It's easy to focus on the top Modern decks like Burn or Jund, but you can achieve success with a wide variety of strategies. Modern is a format that rewards those who master their decks, whether these are their pet decks or format mainstays. It's not uncommon to see a pilot take down an event with a lower-tier strategy as they know how their deck operates, which lets them capitalize on the ever-shifting Modern metagame. There are lower-tier strategies that are primed to see success over the upcoming months, which have the additional benefit of being budget-friendly.
Modern's current trend is aggression. Strategies such as Burn and Mono-Red Prowess are achieving consistent success in a metagame that is trying to play fair, thanks to the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic. Although Jund and Urza archetypes are exceptions to this rule, even they struggle against the explosiveness these low-to-the-ground red decks provide. When evaluating the overall Modern metagame, it's essential to identify what is dominant and look for its opposite. By doing this, you can take advantage of trends and pick a strategy with a favorable matchup against what is currently popular or dominant.
In this current Modern environment, we want to maintain the aggression but incorporate life gain to mitigate damage from other aggressive strategies. Bogles meets both criteria perfectly.
Bogles is a bold and stubborn strategy which revolves around Slippery Bogle. The goal is to load up your Slippery Bogle (or Gladecover Scout, or Kor Spiritdancer) with compelling auras like Ethereal Armor, Daybreak Coronet and Rancor to push through plenty of damage. Although the strategy is a one-trick pony, the game plan is effective and can take advantage of metagames that are unprepared for it. Bogles gains life with Daybreak Coronet which Burn struggles to keep up with. By extension, Bogles traditionally has an excellent matchup against Jund which is proving to be a mainstay in Modern once again. Another redeeming quality of Bogles is that its foundation is based on commons and uncommons which creates an affordable gateway into the strategy. Plus, most of the key cards have been reprinted in recent sets, making Bogles relatively accessible.
Let's begin by looking at an optimized Bogles list and see how we can craft this into an affordable entry-level strategy.
A fully optimized Bogles list comes close to $600 which is a steep entry into Modern, especially if you are looking to dip your feet for the first time. However, given how cheap the Bogles shell is, we don't need to compromise the game plan to accommodate price. Thanks to Ultimate Masters, you can pick up Slippery Bogle, Daybreak Coronet, Spider Umbra and Hyena Umbra easily, which make up the core of Bogles.
Unflinching Courage may seem odd in the list at three mana, but there is method in the madness. A more recent addition, Unflinching Courage acts as a fifth Daybreak Coronet to provide insurance against Burn and Mono-Red Prowess. I recommend keeping Unflinching Courage in your list until the metagame shifts; however, one of the downfalls of Bogles is that there isn't a lot of flexibility on spells. Bogles has one game plan and does that game plan effectively; change that too much, and you will have a different strategy overall. Fortunately, the core is effective as it is affordable.
Almost half of the price of the list comes from the manabase, in particular, Horizon Canopy and the fetch lands, which can adjust accordingly with a budget alternative below.
The list above comes to just under $200 once we tailor the manabase. Due to the steep price on Horizon Canopy, we are replacing them with Brushlands as they offer similar functionality. I feel it's essential to understand life resource management which is a consideration with both Horizon Canopy and Brushland. Dryad Arbor is at its best when you have Windswept Heath or Wooded Foothills to find it on demand, so without fetch lands it's redundant. Fortified Village and Canopy Vista allow a better rate of lands entering untapped, which is ideal given we want to curve creatures into potent auras. Both of these make decent placeholders until you can obtain fetch lands. Running a playset of Windswept Heath is essential, and I recommend running a couple of Wooded Foothills to ensure optimal deck filtering, but prioritize Windswept Heath and the Dryad Arbor first.
I have added a few Cartouche of Solidarity to play around edict effects such as Liliana of the Veil and Liliana's Triumph. Dryad Arbor typically offers insurance against these kinds of effects in Modern, but Cartouche offers similar protection on a budget.
Hexproof is strong in a field where targeted damage is prevalent. Burn and Mono-Red Prowess lean on dealing damage to the opponent, which makes cards like Leyline of Sanctity well positioned. If you are unable to pick up Leyline of Sanctity, Teyo, the Shieldmage offers an alternative. However, Leyline of Sanctity was reprinted in Core 2020, which provides a cheaper route to picking up the robust enchantment. Horizon Canopy should be the last thing to pick up as these are the most expensive cards. I suggest picking up the cheaper cards which will improve your list overall rather than focus on costly cards first. Playing Bogles without Horizon Canopy does not damage the strategy massively. After obtaining Windswept Heath and Dryad Arbor, I'd start looking at the sideboard as you will want to add Gaddock Teeg and Rest in Peace to your list. Both of these cards hose big spell and graveyard strategies which remain common in the format. Following a similar theme, Gaddock Teeg and Rest in Peace have been reprinted in the last year which makes obtaining these easier.
Force of Vigor is not essential in Bogles, but it lets you interact when you don't have mana open—a common scenario for an aggressive deck with only 20 lands. Force of Vigor offers interaction against Urza strategies and is essentially a free spell in the list, but Seal of Primordium offers more synergy with Ethereal Armour. Looking a little ahead, I'd recommend picking up Hushbringer from Throne of Eldraine for your Bogles sideboard once the set drops. Hushbringer is a strict upgrade on Tocatli Honor Guard: it's evasive and has additional abilities which are relevant in Modern. I can't foresee Hushbringer being an expensive card, but it is one I would look out for. Bogles has the option to sideboard into a soft-disruption strategy which is why Gaddock Teeg is so compelling in the list, Hushbringer also aids this game plan.
Bogles is an ideal choice for players looking to jam their way into some free wins against an ever-changing Modern metagame. Plus, the core of Bogles exports well into Pauper, where it's become one of the best strategies in the format. If you ever want to dip your toes into Pauper, Bogles allows this route without breaking the bank, and you'll be well-versed piloting it from playing it in Modern. It's not the most elegant strategy out there, but it helps you practice combat and the math that comes with it. By playing Bogles, you are learning the fundamentals of Magic: The Gathering easier which will improve your win percentage down the line.
Emma Partlow is a writer and Modern enthusiast based in Suffolk, England. She's been involved in Magic since Khans of Tarkir back in 2014, and loves helping players dive into the game's most diverse format.
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