Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is redefining Modern

hogaak art

It didn't take long for Modern Horizons to break Modern. Altar of Dementia and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis redefine what is possible for a graveyard-based combo deck in Modern.

Hogaak, Arisen NecropolisAltar of Dementia

All Hogaak asks is that you have at least two black or green creatures in play and at least 5 cards in your graveyard. That seems pretty easy for the payoff of an 8/8 trampler, no? But what if there was already a deck that has proven to be successful in Modern that can easily meet these requirements while also benefiting from casting a "free" massive creature?

Hogaak Bridgevine

4 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Altar of Dementia
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Gravecrawler
4 Stitcher's Supplier
4 Faithless Looting
4 Vengevine
4 Bloodghast
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Marsh Flats
1 Swamp (339)
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Bridge from Below
2 Stinkweed Imp
4 Wispmare
2 Ingot Chewer
1 Boggart Shenanigans
2 Silent Gravestone
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Necrotic Wound
1 Godless Shrine

The power level of Altar of Dementia feels like something straight out of Legacy. This deck can achieve some extremely simple turn 3 kills simply by resolving Altar of Dementia on turn 2. A turn 3 kill would go something this:

Turn 1: Cast any of the 20 1-mana spells in the deck

Turn 2: Cast Altar of Dementia

Turn 3: Possibly return some combination of Gravecrawler / Bloodghast / Vengevine for free. Begin sacrificing creatures to self-mill. Eventually find one or more copies of Bridge from Below plus a Hogaak. Use whatever creatures remain in play (including fresh Bridge from Below tokens) to cast Hogaak. Sacrifice Hogaak to self-mill 8 cards. Find more Bridges, fuel, etc. Repeat ad nauseam until the deck is completely milled. At this point you have 4 copies of Bridge from Below in the graveyard, so each sacrifice of Hogaak is netting creatures. Once you get to this point, you most likely have more than 60 power worth of creatures in play and can simply mill out your opponent.

This sequence is all the more scary when you consider that the only fixed requirement for getting off the ground is Altar of Dementia. Even when the deck "whiffs" on this type of nut draw, it can still present a massive board state extremely quickly.

Carrion Feeder

Carrion Feeder is another extremely welcome addition from Modern Horizons. It's a 1-mana black zombie, which is a perfect fit for Gravecrawler, Vengevine, and Hogaak. It's a secondary sacrifice outlet for Bridge from Below and Stitcher's Supplier. It can enable you to cast a second creature for Vengevine by casting a single Gravecrawler twice. And it does all of this while presenting a legitimate aggressive threat. An opponent who tries to over-sideboard with graveyard hate is more likely to find themselves dying to a zombie beatdown plan than they would against the anemic backup plan of a more traditional Dredge deck.

Faithless LootingInsolent NeonateStitcher's Supplier

This deck can be quite tricky to play optimally, so make sure to get your fair share of reps in before taking it to a tournament. It is simple enough to pick up the important Hogaak interactions after playing with the deck a bit, but the sequencing of the 1-mana cards can be deceptively difficult. You may want to Faithless Looting early to get that Bridge from your hand into the graveyard, or you may want to cast it last for the possibility of dredging with Stinkweed Imp. You may want to cast Stitcher's Supplier first to get some fresh looks, or you may want to cast Insolent Neonate as your first spell to ensure that the Vengevine in your hand is ready to be triggered when you cast your second creature. Even your land drop and fetching sequencing is relevant because of Bloodghast. Just make sure to take your time and think about how you want your turn to go before taking each action.

Leyline of the Void

That's the deck! This strategy is so powerful that we're certain to see many copies of Rest in Peace and its ilk in sideboards in the near future. But until people learn to properly prepare for it (and quite possibly even after they do), enjoy crushing people with Hogaak! And of course, if you enjoy our Modern content, be sure to check out that sidebar and subscribe to our Modern feed!

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Michael Schuller