Wallet Warriors: Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
Hey there Wallet Warriors. Today I've got an awesome deck with a sweet “new” legend out of Amonkhet to share with you. Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is a creature that screams build-around. This is exactly the kind of card that gets me all giddy once they hit the spotlight in spoiler season. Amonkhet isn't exactly fresh off the presses anymore but that doesn't mean we can't get excited by the new cards. Plus, this deck will only cost you about 50 bucks!
Hapatra oozes Golgari, by withering away your opponent’s creatures and reaping the benefits by building an army of snakes. She is flavorful and powerful.
In deck building I reached a fork pretty early on. Infect or Sacrifice. Hapatra has clear synergies in both paths. Infect, proliferate and -1/-1 counters all go hand in hand. What pushed me away from this route is the hate that the infect mechanic tends to garner in more casual groups and as this is a budget series, I’m expecting most readers to be more into the casual side of the format.
I decided to take advantage of Hapatras ability to spew out tokens instead. Sure, there are other commanders that can make tokens, but Hapatra is unique in that she builds her army while, at the same time, keeping everyone else’s boards in check.
With that in mind, let's get to the deck list.
For the deck list separated into the groupings, click here!
Withering away the competition:
An important feature for this deck to function is obviously cards that throw around -1/-1 counters. In my initial build of the deck I did not fully understand the critical mass of cards you need in this department. The answer is a lot. The current build has 26 cards that can shrink things and I’m comfortable with this number. If you wanted to add in more cards of this nature, it wouldn’t hurt but any fewer seriously harms your chances.
A few cards worth mentioning here are Serrated Arrows, Plaguemaw Beast and Blowfly Infestation..
The arrows are not a very exciting card at face value. Four mana and you only get three -1/-1 counters? It seems like a stretch but this card performs in this deck. Having access to something that can shoot a counter at instant speed is invaluable. It allows you to shrink something down when you need to the most as well as have the threat of producing an Ambush Viper on the board.
Plaguemaw Beast is a little slow, it is five mana and you have to wait a turn to use it. However the ability is really powerful. Proliferate is not a mechanic Wizards throws around on any old creature, just look at how excited everyone is about Atraxa. So having a reusable proliferate engine that also moves our sacrifice plan forward is awesome.
Finally, Blowfly infestation is a combo piece that can allow us to go infinite pretty easily. All you need is Hapatra, one snake, and a way to put a -1/-1 counter on the snake and you can produce infinite death triggers by continuously putting the new counter on the snake Hapatra spits out. This combo, combined with something like Zulaport Cutthroat will win you the game on the spot.
Thriving in Death:
In the long and strange history of Magic, certain deck archetypes acquire names that just seem to stick. The sacrifice archetype is colloquially called Aristocrats. Named primarily after the card Falkenrath Aristocrat. This is an archetype that I love because of the demand it puts on the deck builder. The idea is to combine cards that like to be sacrificed or that produce expendable creatures with cards that can easily sacrifice them, as well as having some way of benefiting from these sacrifices. These three components are sometimes called Sac Fodder, Sac Outlets and Sac Payoffs.
The wonderful feature of Hapatra is that she turns all of your -1/-1 Counters cards into creatures, effectively making them do double duty as removal and Sac Fodder. The fact that we almost always have access to our token maker means we can focus on Sac Outlets and Payoffs in the 99.
Ways to send creatures to the bin and the reasons why:
Ideally you want your Sac Outlet to not cost mana. Having the ability to send a creature to the grave at instant speed for no mana is typically underrated by newer players. Take Ashnod’s Altar for instance, not only does it act as a combo piece but it can have many more applications such as not letting your opponents steal your creatures or letting you send your creatures to the grave rather than being exiled or put on the bottom of your library.
The Sac Outlets we are running that cost mana are there because they provide card advantage, such as Vampiric Rites or Evolutionary Leap. These are effectively Outlets and Payoffs wrapped into one. A running theme in this deck is crossover. So many cards fit into multiple categories which allows for a lot of consistency.
The Sac Payoffs category is relatively self-explanatory. We’ve got three main payoffs, drawing cards, draining opponents life totals, and causing opponents to sacrifice their own creatures. Butcher of Malakir and Dictate of Erebos are especially powerful in this department and are definitely not to be played into open blue mana if it can be avoided.
Controlling the Board:
We don’t need a ton of creature removal because our -1/-1 counters package gives us plenty of opportunities to deal with creatures. However, putrefy is a spell that’s hard to cut from any deck with golgari colors, and Malicious affliction is incredibly easy to turn on when we have snakes exceedingly willing to hit the bin for the greater good.
Creature removal isn’t key, however we do want to take advantage of the fact that we are in green with all it’s naturalize effects. Reclamation Sage and Caustic Caterpillar are cards that can deal with artifacts and enchantments while also fueling our sacrifice theme.
A couple other notable inclusions here are Eliminate the Competition and Vhati il-Dal. Eliminate acts as a pseudo board-wipe which works well with our sacrifice payoff cards. Vhati is a combo with any -1/-1 counters as you can kill anything that already has a counter on it.
And the Rest:
This section is for cards that don’t fit neatly into one of the previous categories but I think are exceptionally good in the deck. Awakening Zone is a ramp spell that also generates tokens that can sacrifice themselves. It does almost everything we want to be doing in the deck all in one card! Cryptolith Rite is another ramp spell that gets out of hand very quickly when you’re spewing out tokens. Overrun, Overwhelming Stampede and Beastmaster Ascension are our most obvious finishers. In general the deck wants to win the attrition game by slowly whittling away at our opponents creatures but sometimes you just need some oomph at the end of the game.
The mana base in the deck is surprisingly consistent considering the budgetary constraints. We are playing five taplands as well as four lands that will typically produce colorless mana early on. This means there is the chance you get off to a slow start where you can’t play Hapatra on turn two. However having access to green gives us some nice mana fixing and we have twenty-two sources of green which means we shouldn’t have a problem hitting it by turn two.
There are a few cards I was really sad to cut from the final list because they were a bit too over budget. Contagion Engine fits right into the Hapatra list but has jumped a bit in price mainly due to Atraxa and probably mildly due to the Vizier of Poisons herself. We have it's younger sibling in Contagion Clasp but the former is definitely much bigger and badder.
We are running Liliana's influence because even without the tutor ability the card is great at accomplishing our game plan. However adding in the Liliana that goes with the tutor makes a lot of sense. Liliana, Death Wielder is also not too shabby as her first two abilities can make snakes and remove big threats. Her ultimate is not out of the question either when you have a bunch of deathtouch snakes to defend her.
Parallel Lives is obviously pretty insane in any green token deck. Most commander players will know the power of doubling things.
And there you go! Drop 50 bucks and go wreak havoc like only a Golgari player can, by using the corpses of your opponents to raise yourself up onto a throne… of corpses. Okay, a little morbid but hey, might as well revel in it while we’re on Amonkhet. The place is pretty grim and I don’t see it getting any better once that second sun lines up. Seeya in a couple weeks, happy spell slingin!
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