In my last article, I left off by saying that I was sufficiently confident in my Turbofog deck that I would run it in a sanctioned tournament, risking my virgin 1800 rating. Well, this I did, and I have a report that verifies two things that I have recently realized:
- Turbofog is tournament-viable.
- I am a ninny… well, I’ve known that for a long time, actually.
Also, if you stick around, I’ll let you know what changes I would like to make to the deck, and how it might fare once Legions comes around.
Before the tournament I noticed a lot of U/G/w floating around. Up until that week, nobody had been splashing white in their madness decks, but after seeing that particular version win three out of the last four weeks, I guess they decided to give it a try. That meant that there would be game one artifact removal and serious game two enchantment hate via Ray of Revelation. In turn, my sideboarded Circle of Protection: Green would not be quite as effective as I’d hoped. I tried to find some replacement cards before the tournament started, but had no luck. The deck list I ended up running looked like this:
3 Circle of Protection: Black
1 Exalted Angel (I could only find one to replace the Circles)
3 Circle of Protection: Green
2 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Aegis of Honor
2 Ray of Revelation
2 Sacred Ground
1 Ray of Distortion (just for Mirari)
ROUND 1: Justin Finocchi, U/G/w Madness
Justin is young, but he is not to be taken lightly. I played him for the first time last week in the last round, where he was running a U/G/r deck with Grim Lavamancer. It turned out to be serious tech for dealing with opposing Merfolk Looters – a key card in the mirror.
I start out by hiding a pen cap in my hand and asking him to pick a hand to see who goes first. He adamantly refuses (punk), and forces the die roll, which I win. Incidentally, all my future opponents who did play the pen cap game with me won. Maybe my hands aren’t big enough to conceal the cap…
I keep a hand with a couple of lands, a couple of Life Bursts, and no card drawing. Fortunately, he starts out slowly with just a Basking Rootwalla attacking, putting me on a seven-turn clock. That’s the kind of pressure that I can handle! I draw and play a Howling Mine, which looks to lock the game in my favor. After a Life Burst for four puts me back up to nineteen, Justin decides to join the game by dropping several threats from his hand, and following up with a useless Worship. The next turn I drop to ten and Burst myself back up to eighteen, but he makes the smart play and Cunning Wishes for Naturalize to kill my lone Howling Mine. Turbofog just isn’t the same without its turbo – but I still have eighteen life to draw into Moment’s Peaces and more Howling Mines. Several turns and several fogs later, a horde of Wurms swing onto my side of the board and crash for exactly eight.
Bummer. The game probably ended with the Wish for Naturalize.
I keep a hand with two lands, a CoP green, and the Exalted Angel. My plan is to keep pressure on with the Angel while searching for a mass of answers. The turn 2 CoP resolves, but my plan falls apart when I fail to draw the third land to cast a morph creature. Not to worry, though; the next turn he cast a Wild Mongrel, leaving me to play Howling Mine. He draws two and swings for three with a black Wild Mongrel. He casts Cunning Wish again, looking to pop my mine and slow me down, but he discovers that there is no longer a Naturalize in his sideboard. I’m not sure if he meant to leave it in his main deck or not, but he opts for a Ray of Revelation instead. So much for CoP Green.
Throughout the game I continue casting CoP Green and Words of Worship, but he draws into a total of three rays (Wishing for two) and kills my enchantments all six times. Through Krosan Reclamation recursion, the Words of Worship do keep finding their way back into my deck, however. A timely Wrath of God clears his board, and he is all too happy to let me play Howling Mine. Having sat at eleven for several turns, his army is once again large enough to kill me in a single blow. I feign a Wrath, which gets countered…
The Ensnaring Bridge that follows did not.
Yes! That buys me all the time I need, or at least until his naturalize comes up. The mongrel gets in one more lick that brings me down to eight before my life goes 8-12-20-32-48 thanks to Life Burst times four. I show Justin my hand of three Moment’s Peace and more and convince him to scoop so that we have time for him to finish me off in game 3, and he does. There was not much hope left for him this game at that point anyway.
Game three sees Justin with a lot of land in hand, and not a lot of early pressure. However, my two land and Exalted Angel hand panned out slightly better this time, showing a third land on turn 3 and a fourth on turn 4. I attack with my morph creature and he blocks with his Arrogant Wurm, he cast via Careful Study. I’m not sure what he was expecting, but I ended up at twenty-three life and him with an empty board. My Angel swung in again the next turn for four, raising me to twenty-six (cursed painlands!).
With Justin at sixteen and no Wonders to be seen, I was hoping to win this game via damage, since time would be tight. He has other plans, as he Cunning Wishes, then Aether Bursts my angel. The next time my angel comes down Justin has white mana, so it is met with a reprisal instead. Oh well, I’m not supposed to be aggro anyway. While he has been dealing my Angel, I have been developing my board with Howling Mines and Millstone. When Justin taps out to cast a fistful of creatures, I lay the Bridge and Skullcap. He played the game out, and time was about to be called. However, he was drawing four cards a turn thanks to three mines, and two more were getting milled. We finished the game with a minute to spare and me at 34 life thanks to Words of Worship.
That game, I milled three of Justin’s four Circular Logics. Ouch.
So I survived my toughest match up, with two very close games and one blowout game 3. If this weren’t FNM, then Justin could have easily played more slowly and forced a draw, however. Extra Angels in the sideboard are already starting to look especially good.
ROUND 2: Trevor Keane, Burning Bridges
Trevor is a nice kid, but is pretty new to the magic tournament scene. As a result, he’s still learning some of the basics, but he does learn from his mistakes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of learning to be done this round, since this matchup is so lopsided in my favor.
After a Shock to the dome, he plays a turn 2 Howling Mine and I follow suit. Nice. A couple burn spells later I’m down to thirteen, but an Aegis of Honor comes up from the top of my deck. His Words of War is met with my Words of Worship. He sees the hopelessness of the situation and scoops. He could have potentially forced the game into a draw by using the words each turn instead of drawing, but my two main deck rays handle exactly four words of war, so the outcome was inevitable.
During sideboarding, Trevor asks me if Flaring Pain gets around Aegis of Honor. I told him no, but it did get around Moment’s Peace and Circle of Protection. So maybe he did get something useful out of this match.
Trevor was gracious to concede the matches instead of playing them out so that I could grab something to eat. Thanks Trevor!
ROUND 3: Malcolm Kim, Soldiers
Malcolm’s deck is just a whole bunch of soldiers with only a couple spells like Shared Triumph and Mobilization to give the deck an extra kick. While this doesn’t seem like a large threat, the deck is 2-0 so far, largely due to its ability to rush an opponent before they can response, or seal up the late game with a Catapult Squad.
Several Gustcloak creatures come out early and nip at my life, 20-17-14-10. I sit back conserving my Dogs for the last minute, and play out an Ensnaring Bridge. Malcolm isn’t too concerned about that, though, since I still have five cards in hand.
Next turn the Skullcap shows up and comes down. Malcolm admits to not having any main deck artifact removal. On to game 2.
This game is a real battle. A second-turn Mine comes down, giving Malcolm a fistful of creatures each turn. A couple of Wraths and Life Bursts later, I’m tapped out at 24 life, with a Words of Wisdom and several card drawers on the table. Down comes a Shared Triumph and a swing, leaving me at just nine life. That’s the last time any significant damage is dealt, though, and for the rest of the game I gain ten life and draw two cards a turn. Malcolm dies with a smile on his face from having drawn every single card in his deck!
ROUND 4: Dan Campisi, W/U/b control
Dan is a mainstay at Adventure Cards and Comics – and he inspires fear in most of his opponents, partly due to his endless quantity of rogue decks that he plays. His rating fluctuates rapidly between 1700 and 1900, and coming into this tournament we each stood at exactly 1802, so the winner here would likely take the lead in the ratings game. (And it really is a game for most of us, since we don’t plan on qualifying for any pro tours in the near future). Of all the players in the store, I fear Dan the least, having managed to beat him in the vast majority of our matchups. Was tonight to be any different?
Well, going into this game, we were the only 2 players to have 9 points. We briefly considered the draw, but several other players had 7 points, and drawing would not guarantee us first and second place, respectively. So we shuffle up and sit down to meet each other’s creations.
Game one was the most exciting game of the night. Dan had cast several morphs such as Whipcorder, Daru Lancer, and Exalted Angel. They pecked away at my life, but I was still at thirty (thanks to three Bursts) when I Wrathed and sent several creatures including a Wonder into the graveyard. Dan eventually managed to get me down to five when I refused to play a Fog, but with each player drawing five cards a turn, and him having fewer counters than I had Fogs, it was clear that Dan would not win via damage. At the time, I was at seventeen cards and Dan at twenty-one. Both of my Words of Worship had been killed via Cunning Wish for Ray of Distortion, but they were back in my deck thanks to Krosan Reclamation. All I had to do was keep one in play for a single turn and the game was mine.
He draws five, making the score 17-16 – and this is cards, not points. I draw, making it 12-16. I play a millstone, which surprisingly, is not countered. Milling makes the count 12-14, and after he draws I’m ahead at 12-9. Then behind at 7-9. Then ahead 7-4, in a position to win. On his turn, Dan taps out to cast Deep Analysis on me three times, leaving me with just 1 card in my deck. Of course, one of the cards I draw is Krosan Reclamation, which when flashed back, leaves my deck with exactly five cards. I draw out my deck and play both Words of Worships, and my second Millstone. I leave four mana open to avoid a Cunning Wish for Opportunity during his upkeep, and he draws himself out. Whew.
There are only fifteen minutes left in game 2, so my plan is to just stall him out, if not win outright via Milling. After all, his deck is not known for its speed. This game I see some new creatures on his side in Commander Eesha and Lieutenant Kirtar. I’m light on Fogs and decide to save them for lethal attacks. And then at the end of my turn, he casts Mana Short. I am at five and he has six damage worth of creatures on the table, so I’m in a bind – but fortunately, I have a Life Burst to bring me through. Countered. Life Burst number 2 is good and I got to thirteen, surviving the turn.
I untap and cast an emergency Wrath.
Looking at the board, I notice that I can beat down with a Nantuko Monastery, and I do. Next turn Dan casts the card I had been fearing all along: Akroma’s Vengeance. I lose two Howling Mines, but have two more in hand, one of which I played straight away. The Monastery swings for four again, and his twin brother comes onto the board. Thanks to the exploded mines, Dan has nothing to play on his turn except a sac land and a morph creature that he cannot unmorph, bringing him down to eleven. Two Monasteries later, he’s at three… And I’m poised to win via damage! He unmorphs the angel, but does not attack, fearing Dog, and passes the turn back to me. I calmly activate both Monasteries, swing, and claim victory before the Angel’s life gain resolves.
Or at least that’s what I envisioned happening. Instead, Dan made a token creature with Mobilization and chumped one monastery while blocking the other with the angel. Until that point I had not seen the Mobilization on the table, nor do I remember it coming into play. I even had a Ray in the grave ready to flash back with the mana open the previous turn, had I seen it. I would have then Wrathed and swung with one Monastery for the game. I had been too distracted arguing with a punk kid who had stolen my pack to even notice the enchantment hit play. Very shady.
So I end up with my beatdown engine gone, and leaving Dan with a very nice side of the board. That was Ninny maneuver number 1. After getting back into lethal damage range from Angel and Co., I decide to play my other Howling Mine in order to go turbo. I left myself with enough mana to cast one of the two Moment’s Peaces in my hand, as well as flash back that one and the one already in the yard.
Three Fogs are enough, right? Consider that ninny maneuver number 2. The next turn Dan draws, casts Deep Analysis at himself for two, and attacks. Moment’s Peace. Counter. Moment’s Peace. Counter. Moment’s Peace. Counter. Game.
And did you catch ninny maneuver number 3? Here’s a hint: He drew two counters off the Deep Analysis. Had I Peaced in response, I would have lived to tell about it.
Looks like I can use some room for improvement just like the rest of ’em.
There were only five minutes left in the round, and neither of our decks could win in that amount of time. A draw would put me anywhere from 1st to 6th, but due to my horrible tiebreakers, it would most likely be around 4th. So I conceded to Dan, so he would have the lock on first place, putting me out of the prizes. Dan was kind enough to throw half his packs my way, though, so it wasn’t all a loss (Note: yes it was – I sold the contents of the 5 packs for $3 to Dan afterwards).
Overall, the deck went 3-0-1, or 3-1-0, against an interesting field, to say the least. If nothing else, it shows that this deck has some potential. If I were to do it again, I would make just a couple changes:
The CoP Green should all be replaced with Exalted Angel, if possible. Green has enough enchantment kill that the CoPs just aren’t enough. Also, the Aegis of Honor main deck come out for every match up except mono red mono black. The sideboard, on the other hand, already had Circles for each of those colors. I am considering removing all Aegis from the deck and side, and adding a CoP Red in the board. After all, the life gain my deck has is often enough.
With those two spots left open in the main deck, I could put in a card that I am almost never unhappy to see: Ensnaring Bridge. True, it’s not so good when you have mines out, but you should be winning if you have mines out. If U/G or Reanimator are big in your area, the extra bridges will never go to waste. The main deck Rays, on the other hand, were perfect in the deck, and absolutely belong there.
One more note if you plan on playing this deck: make it clear that damage is on the stack before you decide to Fog. In one testing situation, I Fogged and my opponent used a Circular Logic via Psychatog madness to pump for just enough to kill me. That was just plain lazy on my part.
Legions and Turbofog
As I write this, a potential Legions spoiler has just come out. Whether it’s accurate or not, there is one thing that’s certain about Legions: It’s all creatures. And Turbofog loves creature-based decks. The further a deck goes down the creature road and away from control, the better my deck will fare.
The notable exception is the new Naturalize on legs, Nantuko Vigilante. If he shows up and starts killing all my Howling Mines, Turbofog could be in some serious trouble. But I expect that he will be relegated to the sideboard as a living wish target for the most part, and not appear in multiples. After all, he’s still not much good against opposition or slide. Other notable, yet unconfirmed cards are Elvish Soultiller and Caller of the Claw, both solid cards that get around Wrath of God to an extent. If these see play, the extra ensnaring bridges main deck may become essential. And I do expect the elf deck to explode once Legions is released. But until then, Turbofog will remain my deck of choice for FNM.