For those of you who don’t know me, “Hi,” I’m Aaron. I’ve had my share of success in Constructed Eternal formats over the years and I attribute that success to using my best skill before the tournament even starts. I’m all about finding the right decks and the right cards to really attack a known metagame.
But enough about me, let’s talk about our new machine overlords and how to take them down.
HANGARBACK MUD, championed by Paul Mastriano and Brian DeMars, has pushed the dominance of MUD to a new level. If you plan on showing up to an event with the same old INGOT CHEWER and NATURE’S CLAIM sideboard you will have a real issue fighting against the new version because it is both lower to the ground and more resilient to targeted “Shatter” effects. In essence, you need hate that will heavily sway the game and not just eat a single SPHERE OF RESISTANCE.
While the deck may be great it certainly isn’t without a few exploitable weaknesses. For starters, the deck is lighter on business than traditional Forgemaster MUD. It compensates for this with a stronger lock suite and cheaper, more aggressive creatures. If you can mitigate the early surge of pressure they are unlikely to be able to go over the top.
ATTRIBUTES OF HANGARBACK MUD THAT ARE EXPLOITABLE:
- There are around 8-10 non-mana spells in the deck that do not have a cmc of 0 or 2 when in play (ignoring metamorph for the obvious reasons). Of those, only LODESTONE GOLEM is an active threat.
- Most versions of this deck do not have cards like THE TABERNACLE AT PENDRELL VALE or BATTERSKULL to fight against going wide. Their plan is either to lock you out or race game one unless you foolishly kill a huge HANGARBACK WALKER. Game two may be a different story but that depends on the build a bit more.
- There is a complete lack of CRUCIBLE OF WORLDS and therefore Basic Lands (especially the second or third) will pay dividends.
The key now is to take these little fissures and rip them wide open.
Hurkyl’s is THE obvious answer. The card is even better here than usual for a multitude of reasons (especially against an “all-in” Ravager) and I would highly suggest that you consider a few copies in your 75. While they can redeploy quickly they are much softer to it than other versions of MUD. Also, because their deck is so reliant on two cost spells they cannot typically afford to Chalice for two in a close game.
While Hurkyl’s is our first choice versus MUD, it is not the only solution. Other strong contenders are NULL ROD, and of course ENGINEERED EXPLOSIVES.
E.E. has always been a solid card against MUD. Set with Sunburst equal to two, it will eat all of their Spheres at once so that you can start casting spells and start playing Magic again. It gets even better: Explosives for 0 kills Hangerback (or it’s Thopters) in addition to the usual moxen and CHALICE OF THE VOID. The key is that Explosives for two eats most of their threats and most of their Spheres and a single card that deals with everything besides
LODESTONE GOLEM and TANGLE WIRE is a card worth playing.
NULL ROD will typically play very similar roles against MUD, as they shut down the smaller issues so that you can devote the rest of your resources to beating their bigger ones. Here NULL ROD shuts down the two most aggressive threats.
Given all of this, if I was going to enter an event tomorrow where I expected a large amount of Hangarback mud I would likely play sometime similar to Danny Friedman’s list from the Champ’s prelim.
Magic Keeper – Top 4 in 2015 Vintage Championship – Saturday Prelim (Aug-2015)
by Danny Friedman
1 Sol Ring
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Mox Jet
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
1 Snow-Covered Island
2 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Volcanic Island
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Dragonlord Ojutai
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Dack Fayden
3 Mana Drain
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Wear // Tear
4 Dig Through Time
2 Mindbreak Trap
2 Pithing Needle
3 Ingot Chewer
2 Containment Priest
1 Rest in Peace
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Wear // Tear
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Shattering Spree
This version of “Keeper” offers everything I could want when fighting against HANGARBACK MUD. It has Explosives, SWORDS TO PLOWSHARES rather than Bolt, MOAT to soft lock, Dack and WEAR // TEAR to beat Lodestones.
The only changes I would want to make would be swapping in some copies of HURKYL’S RECALL in the sideboard over SHATTERING SPREE and the second WEAR. While Danny likely shied away from Recall given that his deck applies very little pressure, it is simply too powerful vs Ravager and the tokens from Hangerback to omit.
Hangarback MUD is a great deck but it is far from beatable. Adapting to play better MUD hate is going to be very important in the coming weeks and months. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions. I promise a lot more brewing and blue spells next time!
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