Double Or Nothing: Psychatog In OBC

Of the many Tog decks that were played at Osaka, there seemed to be three distinct variants – but can we recreate Zevatog in a block environment?

Well, after a brief foray back into Standard, I’m back looking at OBC. After playing Psychatog for the last couple of months, and qualifying for the English Nationals with it, Team Diaspora’s leader (the Ferrett) decided I should have a look at Tog in OBC. Is it any good? Are there any cards in Judgement that help, or hinder it? Is there anything really obvious missing?

My first port of call was the top 64 decks from Osaka. Wizards listed all of the decks from Osaka, and it’s been very helpful for all of us looking at the OBC metagame for the first time.

Thirty-five players showed up on the first day playing Psychatog – and of those players, ten made it into the top 64. At the start of day one, Tog decks made up 12.7% of the field, but eventually made up 15.6% of the top 64. That means that if you played Tog well, you had a better than average chance of making it into the top 64. This said, only one Tog deck made it into the top eight (12.5% of the top 8), so the deck seemed to have performed averagely against the field.

Of the many Tog decks that were played, there seemed to be three distinct variants. I’ve listed all three below for convenience.

Osyp Lebedowitz (7th place)

Creatures (6):

4x Psychatog

2x Shadowmage Infiltrator

Other Spells (31):

4x Aether Burst

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Circular Logic

4x Peek

4x Concentrate

2x Obsessive Search

4x Predict

3x Syncopate

2x Upheaval

Land (23):

12x Island

4x Darkwater Catacombs

7x Swamp

Sideboard (15):

3x Ghastly Demise

2x Gloomdrifter

2x Innocent Blood

3x Skeletal Scrying

1x Upheaval

4x Zombie Infestation

This Tog deck seems heavily based on Ryan Fuller’s Masters-winning Tog deck. It was the most popular Tog deck in the top 64, also played by Brian Davis (18th), Eugene Harvey (50th), Michael Turian (47th), and Nicolai Wolkoff (46th). As you can see, the deck suffers when compared to its Standard brothers and sisters with the lack of Underground River and Salt Marsh to help with its mana, and Fact or Fiction. Concentrate gives you just about the same number of cards as a Fact or Fiction would, but doesn’t dig as deep, and you have to cast it in your main phase!

Frank Karsten (42nd)

Creatures (15):

4x Psychatog

4x Faceless Butcher

3x Mesmeric Fiend

4x Shadowmage Infiltrator

Other Spells (21):

4x Aether Burst

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Circular Logic

4x Concentrate

3x Syncopate

2x Compulsion

Land (24):

10x Island

10x Swamp

4x Darkwater Catacombs

Sideboard (15):

2x Compulsion

4x Ghastly Demise

3x Rancid Earth

3x Zombie Infestation

3x Upheaval

Frank’s version is very different from Osyp’s, mainly losing the cantrips to play Butchers, Fiends, and more Finkels. Butchers and Fiends give the deck more disruption against the Monogreen and Green/Blue decks out there. The deck has the same number of counters, but more library manipulation in the form of Compulsion. Jelger Wiegersman (62nd) and Arjan van Leeuwen (61st) played the same deck in the top 64.

Ben Rubin (21st)

Creatures (7):

3x Cephalid Looter

4x Psychatog

Other Spells (28):

4x Compulsion

4x Circular Logic

4x Fiery Temper

4x Violent Eruption

4x Aether Burst

2x Shadowblood Egg

3x Chainer’s Edict

1x Shower of Coals

2x Upheaval

Land (25):

10x Island

7x Swamp

4x Darkwater Catacombs

4x Shadowblood Ridge

Sideboard (15):

1x Upheaval

2x Skeletal Scrying

1x Haunting Echoes

2x Flaming Gambit

2x Divert

2x Deep Analysis

1x Chainer’s Edict

2x Aura Graft

2x Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

Ben’s deck is the most original of all the Tog decks, splashing red to give him targeted removal against the Green armies he was obviously expecting. The only Tog deck to play four Compulsions in the top 64, Ben decided not to play Concentrate or Deep Analysis or anything else – presumably hoping he’ll always be discarding red madness spells to his Compulsions.

The scariest thing about Ben’s deck is the choice to run only four counterspells. I guess Ben hoped that he could burn or bounce most things and keep the counters for the few truly game winning spells his opponents might have.

All of the decks have several important things in common.

  1. Each deck can get rid of Squirrel Nest, either with a sideboard Rancid Earth, or main deck Upheavals.

  2. Each deck packed efficient creature removal, either Bounce, non-targeted removal like Edict and Upheaval, or targeted removal (especially post-sideboarding).

  3. Each deck had a way to seemingly draw more cards, either through Compulsion in cohorts with Madness, or by Concentrate and cantrips.

Of course, each deck played Psychatog, too…

After looking at the decks a little more, someone familiar with Standard will begin to see a few things that might make you wonder: Why did no top 64 Tog deck play with Standstill? Why did none of the decks pack Deep Analysis? After all, it works well with Compulsion and you can throw it away to the Togs and still draw cards. No Sickening Dreams in the sideboard; why not?

I’m pretty sure that Deep Analysis was avoided because of the life cost to flash it back. Tog often finds itself low on life quite early in a game, and paying even more of it to draw a pair of cards might just be too much.

The questions we have to ask ourselves are as follows:

Is there a place for a Zevatog-style Tog deck in OBC? If so, what important cards would hinder us? How can we make Tog better against the metagame now that we know what it is? What cards in Judgement make our deck better? What cards could make Tog a lot worse?

Firstly, Judgement. In my last article on OBC, I looked at Judgement and picked out a few cards that might help out, namely Cunning Wish, Laquatus’ Disdain, Grip of Amnesia and possibly Quiet Speculation. Of all of these I feel Cunning Wish will probably help us the most, whilst Grip of Amnesia could help a lot against the U/G Threshold decks (and the Quiet Speculation decks which are sure to be built). Grip of Amnesia strikes me more as a sideboard card, but one or two Cunning Wishes might make the main deck if we can find a few good instants for our sideboard.

Looking at the metagame, we now know that we should be looking out for Mono Black control, U/G Threshold and Madness decks, other Tog decks, and Mono Green decks. In fact, we probably want to take Mono Green decks (and their sure to be built cousins, Green/White) very seriously after Judgement is legal. Think about Anurid Brushopper and Upheaval for a second.

So; Zevatog. Can we build it in OBC? What important cards are we missing?

The first that springs to mind is Nightscape Familiar. The Familiar is very important in Zevatog, making all of our Blue spells a little cheaper and serving as an early blocker against the more aggressive decks out there. Although there isn’t a creature like the Familiar that can help things get cheaper, Nantuko Shade might just be able to help against the early flow – and he’s a quick kill against anyone who gets manascrewed, too!

Looking further at Zev’s deck, we see that we’re missing bounce spells. Zev ran four Aether Bursts and four Repulses in his deck. Mind you, Sean McKeown has been playing a version with four Bursts and four Edicts, so maybe our chances are better than we think. Zev also only ran eight counterspells, and we can manage that nicely with Circular Logic and Syncopate if we have to.

Taking all of this into account, I put the following deck together:


Creatures (8):

4x Psychatog

4x Nantuko Shade

Spells (28):

4x Standstill

4x Aether Burst

4x Chainer’s Edict

1x Sickening Dreams

4x Syncopate

3x Concentrate

1x Skeletal Scrying

3x Circular Logic

2x Cunning Wish

2x Upheaval

Land (24):

10x Island

8x Swamp

4x Darkwater Catacombs

2x Cephalid Coliseum

Sideboard (15):

1x Circular Logic (Instant)

2x Skeletal Scrying (Instant)

4x Ghastly Demise (Instant)

2x Divert (Instant)

1x Upheaval

2x Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

1x Grip of Amnesia (Instant)

2x Aura Graft (Instant)

The sideboard has all the usual friends and family against the main decktypes, but also offers a few ‘one-off’ choices in Grip of Amnesia and a Circular Logic.

Ghastly Demise works well against Monogreen and the Green/Blue decks. Divert will help against the Monoblack decks with Mind Sludge and Rancid Earth. The extra Upheaval comes in against Monoblack, too. Skeletal Scrying works wonders against control decks, giving us a cheap and instant way to get cards; it also helps against Haunting Echoes. Aura Graft gives us a Squirrel Nest, Caustic Tar, or Elephant Guide of our very own, whilst Aboshan tells everyone else to stay at home, while he goes out to play on his own. Of these, twelve are instants – and with two Wishes in the main deck, we have a good chance of seeing at least some of them against many opponents.

I chose to put one Logic in the sideboard rather than a Syncopate, because casting Cunning Wish then a Syncopate seems very expensive to me; casting the Wish, then the Logic will cost (at most) six mana, and the Wish makes the Logic just that little bit better.

The biggest change to the deck is obviously the inclusion of Standstill and Cunning Wish. Standstill works well, in much the same way that it does in Standard. There are very few turn 1 drops (Chatter of the Squirrel, Nimble Mongoose) in the format unless Sligh becomes more popular (which it very well might – don’t write it off yet) and if you’re going second you have plenty of ways to deal with early, small creatures (Edict, Burst, Dreams) to clear the board before you drop Standstill.

Cunning Wish, on the other hand, is an entirely new ball game. I’ve been play testing it for a few weeks now (in this deck) and it works very well once you’ve got five or six mana in play. Even at four mana, it can get you a Ghastly Demise in an emergency, but it really comes into its own later in the game – especially when it can be a counter, creature removal or card drawing! I’m not looking forward to trying to work out decks for Standard once this becomes legal at all – life will get much more complicated.

On the other hand, I won’t even pretend to know how to go about sideboarding when you’re playing with the Wishes. I’m currently trying out a number of strategies:

  1. Take out the Wishes, bring in all the cards you want – for example, against Green you’d take out the Wishes and some other cards and bring in all of your Ghastly Demises. This means you have access to cheap removal whenever you draw one, but you’ve lost a little flexibility.

  2. Take out one of the Wishes and bring in most of the sideboard. In the example above, you take out one Wish and some cards for three Demises, leaving one in the sideboard. The Wish left in your main deck can now go and get it, but can get card drawing or that extra Counterspell if you really need it.

  3. Leave the Wishes in, bring in as little as you have to. Again, in the example above you bring in only two Demises. This has the drawback that you’re going to pay more for your sideboard cards, but the advantage of that you can be more flexible if you need to be. You must remember though that if you Wish for a Logic, you’re now only playing with three Demises: the two in your main deck and the one remaining one you can Wish for.

My mind tells me that the strategy you choose changes for different match ups. Against Monogreen, you need cheap removal or they’ll kill you. Against Monoblack, keeping the Wishes in could be a good thing – especially if they get a Haunting Echoes off against you – as you can get hold of any of the instants they remove from the game!

The deck I’ve presented above has been tested against Bennie Smith Mono Green deck, the highest place Monoblack deck from Osaka, and Will Rieffer U/G Threshold deck. I’ve yet to test it much against Sligh, Green/White, or the older Tog decks (you should always test against older versions of your own decks as someone may very well still be playing them).

It seems to be holding up very well against Monoblack, and do well against Monogreen after sideboarding – but they have the real advantage beforehand. U/G Threshold seems very draw-dependent – so much so that I’m tempted to call it a 50/50 at best right now.

I expect Sligh to kick me in the head, but the sideboard Diverts and the resilience of Togs may well mean I can pull some wins out of the bag – especially if the game goes on long enough.

Finally, Green/White. I expect Green/White to cause me problems. Three cards are going to really hurt: Living Wish, Genesis and Anurid Brushhopper. The Wish can be used to go and get Nantuko Monastery, and although I can kill it, I have many fewer cards that will, as Sorcery-speed removal won’t help. Using Rancid Earth over Aura Graft may be the answer. The Wish can also go and get any number of Pro-Black creatures, or a Genesis. Genesis needs to be removed from the game; it’s as simple as that. Syncopate will do that for me… But they can go and get it back with another Living Wish! ARRRRGH! The Brushhopper gives Green/White a way to survive after an Upheaval. I cast it, they discard and it comes back next turn, ready for more beatings – at the very least, it gives them a very good chump blocker for a few turns until they can play out some land and cast some other cheap creatures.

So; I’ll continue working on this and keep everyone up to date on its progress every couple of weeks. I’m also going to work on a R/U/G style deck, and look in further detail and some other OBC decks over the coming months.

For the next two weeks, I’m going to have to take a break from OBC as I concentrate on Draft and Standard in preparation for the English Nationals on the weekend of the 25th/26th of May. The first day is Booster Draft – my worst format – and the second is Standard. At the moment, Team PhatBeats is testing the following decks for Standard:



Mono Black Control

Black/White Control

UG Threshold

RG Beats


We also have a few”roguer” decks we play with, and we’ve started to look at Standard post-Judgement, but that’ll be on hold for the next few weeks as we concentrate our efforts. Three of us qualified (Me, Chris and Antoine) and one member will be judging (Andy). All in all, it should be a really fun weekend, whatever the results.

I’m going to have to give writing an article a miss next week – as I’ll be too busy testing, so the next time I write will be my Nationals report. Will I do better than last year? Will I get any bombs in the draft? Fingers crossed.

Good luck to anyone involved in their own Nationals, may you win as much as you deserve to.

Cheers, Jim.

Team PhatBeats,

Team Diaspora, &

Level 2 DCI Judge.

What do YOU think? Share your
opinion with the community
and you just may walk away with some FREE Magic cards… courtesy of your friends at