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Matchup Series: Psychatog Vs. Tools ‘N Tubbies

In the course of the games I have pulled from testing, I’ll explain how the”Who’s the Beatdown” articles written by Flores and Mowshowitz pieces tie into this matchup, and I’ll explain how this matchup plays out, and the ways in which the both decks struggle to win. I’ll conclude with an examination of potential changes both decks may decide on, in order to improve the matchup.

Type One Tog, like its Extended cousin, has inevitability. Instead being purchased in the more limited form of Upheaval, it comes in the form of Yawgmoth’s Will or Cunning Wish into Berserk. If Tog can manage to survive long enough so that its graveyard has grown fat and plump, then it no longer has to counter each threat. This is because Tog itself becomes a lethal swing in the space of one turn, or, can act to suck up most of the threats, so that the Tog player doesn’t have to counter other threats, on a one for one basis.


In many ways, Type One Tog can break the”Who’s the Beatdown?” role if built in a certain way. In the original model presented by Flores, one player must be the beatdown, and the other the control deck. When a player misunderstands his role and tries to play the other role, they tend to lose the game.


Zvi’s revised model suggests that if someone manages to seize both roles at the same time, that is a devastating advantage and that player will almost always win the game. Applied to the situation at hand, Tog can wrap itself in the guise of a control deck – but with a careful combination of cards and in the space of a few turns, a Tog can go lethal. The aggressive, Aggro-Control Tog builds that facilitate an early, lethally Berserked Tog fit that schema. Recent changes in the Type One archetype, however, have made this less possible.


Take a look at JP Meyer design as modified by Team Paragon that Carl Winter piloted to the 2003 Vintage Championship:


First Place: Carl Winter, Hulk Smash

4 Mana Drain

4 Force of Will

4 Brainstorm

4 Accumulated Knowledge

3 Cunning Wish

3 Duress

2 Merchant Scroll

2 Deep Analysis

3 Psychatog

2 Intuition

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Black Lotus

1 Sol Ring

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Library of Alexandria

2 Island

2 Polluted Delta

3 Flooded Strand

3 Volcanic Island

2 Tropical Island

4 Underground Sea


Sideboard:

1 Fire / Ice

1 Blue Elemental Blast

1 Mind Twist

3 Coffin Purge

1 Lim-Dul’s Vault

2 Pernicious Deed

1 Artifact Mutation

1 Naturalize

1 Berserk

3 Red Elemental Blast


This deck could regularly goldfish on turn 5 or 6. In many cases, it wouldn’t even have to counter a key opposing threat simply because it was so fast at winning and Duress would fulfill much of the”countering” function. Recent exigencies have motivated a redesign of the deck:


Type One Tog

By JP Meyer

4 Underground Sea

4 Polluted Delta

3 Volcanic Island

2 Tropical Island

1 Island

5 Moxen

1 Black Lotus

4 Wasteland

1 Strip Mine

2 Stifle

2 Duress

1 Mind Twist

4 Mana Drain

4 Force of Will

1 Gorilla Shaman

1 Pernicious Deed

3 Psychatog

2 Cunning Wish

4 Accumulated Knowledge

2 Intuition

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

4 Brainstorm

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Demonic Tutor


Sideboard:

1 Berserk

3 Red Elemental Blasts

1 Vampiric Tutor

3 Coffin Purge

1 Artifact Mutation

1 Rack and Ruin

1 Crumble

1 Blue Elemental Blast

1 Fire / Ice

1 Naturalize

1 Library of Alexandria


The deck is built for inevitability and is far more control-ish. The mana denial component has been added, and because the focus is now more than just the first half-dozen turns, Duress becomes less important as a way to clear the path to an early victory. In Type One, mid- to late-game Duresses can often be dead draws – the result is that deck with heavy Duress components generally signal an intent to win quickly. Cutting down on the Duresses is a sign that the deck is taking a longer view of the game. With this understanding of the Tog deck in mind, let’s take a look at the TnT deck that is being put up against Tog:


Tools ‘N Tubbies

4 Mishra’s Workshop

2 Ancient Tomb

4 Wasteland

1 Strip Mine

1 Forest

1 Mountain

4 Taiga

4 Wooded Foothills

5 Moxen

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Vault/Grim Monolith

1 Black Lotus

1 Mana Crypt

4 Juggernaut

4 Su-Chi

4 Pyrostatic Pillar

4 Survival of the Fittest

1 Memory Jar

1 Wheel of Fortune

3 Blood Moon

1 Squee

4 Goblin Welder

1 Anger

1 Karn, Silver Golem

1 Triskelion

1 Platinum Angel


Sideboard:

3 Xantid Swarm

3 Red Elemental Blast

3 Rack and Ruin

3 Tormod’s Crypt

3 Artifact Mutation


The deck derives its name from the Toolbox decks of Extended that used Survival and a”toolbox” of creatures it might tutor, and from the Workshop”Teletubbies” deck that David Price took to the 2000 and 2001 Magic Invitational that had Su-Chi and Juggernaut.


In the course of the games I have pulled from testing, I’ll explain how Flores and Mowshowitz pieces tie into this matchup, and I’ll explain how this matchup plays out and the ways in which the both decks struggle to win. I’ll conclude with an examination of potential changes both decks may decide on in order to improve the matchup.


Here is a game which can illustrates the game plan of the TnT deck and the way in which TnT wins. My opponent is Joe Bushman, a local who is quite familiar with the Tog archetype and performed very well at Origins, and in our metagame with Tog.


Game One


My Opening Hand:

Black Lotus

Wooded Foothills,

Ancient Tomb,

Strip Mine,

Su-Chi,

Goblin Welder,

Blood Moon


This kind of hand is really ideal. It has key early threats, great mid-level threats like Goblin Welder, which tend to win long games, and game breakers like Blood Moon. Further, the distribution of mana is extremely flexible, allowing me to cast whatever I want, whenever. The Strip Mine is an added bonus to keep the pressure on after I play my first threat.


Joe is playing first this game:


Turn One:

Joe opens the game up with Island and Mox Emerald, which he taps for Time Walk. He draws, plays Wasteland, and passes the turn. Evidently, I am thinking, at this point, that he doesn’t have another Blue mana source, which makes my Strip Mine potentially stronger. Nonetheless, it is absolutely critical that, rather than be the control player and attack his mana base first, I should play my threat first, and attack the mana base second. If anything, that is the lesson from”Who’s the Beatdown?”


I open my turn with Ancient Tomb and Black Lotus. I sacrifice Black Lotus for RRR and tap the Tomb for two. I play Su-Chi. It resolves. I then drop Goblin Welder. Joe plays Brainstorm and casts Force of Will, pitching a Psychatog. If he had countered the Su-Chi, I’d have had the Welder. Either way, I’m happy.


Turn Two:

Joe is clearly having mana problems because he Wastelands my Ancient Tomb and passes the turn. I intend to make his mana problems worse.


On my turn I draw another Goblin Welder and I attack with Su-Chi sending him to fifteen and attempt to Strip his basic Island. That only draws out Stifle, however. Foiled!


Turn Three:

Joe is now desperate and he casts Accumulated Knowledge for one and passes the turn.


I draw Wheel of Fortune on my turn. I attack him down to eleven. I drop Wooded Foothills and find Taiga. Good thing he used the Stifle on my Strip Mine, or else I might be denied access to colored mana for the foreseeable future. I tap my Taiga for Goblin Welder. He Force of Wills my Welder pitching a third Force of Will.


Turn Four:

Joe does absolutely nothing. On my turn I drew Ancient Tomb. I swing him down to seven life. I tap the Taiga and the fresh Tomb and drop Blood Moon. At this point Joe scoops.


It’s obvious that Joe had severe development problems, but I posted this game to illustrate a few principles of the matchup. The first is that TnT can drop a large creature on turn 1. More usually, this is done through Mishra’s Workshop and a Mox. In this case, I had the superior combination of Black Lotus and Ancient Tomb. The Tomb allows me to cast Blood Moon, as in this game, as well as Pillar and Survival. The principle of the game play is rather straightforward: play a threats and follow it up with disruption or game breaking spells which create tremendous real or virtual card advantage.


I would not normally include a game like that as the introductory game, because Joe’s mana problems make this game a poor example – something I would classify as an outlier or the product of TnT’s game plan with mana screw. His opening had multiple Force of Wills, Accumulated Knowledge, Wasteland, Island, and a Mox Emerald with Time Walk – he has been unlucky to have his hand turn out so bad.


Nonetheless, I believe it is a useful example of essentially TnT’s plan – even if it is little more than just a goldfish. Numerous games in our testing played out like this one. Rather than list them out, trust me when I say the pressure is key – this includes a turn 1 threat. However, in more than a few of those games, I happened to have mana issues in Green and Red and tended to win primarily on the basis of my Juggernauts and Su-Chis.


The Tubbies deck attempts to use its Workshops to cheat on the mana curve. The mana Curve on the TnT deck is:


0cc – 7

1cc – 6

2cc – 8

3cc – 5

4cc – 9

5cc – 2

6cc – 1

7cc – 1


A mana curve like that in any other format would be insane. The reason it works here is because the bulk of the four casting cost spells, with Mishra’s Workshop, are essentially two-mana spells with a different mana cost than Survival and Pillar.


This game emphasizes the interchangeability between the two-drops and the four-mana monsters on the mana curve:


Game Two

One of the problems with a deck like this is that it is inevitably less consistent than a deck like Tog because of the way in which the mana and threats are configured. In this game, I was forced to mulligan to six.


Here is my opening hand:

Mishra’s Workshop

Wooded Foothills

Taiga

Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

Pyrostatic Pillar




The mana is great and allows me to cast anything I want – the only part that could be better is some acceleration, which I happen to draw on turn 1. The problem with a hand like this is that I lack a turn one fattie – which is generally something you want. The cards I have are my midgame game sealers, not my early pressure. Nonetheless, I can’t mulligan again. The chances of me getting a better hand are slim.


Turn One:

Joe is playing first this game.


He drops a basic Island and passes the turn. Once again the rarity of basic Island becomes a boon, a strength that he is able to exploit against any attempts I may have to wreck havoc on his mana base. It is interesting that in Type One, the use of basic lands is a way to strengthen the mana base, rather than to weaken it.


On my turn I draw my needed acceleration: Mana Crypt. I decide to fetch out a my Forest to play Survival of the Fittest, in the hope that I’ll draw a creature on the following turn and thin my deck at the same time. It may be that I should play Pillar instead because that is a potentially a bigger long term threat – but that point is moot because he Stifles my fetchland.


Turn Two:

Joe drops a Tropical Island and Time Walks. He Brainstorms, lays a land and passes the turn.


I draw Grim Monolith (which should probably be Mana Vault or potentially something entirely different). I play my Taiga and Mana Crypt and play Pyrostatic Pillar. He Force of Wills pitching Stifle.


Turn Three:

Joe drops Wasteland and kills my Taiga. Ouch. He has Stifled my Fetchland and Wasted my final source of colored mana cutting off my remaining threats. All I have left are Workshop, Mana Crypt, and Grim Monolith.


Luckily, I topdeck Juggernaut. Again, Joe plays Force of Will and pitches Accumulated knowledge.


Turn Four:

Joe now plays a Duress. At this point in the game against TNT, Duress isn’t usually going to that effective. It is best as a turn 1 threat to nab a Survival or a Blood Moon. However, by cutting me off from my colors, my hand is holding key threats. He takes one of my two Survivals and passes the turn.


I draw Blood Moon. I play my Monolith and pass the turn.


Turn Five:

Joe draws, drops a Volcanic Island and passes the turn.


I topdeck Su-Chi and drop it. Joe has wasted a lot of his hand dealing with my early threats and is now completely out of steam. He has no answer.


Turn Six:

Joe drops a land and passes the turn.


I topdeck a Taiga and attack for four. I play my Blood Moon. Joe breaks a fetchland for Underground Sea and lets the Blood Moon resolve. At this point I have completely executed my game plan: play threats and seal it with key spells. Joe has been unable to stop my threats at all, once again fulfilling the old axiom – there are no bad threats, only bad answers. Joe has not found answers of any sort as his control deck struggles to survive.


Turn Seven:

Joe drops another”Mountain” and passes the turn. At this point he needs Cunning Wish for Blue Elemental Blast to kill my Blood Moon followed by Psychatog. Until then he is essentially unable to do anything.


I take Mana Crypt damage and freely play my Pyrostatic Pillar. At that point, Joe concedes.


Now you have seen how the TnT game plan unfolds. I haven’t yet shown a game of Tog winning, but I am trying to get the point across that pressure is central. I have explained how the flow of threats is the TnT game plan. However, both game plans are complementary. If Joe can stop the pressure of the TnT game plan, then he can win. Here is a game suggests one way in which this might be done.


Game Three


My opening hand:

Ancient Tomb,

Mishra’s Workshop

Taiga,

Mountain,

Grim Monolith,

Goblin Welder

Survival of the Fittest


Joe was playing first this game.


Turn One:

Joe drops an Underground Sea and passes the turn.


I draw Squee on my drawstep – a very fortunate topdeck in conjunction with Survival. I play the Mountain and play Goblin Welder. In response, Joe plays Brainstorm and then casts Force of Will pitching Intuition – something he expresses displeasure at being forced to do.


Turn Two:

Joe drops a Polluted Delta and passes the turn. I draw Platinum Angel and play my Taiga, which I tap to play Survival of the Fittest. In response, Joe breaks his Delta for basic Island and plays Mana Drain. So far, Joe has managed to answer each threat, one for one. The true test will be to see if he can capitalize on the tempo boost of Mana Drain.


Turn Three:

Joe uses the Mana Drain mana to play Demonic Tutor. He casts Ancestral Recall and plays a Wasteland, which he uses to kill my Taiga. He then burns for one. I still have a Mountain on the table, but that’s it.


Fortunately, I draw Juggernaut. I drop my Mishra’s Workshop and play Juggernaut. It’s clearly preferable to have a Juggernaut followed by Survival of the Fittest. If I had had the Juggernaut, that’s what I would have done, but I lose little pressure by being forced to play Juggernaut second. In many ways, it was preferable, so as not to give Joe too much of a tempo boost from Mana Drain. However, Joe plays Force of Will on my Juggernaut and pitches Accumulated Knowledge.


Turn Four:

On Joe’s turn he plays Brainstorm followed by Flooded Strand which he breaks for a Volcanic Island. Joe taps the Volc for Gorilla Shaman. Ouch!


I draw another Mishra’s Workshop. I play it and tap both Workshops and my Mountain for Platinum Angel. In response, Joe casts Brainstorm. The Angel resolves! My hand at this point is Squee, Ancient Tomb, and Grim Monolith.


Turn Five:

Joe drops an Underground Sea and he plays Mind Twist for three emptying my hand.


On my turn I am fortunate enough to draw Triskelion! I swing with the Angel and send him twelve. I tap both Workshops and play Triskelion. At this point the card I fear most that he might draw is Cunning Wish for something like Artifact Mutation.


Turn Six:

Joe seems desperate at this point. He plays a somewhat early Yawgmoth’s Will. He replays Ancestral from his yard and another Flooded Strand, which he sacrifices for Tropical Island. He plays Mox Jet, Brainstorm, and passes the turn.


On my turn I draw Pyrostatic Pillar that I cannot cast. I debate shooting his Ape with Trisk, but decide to simply attack with both creatures. He chumps the Trisk, but Platinum Angel sends him to seven. It will be very difficult for Joe to get out of this.


Turn Seven:

Joe drops Strip Mine and destroys my Mountain. He drops a Tog, but it’s simply too late. The three points of direct damage as well as the Angel are just enough to finish him off. Joe scoops.


Joe had a lot of good Tog plays. He cast two of his biggest bombs: Yawgmoth’s Will and Mind Twist! The problem was that both spells were either too soon or too late to make a difference. The Mind Twist prevented me from playing the Pillar on turn 6, but trading two for one in regard to the Juggernaut and the Goblin Welder, and despite trading his Mana Drain for my Survival for short term tempo boost, he simply could stem the flow of threats.


He did a good job of cutting me off from Green, but that didn’t make a difference. The absolutely most important lesson is that the threats must not stop for TnT. If the flow of threats ceases, the pressure slows/ends and Tog gets respite to build its game up a bit. Tog has many ways to stop you from playing threats: Mind Twist in addition to Wastelands can sometimes be very effective, but as you can see, it isn’t always enough.


From this game, you can begin to see a way in which Tog can win. I was lucky to topdeck almost exactly what I needed at key points in the game which allowed me to escape from Joe’s mana denial and continue my flow of threats. Had the flow slowed, Joe’s tremendous card advantage would have caught up with me.


However, sometimes, cutting me off from threats necessitates more than just cutting off a color. Sometimes TnT’s game plan has no link to any non-Brown colors.


Game Four


I am playing first this game.


My opening hand is:

Mishra’s Workshop,

Mana Crypt,

Wasteland,

Wasteland,

Su-Chi,

Su-Chi, and

Goblin Welder


Turn One:

I drop ‘Shop, Crypt and play Su-Chi. It resolves.


Joe draws and drops down an Underground Sea and a Mox Emerald and plays Time Walk. At this point he is buying tempo back from my turn 1 threat.


He now has two options. His hand is: (our game recorder Kevin Cron (mad props) notated this): Mind Twist, Duress, Wasteland, Underground Sea, and Mana Drain and he drew an AK. I think he has a tough decision to make. If he Wastelands my Workshop, chances are I don’t have another and then my primary threat comes from Survival, Pillar, and Blood Moon next turn and he won’t have UU up to stop it, so he’ll want to Duress me at the same time. That means if he plays Wasteland, he can try and stem the flow of threats and proactively stop one at the same time.


If he just plays his Underground Sea, then his Drain will only be effective by my second turn if I don’t have any mana denial myself – and I can still play a large man. It’s a close decision, but the Wasteland plus Duress seems to be the logical decision. Unfortunately for him, either choice would be ineffective. He Wasted my Shop and Duressed me, only to see that I had nothing he could take, but also that I had a Wasteland.


Turn Two:

I draw another Goblin Welder and suck up three damage from Mana Crypt. I Wasteland his Sea and swing him down to sixteen then pass the turn.


Joe draws and drops his Underground Sea.


Turn Three:

I topdeck Strip Mine – an excellent topdeck that fits perfectly into my plan. One of the reasons I selected this game for demonstration is to illustrate the difference between how TnT uses Wasteland and how Tog uses it. Playing control, Tog uses Wasteland to stem the flow of threats – hopefully cutting me off from a key mana source. In that he was successful – I was unable last turn and this turn to play my second Su-Chi. On the other hand, I used Wasteland as a spell that says: rewind the game. Last turn I used Wasteland to try and rewind the game state to turn 2: a game state in which I had a threat on the board, and in which Joe had almost nothing on the board.


Again, this turn I am attempting to rewind the game state once again – trying to return us back to turn one. Joe will have none of it. He Stifles my Wasteland. I attack him down to twelve and pass the turn.


Joe draws and plays a Volcanic Island and passes the turn.



Turn Four:

I draw a Taiga. I swing him down to eight. I then strip his Sea. In response he casts AK for one.



Joe draws and plays another AK for two. He drops Polluted Delta and passes the turn.


Turn Five:

I draw Sol Ring. I swing him down to two. I play my Sol Ring and my Taiga and drop another Su-Chi. Joe peeks at his top card and scoops.


Part of the point of this game was to re-iterate the points I had made for the first game – TnT’s game plan requires getting some quick, but large threat on the table and then playing subsequent spells which are mid-game threats to give the deck staying power. The other reason for using this game was to illustrate the ways in which TnT and Tog try and attack each other’s mana bases, and the ways in which that can be effective or ineffective.


The point I want to illustrate is that the effectiveness of much of TnT’s card pool depends upon having pressure in the form of a warm body in play. The Wastelands then become tempo cards. Without the pressure, Tog uses them to stem the flow of threats – a distinctly non-tempo function. Finally, I wanted to make the point that Wastelands are mostly effective at denying me a color – rarely are