[Developing] Budget Vintage: Unpowered White Hatebears

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What do you mean by.... "Budget"?
  3. Core
  4. Card Discussions
  5. Basic Features, Strengths/Weaknesses
  6. How to Play/Matchups
  7. 'Current' Metagame Analysis (Last Updated August 1, 2016)
  8. How to Defeat this deck
  9. Things to Try
  10. Things I've Tried
  11. Why U No?
  12. Sample Maindeck
  13. Upgrade Sequence
  14. 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.

3. Core

Enlightened TutorMother of Runes Dryad Militant Judge's Familiar Grand AbolisherThalia, Guardian of Thraben Leonin Arbiter Vryn Wingmare Ethersworn Canonist Eidolon of Rhetoric Spirit of the Labyrinth Phyrexian Revoker Leonin Relic-Warder Null Rod Stony Silence Ghostly Prison Mental Misstep Path to Exile Strip Mine Ghost Quarter Simian Spirit Guide Elvish Spirit Guide Lotus Petal Plains

-----------------------------------------------------Sideboard Options:--------------------------------------------------

Swords to Plowshares Aegis of the Gods Serene Master Suppression Field Windborn Muse Sol Ring

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.

last edited by Brass Man

5. Basic Features, Strengths/Weaknesses


Pros: Basic lands blank all of your opponent’s Wastelands. Crucible+Wasteland can be on the table and I don’t bat an eye. If an opponent uses Path to Exile or Ghost Quarter, the deck actually has basics and can use them to get ahead. No fetchlands means Leonin Arbiter doesn't tax your manabase. Being one color means you always have the color of mana you need. No moxen or lotus means Null Rod is 98% one sided (the single Lotus Petal keeps this from being 100%). For that reason, topdeck mode is extremely favorable because no matter what situation you’ve locked them out of, you have the ability to cast most of your deck under a Null Rod.

Cons: Acceleration comes in the form of Spirit Guides mostly. These have major downsides as they are off-color, are essentially 2-for-1 on yourself, can't be cast, and are extremely useless past turn 4 or 5. No fetchlands means that it’s easier to become mana starved, and to flood out. I feel that with the cost of the spells in this deck, I have reached an optimum number of Plains to prevent either from happening too often, but it still does happen, and can ruin a match. Being Mono-white means we have absolutely no access to cantrips, no access to direct damage, only one good tutor, and we miss out on a lot of synergies.

Assessment: The Spirit Guides have been amazing, but the downsides show themselves fairly quickly. Having basics is a net positive, because it blanks any strategy that relies on Wasteland, which quite a few decks do. Ultimately I’m hoping to test a powered version with Pearl and Lotus in addition to the Lotus Petal and see whether Null Rod/Stony Silence is creating a conflict with artifact-based acceleration.


Pros: Duress rarely hits anything good. Selected creatures are simultaneously lock pieces and power/toughness on the board, increasing your clock, decreasing theirs and protecting you at the same time, ending up with a deck full of cards that are virtual card advantage. As a result, topdecks have a greater impact, and when you go into topdeck mode your are far more comfortable than you would be with other decks. An opponent’s Thorns and Thalias (and your own) don’t tax your deck nearly as much as they would other decks. The deck is very easy to play, you don’t need to worry about whether or not to tap your mana on your first main phase, the correct choice more than half the time is to throw out a Thalia, Arbiter, or Spirit before attacking.

Cons: Dependence on white creatures means that a lot of Sideboard hate against Mentor gets boarded in by opposing players and actually works against your deck (Massacre, Sulfur Elemental, Dread of Night). Your locks have legs, and those legs can be Bolted and Swords’d… Almost all of them. The creatures you depend on, some of them are Enchantments and Artifacts as well, so pretty much any removal whatsoever will be put to 100% use against your deck.

Assessment: Thus far, Mentor has been the worst. They have access to the best spot removal in the game and they put it all to good use against your deck, your only real defense against this is Mother of Runes and hopefully Misstepping a bolt/plow. Being non-blue is a real downside to playing this deck, especially since you are mostly one-creature-per-turn, an opponent can effectively nullify an entire series of turns for you if you can't fight on the stack. This leads to some pretty horrid matchups, enough so that I’m contemplating testing Mana Tithe for some damage control.

Minor Features:

Few activated abilities, other than Mother of Runes, Lotus Petal, and Ghost Quarter. Revoker/Pithing Needle is plainly a dead card against our deck, and Suppression Field is probably most effective in the deck, and sometimes acts as an additional Null Rod/Stony Silence against Divining Top, Triskelion, Ravager, etc.

More extreme/varying mana taxation that is mostly one-sided. In this deck, as opposed to something like Shops, simply by having Null Rod and Leonin Arbiter, we have the ability to shut off fetchlands, Moxen, Lotus, and other mana sources. These cards only slightly affect your deck. Combine that with the Thorn effects from Thalia and Wingmare, which also don’t hit you very hard, as well as Ghost Quarter, there is a more complete and more one-sided mana denial strategy at work than in other decks. The only mana denial that works against our deck is Strip Mine, Lodestone Golem, and Sphere of Resistance, but their strategy can fall flat, generally because they need Wasteland to work.

No card draw or cantrips. This has the effect that most of the creatures in the deck whose abilities don’t stack but are useful against a large number of decks are 3-ofs. Depending on the deck, your success depends on being able to realistically draw a business card off of your one-card-per-turn limit. You must weigh variance with reliability.

6. How to Play/Matchups

This deck requires very few calculations in order to pull off and play properly, and is generally very forgiving of misplays, which is perfect for a new player. Since we can’t really fight counter battles, much of the game consists of putting creatures on the stack and seeing what sticks. In most games, the hardest decision to make is, “Which creature would be the best against my opponent’s deck, and at this turn in the game?” and further, “Which creature can I afford to lose if they are holding Force of Will?” Even if you end up choosing the wrong creature, the second, or sometimes third best creature in your hand will still hurt/delay your opponent and may give you an extra turn or two. Essentially, you need to play the deck as much as possible and pay attention to what gets removed and what people tend to name with Cabal Therapy (which almost always will be Thalia) and focus on playing those cards.

Against Dark Petition Storm:

  • This is our best matchup. Nearly anything you do you will tax them. They need to cantrip, which means Spirit of the Labyrinth is excellent, they need to cast as many spells each turn as possible, which means Ethersworn Canonist is excellent, they need to play cheap spells which means Misstep is excellent, they need to make use of artifacts for explosive turns which means Null Rod is good (although Moxen are free storm generators), they need Dark Petition mana and Yawgmoth’s Will which means Dryad Militant is an extremely effective turn 1 play, they need to Tutor and fetch, which means Leonin Arbiter is excellent, and obviously Thalia and Wingmare are both excellent.
  • Keep hands with turn 1 plays in every matchup, but this becomes more important against Storm. Their deck can go off turn 1, and their ability to go off goes up dramatically on each successive turn. Spirit Guides are awesome. The good news is that virtually no matter what play you make you will be crippling their deck.
  • Don’t worry about removal. Or counterspells. Second game there might be a Chain of Vapor or a Hurkyl’s Recall in the mix, but these don’t always work for them. For instance, you have a Canonist, Thalia, and Null Rod out, and they slam a Hurkyl’s. They’re still dealing with Thalia, who alone can break the deck.
  • How to spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Gitaxian Probe, followed by Underground Sea or Polluted Delta. Also “devil may care” mana accel like Mana Crypt on turn 1 means they don’t expect the game to last long.
  • Keep opening hands with Spirit Guides and Missteps. Sideboard out all your removal spells, and if you have Aegis of the Gods in the SB, board it in, but that’s insult to injury at this point.

Against Oath

  • This is a good matchup for us. I’d say it was a great matchup, but I’ve lost every game I’ve played against Brian Kelly 😉 . A lot of this match consists of holding Path to Exile, Mental Missteps (to protect your Paths from other Missteps), and Leonin Relic Warders to handle Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Oath. My advice is to hold these cards until they become absolutely necessary to drop. If you don’t have Relic Warders to get rid of the Oath, don’t fret… Try exiling what they Oath up. If it works, it’s sometimes better than stealing their Oath. Ghost Quarter is decent against Mana Confluence/City of Brass and Forbidden Orchard, but many Oath decks will have 1 or 2 basics. If you're not ready to handle an Oath'd creature, Path to Exile-ing your own creatures/spirit tokens is more than decent, sometimes.
  • Oath decks that like to diversify win conditions become more challenging. I guess here is where I’ll talk about Jace... Jace is a very good card against our deck, so when he comes out, your chances of winning are slimmed down considerably. The game becomes far more complex with a Jace in play. These are difficult decisions, but in Game 1 it’s very difficult to nullify a Planeswalker card. Game 2, you have Suppression Field. Dack is situationally VERY good against our deck, and also very bad. If you play a Spirit of the Labyrinth, prepare to be the target for his +1 ability, and lose your hand. Without a Spirit, Dack is only marginally bad for normal reasons, they can steal your Canonist or your Null Rod, but their effect is still in play until they manage to find Tinker.
  • Don’t concede to anything (except Emrakul). First of all, after two-three Oath activations, if they get that far, they might not have enough answers left in their deck and graveyard to deal with whatever you’re throwing out there. I’ve had several games where they’ve taken 14 life from a Griselbrand just to draw 7 cards with Path to Exile on the stack. Even if they find the best cards left in their deck, they are possibly two to three turns away from dying.
  • How to spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Mana Confluence, City of Brass. Forbidden Orchard is a dead giveaway.
  • Keep opening hands with Path to Exile, Mental Misstep and Leonin Relic Warder, optionally Phyrexian Revoker. Dryad Militant is also pretty good against Oath, it prevents them from flashing back Ancient Grudge and other cards, and makes Yawgmoth's Will much worse. Sideboard in Suppression Field if you see Jace or Dack anywhere (check the graveyard post-Oath activation). Sideboard in any extra creature or artifact removal, and Aegis of the Gods (which can stop Oath).

Against Tezzeret and Welder

  • This is an easy matchup for us, but it can get out of hand very quickly. Tinker is a tough card to combat without fighting on the stack, and if they manage to pull one off quick enough, you could be facing down a Blightsteel Colossus, or Vault/Key. Tezzeret is also pretty difficult to combat since you have exactly one turn after it comes down to find an answer to Time Vault. Luckily you have a few options.
  • Null Rod/Stony is almost always game over for them. Even with Tezz out and untapping all the Time Vaults in the world, they can’t activate them. Their manabase sometimes consists of artifact lands, which won’t be able to tap for mana. The rest of the mana is Moxen. You can try to hold on to Null Rods as long as possible, but because you can’t really surprise them with it on their turn, I’d suggest throwing it out there turn 2, and if you have to, turn 3. If they continue playing, they’re most likely trying to tinker for something, or they have artifact removal in their deck, at that point all you really need to do is play your deck the way it plays, maybe leaving mana open to Path Blightsteel if needed.
  • How to Spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Seat of the Synod, a non p9 Mox (Chrome Mox or Mox Opal). All of this is a dead giveaway, but you can be absolutely sure if a Thirst for Knowledge or a Thoughtcast gets put in the stack.
  • Keep opening hands with Null Rod(s), Phyrexian Revoker, Leonin Relic Warder. Sideboard in additional Null Rod, Suppression Field, side out Canonist.

Against Ravager Shops

  • This is another easy matchup, provided you get key cards early enough. They will try to successfully put you off of plays with Spheres and Thorns as long as possible until they can get out a Tangle Wire and lock you down for a few turns, then go in with a Triskelion. Tangle Wire can be really bad, or it can just delay the rest of the game, depending on how you play it, and if you have land drops.
  • Shut them down: Arcbound Ravager, Triskelion, and Hangarback Walker. This makes Phyrexian Revoker especially good against Ravager Shops, there’s almost always a great target. If you have options of what to target, Triskelion is always first since they can get rid of your Revoker and anything else you decide to play. Since you’re both playing the same kind of Prison/Aggro strategy, find the ways that you are actually better at their game then they are, and surprise them with it. For example, if you have good reason to believe they will be playing a Tangle Wire, hold your potential Strip Mines and Ghost Quarters until the Wire comes down, then get rid of Workshop. They’ll be off broken plays until they find another one or until the Tangle Wire fades away. You also have removal, and can play Path to Exile, if you can afford to, and not worry about it being countered. Almost their entire cast of creatures and artifacts can be stolen with Relic Warder, and their plan of Ravager+Triskelion is shut completely off if you throw down Null Rod. Both decks get to topdeck mode fairly quickly, but our topdecks are far better in the matchup, especially if Null Rod is in play.
  • Scoop when they put Chalice of the Void on 2. There’s nothing you can do, short of boarding in Abolish, which I don’t believe is worth the slot.
  • How to Spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Ancient Tomb… Dead giveaways are a Sphere of Resistance, Mishra’s Workshop, Thorn of Amethyst.
  • Keep opening hands with Null Rod, Ghost Quarter/Strip Mine, 1 more land than you’d normally find acceptable, Leonin Relic Warder. Board out Ethersworn Canonist, Mental Misstep, Spirit of the Labyrinth (These are all options, but at the very least they act as bodies so it might be good to keep them in, depending on the situation and your sideboard). Board in extra Null Rods/Stony Silence, Serene Master, Suppression Field, Ghostly Prison, Archangel of Tithes.

Against Mentor:

  • This is our worst matchup, bar none. Because Mentor has access to Blue, White, and some of the time Red, they have access to some of the best removal available in the format, and our deck is vulnerable to all of it. Not only that, they can fight on the stack, which you can’t, and they can choose which of your creatures come into play to be handled later. Our deck is better against various builds of Mentor, but most of the time they have to biff it pretty hard for you to win.
  • Against most Gush decks that try to cantrip out, there’s almost nothing you can do except wait until it’s your turn or a Spirit of the Labyrinth sticks. A lot of the time they’re looking for a blue card for Force of Will, the next combo piece, or just looking for card advantage. Yawn, watch them dig through their deck, see if the next creature you play sticks. The issue with Mentor is that most of the time they’re able to cantrip into really good answers to your threats. For every time they don’t have a Force of Will, they have a Lightning Bolt. For every time they have neither of them, they have Swords to Plowshares. For every Canonist you play, they have Ingot Chewer and Ancient Grudge, for every Spirit of the Labyrinth, they have Disenchant. My main suggestions would be to try to not fall behind as long as possible. Keep hands with Misstep, Path, and sac your Judge’s Familiars if they’ve played a land that turn, even if they have mana to spare. Your creatures will eat tons of removal, and if you can’t misstep everything and something is going to the yard, you can Path to Exile on your own creature on the stack. Yes, that is honestly what I recommend, especially if you are holding a second Path in hand for Mentor. If you believe in deck thinning, it can only help you draw what you need, and it will help you make bigger plays should you come across a Ghostly Prison or an Archangel of Tithes. Although Ghost Quarter is really bad in this matchup since a lot of Mentor decks run basic Islands, I have used it to keep opponents off white or red mana. Mother of Runes is a champ here, but she very often dies before she can tap or gets Misstepped.
  • I’ve tried several SB cards with varying degrees of success:
    Balance seems to be the favorite white sideboard option against Mentor, but it’s been difficult to pull off thus far, the collateral damage is almost not worth it, and if it leaves one of your creatures in play, they get to keep Mentor and start over again. We also don’t have tutors for Sorceries in our deck, so finding it at the optimal moment is near impossible unless it’s in your opening hand.
    Ratchet Bomb is decent against the tokens, but it gets turned off by your own Null Rod. Not the best. If you choose this, or Engineered Explosives, you’d be better off boarding out all but one Null Rod.
    Wing Shards works decently well (another recommendation by @Uvatha ), it has no collateral damage, and can be good against an all out attack, but it’s pretty difficult to cast at 3 CMC, especially under Thorn effects.
    Ghostly Prison is a good card against Mentor, but if it gets removed, it’s almost always game over.
    Archangel of Tithes is excellent when it actually gets cast.
    Windborn Muse is excellent, too.
  • Would be very open to suggestions to make this matchup much better. I will be testing Magus of the Moat soon.

Against Eldrazi:

  • The Eldrazi matchup can be very difficult. Their ability to put a lot of power/toughness into play and immediately swing with it is something our deck is far from prepared for. Their deck also doesn’t depend on cantrips, and can’t be hated out as easily with Canonist and Spirit of the Labyrinth. They don’t run much removal and no counterspells to speak of, which blanks our Grand Abolishers and our Mother of Runes (which don’t work anyway, due to Eldrazi being colorless). Eldrazi are also not artifacts, so Null Rod/Stony Silence does almost nothing against their decks. Most of the meat-and-potatoes Eldrazi also come with enter-the-battlefield triggers and not activated abilities, so if you decide to board in Suppression Field, you only hit things like Endbringer and Eldrazi Displacer, hardly the best targets. Thalia and Wingmare hit nothing of consequence, and in fact, they’ll most likely be running out Thorns of their own. What do ya do?
  • Game 1, the best suggestions I have is to think of your Canonists, your Spirits, anything that has legs but also does nothing against an Eldrazi deck as completely disposable. Block the onslaught until you’re pretty sure you can’t win, then scoop.
  • Games 2 and 3, you can sideboard in quite a bit. If you happen to already have Wastelands, these are absolutely a game changer against an opposing Eldrazi deck, along with the full compliment of Strip Mines and Ghost Quarters. Without their fast mana, the Eldrazi deck has no gas. The main issue is that this is a budget deck, and with Wastelands still hovering around 200 USD for a playset, It doesn’t really fit. Although if you are a new player and have bought this deck, and are looking for more game against Eldrazi, Wastelands are the way forward. That and Serene Master. A Serene Master on the battlefield can buy some measure of time. Archangel of Tithes and Ghostly Prison in conjunction with Waste/Strip/Ghost Quarter can also halt the onslaught. I’d also recommend boarding in any extra W removal, mainly to handle Thought-Knot Seer and turn 3-4 Endless Ones. Cards that are still decent and shouldn’t be cut are Leonin Relic Warder, Leonin Arbiter, Path to Exile and any/all fliers, in this matchup, fliers are your lone win condition. Everything else is situationally bad and just needs to be there to absorb damage. Not the most eloquent game plan, but it surprisingly works.
  • How to spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Eldrazi Temple or Eye of Ugin, into Eldrazi Mimic.

Against Landstill:

  • We are very well-positioned against Landstill. The combination of putting them off Wasteland, having a large number of creature removal spells available, and having Spirit of the Labyrinth on our side as well as land destruction options before sideboarding means you can ignore Standstill if you need to and just play the game and win.
  • Spirit of the Labyrinth is an absolute champ in this matchup, I have had opposing Landstill players scoop at the sight of it. Manlands are no problem, because before sideboarding, we effectively have 9 cards in our deck that handle them. One strategy to get rid of Mishra’s Factory, if you don’t have Path or a Ghost Quarter, is to attack with a creature you know can die against their untapped factory (hopefully one that does nothing against the deck, like Canonist or Arbiter). They might block/pump depending on their life total, and you can steal it on your second main phase with a Relic-Warder. I wouldn’t even mention this because it sounds like a corner case and is a 2-for-1, but this has come up in almost every match I’ve had against Landstill. This also means that you can feel free to swing in and deal some damage in otherwise less-than optimal situations. The more Warders you use this way, the more your Ghost Quarter and Paths are saved for other threats. Thalia seems like a dumb card in this matchup but her First Strike ability can almost single-handedly win games. The fliers are also essential for doing damage every turn. This does change a bit against U/R Landstill, but not by much. Their win condition is almost always some form of Manland, and apart from that, they can cantrip into more cantrips, Time Walk and Ancestral away and your game plan doesn’t change. They have minor spot removal and some counters, but this is no different than playing against any other blue deck. U/R Landstill is special in that it is a deck where if they play Jace, I am 100% ignoring him. All he can do is draw cards that draw more cards, or bounce your Spirit of the Labyrinth to play a Standstill, which will draw more cards that draw more cards. Low impact. Dack always sucks if you have a Spirit out, which you will, but the worst that could happen is you enter topdeck mode, and our deck has a tendency to have great draw steps. Also, if Dack is out, they will be incentivized not to kill the Spirit to keep you at 0 cards in hand, and you can attack away.
  • How to spot it Game 1 Turn 1: Faerie Conclave and Mishra’s Factory rarely come out turn 1, but if they do, that’s a dead giveaway. U/R Landstill looks a lot like so many other decks it’s hard to tell sometimes which one it is. I don’t think there’s a good indicator until you see Standstill itself or a Mishra’s Factory or other manlands.
  • Keep opening hands with removal (Ghost Quarter, Strip Mine, Path to Exile) and Spirit of the Labyrinth. Sideboard out non-fliers, Canonist and Arbiter don’t really matter here, and sideboard in Suppression Field against Jace, Dack, and manland activations.

Against Belcher:

  • We hardly have to do anything. In decks that feature mana acceleration, a turn one Null Rod, Thalia 1.0, Vryn Wingmare, or Phyrexian Revoker (naming Goblin Charbelcher) are absolutely win conditions. It is a glass cannon, after all, and you can turn off the cannon pretty easily. In decks that don't feature acceleration, they might have up to 2 turns to assemble the combo depending on the coin flip which isn't optimal, but so many of our cards deal with theirs that it's difficult not to come through on top.
  • How to spot it Game 1 T 1: They will do nothing. No land drops, nothing. Only in Belcher decks is a mana-less hand a keeper. They could also mull down to two or three cards very quickly. Another indicator is Grim Monolith, as I haven't seen it in any other list.
  • Keep opening hands with Null Rod or Thalia 1.0. Sideboard out any Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares, Sideboard in Suppression Field, and if you have any Phyrexian Revokers in the SB, get them in too.

Too early to tell about Dredge, but the few games I played against it were in my favor. More to come as I encounter more decks.

last edited by Dumpsterac1d

7. 'Current' Metagame Analysis (Last Updated August 1, 2016)

The Sad News. Due to the matchup against Mentor, I don't think this deck, or other Monowhite Hatebears, has a real fighting chance in the current meta. In the past week I have been tweaking the deck to shore this matchup up, but around 1/2 of the matches I played against were Mentor, and of those I won maybe 1/10. According to TCDecks.net, as of 8/1/16, Mentor is the top performing archetype in paper Magic with 8 top 8s in the last 30 days. I checked out the last 30 events that included Mentor, and 27/30 decks made it to the top 8. According to MtgGoldfish.com, as of 8/1, roughly 21% of the MTGO metagame currently runs Monastery Mentor. This is Mentor's moment, and short of a new printing or new bannings in the format, it looks to be there for quite some time.

I have tried several budget configurations to help shore this matchup up but all have been varying degrees of unsuccessful. Mentor's ability to stop our plays, while simultaneously adding significant power/toughness on the board with every Counterspell and Swords to Plowshares is far too powerful for a monowhite deck to handle. Nearly every other matchup is either a toss-up, really good for us, or good enough that, under the right circumstances and making decent plays, we can overcome. An example would be decks that run Pyromancer. Pyromancer comes out a turn earlier but the assault generally gets halted/delayed by dropping one 2/2 on your side, and trying to keep pace with a Pyro deck is much easier. They are also less likely to run maindeck Swords to Plowshares.

Our deck is also tied to Mentor's success/failure. Oddly enough, even though the strategies are very different between the decks, any likely new printings that could help our deck also have the potential to help their deck. Mentor's dominance right now also means that decks run a lot of hate specifically against Mentor, some of which directly affects our game plan, like boarding in Dread of Night and Sulfur Elemental, which can outright kill Thalia 1.0, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Dryad Militant/Judge's Familiar, and Vryn Wingmare, and put us off those plays until they're dealt with.

Until something drastic happens to the Vintage metagame (and I think that the meta is currently pretty stable, with Mentor at the top), be prepared to lose some rough/unfun matches, or switch to a new deck. I'll keep working on this deck with the full knowledge that nothing's going to get better or worse until something gets banned or someone figures out how to nuke the strategy well enough that Mentor becomes a bad deck to play.

8. How to Defeat this deck

Fetching basics is a misplay. Don't do it. I have seen many players somehow equate Ghost Quarter with Wasteland and if I managed to GQ one of their lands and they get a Basic, I'm just doing it to keep them off of a color. With all your basics in play, my Path to Exiles become drawback-less Plows and my Ghost Quarters become Strip Mines. Keep them in your deck so you don't fall behind, and you might actually get ahead curve.

Learn to effectively play with an Ethersworn Canonist/Eidolon of Rhetoric on the battlefield. It gets scarier when Grand Abolisher is out, too. Eidolon, if you're playing Mentor especially, is a rough card. On it's own, it can limit the amount of tokens generated by each Mentor to one-per-turn. You also run a lot of creature removal which becomes dicey. If there's an Eidolon and you need to get rid of it, do yourself a favor and wait to cast the Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, etc until I have put a play on the stack. Responding to anything with a removal spell is 100% the way to do it, and I can't count the number of times a Mentor player will try and kill something during their turn using a Plow, and I have a Mental Misstep, and you can't respond to the misstep with your own. This interaction is weird, but it gets even weirder with a Grand Abolisher in play, essentially in two turns (mine and yours) you will only be able to use 1 spell. My suggestion is to counter Grand Abolisher if you can, or get rid of it as soon as possible.

Sideboard in any hate you might have against Mentor. Sometimes this doesn’t work, but Sulfur Elemental is pretty harsh to an opponent’s unpowered white weenie deck.

Removal is definitely key. If you are a deck that is light on removal and consistently dies to Hatebears decks, add cheap removal to your SB. If you’re playing Storm, you definitely need to think of spells like this as part of your Storm combo. If you’re not playing storm, are playing red, hate Null Rod, consider adding Ingot Chewer. Much of the protection this deck relies on is Misstep, which doesn’t work against Chewer.

Play planeswalkers. Yup. Until they print a Swords to Plowshares for planeswalkers in white, they will always be rough. Their abilities get around Thalia, they aren’t affected by Null Rod/Stony Silence, and they allow you to have a play every turn in an otherwise locked-down game.

Use Jace’s bounce ability. This is extremely annoying, especially since the deck is generally a 1-play-per-turn deck. Expect to have Jace absorb a few attacks after that.

If you’re playing a deck that scoops to Null Rod/Stony Silence, contemplate adding Surgical Extraction to the SB, especially if the metagame favors Null Rod decks (which I believe it currently does).

Be careful with fetchland openers. Or at the very least, play and crack them ASAP. Arbiter can shut off fetches and hurt your manabase as a result. You can get away with being on the play and depending on 2 fetches. After turn 2 there is a high likelihood an opponent will have Arbiter or will draw Arbiter and be able to play it. You can also trick them into thinking Arbiter is a great play if you use fetches, saving you a Thalia or Spirit of the Labyrinth turn.

Use Force of Will judiciously. This is a given, but it really matters here, especially if your only counters are Forces. Someone who knows the deck well can put me off the most hateful bears using Force of Will, someone who Forces a scary-looking creature might be surprised by what comes next. If your deck has a lot of counterspells, it’s a good idea to save one in your hand for Grand Abolisher, which will blank all of your counterspells until it’s dealt with.

Prepare to deal with Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares. If you’re running Misstep and have creature-based wincons, hold Misstep for the eventual removal spell.

If you’re playing Storm, go off on turn 1 or 2.

If you're playing a Mentor deck, don't worry, you got this.

If you’re playing on MTGO, shut off Arbiter BEFORE you try to fetch or search. The interface won’t prompt you to pay and you will throw away a land/tutor.

Cards that get around Spirit of the Labyrinth:
Scroll Rack
Dig Through Time
Any card that says “put X into your hand” instead of “draw”

More to come here too.

9. Things to try

Non-Budget cards (Kataki, War’s Wage, Wasteland) - these are both obviously good in this deck.

Thalia 2.0 - Can’t wait to test her.

Trinisphere, Chalice of the Void - With an Enlightened Tutor list, I think these would be fun cards to test.

10. Things I've Tried

Black Vise This card is good, but the slots are better given to something else. In a list that relies heavily on Enlightened Tutor and gets rid of Arbiter, I think it's a worthwhile card to have in the SB if there's room. I've had it win games, but also it's been dead. One thing that's good is you can redirect the damage to Planeswalkers if they play any, and I think this card is very good against Jace.

Magus of the Moat Never comes down. The SB slot is better given to something else.

11. Why U No?

Stoneforge Mystic/Battterskull/Jitte
Doesn’t combo with Leonin Arbiter. Equipment gets switched off by Null Rod/Stony Silence. Drawing Batterskull is terrible, and this deck needs great topdecks and as few dead draws as possible, least of all ones that are self-imposed and built into the main deck. Also, Batterskull is about 30 bucks online, Jitte is 30 bucks in paper.

Cavern of Souls
Doesn’t easily fit into the ‘budget’ category. Also this deck has too many different creature types for Cavern to be useful. There’s no need to fix mana, since the deck is monocolor. It’s almost more important to get safe land drops instead of ensuring our plays don’t get countered, and Cavern is vulnerable to Wasteland.

Gives an opponent something to do with Wasteland, which is pretty bad. Haven’t found a good reason to include it, maybe if a build had Kataki there would be more to do with the bounce effect, but I’ve found that a basic Plains is just better.

Thorn of Amethyst
The thing about Thorns on legs is that the cost doesn’t go up for successive Thorn effects. The number of times I’ve had to hold a really effective Null Rod play in my hand because Thalia/Wingmare have priced it out of reach are enough to come to the conclusion that more Thorns aren’t the way to go.

12. Sample Maindecks

Intro List:

“Bears”, 1 CMC:
2x Mother of Runes
2x Dryad Militant
2x Judge’s Familiar

“Bears” 2-3 CMC:
2x Grand Abolisher
3x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3x Leonin Arbiter
3x Vryn Wingmare
3x Ethersworn Canonist
3x Spirit of the Labyrinth
3x Phyrexian Revoker
4x Leonin Relic-Warder

3x Null Rod

4x Mental Misstep
4x Path to Exile

1x Strip Mine
4x Ghost Quarter
14x Plains

This list has no mana acceleration and does a pretty good job at giving you amazing topdecks. Synergy is near 100%, since there's no artifacts switched off by Null Rod. This list also has no Enlightened Tutors, which has two effects... One is that Leonin Arbiter becomes extremely good, and two is that good cards need to be 4-ofs since there's no way to fish them out and they must be drawn off the top. Not necessarily a great list, but it is very very consistent and very easy to play.

Quick List

2x Mother of Runes
2x Dryad Militant
2x Ethersworn Canonist
2x Spirit of the Labyrinth
3x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2x Grand Abolisher
4x Leonin Relic Warder
2x Phyrexian Revoker
2x Eidolon of Rhetoric
3x Vryn Wingmare

4x Null Rod/Stony Silence
1x Ghostly Prison

2x Enlightened Tutor
4x Mental Misstep
2x Path to Exile
1x Swords to Plowshares

3x Simian Spirit Guide
1x Lotus Petal

1x Strip Mine
4x Ghost Quarter
13x Plains

This list allows for a little bit more flexibility. With the Enlightened Tutors searching for things, this deck can make use of 1-ofs to a much greater effect and essentially diversify the deck without sacrificing a whole lot. One tradeoff is that Leonin Arbiter had to go, it became a liability in regard to Enlightened Tutor, and eliminating it made Ghost Quarter and Path to Exile much less good. This deck needs 4 Wastelands, which unfortunately aren't budget.

13. Upgrade Sequence

This deck is designed as a budget deck, but some readers might already have a few Vintage cards, or might want to work on acquiring more, or simply want to make the deck better. Here's some steps you can make to improve the deck:

Replace any Null Rods with Stony Silence. Null Rods have a tendency to get removed quickly, and Stony Silence is just better because less Vintage-played cards deal with it. This is an immediate upgrade if you went the Null Rod route.

Add Grafdigger's Cage, or even better, Containment Priest to the SB Both of these cards are extremely good against Dredge and Oath. One thing you need to decide, really is if you're playing this deck to help you get into Vintage, or if you're a big fan of Hatebears, Humans, or White Eldrazi. Priest is far better in these decks than Cage, but Cage is a better purchase because it easily goes into decks that don't run white.

Add Wastelands. Wasteland plays directly into the mana-denial strategy, and has many good targets in Vintage. If you have a full playset, I'd consider cutting two basics and two Ghost Quarters to make room for two more land destruction effects in the mainboard. If you feel like the deck could use all 4 Ghost Quarters, all 4 Wastelands and a Strip Mine, I'd recommend cutting a maximum of 3 Plains to make room, and one other underperforming card, which will usually be a metagame call.

More to come!

14. Thanks for reading!

Hopefully this will be updated once I get feedback and test a few more options. I repeat myself in several different sections, but I’m going to leave some of that in because it helps people find the info they need more quickly. I will say that my win rate has gone up with my current build, and that I’m confident that there’s enough in this deck to effectively deal with much of the current Vintage metagame, and there is enough room to improve on the basic shell and craft a sideboard that makes the deck better.

Good Luck!

last edited by Dumpsterac1d

Thanks for the writeup! This is indeed budget taken to the extreme! 🙂 I hope you can make it work.

I was the one you referred to regarding Serene Master and Wing Shards (I have abandoned Wing Shard due to the same conclusion you have arrived at). You can see my article on my build (non budget) under my profile.

Here is some more budget cards you could consider:

  • Eidolon of Rhetoric
  • Banisher Priest
  • Hidden Dragonslayer (tech suggested by Storm as far as I remember)
  • Porcelain Legionnaire
  • Intrepid Hero
  • Preacher

If you want to increase your chances of landing a bear turn 1, you could consider Simian Spirit Guides for non-artifact mana acceleration.

The best of luck!

Thanks, @Uvatha ! I'll edit ASAP. Serene Master has been super good. As I mentioned, going to try Magus of the Moat, which is theoretically great against Eldrazi as well as tokens. Castable? Not sure.

Thanks for putting this together. I read the first part and wanted to jump down here and tell you thanks for doing the work.

Really quickly I would add that Stony Silence is almost always better than Null Rod if you're playing White. There's just more artifact removal in Vintage than there is enchantment removal.

For instance, if you play Null Rod against TPS, they have a main deck Hurkyl's and Chain of Vapor for it. With Stony Silence, they'd have only Chain of Vapor as an out in game one, and not much more than that in games two and three.

Just a thought. You might want to add that on MTGO Null Rod is cheaper, but in paper I'm pretty sure the opposite is true 🙂 .

On second look, I think definitely adding a section of "upgrades" you could make once your budget allows would be cool. For example, Containment Priest is pretty important, unfortunately it's also very expensive.

Even without the extras though, this type of deck does a great job of preying on a lot of the decks.

@Islandswamp That is an excellent idea. I'll be adding that section tomorrow.

Also I think I mentioned it somewhere about Null Rod/Stony Silence and how SS is just better in general, but I think it's a good idea to address it (and the paper/mtgo cost difference) directly. Played a game today and realized how good Ancient Grudge is against Null Rod... That's the next upgrade for me.

Great write up! I love seeing the deck I engineered and piloted to its first Top 4 appearance back in 2011-2012 still being played and evolving. Back then I didn't have Dryad Militant, or any real one drops for that matter. I also didnt have Thalia, the card that glues the deck together. The deck was a Stoneforge Mystic based deck with 4X Chalice of the Void to help lock opponents down. Here is a link to the original incarnation of the deck that myself and my friend, who won the event, built:


One card that I'm surprised to not see, especially in your list is Abolish. Card single handedly won me Game 3 in my Top 8 match against Turbo Tezz.

Anyway, thank you for the excellent read and continue doing well with White Trash!

Great primer and as a long time White Trash player (since 2010-2011), I would love to see the deck do well. However, unfortunately the deck isn't very well positioned right now. As you mention, Mentor is the worst matchup and Mentor is all over the place. Honestly, this deck has less than 30% against Mentor in various forms. Eldrazi is also a very bad matchup and it's on the rise as well (until people find out that Eldrazi actually sucks).

I don't agree entirely on your assessment of the matchups. Oath isn't a good matchup, especially with the configuration you propose (but let me get back to that). It's winnable, but we're not a favorite to win. Shops isn't an easy matchup either. Pre-board you're a big underdog but post-board you're favored. However, usually you have to win both post-board games, which isn't easy to do.

I also don't agree that the deck is very forgiving. Because of the lack of pure power you have to play very tight, and mistakes are a lot harder to recover from than in many other decks. That said, once you learn the basics the deck is pretty straight forward to play and definitely not very complex in comparison with most other decks.

On some specific cards:

Mental Misstep: I've been back and fourth on this, and I never really came to a conclusion. I do think it's better now than when I played the deck a lot.
Abolish: You 100% need to play this card in a deck with no Cavern of Souls. Improves your Shops matchup dramatically.
Serenity: This card was also very good for me. Basically my plan against shops was to Abolish/Swords/Relic their threads until I could resolve a Serenity and from there it's usually pretty easy.
Stoneforge Mystic package: I found that this is not the route you wanna take. Fighting on power/toughness is not the way to go. It also takes up too many slots and have bad synergy with Arbiter and Stony Silence
Aven Mindcensor: This is another card that needs consideration. I think that my most succesful builds played 4 Arbiter and 2 Mindcensors.
Kataki, War's Wage: Yet another card that needs consideration. Not only because of the Shops matchup, but it also does a pretty good job against artifact acceleration and other stuff. Not a necessity though.
Acceleration in general: You need some sort of acceleration in your deck. Spirit Guides are good enough.
Grafdigger's Cage: I can't believe this card hasn't been mentioned yet. If there was one thing I found out playing this deck is that Grafdigger's is absolute necessary as a maindeck card. It stops Tinker and Oath - two of our biggest obstacles - and Yawgmoth's Will and hoses Dredge. That said, it's probably not as good now as it once was. You have replaced it with Militant, but in my experience, Militant isn't doing enough and it's a bad late game draw.

I hope you do well with the deck, there are not many better things in Vintage than beating your opponent with Plains 😄

last edited by JuzamJim

With the help of @Stormanimagus I've put together an unpowered build that seems to look very promising for budget players. Now this list isn't as budget as the OP lays out, but it is still Unpowered.

Here is the list:

"White Trash!"

5 Plains
4 Wasteland
4 Ghost Quarter
3 Cavern of Souls
2 Karakas
Strip Mine
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide

4 Mother of Runes

4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Leonin Arbiter
4 Phyrexian Revoker
3 Containment Priest
3 Spirit of the Labyrinth

3 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
3 Vryn Wingmare

3 Path to Exile
3 Stony Silence


4 Rest in Peace
3 Serene Master
3 Kataki, War's Wage
2 Aegis of the Gods
1 Stony Silence
1 Containment Priest
1 Path to Exile

The deck isn't playing certain cards because Noah and I have looked at them and feel they are simply suboptimal. Dryad Militant, while good IF played turn one ON the play against TPS is good, if they are on the play all they have to play is Probe and something else then Militant is almost useless, Spell Mastery is already met.
Leonin Relic Warder, while great against Shops and Oath, can easily become a two for one against you. Also the WW casting cost can be hindering for the deck when running 9 Strip Effects. With Leonin Relic Warder cut from the deck I wanted more ways to attack Oath, so I added 2 Karakas on top of the main deck Priests and sideboarded Aegis.
Cavern of Souls does a great job at pushing through creatures. It also lets us cast the 8 Spirit Guides as dudes if we want to apply more pressure.
I hope you guys enjoy the list, any thoughts would be appreciated!

This is quite a write-up. I don't think I will sleeve this deck anytime soon (not my style), but I just wanted to say that I am really impressed by this primer.

@msg67183 Funny thing, on MTGO Wastelands and Caverns are more expensive than power. So if you are going with "budget" in terms of online play, this is not very friendly 🙂

last edited by maciek16180

Is Containment Priest not a budget card? Priest is essential against Dredge, as otherwise you're leaning very heavily on having Militant on turn one, or catching your opponent by surprise with Ghostly Prison.

@evouga 10 bucks in paper, 35 online. On MTGO Commander sets usually have very limited print runs (or more like, you can't draft them, so there is less incentive for people to buy them from Wizards store as you can only buy entire decks).

last edited by maciek16180

@maciek16180 said:

This is quite a write-up. I don't think I will sleeve this deck anytime soon (not my style), but I just wanted to say that I am really impressed by this primer.

@msg67183 Funny thing, on MTGO Wastelands and Caverns are more expensive than power. So if you are going with "budget" in terms of online play, this is not very friendly 🙂

I don't play MTGO, so I don't use those prices for my determination of the word "budget"

So for my unpowered lists, because hitting two is so important I tend to run some acceleration in the form of lotus petals and 4-8 spirit guides. I would also say that new thalia has opened my eyes to the possibility of playing some number of ancient tombs, as that card is REALLY powerful.

Overall, I haven't been that impressed with Dryad Militant, as generally we have better ways to hate on graveyards and a 2/1 is not as impressive as it once was. I do like both Judge's Familiar and Mother some of the time, though the creature type on Judge's familiar is frustrating as I have found myself leaning quite a bit on cavern rather than grand abolisher.

These decisions are obviously related to playing more acceleration and having a harder time hitting WW rather than 1W but still I believe fall under the budget category. I agree with the inclusion of 2 mana thalia and revoker as the starting place of basically any hatebears list these days along side 4 waste and a strip mine, and I think there are build that are reasonable that include Leonin Arbiter (even 2 color!) I think there is a place for 2 color lists that run arbiter especially if they also run eldrazi, battlefield forge + plateau makes for a pretty reasonable mana base if you are trying to do that. There is also a neat trick with arbiter and Displacer where they pay for the first one, then before the search thing happens you displace the arbiter and they have to pay again.

I haven't been that impressed by wingmare and glowrider to date, though given the choice and my predilection for cavern I prefer glowrider, if you want the effect, in general, with acceleration in the form of spirit guides, I would rather play thorn and be able to play them on turn 1 more regularly.

Ethersworn Canonist has never impressed me much, because any deck you would side it in against is planning on answering artifacts/creature or both. I would much rather have something that doesn't get killed by everything, and that has a more powerful effect.

As someone already mentioned, for the mox hate I prefer Stony Silence, Revoker, and then red cards, Null Rod is easy to remove (relatively to Stony Silence) and LRW is hard to cast and not permanent, I am ok with that for revoker, because it is so much easier to cast. The red cards I referred to above are hammer mage, and gorilla shaman. Hammer Mage especially is quite good if you are playing cavern of souls and SSG.

In terms of cards you didn't mention, I said this at the top, but more acceleration, either spirit guides, petal, ancient tomb, sol ring, etc you can play new Thalia who is worth it! It makes a lot of the "bad matchups" you mentioned much better (eldrazi of a couple stripes and mentor). It also allows you to play some of the eldrazi in the form of Displacer, Matter Reshaper, and even TKS. All these cards have been pretty reasonable for me. Displacer especially is so awesome for combat math calculations and TKS if you play enough accel has proven to be quite good.

As for the the sideboard, white is the best sideboard color in Modern, Legacy and Vintage at the moment, but don't forget about non-white cards, especially in the form of Rav Traps, Leyline of the Void, and ots of relevant artifacts. I am not impressed by Suppression Field generally, because it turns off you own wastelands, and the best thing it does is turn off fetchlands early. Otherwise you mention some good ones, and seem to cover most of the good ones.

SOrry if this seems like a lot of comments, but I have been playing hatebears of various stripes for a long time, and I would love for people to start respecting it as an option, even when you aren't budget. It seems like you did a lot of good work, but it is important to consider other options even in budget decks I think.

last edited by garbageaggro

All great points! Happy the discussion has expanded to other budget hatebears decks. I definitely want to update with a "less budget" list that's still unpowered, or offer some upgrade suggestions based off of what people recommend.

@JuzamJim said:

I don't agree entirely on your assessment of the matchups. Oath isn't a good matchup, especially with the configuration you propose (but let me get back to that). It's winnable, but we're not a favorite to win. Shops isn't an easy matchup either. Pre-board you're a big underdog but post-board you're favored. However, usually you have to win both post-board games, which isn't easy to do.

What's interesting is that, other than getting really horrible draws, I find that the Shops matchup is quite good, and us running Null Rod/Stony Silence, in conjunction with us blanking their Wastelands AND adding 5 Strip Mines is actually all that tends to matter. That and Relic Warders and Path/Swords helps us keep up. Other builds of White Hatebears that add more targets for Wasteland (Karakas, Cavern of Souls) are more likely to get crushed by Tangle Wire, but the sheer number of basics in the deck are what help it in this matchup, I've found. I'm over 70% vs Ravager Shops so far with the build I outlined. Weird that it's so, but it is.

Oath has been a good matchup for me without Cages and Priests, primarily because I have 6 creature removal spells post-board, and 4 Leonin Relic Warders to get rid of Oath. The rest of the Oath deck is only incidentally hurt by the bears, but keeping Oath of Druids from being effective through diligent handling of the creatures that get Oath'd up has been pretty good. I will say, I hadn't faced a Void Winnower before yesterday, which virtually turns off the deck. It actually boils down to what creatures they chose to include in their deck, I really don't care about Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Griselbrand, Blightsteel Colossus, Sun Titan.... but Void Winnower, Emrakul, Tidespout Tyrant, those are cards that can drastically change the game once they are played or flat-out win. It would be great to add Containment Priest or Grafdigger's Cage, I picked up a playset of Cage for 2 dollars a few months ago in paper, but it doesn't do me much good when I have this deck on MTGO and the price for both is unreasonably high. If I see more Void Winnowers and Emrakuls in Oath decks and consistently get beaten by them, I'm downgrading the matchup, but so far, I'm hovering around 60-65% vs the Oath decks I've seen.

I also don't agree that the deck is very forgiving. Because of the lack of pure power you have to play very tight, and mistakes are a lot harder to recover from than in many other decks. That said, once you learn the basics the deck is pretty straight forward to play and definitely not very complex in comparison with most other decks.

You're definitely right about that. I have played tight games where I had to wait a turn to Path an opponent's creature because I made the mistake of playing Thalia first. Is taking a bad opener a misplay? Other than that, though, the deck doesn't give you enough opportunities to make mistakes. The only mistakes are the ones I mentioned above, and whether or not this bear is situationally good/bad vs this other bear. There's no stack sequencing, no digging through your library, no piles, no Brainstorm/Gush... I think its lack of complexity makes the decisions that you can mess up much less impactful. I've had games where I was distracted and recognized several minor misplays I made and still was able to pull through.

On some specific cards:

Mental Misstep: I've been back and fourth on this, and I never really came to a conclusion. I do think it's better now than when I played the deck a lot.
Abolish: You 100% need to play this card in a deck with no Cavern of Souls. Improves your Shops matchup dramatically.
Serenity: This card was also very good for me. Basically my plan against shops was to Abolish/Swords/Relic their threads until I could resolve a Serenity and from there it's usually pretty easy.
Stoneforge Mystic package: I found that this is not the route you wanna take. Fighting on power/toughness is not the way to go. It also takes up too many slots and have bad synergy with Arbiter and Stony Silence
Aven Mindcensor: This is another card that needs consideration. I think that my most succesful builds played 4 Arbiter and 2 Mindcensors.
Kataki, War's Wage: Yet another card that needs consideration. Not only because of the Shops matchup, but it also does a pretty good job against artifact acceleration and other stuff. Not a necessity though.
Acceleration in general: You need some sort of acceleration in your deck. Spirit Guides are good enough.
Grafdigger's Cage: I can't believe this card hasn't been mentioned yet. If there was one thing I found out playing this deck is that Grafdigger's is absolute necessary as a maindeck card. It stops Tinker and Oath - two of our biggest obstacles - and Yawgmoth's Will and hoses Dredge. That said, it's probably not as good now as it once was. You have replaced it with Militant, but in my experience, Militant isn't doing enough and it's a bad late game draw.

I hope you do well with the deck, there are not many better things in Vintage than beating your opponent with Plains 😄

A lot of folks talking about Abolish! I tested with it in the first couple builds and came to the conclusion that it was just not as good as 4x Relic Warder, and I'll explain why.
First, Relic Warder is easily a 4-of in the deck. Even if it has no targets in a matchup in game 1, it's still a 2/2 body and can do all the things a 2/2 can do. Relic Warder isn't real removal because all it takes is a Lightning Bolt to get their artifact back, but it is a huge tempo play in a game where the opponent usually needs to decide what to get rid of first. Relic Warder on an otherwise empty battlefield is an easy target, but backed up by Arbiter, Canonist, Spirit, it is actually a tough call whether or not to wait to get that artifact back.
Abolish is a terrible topdeck. 3/4 of the games I play I get into topdeck mode, for good or ill, and part of my comfort level with that scenario is that there are no dead topdecks in any situation. People are talking about Dryad Militant being a bad late-game play, but I'd still much rather draw that than a Sol Ring that has been switched off or an Abolish.
Which also brings me to the 2-for-1 aspect. We can't obviously keep up in card advantage against blue decks, but what allows us to be at least competitive against them is that we're not 2-for-1-ing ourselves, and that our Bears give us virtual card advantage every time one is played.
Relic Warder can handle the same targets, barring one, which is Chalice on 2. I've had that cast against me twice, and am really comfortable scooping to it. If it becomes a search target, or if I see it happen more often, it might be worth an Abolish in the SB for it, but as of now that scenario isn't even on my radar. For Oath, the game needs to pass through another two of your main phases before it gets activated, which is plenty of time to steal it with Warder.
Abolish isn't free with Thalia and Wingmare in play, and can easily cost a land AND two mana.

Will be interesting to test Serenity. The main issue with that is we have maindeck answers to Shops in Null Rod/Stony Silence, and that many of our creatures are doubling up as artifact creatures/enchantment creatures and have to be boarded out for something else.

Kinda the same scenario with Kataki. Gets better if the deck upgrades to Stony Silence, but most of the targets in vintage for artifact hate are switched off with Stony Silence, everything else is a Sphere or Tangle Wire, which don't bother me too much.

Mindcensor is pretty swell, but I opted for Arbiter because of the 2CMC. I'm going to try a build with Spirit Guides, and if that opens enough doors and lets me play better cards, then I'm all for it.

This is all super good commentary and has me thinking about more options. Hopefully in the next couple days I can update the post with upgrades, address the "budget" aspect a little better (in regards to Null Rod/Stony Silence, Containment Priest, Wasteland, Grafdigger's Cage )and test a version with some Spirit Guides for acceleration.

last edited by Dumpsterac1d

*** Updated today, added section 2 "What do you mean by budget"

In addition to the aforementioned spirt guides (Elvish is likley superior because of Dryad) I really like Ghostly Prison right now. In many respects it is better than moat for a list like this, while still being budget, because:

1 - It can affect flyers
2 - Asymmetrical
3 - Not dead in multiples
4 - Cheaper
5 - Pairs well with other taxes.

I also think some other cards that could be of use include dismember as swords number 5 or even thorn of amethyst as another Thalia you can have in play at the same time. Also what about leyline? It is a very strong card against Oath for a deck that just wants to rush creatures.

Board wipes are the natural enemy of this list and are seeing more play. I wonder if something like Selfless Spirit would maybe not be a good thing to consider if you suspect people are going to be running supreme verdict?


Interestingly, I always found Stony Silence to be underwhelming against Shops. Of course a lot have changed since I played this deck and Shops has gone from 4 Lodestone/4 Metamorph to Ravager/Triskellion type of builds against which Stony Silence of course is a lot better. That said, Triskellion and Ravager are a real pain in the ass if you don't get down a Stony Silence. You're totally tight that Waste effects are really good against Shops though. At one point I even played 7 main deck Strip effects (Strip + 4 Waste + 2 Ghost Quarter) with two more Ghost Quarters in the sideboard (and it worked quite well with my 4 Arbiter + 2 Mindcensors), and in combination with Stony Silence, that's pretty good. The main problem is that you often get under a lot of pressure even before you can get down your Stony Silence (this was especially true in the pre-Lodestone-restriction era).

Regarding Grafdigger's Cage, I played this maindeck before Containment Priest was printed. I would definitely play 4 Containment Priests and no Grafdigger's Cage maindeck now - of course that's tough in a budget build.

I agree with you on Relic Warder. I don't think I've ever played less than 3 maindeck with 1 sideboard. That doesn't exclude Abolish though.

You almost make me want to sleeve up a White Trash deck again, but as mentioned, I don't think it's very well positioned right now.

last edited by JuzamJim
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