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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Aug 13 2019 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!

It felt that there was a bit of a post-ban lull for Hogaak where many of us thought that Hogaak may have been put in check.  This, however, ended up being the calm before the storm and it appears that Hogaak is very much back in a big way.  MPL player Piotr Glogowski, aka kanister, managed to play an updated version of Hogaak Vine to an undefeated finish in a MTGO Premier event.

 

This has since been followed by Hogaak dominating Mythic Championship IV's field, with just over 21% of players bringing the deck to the tournament.

It looks like Modern remains in crisis at the moment and that Wizards will be forced to target the banhammer at Hogaak next, or perhaps its partner in crime, Faithless Looting.  It certainly feels like the card was a big mistake in hindsight.  With the cards available in Modern it's just far too easy to cast early and so difficult to deal with once it hits the board.

DECK TECH

I don't intend to go back over the main players in the deck because they really haven't changed since my last article.  Obviously the big change is that Bridge from Below no longer forms part of the deck and accordingly Altar of Dementia has been put on the back burner.  The absence of Bridge and Altar makes quite a bit of room in the deck. 

Creatures

Satyr Wayfinder
Satyr Wayfinder

Satyr Wayfinder appears to be the latest choice of enabling replacement - a green creature (so it can convoke a Hogaak) that also puts at least 3 cards into the graveyard and can help us hit land drops.  It's sort of like a Stitcher's Supplier for two-mana that can help fix our mana.

Golgari Thug
Golgari Thug
Thug appeared in the occasional Hogaak list previously but now it's an early cast creature, for convoking Hogaak, that also dredges to increase the size of our graveyard.  It's not the most exciting card but it does have its uses.

Spells

Lightning Axe
Lightning Axe
Axe has seen a pick up in play.  It's a nice answer to cards like Thought-Knot Seer from Eldrazi Tron or Tarmogoyf from Jund while also providing us with a discard outlet.

Claim // Fame
Claim/Fame
This is just a one of so I didn't have much chance to play with it.  It can return one of our smaller creatures and can make a 10 power Hogaak attack with haste, which is significant if we need to win right away (which certainly happens from time to time given our creatures aren't good at blocking).  I found myself siding this out a lot as it feels like a win more card and certainly not essential.

GAMEPLAY

I ran the deck in a league and these were the results:


Our matchup was against a slightly bizarre brew which seems to be mixing a few different archetypes but primarily it seemed to be a CopyCat deck.  Lightning Axe is a decent answer to Felidar Guardian and just generally we are a lot faster than this deck.  This matchup seemed pretty solid.


Our second matchup is against Izzet Phoenix.  Izzet Phoenix is one of the top decks in the format so it was interesting to play out this matchup.  I think Game 1 is pretty favourable for us.  In general our deck is faster and barring the main deck Surgical Extractions or a quick Thing in the Ice there isn't a lot they can do to disrupt us.  In Game 2, they bring in Ravenous Trap which is dangerous but can be played around and doesn't feel as effective as Leyline of the Void against our deck.


UW Control appears to have found itself in a pretty unfavourable position in recent times.  This matchup seems pretty favourable as they struggle to deal with the recurring threats we can present.  Post-board they get some interesting tools, including Rest in Peace and Timely Reinforcements but we have answers to their hate cards and can use Thoughtseize to strip them from their hand.


This matchup is against Eldrazi Tron.  This matchup proved tricky which I think is precisely why Eldrazi Tron is proving popular in the metagame.  Chalice of the Void for 1 can be very problematic for our deck as we are very reliant on our one-drops.  Post-board they double up the hate with a full set of Leyline of the Void and the combination of hate cards can be extremely troublesome for us.


Our final matchup is against NeoBrand.  We don't have tons of ways to interact main deck so if they have a good draw they can certainly steal Game 1 pretty easily.  Post-board we get Thoughtseize which is a powerful way to disrupt them provided they don't have the nut draw on the play.  I think a bad mulligan decision cost us here but it's quite tricky as interaction isn't our strong point but then sometimes they will stutter or struggle given the nature of their deck.

ALTERNATIVE TAKES

There are a number of Hogaak variants that have emerged in the post-ban metagame so I will take a look at some of those here:


This version of Hogaak stays in Golgari colours sacrificing the power of Faithless Looting and Insolent Neonate for a stronger creature-focused aggro deck.  The deck is probably a little more resilient to graveyard hate with a nice engine in the form of Cryptbreaker and a few more serviceable creatures for the aggro plan.

Baku_91 played this more grindy Pox version of Hogaak which finds room for Liliana of the Veil and Death's Shadow as additional threats.


The deck also has a fairly exciting manabase with four copies of Mutavault and Urborg, Tomb of YawgmothDryad Arbor also can be a very valuable card as green creature that can be fetched up to help cast Hogaak.

You can check out the last edition of Rogues' Gallery to check out the Hogaak Dredge archetype that put up great results at the Mythic Championship.

CONCLUSIONS

So news of Hogaak's demise seems to have been greatly exaggerated.  The deck is still extremely powerful and had an outstanding performance at the Mythic Championship which pretty firmly crowned it back as the top deck in the format.  The target will certainly be on Hogaak Vine's back again moving forward which will mean main deck graveyard hate to make life tough.  I expect a further ban will hit Hogaak Vine in due course as the numbers it has been putting up are pretty ridiculous but until then you will need to be ready to face down Hogaak.

In the meantime, I think this is a very powerful deck to play but you need to be ready for the hate.  Sequencing of plays is very important to maximising the performance of the deck and I feel mastery of that is the key to playing the deck well.  I am definitely not there with it but there is a lot of play to the deck and it's an interesting deck to pilot, even if it is pretty miserable for most opponents.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)