Hulk Smash!, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Tog

The first annual The Mana Drain Northeast Championship was a huge success. We got a total of seventy-seven people, which is the second largest Type 1 tournament in recent memory. It was an even better success because I won it.

The first annual The Mana Drain Northeast Championship was a huge success. We got a total of seventy-seven people, which is the second largest Type 1 tournament in recent memory. In an interesting twist, the largest Type 1 tournament that I know of actually also occurred over the weekend in Chicago at CrazyCon, where a massive ninety people showed.

At first, I didn’t think that I’d end up going to this tournament. It was being held in Syracuse, while I live on Long Island, which is about five and a half hours away. I’m saved when Tom and Phil, two fellow TMD’ers from Jersey offered to give me a ride in from Penn Station and loan me a Berserk and a pair of Moxes.

I played Hulk Smash (Type 1 Psychatog with green mana to power Berserk, Fastbond, and Regrowth,) which Carl Winter, one of the TO’s dubbed”proxy.dec” because it ran six proxies instead of the allowed five. I was able to get away with using an extra proxy because he said that he would let me borrow his Ancestral but he actually couldn’t loan it out.

5 Island

4 Polluted Delta

4 Underground Sea

3 Tropical Island

1 Swamp

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Strip Mine

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Pearl

1 Black Lotus

4 Psychatog

4 Mana Drain

4 Force of Will

4 Accumulated Knowledge

3 Intuition

3 Gush

2 Misdirection

2 Cunning Wish

2 Merchant Scroll

1 Upheaval

1 Time Walk

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Fastbond

1 Regrowth


3 Back to Basics

3 Smother

1 Ghastly Demise

1 Lim-Dul’s Vault

1 Seedtime

1 Rebuild

1 Naturalize

1 Shallow Grave

1 Mana Short

1 Berserk

1 Mind Twist

When I play this deck again, I’ll make these changes:

Berserk in the main deck.

There’s been a lot of Chicken Little thinking about the unrestriction of Berserk. While I doubt that it’ll be the death of Type 1, concern is warranted and it probably wasn’t a good idea. The addition of some number of extra Berserks in Growing Tog will make it a stronger and more popular deck too, so this deck should run an extra Berserk main deck to be able to compete with it since the matchup is tough to begin with.

Plaguebearer in the sideboard.

I never thought about this guy before the tournament, but after seeing a bunch of decks sideboarding him in, I think it will make a lot of sense. It helps against Growing Tog, Illusionary Mask, and even Sligh, because they need to sideboard out burn to allow for Red Elemental Blast and/or Pyroblast.

Back to Basics in the main deck.

This is primarily to give another answer to Library of Alexandria.

Accumulated Knowledge and Intuition guessing games.

If this deck catches on, then there will be a need to address the fact that both of those cards are liabilities in the mirror. The main strength of this deck is in its cheap card drawing compared to other Type 1 control decks and the strength of Psychatog. After Ancestral Recall and Fact or Fiction, most Type 1 control needs to run Stroke of Genius, Braingeyser, or Ophidian to draw cards, all of which are more expensive than AK. The other big advantage is Dr. Teeth himself: He can kill any creature in Type 1 short of Phyrexian Dreadnought, Morphling, Quirion Dryad, or Nantuko Shade with a minimal investment of cards.

The other advantage in the deck is the synergy. Nearly every card in the deck has synergy with the others, which gives it a very flexible strategy. It can go for simple Tog beatdown like the San Diego Masters Togs did, the Upheaval/Psychatog combo that most Standard and Extended Tog decks rely on, or explosive Type 1 finishes with Yawgmoth’s Will or Gush/Fastbond.

Round 1: Zach Herbert playing Standard Monoblack Control

Zach looks like he’s about eleven years old. He tells me that he’s only been playing since Odyssey, so I play all my cards backwards so that they face him and he can read them. He wins the roll and goes first and makes the first play of the game with a turn 2 Hymn to Tourach, which resolves, hitting Intuition and a land. That was a pretty strong hit, since it slowed me down a bit. A few turns later he tries to cast Nantuko Shade and I Mana Drain, which I use to set up an Intuition for three Accumulated Knowledge. A few turns later he casts Visara the Dreadful, which I also Drain and then cast Cunning Wish for Lim-Dul’s Vault end of turn to fetch Upheaval. I cast Big Ups, drop Psychatog – and after I Force of Will his Innocent Blood, he concedes.

I don’t sideboard anything in for game 2. I have a very fast draw with two Moxes, allowing for a turn 1 Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge. I continue to draw with a Library of Alexandria a turn or two later. I let him cast Zombie Infestation and Fallen Askari and then I Cunning Wish at the end of turn for Lim-Dul’s Vault to set up my top five cards as Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Upheaval, Force of Will, and land. I then untap, draw my card from Library of Alexandria, and drop Fastbond. I make some mana with Gush, use Black Lotus, and cast Upheaval, Psychatog, and Time Walk.

Matches, 2-0.

Round 2: Arend Kraehling playing Keeper

I win the roll here and keep a fairly average hand. He drops a turn 1 Library of Alexandria, and I slump in my chair. I drop a Psychatog on turn 2 and try to race. This is difficult, because he’s able to stop my card drawing fairly effortlessly because of his Library. I keep hitting him for two to three points each turn. After my attack puts him into lethal damage range on my next attack, he Swords to Plowshares my Psychatog, winning the counter war easily. I cast an Accumulated Knowledge for three in desperation; he Mana Drains it and drops Morphling. I try to Gush a few turns later and he Mana Drains that too, setting up a massive Yawgmoth’s Will. In desperation, I Lim-Dul’s Vault, and after noticing that I’d already pitched Upheaval to Force of Will, I get Yawgmoth’s Will. When he counters it, I scoop.

I sideboard out Upheaval, Fastbond, and a Psychatog for three Back to Basics. I keep a slightly weak hand of Mox, Accumulated Knowledge, Gush, Mana Drain, and land. I draw a Cunning Wish a few turns later and try to work my way out of my heavy mana draw by hoping that he’d counter my Wish. He lets it through, and I get Seedtime. I’ve still only drawn land so I try to cast Gush on my turn. He Mana Drains Gush. I Seedtime in response, which he lets resolve. I take my Seedtime turn and do nothing on it. He uses his Mana Drain mana simply to Demonic Tutor for Ancestral Recall, which he casts. I think he also plays a Sol Ring and then burns for three. I draw a Force of Will a turn or two later, but otherwise I just keep getting land, which I keep in my hand. He tries to cast a Morphling, which I hard-cast Force of Will to stop. He Red Elemental Blasts it… And after seeing it resolve he just goes off with Yawgmoth’s Will, at which point I scoop.

1-1 matches, 2-2 games.

Round 3: Francesco Rizzo playing Worldgorger Dragon

He no shows. I use the opportunity to look around the tournament. I spend most of the time watching Carl Winter (playing keeper) play against Moobius with mono-green SquirrelCraft. While the restriction of Earthcraft was probably premature, this deck was the real deal; he had no problem with Carl’s Aura Fracture because he would simply draw more enchantments from each one that was destroyed. The coolest was when he went off. Moobius would tap a Forest enchanted with multiple Fertile Ground-type enchantments to cast an enchantment, preferably Exploration, Enchantress’ Presence, or Gaea’s Touch, with Gaea’s Touch being the best. He’d draw his cards from the Enchantresses, play an extra Forest, and then sacrifice the Gaea’s Touch to play another enchantment and draw more cards. Carl managed to use what land and counters he had left to fight off the first few Squirrel Nests, but he couldn’t stop the Replenish which returned around a dozen enchantments to play.

2-1 matches, 4-2 games

Round 4: Colin Chilbert playing Legion (TnT with black instead of blue)

Colin tells me that while he’s been playing Survival of the Fittest-based decks for a long time, he only picked up the deck last night. After the match I go over some of the less-common Goblin Welder interactions with him, such as Welding attacking creatures to remove them from combat and using Welder to untap artifacts. Most of the time Goblin Welder just gets used as a way to turn Moxes into dead creatures or as a replacement for Recurring Nightmare, and people forget the other uses for him.

Anyway, he has to paris and keeps a slow hand without a Mishra’s Workshop. He plays a turn 2 Oath of Ghouls, which resolves. His turn 3 Survival of the Fittest gets Mana Drained, and I use the mana to set up Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge. He has no play on his next turn, and I drop a Psychatog but have nowhere near lethal damage. He follows up with a Triskelion and I answer with another Psychatog, and then Cunning Wish at the end of his turn for Berserk. I attack with both of my Psychatogs and he blocks one with Triskellion. I pump my blocked Psychatog to 4/5 and then Berserk it. He makes a misplay in not waiting until damage was on the stack before shooting me and ends up taking three more damage.

He’s about to return his Triskelion with Oath of Ghouls until I point out that I have a Psychatog in my graveyard, since it died because of Berserk. Instead, he casts a Juggernaut and passes. Since I only have one source of green mana, I have to spend my turn simply casting Regrowth for Berserk and then I pass the turn. He needs to attack with his Juggernaut and then he drops another creature, although I don’t remember what. My Berserk Psychatog simply runs through it.

For the second game I sideboard out both of my copies of Misdirection and my Upheaval and bring in three Back to Basics. We both draw extremely strong hands this game: I have a hand that consists of two Force of Wills, Psychatog, Gush, Cunning Wish, Mox Sapphire, and Strip Mine. He plays a turn 1 Juggernaut off of a Mox and a Mishra’s Workshop, which I Force of Will, pitching Cunning Wish. I draw a Polluted Delta (how lucky!) and Strip Mine his Mishra’s Workshop. He doesn’t have another land, but has a Black Lotus to cast another Juggernaut with, which gets countered by the other Force of Will, pitching Psychatog.

A few turns later, he draws a Bayou and casts Survival of the Fittest, which I Mana Drain. Mana Drain fuels Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge and eventually I draw a Psychatog to go with the Berserk that I got with Cunning Wish a few turns before.

After the game he shows me his hand, which is like double Juggernaut and triple Goblin Welder. If he had drawn a fetchland or Taiga instead of a Bayou, he very well could have taken that game since I would only be able to stop two of those Welders, one with Mana Drain and the other with Cunning Wish for Smother.

3-1 matches, 6-2 games

Round 5: Alex Crestfield playing TnT

Alex is a member of New Jersey’s Team Goat, who I’d been hanging out with most of the day. He’s with TnT, which he’s had a lot of success with locally. Unfortunately for him, he has to paris and keeps a slow hand. He drops a turn 2 Sylvan Library, and I get excited when he pays life to it. He pays life twice and I Mana Drain a creature to set up Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge and Tog/Walk. My notes on this match are really light, but not much happened during it.

I sideboard the same way this round as I did last round, removing Misdirection and Upheaval for Back to Basics. I have a fast start this game with a land and two Moxes. I try to cast Intuition EOT but he has the Red Elemental Blast. Woof. Meanwhile he manages to get out a Su-Chi and then a Juggernaut and has hit my life down in a few chunks. I drop a Psychatog and kill the Su-Chi, leaving him with just Juggernaut. I Mana Drain his next spell on his turn (Waterfront Bouncer) and use that to Merchant Scroll for Gush. I Gush into two Accumulated Knowledges.

I double check my hand and graveyard, and see that if I discard my first Accumulated Knowledge to Psychatog and then cast the other one (using my one untapped land and my one extra Mana Drain mana) I can do exactly the fourteen damage that I need to kill him. Whew.

4-1 matches, 8-2 games

Round 6, Ray Robillard playing Super Gro

While we’re shuffling up he says,”So, I get to play JP Meyer.”

I respond with”Yes, and that is an honor and a privilege.”

“That’s awfully cocky, isn’t it?”

“Well, since we’re playing for the top 8 and it’s awfully tense, I’ve found that acting so incredibly over-the-top helps to diffuse the tension.”

“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” he says. While he’s saying that, I drop some of my deck while I’m shuffling and he says,”Who are you, Tweak from South Park?”

We also had an interesting conversation about how Magic Online makes you a worse Magic player because it eliminates tells. Unlike in real life, your opponent can’t see if you’re looking through graveyards or if you want to know how many cards are in their hand.

Needless to say, this was a fun and light match despite the stakes that we where playing for. I believe he won the roll but had to Paris. We played draw-go for a few turns until he tried to cast Quirion Dryad, which I won the counter war over. I also won the war over my Accumulated Knowledge for three. I’d managed to draw quite a few cards but I really couldn’t tell what was in his hand because Gro decks often run such a wide range of counters.

I get out a Psychatog, but fearing Swords to Plowshares I only pump for about 4 damage each time. Once Psychatog hits him to seven he cast Swords to Plowshares, which resolved after he Force of Wills my Mana Drain, and then Armageddons after Gushing.

I lost about four lands to Armageddon to his two, but it actually didn’t affect me much because I had draw land for about the last four turns. The real problem is that I’m out of counters, with my hand consisting of just Upheaval, Cunning Wish, Yawgmoth’s Will, and land. He has five cards in hand, two of which are land from Gush, and two of which are Force of Will from his freshly cast Merchant Scrolls. After playing a few land I go for it and Cunning Wish at the end of his turn. It resolves and I get Seedtime. I untap and Upheaval. He Force of Wills, I Seedtime in response and Seedtime resolves. On the Seedtime turn, he scoops when I cast Yawgmoth’s Will with Psychatog and Demonic Tutor (for Time Walk) in the graveyard.

I think I only sideboarded in Back to Basics here, cutting Upheaval and Fastbond for them. I might have also taken out an Intuition or something.

I get a turn 1 Library of Alexandria going second, which I milk for a few turns. He gets a turn 2 Werebear that starts hitting me for one for about four turns. During one of my turns I go to six cards in hand to cast Demonic Tutor, which he counters. I let this go, and on his turn I try to Accumulated Knowledge for two cards to get my Library of Alexandria back online. He taps out to cast Force of Will and gives himself threshold.

Unfortunately for him, I take advantage of his tapped-out state by dropping Back to Basics.

He gets in a hit with his 4/4 before I drop Psychatog, which he Force of Wills and I Mana Drain. He’s still out of lethal damage range, so he is able to tap his Werebear and a fresh land for another Werebear without fear of dying to my Psychatog. I also let this resolve. At this point I also notice that I forgot my Mana Drain burn from the turn before so I go down to six. It doesn’t matter, though, because I now have a lethal Psychatog and he scoops after I attack.

5-1 matches, 10-2 games

I make the top 8 as the 5th seed. There was one problem with this, though: one 4-0-2 did not make it. We only had six rounds when we should have had seven, so all five of the 5-1 players got in but only three of the 4-0-2’s made it. Granted, it was too late to add extra rounds during the tournament, but X-0-2 should always top 8.

Top 8: Jeff Anand playing Keeper

Other than my turn 2 Demonic Tutor for Ancestral Recall, we simply play draw-go for about six turns until he drops an active Library of Alexandria. At the end of his turn, I cast my Ancestral Recall and win the counter war over it, dropping him to four cards in hand while I stayed at seven. I then drop my own Library of Alexandria, but he’s got the Strip Mine for it after I draw my card. A few turns later he’s gotten up to six cards again, so I cast Psychatog and then Mana Short him during his upkeep. He tries to Swords to Plowshares Psychatog, I counter, he counters back, and I counter again. I untap and he scoops when I cast Yawgmoth’s Will.

I sideboard differently from my last Keeper matchup, leaving in the Upheaval and taking out an Intuition instead. There’s a crowd watching, so I sideboard face up and play it up when I knock my lucky charms like Miser’s Cage and Noble Panther for good luck.

On turn 1 he drops a land, Black Lotus, and a load of Moxes. I play a land and a Mox Sapphire. On his turn he tries to Mind Twist me, leaving two blue in his mana pool. I Misdirect it, he Mana Drains my Misdirection, and I Mana Drain his Mana Drain. The rest is pretty academic from there and he scoops when I cast Psychatog and show him a handful of counters.

Semifinals: Mark Guy playing Ankh Sligh

Mark says that he hasn’t played Type 1 in about seven years, but has played the other formats instead. He remembers back in the day when everyone played ante and Contract from Below. I drop a land first turn and pass. He drops Jackal Pup and passes the turn. I follow up with another land and a Mox. He casts Gorilla Shaman and eats my Mox. I respond with Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge. I Accumulated Knowledge on my turn and take a hit down to fifteen. I untap and cast Psychatog. He attacks into it, losing Gorilla Shaman, and casts another Jackal Pup. I play the Moxes that were in my hand. He attacks into Psychatog again and I kill one of his Jackal Pups to take him to eighteen. I cast Cunning Wish EOT to find Berserk and kill him on my turn.

I sideboard out Upheaval and Fastbond for Ghastly Demise and Mind Twist.

Mark gets a very strong start this game with a turn 1 Jackal Pup, turn 2 double Goblin Cadets, turn 3 Wasteland and Gorilla Shaman, which I Mana Drain, but he Pyroblasts. He knocks me down to twelve before I can cast a Psychatog. He swings into it, taking me to eight. He tries to take me down further EOT with Lightning Bolt, but I Misdirect it to his Jackal Pup. He swings into me again, taking me down to four and casting a Gorilla Shaman, which eats my Mox. I can’t attack, so I pass the turn. He Pyroblasts my Psychatog and I’m caught without a counter, so I float two blue mana and Gush, returning my only two Islands to my hand. I draw a Force of Will instead of a Mana Drain and scoop.

In game three he whittles me down to eleven before Psychatog slows him down. He responds with Ankh of Mishra, which I try to counter, but he Pyroblasts. He also tries to Pyroblast my Tog, but I have the Force of Will to save it. He pokes in a few more damage, dropping me to seven when he casts Price of Progress…For two damage.

I untap, Cunning Wish for Berserk, play a Tropical Island (going down to three), and attack into his untapped Gorilla Shaman who gets trampled over by Berserk. Everyone around thought that the play was really ballsy until I showed them the Misdirection in my hand that would have been able to stop a Pyroblast. Had Mark had Red Elemental Blast in his deck instead of Pyroblast, I would not have been able to save my Psychatog.

Finals: Jason Plourde with Growing Tog

I pulled out my laptop and gave it to Carl Winter so he could do coverage. Unfortunately, my piece of junk died about ten minutes in so he had to switch computers so he only has a complete log from game two.

Game one starts off with Jason playing a turn 1 Fastbond, but has no other lands. I Demonic Tutor for Ancestral Recall and pass. He tries a turn 2 Quirion Dryad, but I Force of Will. I untap, Regrowth Force of Will, and cast Ancestral Recall, which resolves. He uses Gush and fetchlands to generate mana so that he can cast a Psychatog but takes quite a bit of damage from Fastbond so that the Psychatog I follow up with is lethal. He chumps the first one’s attack. I try to Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge, which resolves but when I try to cast Accumulated Knowledge, he has the Daze. Frown.

He casts another Psychatog and an Ancestral Recall, which he wins the war over. Our Psychatogs bounce off each other and he casts Yawgmoth’s Will. I look at his graveyard and scoop after he Gushes twice.

I sideboard out Fastbond, Upheaval, Intuition, and Cunning Wish for two Smother and two Back to Basics. I’ll let Carl take over from here. (Sadly – The Ferrett)

Game 2:

JP opens with what I said, and casts Ancestral Recall during Jason’s upkeep. It resolved!? Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrips!!! Wow. That’s insane.

Ohhhh, Jason opens with Library of Alexandria. No wonder.

JP untaps, drops a land, discards and passes it over. Jason draws, plays with his cards, and drops a fetchland for Tropical Island. I bust out some tunes with my thumbs. I’m so cool. Some people decide to leave and for some reason don’t say bye to me. What bags!

Jason Sleight of Minds and passes. JP summons another land and drops Mista Teeth himself. I think it’s gonna resolve, but Jason plucks with Library of Alexandria and responds with Force of Will. How predictable. JP’s hand is full of countermagic and a Gush, but he has another Psychatog. Jason drops a Quirion Dryad which JP Force of Wills, pitching his other Psychatog. JP’s Force of Will is Dazed, and Jason is able to back up the Daze with Misdirection. JP drops Back to Basics which meets zero resistance. Jason’s Library of Alexandria is locked down. I’m not sure how good Back to Basics is here because both of them are running Gush. Speaking of which, Jason Gushes.

How lucky! I ought to run Gush in Keeper over Aura Fracture.

Jason serves for three with his Quirion Dryad. Since he has about 300 cards in hand, he’s forced to discard. JP untaps and brings forth Psychatog, which meets no resistance. JP Strip Mines Jason’s untapped Underground Sea. It’s a nice foreign black-bordered one too, so that’s kind of unfortunate. JP serves with Psychatog for one. Jason’s wicked lucky and gets to drop a land every turn.

I get my picture taken again. Geez, the paparazzi!

JP draws another land and attacks with Psychatog. Jason serves as well. It’s a race to the finish. Jason tries to Submerge the Psychatog, however JP doesn’t have a Tropical Island in play and it’s no good. What a beating.

JP has one in hand though, so I doubt it’ll enter play for a while. Heh. Oh snap, I totally got flashed with a camera in the fizzle. God, that was rough.

Jason swings for four. They’re not doing anything, and Altered States just closed, and they’re trying to kick us out. However, the people’s voice will not be silenced!!! I’m totally covering this as long as I possibly have to.

Jason summoned more land, and casts a Smother on JP’s Psychatog. And he follows it up with a smash for five. JP goes for a giant Yawgmoth’s Will… And it’s good! Will resolves, and JP Gushes.

The employees at Altered are flexing their muscle, making people wait outside. How lame.

JP fights over an Ancestral Recall and wins, since he’s in a Yawgmoth’s Will turn. JP doesn’t mise insanely off the Ancestral Recall and loses. A well-fought battle and that’s game, boys.

We split the store credit down the middle, so Jason walks off with the Transformers Season Two DVD set to go along with his Lotus, while I picked up a Mox Emerald to go with my Ancestral Recall.

I would recommend this deck, but with one big reservation: the matchup against Growing Tog is difficult with the current build. Sideboarding Plaguebearer and maindecking a Berserk should help, but the problem still remains that since Growing has more or less the same strategy, but can execute it faster and with more counters. If you want to play a control deck or you’re used to playing Psychatog in other formats, then this is the deck for you.


  • Carl Winter, Jason Stapels, and everyone else who was involved in organizing this event and all the people that came out to support it

  • Altered States for giving out a ton of store credit (everyone in the top 16 got at least $40)

  • Phil for giving me a ride

  • Tom for loaning me cards

  • Team Goat for being a cool team to hang out with

  • Moobius and Butter2000 (sorry I don’t know your real names) for playing the two coolest decks at the tournament, Bennie Smith-style SquirrelCraft with Gaea’s Touch and Turbo Snake Basket featuring Helm of Obedience


  • Ben, who despite playing Mask never said”Put tha thang down flip it and reverse it”

  • Whoever forgot that you need 7 rounds when you have 64-127 people

  • Whoever was involved with the alleged bribery. I don’t know any details about this, but supposedly some shady dealings went on

JP Meyer

[email protected]

badplayermeyer on AIM