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CardShark Content - Matthew Smith (3/26/2003)

Defeating the Metagame: Could Wizards (gasp) have been Right?

Or more importantly, was Pat Chapin right?

How many of you have shown up to your local T1 event, your favorite deck in hand, expecting to easily slide into the top four as you do every month—only today something seems different. There is a foul taint to the air, not the one that normally lurks in the shop, but different nonetheless. A quiet whisper circles the shop. Someone is playing Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
…in a deck.

You learn, from your buddies, that Tog is really good in Extended and Standard, but what place does it have in your shop on Sunday? You dismiss the deck at first glance, but realize near the end of the day that it quickly made its way to the top tables.

And before you know it it’s lying on the table in front of you.

The first game is a blur. This aggro-control deck takes off like combo, while you struggle to find an answer to the Dryad clock. Of course Dryad fits into the conventional term ‘clock’ so well that the old ‘clocks’ are as effective as sun dials. Game two is a bit better, as you staunch the wound by attacking the mana base, but then from somewhere out of the darkness a Will is slammed on the table with such force that the Gush
Gush
GushSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
You may return two islands you control to their owner's hand instead of paying Gush's mana cost.Draw two cards.
es in the graveyard bounce to the ‘removed from game’ zone faster than you can count the deck. Your opponent draws about twenty cards, stuffing all that hard produced mana back to the hand, and then somewhere in the middle of this a Fastbond
Fastbond
FastbondSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
You may put as many lands into play as you want each turn. Fastbond does 1 damage to you for every land beyond the first that you play in a single turn.
slips into the action. After the deck half empties itself on the table, just when you think you’re safe, a Tog smashes into your Factory for twelve damage. Fine, you think, that’s one dead Mishra
Mishra
MishraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
3
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Power:
+0
Toughness:
-3
Text:
Double all damage dealt by creatures you control.
’s Factory. Except this Tog isn’t happy—in fact, it’s a bit perturbed by the fact that you decided to throw meat in his path. That’s when the Berserk
Berserk
BerserkSet: Alpha
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Until end of turn, target creature's current power doubles and it gains trample ability. If it attacks, target creature is destroyed at end of turn. This spell cannot be cast after current turn's attack is completed.
causes an inflammation in your shuffling hand, developing a condition known in the medical field as ‘The Scoop’. For the first time in a long time…you didn’t make the top four. What do you do?

You make the Tog deck!

You could go that route, and a lot of people have, simply because this new deck is fun to play. You could also quit playing Magic and write a letter to Wizards of the Coast explaining to Mark Rosewater in details how you would like to skin each employee of the company with your bare hands for ever printing Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
.

My advice is simply this: grab a mug, fill it with herbal tea, pop in some Enya, light an incense stick, and settle down in a nice, hot bath.

It’s not the end of the world—not yet. Actually, many, many months ago all of this craziness was actually foretold in prophecies from a well-known clairvoyant. You see it is destiny, not your fault. So how do you beat destiny?

You cope.

GenCon 2002, Pat Chapin runs his controversial Gro deck to the finals of the $250 championship and wins it, hands down. The deck is not contextually notorious, but Chapin’s claims of dominance are. Along the trip to champion Chapin made a few vocal observations about the Type I metagame, mostly stating that, “Gro is THE only deck you should be playing.”

While few were committed to jumping on the ‘Chapin Bandwagon’, Gro may have indeed been the deck to play until TnT was introduced to the metagame. TnT is a rumbling monstrosity that cared not for Chapin’s Misdirection
Misdirection
MisdirectionSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
87
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
You may remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Misdirection's mana cost.Target spell with a single target targets another target instead.
or Divert
Divert
DivertSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
82
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Change the target of target spell with a single target unless that spell's controller pays 2.
. As usual, hype and hope surrounded aggro’s newest martyr, and after a few months the rage began to die a bit. It is still noted that TnT can be considered demi-god of aggro, but vigilant minds began to bore of complacency.

An old deck dies hard, and the Gro engine was far too disruptive to ignore. Intrigue spawned experiment, experiment bore GroATog. By using what was already available, the idea of cheap cantrips, a low mana count, and the goodness of Tog, the Gro deck was elevated to a new level.

Gro may or may not have been as invincible as Chapin declared back at GenCon, but it’s hard to argue that GroATog isn’t damn near indestructible to date—or so it seems. It’s true that both decks mirror each other in terms of card advantage, with the only difference being that Tog delivers a virtual advantage while Phid acts as immediate card efficiency…if it gets through. The real difference comes from adding black to the deck—but it has its pros and cons. While black adds Will and tutors (among other things), it also makes for a shakier mana base. An area that Gro struggles with anyway.

It’s important to realize that, because this deck has certain deficiencies, it can be beaten. For reference, here is a listing of the GroATog that I’m currently using right now:

GroATog

Creatures:

2 Daze
Daze
DazeSet: Nemesis
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
You may return an island you control to its owner's hand instead of paying Daze's mana cost. Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1.

2 Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.

4 Misdirection
Misdirection
MisdirectionSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
87
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
You may remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Misdirection's mana cost.Target spell with a single target targets another target instead.

4 Force of Will
Force of Will
Force of WillSet: Alliances
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.


Search:

2 Cunning Wish
Cunning Wish
Cunning WishSet: Judgment
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
37
Artist:
Jim Nelson

Text:
Choose an instant you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove Cunning Wish from the game.

3 Merchant Scroll
Merchant Scroll
Merchant ScrollSet: Homelands
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Liz Danforth
Text:
Search your library for a blue instant or interrupt. Reveal that card to all players and put it into your hand. Reshuffle your library afterwards.

1 Mystical Tutor
Mystical Tutor
Mystical TutorSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
83
Artist:
David O'Connor
Text:
Search your library for an instant or sorcery card and reveal that card. Shuffle your library, then put the card on top of it.

1 Demonic Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Demonic TutorSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Search your library for one card and take it into your hand. Reshuffle your library afterwards.


Cantrips/Card Drawing:

4 Opt
Opt
OptSet: Invasion
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
64
Artist:
John Howe
Text:
Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.Draw a card.

4 Brainstorm
Brainstorm
BrainstormSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Draw three cards. Then, put any two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.

4 Gush
Gush
GushSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
You may return two islands you control to their owner's hand instead of paying Gush's mana cost.Draw two cards.


Restricted:

1 Time Walk
Time Walk
Time WalkSet: Alpha
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Take an extra turn after this one.

1 Ancestral Recall
Ancestral Recall
Ancestral RecallSet: Alpha
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Draw 3 cards or force opponent to draw 3 cards.

1 Regrowth
Regrowth
RegrowthSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Dameon Willich
Text:
Bring any card from your graveyard to your hand.

1 Fastbond
Fastbond
FastbondSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
You may put as many lands into play as you want each turn. Fastbond does 1 damage to you for every land beyond the first that you play in a single turn.

1 Yawgmoth's Will
Yawgmoth's Will
Yawgmoth's WillSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
171
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Until end of turn, you may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand. Cards put into your graveyard this turn are removed from the game instead.

1 Black Lotus
Black Lotus
Black LotusSet: Oversize Cards
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Adds 3 mana of any single color of your choice to your mana pool, then is discarded. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.

1 Mox Sapphire
Mox Sapphire
Mox SapphireSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 blue mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.

1 Mox Jet
Mox Jet
Mox JetSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 black mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.

1 Mox Emerald
Mox Emerald
Mox EmeraldSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 green mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.


Land:

1 Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.

4 Polluted Delta
Polluted Delta
Polluted DeltaSet: Onslaught
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
321
Artist:
Land
Text:
T, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Polluted Delta: Search your library for an island or swamp card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library. Rob Alexander

4 Tropical Island
Tropical Island
Tropical IslandSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
T: Add either G or U to your mana pool.Counts as both forest and islands and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.

4 Underground Sea
Underground Sea
Underground SeaSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T: Add either B or U to your mana pool.Counts as both swamp and islands and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.


Creatures:

3 Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

4 Quirion Dryad
Quirion Dryad
Quirion DryadSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dryad
Rarity:
R
Number:
89
Artist:
Don Hazeltine
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever you play a white, blue, black, or red spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Quirion Dryad.



Preparation is the key to success in Magic and knowing each deck you’ll face is your greatest asset. Examining the deck, you’ll notice that it falls short in the counter department with Force of Will
Force of Will
Force of WillSet: Alliances
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.
and Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.
as its only hard counters. Daze
Daze
DazeSet: Nemesis
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
You may return an island you control to its owner's hand instead of paying Daze's mana cost. Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1.
and Misdirection
Misdirection
MisdirectionSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
87
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
You may remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Misdirection's mana cost.Target spell with a single target targets another target instead.
are situational, but situations where they come in handy occur frequently in the current metagame.

Although Berserk
Berserk
BerserkSet: Alpha
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Until end of turn, target creature's current power doubles and it gains trample ability. If it attacks, target creature is destroyed at end of turn. This spell cannot be cast after current turn's attack is completed.
will be restricted in April, I’ve seen no reason to add more main deck, although more testing may prove otherwise. While many think of Tog as the main kill card it actually most often operates as a Moat
Moat
MoatSet: Legends
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Non-flying creatures cannot attack.
while the Dryads do the hard work—especially against control, where dropping an early threat is a priority.

The deck runs a fragile mana base—I’ve cut the Library in my version—although with the high number of cantrip spells (Opt
Opt
OptSet: Invasion
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
64
Artist:
John Howe
Text:
Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.Draw a card.
, Brainstorm
Brainstorm
BrainstormSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Draw three cards. Then, put any two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.
) and because the deck needs little mana to function effectively, this doesn’t pose a problem if you know how to paris effectively.

It’s not unheard of for the Gro player to drop a first turn Dryad coupled with a smattering of card drawing via cantrips and a smidgeon of control to create a tempo that makes it hard for the opposing deck to find four mana. The main strategy when dealing with the Gro deck is to adjust the tempo to your own liking. If you’ve ever played standard, then you know that you have to fight through the initial storm of the deck, stabilize, take the tempo away from the aggro-control deck, and then dominate the game in your own time under your terms. Most often the chance will come, but you have to be prepared, or you have to play correctly and create that chance.

Here are some cards that either hurt Gro badly or help to bring the game towards your tempo:

Blood Moon
Blood Moon
Blood MoonSet: Chronicles
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Text:
All non-basic lands become mountains.

Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
/Strip Mine
Strip Mine
Strip MineSet: Fourth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
T: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool.T: Sacrifice Strip Mine to destroy target land.

Guilded Drake
Seasinger
Seasinger
SeasingerSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Merfolk
Rarity:
U
Artist:
John Matson
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
If you control no islands, bury Seasinger.You may choose not to untap Seasinger during your untap phase.T: Gain control of target creature whose controller controls any islands as long as you control Seasinger and Seasinger remains tapped.

Maze of Ith
Maze of Ith
Maze of IthSet: The Dark
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Text:
T: Target attacking creature becomes untapped. This creature neither deals nor receives damage as a result of combat.

Innocent Blood
Innocent Blood
Innocent BloodSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
145
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Each player sacrifices a creature.

Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront BouncerSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spellshaper
Rarity:
C
Number:
114
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
U, tap, Discard a card from your hand: Return target creature to its owner's hand.

Tangle
Tangle
TangleSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
213
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.Attacking creatures don't untap during their controllers' next untap steps.
IFdpcmU=
Plague Bearer
Royal Assassin
Royal Assassin
Royal AssassinSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Assassin
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Destroy any tapped creature.


These cards all share a few traits: they are impervious to misdirectable effects. Now before you go off and add four Maze of Ith
Maze of Ith
Maze of IthSet: The Dark
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Text:
T: Target attacking creature becomes untapped. This creature neither deals nor receives damage as a result of combat.
and four Blood Moon
Blood Moon
Blood MoonSet: Chronicles
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Text:
All non-basic lands become mountains.
to your deck, you have to answer a tough question: By adding these cards am I sacrificing the integrity of my deck? How often will this be a dead draw against a sea of other decks? The idea is to add these cards to make your deck more versatile against Gro, but if by doing so you destroy the balance you’ve achieved against the metagame, then you’ve damaged your deck.

Using cards like these in your sideboard might not assure game one against GroATog, but they’ll increase your percentages games two and three.

How dominant is GroATog in Type I? Time will tell. It’s certainly not unbeatable, nor is it a deck that anyone can pick up and win consistently with.




One other issue I wanted to address before I wrap up this article is a growing concern of my own. Where the heck is this Type I Championship going to be held? I know that I’ve been saving my money, much like many of you, and before I begin to make reservations, schedule travel accommodations, and plan expenses and the like I want to know if I’m going to Ohio or Indianapolis. While I’d like to attend both conventions, it’s just not possible this year.

I don’t know, c’mon Mark Rosewater, what’s the deal?


Viva,




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