Hollow One Primer & Updating Dredge

by Zen Takahashi on 17 September 2018, Monday

Modern 
Zen Takahashi

Hollow One Primer & Updating Dredge

Dear readers,

This will be my final article for MTG Mint Card. It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to write for this great website for the past two and a half years.

I would like to thank in particular Chapman Sim, who provided me with the opportunity to write, as well as being an amazing editor. It has been a fantastic opportunity to work with you, and I am sure our paths will cross again sometime in the future.

I would also like to thank the many readers who asked questions or gave feedback, either publicly or privately. Your engagement with my content is what motivated me to pursue writing throughout this time.

While I will no longer be creating content, I will continue to be involved with the game. If you ever see me at an event, don’t hesitate to come say hi! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this final piece.

I was initially unsure what I wanted to write about in my final article. I ran through a few drafts of some sentimental pieces around lessons I have learnt playing Magic or the friendships I have built from playing the game. Ultimately though, I realised that I am most known for my content on Dredge, so it only seemed appropriate that I would take this opportunity to discuss the deck one last time.

Except, instead, I will be discussing another Modern deck! While I think that Dredge is in a fine position in the metagame at the moment, I have not played any other Modern deck in quite some time so I decided it would be good for me to take a break and try something new before competing in GP Atlanta in November, then GP Liverpool in December with teammates Simon Nielsen and David Mines.

Since I love Faithless Looting, I decided to explore other decks that utilise the card, and came across the Bridgevine, Mardu Pyromancer and Hollow One decks. I wrote off Bridgevine because there is quite a lot of graveyard hate running around at the moment and the deck is very all-in, and I disliked Mardu Pyromancer because I generally do not enjoy playing midrange decks. That left me with Hollow One, which I felt was appropriate as the deck was capable of some busted draws, while also not being as affected by graveyard hate as Dredge and Bridgevine.  

Hollow One is one of the most consolidated decks in Modern. If you look at the top performing lists, you will find that the only difference between all of the main decks is whether they play a 3-1 or 2-2 split of Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Past that, the main deck is always the same – even with the exact numbers of the manabase!

I personally prefer a 2-2 split of the delve creatures. I found that this deck does not actually put that many cards into the graveyard so Gurmag Angler needing to delve one more card is a relevant cost. I also found that against UW Control, you will often face Rest in Peace, but you will also have Path to Exile be cast against you multiple times, and in those games Tasigur, the Golden Fang is easier to cast than Gurmag Angler. If Tarmogoyf becomes popular again, I would look to play a 3-1 split.

The one difference I have in my main deck compared to everyone else is the inclusion of a Lightning Axe over the second Collective Brutality. I am unsure about this, but I have found Humans and Bant Spirits to both be slightly unfavorable matchups, and Lightning Axe is better against those decks than Collective Brutality.

The sideboard, again, is fairly stock. Almost everyone plays the same cards in the sideboard, with small differences around the numbers behind each of them. I was initially underwhelmed by Engineered Explosives and played a third Fatal Push and a Slagstorm over it, but I missed the utility the artifact brings so I am now back on board. I do, however, think they are cuttable. Otherwise, I have been happy with the rest of the sideboard.  

Dredge or Hollow One?

Ultimately, it is difficult for me to say which deck I think is better. Hollow One is more equipped to fight graveyard hate, as you can just beat cards like Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void by attacking with Flameblade Adepts and Hollow Ones, or just hard casting your Bloodghasts and Flamewake Phoenixes. However, Hollow One is a lot more vulnerable against general removal spells. Dredge seldom cares about any spot removal and even Terminusis easy to beat once you have your dredge engine going as a simple fetchland can reshuffle your library configuration. On the other hand, Path to Exile is one of the most popular removal spells in the format at the moment and is great against Hollow One – especially when combined with Snapcaster Mage. Terminusin particular is backbreaking.

I also believe that Dredge is better positioned against the current top decks, notably UW Control and Bant Spirits, which I both consider to be favourable matchups for Dredge but bad matchups for Hollow One. On the other hand, Hollow One is a lot more explosive than Dredge is, which makes it better against the mix of random decks you are bound to face in a given Modern tournament.

Overall, I think that Hollow One is a better choice if there is a lot of graveyard hate in the format as it is less affected by that, but Dredge is better when there isn’t so much hate, as Dredge largely ignores the rest of the interactive spells in the format. I also think Hollow One may be a better choice in an open-field tournament like a Grand Prix where you expect to face a large range of different decks, but Dredge may be better in a smaller tournament where there is more emphasis on the top tier decks – such as a Pro Tour or a MOCS Playoff.

Opening Hands

- You only want to keep hands that have a turn 1 play. This means you need a Faithless LootingBurning Inquiry or Flameblade Adept in your opening hand. If you know your opponent is on a creature-based deck, then Lightning Bolt will also count as a turn one play.

- In preboard games, I would not keep a hand that does not contain a Burning InquiryFaithless Looting or Goblin Lore. Postboard, it depends on the matchup, but generally that is still the case – you simply need an enabler for the deck to operate properly.  

- The deck only plays eighteen lands. I would generally keep one-land hands with Faithless Looting or Burning Inquiry. I would also keep no-land hands if I have two Street Wraiths and a Faithess Looting or Burning Inquiry.

- The deck does not mulligan very well, so if any of the above criteria are met, I would generally keep the hand. The composition of the rest of your hand does not matter too much – especially with Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore making everything fairly random.

Play Patterns

- Try to lead with fetchlands as early as possible, as they fuel the graveyard for delve and thin your deck. The only time I would not play a fetchland on turn 1 is if I only have one fetchland and I want to play it on turn 2 with Burning Inquiry so that I can return any potential Bloodghasts that may get randomly discarded.

- You generally want to fetch for Blood Crypt on turn 1, as you want to be able to cast Bloodghaston turn 2. Unless you are playing against Burn, your life total does not matter too much, so you just want to maximise consistency – especially since you do not know what will happen with your random discard effects. Path to Exile is also quite popular at the moment, so I like to keep as many basic lands in my deck as possible.

- You usually want to lead with Flameblade Adept on turn 1 over Faithless Looting or Burning Inquiry, as the Flameblade Adept represents a ton of damage on turn 2. However, turn 1 Hollow One is generally more powerful – so if you have Street WraithFaithless Looting + Hollow One, then I would go for that. It is a little bit dicey if it is a Burning Inquiry + Hollow One, as that is about a 60% chance to get Hollow One into play on turn 1, and Flameblade Adept is especially powerful with Burning Inquiry because on turn 2 you can get it to 4 power and trigger a discarded Flamewake Phoenix. In this scenario, it will largely depend on the matchup and the rest of my hand, with key factors being how much I think Burning Inquiry could benefit me/screw my opponent and whether they have Fatal Push or Lightning Bolt in their deck.  

- If you do not have a Hollow One in hand already, you would normally play Faithless Looting over Burning Inquiry on turn one. If you do have a Hollow One in hand, then it largely depends on the rest of your hand. With a Burning Inquiry, there is about a 40% chance you miss the turn 1 Hollow One. If the rest of your hand is strong and you can take a bit of time, I would lead with Faithess Looting and hope to discard a Bloodghast and/or Flamewake Phoenix to set up a powerful turn 2. If your hand is weak, then I would try to maximise my power and lead with the Burning Inquiry.

- Figuring out whether to cast Burning Inquiry or Goblin Lore on turn 2 is largely dependent on the rest of your hand and the matchup. Burning Inquiry puts you down a card, but you will have an additional mana which lets you return Flamewake Phoenix or cast a delve creature. Generally, in a matchup where you need to race, I would play Burning Inquiry as it maximises explosiveness and as are probably on a combo deck (given that you need to race) Burning Inquiry can potentially screw them. Against an attrition deck where you have time, I would cast the Goblin Lore as you do not want to put yourself down a card. Overall, this is quite contextual and it really depends on the rest of your hand and the state of the game.

- When I doubt, do not be scared to aggressively cast your Burning Inquiries and Goblin Lores. The deck has been designed to mitigate the variance that these cards bring. However, the objective of these cards is to find threats and abuse the cost on them. If you already have threats in hand to cast, then just prioritise casting those, as you would rather get on board than roll the dice. 

- Before you cast a Burning Inquiry or Goblin Lore, make sure to play a fetchland first. This not only ensures you will not randomly discard all your lands and be unable to cast your spells, but it also allows you to return any Bloodghasts you end up discarding. The only time you would not play a fetchland first is if you are flooded out, and so you want to maximise the chance of discarding lands/keeping spells in hand. 

- The deck only needs three or four lands to operate. Once you have three lands in play, I would try to make my fourth land drop be a fetchland that I leave uncracked so I can use it to return Bloodghast later, or flashback Faithless Looting and then cast Hollow One or a delve creature. Beyond this fourth land drop, I will keep lands in hand so that I can discard them later. The only time you need to make further land drops is if you have a bunch of Faithless Lootings to flashback or if your opponent has a Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void in play and you need to hard cast your delve creatures.

- If you have a Street Wraith and Faithless Looting in hand, lead with the Street Wraith first, even if you do not have a Hollow One in hand, since you would cycle the Street Wraith post-Faithless Looting anyway to try find a Hollow One, and cycling it after the Faithless Looting may leave you with a card that you wish you discarded. You should almost always cycle Street Wraith post-Faithless Looting/Burning Inquiry/Goblin Lore if you draw into one, as you just want to maximise the chance of casting a free Hollow One.

Burning Inquiry is a bit of a double-edged sword in that it can disrupt your opponent, but it can also benefit them. Generally, I like casting it early in the game as it can potentially screw them out of a good hand. However, later on in the game, if your opponent is mana screwed or mana flooded, try not to cast it as it may let them find the cards that they need to get themselves out of the situation they are in.

- Unlike Dredge, you can easily hard cast your Bloodghasts and Flamewake Phoenixes. This means that if you don’t have another land, or you cannot get to 4 power to trigger Flamewake Phoenix, you can choose not to discard these creatures and instead just hardcast them to guarantee getting them into play.

- When you are casting a delve creature and deciding what to exile, be mindful of Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze

- Postboard, if you brought in Ancient Grudge, make sure to find Stomping Ground as soon as possible as it is your only Green mana source and you can easily have it be randomly discarded.

Sideboard Guide

The following is how I would sideboard against the top ten decks in Modern at the moment.

 

UW Control:

+3 Thoughtseize

-2 Lightning Bolt

-1 Lightning Axe

 

Humans:

+2 Fatal Push

+2 Grim Lavamancer

+2 Engineered Explosives

+1 Ancient Grudge

-4 Bloodghast

-1 Collective Brutality

-1 Gurmag Angler

-1 Burning Inquiry

 

Bant Spirits:

+2 Fatal Push

+2 Grim Lavamancer

+2 Engineered Explosives

-4 Bloodghast

-1 Gurmag Angler

-1 Burning Inquiry

 

Hardened Scales:

+2 Fatal Push

+2 Grim Lavamancer

+2 Engineered Explosives

+2 Ancient Grudge

-2 Burning Inquiry

-2 Flamewake Phoenix

-1 Bloodghast

-1 Collective Brutality

-1 Gurmag Angler

-1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

 

Tron:

+3 Thoughtseize

+2 Ancient Grudge

-2 Lightning Bolt

-1 Lightning Axe

-1 Collective Brutality

-1 Gurmag Angler

 

Burn:

+2 Fatal Push

+2 Ancient Grudge

-4 Street Wraith

 

Hollow One:

+4 Leyline of the Void

+2 Ancient Grudge

-3 Burning Inquiry

-1 Collective Brutality

-1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

-1 Flamewake Phoenix

 

Storm:

+4 Leyline of the Void

+3 Thoughtseize

+2 Engineered Explosives 

-4 Burning Inquiry

-4 Flamewake Phoenix

-1 Gurmag Angler

 

Mardu Pyromancer:

+4 Leyline of the Void

+2 Engineered Explosives

+1 Ancient Grudge

-4 Burning Inquiry

-2 Gurmag Angler

-1 Flamewake Phoenix

If they have Ensnaring Bridge, bring in the second Ancient Grudge. If they do not, you can keep the Flamewake Phoenix and not board in any Ancient Grudge.

 

Krark-Clan Ironworks:

+4 Leyline of the Void

+3 Thoughtseize

+2 Ancient Grudge

-4 Lightning Bolt

-2 Flamewake Phoenix

-1 Lightning Axe

-1 Collective Brutality

-1 Gobin Lore

 

Updated Dredge List

Since this is the last opportunity I have to share with all of you an updated Dredge list, it seemed inappropriate if I failed to do so.  Although the full spoiler of Guilds of Ravnica has not come out yet, here is my updated list post-release:

I believe that Assassin's Trophy will have a positive impact on Dredge.

Firstly, it is the sideboard card that I have always wanted. Up until now, Dredge did not have access to a universal answer to problematic permanents except Maelstrom Pulse, which was simply too slow. Assassin's Trophy, being both two mana and an instant, is the perfect replacement for the Nature's Claims and Abrupt Decays we have had to run up to this point.

Secondly, the printing of Assassin's Trophy will likely have positive metagame implications for Dredge. It will increase the popularity of the GBx Midrange decks which have historically been favourable matchups, which will also lead to fewer combo decks – another set of good news for Dredge. Tron also becomes much weaker, now that GBx Midrange decks have access to main deck land destruction.

And finally, Assassin's Trophy itself does very little against Dredge. Spot removal in general is weak against Dredge, but one that destroys rather than exiling is particularly irrelevant. While I may be overestimating the extent to which Assassin's Trophy will make an impact on the format, on the whole I expect Dredge to be in a better position post-Guilds of Ravnica than it is right now.

Thanks for reading!

Zen Takahashi

@mtgzen on Twitter




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