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with Andy Van Zandt  



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Scrubbing Less With:  Psychatog

Hey, it made Top 8 at pro tour Houston, and the little grinning guy has
managed to run the gambit from being playable in block, Type 2, and
Extended.  But can you just pick up this deck and cake-walk to the finals at
your local PTQ?  Perhaps not.  Nothing beats sitting down and doing some
hardcore playtesting, but I'm going to see if I can give you some starting
tips that will hopefully make it easier, with or without playtesting.

First thing to note,  there are 2 basic playable types of this deck in
extended that I've seen so far,  the controlling kind based on Myrvig's
Houston deck:

4  Polluted Delta
4  Underground River
2  Swamp
13  Island
4  Psychatog
1  Wonder
3  Boomerang
2  Cunning Wish
3  Intuition
4  Counterspell
4  Memory Lapse
4  Force Spike
4  Brainstorm
4  Accumulated Knowledge
3  Fact or Fiction
1  Upheaval

1  Turnabout
1  Hibernation
1  Misdirection
2  Gainsay
1  Teferi's Response
3  Annul
4  Engineered Plague
1  Diabolic Edict
1  Fact or Fiction

And a more offensive kind,  designed to kill as soon as the opportunity
arises, with some gushes, thwarts,  edicts, and other small changes. 
We'll be talking about the control kind today.  And before we start talking,
the sideboard needs a corpse dance,  the main deck needs a dustbowl (maybe
2).  Say what you like,  the dustbowl and dance are very important in this

Let's look at the important stuff:
Psychatog- He's the game winner, and often he doesn't really need to come
out of hiding until you're ready to make him larger than life (or your
opponent's, at least).  The exceptions are when you are playing against
sligh (and sometimes other beatdown decks),  you want to drop him turn 3 or
4,  and when you're taking too much damage from treetop villages (one of the
most annoying cards this deck can play against, except for Goblin

Intuition- The first copy of this card in your hand is for accumulated
knowledges.  The exception to this is if you've seen 3 ak's already,  or if
you're in big trouble and need a counter or Boomerang. Beyond that, use
this card for whatever you need most for the situation,  as soon as mana
permits.  It is there to fill up your graveyard as much as anything else. 
It will also get your wonder if you need her,  which will invariably go in
your hand,  which won't matter because you just pitch her to tog anyways.

Boomerang- Much better than you'd think at first,  it really does give you
the tempo you need in a lot of cases.  Just bouncing and lapsing a
Spiritmonger can often give you enough turns to build yourself up for the
win.  Also answers oath,  deed,  and some other things that would be a
nuisance, and will save your Tog if need be.

Counters- You look at the deck and you only see 4 hard counters?  yes and
no.  Most games at least one of those force spikes will be a hard counter, 
and when they aren't you just shuffle them away with brainstorm.  The tempo
afforded by the lapses is often just as valuable as really countering, and
very few decks will present something that really really has to be
countered.  Figure out what needs to be countered on your own,  I don't know
if I even have the ability to teach you the appropriate nuances of how and
why to go into counter wars,  but the when is simple: on their turn,  so
they'll be tapped out or close to it on your turn.  You don't want the
counter war to be over your Psychatog,  you want it to be over their Deed or
some other somesuch, so when you lay the Tog on your turn you don't really
have to fight for it.

Brainstorm-  If you're going to miss one of your early land drops,  use it
to get yourself back to normal,  otherwise save it so that you can either
hide cards from an opposing duress, or so you can improve your hand and
draws by putting excess land/spikes on top of your library and shuffling
them away with a Polluted Delta or Intuition.

Fact- Not just to fill your hand and graveyard,  often you'll be using fact
as an impulse just to pull up a counter or other necessary card,  or at
least get you closer.

Cunning Wish- Myrvig only has 2,  I'd consider going to 3 so you can
Intuition for them,  because (to me) they read "Corpse Dance".  I only use
them for something else if I have multiples in hand or if it's an emergency.
Corpse Dance will simply win that many games, not only several turns
earlier than you would otherwise,  but also in some cases where you wouldn't
win without it.  And you will very often catch your opponent off guard with
it, even if you did use it to win the first game.

Wonder- Sometimes your Tog needs to fly

Upheaval- Upheaval,  float mana,  lay tog, win next turn.  The only other
time you do it is if you're about to lose.

Specific match-ups:

Sligh-  You lose,  unless you're spiking and countering and togging way
early. It's a bad match for you,  and it is even worse if they resolve
Piledriver,  who you can't block and can't bounce.  After sideboard,  you
basically want to see multiple Engineered Plagues early, and if they don't
have the sideboarded green enchantment kill and a forest for your Plagues
(which they should),  then it's a little better.  It's still a bad match, 

Oath-  Stop them from killing you with Treetops and you should win this
match more often than lose (but not by much, and only by the virtue of
having more card drawing and more counters),  though it's still a hard match
and you have to play well.  The Corpse Dance on the board and the Dustbowl
main are very important, as is bouncing their Deed or Oath at the end of
their turn.  Make very sure your card drawing is optimized, which means
always save the brainstorm for a Polluted Delta,  and don't AK until after
they've done it a few times and you can stop their others,  or unless you're
just AK'ing for enough cards to win via Tog,  or if it's an emergency (like
if you need to find your Dustbowl).  You'll play the same way against most
other control match-ups.

Alluren- I can't say who is supposed to win this match more often, I do 
know that you MUST NOT tap out when they can cast Intuition, because that
Intuition will be for 3 Cabal Therapies and that is bad for you. And
Boomerang their Alluren in response to the first casting of Harpy.  Side in
Engineered Plagues (hint: Harpy is creature type BEAST).

Reanimator- Hopefully you can delay their early attempts to look at your
hand,  otherwise just play smart.  If they get a fatty out early,  the
Boomerang will put it safely in their hand and you shouldn't see it for
quite a few turns.  Memory Lapse the flashback on Therapy,  the Therapy will
get countered and removed from the game,  not put on their library.  Most
Therapies from any deck will be for Psychatog or Counterspell first, then
once they see your hand,  for whatever else you have.  The worst thing that
can happen is if they start off with 2 Therapies in hand and then Entomb the
Nether Spirit.  Hide your goodies from Duress with Brainstorm.

Rock- Same concepts as Reanimator's discard,  except the real threat from
the Rock is their Treetop Villages.  This match is still in your favor, 
unless they have a Scragnoth in their sideboard to wish for.  This match, 
like most others,  you will for sure bring in 2 of the three Annuls, not
only for their Deeds but also for the Planar Void they think wrecks you.  If
you play correctly, Planar Void should only delay you about 2 turns, 
assuming they successfully cast it.  You leave the third Annul in the side
so you can wish for it, in case you were wondering.

Other notes:
Learn that your life is a resource,  you can take quite a few beats before
you really have to defend yourself in most matches,  and this will buy you
the turns to get prepped for the win.  I don't think the Teferi's Response
needs to be in the sideboard,  it would be infinitely better as an
interdict,  to stop their pitch land from fetching/shuffling,  or to stop
Deed from deeding.  Consider fitting in a Boomerang or Rushing River into
the sideboard also.  I play with only one swamp main, I've yet to be caused
much trouble by that, and the slot is so much better as a Dustbowl.

Hope this helps,  and if anyone thinks I'm a total idiot with anything I've
said, or has something to add that I've missed, feel free to let me know.

You can reach Andy at:

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