August ’19 Brew Report, Pt. 1: Bubbling Tech

It’s Hogaak’s world; we’re just living in it. So are some great-looking brews that manage to 5-0 against the odds and the format boogeyman. With August halfway done, let’s peek at the coolest decks emerging from the delve/convoke wreckage.

Hogaak’s New Bags

It’s no secret that Hogaak is still a force to be reckoned with in Modern. Not only is this graveyard strategy the format’s most-played archetype, it’s dominating big-event Top 8s, giving it plenty of visibility and sparking additional banlist discussion. But bubbling under the surface are some new builds that see Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis slipping into more than just Dredge and its now-infamous namesake deck.

Glowspore Hogaak, by JAPANESEFISHERMAN (5-0)

Creatures (40)
Glowspore Shaman
Birds of Paradise
Bloodghast
Carrion Feeder
Gravecrawler
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Knight of Autumn
Lotleth Troll
Satyr Wayfinder
Stitcher’s Supplier
Vengevine

Sorceries (2)
Driven // Despair

Lands (18)
Bloodstained Mire
Blooming Marsh
Godless Shrine
Nurturing Peatland
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Sideboard (15)
Knight of Autumn
Dromoka’s Command
Fatal Push
Leyline of the Void
Plague Engineer
Thoughtseize
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

First up is Glowspore Hogaak, which taps the unlikely Glowspore Shaman as extra copies of Hogaak’s best buddy, Stitcher’s Supplier. Sure, we can only run four Suppliers, but is a two-mana, color-intensive, half-effect Supplier worth dipping into? Conventional format knowledge says no; decks generally don’t want enablers this far below the next-best option, and the line for creature playability is strict in Modern. So I was weirded out when I saw this list the first time.

But seeing it another time, and then even a third, made me rethink things a bit. Perhaps there’s actually something here. Then again, the Hogaak lists all over the Challenge results don’t run Glowspore, so it’s possible these players 5-0’d their leagues on the back of the deck’s other strengths and not because of the newcomer.

It still bears mentioning that Glowspore Hogaak is built a bit differently from the two standard builds of Hogaak, which respectively rely on Satyr Wayfinder and Hedron Crab to get things going. This one sacrifices a bit of speed for a more reliable plan in the face of graveyard hate, shoring up the weaknesses David identified with the deck. It’s possible that a slower build of Hogaak proves palatable should the metagame somehow find a way to adjust independent of Love from Above.

Hexdrinker Hogaak, by KHOKDEN (5-0)

Creatures (21)
Hexdrinker
Bloodghast
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Satyr Wayfinder
Scavenging Ooze
Stitcher’s Supplier

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana of the Veil

Instants (2)
Assassin’s Trophy

Sorceries (10)
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize

Lands (23)
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Nurturing Peatland
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Scavenging Ooze
Assassin’s Trophy
Collector Ouphe
Fatal Push
Maelstrom Pulse
Necrotic Wound
Nihil Spellbomb
Surgical Extraction
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

I said slower, but this deck is freakishly sluggish next to the Hogaak we know and love or hate. Hexdrinker Hogaak is a straight-up BGx deck tuned to accommodate the 8/8 trampler, who indeed dwarfs the usual suspects of Tarmogoyf and Tireless Tracker.

One pure beater gets the nod, though: Hexdrinker, a versatile one-drop that can help cast Hogaak or present a constant mid- to late-game threat off the top of the library. Hogaak already does that, of course, but not through graveyard hate, which Hexdrinker totally ignores. The mix of Hexdrinker and Hogaak gives this discard-centric midrange core multiple angles of attack and strikes me as a particularly exciting blend.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

That’s how it can feel sometimes speeding through endless online dumps looking for diamonds in the rough. But between all the Humans, Eldrazi Tron, and Burn lists, there’s always something juicy lurking underneath. This deck showed up in a few iterations, graduating from its casual-room incarnations into the Competitive leagues and apparently carving out a metagame niche in the process.

UW Blink, by THEOINKENATOR (5-0)

Creatures (28)
Soulherder
Epochrasite
Ethersworn Canonist
Flickerwisp
Giver of Runes
Leonin Arbiter
Spell Queller
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Watcher for Tomorrow

Planeswalkers (2)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Artifacts (4)
Aether Vial

Instants (4)
Path to Exile

Lands (22)
Field of Ruin
Gemstone Caverns
Ghost Quarter
Hallowed Fountain
Seachrome Coast
Shefet Dunes
Silent Clearing
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Sideboard (15)
Deputy of Detention
Geist of Saint Traft
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kitchen Finks
Mirran Crusader
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Teyo, the Shieldmage
Winds of Abandon
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

UW Blink received a few potent tools from Modern horizons, the most widely-adopted one displayed here: Soulherder. Herder lets Blink play more like a fish deck packed with flashy micro-synergies than a midrange deck relying on the clunky Restoration Angel; it now has much more in common with the Eldrazi & Taxes decks inhabiting Tier 3.

Soulherder acts like a mini-planeswalker here, blinking creatures every turn and promising streams of value if opponents don’t deal with it. It also grows pretty large in that case, making it even tougher to remove as the game drags on. Another new card here is Watcher for Tomorrow. Despite the creature entering tapped, the prospect of casting multiple pseudo-Impulses, and having a 2/1 to boot, seems to beat the blind-draw blocking of Wall of Omens.

Teferi, Time Raveler ensures pilots at lest generate a trigger off Soulherder the turn it comes down, and Aether Vial speeds up the deck’s deployment of creatures and effects. Rounding things out are Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Ethersworn Canonist, floodgate effects stapled to aggressive bodies that disrupt while clocking à la Humans.

Bant Blink, by SAFFRONOLIVE (5-0)

Creatures (22)
Coiling Oracle
Deputy of Detention
Eternal Witness
Ice-Fang Coatl
Knight of Autumn
Mulldrifter
Soulherder
Wall of Blossoms
Watcher for Tomorrow

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Instants (12)
Ephemerate
Force of Negation
Path to Exile

Sorceries (2)
Time Warp

Lands (22)
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Misty Rainforest
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Knight of Autumn
Celestial Purge
Disdainful Stroke
Dovin’s Veto
Rest in Peace
Scavenging Ooze
Stonehorn Dignitary
Surgical Extraction
Thragtusk
Tormod’s Crypt
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

Going a level deeper, Bant Blink splashes green for Coiling Oracle, long lauded as one of the game’s most appealing enters-the-battlefield effects. Knight of Autumn, Eternal Witness, and Ice-Fang Coatl are also significant reasons to go green, buffing the scope of Blink’s enters effects and adding a multi-pronged defensive plan.

Also present here is Ephemerate, a one-mana upgrade to Momentary Blink. Modern is way too fast to be focusing on long-term value with the older spell. At one mana, Ephemerate still casts Cloudshift twice, making it a shoe-in for Blink decks singularly focused on their namesake mechanic.

Reefer Madness

Speaking of Coiling Oracle, a recent spin on the card is now transitioning from Standard appeal to Modern lists in spite of its hefty mana cost.

Bant Company, by MILIKIN (5-0)

Creatures (29)
Risen Reef
Voice of Resurgence
Birds of Paradise
Eternal Witness
Ice-Fang Coatl
Noble Hierarch
Phantasmal Image
Reflector Mage
Spell Queller

Planeswalkers (1)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Instants (8)
Collected Company
Path to Exile

Lands (22)
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Gavony Township
Hallowed Fountain
Misty Rainforest
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Temple Garden
Waterlogged Grove
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Collector Ouphe
Deputy of Detention
Dovin’s Veto
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Knight of Autumn
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

Bant Company has been around forever, but not in this iteration. Here, Risen Reef has little synergy with the deck’s other creatures, which are mostly not Elementals; the Oracle-draw of its own 187 ability seems almost reason enough to include it. Almost, of course, because Voice of Resurgence brings it over the edge. When Voice enters or dies, Risen Reef triggers, creating a snowball of card advantage in which to drown opponents who’ve spent their early removal on mana dorks.

Elementals, by MIDCARDPROMO (5-0)

Creatures (31)
Vesperlark
Creeping Trailblazer
Flamekin Harbinger
Fulminator Mage
Lightning Skelemental
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
Risen Reef
Smokebraider
Thunderkin Awakener
Voice of Resurgence

Artifacts (4)
Aether Vial

Instants (3)
Collected Company

Lands (22)
Cavern of Souls
Copperline Gorge
Fiery Islet
Mountain
Primal Beyond
Sunbaked Canyon
Unclaimed Territory
Waterlogged Grove
Sideboard (15)
Fulminator Mage
Alpine Moon
Collector Ouphe
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Healer of the Glade
Ingot Chewer
Leyline of the Void
Weather the Storm
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

Of course, why not take things a step further? Elementals isn’t focused on the synergy between Unearth, Thunderkin Awakener, Seasoned Pyromancer, and Lightning Skelemental, like earlier decks showcasing the tribe; it’s built around fully enabling Risen Reef. And despite the available Elementals generally not wow-ing, that payoff is at least good enough for a 5-0, leaving me to believe the unlikely three-drop may have a real future in Modern.

Temperature’s Rising

As Hogaak continues to dominate Modern, the pressure’s mounting on Wizards to do something, and players seem as divided as ever. Where do you fall on the format’s top deck? My position is clear, with some conditions: if we’re to continue seeing decks like these, but on a larger scale, in the wake of a mostly-despised 8/8, who am I to complain?

3 thoughts on “August ’19 Brew Report, Pt. 1: Bubbling Tech

  1. Especially because even if your opponent kills your Awakener and Risen Reef, all you need is a topdecked Vesperlark to evoke and get back the Awakener, which attacks getting back the Vesperlark which dies EoT and gets back the Reef, so without a Scavenging Ooze or something of the like, non-exiling removal is pretty useless.

Leave a Reply