'Tog Chow

by Jeff Kuta

Here's my tournament report for the scheduled Classic (Type I) event held this weekend at PTLA. Some of you may know that I'm a big fan of Juggernauts. I'm also a big fan of Atogs, having built my Type I rating to a respectable 1775 with an old school Atog/Ankh/Vise deck back before Black Vise was ever restricted, earning myself an invite to the Dallas Pro Tour Classic Tournament in November 1996. You can see a report on that tournament here:

Even though I'm a big fan of Juggernauts, I still manage to take flak for them as selections for my deck from many top players. Sure they're fragile creatures, but they easily rival Erhnams and Juzams for pure speed, plus they have no soul. ;) At the SF Bay NYPTQ the weekend previous to PTLA, I solicited advice on this deck from none other than Zak Dolan, Match Play regular, 1994 World Champion, and fellow Rolla Miner! He, another Atog fan, really liked the deck and suggested perhaps using Diminishing Returns and/or Final Fortune. While I think both may have had their place in this deck, the double color-casting costs were a bit much for my tastes and mana ratio so they didn't make the cut. As Zak was looking it over, he asked Yubin Tao, a sometime Pro Tour player, for his opinion. "Juggernauts are weak", he scoffed. No respect. But I'm one to stick to my guns so they stayed in the deck.

With PTLA in-state, I planned to go and compete in their scheduled Classic event, hoping it would draw some quality players who didn't make the Saturday cut to 96. I was really looking forward to playing since the Bay Area hasn't had DCI Sanctioned Type I events in a LONG TIME. I tend to play sealed deck instead.

TO THE REPORT
TO THE JANK


I arrived in LA with my girlfriend early Friday afternoon. We caught a airport shuttle to the Queen Mary. On the way, our shuttle dropped off a couple embarking on a Love Boat-style cruise, so we got to see several of those behemoths before we laid on the Queen Mary. But in size and majesty, nothing compares to the Queen -- the largest luxury liner afloat today, we were told.

For those of you who haven't been to the Queen Mary, she is a beautiful ocean liner, 200 feet larger and 20,000 tons heavier than the Titanic -- only the original Queen Elizabeth ever exceeded her size for a passenger ship. Launched in 1936 as a mail carrier and passenger liner, she then served in World War II as a troop transport and hospital ship. Her speed was her primary asset, capturing the Blue Riband (trans-Atlantic crossing record) with an average speed of 31.60 knots. Hitler was so obsessed with sinking this valuable transport that he offered a $250,000 bounty for any U-boat crew that could down her. After the war, she was outfitted again as a luxury liner for the glitterati of the 40's and 50's. She retired to her berth at Long Beach in December 1967 and has been an upscale hotel since, providing use of her banquet hall for formal dinners, proms and other large gatherings.

We were a bit disappointed to learn that the nearby Hughes aviation museum with the Spruce Goose had been moved to Seattle. I suppose WotC bought it so people could visit it when they go to Worlds.

We were even more impressed with the ship once we checked into our Royal Stateroom. The 30s-era furnishings made it easy to imagine we were embarking on a trans-atlantic voyage circa 1938. Glossy blonde paneling formed a golden band around the room. It almost looked like gift-wrapping from the inside out. Of special interest were the four water faucets over the tub marked HOT SALT, HOT FRESH, COLD FRESH, COLD SALT (the HOT SALT and COLD SALT were disabled, however).

After checking in around 3:00pm, I went downstairs to the three-level Exhibit Hall, deep in the bowels of the ship, where all the Magic events were taking place. I helped judge one eight-person booster draft tournament. Then I was also assigned to help judge the scheduled Rath Cycle limited event that was in progress. By now it was 6:30pm, so I quickly ran up to my stateroom to see if my girlfriend wanted to eat, but she was gone. After leaving a note, I ran back downstairs and checked in to judge. She found me exclaiming, "Where have you been?" then we laughed a bit about two ships passing in the night. I was pretty hungry by then and the other judge, Jeff, seemed to have things under control, so I skipped out and went to downtown Long Beach to get some food. Unfortunately, bonehead me failed to mention this to Jeff, so I feel I should apologize. Sorry, Jeff!

Anyway, we took a shuttle downtown and made our way toward the cafe we had chosen from the tourist guide because it was cheap. On the way, we wandered right into the middle of an accident scene. The police had cordoned off an entire intersection with about eight squad cars, diverting traffic to other streets. As we approached, it became clear what had happened. First, we saw some sport utility vehicle by the median with no passengers, then we saw a pool of oil about 30 feet behind it. But we saw the mangled BMX bike, we realized it wasn't oil.

We quickly scooted through the accident scene and crossed the intersection. We eventually arrived at our destination, the Long Beach Cafe, though with our appetites somewhat We settled on some burgers and salad, expecting to just ease our hunger. We were surprised by the huge portions they served. If you go to PTLA next year on a budget, you should definitely eat there. The coffee shop ambience isn't very exciting, but it has normal prices and extra large portions. Much better than the ripoff 'cafe' they have near the play area.

Afterward, we wandered around downtown Long Beach a bit more, admiring the towering, classic California beachfront hotels and strolling down the main drag, Pine Avenue. After an hour or so, we returned to the 'Queen.'

I walked her back to the room and returned to the Exhibit Hall to check out the evening action for side tournaments. I played some fun games and lost an ante match before I found a group of East Coast guys who wanted to run a straight Stronghold booster draft. This was my first limited event with Stronghold, so I was at some disadvantage, but it was fun -- until I saw my first opponent's deck.

About this time, my girlfriend came down from watching Homicide: Life on the Streets and found me. She told me all about the great new episode I missed. I hate when that happens because Homicide is by far the best show on television these days. I don't get to see it that often because my regular haunt, Who's on First?, has their Booster Drafts on Friday nights. (While I'm at it, a quick plug for Who's on First? Thanks to Jeff Ferreira for loaning me the Time Walk and Black Lotus. They sure came in handy, again. Check out their web site at http://www.whosonfirstcards.com for tournament info, and if you're in the SF Bay, be sure to stop by).

Then I heard Tara McDermott announce, "Come on all you guys with the flashy cards! We need two more people for a Classic tournament!" Well, I was anxious to try out the Cursed Juggertog since it had been only a concept deck until just the week before PTLA, when I started goldfish testing. My girlfriend urged me to bail on this pick-up sealed deck match (she didn't like the guy I was playing). But I felt obligated to finish out this tournament. But my mind changed once my opponent did the five Mogg Flunkie/fling bwatdown on me. My weak U/W deck didn't stand a chance. I took my token one 'protected' card and tossed my opponent the rest of my cards, hoping to still get in on the Classic action.

I hurried to the registration desk and found there were still two slots left open! I signed up and paid my $5. Another guy signed up just as quickly and there we had the full eight. Or so we thought -- it turns out two of the registered players had pulled out to play in a team sealed deck tournament. *SIGH* Eventually, after 15 more minutes, we got two more players and started the tournament.

Just as I sat down, I realized I still had to change some of my proxies in the deck. I pulled my four Strip Mines and yanked my Cursed Scrolls out of my Sligh Deck. Then, remembering I needed to fix my mana color ratio, I pulled two Tundras and two Plateaus for the two Cities and Gemstone mines. Fortunately, my first round opponent had to do some switching of his own, so we just started the round 10 minutes late. :)


AND NOW FOR THE REPORT!

Well, this isn't the main report actually, just a small side tournament report. It was an eight-person single elimination with prizes for the top two (five packs for first, three packs for second). This was the standard setup for all the impromptu tournaments they held this weekend.


ROUND 1 Sean Pink -- U/w control/Serendib beatdown

Game 1: Sean's from High Point, NC (that's in the Central Piedmont). He's one of the hardened veterans from the Carolina Type I scene that flourished up until the Pro Tour, and thereby Standard, started gaining steam. We traded damage for a bit, him Fireballing me and me doing the burn/'dib thang. Eventually I forced through enough burn to finish him.

Game 2: In with two Pyroblasts and two Disrupting Scepters, out with two 'Togs, one 'Dib and one Jugg. After seeing my Mana Crypts, Sean was careful to take out my mana sinks for them (e.g. Cursed Scroll and Mishras Factory). I was still able to push a 'Dib through and finish him with burn, though with only 1 life remaining.


ROUND 2 Peter Radonjic -- B/U Necro-Weirding-Mirror

Game 1: Peter's strategy was to gain board control with countermagic and The Abyss, then drop a Necro, cover with Weirding, then Enlightened Tutor for his Mirror and Necro the rest of his life away. But I have fast threats. My first turn was Land, Mox, Crypt, Cursed Scroll, 'Dib. Peter had to waste his utility spells on my threats rather than setting up his lock.

Game 2: Sideboard in Disenchants, Pyroblasts, and the Jester's Cap. He is able to get control of the board and eventually gets his Mirror down without aid of Necro or Weirding. There is one tense moment when he Arcane Denials one of my creatures. He untaps, then says, "Upkeep." I assume this means he wishes to enter his upkeep and draw my two cards from the Denial. After a bit of verbal jousting, and having a judge come over, he relents his point that as a cantrip card was changed to "beginning of turn" rather than beginning of upkeep. Minor semantics, but potentially major implications. I make a mental note. Eventually, I get the kill with a Juggernaut and some burn.

By the way, did I mention my stated goal for the tournament? To anyone who wanted to look at my deck, I said I hoped to kill someone with a 34/18 Berserked Atog sometime during Saturday's tournament. In practice goldfish games, I had gotten a 'Tog as large as 19/20 by turn 5 or 6. This deck does have staying power due to the Cursed Scrolls and 'Togs, but I wanted to see how big and burly I could get one to go.


ROUND 3 (FINALS) ?, sorry dude, forgot your name -- U/W control/Mirror

Game 1: He gets an early Mirror and I can't deal with the countermagic.
Game 2: I side in 2 Pyroblasts, 2 Disenchants, 2 Scepters and the Cap. It's not enough, however, as he still gets the mana he needs to counter my threats. I help him generously with burn from my Mana Crypts.

DAMN! I lost to a deck because I didn't sideboard aggressively enough. I know I can beat control if I put in lots of cards from my sideboard. Typically, control players pack Moats or Abyss. I decide from here on out, I'll pull my 'Togs and either the 'Dibs or Juggs depending on what defense they're using, and put in Monkeys, Miners, Scepters, Blasts, Disenchants and Caps. This combination should disrupt their mana and card advantage enough for me to eventually Cap their victory conditions or burn them out. Cursed Scroll is Da Bomb against control in Type I. Even if they put a hole in your head, you can still do 2 points of damage for every card you draw. Even land!

JUMP TO MAIN REPORT


After playing a couple more games with this guy with a proxied Type I Corpse Dance/Nicol Bolas deck, I decide to turn in. By now it's already 4:30am(!). I guess I won't plan on getting up for 8:00am registration for the PTQ tomorrow since I want to be rested for the day ahead. Plus, I still hoped to enter the $1000 Team Sealed Deck Tournament which started at 11:00am.

Saturday morning, I wake at 9:00am, with time to eat before the events. However, I roll over and fall back to sleep.

I wake up again at 9:45am. A quick search for a good portable breakfast proves fruitless (note to self: next time, order room service the night before). I decide to run downstairs to see if any potential sealed deck partners are available. I hear rumors that Eric Tam is looking for a partner, but as I gaze out at the hundreds of lookalike geeks swarming the triple-tiered Exhibit Hall, I decide to just forget the whole hassle and return to our stateroom.

This gives us time to do a little more touring of the Queen Mary. We check out all the exhibits showing examples of what the rooms looked like in wartime and peacetime. They also had some great black and white shots of celebrities who cruised on 'Mary.' They had lots of pictures of old movie stars and '40s-era starlets I'd never heard of, and while looking at a picture of a young Bob Hope I realized why his caricatures always have such exaggerated chins. :) I also enjoyed seeing the old-style fitness room, which had a bicycle machine hooked up to a wheel that measured all the way up to 440 yards distance! The fitness room also sported vibrating-belt machines and epees, foils, and armor for the gentlemen inclined to duel.

Soon my hunger for all things Magic eclipsed my interest in history, so I went downstairs to play some eight-person Booster Draft events. I won't even go into details since I drafted horribly both matches I was in.

I gave up on playing for a while and just traded a bit to acquire some nice cards I've been looking for. I made a great trade with Alex Shvartsman -- NM Beta Ancestral for NM Beta Timetwister straight up. It was a bit unnerving when he did the 'bend test' on both cards to establish their authenticity. I had never seen anyone bend such highly valued cards before (and I'm not sure I ever want to see it again). But he was obviously experienced at it so all went well. I also traded a Frenchman an English LG Mana Drain for some French BB stuff, including a Balance and Roue de la Fortune, which promptly went into Cursed Juggertog.

Finally 4pm rolled around and the scheduled Type I event was ready to start...


AND NOW FOR THE REAL REPORT!

The tournament had about 28 competitors. As first announced, it was to be five rounds of Swiss with Top Four, but then they changed it to four rounds of Swiss with Top Eight.


ROUND ONE (0-0, 0-0) Lucas Faria -- G/R/w Erhnam-burnem

Game 1: Lucas was an enthusiastic, skilled teenager. His first turn he played a Savannah and a Lion, which tipped me off to his deck construction and strategy. I got a nice jump by Bolting the kitty and dropping a Scroll and mana. Eventually he got an Ernham out but he was forced to trade with a Juggernaut. A bit of burn later and it was over for him.

Game 2: About the same. An early Serendib really ate him up and I was able to keep the kitties under control with my Scroll. Eventually burned him out. Game 3: (for fun) He got an early Erhnam out and I was not able to deal with it. He bolted any Juggs I put in its path and my Plows and/or Mystical Tutors didn't make their appearance. Lucas had limited power blue cards but did an admirable job with what he had, eventually making the Top Eight by going 3-1.


ROUND TWO (1-0, 2-0) Peter Radonjic -- B/U Necro-Weirding

Game 1: Hey wait a minute! I didn't want to play Peter again this early. I kind of expected to play him sometime, but not right now. Oh well. I get out an early Serendib and Scroll and beat him down.

Game 2: I get down early beatdown but he Plows or Disenchants my early threats. Finally, with a Serendib and Scroll on the table, Peter drops a Necropotence. Quite a gutsy move. He Necros from 19 to 12, and draws a lucky Plow for my 'Dib during his Discard phase. He then Arcane Denials a creature threat of mine. I ask him to remind me when his turn starts so I can draw my two cards. All is well. He then drops a Zuran Orb and is able to Necro for many more turns while keeping his life total just above burn range. But my Mishras show their worth and keep plinking away at him until eventually I burn him out with a Psi Blast. I must admit I feel pretty good about beating Peter twice in two tournaments. I know he's one of the best Standard players out there and we played two hard-fought matches.

ROUND THREE (2-0,4-0) Fernando Romero -- R/W/u Zoo-like with Pups

Game 1: He drops a Jackal Pup so I know immediately what this deck is going to be about. Fortunately, I have a Bolt so he takes three right off the bat. He gets stuck with a City of Brass for a while then finally I drop a Juggernaut and 'Dib, then burn him out.

Game 2: Fernando recognizes my deck's major weakness -- it's own Mana Crypts. He busily Wastes my colored mana. One other note about this match is that Fernando sided in Null Rods against me. They effectively stopped the Cursed Scrolls from working (I had all four on the table at one time -- Atog food), but I still had to keep flipping for the Mana Crypts! Fortunately, I could still use them as mana sources. I obligingly take damage down to 10 and start to get worried. I pray to the top-deck gods and draw --

AN ATOG!

I drop my 'Tog and a Serendib then Fernando 'Twisters. Fortunately, he was so busy Wasting my land he is unable to burn me out that turn so I realize I must kill him this turn or be killed. During my upkeep my Crypts become 'Tog chow. I do some quick math. Fernando's at 17 life, and I can hit him with a 15/16 Atog (after eating all my artifacts, including the Mishra I just played) and my 'Dib to finish him. But, that would leave me with only two land in play, not enough to cast my second 'Dib should something go awry. So, I attack! He Psi Blasts my 'Dib going to 15. I look at my hand and decide to not go for the kill. Instead I save my Mox Pearl, attack with a 13/14 Atog and Plow it during my Discard phase, going up to 20 life and leaving him at 2. It turns out this was a good move because he had a Plow himself as well as enough burn to finish me if I had stayed at 7. Plus, I wouldn't have drawn any mana to cast my second 'Dib for several turns. But, by saving the Pearl, I dropped my 'Dib and finished him a turn later. PHEW!

Afterwards, we chat a bit about Spain and his hometown of Pamplona, where they hold the running of the bulls. I ask him if he's ever run with the bulls himself. He tells me, "I'm not scared of the bulls, but my family won't let me. They're worried something might happen to me." He then goes on to explain that most of the people who get hurt in the annual event are tourists who don't know the proper way to run (which I assume is fast, and in the other direction). PTs are so cool because you get to meet interesting people from all over the world, and you always have something to talk about. ;)


ROUND 4: (3-0, 6-0) Roger Sorino -- U/W Mirror/Control w/Fireball

Game 1: Roger, a good-natured Jerseyite (that rare breed!), comes into this match at 2-0-1. He's really disappointed that he didn't win his last match. He played another control deck and they timed out in game three though he had the game in hand. He talks about drawing but isn't sure if 8 points will make the cut to top eight. I leave the decision up to him and he decides to play it out. I get a great first-turn draw, dropping several artifacts and a Scroll. I eventually Psi Blast him once, but the Scroll does 15 points of damage for the win (with some City of Pain).

Game 2: I side in my anti-control stuff. I get lucky and force through a Jester's Cap taking out his Mirror, Fireball, and 'Twister, leaving decking me as his only victory condition (he still had his Lobotomies in). Eventually, he succumbs to burn and Mishras.

All right! I make it into the Top Eight with a perfect 4-0/8-0 record and the Top Seed. Roger is kinda bummed since he has no hope of making the Top Eight now. We chat a bit about how he did in the Pro Tour on Friday. It turns out he went 3-4 with his R/w Sped/utility deck. Unfortunately, his four losses all came at the hands of the Disco Gnome decks that were everywhere. He likes my deck and asks for a listing. I tell him it will probably appear on the Dojo, but then offer to write it down after the tournament anyway.


FINAL EIGHT

QUARTERFINALS
Roger Sorino -- U/W Mirror/Control w/Fireball

Game 1: Hey Roger made it as the #8 seed! :) Unfortunately, this means we have to play again right now. :( I am also quite worried about his deck since he packs Force of Will. This makes my speed less of an asset than it might otherwise be. Not so for this game since I start with burn and eventually finish with Scrolls and more burn.

Game 2: I get a turn 1 Serendib but Roger gets a turn 2 Plowshare. Soon, he pulls a Zuran Orb so I know I can't finish him quickly this time. Roger's deck eventually goes off on me, letting him taking SIX TURNS IN A ROW! He was really lucky with his Timetwisters, drawing Time Walk and Lotus twice. He also pulled most of the Moxes and was able to Regrow and Recall the cards he needed. Needless to say, he found his Mirror and killed me several turns later. Game 3: I do some MAJOR sideboarding -- 13 cards in fact. I pull out the rest of my main creatures ('Dibs, 'Togs, Juggs) and the Berserk that I hadn't previously, and put in everything I have except the Plowshares. I hope my Monkeys and Miners can keep his mana low until I can force through my Cap or Scepters. Then I plan to burn him out. Things don't start as well as I'd hoped when he FoWs my Ancestral Recall during his first upkeep. But fortunately for me, I plunk down a Scepter and Miner and start working him. He drops an Abyss, but I surprise him with a Disenchant, so my Miner keeps digging. Eventually I Cap out his Mirror, Fireball, and Balance (he had a Zorb down) and finish him with Mishras and burn.

I quickly write down a decklist and give it to Roger. Hey, Roger! I messed up the decklist. I put down 4 Mana Crypts instead of 3 and forgot the 1 Black Vise. I hope you had time to kick some Jersey butt before this report circulates. ;)

SEMIFINALS
Sean Pink -- U/W control/Serendib

Game 1: Hey, it's Sean again. I kinda chuckle to myself. Here I am in my ninth Type I match at PTLA and I've doubled up against three of my opponents. Weird. This game I drop an early Scroll and beat him down with it after I drop my land and make some critters.

Game 2: I get an early jump with another Scroll, but he finds his Mirror and eventually kills me. Game 3: I do my full sideboard of 13 cards again. We keep each other down to low mana with Monkeys, but eventually I get Dwarven Miner beatdown going so he has to block with his Monkey! STRONG! Once the Miner cleared the path, I dropped my artifact mana and Burned him out. Another very close match.

FINALS
Roger Uzun -- U/W control/beatdown

Game 1: I get a Scroll going early. I am forced to Psi Blast a Serra, and am able to Balance next turn. I'm quite horrified to see him drop an Autumn Willow into the graveyard. Fortunately, he wasn't that close to casting it. My Scroll and burn eventually finish him out.

Game 2: I pull out some creatures and put in disruption. This game lasts a long time, but I eventually Scroll and 'Dib him to death.

WOOHOO! I WIN! I'm very excited at this point. :) I came down to PTLA wanting to play in this as my main event and I ended up winning it. I got 13 packs as a prize, including two IT Legends as booty, though I haven't opened anything yet. I'll probably trade them off since I've already got an Italian Mirror. But this really made my trip to PTLA worthwhile from an MTG standpoint. I went 9-1 in Type I and my rating might even get up to 1900. I know this doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I'm proud of how this silly deck did nonetheless.


And now a few words about CURSED JUGGERTOG!

CURSED JUGGERTOG

MAIN DECK (26)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Juggernaut
4 Atog
4 Serendib Efreet
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Psionic Blast
2 Mystical Tutor

ABUSE (8)
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Regrowth
1 Berserk
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Balance
1 Black Vise

MANA (27)
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
5 Moxes
3 Mana Crypt
1 Library of Alexandria
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Volcanic Island
2 Plateau
2 Tundra
2 City of Brass
2 Gemstone Mine

TOTAL: 61 cards, 24 morsels of 'Tog chow

SIDEBOARD
4 Pyroblast (anti-control)
2 Gorilla Shaman (disruption)
2 Dwarven Miner (disruption)
2 Swords to Plowshares (anti-fattie/anti-burn (life gain))
2 Disenchant (anti-lots of stuff)
2 Disrupting Scepter (anti-control)
1 Jester's Cap (anti-lock/anti-MirrorU)

I'm a big Atog and Juggernaut fan. These two cards are among the most maligned cards in Magic. Some say Atogs are too weak or specialized. Many say Juggernauts are too fragile and worthless. Why not play with Erhnams?

Atogs have soul and Juggernauts have no soul! In Cursed Juggertog, the Atogs have such great synergy with the rest of the deck. I have 24 artifacts in the main deck they can eat, with three more in the sideboard if need be. They can survive bolts on a 1-1 basis by eating an artifact. They can kill Serras with two. They can kill players by eating up artifacts that have outlived their usefulness speedwise. Juggernauts serve two purposes -- fast big creatures that can't be killed by The Abyss, and as Atog food. It's a quite common occurence for this deck to have a turn one Juggernaut. This is very hard for most Control decks to deal with, and even many Zoo variants have to waste a precious Bolt on the creature rather than the player. Finally, Serendibs complete the offense with their speed and ability to fly over Moats. Since I can drop my hand so fast with the artifact mana, Cursed Scrolls are a logical choice. They're very effective against Lions and Knights and can provide enduring damage at the cost of only two mana. They also make an effective mana sink for my Crypts (as do the Psi Blasts). Four Mishras round out the offense as both non-Diskable creatures and serve as mana sinks for the Crypts as well as 'Tog chow.

I really wish I had a chance to play against a True Zoo deck or a classic Necrodeck w/Knights with Cursed Juggertog. The decks were present in the tournament, but I just didn't meet them in the pairings. There was also a Recycle/Recall deck present, but the Control decks ate it for lunch. I still feel with my disruption that I'd be a tough match for any of those decks.

Hope you all enjoyed the report on another facet of PTLA. I hope I can do more Type I reports in the near future. They don't call it Type Fun for nothing. ;)

Jeff