Hexproof strategies are no stranger to constructed formats with the Bogles deck in Modern a prime example of how the archetype can shine. It is based around having a creature on board with Hexproof to make him untargetable by your opponents removal while you load it up with cheap auras to grow it into a killing machine. It is a highly effective strategy especially when the meta is high in spot removal and low in sweepers.
Naya Hexproof runs up the curve with its three main threats coming in the Hexproof creatures found in Standard. The first comes as a one drop in Gladecover Scout which is simply a 1/1 Hexproof ready to get loaded with gear immediately. Next two drop Bassara Tower Archer not only provides an extra point of power with its Hexproof body but also comes with Reach enabling you to block pesky fliers which is extremely necessary for this deck. We then find at the three drop spot Witchstalker clocking in at 3/3 Hexproof and also the added bonus of growing even larger if your opponent casts a Blue or Black spell on your turn. We also have a pair of Voice of Resurgence for extra value that while are not Hexproof do ensure you have a beater on the table and if your opponent casts a spell on your turn will give you additional free creatures. Joining the party we have Naya Hexproof’s only planeswalker with Ajani, Caller of the Pride which will be used for its first two abilities to work on pumping up your Hexproof creatures to finish off the opponent before they can assemble a proper defense. Then we get to the array of auras in Naya Hexproof which while normally are rather clunky due to you opening yourself to an easy two for one against removal are instead rather powerful in combination with your creatures. Starting with one cost Ethereal Armor this one plays strong with the rest of the enchantments by scaling up with each additional aura you play as well as providing First Strike. Next, for just two mana Madcap Skills not only adds three power but also forces the opponent to double block if they want to block at all which can often lead you to blowing out a simple chump block with your additional pumps. Then falling into the three drop slot Unflinching Courage pushes the deck over the top by granting both Trample AND Lifelink along with a +2/+2 stat bonus as well. To add even more value to Ethereal Armor the deck runs a trio of Chained to the Rocks with 8 shocklands that count as Mountains to clear the way of any troublesome blockers or threatening offensive troops. The deck is rounded up by two trios of charms for their added versatility. Boros Charm provides a way to head shot the opponent for four in a pinch, save your army from an impending sweeper or even grant a creature Double Strike to send in a final blow. And from Selesnya Charm we find a pump with Trample which could also be the final nail in the coffin, a way to remove high powered creatures even if they are indestructible, and in a pinch provide another body be it necessary to block or useful on the beatdown.
Panic sets in as you are told by the pretty lady at the airport terminal that your luggage has been lost. It’s unthinkable. How could your luggage be lost? You need that for this weekend. Your clothes were in there. Your hygiene products were in there. Your Magic cards were in there!
How are you to compete at the Grand Prix without them? You plead with the lady to find out if she can do anything to help you, but all she can do is shake her head and say that they should be able to recover it tomorrow. But tomorrow will be too late. You need to register your deck in a couple of hours. How can you play without a deck? You hang your head dejectedly and pace for a few minutes as you try and think of something. Some sort of solution. Hey! Maybe someone at the venue will lend you a deck? That’s feasible, right? Might as well give it a shot.
So you call a cab as you take a look in your wallet. Not much there, but enough for entry into the Grand Prix, the cab ride, maybe a meal or two. Might even be able to pick up a chase rare that you had been intending to find.
The cab pulls up to the venue and you hand him the toll. That’s some of your hope gone. You start walking around among the masses of people, noticing a few Pro players signing autographs and a few MTG Personalities talking with other players. Vendors have setup and are already hawking their wares. Everything from cardboard crack, to sleeves and playmats, dice, and tokens. You open your wallet again to see what measly amount you have. But of all the things you see, your friends are not amongst them. You pull out your cell phone and try calling them. Long distance charges be damned. One of them picks up, but it’s so loud where you are that you can’t hear anything.
An announcement comes over the speaker that Deck Registration for the Grand Prix will be ending in an hour. Last chance to get in. That panic starts creeping from your heart to your stomach. You flew all this way to compete. This was your vacation. You spent months planning this, tuning your deck, and all for what? To not be able to enter? You couldn’t let that happen.
You make your way over to the vendors and start looking in their showcases. Everything is through the roof! You check your wallet again. Definitely not enough for a single fetch land, let alone a playset of Past in Flames, or Birthing Pod, or even a Scapeshift. How could you imagine to compete with anything in the field without the heavy hitters? But you are desperate and keep looking, until your eye falls on something shiny. A vendor has a FNM Promo of Armadillo Cloak in their showcase, four dollars. Not that it would help you much, because the card isn’t Modern, which is what you came here to play.
But wait? Wasn’t there a card that was recently printed that acted like Armadillo Cloak? Sure was! It’s Unflinching Courage! Your mind starts racing as cards run through your head. Rancor, Ethereal Armor, Daybreaker Coronet, Kor Spiritdancer. Reid Duke’s deck from last year! But we can’t afford Daybreaker’s, Kor Spiritdancer’s, nor the Leylines of Sanctity that have to be in the sideboard to even make the deck possible, let alone the fetch lands that make white available to play the important pieces. So how could you even manage to make the deck? Pauper. That’s how. You ask the vendor if he has bulk commons and begin rifling through long boxxes.
The announcement comes over the P.A. system again letting you know there’s only fourty-five minutes left to register. Panic has begun to subside as you’ve figured out your plan. Now to just get the pieces in place. You got this!
So, I never intended to write a series about transitioning diffrerent format’s to and from Pauper, but it looks like that’s what I’ve done. I started writing an article about Standard and how new players can get into the scene with a collection of commons, and then I wrote about Legacy. Well, this time I am here to write about Modern showcasing one of My favourite decks. Hexproof. AKA Bogles.
The deck is pretty straight forward as far as decks go. You play down one of your hexproof creatures, play a bunch of auras on it, and smash your opponents face in. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well if you don’t have the money to run Reid Duke’s version, which includes the aforementioned Kor Spiritdancer (which will usually run you about $10 a piece) or the Daybreak Coronet’s (again another expensive card at a high of $25), not to mention the fetch lands, then you can turn to Pauper.
The first thing we need to do is establish our Mana Base. Now we can’t afford fetch lands, obviously, so how do we make our lands tap for white? Because we can’t run this without Ethereal Armor or Arma… sorry, Unflinching Courage. Well, this deck is based off of enchantments, so why not start looking there?
The best aura’s that will fix mana for a deck like this, at the common level, are Abundant Growth which will let us tap for any colour and it also cantrips. The other one is Utopia Sprawl, which will ramp you up a colour on top of the mana generated by the land itself. And if you feel adventurous enough you could spring for the recently printed Selesnya Guildgate. They are almost like Temple Gardens or Sunpetal Groves, but not nearly as expensive. And since we aren’t running the Coronets, these auras can fill that slot. Not to mention they both synergize well with the Ethereal Armor.
Now to replace the Kor Spiritdancer we have to do a little bit of looking. I mean nothing can really compare to the card drawing that this creature is capable of, nor the Ancestral Mask like ability built into it. But what if I told you there was another option? One that in some cases might even be a little bit better? What could be better than having a playset of Gladecover Scout and Slippery Bogle’s to annoy your opponent? What could be better than eight hexproof creatures? Why twelve of course! That’s right, Silhana Ledgewalker can easily replace the Kor Spiritdancer. And sure, it isn’t as pumpable and it doesn’t have the card draw bonus, but it’s another creature your opponent can’t touch. Plus it has the upside of conditional unblockability. If our opponents can’t stop it in the air then they are really in trouble. Even if they can they still have to deal with Trample and First Strike!
Sounds pretty simple eh? Let’s go one step further. If you have a little bit of cash, but not a lot, you can find a replacement for the Leyline of Sanctity (A $15 dollar rare!). Ever heard of the True Believer? And no, I’m not talking about the kid Henry from Once Upon a Time (Good series by the way!). True Believer (a $1 rare if you are lucky, $2 if you are not) was a creature printed in Onslaught that gave you Shroud. But it was printed again in Tenth Edition which makes it Modern legal. Now, yes it will die to Doom Blade and Lightning Bolt. But it’s a step in the right direction. Especially if you want to modify your deck a bit and run Alpha Authority, but I’m getting off topic.
Let’s see what this might look like, shall we?
And so there you have it. Without getting into Sideboard cards you have a functional (if a little underpowered) Modern deck made out of mostly commons. And if nothing else? It’s a great place to start!
~ Gerald Knight
Extra Booty: Now there are a few things I want to address in Extra Booty today. The first is if you are going to upgrade the deck, do so with the lands first. An easy way to modify the deck when you can acquire lands (such as Sunpetal Grove and Temple Garden) is to remove one mana fixing aura per land added. From here you can add in other auras that you think might work well. If you can get the Spiritdancers then you can let the Ledgewalkers go and replace them with this bomb of a creature. And if you can find the Coronet’s then I tip my hat to you and you can replace them with whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Now, the xtra special thing I want to talk about, which I don’t normally do, is a sideboard (or mainboard) “tech” card that is good against pretty much every deck out there.
Suppression Field. It has been seen as a singleton, or in pairs, in a couple of sideboards. But I think that it deserves some special attention from a sideboard standpoint, if not from a mainboard. The card makes activated abilities cost more to play. So this means that your opponents Birthing Pod is going to cost more. Your opponents Arcbound Ravager won’t be the sacrifice engine it’s supposed to be. And Ad Nauseum will generally fold as Lightning Storm counts as an activated ability, even while it is on the stack. Now you’re going to argue back that there are plenty of decks that it doesn’t hit. Such as Storm or Zoo. And you are right on that, except that if you read everybody’s favourite fetch lands properly, they are not mana activated abilities. I’ll let you think on that until next time.
You turn the key and lock up the shop for the day, ready to go home and get some grub before heading out to Friday Night Magic, ready to test out that shiny new Heroic deck you’ve been tweaking when your phone goes off. It’s your little cousin, and he is going on about how Grandma got him the Magic Holiday Gift box for Christmas, bragging about how he pulled a Fabled Hero, Prognostic Sphinx and Polis Crusher. He sounds so excited about his loot, when he asks you if he can come with you tonight. You think about it for a second and say why not?
You go and pick him up and bring him home, looking at his collection realizing quickly that what little has isn’t going to stand a chance at your local game shop. You walk over to your overloaded shelf of magic cards and pull a deck off of it. It’s one of those Pauper decks that you read about on Three Kings Loot’s website the other week. It’s the mono black one, which only seemed appropriate after you saw your cousins reaction to the dreaded Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Like a kid in a candy store.
So you both scarf down some pizza while playing a few matches before heading over to the shop, only to realize once you step through the door that it wasn’t Standard tonight, but Vintage. Your heart skips a beat thinking about how wrecked your cousins deck is going to get against that kind of competition. A Standard Pauper deck isn’t built to take on those types of decks. So you ask him how much money he has on him, thinking that maybe you could get a few cheap cards to give him a chance. He looks at you and says that all he has is the twenty dollars that aunt Gladys gave him. Twenty dollars isn’t going to go far in Vintage, not by a long shot. But then you have a brainstorm and hop on your smartphone and look up Classic Pauper decks. They are cheap enough and might just have a chance.
Given your cousins fascination with the Gray Merchant you settle on a Mono-Black deck and walk up to the counter giving the list to the owner, before realizing that Classic Pauper is an online format only and that there are cards printed from sets not released online that could be added. You make a few changes to the list and smile as your cousin begins gathering all the cards together to take on his first challenger.
The store owner calls out the pairings and you sit down beside your cousin and watch as he drops down a first turn swamp and Duress to draw out his opponents Force of Will, followed by a second swamp and a Hymn to Tourach. His opponent groans and your little cousins face lights up. Maybe, just maybe, he can pull this off.
The above is a Mono-Black Control deck in Classic Pauper, a format that is almost exclusively online. There are a few stores that hold tournaments and the format is growing in paper popularity, but it isn’t mainstream yet. Inside you can see a healthy mix of discard and removal and card draw, a board wipe to keep things under control, and your end game Gray Merchant and Corrupts. A deck like this costs under $20 at 3KL, and is a great way for a new player to have a deck that has a chance of being competitive if they ever come across some really old school players, and they don’t have to give up their college loan to afford it.
As a quick rehash, if you are not familiar with the Pauper format or did not read my previous article on it, Pauper is a format made up entirely of commons. All the standard rules to Magic apply with a 60 card (minimum) deck and a 15 card (maximum) sideboard. The major thing to note about Classic Pauper is that it allows for any card that has ever been printed at the common level to be used. Yes, even a card like Rancor. Speaking of…
So, like I did with my last Pauper article I am going to throw an extra bone at you, an alternative if you aren’t a control player is Green-White Hexproof. One of my personal favourites. The deck ‘runs on rails’ as it were, and is relatively easy for young or new players to pilot. It’s very simple in that you try and get your Hexproof creature down and then load it up with aura cards and beat your opponents face. “Cheap” and effective auras include Armadillo Cloak ($1.99 each), Rancor ($3.75), Ethereal Armor ($0.25 each), or it’s older and more effective brother Ancestral Mask ($0.49). Combined with aura’s like Abundant Growth ($0.25) that enchant your lands to mana fix, you can quickly make quite the untouchable beat stick of a creature.
So there you have two cheap and effective Pauper decks you can build for new players to help them get into Vintage.
Who says that Magic has to be expensive?