Hogaak in Modern

Card Kingdom Modern

Modern Horizons has arrived, and Magic players are stocking up on new cards to test-drive in Modern. Plenty of cards in the set have gotten buzz, but there’s one name has risen above the din this past week:

Hogaak.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is one of the weirdest and most powerful creatures printed in a long time, so let’s go through its rules text and applications together.

How to Cast Hogaak

Hogaak’s first line of rules text is one that we’ve never seen on a Magic card before: “You can’t spend mana to cast this spell.” Some spells have included restrictions on what type of mana can be used to cast them (such as Imperiosaur, which can only be cast using mana from basic lands), and some have alternative casting costs (such as those in the Force cycle). But a spell that cannot be cast with mana bends the fundamental rules of Magic – if you can’t use mana to cast Hogaak, then how can you cast it?

Fortunately, Hogaak has two abilities that allow you to cast it by other means.

Convoke

Convoke allows you to tap creatures on the battlefield to pay the cost of a spell. Tapping creatures this way doesn’t add mana to your mana pool – it’s just a different payment method.

Per the Comprehensive Rules:

“For each colored mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature of that color you control rather than pay that mana. For each generic mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature you control rather than pay that mana.”

Convoke was Selesnya’s mechanic in Guilds of Ravnica, so if you’ve played Magic in the last year, you may have already encountered it.

Delve

Delve functions like Convoke, but it doesn’t allow you to cover colored mana costs. Delve says that, for each generic mana in a spell’s cost, you may exile a card from your graveyard rather than pay mana.

Delve is one of the strongest mechanics ever introduced into Modern; two card-draw spells with Delve, Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, are banned in the format. The most popular Delve spell in Modern is Gurmag Angler, which sees play in Death’s Shadow decks; if you’ve exiled cards in your graveyard to cast an Angler, you can do the same to cast Hogaak.

So, to review, you can cover the black/green portion of Hogaak’s casting cost by tapping two creatures of those colors, and you can pay the rest by tapping more creatures and/or exiling some cards from your graveyard. The ideal Hogaak deck, therefore, will be able to pump out creatures while filling up its graveyard.

Hogaak Bridgevine

Our friends at MTG Goldfish recently profiled a deck that seems like the ideal home for Hogaak: BridgeVine. This deck’s namesakes are Bridge from Below, a powerful enchantment commonly found in Legacy Dredge decks, and Vengevine, a creature that always comes back from your graveyard with a vengeance.

4 Carrion Feeder
4 Gravecrawler
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Stitcher’s Supplier
4 Bloodghast
4 Vengevine
4 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Faithless Looting
2 Necrotic Wound
4 Altar of Dementia
4 Bridge from Below
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
2 Verdant Catacombs

ideboard:
1 Godless Shrine
1 Necrotic Wound
2 Silent Gravestone
1 Shenanigans
4 Wispmare
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Ingot Chewer

This deck functions a bit like a Rube Goldberg device, so let’s go through the pieces one by one.

Filling the Graveyard

Earlier, we said that our Hogaak deck wants to amass a horde of creatures while filling up its graveyard. The best way to flood the board with creatures is with one of our namesake cards – Bridge from Below. If Bridge is in your graveyard, you’ll get a 2/2 zombie token each time a non-token creature is put into the graveyard from the battlefield.

So, how do we get Bridge into our graveyard? Modern all-star Faithless Looting does some good work here, but this deck has another strong turn one play: Stitcher’s Supplier. This little creature puts three cards into our graveyard when it enters the battlefield, and when it dies. Plus, when Stitcher’s Supplier dies, we get a zombie from Bridge from Below. Not bad!

Editor’s Note: Bridge from Below was banned in Modern on July 8, 2019, but Hogaak decks continue to dominate the format. Visit our friends at MTGGoldfish to see how Hogaak decks have evolved.

Flooding the Board

Okay, we have at least one Bridge from Below into our graveyard. How are we going to trigger it? We’ll likely need a sacrifice outlet, and some good creatures to sacrifice (besides Stitcher’s Supplier, of course).

Fortunately, Modern Horizons has introduced Carrion Feeder into the Modern format. Carrion Feeder grows stronger as it feasts on other creatures – and in this deck, it should net us plenty of Bridge from Below tokens. And, since Carrion Feeder is a zombie, it will allow us to sacrifice Gravecrawler and replay it from our graveyard again and again, netting more counters and more zombie tokens.

If that weren’t enough, Modern Horizons has also given us Altar of Dementia as a second sacrifice outlet. Altar is a multipurpose card in this deck, since it also allows us to mill ourselves and put more copies of Bridge from Below into our graveyard. If we can’t win by attacking with our army of creatures (i.e. if our opponent has a hate card like Ensnaring Bridge), we can sacrifice them to mill our opponent.

The Payoffs

Finally, we have creatures that can return to the battlefield from our graveyard, including our friend Hogaak. We also have Bloodghast, which crawls out of the graveyard whenever we play a land, and Vengevine, which hits the battlefield when we cast our second creature spell for the turn. (The Gravecrawler/Carrion Feeder synergy is perfect for enabling Vengevine.)

Hogaak BridgeVine can fill up its graveyard and churn out creatures surprisingly fast. If you’re looking for a deck to pick up for your next Modern tournament, give this one a try!

What decks are you building with Modern Horizons? Let us know on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom!