When I think about my experiences playing Magic, there are few memories I cherish more than being beaten to death by gigantic hexproof creatures. I remember all of those useless removal spells trapped dead in my hand and I smile from ear to ear.
I think we can all agree that losing to Bogles is an exercise in frustration. The deck is designed to be as uninteractive as possible and the games tend to be fairly direct, to say the least.
While not a popular deck, I do believe that G/W Bogles is an inherently good deck. The common perception is that the deck is a one-trick pony, a glass cannon pile that loses to itself. Not entirely inaccurate. But as I’ve been grinding more and more Modern Leagues on MTGO I’ve noticed that Bogles is one of the decks that I lose to a lot.
It almost didn’t matter what deck I was jamming—my opponent would play a Razorverge Thicket and a Gladecover Scout, and I knew that I was in for a wild ride that round. The fact that the deck was such a difficult out for me, time and again, is what led me to finally sleeve the deck up and give it a test drive. I have a Modern RPTQ coming up this weekend and I’m willing to consider all options.
Here is my tuned-up Bogles list:
With this list, I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel so much as upgrade the tires. I’d consider this to be a very “stock” Auras list but it is efficient.
Let’s talk about the deck in the general sense.
Play a creature that your opponent cannot interact with…
Make it unbeatable….
The deck has outstanding matchups against anything fair. There are a lot of decks out there that play a lot of removal and this deck is great against those kinds of interactive decks.
On the other hand, the area where Bogles struggles is against decks that are more linear and faster. Bogles is trying not to interact when possible, which means that against other non-interactive decks the game 1 experience will almost always be a pure race. Bogles is a fast goldfish deck, which means that you can steal games, but it is not as inherently fast as Storm, Burn, Devoted Druid, or Affinity.
It is true that you have certain cards that can swing a damage race (Daybreak Coronet) but over a large enough sample size racing won’t always get you the win.
The Transformational Sideboard
I consider the Bogles sideboard to be a kind of transformational plan. It goes from being “all-in” on Auras to more of a prison strategy that is specifically tuned to annoy the opponent depending on the matchup.
I wrote about the color pie earlier this week and one of white’s biggest strengths has always been extremely hateful sideboard cards, and you have plenty at your disposal.
After sideboard, you still want to pressure with your creatures, but you also want to board in a critical mass of cards that impede the other combo decks from executing their plan A.
If you looked at the sideboard without the context of the main deck you might assume that the board belonged to some messed up hatebears deck. Well, I’m a huge fan of becoming less of a Bogles deck and more of a bears deck against faster, less interactive combo opponents.
Many of your hate cards are also creatures, which eliminates some of the variance of not drawing a creature as well.
The deck can pressure while it is also taking away options from the opponent. It becomes more flexible after sideboard as it moves away from being “all-in” on racing and spreads out to interact on the axes the opponent looks to exploit.
Another list that I’ve been working on over the past few days takes a similar but slightly different approach by adding a color. The cost is real but the upside is tangible.
You have some incentives.
One reason people reject that hexproof way is that the deck loses to itself.
People are not wrong to say that. The deck is land light. The deck also has to draw a hand with 1 of the 12 creatures to function at all. On the draw, every Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize threatens to make a 1-creature hand non-functional.
Well, I added 6 great creatures to the deck.
Another problem that I noticed after playing a lot of games is that the deck is a little land-light by design and can also be mana hungry with a Spiritdancer draw.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times—Noble Hierarch is one of the objectively best Magic cards in Modern. It does a lot and has very little cost. The cost in this deck is that it isn’t an Aura for when you are trying to execute. It does speed up your draws and adds damage in combat, which is fantastic.
It also adds the dimension of slamming a turn-2 Geist of Saint Traft, which is the nastiest hexproof creature of them all. Geist can win the game all by itself, which is something that Bogles has never had before. People have put Auras on Geist in the past, but Saint Traft has never been a staple of the Bogles deck.
The world feels so safe when you have a counterspell in hand against combo…
Access to blue also gives you access to permission out of the sideboard, which is something the deck has always wanted against combo. I’m not sure whether Negate or Spell Pierce is the best option but both feel like the type of effect that Bogles really wants. You can protect your hate cards or interact with the opponent’s combo outright.
I believe that Bogles is a contender in Modern even if it isn’t part of the top tier. It may be a great choice to surprise some opponents with at an upcoming event. Never write the deck off because it is inherently focused and powerful.
It may not be the deck that I end up playing but it is in my gauntlet right now. It is certainly an archetype that I’m interested in further exploring in the future, especially the Noble Hierarch and Geist of Saint Traft version.
What is a Slippery Bogle’s favorite song? “Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer. Favorite movie? The Untouchables. OK, low hanging fruit there, but I imagine that is what Slippery Bogles love to eat!