief.

For game three, in came the Morphlings. And, predictably, a Morphling won me the game.

Well, that and the turn two and turn three Chill, backed with turn four Propaganda and turn five Parallax Tide.

Record: 3-3

With two rounds to play, I needed to win them both to make day 2. Although I felt confident, I gave myself my customary speech, the words I use every time I need to win out.

Just win the next match, I told myself. That’ll mean I’ll have a single match for a spot in day two. And I can’t argue with that.

Round Seven: Chris Piekarski. Tinker.

F**king Tinker!

Chris’s first turn saw Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key, Metalworker.

I was Apoc, over the corpse of her fallen comrade, the cord about to be pulled. I looked at my opponent.

Not like this, I thought as I died.

Game two saw me falling to mana issues and Myr.

Record: 3-4

So there we are. I came close, but not close enough.

I won my final round, by the way. Against a Japanese opponent, name of Hiroyuki Mochizuki. He played Severence/Charbelcher. Game one, I managed to use my Gilded Drake on two early Metalworkers, and I could use their ability with the two Ankhs in my hand. Game two I had locked up until I walked into a Gainsay, giving Hiroyuki time to untap and belch me out. Game three, early bounce, early Tide, early Ankh, early win.

It didn’t matter, naturally, but I felt a little better.

Overall, I finished 4-4. I was disappointed, but that soon passed. After all, it was sunny, and I was in New Orleans…

I left the building, and partied.


To conclude, I’ll look at how U-LD should fare with the metagame when the bannings take effect. So:

Tog will be big: U-LD wrecks Tog.

Red Deck Wins and Goblins will be big: U-LD wins games two and three against such decks. Although I hate giving speedy Red a free win, there is so much love coming in from the board that I feel comfortable.

U/G Madness will be big: U-LD does quite well against U/G, especially after boarding. Propaganda spells good times, and Damping Matrix may also be worth playing. Bouncing Wurm Tokens, stealing Mongrels… what’s not to like?

The Rock will be big: here we hit a problem. In the current metagame, The Rock generally runs four Birds of Paradise, four Llanowar Elf. This version is tricky to beat. Not impossible, mind, just… tricky. However, when the metagame shifts, and the beatdown returns, the Rock may return to its heavy Wall version, with both Blossoms and Mulch replacing the Birds and Elves. This matchup is closer. Not an auto-win, but… closer.

I think that U-LD will be a viable choice in the New Year. Hell, I think it’s a viable choice now, with a little spit and polish.

Next time, an article on why I play this crazy game. And the story of the most bizarre PTQ you’ll ever hear.

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson

Team Leeds

Scouseboy on MTGO

[email protected]