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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Mar 06 2019 1:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  I have had quite a long break from playing Magic but Arena gave me an incentive to jump back in and now feel like I have the bug once more.  Modern has been my favourite format for a long time and I have a pretty sweet collection these days so it was only naturally I found my way back to MTGO.

I have been looking to find a deck to get excited about in Modern and I soon found this list by GlauberT, which they played to 15th Place in a Modern Challenge and the deck has put a few more results since then.  Here's the list:

 

At around 50-60 tix to build this deck is very budget friendly by Modern standards and is surprisingly formidable.  I think the list could probably use some tweaking and work but I do like where it is going.

DECK TECH

The deck takes after other spliced together strategies to attack on two different axis.  This takes the traditional Hollow One strategy and works in the two card combo of Ravnica Allegiance's Electrodominance with Living End.  This is similar to the Splinter Twin/Living End decks and the Izzet Control decks with Through the Breach/Emrakul or Kiki-Jiki/Deceiver Exarch as a finisher.  The result is an aggro deck which can also be a potent combo deck.  Attacking on two different axis makes it a lot harder to shutdown both sides of what we are doing.

Creatures

Flameblade Adept
Flameblade Adept
If you haven't played the Hollow One deck before, you will find that Adept is a surprisingly powerful threat.  Menace means it can attack through any solitary blocker and its power can escalate quickly with the high level of cycling and discard spells in our deck.  Few things are quite a satisfying as attacking for 6 or 7 damage through a Wurmcoil Engine to pick up the win.

Insolent Neonate
Insolent Neonate

Neonate is a decent little creature which can get in a bit of damage thanks to Menace, much like Flameblade Adept.  However, unlike Flameblade Adept it's much less likely to deal enough damage to see out the game.  It's a free discard though once cast so it can help push to that third discard to cast Hollow One for 0.

Simian Spirit Guide
Simian Spirit Guide
I'm not fully behind playing Spirit Guide in this deck.  It can lead to some explosive early turns, for example, I recently played Turn 1 Faithless Looting, exile Simian Spirit Guide, cycle a one-mana creature, cast two Hollow Ones.  I also kept a no-land hand with two Street Wraiths and a Spirit Guide which resulted in a Turn 1 Hollow One on the play.  I suppose the other is to hit a surprise Electrodominance whilst seemingly tapped low.  However, I  would say that outside the initial turns unless you are mana-screwed it doesn't really add much.  I would consider cutting these from the deck as I frequently sideboard them out.

Monstrous CarabidDeadshot MinotaurDesert_Cerodon
Monstrous Carabid/Deadshot Minotaur/Desert Cerodon
These are the one-mana cycling creatures and the best ones available if we looking to be mono-red.  The cheap nature of the cycling costs help facilitate our low land count and dig us towards threats or combo pieces.  These creatures are also sizable so dropping several of them onto the battlefield at once can easily wrap up the game.

Street Wraith
Street Wraith
Street Wraith cycles for free, well 2 life but almost free, which allows us to dig deeper into our deck while adding a creature to our graveyard for Living End and allowing us to pump out an early Hollow One or pumps our Flameblade Adept.  Street Wraith helps add a lot of velocity to the deck and means we can cast earlier Hollow Ones and dig through our deck that much quicker.

Hollow One
Hollow One
As with the usual Hollow One decks, the deck is capable of dropping Hollow One as early as turn 1.  Dropping early 4/4s and beating down is one of the best ways of winning without using the combo element of the deck.

Urabrask the Hidden
Urabrask the Hidden
Urabrask is a card that allows your creature returned with Living End to have haste so you can cast Living End at sorcery speed and immediately attack.  I find this is largely unnecessary as Electrodominance allows you to cast Living End at instant speed which you pretty much always want to be doing (unless your are playing around countermagic) and our manabase doesn't allow us to Suspend Living End.  As such, I feel the benefit that Urabrask brings to the deck is fairly minimal and these slots could be better used.

The best thing about Urabrask in my experience is that is actually a fairly good creature when hardcast when things are going south.  However, it feels like it can't be the best possible option if that is what it's here for.

Spells

Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting
Looting is a card that has been powering some of the most powerful decks in Modern as of late.  As such it's no surprise that it's also a very powerful addition to this deck.  Looting allows you to discard two cards, making Hollow One cost a mere 1 mana, giving +2/+0 to Flameblade Adept and helping fill the graveyard.

Cathartic Reunion
Cathartic Reunion

Cathartic Reunion acts as an additional looting card allowing us to dig deeper into our deck and fill our graveyard.  It's not quite as good here as it is in Dredge as we don't have cards like Life from the Loam to refill our hand with cards to ensure we have the discard fodder.  As such it's best to use this early on before our hand empties out.

Electrodominance
Electrodominance
The new card from Ravnica Allegiance that makes this deck possible.  Electrodominance, as well as being a decent burn spell, allows you to cast Living End for free at instant speed.  This two card combo gives us another avenue of attack and even if you don't have any creatures in the graveyard you still have access to an instant Wrath effect.

Living End
Living End
The combo aspect of the deck.  Living End causes all creatures on the battlefield to be sacrificed and then puts all creatures in all graveyards into play.  The plan is to put a large number of our janky cycling creatures into play and bring the beatdowns.  With the size of the creatures involved it's usually enough to do one attack and finish off the opponent.

Interesting things to note:

  • Technically, Living End puts creatures into play from exile so it cannot be stopped by Grafdigger's Cage.
  • Unlike traditional Wrath effects, Living End causes all creatures on the battlefield to be sacrificed (not destroyed) so it can deal with Indestructible creatures like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and its ilk.

Lands

The lands are all basic mountains.  We are running a low 16 lands but I have yet to have it cause a problem.  Our one-mana cyclers and Faithless Looting help dig us to our second land.  The deck also only really needs two lands to function, though a third land is handy for flashing back Faithless Looting.  It's interesting and it's possible we could look at running some fetchlands to further thin the deck or maybe even lower the land count further.

The other option here is splashing some additional colours.  Access to black mana would allow us to Suspend Living End if the need arose and to hardcast Monstrous Carabid and Street Wraith in a bind - we could also look at playing some of the other black cycling creatures.  Access to green would allow us to cast Deadshot Minotaur and could give us access to enchantment removal in the sideboard to deal with Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void, which currently the deck has no way to answer.

SIDEBOARD

Let's take a look at the sideboard:

Ingot ChewerFaerie MacabreGuttural Response

  • Guttural Response is a primarily a way to protect our combo from countermagic.  Very useful against control decks.
  • Lightning Bolt is a questionable inclusion from my perspective.  It can help finish off the opponent potentially but presumably we are bringing this in primarily as removal.  The problem is that killing a creature with Bolt puts it in the graveyard and allows it to then be brought back if we successfully cast Living End.  This can be problematic if we don't have enough creatures in the yard to the creature we removed is sufficiently dangerous.
  • Anger of the Gods is mass removal that exiles the creatures it kills so as not to interfere with our combo.  Also, all of our creatures other than Flameblade Adept (and Spirit Guide but we aren't intending to cast that often) have 4-toughness and so can survive an Anger of the Gods if we need to clear the way.
  • Faerie Macabre is a graveyard hate card and a way to pull any creatures out of our opponent's graveyard prior to a Living End if necessary.  It's also an evasive creature that will return to the battlefield post-Living End which makes it very handy.
  • Ingot Chewer is great tech for this deck.  I would probably look at playing the full 4 copies in the board as it is really good.  It works with our combo and is an answer to a lot of graveyard hate cards, such as Relic of Progenitus and Tormod's Crypt.  I often find myself pre-emptively sideboarding some number of copies of Ingot Chewer in to anticipate the hate cards our opponents are likely to bring in.
  • Blood Moon is a great non-basic land hate card that can just shut down some decks.  I think we could afford to play more of these, particularly given we are running all basics.  Blood Moon is very powerful and I think worth playing more of.

In terms of other sideboard options to consider I would note the following:

Nihil SpellbombAncient GrudgeLeyline of the Void

  • Nihil Spellbomb or Leyline of the Void provides us with a more comprehensive way to clear opposing graveyards against anyone who is also trying to abuse the graveyard, e.g. Dredge, or tries to take advantage of the symmetrical nature of Living End.  It doesn't have the same synergy as Faerie Macabre though.
  • Ancient Grudge is another artifact destruction option if we are looking to splash green.
  • Again enchantment removal would be handy if we are looking to splash green as the deck cannot answer Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void currently.  Destructive Revelry would be nice.
  • Assassin's Trophy is another option for an all-round answer to potential problem permanents if we splash green and black.

Really we can look at any of the options of the standard Hollow One decks and perhaps even beyond.

GAMEPLAY

So with the contents of the deck covered, let's see how the deck plays:


Here's a video deck tech with a quick run through of the card choices and my thoughts.


Our first matchup is Grixis Death's Shadow, which is one of the top decks in the format right now.  This match played out pretty interestingly.  There creatures are bigger than ours but we have some evasion and our combo is a nice way to clear the board and pick up a swift .  We have to watch out for Stubborn Denial as a counter for Living End.


Our second matchup is against Jeskai Control.  In contrast to the previous matchup, it is perhaps our fast aggro aspect that is better given their counterspells and answers to Living EndGuttural Response gives us an answer to Cryptic Command and other countermagic post-board.


Our third matchup is against Merfolk.  This seems like the type of matchup that gets a lot better as the combo can clear the board after they start outsizing us.  We do have to wary of countermagic but it's possible to play around cards like Spell Pierce which is the counter they are most likely to have.


Our fourth matchup is against Mono-Green Tron.  This seems like quite a bad matchup despite our potential speed.  Relic of Progenitus, Scavenger Field, Oblivion Stone, Wurmcoil Engine and the planeswalkers all pose big problems for us.  We need to get a speedy win or the game is likely to just be over.


Our fifth matchup is against Scapeshift.  This matchup is a little scary as they only really need to stall us for a short while to put themselves in combo range.  That said our deck can put together quick wins and so I think the race is generally in our favour but it's close.  Blood Moon from the sideboard can shut off Valakut, which prevents the combo kill but we still have to be wary of being stomped on by Primeval Titan.

CONCLUSION
I had a lot of fun with this deck and it's a really sweet budget deck that uses a lot of recent cards and the exciting Electrodominance from Ravinca Allegiance.  I think the deck could be tweaked and fine-tuned to make it even better which is an exciting prospect.

The biggest advantage of the deck over the traditional Hollow One decks is that it has a lot more game against creature heavy decks.  Tribal decks like Humans, Merfolk, Spirits and Elves are capable of outsizing you on board but are very susceptible to the Living End combo.

The deck is exciting and a lot of fun to play.  Well worth a try and a solid budget choice.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  It's good to be back writing articles and playing Modern.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)