I’m back again. Dr. Frankenstein put me together using old Tucker Talisman parts. You don’t feed it, you oil it.
After the disappointment that was the GPT, you know I’m looking to redeem myself. I went to a PTQ on Saturday and, to put it mildly, didn’t do as well as I would have liked. It was a combination of factors. A few deckbuilding mistakes, a few crucial play errors, some bad draws and some bad matchups that wouldn’t have occurred if my record hadn’t been so abysmal.
Is it frustrating? Yeah, a little. There will be other chances (a PTQ in London, Ontario on the 18th, for example) – but for now, the U.S. PTQ train has sailed, and I’m not on it. Heck, I couldn’t even post a winning record. Congratulations are due, though, to fellow Future Pastimes player Jean-Marc Babin. He finished second at the Detroit PTQ, losing in the fifth game of the final to narrowly miss being the first Sarnia player to make the Tour.
I went 2-4-1 at the same event. I know what you’re thinking.
“Good God,”you say to yourself, “you are just terrible. I thought you said you were going to take an established archetype, playtest the heck out of it and go in and try to outplay people?”
I’m guilty as charged – I played terribly and I got the steaming, stinking fecal disaster of a record that I so richly deserved. And I broke my promise – I didn’t play U/G or Monoblack. I played a Psychatog deck. I’ll give you the full report in a day or two, but for now, let me just show you the deck, give you some testing results, and explain a few card choices.
4 Cunning Wish
4 Chainer’s Edict
4 Circular Logic
4 Aether Burst
2 Deep Analysis
1 Innocent Blood
3 Darkwater Catacombs
2 Cephalid Coliseum
Here’s a quick rundown of the deck and the changes I would make if I were to play it today.
These are excellent in the deck, but sometimes they can be a little slow, and anytime you draw a useless copy (in the very early game), it’s a safe bet that drawing a second and a third will make it even more useless. Part of the sideboard is a toolbox to take advantage of this card, and for the most part I was pleased with the results. Four is too many, though. I’m going to go down to three or two in future incarnations of the deck.
You always want one to slow down the beatdown decks, so the number is going to stay at four. You know the story of the ‘Tog. Great synergy with Madness, great synergy with Wishes (‘Tog eats it, and it’s a Wish target), sneaks up to deal twenty when you least suspect it.
I didn’t find myself flashing these back a whole lot… But they’re still a must-have because they’re one of the few ways to reliably kill a second-turn Mongrel, the defining play of the environment. Sure, sometimes they have a Rootwalla to throw out and make the save, and sometimes they had a turn 1 play – but often enough, this card will save your bacon and slow down the U/G player just enough to let you take control of the game. I wouldn’t play less than four.
Pretty slow, they’re still an excellent late-game card, and synergy with Compulsion and Psychatog means that you probably want to play four, and risk the triple-Logic, triple-land, Upheaval draw.
Now, don’t roll your eyes. I know this card-by-card analysis is pretty basic, and you already know why the parts of a Psychatog deck work. The point here is to nail down the specifics. Should I play two Upheavals or three? Three Cunning Wishes or four? Or maybe none?
An excellent tempo card – but then again, you probably already knew that. This card can keep you alive in the early game while you’re trying to get things running, postpone massive Nantuko Shade death, save your Psychatogs from black removal, and so on and so forth. The very nature of the card dictates that you not play less than four.
So often an Ancestral against Monoblack, three is the right number. Fairly bad against U/G. I experimented with sideboarding them out against that deck (especially going second), but found that I would rather remove Compulsion. Perhaps the right play is to side out Standstill when going second and Compulsion when going first.
A madness outlet that can’t be killed by Monoblack, you always want to draw one and only one – so three is again the right number. In the late-game, this pretty much gives you total control, and you’ll find you are able to keep the board clear with ease. It’s all about card-quality advantage. This is also the main reason you can play only two Upheavals.
One of the maindeck question marks. A good card when you’re going first, it’s really mediocre when you’re going second or when drawn in the late-game against Monoblack, when they have two Cabal Coffers on the table. I never did side it out going second, though I probably should have – against U/G, I’d rather side out Compulsion, and against Monoblack I’d rather side out three Cunning Wishes, since I’m just siding in the most likely target (Envelop) anyhow. I may just replace these with three Innocent Bloods, bringing the number up to four in the maindeck.
The game-winner. Two is the right number, since you never want to draw one early, and you probably don’t want to draw more than one in any given game. At least, you hope you won’t need to.
Pure card advantage and a great late-game draw, this also isn’t a bad turn 4 play if your turn 3 play was Psychatog, because it powers up the ‘Tog enough to survive those”you pitch your cards and I’ll pitch mine” Mongrel wars. Sometimes the U/G player will even decide to stay home – and if that’s the case, you’re in great shape.
I added one to the maindeck to help against U/G. It used to be a Turbulent Dreams. Three more in the sideboard help in games two and three. I think I might go up to four in the maindeck soon.
Excellent against Monoblack, but not so good when they get the four-Nantuko Shade draw – as one deck did against me at the PTQ. In fact, he played a second-turn Shade every game on his way to winning the match. I side these in for three copies of Cunning Wish and the Innocent Blood. Also a good sideboard target for Cunning Wish when you want to stop a Battle Screech or Roar of the Wurm and only have four mana.
Another good target for Cunning Wish, this is great against anything but Wild Mongrel, especially in response to a bunch of Centaur Garden pumping and Rootwalla activation. You’re almost guaranteed enough cards in the graveyard to kill most anything.
Late game, this will draw you four cards and make your opponent discard three, if used in conjunction with Cephalid Coliseum during an opposing upkeep. If you have both Coliseums, you blow away the entire opposing hand and draw seven cards. That’s pretty good, especially against Monoblack. Against U/G, you won’t have time to pull this off… But that’s why it’s in the sideboard instead of in the main.
Good against Elephant Guide and Squirrel Nest.
So that’s the deck. The matchups in testing were like 75% wins against traditional Monoblack (the type with maybe six to eight creatures) and 45% against U/G. I added the three Innocent Bloods to the sideboard at the last minute in an attempt to improve that matchup.
Expect the full tournament report soon. Right now, I have a date with a twelve-hour snooze. See you tomorrow!