Testing, Testing… Turbofog?

The deck did well enough that I decided to bring it to play between rounds during FNM. After beating each U/G deck that crossed my path, and a variety of others, I started seriously considering this deck as a real contender… And since then, I have personally piloted this deck to over 80 wins in 101 games.

Hi, I’m Jeff Till. You may remember me from such articles as ‘Psychatog is not dead: Cunning Wish in Judgment Type II’, and… Well, that’s the only article I’ve written. And in fact, you may not remember that article at all because it was for Brainburst, and I’m sure you don’t visit that site.

So don’t despair, Ferrett – you lose Laura Mills, but you got me. What a swap! I don’t know what I’ll do if StarCity goes premium, though… Maybe magicthegathering.com needs a new writer?

So you need a reason to read this article after that boring introduction? Oh, I have reasons!

  • I’ll provide two decklists, one of which is a successful rogue deck, and the other is the best deck in Standard.

  • I’ve gone from a 1600 to 1800 rating in under a year, only playing in 8K Friday Night Magic tournaments! (And believe me, it’s tough when you have to go 3-1 just to break even.)

  • I’ve won every single GP and Pro Tour that I’ve attended. (Err..)

  • I’ve never ripped off a little kid. (Well, there was that one time I traded a Merfolk of the Pearl Trident for a Birds of Paradise, but I was a little kid too and didn’t know better).

  • I will cry if you don’t.

However, there’s something else you should know about me: I’m a net decker and I’m proud of it. During a tournament, I play to win. I’m a 21 year old programmer with a full time job and a fiancée. I don’t get a lot of time to test, so I play what I know is good (or at least what other people tell me is good).

Mini Game: Spot the blatant lie in the previous paragraph!

Hint: I’m writing this article at work (I hope my boss doesn’t play Magic.) Solution at end.*

Fortunately for me, when I play to win, I tend to do just that…

If someone asked you what is the best deck in standard right, now, chances are you would say U/G Madness. Well I’m here to tell you, the best deck in the format is, in fact… U/G Madness. <gasp> Actually, the superior version I run is really U/G/w madness. Here’s the deck that I’ve been running since Onslaught became legal, to much success.

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Arrogant Wurm

2 Roar of the Wurm

4 Merfolk Looter

4 Circular Logic

4 Careful Study

3 Counterspell

3 Cunning Wish

3 Wonder

1 Aquamoeba

2 Worship

4 Windswept Heath

4 Flooded Strand

2 City of Brass

1 Plains

1 Centaur Garden

8 Island

4 Forest


4 Aether Burst

4 Ray of Revelation

1 Naturalize

1 Divert

1 Beast Attack

1 Krosan Reclamation

1 Counterspell

1 Upheaval

1 “Moment’s Peace

Adding white to this deck was originally just a way to beat Slide decks, which were briefly popular in Buffalo. Slide tends to have a VERY difficult time winning against a deck with four Rays that can be cast twice (remember to keep one in the sideboard for wishing – the same goes for the Aether Burst). The Rays tend to turn games with Opposition and Wake into byes a lot, too.

With the addition of the Wishes, the deck has no choice but to be aggro-control instead of pure beatdown. Therefore, maindeck Counterspells over Aether Burst makes a lot of sense. In fact, I never side out the Counterspells, even when the Bursts come in. I have won several games by Wishing for the fourth Burst and swinging in for the late win.

The most recent, and most useful addition were the two main deck Worships. Especially useful in the mirror when your opponent taps out for a turn 3 or 4 Wurm, Worship turns many games from unwinnable to guaranteed victory. After all, unless your opponent is playing multiple board sweepers, you can just bide your time with Worship on the board and alpha strike at your leisure. If my opponent sees Worship game 1, I side them out for game 2, leaving them with a few dead enchantment removal spells. You have to get a good read on your opponent to decide whether it’s worth bringing them in for game 3 (though I’ve been lucky enough not to have to play many game 3s).

Before the addition of Worship, this deck never failed to go at least than 3-1 in my four round FNM tournaments. Since the addition, it has gone 3-1 once and 4-0 the other three times, against a field with some very decent players. If you ask me, 15-1 ain’t bad!

The only losses this deck has racked up (with and without Worship) are from mono black (which are always tight games) and from an elf deck… Yes, an elf deck. I’m sorry. If you see a lot of MBC in your area, I would recommend putting in at least a couple Composts over Rays.

And there you have it, the best deck in Standard. If you think you got one that is better, let me know, and maybe we can have a showdown some time.

Now that you know the format’s most obvious deck, time for something a little different:

Between rounds, I play for fun. I like to change it up a little, and play the not-so-good (a.k.a. rogue) decks. To me, playing the same decks over and over again gets stale very quickly, especially if those decks are U/G Madness and/or Psychatog in standard.

So I thought back to my decks of yore, and fondly remembered milling my opponent into oblivion time and time again. And I thought… aha! Turbofog! Who remembers Turbofog? I don’t, because I wasn’t playing Standard then – but the name sounded familiar. So I looked up Turbofog on a couple deck databases, and then on yahoo, and found nothing. If this really was a deck, it much not have been much good. But I was left to my own devices to create a decklist to match the title. It looked something like:

Turbofog v. 1.0

25 Howling Mine (turbo) [note: I couldn’t find a single Magic card with the word turbo in it… how sad!] (Thran Turbine? Turbolent Dreams? Disturboed Burial? – The Ferrett)

60 Fog (fog)

50 Forest (one with a foggy looking picture, if possible)

And voila! The deck was built. But people got suspicious, so I changed it up a bit and got:

Turbofog v. 2.0

4 Howling Mine

4 Millstone

2 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Grafted Skullcap

4 Fog

4 Krosan Tusker

4 Moment’s Peace

2 Aegis of Honor

2 Words of Worship

4 Life Burst

4 Wrath of God

4 Krosan Verge

4 Windswept Heath

2 Nantuko Monastery

7 Plains

7 Forest


None – I wait until I see if the deck can win before building the board.

In general, this deck plays out in a mostly straightforward fashion. Mill and howl your opponent to death, while staying alive with life gain and Fogs. Note: Howling Mine and Ensnaring Bridge is not a good combo… But the Bridge/Skullcap lock can shut down many opponents game 1. That’s good stuff.

So I digitally built this deck and tested some games on Apprentice. Granted, the skill level of the average player on Apprentice is not high – but on the bright side, you see some otherwise unheard of decks. I mean, Mortal Combat? Come on!

So I played seven quick games against seven different decks and won five of them. That wasn’t bad, considering I threw the deck together in a couple of minutes. And yes, one of my losses was to the Mortal Combat deck. And yes, it was in fact due to the Mortal Combat.

The deck did well enough that I decided to bring it to play between rounds during FNM. So I threw together the cards, proxied what I didn’t have, and was off. Fortunately, the skill level of the players there is significantly higher than the Apprentice crowd, and the decks they play are more mainstream. This environment made for some pretty good testing.

After beating each U/G deck that crossed my path, and a variety of others, I started seriously considering this deck as a real contender… Yet I did manage to lose one game to a Wake deck that Memory Lapsed my final Moment’s Peace, and another to a Megrim deck, which was down to no cards in deck when the game ended. That told me I needed one major change: Maindeck enchantment kill. At first, I put in a Disenchant and a Naturalize plus a couple of Krosan Reclamations for recursion. This helped a lot, but after giving it even more thought, there are only two artifacts in the environment that I really want to kill: Riptide Replicator and Mirari (if I don’t have an Aegis of Honor out). So the Disenchants effects were replaced by Rays of Revelation, which give this deck a fair shot against any enchantment-based decks like Opposition, Wake, and Slide. Finally, to compensate for the weakening against black, I added three Circle of Protection: Black to the board, leaving me nothing to fear in that matchup (except g-g-g-Guiltfeeder).

Turbofog v. 3.0

4 Howling Mine

2 Millstone

2 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Grafted Skullcap

4 Fog

2 Krosan Tusker

2 Krosan Reclamation

4 “Moment’s Peace

2 Ray of Revelation

2 Aegis of Honor

2 Words of Worship

4 Life Burst

4 Wrath of God

4 Krosan Verge

4 Windswept Heath

2 Nantuko Monastery

7 Plains

7 Forest


3 Circle of Protection: Black

4 Circle of Protection: Green

2 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Aegis of Honor

2 Ray of Revelation

3 Sacred Ground (I hear this works against Braids…)

The first things I took out were the two Millstones, since they have no direct impact on the game, even though they can potentially put your opponent on a shorter clock.

Also, I cut two Tuskers because this deck has so many turn 3 plays that I hardly ever needed them to draw mana. They are still essential, though – because combined with Monasteries they provide simple late-game wins. This is especially important because at times you need to kill quickly in order to finish your matches on time. After all, this is a Millstone deck, turbo or not – and that takes time, not to mention the fact that the deck has ten shuffle effects, and those too take time. If you have problems winning with this deck in the time provided because either you or your opponent is a slow player, you may want to consider putting four Exalted Angels in the board to speed up some matchups.

A lot more online testing confirmed that the maindeck Rays are helpful in a very large number of matchups; in particular, they have much better synergy with the Skullcaps than Disenchant did. Only once did I wish the Rays were Disenchants, and that was against a Wildfire deck running Fire Diamonds. I don’t expect much of that in my field, however. Even if there is, I am assured that Sacred Ground works against LD and braids, another problem card.

Playing the deck is normally simple. If you play a Howling Mine turn 2, you will win. Howling Mine is the key spell in this deck, as it enables you to draw answers at a faster rate than your opponent can cast threats. Plus, since all the answers in this deck are global in nature, it doesn’t matter how many threats of a particular kind your opponent plays. In testing, the”multiplayer effect” ensures that the Howling Mine will stay on the table. Just like in multiplayer when nobody wants to kill the player with the Mine, in a one-on-one match your opponent is not likely to destroy your Howling Mines (very clever players excluded.) Even if you opponent is packing artifact removal (which they may well be after sideboarding, or with Wishes), there are so many artifactoid targets that an opponent often will choose the wrong one (like a Millstone).

Here are how some of the standard matchups go:

UG Madness:

Any deck that can beat UG Madness consistently would clearly be the top of the pile… And Turbofog puts up a great fight. The good news is that your fogs outnumber their counters. The bad news is that you can run out of Fogs if there isn’t a Howling Mine in play, and U/G Madness can put you on a very short clock to find the right answer. The trick is to make them use counters on non-essential spells, and then wrath. You do have a nineteen-point life buffer to work with to find your lock – namely, Ensnaring Bridge – so search with all your might.

Also, don’t waste your time casting Krosan Reclamation on their Wonders or Roar of the Wurms. Same them for your own key spells like wrath and mine. The longer this game lasts the more likely it is that you are going to win. Just don’t leave yourself with too little mana to Fog twice, and you have at least a 50/50 shot against this deck. (I have fared much better than 50%, but few of my opponents ran Cunning Wish to naturalize the Bridge, which is a real show-stopper.) But then again, even U/G only has a 50% change of beating U/G.

In: 4 CoP: Green

Out: 2 Aegis of Honor, 2 Ray of Revelation


This game can be a real beating if they can cast Opposition and you don’t have a Ray. After all, you can’t cast fog if you have no mana. If you do draw the Ray, this game is generally very easy, which is why after sideboarding this is hardly a match at all. Let them have all the squirrels they want; they’ll never be able to attack for damage without Opposition locking you down.

In: 2 Ray (and 4 CoP if you won game 1)

Out: 2 Aegis (2 Millstone, 2 Tusker)

Anything Red:

Aegis of Honor. Life gain. Game over. The only reason there are Circle of Protections: Red in the board is for Slide, not this matchup.

In: 1 Aegis, 2 CoP (might as well)

Out: 2 Ray, 1 Tusker


On the bright side, they’ll do half the decking for you. On the other hand, multiple Lightning Rifts or Pardic Arsonists with Slide is a major headache. Game 1 they have more enchantments than you have removal, and you can lose if they get going quickly. If you can nail their Rifts right away, though, the game is very lopsided in your favor. After sideboarding, there is no chance for Slide. Play quickly.

In: 2 Ray, 2 CoP Red

Out: 2 Aegis of Honor, 2 Tusker


This deck is very diverse, and is not to be taken lightly. Nantuko Shades can kill before you get going, Haunting Echoes and Duress can remove your key spells, and Corrupts steal huge amount of your life. This deck is the reason I have Aegis of Honor main. At least you normally won’t get decked by the Echoes, because Words of Worship keeps you from drawing, and Krosan Reclamation keeps you from losing the Words permanently. Also, you can lose games to Guiltfeeder if you don’t have a Wrath. At these times, you are glad that Haunting Echoes goes off! If you have a lot of Guiltfeeder players around you, this may not be your lucky day.

After sideboarding, you have a lot more breathing room, and the games tend to swing in your favor, barring multiple early Duresses.

In: 3 CoP Black, 1 Aegis of Honor

Out: 2 Ray, 1 Fog

Other matchups that can cause problems are decks with Upheaval and Braids. The Sacred Grounds are to combat Braids, and having several artifacts to sacrifice gives you some extra time to find a Verge, too. Upheaval can really spoil your day, but you have two main answers to it: Fog and life gain. If your opponent fails to leave mana open for countering when they swing for the lethal post-Upheaval attack, a Fog can seriously ruin their day. Most players do have the counter, though, so the proactive approach works better: Gain lots of life. Slap down a Words of Worship and start raising your life total by five to twenty points a turn. Tog just cannot deal more than fifty damage a game.

In summary, this deck can take the entire field by storm, and have your opponents slapping their foreheads in frustration. I did not post win percentages above, since that depends so much on the players – but I have personally piloted this deck to over 80 wins in 101 games. In fact, I am so confident in this deck that I intend on putting my money where my mouth is and running this in the next tournament I play. Stay tuned for results.

Until next time,

Jeff Till

[email protected]

* – This one was easy. I have lots of free time. I mean, come on. I’m a programmer! Apprentice looks plenty like Visual Basic to your average manager. MTGO is a little harder to pull off, of course.