Historic Hollow One Deck Guide: Modern Power Level in Historic

Hollow One Art by Anthony Palumbo
Hollow One Art by Anthony Palumbo

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing you one of my most anticipated decks coming into Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, Hollow One. Hollow One is a strategy that revolves around discarding cards to one of your many outlets, gaining additional effects from discarding those cards from something like Madness, and then cheat in an early 4/4 or 3!

In that vein, I wanted to model my build as much around the original Hollow One deck as possible as that seemed like the most reasonable starting point. Here’s the first iteration of the concept…

(H) Jumpstart Hollow One 

Creatures (20)
4
Blazing Rootwalla
4
Flameblade Adept
4
Insolent Neonate
4
Seasoned Pyromancer
2
Hazoret the Fervent
2
Ox of Agonas
Spells (12)
4
Faithless Looting
2
Lightning Axe
2
Faithless Salvaging
4
Fiery Temper
Artifacts (6)
2
Bomat Courier
4
Hollow One
Lands (22)
4
Den of the Bugbear
14
Mountain
4
Ramunap Ruins
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
3
Soul-Guide Lantern
3
Abrade
1
Fry
4
Goblin Chainwhirler
2
Phoenix of Ash
2
Chandra, Torch of Defiance

I figured this was about as close as I could reasonably get to the Modern version of the deck with Historic’s card pool. Let’s first talked about what worked. First of all, Hollow One did seem worth the trouble to build around. Cheating out a 4/4 while accruing additional value with your cards is a very tempting proposition and not one you have to work too hard to accomplish. To that end, all the cards that like being discarded absolutely overperformed. Fiery Temper is as good as I remembered it being, but Blazing Rootwalla has seriously overperfomed my expectations. I know it’s free, but a 1/1 is still a 1/1, even if the activated ability is solid. Well, I vastly underestimated free. Not only is this a better Memnite, it’s a Memnite that has an activated ability and functionally drew you a card (since instead of discarding you get to cast it for free).

Next, most of the enablers have also all been excellent. Faithless Looting is Faithless Looting. There’s not much surprise this card has been excellent and can also enable turn 2 Hollow Ones which is obviously great. Seasoned Pyromancer has also outperformed my expectations, and although it’s not the best in terms of enabling Hollow One, it’s just such a good card inherently that I’ve been happy to have it. Lightning Axe is performing as expected, never amazing but generally solid and much better when you have a Madness card. Faithless Salvaging was ok, but it seems much better in Phoenix than it does in Hollow One. Insolent Neonate was unfortunately pretty bad. It was generally too low impact on the front and the ability to functionally cycle a card was nice, but it felt hard to justify. Bomat Courier was similarly disappointing, not through any fault in Courier as the card is inherently great, but there isn’t enough removal to force it through making it a low impact option in this build.

Now we have our final 3 threats. Flameblade Adept I thought would be amazing in a deck that has a lot of discard outlets, but it surprisingly underperformed unless your hand was specifically good with it. Without Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore, it seems that it just can’t stack up to the rest of Historic. Hazoret, on the other hand, was generally excellent even if it was a little clunky. There aren’t many answers to Hazoret in Historic making it an obscenely scary threat against a good amount of decks. Ox of Agonas was definitely solid, but I realized 2 copies was likely 1 too many, I didn’t want to draw it terribly often.

Lastly, we have the mana base which absolutely thrummed. Having access to 8 utility lands in your Monocolor deck makes your mana perfect and powerful. Sure there were awkward scenarios where I drew Den of the Bugbear at an inopportune time, but the games I’ve won when I “flooded” out easily outwighed the downsides.

So all in all, the deck had a lot of things going for it, but was missing some powerful cards in the right spots. Unfortunately, it seemed those holes were pervasive. I didn’t track my record, but I definitely lost a lot more than I won and it was frustrating as I knew something was there. I needed to increase the power level of the deck without dismantling the parts of the deck that were already strong. I thought it over, and realized that the answer was obvious. Here’s where the list currently is.

(H) Hollow One v2 

Creatures (15)
4
Blazing Rootwalla
4
Dragon's Rage Channeler
4
Seasoned Pyromancer
2
Hazoret the Fervent
1
Ox of Agonas
Spells (14)
4
Faithless Looting
2
Lightning Axe
4
Unholy Heat
4
Fiery Temper
Artifacts (8)
4
Bomat Courier
4
Hollow One
Lands (23)
4
Den of the Bugbear
15
Mountain
4
Ramunap Ruins
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Soul-Guide Lantern
3
Abrade
4
Bonecrusher Giant
1
Phoenix of Ash
2
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2
The Akroan War
1
Ox of Agonas

Delirium seems pretty busted in a deck with a bunch of discard outlets, doesn’t it? I kept all the powerful elements of the deck intact and got access to the disgustingly strong Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Unholy Heat. Since the deck now played more removal, Bomat Courier became a significantly better option again as well which was a nice bonus. None of the wins have been easy, but I have been undefeated since I made this switch. The deck now has better early and late game as the general card quality is higher. The new cards definitely filled the gaps that needed to be filled in the deck and has felt very rewarding when piloted carefully.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Blazing Rootwalla Art by Jokubas Uogintas
Blazing Rootwalla Art by Jokubas Uogintas

The metagame is still developing so a lot of these board plans are still going to be quite malleable. I’ll still go over the most popular matchups, but having a strong understanding of the function of each card in the deck will help you make decisions on the fly.

DELIRIUM DECKS

The Delirium decks are starting to become so diverse it’s really hard to have just one sideboard plan that properly encapsulates the matchup dynamics. You want to counter their presumed game plan as much as possible, but overall, remember that most Delirium decks are relatively grindy. Soul-Guide Lantern is a great option if they seem to be heavily reliant on the graveyard, but not necessary if they are really only playing Channeler and Unholy Heat. If they are a supser creature heavy version, Abrade can definitely be a solid option. On a similar note, Bonecrusher Giant can be a great addition if they seem to have enough targets as killing a creature and coming down as a 4/3 is super high impact against most Delirium builds. Phoenix of Ash and Ox of Agonas can be good against the most grindy versions of Delirium like Grixis or the bigger Rakdos version. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is generally great against all the builds of Delirium maybe save the Mardu Shadow version where it’s hard to keep her alive. The Akroan War can be solid against more creature dense versions and definitely great against the Shadow version.

All that being said, what should you look to take out Since most of these matchups are going to be grindy, I generally opt to take out the cards that are inherent card disadvantage. I generally cut Lightning Axe and trim/cut Faithless Looting and Hollow One. Since most of the builds no matter how grindy are discard heavy, making every card in your deck as high impact as possible is a good strategy to circumvent their interaction. Remember, you don’t want to overboard as you want your deck to still function, but you can board in pretty heavily if you believe you’ll get more equity from the board cards compared to copies of Faithless Looting or Hollow One. Thankfully, pound for pound this deck tends to be stronger than the Delirium decks, so the matchup should be relatively good.

JESKAI CREATIVITY

INOUT
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-2 Faithless Looting
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-2 Lightning Axe
+2 The Akroan War-4 Unholy Heat

I don’t love this matchup, but we definitely have the tools to win, doubly so if they have a clunky draw. Serra’s Emissary is unfortunately out of the reach of Unholy Heat, so we need to get more creative. Bonecrusher Giant is not only a great threat, but can circumvent the protection that Serra’s Emissary grants for a turn with Stomp’s damage can’t be prevented clause. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a generally good threat and can kill the opponent extremely quickly when they don’t have a fast combo. Lastly, The Akroan War is our insurance if they do manage to get the combo off as they have so few answers to it once resolved and it’s unlikely they’re going to play around it. Keep the aggression on as much as possible as you need to get them near lethal range for Bonecrusher Giant to deal the finishing blow.

SELESNYA COMPANY

INOUT
+3 Abrade-2 Blazing Rootwalla
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-4 Bomat Courier
+2 The Akroan War-2 Hazoret the Fervent
-1 Ox of Agonas

In this matchup they have a better late game than you do so you need to focus on disruption as much as possible. You have a lot of removal so it shouldn’t be too hard to dismantle their board, then you just need to land any significant threat and beat them to death iwht it. Try to keep removal open as often as possible so you can kill a Scurry Oak on sight.

AGGRO DECKS

INOUT
+3 Abrade-4 Bomat Courier
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-4 Hollow One
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance -1 Ox of Agonas
+2 The Akroan War-2 Faithless Looting

Ironically I found the best plan against random creature decks is to board out the Hollow One package and just become a weird midrange/control deck. Hollow One can definitely be great with the right draws, but the risk of it rotting in your hand while the opponent curves out is simply too high for my taste. Kill their threats ASAP, ride one of your threats to victory.

CONTROL DECKS

INOUT
+2 Bonecrusher Giant-2 Faithless Looting
+1 Phoenix of Ash-2 Lightning Axe
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance-2 Unholy Heat
+1 Ox of Agonas

This is pretty general boarding so change it depending on the Control deck. The deck I’ve faced the most in terms of pure Control has been UW so this has been my board plan. You want as many threats as possible and you’re looking to remove your inefficient or dead cards. We still keep in 2 Unholy Heat as it’s great against Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Shark tokens, however if they don’t seem to bring in Rest in Peace, I would put in 1-2 more over some Fiery Temper. On the flip side, if they seem to play more Rest in Peace, you can take out the Faithless Looting and go up to the play set of Bonecrusher Giant. Like you’d expect, the name of the game is to pressure them enough that they can’t freeroll threats or card draw with their open mana, but not so much you get blown out by a Wrath. Control has felt generally good as your sticky permanents like Chandra, Hazoret, the Escape creatures, and the utility lands are so powerful in these matchups.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Hazoret the Fervent Art by Chase Stone
Hazoret the Fervent Art by Chase Stone

Madness cards ignore normal casting speeds if they’re cast off of Madness. That means you can “Flash” in Blazing Rootwalla and surprise opponents.

If you have multiple Bomat Courier out and want to crack both, hold Full Control and after your sacrifice one, sacrifice the other before the first Courier’s trigger resolves. You’ll get to keep the cards under both Couriers!

You don’t always want to achieve Delirium on your turn with a Dragon’s Rage Channeler out. Consider holding back the spell that will make you Delirious til your opponent’s combat to make it trickier for them.

This is all on the card, but Seasoned Pyromancer surprised me twice when I first played it. The discard 2 into draw 2 is mandatory, but if you don’t have any cards in hand, it’s just a draw 2. Secondly, the activated ability can be done at any speed, I assumed it was sorcery speed for whatever reason.

Although Hazoret the Fervent is at it’s best when played as the last or second to last card, if you’re facing a deck that plays permission, I tend to run it out ASAP to get it under counterspells.

Don’t forget about Hollow One‘s Cycling ability, it comes up pretty often to get Delirium.

Try to hold Faithless Looting as long as possible to maximize value from it, too many players like playing Looting on turn 1. You don’t need to wait for the perfect turn, but if you’re playing Looting without a Madness card or Hollow One, it’s either too soon or you have no other reasonable play.

Try to save Lightning Axe for a turn where you can pitch a Madness card, you’re playing a Hollow One, or you’re ditching your hand to something like Bomat Courier or Seasoned Pyromancer. If you cast Axe and discard a card for no value it’s a very bad exchange.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

6 Responses

  1. RainbowPenguin says:

    Not much to add, just wanted to say thanks for exploring the options! It seems like there are a ton of people on jeskai creativity, gw company or previous meta decks and not a ton of innovation – can’t blame folks, given how the mtga ‘economy’ works, but it’s still a little sad.
    I’m very happy that mtgazone is primarily a text-based site, but have you considered streaming any of the decks you’re writing about?

  2. MVT says:

    Any thought on cutting Hazoret for a 1 or 3 cmc, so you can companion Obosh? I’ve been trying this list minus Hazoret for some Bonecrushers and a different SB, and Obosh felt worthwhile.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Definitely not unreasonable. It’s a tough call since it seems you’re giving up so little to Companion Obosh (minus the SB slot and the additional SB cards like Abrade and War), but Hazoret has been excellent for me. I think it’s a very reasonable take though I would personally go companion less.