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By: The Milk Man, Michael Mulcahy
Oct 30 2014 12:00pm
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With the recent rotation of Standard now is a good time to turn our attention to a format that is not as heavily impacted by rotation - Modern. I would have to say Modern is my favourite format and I certainly enjoy discovering and playing new decks. This Giant Slayer focuses on a GW Bogles deck piloted by Jrickard who went 3-1 on the 10th of March 2014.

Here is the decklist that Jrickard took to a 3-1 finish:

 

The deck is an aggro-combo build that abuses the keyword hexproof to build a giant Voltron-style threat that is very hard to remove. Bogles attacks the game from a unique angle, one that many decks simply do not have a way to deal with the threat that we present and protect.

The decks strengths include:

- Multi colour land base is still quite budget friendly. 11 Non-basics provide a pretty consistent mana base for cards with hard mana requirements

- There is a fair amount of redundancy in the creatures and the auras that we use to accomplish our goal - getting the opponent's life total down to zero as quickly as possible. Unlike a true combo deck we do not need specific combo pieces to be able to win.

- Hexproof game-plan blanks most opponent's removal, granting us a virtual card advantage. Most opponents simply aren't prepared for our strategy, particularly in game 1.

The deck has some weaknesses though:

- Investing large resources in to a singular creature can backfire if the creature dies/get exiled or we fall behind in the race.

- Spellskite. The amazing artifact from New Phyrexia is a real problem for bogles - stealing our enchantments means that we cannot play our enchantments without dealing with the Spellskite first.

- Sacrifice effects like Liliana of the Veil, Celestial Flare, Smallpox etc

- Sweepers such as an early Drown in Sorrow, Wrath of God and Mutilate can blow us out.

- Enchantment hate like Back to Nature, Paraselene and Cleanfall

- The deck doesn't mulligan particularly well as it requires a combination of lands, creature and enchantments. It is important to have a mass of cards to build our win-con.

The deck is very linear and can be really non-interactive. I didn't list this as either a positive or negative as it can very well be both - depending on the player, your opposition, your frame of mind at the time etc. Sometimes you just like to goldfish your way to victory - this is the sort of deck that is perfect at doing that. Unfortunately this can make it horribly boring for your opponents though.

So how does it work?

GW Bogles uses cheap, small hexproof creatures and then loads them up with auras to present a large threat that is very difficult to remove. The ideal opening hand consists of a 1 drop creature or 2, a couple of lands and then enchantments to begin building our win condition.

Slippery Bogle  Gladecover Scout  Silhana Ledgewalker

These are the hexproof creatures that we run - Slippery Bogle and Gladecover Scout are the only 1 cmc Hexproof creatures. This is the ideal turn 1 play to build our Voltron. Silhana Ledgewalker is the best of the 2 cmc Hexproof creatures for this build and has the added bonus of evasion. The creatures themselves are very straightforward. You play one as early as possible and commit all of your resources to it and (hopefully) ride it to victory.

Kor Spiritdancer

Kor Spiritdancer is great in this build as both a support card and potentially as a powerful creature that we can use as a win con. If your opponent is light on removal you can make the Kor Spiritdancer a significant threat as it gets huge very quickly due to its first ability. The best reason to play Kor Spiritdancer though is for its second ability - it means you can get a tonne of card draw. When our mana curve is really low we can often empty our hand quite quickly - Having a way to restock our hand so that we can keep casting spells is beautiful.

The Auras

Ethereal Armor

Ethereal Armor is amazing in this sort of build. It is the engine that really makes this strategy explode out of the blocks. It has an exponential effect as well as being a decent aura on its own. It even synergizes with our sideboard Enchantments that aren't auras. An Ethereal Armor or two can really let us 'go off' - 2 of them on turn 2 means that we are attacking with a hexproof, first striking 5/5 creature - that in itself presents a quick enough clock. It really can get out of hand from there. Ethereal Armors are a bargain right now and being that they are a common that is integral to the GW Hexproof builds, it would be a good idea to invest in a few as they will surely increase in value as the supply of Ravnica cards gets smaller in comparison to the number of people playing Modern.

Hyena Umbra Spider Umbra

Hyena Umbra on its own has a similar effect to a singular Ethereal Armor; +1/+1 and first strike, but with one big difference - Totem Armor. Totem Armor gives our creatures a pseudo-regeneration shield as we can sacrifice the Totem Armor instead of destroying the creature that is attached to. This means that sweepers like Damnation and Supreme Verdict will just not be enough to get the job done on their own. If we attack in to our opponents empty board and they flash in a Restoration Angel we do not get blown out as we can trade a Totem Armor for the Restoration Angel instead of our Gladecover Scout that we have just invested a heap of mana and auras into.

Spider Umbra is similar to Hyena Umbra in effect except that the Reach that it provides means that we can be good on defence as well as on offence. This can be great on a second creature that we can leave back on defense while our main creature applies pressure to our opponent. Racing an Insectile Aberration, Pestermite or Restoration Angel gets a lot easier when we can actually defend against it.

Spirit Mantle

Spirit Mantle gives us a really strong source of evasion. It also completely removes one of the few ways that our opponent can interact with us. It severely limits the options that can be utilised to remove our creatures and often they will have to deal with the Spirit Mantle before they can defend against our hexproof guy.

Rancor

Rancor provides us with another way to get damage through our opponent's blockers meaning that we can't just be chump blocked by Young Pyromancer tokens for an eternity. Rancor also enjoys the benefit of being harder to remove than our other enchantments, as there are a limited number of times that it can be countered - stopping Rancor from returning to our hand.

Keen Sense

Keen Sense does not pump up our creatures (except for the interaction with Ethereal Armor) but it is an extremely cheap source of repeatable card draw that we can use. Card draw in aggro decks is so powerful because many aggro decks peter out after the initial explosiveness when our opponent stabilises. The additional card draw from Keen Sense and Kor Spiritdancer means that we can not only win the race with our opponent on the board, we can win other races too - the resource war, the mana efficiency war and the card draw war.

 Unflinching Courage

Unflinching Courage is often the finisher in the deck. Normally when this is hooked up we rapidly put the game out of reach for our opponent and give ourselves some pretty serious inevitability. It is the top of our low mana curve and can also be played on curve to wonderful result. The Trample allows us to beat our way through chump blockers and the lifelink allows us to get ahead in the race against opposing aggro decks - +2/+2 is a nice bonus as well.

 Lifelink

This one is pretty straight forward. The singleton Lifelink is a nice hedge against the aggro decks that seem to dominate MTGO. Although Lifelink doesn't pump up our hexproof creatures on its own, an accompanying Ethereal Armor will allow the Lifelink to make an impact greater than just the sum of its parts.

Where to from here? Increasing the Budget and Power of the deck:

Path to Exile  Leyline of Sanctity  Daybreak Coronet  

Path to Exile is one of the best removal spells in Modern - the only others that can compete with Path to Exile are the venerable Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay. All 3 have their drawbacks, but Path's drawback can be played around or into. Having additional lands in play has a diminishing value - the later the game goes the less important it is. If your opponent is playing Splinter Twin, having 12 lands instead of 11 isn't going to make a big difference to the match whereas giving them a 4th land on turn 3 could just lose you the game. It is also important to note that your opponent may have missed an important land drop or be locked out of a colour. Firing off a premature Path to Exile may help your opponent out a lot in the early game, so it is best to save Path to Exile for as late as possible unless you have a *must* answer target i.e. Kitchen Finks when your opponent has just activated Birthing Pod to fetch a Viscera Seer with Melira, Sylvok Outcast already in play.

You can however use Path to Exile to your advantage. How? Picture this opening hand:

Slippery Bogle Gladecover Scout Spirit Mantle  Razorverge Thicket  Path to Exile  Ethereal Armor  Daybreak Coronet

This hand is basically a snap keep. It has the potential to be a trap hand though - if we don't draw a land in our first 2 or 3 draw steps we fall behind really fast. Path to Exile allows us to exile our 'extra' creature to fetch a basic land. This is of course situational and uses up an additional turn, but handy to keep in mind. Another thing to note is that some decks run so few basics - if they have no basic lands remaining in their library, then Path to Exile becomes the best removal in the game. There are also occasions where exiling the creature is far more important than destroying it such as with Wurmcoil Engine.

Daybreak Coronet. Just look at this card for a minute - +3/+3, First Strike, Vigilance and Lifelink. All of this for only 2 mana! There is a drawback though - It can only be enchanted to a creature with another aura already on it. Creatures with Auras on them is our plan A, so this isn't even a hindrance for us. The only downside to the card for us as the budget conscious player is the financial cost.

Windswept Heath and the other friendly colour fetches being reprinted in Khans of Tarkir is a huge boon for Modern players everywhere. In the past people where happy to use off-colour fetches like Verdant Catacombs and Marsh Flats or even Misty Rainforests and Arid Mesas. Now on-colour fetches can be used to further strengthen the mana base and provide colour fixing. Even though Windswept Heaths are more expensive than the land we are currently using, they will be at their cheapest while KTK packs are being opened, so for the savvy investor the best time to pick up a playset will be over the next 6 to 12 months.

Leyline of Sanctity is a complete hoser for decks that rely on burn or discard strategies. The two top decks online at the moment are Red/x Burn and URx Delver. UWR has also surged in response as one of the better decks against Delver and Burn. UWR also has the benefit of neatly accommodating the busted Kahns of Tarkir cards Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. Both URx Delver and UWR Control are glorified burn decks, easily being able to Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix their way to victory.

Decks that utilise discard such as Jund, Junk and 8Rack struggle against Leyline of Sanctity for a similar reason as their proactive removal require targeting of the player. Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek and Liliana of the Veil become all but useless when a Leyline of Sanctity is in play. Leyline of Sanctity also has a neat synergy with Ethereal Armor as another enchantment to pump up our Gladecover Scouts and Slippery Bogles.

 

Changes to the deck

I really like this particular build of the deck as it stands. For a budget build, JRickard seems to have come up with a pretty balanced deck. There are a few changes that should be made though in response to meta shifts. Treasure Cruise has really allowed UR Delver of Secrets decks to break out in to a genuine Tier 1 deck. This deck archetype has become far more popular online as a result and we should tune our deck accordingly. Other winners from the metashift and release of Khans of Tarkir include Burn variants, UWR control and Melira Pod.

There are some non-blue decks that have also improved since the release of Khans of Tarkir. New cards, friendly colour fetch lands and the wild meta shift of Modern has meant that some tier 1.5 or tier 2 decks have improved enough to be bumped up a half tier. Decks that have improved due to these changes include Hatebears, Soul Sisters sporting Auriok Champions, and GW Hexproof. These are 3 of the decks that have a decent matchup against UR Delver and Burn due to natural hate, protection and lifegain. To further improve our matchup against these new top tier decks, that now compose more than 30% of the online meta there are a few changes that I would like to make.

Here is the deck with the changes to it: 

 

The maindeck remains the same, but the sideboard has been shuffled around to increase our hate cards for the expected URx Delver and Burn decks. The Leonin Arbiter comes in to hate on decks that tutor such as Scapeshift and the Lifelinks are to further improve the UR Delver matchup that will be very much expected. In the matches that I played I used Banishing Lights in the sideboard instead of Oblivion Rings as I owned the Banishing Lights and not the Oblivion Rings. The Banishing Lights effectively do the same thing, but they cost more so if you're building this type of deck the Oblivion Rings will be cheaper to pick up. Spirit of the Labyrinth is a card that we can bring in for the Treasure Cruise and Jeskai Ascendancy matchups.

Here are my sideboarding plans for the top decks in the meta:

UR Delver

Out

Kor SpiritdancerKor SpiritdancerKor Spiritdancer

In

LifelinkLifelinkSpirit of the Labyrinth

Blue Red Delver is the boogeyman of the current MTGO meta. Luckily for us though, Bogles shapes up pretty well against UR Delver. Playing into and around their counterspells will be the hardest part of racing our opponent in this matchup. Kor Spiritdancers come out as they're easy targets for our opponents removal spells. The Lifelinks come in to help us race our opponent as well as giving us a greater mass of enchantments with which we can bait out or play through counter spells. Fortunately for us there are few ways that the colours Red and Blue can interact with us as they lack enchantment removal. Their best hope is to counterspell our Auras, so having a mass of Auras will be important to build a big enough threat.

 

Melira Pod

Out

Keen SenseKeen SenseKeen Sense

In

Suppression FieldSuppression FieldRest in Peace

Keen Sense is a relatively low impact enchantment that is handy in the grindier games, but our matchup against pod is far from ideal if it goes long. We need to apply pressure as well as slow our opponents down. Suppression Fields make a lot of their cards far less effective - Birthing Pod, Spellskite, Scavenging Ooze and probably one of the bigger ones; Qasali Pridemage. Spellskites aren't in every pod list, but if you see them I would definitely side in the Nature's Claims too, as it wrecks our strategy far more than the other cards that are hurt by Suppression Fields. Rest in Peace is a nice card to stop the persist creatures and to invalidate the pod players's Eternal Witnesses and Reveillarks.

 

Scapeshift

Out

LifelinkUnflinching Courage 

In

Leonin ArbiterSpirit of the Labyrinth

Scapeshift is a pretty straight forward matchup. Due to their game plan being relatively slow, we should be able to effectively race them in game 1. The hatebears should help to protect our game plan, slow down our opponent as well as being an additional threat that we can apply pressure with. I am uncertain if our sideboarding plan is poor versus Scapeshift because we don't have many important cards to bring in for this matchup or if we have a pretty solid main game plan.

 

Affinity

Out

Keen SenseKeen SenseKeen SenseRancor

In

Nature's ClaimNature's ClaimStony SilenceSuppression Field

Affinity is going to be a tough race. I have been told that Affinity matches end up in one of two outcomes post-sideboard; "They either see their sideboard hate and win or they don't and they lose". Our specific hate is pretty solid for slowing down the Affinity deck if we see it and should help us to race our opponent.

 

Burn

Out

Kor SpiritdancerKor SpiritdancerKor SpiritdancerKeen SenseKeen SenseKeen Sense

In

Burrenton Forge-TenderBurrenton Forge-TenderLifelinkLifelinkNature's ClaimNature's Claim

Burn is the other Boogeyman online at the moment. We have several strong sideboard options to bring in against Burn. Nature's Claims can be used on our opponent's Eidolon of the Great Revels or can be used on our own enchantments to gain life if we are desperate. Burrenton Forge-Tenders are practically hexproof in this matchup, as well as being able to block forever against their Goblin Guides and Monastery Swiftspears. Burrenton Forge-Tenders can safely be hooked up with enchantments as an additional win condition. Connecting with Lifelink and Unflinching Courages will be paramount to success in this matchup - more so if our opponent is clutching on to a playset of Skullcracks

 

Lets put the deck through some 2 man queues to test:

GW Bogles vs GW Hatebears

GW Bogles vs Mono Red Burn

GW Bogles vs GW Hatebears

So what would I change to the deck?

It has become very apparent that this deck is weak to Eidolon of the Great Revel. I had underestimated just how impactful it would be in this matchup - having a solution to this problem is very important. There are several ways that we can approach this, the obvious one is to use reactive spells like Nature's Claim or Erase. The recently reprinted Erase is probably the best reactive solution - it is awesome! Erase is so cheap and has many valid targets out of the sideboard, the fact that it exiles is quite a bonus when there are things like Grim Lavamancer, Keranos, God of Storms and Treasure Cruise gumming up the top spots on the meta of MTGO.

Another way that we could approach this is with a proactive rather than a reactive spell. Seal of Primordium gives us a solution that we could even play before our opponent can cast Eidolon of the Great Revel. This may deter our opponent from casting the Eidolon of the Great Revel in the first place or if they do cast it we can destroy it without taking any damage. Nature's Claim seems counter-intuitive as it gains them a significant amount of life when we are supposed to be an aggro deck and plenty of our games end up going down to the wire. That is the compromise for having a 1 mana spell that is so versatile out of the sideboard - it is the most efficient artifact or enchantment removal.

Nature's Claim  Erase  Seal of Primordium

Another change that I would like to make to the deck is to have a legitimate plan B. Thrun, the Last Troll is the singular best anti-control card available to us. Having a singleton out of the sideboard could be very handy against decks that can land an early Anger of the Gods, steal our auras with a Spellskite, counter our enchantments or employ a sacrifice effect like Celestial Flare.

One weakness that was also evident was the fact that we employ zero removal. A budgetary solution that we could use out of the sideboard is Sunlance. Celestial Flare can also be handy for the mirror match or for tough-to-remove creatures. Suspension Field is another choice that we could use that is more efficient than Banishing Light or Oblivion Ring in a lot of matches.

Sunlance  Celestial Flare  

JRickards' inclusion of Ethersworn Canonist in the sideboard is probably correct. There are a few matches were this could be the best hate that we can bring in - probably most notably Storm and the new Jeskai Ascendancy Combo decks. Eidolon of Rhetoric is a solid alternative to Ethersworn Canonist - it is slightly cheaper financially but has a higher mana cost. The 4 toughness passes the Lightning Bolt test as well as being a solid body for blocking smaller creatures. Rule of Law is probably superior to these two on account of not being a creature. The decks that we want to bring in a Ethersworn Canonist style effect often struggle to deal with enchantments - Red and Black have no outs to resolved enchantments and Blue's options are very limited. Because Rule of Law is an enchantment it is yet another way to buff our creatures that are enchanted with Ethereal Armors.

Ethersworn Canonist  Eidolon of Rhetoric  Rule of Law

Leyline of Sanctity is one of the cards that would really improve our matchup against burn. Unfortunately it is going for around $11.50 apiece. There is however a cheaper alternative - Ivory Mask. Ivory Mask is the budget conscious players Leyline of Sanctity. Weighing in at $0.05 a piece they are a perfect budget solution to decks that want to burn us out or dismantle our hand with discard.

 Ivory Mask

GW bogles is well placed in the current meta and will be a strong deck going forward... until Treasure Cruise gets banned and everything gets turned on its head again. I hope you have enjoyed this budget Giant Slayer as much as I have enjoyed making it.

- The Milk Man

 

7 Comments

Always great to see you by Procrastination at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 21:45
Procrastination's picture
5

Always great to see you providing budget options, especially for Modern!

For those that might have missed the Facebook comment, Troy Drinkard brought up how using Spirit Link instead of Life Link can be better because tossing Spirit Link on Eidolon of the Great Revel can make it start to produce life for you while neutering its damage! There are very few reasons why the "when" trigger on Spirit Link will be "worse" than actual Lifelink for the advantage that Spirit Link can be used as a defensive stall in a pinch.

If you opt out of using Oblivion Ring, don't use Suspension Field. Instead, use Journey to Nowhere. The ZEN version is only .08, cheaper than SF and less restrictive.

I'm always trying different options in the "flex creature" spot and right now I'm on Fiendslayer Paladin. Its pseudo-hexproof against Red and Black combined with Lifelink and First Strike makes it great in the Burn/Delver meta.

- Gio

Thanks for the tips by The Milk Man at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 22:29
The Milk Man's picture

Thanks for the tips, they are great and would go a long way to improving the deck

As someone who has been by ScionOfJustice at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 23:42
ScionOfJustice's picture

As someone who has been playing Hexproof in the Modern PREs, both tonight and last week I 4-0ed Kumagoro's Modern Times event with my list that doesn't currently run Daybreak Coronet (they are expensive $$) I can say that the deck is fantastic and a lot of fun.

"I 4-0ed Kumagoro's Modern by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 11/08/2014 - 12:21
Kumagoro42's picture

"I 4-0ed Kumagoro's Modern Times event"

...until someone started using Back to Nature! :P (And then actually drawing into it).

You don't run Horizon Canopy either, and that's a big part of the pro archetype (you really want to have lands that enter untapped and then you cycle away), but you still did great with the deck. Truth is, if you're not prepared, it's the type of deck that steamrolls you before you even know what's happened.

This said, I played SBena, who won a few Modern Times events with the non-budget version of Bogle, and my deck couldn't win when Daybreak Coronet was out, because the lifegaining became too massive and unrecoverable, both in attack and defense position. It's hard to replicate what that card does in that deck.

It encapsulates the beauty of MTG, in a way: any ridiculous bulk rare can become tomorrow's hit because the game is in constant flux. So the elements of the game can't be evaluated at a single moment in time. This is really unique of Richard Garfield's creation.

Witchbane Orb is far superior by romellos at Fri, 10/31/2014 - 06:48
romellos's picture

Witchbane Orb is far superior alternative over Ivory Mask as a replacement for Leyline of Sanctity. And it is universal SB card for any colored decks.

Witchbane Orb by The Milk Man at Fri, 10/31/2014 - 08:38
The Milk Man's picture

Witchbane Orb is also a good choice and probably better as a budget option that can also be used in multiple builds. It doesn't have the synergy with Ethereal Armor that Ivory Mask has, but diversifying the card types has the advantage of making it harder to remove - if your opponent brings in Enchantment removal they may not be able to deal with the Witchbane Orb - especially so that they wouldn't necessarily be thinking of Artifacts in a Bogles deck. Thanks for the suggestion

sweet read.... by JRickard at Sat, 11/08/2014 - 03:14
JRickard's picture
5

Nice read. I'm actually gonna put this back together again online. I deleted the list for some reason and just forgot about it. But you do have a point. It seems like a good deck to play right now.