Building the Good Decks - 3

Posted in Learning Curve on April 23, 2003

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

When preparing to play in the Standard environment, whether you are competing at Regionals or trying to win Friday Night Magic at you local store, there are two decks that you should expect to see quite a bit of. Not only are they economically easy to build but they have been the two dominant archetypes in Standard for more than a year. Until they are dethroned at a major event, Psychatog and Blue-Green Madness remain the decks to beat—or to beat with, depending on your perspective.

Both decks had high finishes at the Masters event at Pro Tour - Chicago, which was prior to the inclusion of Legions in Standard, although neither deck gained anything from the all-creature set.

Blue-Green Madness

Blue-Green Madness relies almost entirely upon commons and uncommons from the Odyssey block to operate. The deck first emerged at Pro Tour - Osaka as an Odyssey Block Constructed deck when Ken Ho won that event with a Tarnished Citadel and Upheaval as his only rares. The key cards in the deck were Wild Mongrels and Aquamoebas. Those two cards allow you to exploit the madness cards Basking Rootwalla and Arrogant Wurm. They also serve as an outlet to toss Roar of the Wurm into the graveyard for a turn-4 6/6 token creature.

Ken Ho played a very similar deck at the Chicago masters event. He replaced the Tarnished Citadel with three City of Brass and the Aquamoebas became Merfolk Looters—exchanging power for card selection without losing madness outlets.

Blue-Green Madness

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While it may seem that the Werebears are there for their threshold ability, more often than not they are used simply to accelerate to Roar of the Wurm on turn three or Upheaval a turn sooner. The fact that they are a 4/4 after threshold is just gravy.

Careful Study is one of the MVPs in this deck helping to make up for it light land count and spitting out Basking Rootwallas on turn one while digging two cards deeper into the deck. Followed by a Standstill, a first turn Rootwalla presents an opponent with the unfortunate prospect of allowing you to draw three cards or get beaten down by the little green pumper. Basking Rootwalla is also quite nice after an Upheaval when you can discard them into play at the end of your turn.

 

Your Blue-Green Madness Priority List
What rares to trade for (in order)
Upheaval
City of Brass
Equilibrium
Ravenous Baloth
Callous Oppressor
Delusions of Mediocrity
The deck can make do with fewer copies of City of Brass if need be. Many versions of the deck only play one, and even Upheaval can be cut back to a single copy although two seems to be the optimum number. Ken Hos’s deck may only have five rares, which we just cut down to two or three, but he was sporting nine in his sideboard. I have seen the Equilibriums replaced with Turbulent Dreams in newer versions of the deck to deal with Ensnaring Bridge but there is no reason you can’t play with Naturalize. Callous Oppressor is an excellent means of creature control but so is Aether Burst, which also gives you a leg up on the Red-Green archetype. If you don’t have access to Ravenous Baloth maybe you will have better luck trading for Delusions of Mediocrity, a less desirable rare that will serve to foil burn decks and aggressive creature strategies that don’t have access to Disenchants.

Here is version with only two main deck rares and only two more in the sideboard. The deck remains highly competitive and easy to play. Of all of the rares, the only "must-have" is the lone Upheaval.

Blue-Green Madness

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Psychatog

Psychatog did not have a good experience at the Last Chance Qualifier in Venice, finding itself overwhelmed by the super-fast Green-Red decks. There were a number of builds that tried to incorporate a third color to support Wrath of God but that only seemed to make the deck less consistent, and consistency is the deck's strongest suit. The most successful recent build of the deck is Neil Reeves' version—also from the Masters in Chicago.

Psychatog

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Creature (3)
3 Psychatog
Enchantment (4)
4 Compulsion
60 Cards

 

Your Psychatog Priority List
What rares to trade for (in order)
Upheaval
Polluted Delta
Underground River
Mana Short
Cunning Wish
Read the Runes
If it weren’t for the eight rare lands, this deck would only sport seven rares between the deck and sideboard. I have seen a number of versions of Psychatog decide to forgo Cunning Wish altogether in order to have a more "normal" sideboard—although you probably would need at least one more copy of Mana Short if you chose to do that. You could choose to cut one Upheaval and the three Cunning Wishes in favor of four copies of Standstill. If you play Standstill you will also need Aether Burst and both Upheavals to be successful.

You can put out a Standstill when there are no creatures in play—if you have a Compulsion out it is even better. If your opponent wants to cast any spells, you draw three cards before that spell resolves and you can decide whether or not to counter it. You, on the other hand can wait your opponent out, playing land after land and crafting the perfect hand. Often the 'Tog player will break his own Standstill when he finally decides to play Upheaval. If your opponent is not going to have anything in play on the beginning of his next turn, who cares how many cards he draws?

If you want to play Tog, your first priority should be acquiring Upheaval followed by Polluted Delta and then Underground River. Cunning Wish is not essential and should be your last priority but Mana Short is critical to winning the control match-up and if you don’t have Cunning Wish you will need to trade for two of these—possibly even ahead of the lands. Here is a version of the deck that only utilizes eight rares between main deck and sideboard.

Psychatog

Download Arena Decklist
Creature (3)
3 Psychatog
Instant (11)
4 Circular Logic 4 Counterspell 3 Smother
Enchantment (8)
4 Compulsion 4 Standstill
Land (24)
13 Island 4 Polluted Delta 7 Swamp
Other (4)
4 Aether Burst
60 Cards

I have an extra column going up at the end of this week which will help keep you ahead of the Learning Curve in your Region! Stay tuned!

Brian may be reached at brian@fightlikeapes.com.

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