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Vintage 101: Gaak Gaak Baby

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be talking about the up and coming talk of the town in the format in Hogaak Bazaar. This deck came roaring out from complete nowhere as an evolution of Bazaar / HollowVine decks and has become exceptionally popular, as we will also see when talking about the two Vintage Challenges this past weekend as well. In addition, we always have our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right into the thick of things!

The Gaak is Back

Occasionally a deck comes around that gets exceptionally popular in a format, and while this is rare in Vintage it has happened within the past few years moreso with the evolution of shells utilizing Bazaar of Baghdad. Originally the evolution of these kinds of shells had only existed in the form of Dredge, but then appeared further on as Survival of the Fittest decks began to solidify. Survival only lasted so long however, as players began to drop the title card of the deck and built the shell solely around Bazaar, Hollow One, and Vengevine. This led to the evolution and creation of the HollowVine archetype, utilizing a bevy of free spells and countermagic to protect the plan. During this time, players tried various archetype variations with all sorts of different cards, but none really stuck outside of the HollowVine deck.

Now, over the past month or so, a different variation of HollowVine has started cropping up, dropping the countermagic for a more midrange/aggro style deck utilzing the card Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis.

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Hogaak Bazaar first appeared over the past months in the hands of noprops, where they Top 8'ed a Vintage Challenge after posting a 5-0 on the deck. Since then, the deck has been picked up in full steam, and as we will see later on when discussing last Sunday's Challenge event, has become incredibly popular amongst Challenge players.

This deck has the ability to function like most Bazaar strategy decks, utilizing Bazaar to trigger Madness on cards like Basking Rootwalla and to make Hollow One free to cast. This allows the deck to enable triggering of Vengevine and put a massive amount of power on board quickly. However, unlike HollowVine, this deck also gets ways to enable Vine through the use of card like Stitcher's Supplier and free creatures like Bloodghast being able to power out Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. This gives the deck less of an all-in strategy, as well as gives it the ability to play through cards like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale a little nicer since the deck gets to play actual lands outside of Bazaar. In addition, the deck also has access to Deathrite Shaman, which can act as a convoke creature for Hogaak, but can also act as mana ramp and win condition all its own in grindier games.

Hogaak also has the convenience of being able to play Strip Mine/Wasteland to be able to combat enemy lands like Workshop and Tabernacle, which also fills the graveyard for delving out Hogaak and also for the uses of Deathrite. Force of Vigor also gives this deck a ton of play against decks that rely heavily on artifacts, such as PO/Workshops. Once Upon a Time also shores up being able to locate specific creatures or lands which can help improve consistency.

The deck also gains a powerful amount of options in the sideboard, from cards like Deafening Silence to Collector Ouphe. These cards help shore up many of this deck's normally bad matchups, which can often be fast combo. In addition, the deck itself is playing its own Tabernacles, as a hedge to being able to win the mirror (by deploying a Tabernacle effect and then holding onto multiple creature casts turns until it is advantageous to swing massively with Vengevines).

Hogaak Bazaar is powerful and clean and has a lot of strength to it. I very nearly suspect that if a trend picks up on this deck much like this past weekend's Challenge events, that it might be wholly possible that eventually, a restriction on the card Hollow One would end up being one of the better things that could depower this deck and other Bazaar aggro strategies. I don't believe we are there yet with this, but it would likely be the best way to attack the deck. I do suspect that the metagame will adjust like always however, as Xerox continues to be exceptionally popular as well, and those decks can often find an appropriate answer if they look hard enough for it.

Community Vintage Update

Our good friends at Serious Vintage posted a new episode of their podcast, focusing on the Vintage Unleashed (UX) format, of which the Team Serious group themselves is running a Vintage UX event this weekend on the TSI Virtual Realm, of which you can find the signups and information for here.

In addition, over in Italy, the 4Seasons Tournaments, which are run as Legacy/Vintage events posted very recently that September 5th and 6th are on for this year for their events. In Italy it seems that things have downturned enough with the pandemic that these events will be able to go on. Unfortunately, international travel to Italy is pretty awkward right now (especially from the US), but if you're in the area and are able to attend and support these events safely, definitely look into this one.

Vintage Challenge 7/4

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the normal Saturday Challenge, which had roughly 59 players. This was an interesting Challenge, as we can see from the Top 32 Metagame breakdown.

There was a fair amount of Xerox in many forms in this event, as 4C, RUG, and BUG all had heavy representation. In addition, Bazaar decks also had big representation here, a trend that continued throughout the weekend, as all of these decks did well in converting.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Control 1st Leeties
Dredge 2nd Kasa
RUG Xerox 3rd MarkDM
Ravager Shops 4th Infant_No_1
HollowVine 5th Montolio
RUG Xerox 6th AlbertoSD
Dredge 7th MindOfAKid
BUG Midrange 8th Thiim

As noted before, Xerox and Bazaar strategies did a good job in converting to the Top 8 here, with those kinds of strategies all over outside of the lone Shops deck. At the end of the event however, it was repeated Top 8 contender Leeties who took down the event.

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Leeties has been continually doing well on this particular style of list, so it's great to see their persistence pay off!

In Second Place we have Dredge.

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Dredge hasn't had a ton of development really in the past few months, but it is cool to see it continuing to do well. I do have to wonder what the idea behind the singleton Once Upon a Time was, for sure.

In Third Place we have RUG Xerox.

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This list is pretty strong, leaning fully on the power of Wrenn and Six, which when combined with Gush and Mystic Sanctuary can create a "build-your-own" Time Vault.

In Fourth Place we have our good friend Josh McCurley on Ravager Shops.

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Josh's list is pretty strong and clean, utilizing some tech not quite seen in typical Ravager lists with the main deck Karn, the Great Creator.

In Fifth Place we have our good friend Andy Markiton on HollowVine.

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The HollowVine lists have continually evolved as the deck has seen competitive play, and Montolio has been at the forefront of playing the deck. This is some powerful stuff indeed.

In Sixth Place we have another RUG Xerox list.

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This deck is fairly much like the Third Place list, so let's keep moving down the Top 8.

In Seventh Place we have another Dredge list.

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The big change between this list and the Second Place list is the fact that this list has a main deck Ashen Rider over Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Other than that, the decks are exceptionally similar.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have BUG Midrange.

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This deck is powerful, and it's interesting to note the two main deck copies of Mystical Dispute. In addition, it's interesting to see Vendilion Clique over the typical Brazen Borrower in these lists, as Borrower is often played for its flexibility as both an answer and a threat.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. Starting with this article I am only looking at 2019-2020 cards that have 8 or more copies in them. This felt like a fairly happy medium in picking up certain trends.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 36
Collector Ouphe 22
Narset, Parter of Veils 21
Wrenn and Six 20
Dreadhorde Arcanist 19
Force of Negation 19
Deafening Silence 13
Once Upon a Time 13
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 11
Mystic Sanctuary 10
Oko, Thief of Crowns 10
Sprite Dragon 10

There was a lot of Bazaar action in this event, so it stands to reason that cards played with Bazaar strategies are going to see a lot of play, namely Force of Vigor and Collector Ouphe. As we'll see in the next event, this trend continues greatly.

Vintage Challenge 7/5

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday Challenge, which often tends to have less players than the Saturday Challenge, this time coming in at only 38 players. The lists published cap out at Top 32, so keep this in mind when looking at the Metagame breakdown.

Bazaar strategies dominated in metagame share in this event, but especially the deck that was the topic of this week's article in Hogaak Bazaar was the most represented at NINE copies of the deck in the Top 32. Not only that, but these nine decks were also the only nine Hogaak Bazaar decks in the entire event, meaning they converted exceptionally well.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hogaak Bazaar 1st UnicornParadise
Doomsday 2nd DiscoverN
Doomsday 3rd C9Taco
Hogaak Bazaar 4th Mogged
U/R Xerox 5th TeamLeaderNA
Hogaak Bazaar 6th MadMaxerNST
RUG Xerox 7th NVitral
Dredge 8th BennyBo

Hogaak Bazaar devoured this Top 8, putting three of the nine copies in the Top 32 into the Top 8, with two in the Top 4. This deck seems like it is the real deal, and since the shells are so relatively similar, we're only going to talk about the first place winner's list in UnicornParadise.

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This deck has a lot of power behind it between being able to reasonably trigger Vengevine. This is very much like a supercharged version of Legacy Hogaak as noted earlier in the article. It's not surprising to see this doing well.

Since Doomsday also had two copies in this event, we're going to only take a look at the Second Place list by DiscoverN here.

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This list is super interesting, and I especially dig the Tasigur, the Golden Fang in the sideboard as a sort of grindy card that lets this deck push through bad matchups.

Moving down to Fifth Place we have U/R Xerox.

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This deck is incredibly strong, and shows a great understanding of why Sprite Dragon is so incredibly powerful as a Monastery Mentor-like card for strict UR strategies.

On down to Seventh Place we have RUG Xerox.

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This version leans more on cards like Tarmogoyf as its big threat, giving this deck a solid beatdown plan.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Dredge.

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The Creeping Chill in this list is pretty cool. I approve wholeheartedly of it.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 47
Collector Ouphe 40
Deafening Silence 36
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 36
Once Upon a Time 31
Force of Negation 19
Narset, Parter of Veils 16
Wrenn and Six 16
Oko, Thief of Crowns 13
Mystic Sanctuary 9

Due to the overwhelming presence of Hogaak Bazaar in this event, there was a metric ton of Force of Vigor as well as all the support cards it plays in both the main deck and the sideboard. It will be curious to see whether this continues or not into the weeks ahead.

The Spice Corner

Death's Shadow!!!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for the continued support of the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into the Vintage format.

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon. In addition, I'm always able to be reached on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server as well as the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time, keep on Gaak'in!

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