The Tale of the Tog and the Head Judge

After working for a week on a modified version of Gush-a-Tog, Terry set out to test the deck at the final Grand Prix of the season. In spite of posting a 6-1-1 record, he didn’t end up in Day 2 because the judge gave him a match loss after the match had completed. What is the normal ruling in this case and how did Psychatog, of all decks, end up taking over the Extended season at the end? The answers to these questions and more are just a click away.

I was tinkering for a long time about which deck should I play for Grand Prix: Singapore. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have much time to practice for Extended as we approached the GP, since I had to spend time organizing my trip to Pro Tour: Atlanta. That trip was a total disaster though, as we didn’t make Day 2 and I was sick during the whole weekend. When I finally reached home, I found that I only had two more days to decide on my deck choice. I was attracted to the Gush-A-Tog played by Taylor Putnam at GP: Seattle, hence I started to do some work tuning it. After some testing, here’s the list I went with it for the GP.


4 Psychatog


4 Counterspell

3 Foil

2 Force Spike

2 Mana Leak

Card Drawings

4 Brainstorm

3 Fact or Fiction

3 Intuition

4 Accumulated Knowledge

3 Gush


3 Powder Keg

2 Cunning Wish


14 Island

4 Polluted Delta

2 Bloodstained Mire

3 Swamp


3 Duress

3 Chalice of the Void

4 Engineered Plague

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Capsize

1 Rebuild

1 Coffin Purge

1 Hideous Laughter

Less mana is better.

This version is more like a hybrid of the aggro and control version Tog. I removed the Sapphire Medallions and replace them with additional counter and the most efficient hidden gem in the deck against creature decks: Powder Keg. I have no idea why no one is running any of them. First of all, it deals with the ever-annoying Aether Vial that Blue decks fear the most. It brings down any Grim Lavamancer/Cursed Scroll or even kills Medallions in the Desire deck. There are some people who run Engineered Explosives instead, but I totally disagree with it. Engineered Explosives is more mana intensive compared to the cheap, efficient Powder Keg. If you want to kill permanent with a casting cost of one, you have to spend a total of three mana instead of two mana with Keg. It looks worse if you want to kill permanent with casting cost of two. Keg prevents Treetop Village from attacking while Explosives do not. Of course, Keg has its drawbacks too. You’ll most probably have to wait a turn or two before you kills anything, but that should be fine. I find out that every mana available in the deck is invaluable. You want to spend the early game controlling with Kegs and counters, and any additional mana could be used to draw cards.

Regarding about the other cards in the deck, you’ll most probably be wondering why there are only two Cunning Wish in the deck, as people tend to run 3 or 4. Cunning Wish, once again, is mana intensive. It looks really good on paper, but things don’t seem to be that great if you wants your deck to have a fair shot in beating creatures deck in the field. I had 3 Cunning Wish in the beginning, but I choose the cut the third one for the fourth Brainstorm instead. I also wanted to have a sideboard. Most Tog decks just have cards to combat creature decks in the board but none against control and combo. I wanted to have an equivalent game against creature, combos and control. I will explain the sideboard choices later on.

I have a good number of card drawing in the main – 3 Fact or Fiction, 3 Intuition, 3 Gush are the big guns, while the filters are Brainstorm and Accumulated Knowledge. Most probably cutting the third Wish is okay for me, since the most important for you to be ahead in the game is card advantage, and the deck already has a sufficient amount of card drawing engine.

The deck has a total of 11 counters, with a combination of 4 Counterspell, 3 Foil, 2 Mana Leak, 2 Force Spike. Counterspell is a no-brainer inclusion of 4 slot, the other hidden gem is Foil. Though it seems like a bad trade off at one-for-three, it perfectly fit in the Gush-A-Tog version. This deck needs to tap out for Tog, Intuition, Fact or Fiction or Cunning Wish all the time. With a Foil in your hand, you always feel safe to go for it. The Mana Leak and Force Spike are for the early game defense, which most probably going to be redundant later in the game. Hard counters like Foil and Counterspell simply shine here.

Regarding the lands, it has a fine count of 23, the usual amount for Tog decks. The Bloodstained Mire might seem a little weird, so allow me to explain briefly. Taylor Putnam’s list played 4 Polluted Delta and 3 Swamp, or a total combination of 7 Black mana sources. I don’t think that’s sufficient of Black mana in the deck to consistently cast a Tog on turn 3. Now, I would like to add more Black mana sources to the deck, but I don’t want to play with any Underground Rivers to avoid Wasteland splash damage, and playing with more Swamps cripples the deck’s mana when you draw two of them. Enter Bloodstained Mire. It allows you to have more Black sources in the deck, while reducing the chances to ever draw 2 Swamps and it solved Wasteland’s problematic issue. Note that extra fetch land also helps the Tog a little. The Mire also creates psychological games with your opponents, as they might think that you have Scepter in the deck, since the Mire represents Red in the deck, but there aren’t any. Remember, psychological games always plays an important role in Magic.

After all these explanations, it’s time to talk about the card that makes the deck: Psychatog. It costs three mana, plays both an defensive and offensive role, has the capability to kill your opponent on turn 4, and it has inevitability. I can’t see the reason to run less then four copies of such card where the whole deck is designed to abuse it. Another reason I run this version instead of the control version is simply because Psychatog in this deck is more powerful and brutal compared to the Tog in the control version.

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How can that ever happen, since both decks run the same card? The answer lies in the card choices for both decks. The control version has more counters, this version has Gush. Gush makes all the difference in the world. It suddenly makes your Tog kills much faster, it forces your opponent into tough decision to chump block the Tog (it will never be a good scenario for your opponent if he is force to chump block it) and if he doesn’t, you might just float two mana, Gush, then Fact or Fiction, good game. That makes the Tog become better in both reality and psychological games.


I felt I had maximized the advantage of this version of Tog compared to others, simply because of the strength of the sideboard. It has cards to board in against every single matchup, which is a good point to consider since there are always redundant cards you want to board out against certain matchup.

It has 3 Duress against control, and you’ll board out Powder Keg for them. Now, you might feel tempted to board out Intuitions, as they seem next to useless in that matchup. Wrong. Intuition gets you land when you’re about to miss land drop. Intuition gets you card drawing after an exhaustive counter war. While Powder Keg has nothing to increase your percentage of winning the game at all. It’s very essential to note that other Tog/ Scepter control decks do not have any cards to board in against you, and with Duress you should have a significant advantage in the match.

Next is creature matchup, where the 4 Engineered Plagues come in. Sure, it’s best against Goblins, but it’s fine to board them against Cephalid Life despite the fact that it’s more a combo deck. It’s a good card too for the Red Deck Wins matchup, since it kills threats and Tog has a low count of removal. Here you want to board out some expensive card drawers (FoF, Gush) since you want to maintain control of the early game, and you win later on regardless. However, you don’t really have a good chance of winning against Goblins, you have to play really tight games. Red Deck Wins is much easier in this case, as they have a lower threat count.

Here comes the combo matchup. This is the matchup you want to play every round, as these are very good matchups for you. Chalice of the Void slaughters them. Chalice for one shuts down Cephalid Life, Chalice for two makes Desire next to impossible to go off, and Duress makes things worse for them. Keg is good versus Cephalid Life, and it’s a mediocre card against Desire, meaning that you’re keeping them when you’re against Life and boarding them out against Desire. Take out a mixture of counters and card drawers for the hosers. Never, ever board out Psychatog in any given game, or against any deck in the format – they are always the best card in the deck.

The worst matchup for this deck is The Rock. You simply can’t beat them. Discard is bad, Eternal Witness is bad, Ravenous Baloth is equally problematic, as is Treetop Village. The key to this matchup is card advantage. You have to overwhelm them with card advantage in order to win this matchup. Try not to cast the Tog early, you want to protect them from Edicts or Deeds, unless you have a backup Foil in hand. Use your Force Spike and Mana Leak as early as possible, as they will be useless as the game drags on, and it’s pretty hard to end the game fast when you’re facing the Rock.

After all explanation about the deck, it’s time for some practical games. I actually went 6-1-1 with this deck at the GP, but I got a match loss in the last round of the GP after I had won my match. This was the result of a very awkward decision by the head judge Wearn Chong, as usually penalties will be carried to the next round once the match is done. I believe he should have handed me the penalty the next round (which would be the first round of Day 2). Oh well, guess you just can’t mess with the head judge once he’s declared that this was his final decision.

I do admit that I made a mistake in judgment (I don’t really want to discuss the mistake. in detail here.. most probably everyone has gotten a game loss or match loss in his career at some point right? It’s Magic.), and I totally accept the penalty. Let me repeat this so that it is clear: I completely accept the penalty I was given for my mistake. The thing is, what I feel was his improper final decision on when to apply the loss decision really killed my chances in both winning money and earning more Pro Points towards the Pro Player of the Year race. So the short version is that this deck would have easily made Day 2 without the match loss, thus proving that it is quite good.

Despite the fact that I did not earn anything, I’m still happy with the deck’s performance overall. Had I held onto my Tog, I would had won my round 5 match. Had the head judge decided to follow the usual DCI Floor Rules where penalty would be carried to the next round after the match was over, I would have made Day 2. Mistakes are inevitable in Magic, we just have to learn from it. As long as you can accept your mistakes, you have opened your path to victory. If not, you’ll probably never able to escape them. Extended season has ended for everyone outside of the Philadelphia area, but I still hope you readers will enjoy this article – remember, you still get to play Psychatog next season as well. For those control lovers out there, this is the deck for you.

Until then, may your unblocked Psychatog deal lethal damage on turn 4.