In the immediate wake of last week’s bans, I asserted that the best approach to take is to be as proactive and quick as possible in order to take advantage of anyone who was trying out new technology or experimenting with unrefined, unpolished lists.
Without wanting to strike up the Riley Knight Brass Band and toot my own horn too much, it looks like I was right. Amongst the top-performing decks from last week’s Leagues, Preliminaries and Challenges, the overwhelming majority are fast-past, aggressively-slanted linear strategies. Izzet Blitz, Burn, Hammer Time, Spirits and Humans are at the top of the Modern tables. There are even some more combo-oriented lists like Dredge and Heliod Company – again, fast and proactive.
Azorius Control is doing its best to keep creature decks and fast combo in check, now that Field of the Dead is no longer rendering this strategy utterly unviable, and is having a moderate amount of success in doing so – but other slower and more interactive decks are having a rough time of it. Jund variants are all skewed with Death’s Shadow – again, as aggressive as possible – and the midrange-style “Rock” decks are on the back foot.
Happily for us here at Modern on a Shoestring, this is good news for your back pocket. It was only a couple of weeks ago I was writing about Izzet Blitz, now it’s one of the most popular decks in the format – and best of all, there hasn’t been a correspondingly huge surge in the price of the deck. Today, I’m here to talk about another deck that comes in cheaply, and has been a mainstay of Modern for years. It’s Bogles. I’m sorry.
Modern Bogles by Nammersquats
The simple fact of the matter is that this deck wins games. It has done so for years and probably will continue to do so for years in the future. The reason for that is simple: much like Affinity before it (RIP Mox Opal), Bogles is an exceptional deck that eats it to hate cards. The thing is, hate cards wax and wane, and no one is playing Fracturing Gust. On top of that, Jund is at a low point, meaning you’re dodging Liliana of the Veil, another problematic card.
All the removal played by traditional Modern decks – Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile – does next to nothing against Bogles, and even if it kills a Kor Spiritdancer, it’s not unusual for to have already drawn a card off the 0/2. Other fast, linear decks can’t beat Daybreak Coronet or Spirit Link (or both!). In short, I believe the format is in a good spot for Bogles to get work done. If that’s not enough of an argument for you, let me remind you that some versions of this deck are playing Mana Tithe. That should get you over the line.
This deck is cheap. It’s up there with Izzet Blitz in offering you a huge bang-to-buck ratio, with the only meaningfully expensive cards being found in the lands. The biggest pain point is probably Horizon Canopy, as this $22 card is a key part of avoiding flood in the deck, but it’s not as if the deck is unplayable without it (just worse). Outside of that, get those Branchloft Pathways in there, get those Brushlands in there, and save yourselves hundreds while buying a deck that can run with the big dogs in Modern.
Dryad Arbor, another pricier card at $15, has to come out as soon as you remove Windswept Heath. I already mentioned that Edict effects are on the downswing with Liliana of the Veil not ruling the format, so the Arbor isn’t as critical as it can be. Not having it hurts though, as sometimes you load up an Arbor with Auras and just go to town, but the card is unplayable in this list without fetchlands. No dramas – that’s another $15 saved!
Lurrus of the Dream-Den is $9 but only a one-of, Daybreak Coronet is $5 and then it’s like… Rancor, at less than $2 each. This deck is cheap. Of course, you pay a different cost – the cost of being despised and scorned, shunned by your once-loyal friends who can’t believe you’d subject them, after all these years, to a turn one Slippery Bogle. Perhaps you can buy them a box of tissues with the money you saved so they can dry those salty tears after you crush them.
The main deck is pretty set in stone. You can fiddle around with individual numbers of the three-of Auras, but broadly speaking, you don’t need to change much. Don’t play too many copies of Spirit Link and Spirit Mantle, always play four copies of Daybreak Coronet and Ethereal Armor, and make sure you don’t cut too many totem armor effects, as they’re the only thing keeping you alive against Supreme Verdict decks.
A key feature of these decks is their ability to play through some amount of interaction and removal. You’re not dead to a sweeper or an Edict – not only is there totem armor, but both Rancor and Gryff’s Boon have recursion abilities that keep the gas flowing. Not to mention Lurrus – the companion is another way to contest the longer game by buying back creatures or bigger finishers like the untouchable Daybreak Coronet.
The creature suite is similarly untouchable. The 12 classics – Gladecover Scout, Slippery Bogle and Kor Spiritdancer – shouldn’t be messed with. If you want extra creatures, Silhana Ledgewalker is always an option. Some lists play blue for Staggering Insight, which opens Invisible Stalker as an option, but I wouldn’t stretch a budget mana base across three colors just for marginal upgrades like this.
The worst enemy of this deck is often flooding, a problem the budget is making worse by cutting Horizon Canopy. I’d be tempted not to replace the Dryad Arbor with a land as a result, as this deck often only needs two lands to win and never wants more than three or four. That’s the price you pay by not paying the price for the best lands – it’s a small cost, but it’s there.
Even when examining commonly-played sideboard options, none are really prohibitively expensive, allowing you to maintain a pool of cards from which to build a flexible sideboard as the format evolves. The most expensive card I could find in any recent Bogles sideboard was Force of Vigor, and even then it was only in a handful of lists.
Right now, I would be sure to include Leyline of Sanctity, Suppression Field, Rest in Peace and Gaddock Teeg. Leyline hoses Burn as well as being a safety valve against Liliana of the Veil and other Edict effects like her, and also juices your Ethereal Armors for free. Suppression Field is very useful against decks such as Hammer Time – sorry, Stoneforge Mystic, Giver of Runes and every Equipment ever – as well as having great utility against some combo lists like Heliod Company. It’s not unbeatable, but it will slow them down enough for you to apply huge pressure – plus, once again, Ethereal Armor.
Rest in Peace is a controversial pick, but I like it against decks such as Dredge, obviously, as well as the leg-up it can give you against cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Tarmogoyf or Snapcaster Mage. I’d only play two, as these decks aren’t supremely popular. Finally, Gaddock Teeg is a no-nonsense card that shuts off half of Azorius Control, and he’s well worth the inclusion.
I’ve seen some lists with Damping Sphere, and I think it’s such a mistake. Bogles often wants to chain spells – especially on turns three and four – with Kor Spiritdancer and preventing yourself from doing that just isn’t worth it. Tron isn’t popular, and while Sphere is great against Blitz, it comes at too high a cost. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but this feels like cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Modern Budget Bogles by Riley Knight
Sure, you’ll lose a game here or there to flood, an Edict might get you when Dryad Arbor would have saved you, and maybe Force of Vigor would be a good inclusion now and then (especially if Bogles picks up steam!). However, the fact of the matter is that this deck, even in this suboptimal configuration, has got what it takes to get it done in Modern. We’ve all been beaten by Bogles, and we all know how bad it feels. Maybe, now, it’s your turn to restore some cosmic harmony to those losses you suffered and deal out some hexproof justice of your own.