RWB has not been the most popular of color combinations in eternal formats. The color wedge has been informally known as “Dega” for the last 15 years thanks to the Apocalypse wedge creatures, Degavolver and Dega Disciple. Now it’s getting re-Christened as “Mardu”, which doesn’t sound as cool to me, but I’m not a marketing genius, so what do I know!?
What I do know is that the colors actually have a lot to offer. They have the best removal spells, the best tutoring, black’s discard spells, flexible sideboard options, and some of eternal Magic‘s best 2-drops like Stoneforge Mystic and Dark Confidant at your side. There has been a fringe RWB deck in Legacy for many years, known for some reason as “Team Italia”. But it didn’t look like a likely candidate to make the leap to Vintage. That Legacy deck uses cards like Hymn to Tourach that, sadly, aren’t really Vintage-playable these days. I also couldn’t really conceive of making a hatebears deck without green creatures and green’s mana acceleration.
But I may have underestimated the wedge’s potential in Vintage. In my last article, I highlighted Sean O’Brien’s RWB hatebears deck, which he piloted to 2nd place in a Vintage event at the most recent Gen Con. I was immediately excited by the list. I am hoping to play a paper Vintage event next year for the first time in decades, and I already own a couple of the on-color Moxen for this deck, so I was curious to try it out and see if it would be a viable option for me.
Here’s the list I’ll be playing in today’s videos:
Dega Hatebears by Sean O'Brien
I suspected that this deck would be somewhat difficult to play, relying heavily on smart use of the tutors and good land/spell sequencing. I definitely made a few mistakes with it, but I felt I was in contention most of the games. Still, even with very tight play, all “fair” decks in Vintage are subject to being blown out on the draw by a busted combo hand from an opponent. That’s just a hazard of the format — though I might consider adding Mental Misstep somewhere in the 75.
The mana base functioned pretty well. Being able to fetch basics was nice against Wasteland decks. You do run the risk of having some color problems, however — Tidehollow Sculler in particular can be difficult to cast. The maindeck has only 4 red cards, compared to 14 black and 18 white cards, but it has the same number of sources for each color. On the other hand, there are additional red cards in the sideboard, so perhaps the balanced approach is best.
One big question I had in playing the deck was whether to leave Spirit of the Labyrinth in against Shops. I was tempted to do so just by virtue of it being able to trade with Lodestone Golem, even though it does nothing else in the matchup. The games where its 3 power would have been nice to have on the board, I wasn’t able to even cast it, but with such a small sample size I shouldn’t draw any conclusions.
Another problem against Shops is that the deck is very heavy on 2-drops. The only artifact removal is also 2cmc, including the removal in the sideboard. A Chalice of the Void set to 2 is absolutely devastating against you. Red offers you a couple of 1cmc artifact removal spells, and I think an Ingot Chewer or two somewhere in the 75 might be necessary to improve that matchup.
As always, thanks for watching, and if you have any ideas for refining the deck, please share them in the comments!