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"Silly Atog, Trix Are For Kids!"

2.27.02    Iím back!  Sorry for the long wait, folks, but the combination of school, work, family, and illness have kept me from writing for a while.  Iím better now, and my schedule has gone back to normal, so writing shouldnít be a problem.  Iíll try to not let it happen again.

Weíve seen many decks played lately within type 2, but none can seem to compare to the Psychatog decks running rampant all over the place.  What makes the deck so good?  Many have tried to explain it (meaning that I wonít) and many more still donít understand.  The deck is rather simple, cheap to make, and very effective at what it does.

            More importantly, however, is the fact that it is the deck to beat.  So, how do you beat it?  There are several approaches that can be taken, some more obvious than others. 

1.)    Kill the Psychatogs.

It sounds simple enough, but just try doing it.  The first hard part about this task is that the Psychatog is almost never played when control hasnít been established.  Therefore, your main goal at the time always seems to be keeping yourself alive rather than killing the stupid bugger.

Secondly, the Psychatog deck runs numerous bounce spells that if you DO manage to find away to strike at the thing, it seems to get safely bounced back to its controllerís hand, just to be replayed whenever your back at the task of keeping yourself alive.  This shows the versatility of the deck in being able to use its spells as both offensive and defensive weapons.

So how do you kill the things?  I can answer that question simply.   I donít know.  However, I do know a few tricks that can give the little guy fits.  Lobotomy is the first of these.  If a Lobotomy can make it through to the Psychatog playerís hand, imagine the consequences.  If they have that ghastly little critter there, you may single handedly wipe out all of their win conditions all with one fell swoop.  Game over, no questions asked.  Many people have suggested that a heavy supply of burn can kill the psychatog.  My experiences with that have been a little shaky, as they always seem to be able to save the cursed Ďtog and then the burn is wasted.

Obviously, normal means may kill the psychatog, but do understand that the Ďtog is amazingly difficult to kill, especially when you want to.  Keep trying, though and youíll eventually get rid of it.  Then out pops the next one.

2.)    Deny their resources.

This is as equally tricky.  How do you deny numerous card-drawing effects, bounce spells, discard spells, counter-spells, and whatever else they pack in there?  The truth is that you canít.  So you have to choose your battles, and try to deny some part of their resources.  If you can deny their discard effects, they will have little control of what is in your hand.  If you can manage to control their card drawing, you may slow down their entire engine, but this is the hardest resource to deny.  If you can control their bounce spells, with untargetable creatures for example, then they will overcome them by pumping up the Ďtog.

So I have expressed the extreme difficulty in denying the resources of this deck, and this may be this deckís main strength.  It has a lot of resources that are all very hard to deal with.  Trying to use counter-spells to deny them is hard because the Psychatog deck runs their own counters and countering individual spells hardly ever seems warranted to begin with.  Resource denial just doesnít seem the way to go.

3.)    Kill them before they kill you.

This is also harder than it seems.  The resources they have can greatly slow down your approach in doing this.  Bouncing creatures, countering spells, and making you discard key spells can all impede your efforts to bash their head in.  The psychatog itself can provide quite a steady defense when needed.  A creature that can continuously keep getting bigger in order to block (and kill) your creatures can be quite annoying.

 Burn spells can do a number to their life total, and may be able to finish them off before they really get going.  Unfortunately, straight burn can be easily thwarted with some minor disruption.  So, you need some of your own disruption to accomplish your goals and some card drawing to make sure you donít slow down before they are dead.

4.)    Donít let them kill you.

This is the one that most people donít think of, and it may be the most effective.  Psychatog is bound by certain parameters as to how big it can get.  Think of the games you have lost to a pumped up psychatog.  How many of those games has the opposing player empty their hand and graveyard in the process of delivering the final blow?  My guesses are that almost all of them, and the rest were fairly close to all of the cards.

This is a very important thing to notice, as it could now be thought of that a little life gaining could mean a lot.  If you can keep your life total above the amount of damage that psychatog can do to you, you can keep buying yourself more time.  More time means more chances to do one of the previous three goals.  Eventually they have to crack.

Life-gain can be done in many ways.  Death Grasp, Absorb, and Life Burst are all popular ways.  Reviving Vapors and Ancestral Tribute are some major optional ways.  In general, though, life gaining can really help buy you more time trying to defeat the elusive Psychatog deck.


Moving on to other things, Iíd like to comment briefly on the Fuller/Maher Jr. issues.  Iím not going to get in to them in detail because everyone already knows all the details.  If you donít, please see the articles from the links on Pojoís Magic page. 

It seems to me that there are a few things we should look at.  Both of these instances were done at a professional level, so I will reflect them to other professional level activities.  If a professional football player were to assault a referee (and please know that a few have), they would be suspended and fined immediately and every time.  It isnít considered a minor offense.  Likewise, if the same player were to commit acts against opposing players that were greatly against the rules, he would most likely be fined (think of the fines imposed on players who sack the quarterback and lead with their helmet).  So how is it that in the game of Magic (a professional activity in which there is supposed to be no physical interaction), that these same offenses can be considered minor and take several to add up to a suspension without fine?  Yes, I just insinuated that we should fine these players.  They make a good bit of money in their professional efforts, and it seems reasonable to take it back from them.

Maher is a bit of a different story, and I find it difficult to find a comparison.  The best thing I can think of is the eight White Sox players who got banned from baseball for life for taking a bribe to lose the World Series.  Maher Jr. cheated, folks.  He was involved in fraudulent tournament reports that boosted his rating high enough that he able to attend Worlds.  At Worlds, he did quite well, and won a significant amount of money.  Even after he gave himself in, he continued to play for the two years that the investigation went on and continued to make more money, all with a rating that was boosted fraudulently.  So while the comparisons are almost opposite in nature, they are very similar.  The White Sox players took money beforehand and then did something bad.  Maher did something bad that earned him lots of money.  In short, Iím saying that Maher should be banned for life, period.  If it can be determined how much money he made in connection with these fraudulent reports, he should be fined for that amount. 

The cases seem very simple.  Other professional organizations are very strict on their members, but Zantides and friends seem content at slapping hands and shaking their fingers at people.  I have nothing personal for or against either of these guys, but I feel that professional status is something to be taken seriously no matter what activity you partake in.  Remember, these guys earn money from playing Magic, some of them earning more than what any of us hard working folk will make in a year at their job.  You canít throw things at your boss, or lie on your application and get away with it.  Why should these guys get away with what theyíve done?


Again moving on, the Torment scene is still evolving, and it has been depressing to see the small amount of information coming from distinguished sites.  Even Brainburst has very few decks, and no real analysis as to what may be top of the field.  With the expansion coming into Standard in a mere six days, we all better figure it out soon.  My guesses are weak ones, but I think Psychatog decks will remain hot, as they only seemed to gain more valuable cards than what they already had.  Beyond that, anything is up for grabs.  U/G decks are going to flare up again real quick.  I still believe that white weenie, black weenie, and some decks revolving around Devastating Dreams may show up real big real quick.

As to my Rogue Champion deck (see my last article), there have been very few changes.  I have changed the Innocent Bloods to Chainerís Edicts, replaced one Entomb for the fourth Buried Alive, and very little else has happened with it.  I had a debate with a reader as to the speed of the deck.  He felt it best to get rid of the board control in pursuit of getting the combo out faster.  This will obviously depend on the meta-game situation, but I would expect lots of creatures to start off with.

Thatís all for today folks.  Expect lots of information in my next article, as Torment will be in full swing.  As always, I like to hear from any of you who have any ideas regarding anything I write about, or if you just want to talk about Magic.  Donít be afraid to contact me about anything.

Until we hit an Alter RealityÖ

Andrew Chapman


AIM screen name: wchrisrock




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