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Against the Odds: Psychogenic Probe

Hello everyone and welcome to episode twenty-five of Against the Odds. Last week's poll was the biggest blowout we ever had in Against the Odds. Psychogenic Probe won by 14% of the nearly 6,000 votes cast! Our two Standard options, Felidar Sovereign and Undergrowth Champion, came in second and third and will be back next week. Panoptic Mirror and Upheaval finished at the bottom and will drop off the ballot. 

As you know, I tried using CAPTCHA for last week's poll, and while it did a good job of preventing cheating, there were also some problems. On mobile browsers some people were unable to vote. I'm going to give it another shot this week, but again, let me know if you are having problems. If we have a repeat of last week's issues, I'll drop it for the next vote, at least until I can make sure it works for everyone. 

We'll talk more about Psychogenic Probe in a minute. First let's get to the videos. A quick reminder. If you enjoy Against the Odds and other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Against the Odds: Psychogenic Probe Intro

Against the Odds: Psychogenic Probe Games

The Deck

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One thing I learned building with Psychogenic Probe is that there aren't that many ways to make an opponent shuffle their library. One option is to build Eggs Combo with Bitter Ordeal and Psychogenic Probe as the finisher, and while I considered going this route there were two problems. First, Psychogenic Probe Eggs just felt like a bad version of Eggs. Second, as I learned when I featured an Eggs build on Budget Magic, people don't like watching videos of Eggs in action. I can't really blame them. I quickly decided this option was off the table. The second option was to go heavy Black, since more than half of the reasonable costed "force an opponent to shuffle" cards are found in that color. This direction is where we ended up, with a pile of Surgical Extractions, Memoricides, and Extirpates. 

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First off we have Extirpate and Surgical Extraction, backed up by Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. The two card types combine to get cards in our opponent's graveyard to exile them, which in turn makes them shuffle their library and take damage from Psychogenic Probe. Apart from dealing damage with Psychogenic Probe, the value of these cards varies greatly. On one end of the spectrum we have the Zombie Hunt match, where we cast Inquisition of Kozilek on turn one, saw a hand of lands and two Treasure Hunt, made our opponent discard a Treasure Hunt, surgically extracted the Treasure Hunt, and our opponent scooped. On the other side, a deck like Burn really doesn't care a whole lot about getting a Lightning Bolt extracted. Their deck is so redundant. I will say that cards like Extirpate and Surgical Extraction get better the more you play, because it is possible to exile every relevant spell from our opponent's deck.

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The benefit of Memoricide and Cranial Extraction (which are essentially the same card) is that we don't need a card in our opponent's graveyard to be able to exile it. We can fire them off at any time and exile all copies of any (non-land) card in their deck. These cards are especially good post-board when we can use them to get rid of any and all copies of Vandalblast, Hurkyl's Recall, Echoing Truth, or Qasali Pridemage, often leaving our opponent dead to our Ensnaring Bridge

Sadistic Sacrament is nice because it can hit any three cards, which is helpful when our opponent is playing a mixture of answers to Ensnaring Bridge  (i.e. Qasali Pridemage, Reclamation Sage, and Krosan Grip). While I've never actually gotten to kick it, exiling 15 cards should win the game by leaving an opponent with a library full of lands and do-nothings.

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Neverending Torment, like all epic cards, is risky. The idea is that once we have our opponent locked down under an Ensnaring Bridge with a couple Psychogenic Probes on the battlefield we can cast a Neverending Torment and shuffle our opponent to death over the course of a few turns. The problem is if we don't have our opponent completely locked down we will lose because we can no longer cast spells to answer our opponent's board. 

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Finally we have the Ghost Quarter / Crucible of Worlds package. With a Crucible of Worlds on the battlefield, we can Ghost Quarter our opponent every turn, which either forces our opponent to shuffle to get a basic land (and take damage from Psychogenic Probe) or get Strip Mined and eventually run out of lands, which then allows us to easily finish our opponent off. 

The Matchups

With our deck the matchups come down to how redundant our opponent's deck happens to be and how easily it can beat Ensnaring Bridge. Aggro decks with a variety of replaceable threats (Affinity, Zoo, etc) are rough unless we can lock them with Ensnaring Bridge at a high enough life total that they can't burn us out. Burn is pretty much unwinnable since they don't care about Ensnaring Bridge or our exile effects. Aggro decks with only a few threats (Infect, for example) are easier, and it isn't unlikely we get rid of all their important cards with our exile effects. 

On the other hand, it is really hard to lose against decks that are built around one card. Take, for instance, Scapeshift. If we can get Scapeshift exiled, it is really difficult for our opponent to win. The same is true of Living End, Ad Nauseam, and Storm. 

As far as the monster of the format, I didn't play against Eldrazi. For some reason I never play against Eldrazi on Magic Online. We are built with the deck in mind with both Ensnaring Bridge and the Ghost Quarter / Crucible of Worlds lock. While I can't say for sure, I imagine it is a decent matchup. 

The Odds

We won 6 of 13 games, good enough for a game win percentage of 46%. Of course, that percentage is propped up by our two turn one wins against Zombie Hunt. If we discount this match our game win percentage drops to 30%. On the other hand, we got pretty unlucky to lose several other games. For instance, in the first game against Grixis Superfriends, we got our opponent down to two relevant cards in deck (Karn Liberated) and they had one turn before we locked up the game. Of course they hit the 1 in 20 shot and drew a Karn Liberated. In game three against Merfolk we were a land away from locking our opponent under an Ensnaring Bridge, but we couldn't find it in time. The only match that didn't feel close was against UW Emeria, which should be a great matchup, since we have a ton of graveyard hate and Ghost Quarter for Emeria, the Sky Ruin. It was the combination of being land-light both games and our opponent playing a Leyline of Sanctity that made it a blowout for our opponent. 

I don't think winning 40% of the time with Psychogenic Probe is unreasonable. Yes, we got the freebie against Zombie Hunt, but we also got a little unlucky to lose some other games, so I think these two factors even each other out and our game win percentage is fairly representative of our deck. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Anyway, that's all for today. Leave your thoughts, ideas, options and suggestions in the comments, and don't forget to vote for next week's deck! Until next time, you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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