Return of the Hateful 8

Most attempts at brewing are failures. Failure isn’t necessarily bad though; if we learn from our mistakes and walk away with some nugget of knowledge, the experience of failure can actually be very positive. I took a chance at a Legacy Classic awhile back and played the following:

Hateful 8

Creatures (25)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Phyrexian Revoker
Eldrazi Displacer
Thought-knot Seer
Reality Smasher
Flametongue Kavu

Spells (10)
Chalice of the Void
Umezawa’s Jitte
Lotus Petal

Lands (25)
Cavern of Souls
Ancient Tomb
Eldrazi Temple
Battlefield Forge
Plateau
Wasteland
Karakas
Sideboard (15)
Sanctum Prelate
Flametongue Kavu
Swords to Plowshares
Rest in Peace
Wear/Tear

The event didn’t go particularly well for me, but I learned a few things. THC was absolutely busted if deployed ahead of curve, and the 2-for-1 nature of Flametongue Kavu was very strong. Unfortunately, the manabase of the deck was a little rough; I had a bit too much trouble casting my red cards, getting double white was tricky, and there was a bit of tension in the deck with Chalice of the Void and some of the sideboard cards. I archived those thoughts, and last week, I had an idea after I watched Daryl Ayers murder everyone with Lands.

Lands

Maindeck (60)
Molten Vortex
Thespian’s Stage
Punishing Fire
Grove of the Burnwillows
Horizon Canopy
Dark Depths
Ghost Quarter
Life from the Loam
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Forest
Seismic Assault
Crop Rotation
Exploration
Gamble
Manabond
Mox Diamond
Wasteland
Glacial Chasm
Maze of Ith
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Taiga
Sideboard (15)
Tireless Tracker
Molten Vortex
Bojuka Bog
Krosan Grip
Ancient Grudge
Chalice of the Void

Daryl opted to run Ghost Quarter over the more traditional Rishadan Port, which was an amazing metagame call. Many of the top decks run no basic lands, making them Wastelands 5-8. If you have the ability to recur Ghost Quarter, you can quickly run decks like Miracles out of basic lands as well. After watching him play a few games on camera, I was sold on his strategy. I registered RG Lands for the second round of a local Legacy league, and started brewing a new deck.

I was curious what would happen if I revisited a similar style of deck, but sticking closer to the D&T side of things. I decided that I would go for a stronger, more aggressive mana denial plan. To my horror, I realized that I had left three Stoneforges, a Batterskull, and my Jitte at home in the sideboard of my Tin Fins deck. I cursed myself and quickly made a few substitutions. I ran this for a little three round event:

Hateful 8 v1

Lands (23)
13 Plains
Wasteland
Ghost Quarter
Karakas

Creatures (25)
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Serra Avenger
Flickerwisp
Aven Mindcensor
Mirran Crusader

Spells (12)
Swords to Plowshares
Chrome Mox
Sword of War and Peace
Sword of Fire and Ice
Crucible of Worlds
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Banisher Priest
Pithing Needle
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

I was well prepared to just 0-3 for forgetting such critical cards on my desk. To my surprise, I easily 3-0’d the event. I got out of the gates more quickly in the pseudo-mirror, and deploying SoWaP a turn early was devastating. Against UWR Stoneblade, I think I played about 8 turns total; I ran turn one Thalia into turn two THC in game one, and ran Thalia into Crucible and Ghost Quarter lock in game two. I deployed hate ahead of schedule against Dredge, and a turn two THC kept me from getting the beatdown from an army of Ichorids.

Whereas D&T is willing to drag the game out longer, giving Vial a chance to get online and offer a ton of free spells, this deck attempted to throw out a piece of hate or two and push the initial advantage. The threats and lock pieces kept streaming forth, and less time was spent investing in Stoneforge and on Port activations that didn’t have a permanent effect on the game. Keeping that in mind, I explored a little bit and started testing this:

Hateful 8 v2

Lands (23)
13 Plains
Wasteland
Cavern of Souls
Karakas

Creatures (31)
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Flickerwisp
Aven Mindcensor
Mirran Crusader
Banisher Priest
Palace Jailer

Spells (6)
Chrome Mox
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sideboard (15)
Stoneforge Mystic
Batterskull
Umezawa’s Jitte
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Pithing Needle
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

This deck took a slightly different direction than the last one. It’s a little more all-in on the initial hate pieces, opting to max out on both Thalias as well as Sanctum Prelate. Given that Prelate is usually going to get thrown on one, I dropped all the Swords to Plowshares for creature-based removal. Once the deck was almost entirely human, I decided to drop the Crucible and Ghost Quarter package for a playset of Cavern of Souls. The deck perhaps needs another piece of acceleration or two, but it was conceptually quite good. My opponents just couldn’t keep all the dudes off the board, and the creature based removal was usually sticking, as my opponents just couldn’t afford to use removal on them or had already exhausted their removal by the time they hit the field.

So what’s the next logical step? Is a singleton Eldrazi Displacer reasonable alongside the Recruiters and Palace Jailers? Are the other Eldrazi cards worth exploring here? I could go more all-in on initial hate pieces, opting to run Chalice of the Void alongside Sanctum Prelate to make combo decks cry. I could step up the mana denial, returning to the Crucible plan or taking the idea of Suppression Field from the soldier stompy decks. The deck could pick up an Ancient Tomb to go a little faster, or maybe Lotus Petal or Simian Spirit Guide. You know, if I started throwing in Spirit Guides, it might not be unreasonable to throw in a Magus of the Moon… Basically, there’s room for exploration in this archetype.

I’m still in the initial testing phases, and I don’t have a solid conception of how it fares against the metagame as a whole, but I am intrigued. I’ve got about two months to test this idea and similar things before GP Louisville, so I’m not in a rush to find answers. Feel free to get in contact with me if you’ve been trying similar things or if you have some success with any of the builds.

About the Author

Phil Gallagher

View Posts →