Deck Spotlight: Hogvine

The buzz surrounding post-Horizons Modern has been intense. Nearly every deck has at least one card worth testing. At this time though, the earliest significant benefactor is the Vengevine archetype. Going into this first weekend all eyes are on Vengevine and Hogaak. Today we are breaking down this new build, how to beat it, and our verdict on whether it should actually be banned.

Lands (19)
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Godless Shrine
4 Marsh Flats
1 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
Creatures (28)
4 Bloodghast
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Gravecrawler
4 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Stitcher’s Supplier
4 Vengevine
Spells (13)
4 Altar of Dementia
4 Bridge from Below
4 Faithless Looting
1 Necrotic Wound
Sideboard (15)
2 Ingot Chewer
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Necrotic Wound
1 Shenanigans
2 Silent Gravestone
4 Wispmare
75 Cards Total

The Build
Fairly recent versions of the Vengevine deck used cards like Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker as zero mana creatures as the key engine of the deck. This engine was very explosive but led to a lot of inconsistency with the deck. Since Ballista and Walker are not great when cast as normal creatures, Vengevine and Bridge from Below were the only ways to actually win the game. Modern Horizons has given the deck two new sacrifice outlets that are really enabling the deck to shine. Carrion Feeder is everything this deck could ever want. It is able to turn itself into a large threat and quickly close games if left unchecked. It is a zombie for Gravecrawler recursion. Every land that makes mana in the deck can cast it. Feeder not only enables your gameplan, it also contributes to it which is something that could not really be said about Walker and Ballista. In a similar vein, Altar of Dementia was another great addition for the deck in Modern Horizons. Almost all of the value of this deck comes from cards in your graveyard or sacrificing creatures and Altar helps to fuel both of those. To sum it up, Walker and Ballista did not add much to the deck outside of being zero mana and instantly dying. Feeder and Altar provide a ton of synergy and a more consistent engine for the deck. Sac outlets were not the only new toy for the deck from Modern Horizons either.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is another key piece of the deck from Modern Horizons. It is a seven mana 8/8 which is obviously not playable on the surface. Then you give it delve and convoke. A 5(B/G)(B/G) casting cost is basically nothing with delve. Gurmag Angler is a 6B casting cost 5/5 and one of the best creatures in Modern. Obviously if there was not more text to this card it would be seeing play everywhere and would be banned. Hogaak cannot be cast with mana which means that you cannot delve five cards away and pay two mana for an 8/8. Hogvine, however, barely cares about this restriction at all. Convoke does not care about summoning sickness, which is also incredibly relevant to this deck. Freshly cast creatures, summoning sick Bridge from Below tokens, and recurred Gravecrawlers and Bloodghasts all are able to cast Hogaak. Keep in mind that Hogaak is cast so it also counts toward recurring your Vengevines. To top it all off, you do not even need to worry about milling away your Hogaak because it can be cast from your graveyard. Hogaak takes so much pressure off of Vengevine. Before, it was one of your only ways to win the game. Now, the deck has another threat that can close out the game on its own that also fits in perfectly with its game plan. It is no wonder that this deck has taken such a large leap.

It was not like the older versions of this deck were bad either. The old version of the deck was incredibly explosive, but was ultimately outshone by traditional Dredge. The new version of the deck seems to keep that same level of explosiveness while adding consistency and backup plans. In the past, if someone Surgical Extraction‘d your Vengevine or Bridge from Below, it was likely game over. The new version of the deck is able to survive one piece of the engine getting removed fairly well. Bloodghast, Gravecrawler, Carrion Feeder and company give you decent threats to pick at your opponents life total if you have to. The deck is no longer locked into the ultra linear axis, but it still is able to play the game on the explosive axis very well. Overall, the deck has taken a massive upgrade since Modern Horizons.

How To Beat It
Despite all of the good things going for the deck, it still relies very heavily on its graveyard. Enchantment based graveyard hate is particularly good against this deck. Hogvine is Black/Red so enchantment removal is not in their wheelhouse. They have to spash for Wispmare to deal with Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace. The deck absolutely will still beat you if you do not protect your graveyard hate or back it up with a fast clock. Surgical Extraction is still a good Magic card, but it is far from a silver bullet. This is especially true postboard due to the card Silent Gravestone. Surgical is a speedbump, not a game winner like it can be in some other matchups. It is worth noting that they are extremely soft to Chalice of the Void on one. Incredibly fast linear combo decks are also a good option to combat Hogvine. The deck does not interact super well. If you are able to win the game on turn 2 or 3, racing is an option.

Verdict: Keep an Eye on It
This deck is everywhere on Magic Online and is doing quite well. It is definitely not unbeatable, but it is very, very good. I can definitely see the argument that it is too good if it can maintain this level for a while. The meta is fresh which tends to reward the most aggressive strategies. Also, we have seen plenty of periods of dominance from graveyard decks and they almost always come back down to Earth. If Hogvine continues to be this good in the face of increased graveyard hate, then we definitely have a problem. SCG Pittsburgh is coming up. It is Team Modern, but not Unified Team Modern so it should give us a glimpse into how good it really is. Lots of people are already calling for bans, but we tend to be a pretty reactionary community. Keep an eye on the deck. It would definitely be on a watchlist to banned due to how explosive it is. These things take time though so we will see if the dominance continues as people learn how to better sideboard and play against it.

If you are attending any events this weekend please do yourself a favor and pack graveyard hate. And this deck is no secret. If you are a Dredge player you should probably just stay home; the splash hate will be intense. Whichever side of the fence you fall on I hope that spotlighting this deck will aid you in the matches to come. How are you combating this new menace? Do you believe it will be banned? Come share your thoughts in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back on Monday with the results of SCG Pittsburgh. Until then my friends.

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