Table of Contents
- What do you mean by.... "Budget"?
- Card Discussions
- Basic Features, Strengths/Weaknesses
- How to Play/Matchups
- 'Current' Metagame Analysis (Last Updated August 1, 2016)
- How to Defeat this deck
- Things to Try
- Things I've Tried
- Why U No?
- Sample Maindeck
- Upgrade Sequence
- Thanks for Reading!
With the influx of new players into the Vintage format, due in large part by the Vintage Super League, the printing of Power on Magic Online, and overall a higher visibility of the format in general, unpowered decks have the potential to act as a gateway for new players to come to grips with the mechanics of the format and enjoy some (sometimes frustrating, sometimes amazing) wins and losses. I personally think white Hatebears decks are the best chance a new player has in coming to grips with the format and testing the waters, while still giving them a good fighting chance against some of the staple decks in the format. This is a deck that preys on what Vintage is: Broken plays, fast artifact mana, draw-7s, cheap tutors… Cards in this deck can nullify 8 cards of the Power 9. That’s definitely something. And it can be had on MTGO for about 40-60 dollars.
2. What do you mean by.... "Budget"?
Budget, for the purposes of this article, is defined by your ability to get hold of staple cards in the format, or cards that would be better or worse depending on how much money you're willing to spend. There are so many different factors that determine what your budget is, like how many vintage-playable cards you own already before getting into vintage, how invested you want to be in Vintage, whether or not you have $40, $60, $100, or $1,000 + dollars to spare for making a deck at once, and whether you're playing paper magic or Magic Online. Ultimately, it makes claiming one or another deck list as "budget" a pretty problematic thing on a forum. All things considered, if you're looking to play budget vintage and want to test the format as you acquire better cards, my honest suggestion is to get started with MTGO. It has been very fun, and I've had the opportunity to test this list every day against a variety of other decks and get a hold of some of the finer aspects of Vintage play through MTGO. Super-power to you if you are building paper vintage decks on a budget, the ceiling of card cost is much higher and opportunities to play are slimmer, but you'll have much more fun in the long run, and have the actual cards, which is always better. It's up to you, but since my experience is mainly through MTGO, "budget" in this article is specifically targeted toward the budget MTGO player. Most of the prices are fairly straightforward between the two arenas, but some differ drastically, and I'll break down some of those below.
Stony Silence vs. Null Rod:
One thing that has been discussed is why opt for Null Rod when Stony Silence is better in a mono-white deck? The answer, plainly, is that at the time I built this list, I needed this effect and wanted to spend less for it. On MTGO, Null Rod is 1 ticket and Stony Silence is 5 tix. If you're thinking of ways to simply improve the list and you had purchased Null Rod, upgrading to Stony Silence is the easiest way to make the deck better.
Grafdigger's Cage/Containment Priest:
Super important cards in the format. If you're playing paper magic, Grafdigger's Cage can be had for $10, half of what it costs to purchase digitally. I thought this card was hovering around 2 dollars in paper magic, but it seems Eternal Masters has stabilized the price to around $10 as of this writing. Containment Priest is worse, with the Paper MTG price stabilized currently at around $10, but online, hovering around $35. If you're using this deck to ease into Vintage, it's pretty safe to say that the effect these cards bring to any deck will remain useful, at least for a while.
4. Card Discussions
Enlightened Tutor: This card works extremely well in this deck, and with new printings, it's as budget as ever! It has a great many targets including Null Rod/Stony Silence, Ethersworn Canonist/Eidolon of Rhetoric, Phyrexian Revoker, Ghostly Prison, Spirit of the Labyrinth, and post-board it can get Suppression Field, Aegis of the Gods, Ratchet Bomb... Just a very good card in this deck. Never boarded out.
Mother of Runes: This card does very little during some matchups, but ends up performing well against decks that run a lot of removal, saving key creatures from Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, Ancient Grudge, and Disenchant. In the situation it has been tapped to protect another creature, it usually gets the bolt first, meaning your opponents sometimes have to 2-for-1 her, and then move on to more taxing creatures. It’s also a turn one play in our deck which has no mana acceleration. Boarded out against decks that don’t play removal, and Eldrazi/Shops.
Dryad Militant: One of the best 1 CMC creatures ever printed, this is an auto-include in any unpowered weenie deck that has access to W/G. 2/1 for 1 is a great deal, with the added key benefit of making an opponent’s Yawgmoth’s Will, Cabal Therapy, Ancient Grudge, Snapcaster Mage far less useful, and helping people honestly pay for Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. My win ratio has gone way up since including this card. It is also a turn 1 play in a deck without any mana acceleration. Almost never boarded out.
Judge’s Familiar: Another great 1 CMC creature that can be used in this deck. Acts as a sort of Thorn for your opponent’s Instant and Sorcery spells, this should keep decks like Storm and Gush decks from going off as soon as they would like. It also flies, and can ping in every turn and still be useful for keeping opponents from tapping out. Great turn 1 play against Gush decks and Storm. Almost never boarded out.
Grand Abolisher: Although Mentor, Dredge, and Storm don’t necessarily want to “go off” on your turn, this card prevents your opponent from countering your spells. It’s a walking, one-sided, better Defense Grid. Boarded out against decks that don’t run counterspells.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: Punishes decks that play Moxen and other accelerants, cantrips, and, well, anything non-creature and non-land. Facing certain decks without removal, she can cause a scoop right away. First Strike makes a difference in most games. She’s not a 4-of simply because this deck has a tendency to go into topdeck mode, and there are usually better cards to draw in that situation than a second Thalia. She will frequently be a target for blind Cabal Therapies. Almost never boarded out.
Leonin Arbiter: A turn 2 Arbiter can heavily tax an opponent’s kept hand that depends on fetch lands. Also fantastic against Tutors, Gifts/Intuition, and synergizes extremely well with Path to Exile and effectively turns Ghost Quarter into Strip Mine 9/10 times. This card alone can easily buy 2-3 more turns to develop your own board presence and present new locks. Boarded out when you need room against Landstill, good in almost all matches. Note: If you're running Arbiter and Enlightened Tutor at the same time, remember to switch off Arbiter. These cards nonbo with one another, so you might want to consider picking between one or the other depending on the meta.
Vryn Wingmare: Thalia that flies. 3 CMC is tough to come up with sometimes, which is why this card is a 3-of, but it can fly over an opponent’s Monk or Elemental army. You can also play multiples, unlike Thalia. Board 1 or 2 out for matchups where you need to reduce the mana curve.
Ethersworn Canonist: Completely halts certain strategies, and doesn’t hurt you as much because the deck is designed to make one extremely effective play per turn, attack, and pass. Gets a lot of splash artifact hate, which is primarily why there is one extra in the sideboard; don’t count on it being in play for very long. Bad against Shops and Eldrazi, fantastic against Gush decks and combo. One tradeoff is, if an opponent decides to cast Swords or Bolt during your turn, they will do it after you’ve played your one spell, making Mental Misstep a dead card. The tradeoff being that sometimes an opponent’s best one-spell is Ancestral or another one-drop, and you can easily Misstep it and Canonist prevents them from responding. Boarded out against Shops, Tezz, and Welder decks.
Eidolon of Rhetoric: This card is essentially a better Ethersworn Canonist, it can block more things and doesn't die to typical white-creature hate people like to board in (Sulfur Elemental, Dread of Night). Slightly more difficult to cast, but we have some acceleration that can pump this out on turn 2.
Spirit of the Labyrinth: I am not quite sure about the effectiveness of this card, other than it being slightly less annoying for an opponent than Thalia or Canonist. I find that there are better options in my hand about half the time I have the ability to cast it. Either way, this blanks some of the most broken cards in the format including Library of Alexandria, Gush, Ancestral Recall, Treasure Cruise, Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, and Timetwister, is excellent against Landstill decks, and makes spells/effects that let you draw and put cards back on top of your library much worse, like Brainstorm, Sylvan Library, and Jace’s +0 ability. One major downside is Dack Fayden. An opponent with Dack can target you with his + ability and effectively make you discard two cards, which is brilliant, yet not that fun. Boarded out against Shops.
Phyrexian Revoker: There is always a good target in Vintage for Revoker, even if you’re not sure what you’re playing against, naming Black Lotus is never a bad thing. Revoker is mainly in the deck to combat Planeswalkers and is decent against White Eldrazi, naming Eldrazi Displacer. Null Rod essentially takes care of many of the naming targets for Revoker, but in the instance Null Rod is out Revoker acts as a good backup.
Leonin Relic Warder: I was very skeptical of this card and opted for Disenchants for artifact removal until I actually saw what it does. This card is an all-star in this deck. Strictly better than Disenchant because you can play it for 2 under Thorn of Amethyst, Thalia, and Wingmare, and it comes with a 2/2 body. Best targets are Oath of Druids, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Batterskull, Wurmcoil Engine, Triskelion, Arcbound Ravager, Lodestone Golem, Time Vault, Voltaic Key… even Black Lotus gets stolen occasionally. Any Tinker target. Sure, if they decide to get rid of it, they get their combo piece out, but this card can increase your clock and simultaneously buy you enough turns to win. If this card had Flash, it would be completely broken. No matter what build of White Hatebears you choose, this card should definitely be a 4-of.
Null Rod/Stony Silence: The most hated/hateful cards in the deck. Absolutely a scoop condition against Ravager Shops and Tezzeret/Welder decks in game 1. Slows down Storm and Gush decks. Has zero effect on your own game plan. Null Rod easily be replaced with Stony Silence which is strictly better, depending on your budget and whether or not you’re playing paper magic (Currently 1 ticket online vs 5 tix for Stony Silence). If this gets removed, prepare for a big turn on the opponent’s side. Frequently gets boarded out against Mentor.
Ghostly Prison: This card is an unfortunate necessity with the number of token decks in the format. This is a pseudo-silver-bullet against Mentor/Pyromancer, and they will most likely be forced to attack with one or two tokens a turn. Useful as a 1-of in a version of this deck with Enlightened Tutor. Boarded out against 'Big Blue' decks, Storm.
Mental Misstep: One of the cards that has over-performed since I’ve been experimenting with it. I will often keep hands with one or two missteps and no lock pieces, or less-than-adequate lands just to keep Misstep. If your turn 1 play is (usually) a basic plains and a 1-drop creature, your opponent sees your lonely basic Plains and comes to the conclusion that they’re free to do what they want. This gives you a unique position because many times you can counter very integral pieces to their strategy and catch them off guard. Best targets are Sol Ring, Voltaic Key, Sensei’s Divining Top, Ancestral Recall, Vampiric Tutor, Mana Vault, Goblin Welder, Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt. Sometimes countering the first Dark Ritual against Storm will cause it to fizzle out, sometimes it will just inadvertently add to storm. Either way, Misstep is absolutely essential and helps this deck perform way better than it should. Usually boarded out against Eldrazi, Shops.
Path To Exile: An extremely difficult card to assess properly in this deck. In this deck it has many favorable consequences for the Hatebears player, it essentially becomes a drawback-less Swords to Plowshares with Leonin Arbiter, and even without Arbiter in play, a great many decks in vintage don’t run basic lands. Seeing as the deck is mono-white, Path is extremely important as a 3- or 4-of since we don’t have access to any other viable creature removal. The downside of Path can be devastating, especially against Mentor decks that run basics. Against those decks, They’re trading a Mentor for what essentially is a draw-land-go Time Walk. Swords to Plowshares has a different drawback. Since your deck is almost never going to be poised for an alpha strike and lacks game-winning combos, the additional life gain that Swords gives your opponent can actually be the difference between you winning or losing a game. Against Oath, I find that Path is infinitely more useful than getting rid of the Oath of Druids. You can sometimes outpace the Oath player and end up exiling all of their win conditions and they are left with few cards in their deck and nothing to play. This card, along with Leonin Relic-Warder, makes the Oath matchup good under normal circumstances. One other use for Path is to target your own creatures on a stack that begins with Bolt or Swords so you can get a basic Plains out of it. Boarded out against Storm primarily.
Strip Mine: Just a great card. Works well with Thalia, Null Rod, and other taxing effects. Can be a devastating play in the early game. Usually save it for Library of Alexandria.
Ghost Quarter: Worse than Strip Mine, strictly worse than Wasteland, but this is a budget deck... The card is essentially a gamble, I’d say about ½ the time I crack a Ghost Quarter against a blue deck, they come up with a basic land to replace it. If they don’t, then GQ becomes Strip Mine. Very recently, people have been catching on and have been putting basics in two- three-color decks. I usually wait to crack it until the opponent plays either a single Tundra (to keep them off white mana for Mentor), Library of Alexandria, Manlands, or a Bazaar of Baghdad. Against Workshops and Eldrazi, this card is stellar. Also very good with Leonin Arbiter.
Spirit Guides (Simian/Elvish): Great additions that make turn one plays so much better. After playing a list with no acceleration whatsoever, the Spirit Guides have increased the win percentage of this deck a significant amount. They're generally only good in opening hands, and they rarely get used past turn 4, which is a definite downside because they are 100% dead draws. They also empty your hand much quicker, which puts you in topdeck mode sooner than without them, which in turn makes a dead draw that much more devastating. The tradeoff is that the deck can slam a Thalia or Canonist on turn 1 regularly, and you can really surprise your opponent. Never boarded out, if the list has them.
Lotus Petal: Basically the same analysis as Spirit Guides, except it's dead usually after dropping a Null Rod/Stony Silence. Better because it generates white mana.
Plains: Yep. Plains.
Frequent Sideboard Cards:
2+ Swords to Plowshares: There are very few matchups where I don’t use every single Swords/Path that I draw when I need to board in more creature removal, so these two extra are most likely permanent fixtures of the SB regardless of what the metagame does. Great against Shops, Eldrazi, Oath, decent against Mentor and Pyromancer.
Aegis of the Gods: This card is only situationally good, and the deck already has a lot of game against Storm, where this card is the most useful. Might board it in against players that like to Fateseal with Jace.
Serene Master: @Uvatha recommended this card, and so far it has been good. It’s essentially a Wall that kills. It can keep Mentor itself from attacking, and is great against Eldrazi and Lodestone Golem.
Suppression Field: This deck is prey for Jace, Tezzeret and a good chunk of Dack’s abilities. Suppression Field does hit your own Ghost Quarters and Strip Mine, but it has the benefit of slowing down decks that go off with Planeswalkers. A great turn 1 play also, as it can shut off a fetchland hand. If you don't run Arbiter in your list, replace it with one or more of these in the main, it will have a simliar taxing effect on their manabase. The card is very underutilized and has been great thus far.
Windborn Muse: In matchups where Ghostly Prison is a good card, fliers are also really good cards. This card is both. The mana cost is a little much, but with acceleration it can come out pretty early, and the cost doesn't increase with Thalias and Wingmares.
Sol Ring Sometimes you need a little bit of extra push, and sometimes you can also board out all your Null Rods/Stony Silences. In matchups where that's generally a bad strategy to go for, Sol Ring helps.
Extras: Canonist can be amazing, or dumb, and when it’s amazing, you want 4 of them. Same with Null Rod/Stony Silence. If you don’t have 4-of each in your maindeck (and in the current meta, I’d advise against having 4 Canonist) you should definitely throw the extras in your sideboard. More Ghostly Prison to board in against Mentor/Pyromancer.