Black/Red Hollow One is a linear aggressive deck that uses cards like Burning Inquiry, Goblin Lore, and Faithless looting to cycle through your deck while putting Hollow One into play as early as turn one. The deck is capable of busted draws such as putting all four of your Hollow One’s into play on the first turn of the game, though that outcome is unlikely. The deck was popularized during Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, where Ken Yukuhiro took the list to a top four finish. While often criticized for being too random, Hollow One has proven to be much more consistent than it appears, and has become a pillar of the modern metagame. But be warned, this deck is not for the faint of heart!
The deck uses its filtering cards to dig through the deck and put recursive threats(Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix) or cheap large threats(Hollow One, Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang) into play and attack the opponent for 20. Hollow One is the focal point of the deck and is one of the most broken cards in Modern when enabled.It is the name of the deck, so it is probably good.
Burning Inquiry is the most maligned of the card draw spells. Paying 1 mana to draw three cards has proven itself to be a very powerful effect over the history of magic. Obviously in this case, Burning Inquiry has a significant downside, discard three cards at random. This deck looks to abuse the cards power level, while cards like Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix help mitigate the variance that comes with casting it. The card makes your Hollow One’s cost 0 mana, and filling up your graveyard with recursive threats such as Bloodghast and Phoenix can give you a board presence without even casting a Hollow One. Burning Inquiry also has the added small benefit of possibly disrupting your opponent. The effect is symmetrical, so at times it could force your opponent to discard all their lands, or a key part of their hand.
Goblin Lore is an effect that is similar to Burning Inquiry. It gives you plenty of resources to work with as it digs you 4 cards deeper into the deck. Faithless Looting is in the deck to help filter your draws, and actually gives you the choice as to what to discard, so you can put your recursive threats directly in the bin. After casting a Looting, your Hollow One’s cost only 1 mana, so it is still an effective way to put them into play. Street Wraith is another way to dig you closer to your threats, while still triggering Flameblade Adept and making Hollow One cost less.
Flameblade Adept may look innocuous but it is anything but. Adept can grow quickly with any of the filtering spells and Menace makes it hard to block early in the game. Gurmag Angler gives you another big threat that's easy to cast, since you are filling up your graveyard very quickly with your Inquiries, Goblin Lores, and Faithless Lootings. Tasigur sees play as a cheaper delve threat although it is strictly worse than Gurmag Angler, usually in a 3 Angler - 1 Tasigur split.
Lightning Bolt is here to both remove problematic creatures and provide a bit of reach to finish off the game.
The mana base in the deck is fairly straightforward, when it comes to modern manabases. Most stock lists splash green for ancient grudge in the sideboard, so the third color does force this list to play more shocks and fetches, but for the most part this is a non-issue. The fetches also help put more cards in your graveyard to assist in casting your delve threats like Gurmag Angler.
Hollow one has good matchups against many of the aggressive decks in the format. Burn is one of the best matchups, as they have a hard time answering all of our creatures, while we also have access to multiple copies of Collective Brutality, which hoses burn.
Affinity is also a reasonable matchup. Sideboarding in a lot of copies of ancient grudge is obviously big game against the artifact deck, and we can play the control role until their out of gas and then we turn the corner to put a clock in play.
Tron is another deck you’d like to see, as the deck is often too fast for the tron decks to keep up with.
While the Humans matchup is close, I believe it slightly favors them. Reflector Mage is a great way to interact with Bloodghast as well as Gurmag Angler, and an early Kitesail Freebooter tagging one of our enablers game be disastrous.
Bogles is a very tough matchup. Our removal does not interact with them well, and if they land a daybreak coronet on a big creature it becomes impossible to race.
Storm is one of those matchups where its just two ships passing in the night. Neither deck has much meaningful interaction for the other, and Storm goldfishes fast than Hollow One; the matchup is tough.
Here are some suggestions on what cards to cut against the top decks in the format.
Humans: Against humans you definitely want to cut your copies of Bloodghast. They interact with them too well, plus they are too easy for the deck to block. Gurmag Angler is also a reasonable cut.
Affinity: Flamewake Phoenix isn’t great against the robots. They have so many flying creatures that it’s hard for the Phoenix to get through. Gurmag Angler may be too slow against them, they just fly over the top of it.
Burn: Get Street Wraith out of your deck. You do not want to be dealing yourself all that damage.
U/W Control: You can cut some of your Bolts here, though leaving one or two in the deck seems reasonable to give you some reach to close out the game.
Tron: Collective Brutality isn’t great here. You can also cut some Bolts for more space if needed.
In general, you don’t want to over sideboard with the deck. All of your cards are part of a puzzle that make the deck tick. It’s often correct to shave one of cards from the deck as opposed to cutting all 4 copies of something, because you tend to want access to all pieces of the puzzle. Hollow One is a finely tuned machine and you don’t want to mess with that engine.
While not a comprehensive guide, these are some of the most popular sideboard cards for the deck.
Engineered Explosives- This card is good against a variety of strategies, including small creature decks like Humans and Affinity. It’s also great against Mardu Pyromancer, where it can clean up all the tokens from Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancer, which are often annoying to fight against as they provide your opponent a lot of time to find their removal spells as they are throwing the tokens under the bus as blockers.
Fatal Push/Collective Brutality- Having extra removal spells in the sideboard can be helpful, especially in matchups where they can turn a race in your favor. Collective Brutality’s discard effect is also good against combo decks to rip combo pieces from their hand. It’s also a good way to protect yourself from Supreme Verdict. Brutality is one of the best cards against burn, as all 3 modes are very relevant.
Grim Lavamancer- Good against small creature decks, Grim Lavamancer can give you time against Human’s and Affinity. Killing their most problematic creature each turn while you are putting a clock into play is some big game against those decks.
Blood Moon- Blood Moon is good at shutting down Tron, as well as decks with greedy mana bases such as Humans. An early Blood Moon can be the nail in the coffin against some decks.
Ancient Grudge- Your most important card against artifact based decks. Ancient Grudge is great against things like Affinity and Lantern Control.
Leyline of the Void- While not the most effective graveyard hate in modern, Leyline of the Void is here to shut down graveyard based decks, while not affecting your own graveyard. Only board this in against decks that REALLY depend on their graveyard, like Dredge, Storm, and Goryo’s Vengeance decks. If Leyline isn’t in your opening hand, it’s a really bad draw late in the game.
Big Game Hunter- Good in matchups where big creatures can be problematic. Big Game Hunter can be helpful in fighting Eldrazi decks, killing large blockers like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher.
Liliana of the Veil - Liliana is good in matchups like Shadow or Boggles where the opponent is trying to win with a single large threat. The edict effect gets around stubborn denial, and gets around the hexproof of Slippery Boggle and Gladecover Scout. It’s also good against the control decks, as keeping them off of cards in hand can be helpful.
- More often than not, it is correct to play Flameblade Adept on turn 1 over casting Burning Inquiry or Faithless Looting. While it may be tempting to spin the wheel on the first turn, getting Flameblade Adept into play can provide for a much faster clock in the coming turns.
- When in doubt, spin the wheel! Don’t decline to cast your Burning Inquiries and Goblin Lores until you have a Hollow One in hand. If you have other things to do that turn like casting more threats, then do that. But if not, you won’t gain anything by holding onto your Discard effects. My best advice is to cast them and see what happens.
- Try not to over sideboard. Cutting too many cards from the main deck in favor of hate cards does nothing but weaken the engine of your deck and slow down your clock.
- Put as much power into play as you can. The deck is resilient and rebuilds quickly, so you don’t have to be afraid of cards like supreme verdict.
There are other versions of the Hollow One deck out there. A popular variation is a deck that plays Vengevine to give you an even faster clock.
While this deck can be more explosive, putting a Vengevine into play is more difficult than it looks and the deck’s consistency suffers from it.
Another recent variation of the deck is splashing white for Lingering souls and a few sideboard cards. Lingering Souls is another card you are happy to discard, and the 1/1 flyers are good at keeping decks like Affinity at bay.
Future of Hollow One
Going forward, Hollow One is going to continue to be a pillar of the modern metagame. The deck is consistent, resilient, and fast; all things that are keys to success in modern. If you can handle the swings of discarding three cards at random, Hollow One might be the deck to play at your next event.
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