Deck Discussion: Mardu (RWB) Hatebears (unpowered)

Hey all,

I got into vintage (as I would imagine many people did) by playing hate decks, and while I have mostly given that up for blue decks, the itch sometimes needs to be scratched. Since there has been some talk on twitter about the idea that beating both Storm and Workshops is impossible, I have been working on the following deck. This list is very much a work in progress, and while it started with the idea of beating Storm and Shops, it has come around a lot toward beating my particular meta. It also, as you can see from the title, is my plan for champs if I can't borrow power. I recently sold my power, because I was buying a house, and I am still down for champs, so I decided to build a back-up deck to try and win the unpowered prize. Yes, this deck would be better with power, it is specifically built around not being able to play with power.

Full disclaimer: all hatebears decks are meta specific, not that anyone would want to, but net decking these types of decks make very little sense.

Deck: Mardu Hatebears {W}{B}{R}



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I want to talk about a couple choices. First the colors: I think white is basically the most important color in any hatebears deck, Thalia and Stony Silence are the reasons to play hatebears (if there is any reason). That brings me to Phyrexian Revoker, this card is absolutely insane, and should be a 4-of in most hate decks, it is basically extra copies of Thalia with some more flexibility. I added in Red for a couple reasons: First, Hammer Mage + Welder along-side sideboard cards to just wreck shops day. Secondly, trying to beat Mentor, Tiny Robots, and Young Pyromancer with Goblin Sharpshooter, after a discussion with friends (works surprisingly well). Finally, I added in black late in the development, because 1) the tutors allow you to play lower numbers of the best cards. Dark Confidant give you a midgame, and honestly I think Deathrite Shaman is one of the best cards against shops still.

If anyone has thoughts about building hatebears specifically for Champs, feel free to bring that discussion here, even if it isn't necessarily RWB splashing green.

last edited by Brass Man


I think there is too much tension between your one-time mana-sources and relatively greedy mana requirements. A full 7 one-time sources is probably overdoing it in any case, unless turn one combo decks are an important part of your meta, but you seem to be planning to demonic for two drops. If reaching four mana is important, you could consider giving up some explosiveness and add 2-4 lands. I mostly build decks similar to this and seldom find room for vampiric or demonic. Demonic consultation will be a better tutor most of the time.

How bad is cavern of souls in the meta you expect? If you build with cavern, it could mean reducing black to just deathrite and confidant, and a series of other changes. Sudden shock, abrupt decay and other counter-proof answers increase in value.

You have a lot of mana denial elements here, but board the fourth wasteland. I see that from time to time, but always cringe a little. Wastes are just to easy and efficient to cut.

There are of course numerous threads on hatebear lists on the page as well as on the old forums you should read if you haven´t recently.

Ok. I'll bite. You're right in that I came up playing hatebears (aka weenie as it was known when it couldn't win anything) so it has a soft spot in my heart. I just want to say before I start that I hope we both know that this deck will never win more than it loses in vintage, because without power that just isn't possible. (Ok ok... dredge, fine. It's not possible unless you include some truly bazaar strategies.)

I like your list. Rather than starting with, take out this and add a pinch of that, I just want to point out a design principle that really hurts these sort of hatebear decks. That is, their best cards don’t “stack”. They don’t get better as you see more of them. Thalia, Null Rod/Stoney silence, Kataki (Which you should include), Containment Priest, and Aegis of the Gods all are staples because of their effect, and yet those effects get no better when you see a second copy of the card. (Compare to the effect of seeing multiple Mishra's Workshops.) A main problem I see with these decks, powered or not, is that playing the hate often creates about as many dead draws in your own deck as it does in theirs. (If you play 4x Null rod into a deck running 4 mox and a lotus, droping the rod creates 5 dead in their deck and 3 in yours. Null rods are inherently nonsynergistic with themselves, while power cards all go bonkers when combined. The same non-synergy holds true of those other hate cards I mentioned, except that the non legend creatures stack a little bit because a second copy is a 2/2 beat-bear. But you get my point.

In the primer for Christmasbeatings.dec Steve Menendian mentions that he believes hatebears type decks need to run a lot of 4-ofs to be consistant. I actually disagree. (Even though disagreeing with Steve isn’t usually where you want to be.) I would look at some 1-of main board includes. I would run 1 main board Aegis of the Gods, 2 Kataki War’s Wage, 1 Crucible of Worlds, 1 Aven Mindcensor, 1 Gaddock Teeg, and 4 Wastelands because more of those is actually better. And think about cutting out some number of Thalia, Stoney Silence, and I would cut Sharpshooter altogether, since those previous cards are just better. (Are we really racing Oath, Tinker, Dredge, and Storm with a Sharpshooter? I’m sure it can happen, but that would not be my build strategy.)

I’m wondering about some discard too. I’m looking at how you could include some number of Cabal Therapies and Gitaxian Probes. 3 and 3? Because it gives you something to do with your extra creatures when you draw them. Though I see what you’re doing there with Hammer Mage. Well done sir. (Think, turn three: Attack with Kataki, cast Therapy, Sac Kataki and Therapy again, Play your second Kataki and say go… all for the low low price of three mana… Discard can put even the best decks into topdeck mode pretty often. Not where you want to be if you’re facing down a pair of bears. You could even late game hardcast Spirit Guides to flashback a Therapy.)

Welp, good luck fighting the good fight man. I’m bringing Oath so pack in those Priests and Cages… and Aegis. Good card. 😉

Here’s Steve’s Primer

last edited by Topical_Island

@Topical_Island said:

I like your list. Rather than starting with, take out this and add a pinch of that, I just want to point out a design principle that really hurts these sort of hatebear decks. That is, their best cards don’t “stack”. They don’t get better as you see more of them. Thalia, Null Rod/Stoney silence, Kataki (Which you should include), Containment Priest, and Aegis of the Gods all are staples because of their effect, and yet those effects get no better when you see a second copy of the card.

So I just wanted to respond to this comment because I find it a fascinating look into hatebears as an archetype. I ran a list at Vintage Champs last year that operated on the principle that, if I was resolving my lock pieces, that would be enough to get there even if their effects didn't stack. This worked because:

A) Some of them did (Chalice being the big one)
B) The effects in concert were so powerful that most players couldn't find a way to squeeze out of the lock.

That list had crazy game states like Grand abolisher + Thalia + Stony + Chalice @1 finishing with Knight of the Reliquary for Waste-lock. That list operated as a control deck pretty smoothly.

With the restriction of Chalice, however, hatebear decks cannot really take this approach anymore and "stackability" becomes a more sought after quality in a card.

I think I may have solved this with a more aggro approach. This is my updated 5-C aggro humans list that I already posted in the "Human Stompy" Thread. However, this version is brand new and goes pretty balls-to-the-walls aggro with "stackable" effects. See if you can find the effects that stack in the deck and why they are good in more than 1 copy.

Human Stompy

Land (19):
4 Mana Confluence
4 City of Brass
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Ancient Ziggurat

Fast Mana (7):
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Lotus Petal

Creatures (34):
4 Mother of Runes
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Dark Confidant
4 Containment Priest
3 Qasali Pridemage
4 Mantis Rider
4 Scab-Clan Berserker
3 Reflector Mage

3 Stony Silence
3 Izzet Staticaster
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Trygon Predator
3 Rest in Peace

@Stormanimagus That's awesome you played hatebears at Vintage Champs. Big guts there. I would have loved to see people slap their heads as they realize they are playing bears. "This is happening... we're gonna let this happen..."

I'm liking your list. Obviously naming humans off of cavern is very powerful. Again, it leaves me wondering if some of the non-lock pieces got cut for even more lock pieces as singletons. Aegis, Mindcensor, Kataki and Stony Silence are all huge problems. I think a lot of people forget how good Aegis is against Oath and Storm, as well as having Dredge players Cabaling themselves... All that said, it is a cool archetype.

Check out the list that won in Australia.

last edited by Topical_Island

@Topical_Island You pointed very well one of the problems with hate cards: second card with same effect is often a pearled unicorn. Gaddock and kataki are great, but you only want 1. Same with thalia, but you could happily play glowrider.

Hatebears is getting close to critical mass, or it was getting close until pyromancer and mentor broke into vintage. While playing 4 of each was a good decision back in time, now it could be better to play 3 or even 2 of non-stackable effects. One of the best things to do is to blank opponent's cards, but also try not to blank own cards.

Playing 7 one time mana seems a bad idea. Not playing caverns, even if the creatures types don't overlap, also seems a bad idea unless there is no FOW in your meta. And playing non-hate cards (aggro) could work, but the building and the deck playing should be really different.

@xouman I'm watching the Meandeck Open live on Twitch from Sandusky Ohio, and Delver just beat Oath in the top 4 after boarding in Containment Priest, Aegis of the Gods, and Stony Silence and resolving them all in the last game to lock out Oath. It even beat an active Jace and Sylvan Library, but the Oath player couldn't find Pernicious Deed in time... Pretty awesome.

last edited by Topical_Island

@Topical_Island Tony Silence is a dangerous hitman.

So i was playing in that event (not hatebears sadly) and the more I think about the meta that reflected, the more I feel like a hatebears deck, might be where I want to be, if i don't want to be playing fast combo, and I don't want to be playing mentor. The biggest problem if this is the meta, is the actual card Monastery Mentor, because it can just do so much work against decks like this.

One thing I liked about this deck wrt "dead" cards is that they can be pitched to hammer mage. The other thing I wanted to say is that if containment priest, or aegis of the gods is good in a matchup, the second one isn't actually dead, since it attacks for 2. Thalia and stony silence are the only cards that truly feel dead to me for their second copies, but the effects are so powerful that I don't want to necessarily go below 3 of them?

So if hammer mage is no longer a necessity and the meta is shifting toward faster combo, toward a kevin cron style mentor deck with remora, or toward Oath I think a different build is called for.

It is possible that filling the role that shops has been filling might be a realistic thing to do. It sucks that we don't have chalice of the void to help us do that but there really are a lot of powerful effects in these colors for slowing down or full on stopping the various plans that decks are running at the moment.

Does anyone have good ideas for a deck that doesn't have to worry as much about beating shops as these have in the past?


Look at my list a couple posts up from this one. It has been testing really well and I've been testing the crap out of it.

It consistently gets insane openers like turn 1 thalia into turn 2 Scab-Clan Berserker swing for 4 and now ping your opponent for 2 every time they cast a non-creature spell. Mantis Rider is a way to fly over mentor tokens for the last 4-8 damage in the late game. This deck does sometimes lose to Mentor, but I've found that I mainly lose to turn 1 Mentor or turn 1 Recall + Lotus bullshit. Most decks lose to that fast an opening. This deck against an average opener from Mentor tends to lead to fascinating grindy games. I will be updating the primer for the deck in the Human Stompy Thread very soon.


Yep, I was awake until Belcher won delver in the finals (past 2AM here), and saw the white army. But it was pretty lucky to draw one of each, and indeed it was really close to have all his toard swept by deed (no pun intended).

The problem is that is not always easy to draw 1 of each relevant bear, and they are sensible to mass removal. In order to avoid the removal, some players are intending to close the match quickly, thus playing more aggro (@Stormanimagus , for example). Given a mox in starting hand, It's not the same attacking for 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 that attacking for 0, 2, 6, 12 (providing thalia, any bear, mayor, mantis). You are saving 1 full turn pushing the aggro.

Yes you do save a turn, but in that same hand -thalia + any other attacking guy, you suddenly are not preventing your opponent from doing much of anything. I think it is better to constrict your opponent like Stax, or even more appropriately like terra nova used to. This is why I wish we had a more consistent way to cast Vryn Wingmare (white Spirit guide I lament your non existence), but I think other similar effects are powerful. This is why things like leonin arbiter and gorilla shaman are interesting to me, since they further constrict mana.

How much work could Illness in the Ranks do against Mentor? Do you think you could get them to board out Missteps against you?

@mediumsteve said:

How much work could Illness in the Ranks do against Mentor? Do you think you could get them to board out Missteps against you?

Most players don't have a singular clue how to board against creatures and this can really work to our disadvantage. We expect them to play optimally and side out missteps but they don't cause they don't have enough to side in and don't look at their containment priests as viable side-ins even though they are way better than missteps. This is something I struggle with a lot building this sort of deck. Most players make bonehead sideboarding calls vs. us and this can lead to the "oops I have the misstep" play way more than I'd like.


I need to amend my previous scoffing at goblin sharpshooter. I tested it today against mentor and it's good. I also tested it against Gush-Pyromancer where it is of course, insane. So... my bad. Honestly I didn't see what you were going for earlier. In addition, I think we need to start attacking Mentor at a more fundamental level than just attacking the creature. The reason that deck is so good is that its running probably the best draw engine in vintage right now. Kill the engine, kill the deck. I recommend at least a singleton main board Spirit of the Labyrinth, which turns Gush, Ancestral, Brainstorm, Preordain, Ponder, Dig, and Sylvan Library into junk or worse than junk. And hurts Jace a lot.

@Topical_Island thanks for testing the card, i had inkling it would be at least decent, but it had been better than i thought in testing despite the scoffing i got from some of my fellow vintage players.

I have been looking hard at hatebears in the new meta, and I think I have a list I like, though it isn't Mardu and it isn't unpowered. I kind of want to switch this thread to hatebears in general, but if people would rather I started a new thread I would accept that also. In any event, this is my most recent list:

4 Cavern of Souls
1 Strip Mine
3 Containment Priest
3 Stony Silence
4 Leonin Arbiter
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Pearl
2 Plains
4 Wasteland
2 Mother of Runes
3 Aegis of the Gods
4 Spirit of the Labyrinth
2 Kataki, War's Wage
4 Simian Spirit Guide
1 Mox Ruby
4 Plateau
2 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Batterskull
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Judge's Familiar

SB: 4 Leyline of Sanctity
SB: 2 Path to Exile
SB: 3 Rest in Peace
SB: 3 Goblin Sharpshooter
SB: 1 Umezawa's Jitte
SB: 1 Stoneforge Mystic
SB: 1 Viashino Heretic

So I agree, in this new meta especially having access to Spirit of the Lab is too important to skimp on. I also added in Leonin Arbiter as a hatebear against Doomsday, as well as, another way to hate on what I anticipate to be shakier mana bases in the lessened Workshop meta. The other card I am testing in this build is Judge's Familiar as a pseudo sphere against things the opponent has to resolve to win. This deck is try to hit the mana of every deck in the format a lot harder than previous versions of hatebears and trying to constrict just how much Mentor can do to get going, while keeping a strong eye on combo.

@garbageaggro I strongly encourage you to make room for one Chalice of the Void, it is killer to just drop at zero when you're on the play (which is what got it restricted), as well as being so annoying for most decks when you set it at 1... especially given the low 1 mana spells you run along with a ton of 2s.

Seems reasonable, but i am really not liking kataki. I was testing against Doomsday and I was surprised by how much game the deck had. I think cutting kataki for hammer mage and then playing chalice seems real interesting.

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