With Mythic Championship Barcelona in the books, I would like to share with you how to play and handle the most successful deck in Modern. It was played by more than one fifth of the players and had one of the highest win percentages overall. I had also chosen it for MC Barcelona where I placed 30th, and I played the exact same 75 as Martin Müller who made top 8 at the event. The deck I’m talking about is of course Hogaak.

I had played with the deck a lot prior to the bridge-ban, due to testing for the Redbull Untapped tournament. I felt that Altar of DementiaAltar of Dementia was the worst card in the deck, so when Bridge from BelowBridge from Below got banned, I was relieved that I didn’t have to play Altar anymore. The deck has become more focused on its one game plan, which is to put down a lot of power early on in the game.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis from Modern Horizons

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis from Modern Horizons

So how do we do that? Well first off let’s start with the decklist I played at the MC.

Hogaak by Martin Müller

Creatures (31)
Bloodghast
Carrion Feeder
Gravecrawler
Stitcher's Supplier
Insolent Neonate
Satyr Wayfinder
Vengevine
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Spells (10)
Faithless Looting
Lightning Axe
Assassin's Trophy
Leyline of the Void
Lands (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Overgrown Tomb
Marsh Flats
Snow-Covered Swamp
Stomping Ground
Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Engineered Explosives
Nature's Claim
Shenanigans
Assassin's Trophy
Fatal Push
Rotting Regisaur
Thoughtseize

Yes, we played Leyline of the VoidLeyline of the Void in the main deck because there were open decklists. Seeing the current metagame online, I still think the Leylines can be in the main. They don’t cost much and the alternative which are cards like Golgari ThugGolgari Thug or more Insolent NeonateInsolent Neonates, are just not that great in this deck. The Leylines are good versus more than half of the metagame currently on MTGO.

How to play it

The Hoogak pilot guide

Carrion Feeder from Modern Horizons

Carrion Feeder from Modern Horizons

This deck is basically an aggro deck, trying to play as much power as possible early on and attacking your opponent for 20+ damage before they get to establish themselves on the board.

The deck benefits a lot from the “new” mulligan rule. An integral part of playing this deck is knowing when to mulligan. I lost plenty of games in the beginning because I mulliganned too little. Consider your hand, and if you can’t have at least six power on the board by turn 2, you should mulligan.

The right turn 1 play is often Stitcher’s SupplierStitcher’s Supplier, however if you only have two creatures in your starting hand, you would want to play Faithless LootingFaithless Looting to get the VengevineVengevines in the graveyard and then get them back on turn two. There are many ways to play the first two turns depending on your hand, but trying to get as many cards in the graveyard as possible and playing or having 2 untapped creatures to play Hogaak and enableVengevineVengevine on turn two should be a priority.

This deck is not punished much by mulliganning. There are a lot of cards in your deck, that can come into play from the graveyard, thus generating the card advantage lost by mulliganning.

Sideboarding

The antihate guide

The deck is very powerful, so most of the sideboard is dedicated towards sideboard hate and mirror matches. Since the deck also thrives on synergy, most of the time you just shave on the numbers instead of boarding out 4 of a specific card.

UR Phoenix

Thing in the Ice and Awoken Horror from Shadows over Innistrad

Thing in the Ice and Awoken Horror from Shadows over Innistrad

The matchup is all about not losing to Thing in the IceThing in the Ice. If they don’t draw it, you should be able to run them over.

Sideboarding against Izzet Phoenix

Sideboard In (5)
fatal push
Thoughtseize
Sideboard Out (5)
Leyline of the Void
Vengevine
Insolent Neonate
Bloodghast

I like keeping in 1 Leyline. The good thing with the Leyline is that they have no way of removing it and it still blanks a lot of their cards. However, since the matchup is mainly about Thing in the IceThing in the Ice, I would not have more Leylines in the deck postboard. ThoughtseizeThoughtseizes are meant to deal with Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extractions and Ravenous TrapRavenous Traps.

Burn

 

Sideboarding against Burn

Sideboard In (4)
Fatal Push
Assassin's Trophy
Sideboard Out (4)
Leyline of the Void
Gravecrawler
Bloodghast

Here is one of the few matchups where Leylines do nothing. However, if you mulligan and draw average, you should be favored in this matchup, by getting down too much power for them to handle. I see some lists run Grafdigger’s CageGrafdigger’s Cages and Rest in PeaceRest in Peace, so having answers for them is quite important.

Jund

Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons

Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons

Sideboarding against Jund

Sideboard In (6)
Fatal Push
Assassin's Trophy
Rotting Regisaur
Sideboard Out (7)
Leyline of the Void
Insolent Neonate
Vengevine
Carrion Feeder

Hogaak is very favored in the first game. Depending on how much sideboard they dedicate to the matchup, postboard games are usually a bit unfavored. However, a quick Hogaak is still very difficult for them to handle.

UW Control

Teferi, Time Raveler from War of the Spark

Teferi, Time Raveler from War of the Spark

Sideboarding against UW Control

Sideboard In (5)
Thoughtseize
Assassin's Trophy
Sideboard Out (5)
Leyline of the Void
Lightning Axe
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

This is a very tricky matchup, and the games can go very long. They will sideboard in Monastery MentorMonastery Mentor and Rest in PeaceRest in Peace to beat you. ThoughtseizeThoughtseizes are really good in this matchup and once again I believe Hogaak is favored overall, since the first game is very favored.

Humans

Champion of the Parish from Duel Decks Blessed VS Cursed

Champion of the Parish from Duel Decks Blessed VS Cursed

Sideboarding against Humans

Sideboard In (6)
Fatal Push
Engineered Explosives
Assassin's Trophy
Sideboard Out (6)
Leyline of the Void
Bloodghast
Insolent Neonate

This is the matchup where Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives is at its best. They will try and grind you out with Auriok ChampionAuriok Champions, clogging up the board and getting them to be defensive is the way to go.

Eldrazi Tron

Thought-Knot Seer from Oath of the Gatewatch

Thought-Knot Seer from Oath of the Gatewatch

Sideboarding against Eldrazi Tron

Sideboard In (6)
Nature's Claim
Assassin's Trophy
Rotting Regisaur
Shenanigans
Sideboard Out (6)
Leyline of the Void
Insolent Neonate
Gravecrawler

We added Rotting RegisaurRotting Regisaur, expecially for this matchup, since they don’t have an efficient way of removing it. They’ll have Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void, so remember to save something for that.

Mirror Match

Leyline of the Void from Core Set 2020

Leyline of the Void from Core Set 2020

Sideboarding against Hogaak

Sideboard In (7)
Leyline of the Void
Assassin's Trophy
Nature's Claim
Rotting Regisaur
Sideboard Out (7)
Lightning Axe
Insolent Neonate
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Carrion Feeder
Bloodghast

The games are mostly about Leyline of the VoidLeyline of the Void. The one who has it wins. Because everyone has so many answers for it, players will sometimes cripple themselves mulliganning for them or for answers, so the Rotting RegisaurRotting Regisaur can sometimes steal games. Don’t keep hands without Leyline or answers for Leyline.

Hardened Scales

Arcbound Ravager from Modern Masters

Arcbound Ravager from Modern Masters

Sideboarding against Hardened Scales

Sideboard In (7)
Leyline of the Void
Engineered Explosives
Nature's Claim
Shenanigans
Fatal Push
Sideboard Out (7)
Lightning Axe
Neonate
Vengevine

We tried plenty of sideboard options, however we ended up with this. You don’t want to take out too many early creatures, because you still need to win somehow. Leylines make it so they can’t combokill you and also makes your removal so much better, especially ShenanigansShenanigans.

I think the deck is great and Wizards will properly have to ban Hogaak at some point, but until then, I think you should try out the deck and feel what all the fuss is about. It is fun to play, but it takes much practice with the deck to learn the right order to play the cards.

Thanks for reading.

 

This article was written by Martin Dang in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Martin Dang

Martin Dang

Martin Dang is a Danish professional player and #mtgdad. He won Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in 2015 and GP Liverpool 2015.