/ Modern

HollowVines: The Opportunity Cost of Explosiveness vs. Consistency

Many of you remember the SCG Deck Tech just after Hour of Devastation's release of Hollow One that skyrocketed Gruul Vengevine to popularity. I had always thought of Vengevine as a fun card, but unfortunately had forgotten about it. That is, until I saw how well it worked with Hollow One in that deck.

Thankfully, I already had my playset of Vengevines, so I could dive into brewing without dropping 120 bucks on these newly spiked cards.

For those of you that don’t know Vengevine, the idea is to get Vines in the yard, cast cheap/free creatures and get back your Vines. You can build a massive board very quickly and just overrun your opponent. What we'll look at today is how going all in on the Hollow One/Vengevine combo compares to building a deck that's more consistent with removal, interaction, and has multiple paths to victory. I went through quite a few iterations of these decks, working both sides of the spectrum to see how the results panned out. My sample size is admittedly small. Just at local Tuesday night magic and FNMs, but it was fun experiment all the same.

We'll only discuss mainboards. Sideboards were general hate for all the meta decks. Roll your own mana base.

Iteration 1 – Mono-Red Hollow Vine Aggro/Burn

Goblin-Guide

4 Vengevine
4 Hollow One
4 Lava Spike
4 Faithless Looting
4 Cathartic Reunion
4 Street Wraith
2 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Blood Moon
18 Lands

Overall Record of 7-3

The plan of this deck was simply to burn and hit the discard into free Hollow Ones combo. There is basically no interaction other than Blood Moon in the mainboard. I played two matches against Storm (1-1) in 10 games. Both went to three, and none of the six games went past turn three. The deck was quite explosive, but you could also find yourself being a really bad burn deck sometimes.

Running this deck as my first iteration of the HollowVines combo, I discovered that it's incredibly important to time your discards and cycles properly. It feels very bad to go digging with a couple loots only to discard some lands and cast a Goblin Guide. That one time you drop 16 power on turn one and swing in feels quite good though.

Iteration 2 – Rakdos Deathly Hollow Vine

Death-s-Shadow

4 Street Wraith
2 Thoughtseize
4 Death’s Shadow
4 Hollow One
4 Vengevine
4 Faithless Looting
4 Insolent Neonate
2 Collective Brutality
4 Vexing Devil
3 Claim // Fame
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
19 Lands

Overall Record of 6-4

This deck was my next stop because it had another piece I had already wanted to try, Vexing Devil with Claim // Fame. Vexing Devil is an incredibly middling card because it gives your opponent the choice. If they have removal, they simply let it resolve. If they can afford 4 damage, then to the yard it goes.

However, Claim makes them make that decision over and over again. You can see that going in black allowed for some hand interaction to better handle some matchups. It wasn't enough.

I found this version to have more options at times, and therefore a bit more consistency, but I think I took it in too many directions. Of course, it led to my first ever Thoughtseize targeting myself, so that made it all worth it in the end.

Iteration 3 – Izzet Hollow Vine

Magus-of-the-Bazaar

4 Vengevine
4 Hollow One
4 Vapor Snag
4 Street Wraith
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Champion of Wits
4 Izzet Charm
4 Faithless Looting
4 Magus of the Bazaar
1 Desolate Lighthouse
19 (Other) Lands

Overall Record of 4-6

Champion of Wits is one of my favorite recent printings, so I knew I had to try this brew at some point. This deck's all-in on looting. There's also a nice synergy with Vapor Snag allowing you trigger Vengevines from the yard with just one free Hollow One. Of Izzet Charm's three modes, I found myself using the loot option most often.

I will say that the look on your opponent's face when they put you on Storm and you drop a Magus of the Bazaar on turn two is quite priceless. However, this isn’t Vintage, so going off turn three as opposed to turn one just usually isn't fast enough.

Iteration 4 – Mono Red All-In Vines

Simian-Spirit-Guide

4 Vengevine
4 Hollow One
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Faithless Looting
4 Cathartic Reunion
4 Street Wraith
2 Eidolon of the Great Revel
2 Desert Cerodon
4 Flameblade Adept
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Blood Moon
18 Lands

Overall Record of 8-2

This list produced the God-Hand. It simply dumps everything into the combo. If you aren’t going off by turn two, then you're probably losing. The important part though, is beating your opponent into submission before they even get to play Magic.

I know mathematically there could be a better hand, but my God-Hand happened in the first game of my second night against Jeskai Tempo. 1 Mountain, 1 Simian Spirit Guide, 2 Faithless Looting, 1 Vengevine, 2 Hollow One.

I exiled my Spirit Guide to its ability to cast my first Loot. I drew another Vine and a Mountain. I discarded both Vines to the yard. Next came one of my mountains and the second Loot. I hit Hollow One and Insolent Neonate. Discarding the Neonate and remaining Mountain, I proceeded to cast three free Hollow Ones. This triggered my two Vengevines in the graveyard to come into play.

I was able to swing with 20 power on the board before my opponent had played their first land.

Recap

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There are some similarities across all these decks that are necessary if you want to get brewing in this same style. Obviously the Vengevines and Hollow Ones are quite important, but Insolent Neonate and Faithless Looting are essential 4-ofs as well.

Neonate allows you stack Loots for later turns and is absolutely invaluable. Faithless Looting is incredibly efficient, and of course it can be cast with flashback as well if you stumble into a longer game. These decks can make opponents want to flip the table turn one, but they can also durdle for a few turns and do nothing.

My overall record ended up being 25-15. I don’t know if the decks are as good as that number would let on. It was a small sample size and only played locally. These decks can create some interesting interactions and lines to victory.

Please give one of them a try and see how much power you can drop on the board on turn one! As always, let me know what you guys think, and please give me suggestions on other fun Modern brews!

Cody Brown

Cody Brown

I'm a recent convert to the game we all love. My wife allows me one bad habit, and hopefully I can convert my daughter someday. Beer, whiskey, BBQ, and all the good things in life.

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