I know some of you like to play hatebears so I thought we needed a thread to discuss the archetype. I considered writing a primer for the archetype itself with a card description for the most reguarly played cards but in the end decided against it and instead decided to write a primer for the specific build I'm playing at the moment and have been for some time now. That doesn't mean that we can't discuss other builds or cards - conversely that's the idea behind the thread. So feel free to post your own build to get feedback or just discuss single cards. I also think that this could be a place to discuss various other hatebear strategies than just monowhite. For instance GW or GWB hatebears. One of the most fascinating things about playing hatebears that it's a build that really requires building against a specific metagame, so hopefully we'll get some different builds posted as I do believe it's a very viable archetype to play.
So without further ado here's my current build, comments on the individual cards and a small writeup on the most common matchups.
The deck is designed to beat Mentor and and Shops as these are the two most commonly played archetypes. Historically, it's been hard to build a deck that beats both as the cards you want against Mentor usually are bad against Shops and vica versa. With that in mind I decided to approach the hatebears archetype a bit differently than usual as this decks focuses on beating Mentor "on the ground" so to speak to a much higher degree than usual by deploying creatures that actually answers a resolved Mentor.
Sorry, I don't know how to format the decklist. If a mod reads this, feel free to edit it to look nice!
Phyrexian Revoker is one of the most important cards in the deck. It contributes to the mana denial/tempo plan but even more importantly it shuts down troublesome cards like planeswalkers (Jace TMS and Jace VP are two of the cards I fear the most), Engineered Explosives, Arcbound Ravager, Walking Ballista as well as cards like Sensei's Divining Top and even Necropotence, Yawgmoth's Bargain and Griselbrand.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is one of the reasons to consider playing White hatebears in the first place. It's a great tempo play and disrupts Paradoxical Storm a lot. I think most are familiar with the strenght of Thalia 1.0, so I'm not gonna write too much about her.
Containment Priest is in my opinion a very important maindeck card, and even though it looks underwhelming in a lot of matchups, I almost never board it out. It allows you to have a decent game against Oath and Dredge game 1 and it also stops Tinker which is one of the most troublesome cards for all hatebear strategies. The combo with Eldrazi Displacer is of course a major reason to run Priest as well. Also note that it combos nicely with Palace Jailer.
Spirit of the Labyrinth is a pretty important card. Just take a look at the cards it stops: Gush, Paradoxical Outcome, Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Thoughtcast, Thirst for Knowledge, part of Jace TMS, Treasure Cruise, Sylvan Library, Bazaar diging for answers, sometimes Standstill. It's obviously a trump against Paradoxical Storm and the likes but it's also very good against Mentor. There's some dissynergy between Spirit of the Labyrinth and Palace Jailer, but usually it's not a big issue.
Eldrazi Displacer was initially included to control the creature matchup (Mentor, Shops and Eldrazi primarily) and to combo with Containment Priest. However, Displacer does more than that. It serves as protection from targeted removal and has nice synergy with Phyrexian Revoker, Sanctum Prelate and Palace Jailer.
Sanctum Prelate has quickly become one of my favorite cards. It's often compared to Chalice of the Void - which certainly is the obvious comparison, as you'll often play it on 1, but it can also be seen as a Meddling Mage on stereoids to lock the game up when your opponent has only a few outs. For instance, Prelate @ 3 can be a decent late game play against many decks as it stops Tinker, Yawgmoth's Will and Toxic Deluge. It's very good against practically all blue decks but very important against Paradoxical Storm and Landstill in particular.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar is a card that some omit from the hatebear lists, but I believe that to be a mistake. It's solid in almost all matchups and importantly it's very good in some of the harder matchups like Shops, Eldrazi and Landstill. And against Dredge as well. It adds to the mana denial/tempo plan, is a good beater in it self and the ability that your opponents creatures enters the battlefield tapped can win games. I've played tons of games where I get down a Thalia 2.0 and another lock piece or two before my opponent manages to play a Mentor, but just one turn too late. Admittedly, it can be a bit too slow - especially on the draw and against decks like Paradoxical Storm - but it can also win games almost on its own.
Porcelain Leggionaire is the weakest card in the deck. Initially I played 3 Stoneforge Mystic, 1 Batterskull and 1 Umezawa's Jitte in place of the 2 Leggionaire, 2 Stony Silence and 1 Null Rod. However, I realized that Stoneforge Mystic is too slow and too easily disrupted in the matchups you want it (Shops and Eldrazi) and that Null Rod effects are a must to handle Paradixical Storm and Shops. Leggionaire is decent vs Shops and Eldrazi and combined with Null Rod it's very good against Shops, but as mentioned it's certainly the weakest card in the deck and I'm definitely open to suggestions for this spot.
Palace Jailer is one of my favorite cards. Exile a creature, draw a card each turn and a 2/2 body for 4 mana? Sure! Jailer is the only targeted removal in the maindeck so you have to play it with caution, but I've won many games by just slamming down a Jailer turn 1 and overwhelm the opponent with threats.
As mentioned, Stony Silence/Null Rod is mandatory to beat Shops and Paradoxical Storm. Stony Silence is a bit stronger than Null Rod, but I like a split because Null Rod is much easier to play on turn 1 which is the best start you can have against Paradoxical Storm.
Chalice of the Void is a, as everyone knows, very strong card. It's usually set at 0 or 1, but with Cavern of Souls you can play it for a higher number as well.
There's not too much to say about the manabase I think. The Ancient Tombs are there to power out early plays (turn 1 Thalia 2.0, Phyrexian Revoker and allows you to deploy two threats on turn 2), but it's also important to fuel Eldrazi Displacer. Karakas is an important card to both save your own Thalias as well as bouncing opposing Thalias, Griselbrand, Jace VP, Leovold, Marit Lage, Emrakul, etc.). I play all the mana acceleration because you want to have a turn 1 play more often than not. Sol Ring is the only accelerant left out, but it's not very good in hatebear strategies because it's only good on turn 1 if you have land, Mox and Sol Ring to power out a 3cc creature.
The sideboard I'm gonna comment on in the matchups but some quick notes: I like playing Grafdigger's Cage in the sideboard over an additional copy of Containment Priest to have a little more resistance against Yawgmoth's Will in particular but also Gifts Ungiven. After a ton of games against Shops I've found out that the best way to beat them is to play a combination of Stony Silence/Null Rod and big creatures like Gisela which is here mainly for that matchup. Linvala is something I'm trying out at the moment, and it's certainly a spot that's open. I like that it has some value across different matchups like Shops, Eldrazi, BUG and even Landstill and Oath.
Before heading to the matchups, let's get an obvious question out of the way: You play Ancient Tomb but no Thorn of Amethyst? There's reason to what might look like madness. The most important thing is that Thorn is very bad against Shops and you can't afford to play many dead cards if you want to have a decent matchup against Shops. Second, while Thorn is good against blue decks, this build doesn't exploit Thorn as well as Shops and Eldrazi because it doesn't have as fast a clock as those decks. Instead this deck plays other disruptive elements like Sanctum Prelate, Spirit of the Labyrinth and Null Rod/Stony Silence.
Shops is a hard matchup as it usually is for hatebears. I do think that this particular build has a better game against Shops than many others due to Eldrazi Displacer (and Containment Priest), Stony Silence/Null Rod, Thalia 2.0, Porcelain Leggionaire, Phyrexian Revoker and Palace Jailer. Sideboard the matchup obviously gets a lot better as you bring in Kataki, Linvala, Giselas and Swords and take out the dead cards like Spirit of the Labyrinth and Sanctum Prelate as well as a Thalia 1.0. I like to keep in Chalice because it can actually do some work in the late game, and Chalice @ 0 is also strong on the play.
Mentor I believe is a favorable matchup, but it's definitely close. All the maindeck cards are good against Mentor and you fight both the spells (Thalia 1.0, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Sanctum Prelate, Stony Silence/Null Rod) as well as as Mentor itself (Eldrazi Displacer (and Containment Priest), Thalia 2.0, Palace Jailer) with Revoker as utility. I often name Jace VP with Revoker as you don't need to attack the Mentor player's manabase as hard and Jace VP is a very bad card for us. Postboard you bring in Mental Missteps and take out a land and Stony Silence/Null Rod or Porcelain Leggionaire depending on the build.
White Eldrazi is an unfavorable matchup for sure, but as the case is with the Shops matchup I do believe that this build has a better matchup against Eldrazi than many other hatebear strategies for the same reason as the Shops matchup. You want to hold up your Containment Priest untill you have your own Displacer ready to go as you don't want to get blown out by the opponent's Displacers.
Landstill can be a tough matchup, but I think this particular build has a lot of game against Landstill - more than most other hatebear strategies. Sanctum Prelate is your most important card here. 1 is obviously a good number to stop Swords, but 4 is a very important number to stop Supreme Verdict, Jace TMS and Moat. Thalia 2.0 is very important here as well because it hampers Crucible shenanigans and more often than not trumps Factories. Phyrexian Revoker is also a strong card against Landstill as Jace TMS and Engineered Explosives are huge threats to you. Porcelain Leggionaire is also surprisingly good here because it often trumps Factories and you want to beat down as fast as possible. Palace Jailer is also stronger than you would think, as if you manages to become the Monarch you can keep deplying much more pressure and the Landstill player will very rarely be able to become the Monarch. The game strategy is to kill your opponent as fast as possible, and more often than not the game comes down to whether the Landstill player can stabilize under 5 life points. It's a delicate balance though, because you also don't want to overextend and get blown out by Supreme Verdict, Balance or Engineered Explosives. I'm still not sure whether you want to side in the Missteps. They're obviously very good against Plow but the Landstill player plays a lot of countermagic and you want to keep your threat density as high as possible. I usually just side out the Stony Silence/Null Rods and board in the Giselas and Linvala to up the creature count to 31.
Historically, Oath has been the bane of hatebear strategies, but this deck is build to have a little more game against Oath than what I've previously played. I've always been an advocate of maindecking Grafdigger's Cage but I don't think it's necessary anymore now that Containment Priest is printed. Priest is obviously your biggest asses in this matchup, but Sanctum Prelate (@2) is very good here as well. Another strenght though is that the game is by no means lost even if your opponent gets to Oath. Between Spirit of the Labyrinth/Phyrexian Revoker and Karakas you have outs against Griselbrand and Emrakul and Eldrazi Displacer is also very effective. You're obviously looking for hands that include Containment Priest or Sanctum Prelate but don't be too afraid of keeping hands that play a mana denial game. I side in Aegis of the Gods and the Grafdigger's Cages and board out Porcelain Leggionaire and a land. Depending on your opponents build you can also board in the Missteps.
The matchup against BUG I would say is very good. BUG plays more "fair" cards than most other decks and wants to beat down on the ground where this deck has a big edge. Usually I don't bother with the mana denial plan here because BUG works well with only a few mana sources and have Deathrite Shamans as well. Instead more often than not you just save your Wastelands to fuel Eldrazi Displacer which is an important card in this matchup. The gameplan is just to deploy as many threats as possible and beat down as fast as you can with Thalia 2.0, Eldrazi Displacer, Porcelain Leggionaire and Spirit of the Labyrinth. In game 2 and 3 you side in the Giselas and Linvala and board out the Stony Silence/Null Rods. I usually don't bother siding in Swords as you just want as high a creature count as possible and the BUG player don't play specific creatures that are important to remove.
Paradoxical Storm is an interesting matchup as it's often total blowouts one way or the other. There's no doubt that this particular build has a weaker Storm matchup than most hatebear lists because of Porcelain Leggionaire, Eldrazi Displacer and Palace Jailer in particular, but it's still a decent matchup. Thalia 1.0, Sanctum Prelate, Spirit of the Labyrinth and Stony Silence/Null Rod are the best cards in the deck in this matchup. Postboard you bring in Aegis of the Gods, Kataki, Mindbreak Trap, Mental Missteps and Grafdigger's Cages and take out Porcelain Leggionaire, a land, Eldrazi Displacers and Palace Jailers.
UR Delver looks like a tough matchup and it certainly can be but overall, I'd say it's a bit better than 50/50 depending on the specific build. Lightning Bolt and Delver itself are tough, but Harsh Mentor and Eidolon of the Great Revel don't hurt you much. Postboard they bring in Sulfur Elemental which is a beating as well but certainly not unbeatable at all. I tend to bring in Mental Misstep to stop Bolts and Delvers as well as Ancestral, but I'm still not 100% sure if you want to bring in Swords as it's usually only Delver and Sulfur you want to hit and you've got Misstep, Displacer and Palace Jailer to deal with those.
Dredge is an interesting matchup. The maindeck Containment Priests makes the game 1 winable but the sideboard is a little lighter on Dredge hate than most are probably used to. However, between Containment Priest, Grafdigger's Cage, Displacer and first striking creatures it's a decent matchup. Thalia 2.0 is an all star here.
I haven't played enough against Gifts to give enough of an assessment of this matchup.
So that's it. Hopefully you enjoyed the read and hopefully we can get some discussion going regarding this archetype as I really believe it's a viable option.