Deck Guide: Playing Bogles (9/19)

Yesterday’s article covered the recipe and reasoning behind the optimal Modern Bogles build. But anybody can just copy down a decklist and roll with it. Today we will calculate how the London mulligan has affected the deck, the strategy to apply to abuse it, as well as the common play patterns to follow in order to succeed with the deck. This is admittedly one of the easiest decks in the format to operate but hopefully you will learn something new today.

A Word on Bant Builds
A common question that arises when we discuss building the deck is the possible addition of blue. Seriously just do not do it. I first put this deck together when Ethereal Armor was printed. In the almost seven years since, at least once each year something motivates me to add blue; most recently it was Curious Obsession. It has been a letdown every time. The manabase just would not come together. All of your fetches have to be green for Dryad Arbor. The deck also has to keep many one land hands because of the need for Bogle with a critical mass of auras and half of our Bogles cannot be cast with a non-Green land. Also the spells are very strictly costed. Only a few have any form of generic cost so you need to be capable of generating WW, GG, WWW, WWG, or GGW. The addition of blue really exacerbates the issue. I tried many different setups and after some time each one let me down. Stubborn Denial is the only compelling reason to add Blue and it is not enough to justify the increased variance. This inconsistent deck cannot bare any more inconsistency. With that out of the way, let’s get to playing.

Mulligan Guide
The London mulligan has been extremely friendly to the archetype. An ideal hand has a hexproof creature and there are only eight that are really worth playing. On top of that we still need an aura and a land. Nothing has changed about the opening seven. But the deck has to mulligan 29.7% of opening hands just to meet the requirement; one hexproof creature, one aura, and a land that taps for green on Turn 1. That is the bare minimum for a playable hand. Unfortunately, under the Vancouver rules we had six and five cards hands. These were awful for this deck as your odds of finding a hexproof creature diminished with each mulligan. Now we just keep scooping sevens until we can pare down to a playable hand. Here are the success rates for that bare minimum:

Vancouver:
Opening Hand- 71.3%
First Mulligan- 62.8%
Second Mulligan- 51.4%

London:
Opening Hand- 71.3%
First Mulligan- 71.3%
Second Mulligan- 71.3%

If you take the inverse of these success rates and multiply them together you find the fail rate; the percent chance that you mulligan twice and still fail to find a hexproof creature, an aura, and a land that taps for green on Turn 1. This failure occurred in 5.37% of games under Vancouver mulligan rules. Under London rules we have cut those odds in half; down to only 2.6% of games. So if you have not played the deck since the rules update, turn up the aggression on your mulligans. The following will focus on Game 1 scenarios in which you do not know what deck your opponent is playing. These are simple heuristics and exceptions exist for each of them so be prepared to use your best judgement.

Opening Hand and First Mulligan
-A dual land, a hexproof creature, and an aura that you can cast.

Second Mulligan
-A land, a hexproof creature, and an aura that you can cast.
-Two lands, a Kor, and an aura that you can cast.

Third or Worse Mulligan
-A land, a hexproof creature, and an aura that you can cast.
-Two lands, a Kor, and an aura that you can cast.
-A fetchland or Arbor and an aura with totem armor.

Play Patterns
The majority of your games will begin with you playing a land; the exception is Leyline. The first land you want to play is usually Razorverge Thicket. Beyond this it is a toss-up between fetchlands and Canopy depending on what will result in less damage over the next two turns. When it comes to the fetchlands you will almost always be grabbing a Temple Garden. As explained above, our mana costs are strict and we usually do not want to play around Blood Moon. You typically only want to grab a basic to stay at a certain “safe” life total.

However, as we explained yesterday sometimes you do not have a creature so you will need Dryad Arbor. Play your fetchland and then do not fetch out the Arbor until the opponent’s endstep, hoping to get the opponent to tap out or dodging sorcery speed removal. This line is a failsafe when your mulligans are unfavorable but it comes up much more often postboard. As a White deck our sideboard hate is second to none and many opponents correctly side out much of their removal. Therefore, it is often a good idea to keep a creatureless hand against decks like Dredge/Affinity as long as you have a fetchland and RiP/Stony.

Now that you have a land in play you will hopefully be casting a hexproof creature. If you have both Bogle and Scout in hand, play Scout first so that you can still get some use out of your land if they use Spreading Seas on it. Sometimes though you will be going with a Spiritdancer hand. If you are not under pressure but fear that she will be removed, you can still guarantee some value. If you wait to cast her until you have three lands, you net a draw trigger toward a hexproof threat at worst. Her draw trigger says “cast” so you play her, she resolves, and then priority is not passed until you cast an aura. Your opponent may remove her at that point but you will still get your draw trigger.

Once you have a creature in play, you are mostly just doing math to sequence your auras properly. The only interesting decision points arise when you have a second creature. If you have an additional creature it may be correct to split your auras between the two. This line is at its best when you have an Ethereal Armor as you can commit most auras to one creature and the Ethereal to the other. Offensively, this nets an additional point of damage or acts as a form of evasion if the opponent has few blockers available. Defensively, this allows you to attack without being forced into a race situation. The defensive plan really only requires a Spirit Mantle.

If you are able to curve a hexproof creature into a Spiritdancer, there is no hard and fast rule saying what to do. If you believe that you will be able to end the game by Turn 4 you should just go for it. Otherwise, jam the Spiritdancer and hope that on Turn 3 will you be rapidly drawing through your deck. Often, if the opponent lets you untap with Spiritdancer in play it means that they have no answer for it; why would they give you a free draw trigger before removing it? Therefore, in many matchups this lack of response means that you should go all in on the Spiritdancer. Any aura will take it out of Bolt range and totem armor covers everything but exile and bounce effects.

When it comes to damage math, you can gain a lot of damage out of your opponent underestimating your capability. If you know that your opponent is going to block your non-evasive creature it can be correct to slow roll your auras. They may reason that they can leave fewer or no blockers back because  you were only able to create a small threat. Then on your next turn you drop an Ethereal and Rancor for lethal. When you attack many of your opponents, they will be lazy and ask you the stats of the creature. You absolutely should not tell them. The rules do not obligate you to do so. Instead, present your permanents to them and let them add it up. You would be amazed how often people do the math incorrectly. In particular, they will often miss Spiritdancer’s static ability or fail to realize that non-aura enchantments contribute to Ethereal. Either way they will fail to understand how much damage they are about to take and block poorly as a result. If they say “no blocks” and then die immediately, they cannot take it back and the judge will support you.

Wrap-Up
A lot of things in Magic can be approximated but the effect of the London mulligan was a complex topic. If you told me that the calculated fail rate on Bogles would be cut in half, I would not have believed you but here we are. I believe that the deck is a serious sleeper pick in the format right now and I am working through a sideboard guide as we speak. Do you believe it has a shot in the current format? Are there any matchups in particular that might gatekeep it? Please share your thoughts with us 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 tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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