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A Post-Hogaak World


With the win rate of the Hogaak variants and conversion rates nearing such absurd levels, it is only a matter of time before the deck gets tagged again. I can't imagine they hit anything but Hogaak this time around but who knows what will actually happen. Either way, I'd like to examine the decks that have been popping up and doing well in this format despite the graveyard menace and will likely continue to have success after the deck evaporates.

First on my list is Urza (or for some reason sometimes called Whirza). The infinite combo of Thopter/Sword is too much for the average deck to beat as it is and The Urza deck allows for almost infinite customization in building. This gives the deck strong enough base to take on any format.

Out of all the best decks in Modern, Splinter Twin has to the best. In many ways Urza reminds me a lot of that style of deck. A controlling element with a combo finish means there are plenty of routes to victory. One of the reasons Karn, the Great Creator was so exemplified was because of the flexibility it gave you to find cards that can end games on the spot. In a similar fashion, Whir of Invention provides a similar path to game ending cards in Game 1 without eating up all of your sideboard slots.

I've become rather fond Goblin Engineer for these kinds of strategies as it can let you cycle through your eggs to draw cards at will or find combo pieces, giving the deck absurd consistency. The downside of the random artifact decks in the past has been their inability to present a cohesive and consistent game plan. Between Goblin Engineer, Urza, and Whir, the deck has some newfound power to help crush.

I'd guess decks like Burn might be tough to beat, but when we have more sideboard slots available the matchup could possibly turn around. Until then, a prison strategy with midrange and combo elements seems like a fine place to start in the new format. The fact it has been able to compete a bit with Hogaak means the deck is likely very good. The downside to strategies like this is building them in an unknown world may be difficult. I expect a smaller amount of Urza decks will perform at first but this will be one of the best decks post Gaak banning.

When players are trying to figure out the best path in a new format, quite often the best answer is Izzet Phoenix. Having a linear but flexible game plan gives you an advantage over an open format. While decks like Tron and Burn may be tough out the gate, being able to beat up on nonsense is a delight. Plus, the deck is still quite powerful on its own merits. Being forced to have 6+ graveyard hate pieces can hurt a ton of matchups. Once the graveyard decks calm down a bit and we can lower the amount of hate by one or two pieces, the harder matchups should become a bit easier.

Putting that aside, Phoenix doesn't need a lot to work nor does it need a defined meta to excel. In the weeks after a ban, the deck will be able to dominate a field trying to figure it out which direction it wants to head.

Mono-Red Prowess has steadily gained more and more steam because of its ability to close out games in short order. Faithless Looting and Bedlam Reveler provide the deck the ability to grind through and play past the first several turns. One of the downsides of Burn has always been the inability to close out games that go long. Mono-Red with the ability to churn through their deck with efficiency and rebuild quickly makes it the stronger choice. Against another goldfish decks it is easier to unload and win games quickly. With Light Up the Stage in the deck it can even make some turns absolutely busted.

As graveyard hate falls to the wayside and sideboards look a lot broader, this deck will be able to take advantage of its blistering speed to wipe out players who are looking to slow down in Modern in celebration of the Gaak's demise.

Whenever graveyard decks take a hit players tend to lean to not playing any graveyard hate at all or very little. This lets Dredge pick up the mantle and absolutely demolish everyone on its way to winning the event it is played in. Dredge has always been a deck that isn't taken out by a single Surgical Extraction or a one time Tormod's Crypt or similar effect that players generally tend to fill their deck with. Instead cards like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void backed up by removal, counterspells, or a quick clock will be the path to beating the deck.

Since we can accurately predict that most players will slow down post banning and trim graveyard hate I think Dredge will be incredible for the first two weeks of Modern while people are trying to get things set.

I'm going to let you know now this is more a pipe dream than anything else. Azorius Control already beat a bunch of fully powered Hogaak decks previously and holds the power to be good moving forward. It might not be great at first if Gaak gets the axe, but we can play a bunch of broad cards to answer anything. Azorius Control is always going to be in that weird spot where its power level is way lower than the average deck, but it has all the tools along with the War of the Spark Planeswalkers to give it a power boost. Past that, when things slow down Azorius is a scary deck since all it needs is time. One of the other considerations to playing Azorius is the Neoform deck patiently waiting in the wings to be the new scary thing in Modern. Azorius offers some of the best tools to be able to beat that deck fairly consistently while having a good rate against the rest of the field. I will warn you away from playing the deck without practice as it is slow to win the game and requires more knowledge than most Modern strategies. A minor slip up can lose the game.

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