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By: magma728, Jake Beardsley
Sep 30 2019 11:00am

Hey everybody, welcome back to another deck analysis. Today we’re going to be looking at one of the most hated cards in the history of Modern, which happens to also be a burgeoning player in Legacy. That’s right, I’m here to talk about everyone’s favorite zero mana 8/8: Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Few cards have warped Modern quite the way it did, leading to came to be known as Hogaak Summer, where it was far and away the best deck despite overwhelming hate. This led to it’s ban, along with the controversial ban of Faithless Looting, from Modern in late August. However, Modern was not the only format players had made inroads in with the massive Avatar. Hogaak had been seen as early as June 22nd putting up results on MTGO in Legacy, and has continued to work in a variety of decks in the format since. The interaction with Altar of Dementia and Bridge from Below, a hallmark of the deck that broke Modern, was the base of the initial use of Hogaak as a Legacy lynchpin. It has also made appearances as a one or two-of in Dredge lists, as it did in Modern as well, but those decks use the Gaak as a plan B or C, as opposed to UsaZ’s initial list below. 

At the time that UsaZ 5-0’d, the only maindeck spells that were not legal in Modern are the 4 copies of Cabal Therapy, a hallmark of black decks in Legacy, which speaks to the power of the core of Hogaak, Bridge, Altar, and cheap recursive creatures like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast in conjunction with sacrifice outlets like Carrion Feeder and the aforementioned Altar. This initial build of the deck was a little bit rough, and in the three months since it was published, some innovation has occurred on the Mardu version in addition to others.


The addition of Entomb has significantly increased the consistency of this build, providing you with threats by finding Hogaak, recursion by finding Bloodghast or Bridge, or disruption in the form of (Cabal Therapy). The sideboard has also been updated to reflect the changing landscape of Legacy as a result of other major printings in Modern Horizons, as the rise of other graveyard decks like Dredge and RB Reanimator has lead to a format-wide increase in graveyard hate, which thereby necessitates a need for more anti-hate cards like Wear/Tear in the Hogaak deck.

The Mardu list, however, is far from the only approach one can take to playing Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis in Legacy. One of the more innovative approaches taken has been one that follows a popular trend in the format of taking two different combo decks and jamming them together. In this case, the best combo to throw in a blender with Hogaak and some graveyard enablers is, to the surprise of many, Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage. While the combination of this A+B combo built around lands and a bunch of green and black creatures works swimmingly in practice thanks to a few key overlapping options. Here’s Olivier Hamel’s 10th place list from last week’s SCG Open in Syracuse, NY:

The first, and most obvious, overlap that occurs between Legacy’s Dark Depths decks and the Hogaak shell is Vampire Hexmage, as it combos directly with Dark Depths by removing all the counters while also functioning as a black creature in the meantime that you can use to convoke out Hogaak. The second piece is cross-format all star Satyr Wayfinder. After the banning of Bridge from Below in Modern, Wayfinder became a key role player in the slightly grindier, more creature based builds of Modern Hogaak. Here it not only fills your graveyard for and helps to convoke out the Gaak, it also digs you to either portion of your Dark Depths-Thespian's Stage combo. Finally, you have one of Legacy’s newest powerhouses, Elvish Reclaimer. It’s found its way into almost every deck utilizing the Depths combo, and for good reason. Crop Rotation on a stick is quite powerful in and of itself, as well as functioning as an efficient 3/4 beater and once again convoking out the Arisen Necropolis. The game plans also complement each other well, as an early Hogaak demands an answer almost immediately, which paves the way for a Marit Lage token to go unanswered. The compactness of the two game plans, which is due in large part to the overlap between the two, also allows the deck to play much more interaction in the maindeck than other builds of Hogaak, which gives the deck yet another way around hate for one of its two main gameplans outside of just pivoting to the other. This flexibility is a hallmark of successful Legacy decks, so I would be sure to keep an eye out for Hogaak Depths going forward.

Finally, I would be remiss if I talked about Hogaak’s applications in Legacy without looking at the newest, and to-date best performing, build of the deck: Tariq Patel’s CrabGaak.

Tariq Patel came off of a top 8 in the SCG Syracuse Open with CrabGaak to top 8 Grand Prix Atlanta with the same deck the very next weekend. The biggest innovation on this list over builds like the Mardu one above is Sultai approach that bears a striking resemblance to the builds that were popular very late this summer that are geared towards the milling power of Hedron Crab in conjunction with the explosive power of Vengevine. The deck leans into its explosive starts even harder than the Mardu build, which more or less resembles an aristocrats or sacrifice strategy with a combo finish, which results in a much leaner and faster deck. This has been a primary factor in its success, as cards like Vengevine allow the deck to get under disruption like Force of Will that would otherwise be a game breaker by shutting down your combo. It also gives you more relevant threats that you can hardcast in the event that a piece of hate like Relic of Progenitus or Leyline of the Void shuts off your main game plan of cheating things out of the graveyard. This resilience is further augmented by the addition of green cards from the sideboard like Force of Vigor and Reverent Silence, which both provide great options to deal with troublesome permanents like Rest in Peace.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at what could appear to be the next big thing in Legacy, and remember to always, ALWAYS, pack graveyard hate!