The Big Four

Posted in Event Coverage on January 5, 2003

By Josh Bennett

Far and away, four archetypes defined the field at Grand Prix - New Orleans. They stood for fully half the field, even taking into account that there were sixty different decktypes being played. They were: The Rock, Blue-Green Madness, Oath, and Psychatog. Below are what some of the most successful players of those decks have to say about them. Why did they choose to play them, what makes them tick, and would they have done anything different?

Gerard Fabiano on "The Rock" - 18th Place

Fabiano didn't mince words when it came to his reasons for choosing The Rock. All that talk about it having game against a lot of decks is more than just talk. "This is the deck to play to make Day 2 at a GP." The disruptive package gives it a huge leg up that most decks don't, and the inclusion of a maindeck Haunting Echoes is key, especially in beating Psychatog. He was glad he included it, particularly because he wasn't anticipating such a Psychatog-dense environment. However, all three of his crew playing Rock wound up in the Top 32, so that definitely counts for something.

Most importantly, Fabiano credits his playgroup for working on more than one deck at a time. They learned the hard way, at Houston with their blue-black reanimator, that when everyone's working on the same deck, it's much harder to see where improvements can be made, and which modifications are of value.

"The phenomenon is called Groupthink." - a nearby Mike Pustilnik

Grand Prix New Orleans: The Rock

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Jeff Cunningham on "Blue-Green Madness" - 5th Place

Cunningham doesn't see it this way, but he's definitely been vindicated for the ribbing he took for running blue-green madness at Pro Tour - Houston. You'd think that his Top 32 finish would have done that, but pros simply wrote it off to chance. However, as the PTQ season has gone on, the deck's popularity has gone through the roof.

In testing, Cunningham found it was beating his gauntlet continuously. It played like a Fish deck, but with serious threats instead of 1/1's. It's ultra-aggressive, and he believes that's a big mistake that players are making, treating it like a mid-range deck. He particularly mentioned that you often just pitch cards, good cards mind you, for extra damage from Wild Mongrel and Aquamoeba. He decries versions of the deck that try to run Merfolk Looter. It's simply too slow. If you try to play the control deck, you'll just end up outclassed by the better control cards out there. You have to hit early and hit often.

Daze, he says, is phenomenal. It makes the early game just that much deadlier, and answers a lot of things the deck fears. He was particularly ready for the mirror, but didn't end up using any of his Spellbane Centaurs, missing the many blue-green decks out there.

He was happy that the field at the Grand Prix met his expectations. In particular, he didn't fear Psychatog, unlike so many in attendance. The only change he could suggest was the possibility of losing an Intuition for a Wonder, just because mana is sometimes an issue, and Wonder is so ridiculous.

Grand Prix New Orleans: U/G Madness

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Eugene Harvey on "Psychatog" - 2nd Place

Harvey insists that the bulk of the credit for his Psychatog stands with moneymaking Osyp Lebedowicz. He knew it was the deck he wanted to take to this Grand Prix after two players with a card-for-card identical version qualified on consecutive weeks. He flat out calls it "The most powerful deck in the format".

The reasons for this are many. First off, Smother is enormous, giving him a huge edge versus blue-green madness, a deck he knew would be well represented this weekend. The reduction of pure Goblin Sligh decks is also a boon. Strangely, Red Deck Wins 2K2 runs a near fifty-fifty matchup. The Cunning Wish targets have also been tweaked for maximum efficiency. He couldn't think of a change he'd make, but admits that in second place, he's probably not the man to talk to for alterations.

Grand Prix New Orleans: Psychatog

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Zach "The Baby-Faced Assassin" Parker on "Oath" - 30th Place

Talk about a good idea gone wrong. Zach Parker came to this tournament expecting plenty of Rock and Blue-Green madness. He got his wish, and wound up cruising into Day 2. Once there, however, he found himself in a sea of Psychatog decks, seemingly out of nowhere. And if there's one thing his deck can't beat, it's Psychatog.

Against other decks, he's a total wrecking ball. Crater Hellion is particularly outrageous against blue-green madness, and in particular he points to his Battlefield Scrounger as the key to his success. With that much Psychatog, though, Parker was ready to give up at the day's start. When asked what deck he should have played, he simply shook his head and said "I have NO idea."

Grand Prix New Orleans: Oath

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