I 5-0'd twice last week. It would have been three times had I not been inattentive and punted a lethal attack (opponent couldn't empty hand with Ensnaring Bridge in play and I missed it). I also 4-1'd four times. Overall, I've gone 35-10 with this specific list:
I know the deck can seem like a pile of nonsense at first glance (perhaps for many more glances after that).
I plan to write a primer to explain the deck once I've tracked the critical details of at least 100 matches across the various recent lists (e.g., die-roll, match-up, hand size, lockpiece on turn 1, Bazaarless hands etc.). I've played more than that already, but I had not been diligent enough with the tracking to give a full picture.
Thanks for sharing your list. I've been trying to make a Blue Moon/Karn deck work recently, too.
Any thoughts on Magus of the Moon versus Blood Moon? I've preferred Magus recently given the proliferation of Force of Vigor. But Magus does get hit by creature hate in Xerox matchups etc.
Yeah, it definitely kills Top combo immediately without a Ravager. That's why I was focused on playing it as late as possible, only when you haven't managed to go off completely/can't quite kill the opponent in a turn. It would never be an issue when you have Inspector-Top-Forge. But I suppose Orb could be a problem in cases when you can't play it at the end of a solid creature chain, when it's on top of the deck with only a tapped Forge out there etc. Sphere is probably just better all around.
Hogaak is phenomenal. It addresses some serious weaknesses with the deck that I'd struggled to manage before. Most importantly, it offers a way to crash through an opponent's defenses when they manage to get an appreciable number of blockers on the board, like Pyromancer tokens. This has come up enough that I've even tried running Glory or Filth to get the appropriate evasion, but those cards require a lot of work to get online (but I must say, using Glory is a blast). Less importantly, Hogaak actually provides a way for the deck to buy time against Blightsteel Colossus, which was almost impossible to deal with before.
Hogaak is also certainly worth playing in multiples, but I think playing more than one depends on the metagame. It can make the dredge half of the deck way better, and I did try versions that played 3 to 4. But I think space is tighter than usual right now and that metagame has really encouraged minimizing the Dredge plan.
As for Mana Crypt, I go back and forth. I think my decision to omit it was primarily meta-dependent, actually. I do love Mana Crypt in Game 1, where it has effectively no drawback since we're pretty fast. And I sometimes love it in Game 2 and 3 for those quick Stage/Marit Lages. But there are a few things in the meta that have pushed me away from it: first, decks are really pressuring the life-total right now--not just the obvious culprits like Eldrazi, Shops, Survival, and Dredge, but there are also plenty of Tarmogoyfs and Dreadhordes throwing bolts at your face. The damage has mattered a lot when I've tested it--and I was playing it in pretty much every list again until a few days ago. Second, I rarely sideboard Null Rod out anymore, making the Crypt a blank too often. Third and finally, since PO/Combo have dropped off, getting a turn-1 lockpiece has been less important.
Yeah, I absolutely got very lucky there. And really, I got pretty lucky in the first game, too. Variance was much kinder to me than usual.
My hunch is that this wouldn't work out, but do you think there is any merit to Orb of Dreams as a form of disruption in this type of deck?
You speculated that Sphere might be necessary in the board for some match-ups, like combo, but I wonder if Orb could be a better choice. Both cards are comparable in that they both slow down combo/fast starts from the opponent, but also can slow you down, too. However, I think Orb may have some advantages that are at least worth considering.
Let's get the obvious out of the way and point out why Orb would seem be terrible here: you don't want your mana rocks coming into play tapped when you're trying to go off, it doesn't do Sensei's Divining Top any favors, it can impact the game less if you're on the draw and the opponent drops a bunch of mana on the first turn, and it's more expensive than Sphere. Those are pretty serious drawbacks.
But I do see a couple of potential benefits.
The main benefit, I think, is what it does to the opponent's creatures. If you can't go off and kill the opponent, you can drop this and prevent your opponent from building an effective mass of blockers or lethal counterstrike (sorry zombies and Vengevines, no blocking/attacking for you). Sphere won't do that.
Another benefit is that Orb could be more immediately impactful than a single Sphere in some circumstances. For example, a single Sphere does not prevent the opponent from playing an untapped Black Lotus with a single land, or even playing an Academy, and hitting just enough mana to do something relevant. Although Although Sphere has the advantage of impacting the game for longer, Orb can make the bigger impact for a shorter period of time, which seems more important for a deck that's not in it for the long game.
Perhaps using Orb would require a substantially different list that tries to leverage its effect more fully, like adding in Jhoira's Familiar or Helm of Awakening so you don't really care if your mana rocks enter the battlefield tapped or having additional sac outlets beyond Ravager to manage it better when you are trying to go off.
Snagged a 5-0 yesterday with this list:
The older style lists were performing well until Modern Horizons hit and dredge became ubiquitous. The first problem was that Force of Vigor severely weakened the previous plan of attack against Dredge. Leyline simply didn't buy enough time on its own to get Marit Lage on the table. The second problem was that graveyard hate became so rampant. This didn't only harm the dredge portion of the deck, but also the Marit Lage plan that leaned so heavily on Riftstone Portal and Life from the Loam.
To address these problems, I moved the Leylines into the maindeck and went with a full suite of Wastes/Strip. Even with Force of Vigor present, those Wastelands can buy a ton of time against Dredge. And of course, they don't always have Force of Vigor, so having Leylines in all three games helps. The maindeck Leylines are also great against Dreadhorde Xerox and Wrenn-and-Six decks.
I also doubled-down on the Marit Lage plan, since it can completely evade graveyard hate and cards like Swords/Repeal are fairly absent from the meta. Going back to the classic Vampire Hexmage and Urborg plan has been doing very well in post-board games.
Edit: followed right up with a 4-1 today