View Full Version : [Report] Undefeated with Gro-A-Tog

09-03-2006, 03:23 PM
Author’s Note: This is another one of those reports about a bunch of random things that happened when I played Magic today.

“Undefeated with Gro-A-Tog”

Saturday; September 2, 2006
The Mana Curve
Beaverton, Oregon
Bent: 11%
8 Players. Yeah.

In a last minute whim, I decide to pack up some MtG goodies and get in a few games with my favorite format on another blistering summer afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. This is going to be a quick and dirty report—nothing fancy this time.

When I awoke I had the following sleeved up:

Legacy Loam-A-Tog
by Bardo

4 Brainstorm
3 Fact or Fiction
3 Intuition
1 Life from the Loam

4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell
2 Duress
1 Forbid

3 Pernicious Deed
2 Vedalken Shackles
1 Haunting Echoes

3 Psychatog
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Wonder
1 Genesis

4 Underground Sea
4 Tropical Island
4 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
3 Lonely Sandbar
5 Island
1 Bayou
1 Wasteland
1 Mishra’s Factory

This is one of my better decks, but I wasn’t in the mood to think too much today. And the idea of playing my signature deck, Blue/Green/White Threshold, which I’ve played in five tournaments since January didn’t seem too appealing either. Instead, I modified my Tog deck a little to make it more idiot-proof.

Legacy Gro-A-Tog
by Bardo

4 Brainstorm
4 Serum Visions
3 Sleight of Hand
2 Night’s Whispers (aka “Ghetto-Bob”)
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Mystical Tutor

4 Force of Will
3 Counterspell
3 Daze
3 Duress

3 Pernicious Deed
2 Ghastly Demise

4 Quirion Dryad
3 Psychatog
1 Berserk

4 Underground Sea
4 Tropical Island
3 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
3 Island
1 Swamp
1 Bayou

sb 4 Hydroblast
sb 3 Engineered Plague
sb 2 Tormod’s Crypt
sb 2 Naturalize
sb 1 Haunting Echoes
sb 1 Virtue’s Ruin
sb 1 Perish
sb 1 Duress

In retrospect, that Bayou should have been another Blue fetchland, but I just like the art on Bayou and I’ve justified its inclusion before since you really want early access to Green (for Dryad and Deed) and Black (for Duress, Demise, Deed and Tog). But I knew it was dodgy and it forced me to mulligan an otherwise perfectly fine hand in Game 2 of Round 3—my only mulligan of the day. And as suggested above, those Night’s Whispers should be Dark Confidants, but I didn’t own any at the time.

My goals going into the tourney were to have fun, play some tight Magic, and make enough in store credit to pick up some Confidants. More or less in that order.

I get there on time, forget to retrieve my loaned Eternal Witness from Frogboy and talk crap for a bit.

Eight players showed, and the field looked thusly:

* R/G/b Survival – “Angry Troll”
* 5-color Battle of Wits
* Affinity
* 4-color Psychatog – “Frogboy”
* U/G/W CounterSliver
* R/W/G Aggro – “Volt”
* U/B/G Gro-A-Tog – “Bardo”
* Dark Depths/Elf Combo – “LinkXwing”

For this tournament, my notes are worse than usual. I didn’t bother to write down how I was sideboarding and my handwritten notes are barely legible. For instance, I’d swear that one of my Round One notes reads: “Mud – Dry.” I have no idea what the fuck was going on there.

Round One.
Bret Lincolm aka “LinkXwing” with Elves/Recycle/Dark Depths combo

If Bret and I happen to be anywhere near a Magic tournament together, we’re sure to be paired against each other. Unfortunately for Bret, he has a penchant for playing the kinds of decks that just happen to get raped by the decks that I like to play.

Game One and The Tale of My Turn-1 Kill
I win the die roll, play a Flooded Strand and pass the turn.

Bret takes his turn and cast Land Grant, revealing the following:

Elves of the Deep Shadow
Fyndhorn Elves
Llanowar Elves
Sensei’s Diving Top
Slate of Ancestry (wtf)
Land Grant
[one other card]

I have no idea what I’m up against, but it looks really bad. Land Grant resolves and Bret goes digging for a land. After some cursing and a few furrowed brows, Bret drops his deck on the table with a few sharpied proxies resting on top. Apparently, Bret’s deck wasn’t quite ready to go.


Sideboarding: +3 Engineered Plague, +1 Perish; -2 Sleight of Hand, -2 Night’s Whispers (something like that)

Game 2.

With two mana elves on the board, Bret taps his Gaea’s Cradle for mana and casts Crop Rotation on it (apparently to find another Cradle). I FoW in response and bash away with a lone Dryad. One turn before his demise, Bret begins to get his combo going (after I Daze a Concordant Crossroads) with Recycle and a few other pieces. Luckily, nothing deadly happens and I’m able to keep smashing with the Dryad. His life total: 20, 17, 14, 9, 3, -4


(Game Three.)

Even though I’m 2-0, we play another for fun and because his loss in the first round seemed cheap. Bret is playing first and drops an assortment of elves on his first two turns. On my third turn I play Perish and four of his dudes die a horrid death. On turn 4, I follow up with Pernicious Deed and Bret scoops them up.


With plenty of time between rounds, Bret passes his deck to Max (“Frogboy”) and I pull out my version of Red/Green Beatz.

Legacy R/G Beatdown
by Bardo

4 Kird Ape
4 Jackal Pup
4 Jungle Lion
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Scab-Clan Mauler

4 Rancor

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Shock
4 Magma Jet
4 Fireblast

4 Taiga
4 Wooded Foothills
6 Mountain
6 Forest

There’s nothing fancy to this list here; just an assortment of efficient and vicious threats. Shock is a Poor Man’s Chain Lightning, but it didn’t seem to matter. In this format, if you can inflict 2 targeted damage, it rarely matters that you could have inflicted 3. I’d also rather play instant-speed burn than the alternative, and Incinerate costs twice as much mana as I really want to pay.

As for the games, I blast the elves, Rancor up my 1-drops and keep his side of the board clean while I beat with impunity. I win two games in short order.

Round Two.
Noah Freed with U/G/W CounterSliver

Noah has the distinction of winning our local Grand Prix (Philadelphia) Trial with his CounterSliver (!) deck back in October. But as he was sitting down and shuffling up, I was pretty sure he was playing Threshold, since I’d seen him playing it earlier. Apparently, he was just borrowing Don’s deck at that time and I didn’t realize his round was over. In any case, I had the colors right.

Game One.

This round is a slaughter, and the game ends with me at -1 life and him at 29. Damn. Down a game and feeling a little demoralized, I have to get my crap together.

Sideboarding: Same as Round One, strangely (but substituting Virtue's Ruin for Perish).

Game Two.

I’m on the play and face a dilemma on what to play first. I didn’t write down my hand, but I know it involved playing either a turn 1 Duress or Serum Visions. I opt for the Visions. His first play is land, AEther Vial and I realize I probably made a mistake there. As the game progresses, I Daze an Essence Sliver, and drop an Engineered Plague to keep this Muscle Slivers manageable.

As we hit the mid-game we’re in a standoff.

My Board:
Engineered Plague (on Slivers)
Psychatog (aka “The Walking Abyss”)
Quirion Dryad (zero counters)

His Board:
Plated Sliver
Plated Sliver
Muscle Sliver
AEther Vial (two counters)

Playing around Daze he casts Fact or Fiction and hits the holy Five Spell Fact or Fiction. Bummer. My own Fact only hits two spells (though one of those spells hits Virtue’s Ruin—feel free to look it up), but my superior cards eventually get him on the defensive and he’s forced to chump block a huge Dryad several times while Dr. Teeth is held back guarding the fort. With the path eventually clear, I swing with my 8/8 Dryad and 10/10 Tog.

Game Three.

My opening hand is the Stone Cold Nutz, as they say.

Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Virtue’s Ruin
Pernicious Deed

As you can imagine, this was an ugly game. When I dropped the first Plague, I took out two Winged Slivers. Noah Naturalized the Plague the next turn (earning a sweet 3-for-1 for me) and I drop another Plague the next turn with Force back-up and he sinks in his chair. As he begins to rebuild, I drop and activate Deed for 1 to clear his board of AEther Vial, two Plated Slivers and a Phyrexian Furnace. A little later he over-extends his board, only to see it wrecked by Virtue’s Ruin again. I eventually find a Dryad and grow her into a 5/5. When Noah’s at 11, I swing with the Dryad and a 6/6 Tog for the match.

Round Three
Joe with Five Color Battle of Wits

Yeah, as weird up as it sounds, the only other undefeated player at this tournament is Joe wielding his 265+ card Five Color Battle of Wits deck. I’m figuring I’ll win one game on the back of his inevitable mana screw alone and hopefully pick up another win as he draws into suboptimal cards. But, for reasons that still aren’t clear, he was able to beat my arch-nemesis, Max McCall (aka “Frogboy”) the round before, and pretty much no one beats Max.

I feel the need to win just for the good of the format. It’s nothing personal.

Joe wins the die roll and plays a Polluted Delta. My first play is Duress and I see a hand full of awesome cards, but no other land. I pluck the Brainstorm and hope he draws into a pile of spells. On his EOT, he cracks his Delta for a Tundra and Enlightened Tutors for Standstill.

Joe gets lucky and pulls a land off the top and drops his Standstill; I Daze, he Forces in response. The next turn I’m forced to break the Standstill with a Quirion Dryad who goes the distance as my deck produces a never-ending stream of countermagic to keep my strategy on track.

Strangely, this match was a lot harder that I thought.

I sideboard in a Duress, Naturalize, and Haunting Echoes just for the fun of it.

While Joe is pile shuffling, the TO announces that there’s no need for us to play, since we’ll both be making the cut to the Top 4, regardless of who wins or loses. So we’re just playing for placement at this point. Since Max is also in the Top 4, we all decide right there to split the prize money evenly among the Top 4, since none of us feeling like playing like another two hours of Magic.

We play Game Two just for the heck of it and I get mauled. I did have the pleasure of nabbing an Engineered Explosives with Duress, and EE is my second favorite card, next to Meddling Mage. But with a stream of man-lands slowly beating me down, I’m always on the defensive and I can’t get a threat to stick on the board.

Instead of moving to Game Three and enduring another twenty minutes of watching Joe pile shuffle, we intentionally draw and I move to the next table to play some Type Four with Bret, Don, Max and Noah.

I ended up with enough store credit to get two Dark Confidants for a few bucks and I had a great time—so I consider the day a success.

Parting thoughts on Gro-A-Tog

I think GAT is a great deck, but I can’t honestly say it’s better than UGW Threshold. Having strong threats that aren’t reliant on your graveyard (Dryad) is a good thing, but Thresh can already (and has) run this threat, but has since discarded her. But I'll point out that Dryad is much tastier in GAT due to the sheer number of non-green spells. Other than the Berserk, the only other spell in my deck that doesn't grow Dryad(s) is another Dryad. In Thresh, you have Mongoose and Werebear keeping your Dryads small.

Black offers a lot of goodies in Duress, Pernicious Deed, Dark Confidant and Engineered Plague; as well as Perish and Virtue’s Ruin/Massacre. But I don’t think that offsets the loss of Swords to Plowshares, Meddling Mage, Armageddon and Mystic Enforcer. For instance, trying to contain Joe’s Eternal Dragon was an exercise in frustration. I countered and killed the thing at least four times, but I couldn’t stop it. I was just wishing for a single StP.

Of course you can run something like 4c Threshold (U/G/w/b), to gain some awesome cards at the expense of your mana stability. Whether this is worth it to you really depends on your metagame and the amount of non-basic hate you’re expecting.

But if you’re familiar with Threshold and are comfortable with how those games play out (drop cheap threats, recognizing what needs to be countered and when to be aggressive or play the control role), GAT offers a nice change of pace that’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. And bashing with enormous Dryads always makes for good times. Deed is also just so damn powerful that you’ll win several games on the back of that alone.

As for changes to my list above:
+2 Dark Confidant
+1 Polluted Delta
-2 Night’s Whispers
-1 Bayou

My maindeck Berserk was the only other card that seemed weak. It was unnecessary the entire day (though I only played seven full games) and the only time I cast it was on one of Joe’s attacking Flametongue Kavu to contain his threats and gain some time. This is one of those high-risk plays that just didn’t pan out. Anyway, I didn’t feel Berserk was necessary and it may have just as easily been another Ghastly Demise, which was solid all day.

Thanks for reading.
- Bardo

09-03-2006, 05:02 PM
I wouldn't have minded playing another two hours of Magic; I just thought everyone else had to go or something.

Type four is awesome.

That is all.

09-03-2006, 09:15 PM
Ya I was actually waiting for you guys to get done with your "round" of Type 4 to hop in on it, it sounded rather interesting hearing what was going on out there.

Remember the 16th is the FoW tournament, and if someone can cut and paste my annoucement here and put it up on NWMagic (I still can't login with my shop's username), that'd be greatly appreciated!!!

We need 16 players for this, that's my goal! Prize support for top 4 will definitely be worth the $15 being shelled out if we get that many people.