This week, I’m going to cover a different deck in Modern. Usually, you’ll see me play more grindy decks in Modern, but even I have a taste for the linear side of things. So this week, I’ll be covering one of my favorite linear decks (and the deck I played at my first ever Grand Prix nearly 5 years ago)—Bogles!
Bogles occupies an interesting place in the metagame. It’s both a creature deck and a combo deck, but is not weak to the same pieces of interaction that your Abzan Company or Infect decks are weak to. The hexproof mechanic prevents all of this, allowing the deck to throw as many Auras as possible onto a creature to create an overwhelming force. The list I’ll be using is actually that of my girlfriend, Aysha, who has been 5-0’ing regularly on Magic Online and has a staggering 70% win rate this season with the deck.
The most important factor for Bogles is its opening hands. You want to have a mixture of lands, a creature, and some number of Auras to augment the creature with. This can be an issue however, as you only have a 7-card opening hand, and at least three different things you’re looking for in an opening hand, while only getting to play 8 copies of these 1-mana 1/1 hexproof creatures. This leads you to aggressively, trying to find the necessary piece of the puzzle. Here’s some shortcuts I’ve found for the deck thus far:
On 7 cards:
- Keep most 1-4 land hands with a creature and an Aura you can cast.
- Keep most 1-4 land hand with Kor Spiritdancer, an Aura you can cast, and a Leyline of Sanctity
- Mulligan nearly all other hands.
On 6 cards:
- Keep most 1-3 land hands with a creature and an Aura you can cast.
- Keep most 1-3 land hands with Kor Spiritdancer, an Aura you can cast, and a Leyline of Sanctity.
- Keep a hand with fetchlands and multiple toughness-increasing Auras if your opponent is playing a removal-light deck.
- Mulligan most other hands.
On 5 cards:
- Keep all hands with a creature and a land.
- Keep all hands that can fetch Dryad Arbor on turn 1, and enchant it with a totem armor on turn 2.
- Mulligan most other hands.
You’ll note, this means that you’re mulliganing a lot of hands, even going to 4 cards in a number of scenarios. To be a great Bogles player, I think you need to be comfortable working with limited resources, and accepting that you sometimes need the top of your library to work with you in a difficult scenario when you’re on 5 or fewer cards. That being said, this deck can easily win on 4 cards. I’ve seen it win games on 2 cards before. What matters is that you’re making good mulliganing decisions and asking yourself, “can this opening hand beat a reasonable hand from Affinity, Grixis Death Shadow, Jeskai, Storm, etc.?” If at the end of the day, you think your hand is unlikely to beat the hand your opponent can have, throw your hand back! This deck really rewards powerful opening hands and capitalizes on leaving the opponent with upwards of 10 or more dead cards in their deck. Leverage this strength by drawing those hands.
The big innovation in this list, and one I think should be standard in Bogles decks going forward is 4 copies of Leyline of Sanctity. If discard remains the prominent strategy to fight combo decks in the format, Leyline is going to be key. Of note, Leyline of Sanctity completely destroys Valakut and Storm in game 1, and nearly annihilates 8-Rack, Burn, and Eldrazi and Taxes as well. When you add that it also nullifies almost all of the burn out of Jeskai, all the discard, and burn from Grixis Death Shadow, you realize that the card gives Bogles a ton of game. Not to mention, when the card is dead, it still has utility in combination with the best card in the deck, Ethereal Armor. Just by putting a 0-mana enchantment onto the battlefield you’re increasing the amount of damage you deal, and sometimes protecting your creature from things like Kozilek’s Return or Anger of the Gods from finishing it off.
Before we get into more specifics, here’s the list we’re working with:
This deck can play a long game. Thanks to Kor Spiritdancer, even if you’re not killing your opponent on turn 3 or turn 4, you can still turn your Auras into cantrips. This ability, along with the ability of Horizon Canopy, can let the deck play a long game with decks like Death Shadow, Eldrazi Tron, Abzan, and Jeskai, and keep up in card quantity as these decks will end up with more lands wasting away on the battlefield and dead cards in their hand. In some scenarios, it’s correct to hold Auras when the clock will not change, or hold your Spiritdancer back to save that potential to draw extra cards in the late game.
Tips and Tricks
- If you have two hexproof creatures, play Gladecover Scout first. This is because Slippery Bogle can be played for blue mana, and both U/W Control and Merfolk have Spreading Seas.
- Before playing a land for the turn, draw cards with Horizon Canopy or Kor Spiritdancer, you might allow a land drop like Razorverge Thicket to come into play untapped.
- Seldom fetch basic lands. You’d rather forfeit a game to Blood Moon being cast than be unable to cast your spells. This is the one I mess up the most still out of fear my life total will end up mattering.
- You frequently want to play out extra copies of creatures in game 1, but in sideboarded games when it’s more likely opponents will have Anger of the Gods, Damnation, Supreme Verdict, and the like, it’s more important to keep a creature in reserve to rebuild.
- Rancor and Gryff’s Boon are the better enchantments to lead with if you assume they’re going to die, as they’re among the worst forms of evasion the deck has and the Boons are recursive.
I’ll run this deck through a League on MTGO later this week. I expect the games to be quick and brutal, but I hope that I can show off that hexproof has a lot more going on than just the nut draws. The deck can be tricky to play, and there’s a number of intricate scenarios that come up when trying to identify which cards your opponent has in their hand and how that affects which Auras you play. I’ll see you there!