Why You’re Playing Swamp in RB Hollow One and Why You’re Wrong – A Deck Guide

Peter Ward

Peter Ward

Who am I?

Peter Ward

Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast

Hi my name’s Peter Ward and I’m a Hareruya Hopes from Bath, England! I’ve played the RB Hollow One deck to a number of good finishes including 29th place at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary! But more importantly I’m just some guy that feels very hollow and also passionately about not playing 《Swamp》 in the deck.

Why Hollow One?

Rest in PeaceHollow OneLeyline of the Void

I’ve been told many times that RB Hollow One is not well positioned in the meta. With the help of the namesake card, this deck can produce starts that are not beatable for any deck. Our cards grind and attack on many different angles. This deck has game against everything, making RB Hollow One the new Jund, except I’ve never died on turn 3 playing against Jund.

Burning InquiryGoblin Lore

Another thing I often hear about this deck is that it’s all luck. To that I say, just try playing it. There are tons of small decisions that all contribute to gaining an advantage. It can be difficult but also incredibly fun and rewarding!

This is the list I played at the RPTQ last weekend, to a 5-2 finish and 10th place.

The Basics with a Sample Opening Hand

Let’s play, starting off with this sample hand.

Sample Hand:

Arid MesaScalding TarnBlackcleave Cliffs
Burning InquiryFlameblade AdeptBloodghastGurmag Angler

Turn 1:

Arid MesaFlameblade Adept

《Flameblade Adept》 is usually the best turn 1 play. Here are some examples of when I would not lead with Adept:

Cashing in a fetch land on turn 1 allows us to have the maximum number of cards in our graveyard for “Delve”. We should grab a 《Mountain》 here because the deck only requires 1 black source to function and this can be acquired later.

Turn 2:

Scalding TarnBurning InquiryGurmag Angler

On turn 2 we should play the second fetch land and cast 《Burning Inquiry》. If our 《Gurmag Angler》 survives the wild ride then we can fetch a 《Blood Crypt》 and have exactly 6 cards in our graveyard. In this example we would need to “Delve” away our 《Bloodghast》 if it was discarded, unless we draw into a 《Street Wraith》.

Also it’s interesting to note that 《Faithless Looting》 would not have given us enough cards to “Delve” out the big fish. You know you’ve got something special when it’s better than 《Faithless Looting》!

To keep or not to keep?

Consider these opening hands.

Case 1:

Arid MesaScalding TarnBlackcleave Cliffs
Burning InquiryBloodghastFlamewake PhoenixGurmag Angler

The Answer: Keep

This is one of the worst hands to keep at 7 cards. Without the 《Gurmag Angler》 or a similar payoff card this is a mulligan. The deck can function very well off 6 or even 5 cards. I’ve won epic games before from 4 card hands.

Case 2:

Street WraithFaithless LootingGoblin Lore
Flameblade AdeptHollow OneHollow One

The Answer: Keep

This is a keep on the play and on the draw. The combination of 《Street Wraith》 and 《Faithless Looting》 is one of the most powerful starts. It guarantees any 《Hollow One》s can be cast immediately with no risk of being discarded. It’s worth the risk of not finding a land. A Scry plus an extra draw from 《Street Wraith》 makes this hand worthwhile.

The 《Swamp》

Arid MesaBloodstained MireScalding TarnWooded Foothills

You’ll notice my list contains the optimal split of Red fetch lands, this is possibly the smallest edge you gain by not playing 《Swamp》 but it still matters!

Bloodstained MirePithing NeedleScalding Tarn

Once my Lantern Control opponent 《Mishra's Bauble》 me on the play, saw a 《Burning Inquiry》 and decided to cast 《Pithing Needle》 named 《Bloodstained Mire》. My only land in my hand was thankfully a 《Scalding Tarn》!

Swamp

There are two main arguments I hear for playing 《Swamp》:

It’s easy to spot the benefits of playing with a basic 《Swamp》. Although, if the deck is played correctly the 《Swamp》 actually becomes a hinderence! Here’s why:

Sideboarding

Leyline of the VoidThoughtseizeAncient Grudge

RB Hollow One has a lot of moving parts and we don’t want to dilute our own game plan unless it’s for something really strong. The sideboard is constructed in such a way that we have enough cards to bring in against a wide variety of decks. This allows us to not leave any bad cards in our deck after sideboarding.

Grafdigger's CageSurgical ExtractionLeyline of the Void

RB Hollow One is incredibly resilient, graveyard hate cards such as 《Grafdigger's Cage》, 《Surgical Extraction》 and even 《Leyline of the Void》 can have little to no effect on how this deck plays out.

Modern is such a diverse format and people can show up with almost anything from their trade binder. Try to keep in mind being flexible and use my advice as a starting point.

Dredge

Against Dredge

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Burning Inquiry Burning Inquiry

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Burning InquiryLeyline of the Void

Never cut all of the 《Burning Inquiry》 in any matchup. The card just makes the deck hum. Even against Dredge sometimes they don’t have a Dredger in the graveyard and we just need a way to cheat some 《Hollow One》 into play and steal a win. The deck loses a lot of consistency if you cut too many ways to do this. Also sometimes we have 《Leyline of the Void》 in play and it doesn’t even matter that they are discarding.

Spirits

Against Spirits

Out

Goblin Lore
Goblin Lore

In

Fatal Push
Collective Brutality
Collective BrutalityWorship

《Goblin Lore》 trades quite badly against 《Mausoleum Wanderer》 and 《Spell Queller》. Whilst the same can be said for 《Collective Brutality》 it’s very good against them. It also gives us an out to 《Worship》 although that card doesn’t tend to see much play at the moment.

《Hardened Scales》 Affinity

Against Hardened Scales Affinity

Out

Bloodghast Bloodghast Burning Inquiry
Gurmag Angler

In

Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge
Fatal Push
Steel OverseerInkmoth NexusArcbound Ravager

Try to save the premium removal spells for 《Steel Overseer》 and large 《Inkmoth Nexus》. 《Flameblade Adept》 is a real menace here as their plan often involves chump blocking and sacrificing to 《Arcbound Ravager》. Don’t forget we can play a 《Flamewake Phoenix》 post-combat to block 《Inkmoth Nexus》!

UW Control

Against UW Control

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Fatal Push

In

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Collective Brutality
Liliana of the Veil
Path to ExileField of RuinCelestial Colonnade

Often the games go super long and we can make a decent effort to grind them out. 《Street Wraith》, 《Thoughtseize》 and aggressively fetching shocklands to play around 《Path to Exile》 and 《Field of Ruin》 all do a decent job on our life total. We should leave in 1 《Fatal Push》 as an out to any pesky 《Celestial Colonnade》. The flavors of UW that splash for Red are easier because they have a hard time dealing with our larger threats.

5C Humans

Against 5C Humans

Out

Bloodghast Bloodghast
Gurmag Angler

In

Grim Lavamancer Grim Lavamancer
Fatal Push
Grim LavamancerFlamewake Phoenix

Usually it’s good to trim on “Delve” creatures when boarding in 《Grim Lavamancer》. Sometimes post-board we can actually grind out the 5C Humans player or the game will stall out on the ground and we can win with a 《Flamewake Phoenix》.

RB Hollow One Mirror

Against Hollow One Mirror

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Burning Inquiry Burning Inquiry
Tasigur, the Golden Fang Flamewake Phoenix

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge
Tasigur, the Golden FangLeyline of the Void

If our opponent has 《Gurmag Angler》 in their deck however, we want to take out 《Tasigur, the Golden Fang》. It’s not worth putting all the work into a threat that pales in comparison to the big fish. Cut at least one “Delve” creature against decks that will very likely have 《Leyline of the Void》.

BG/Jund

Against BG/Jund

Out

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Burning Inquiry

In

Fatal Push
Liliana of the Veil
TarmogoyfScavenging Ooze

We can get very creative in this matchup with our “Delve” creatures, often using them to shrink opposing 《Tarmogoyf》. Also make sure to prioritise delving away unnecessary creatures before they get gobbled up by a 《Scavenging Ooze》.

Tron

Against Tron

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Fatal Push Fatal Push

In

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge
Flameblade AdeptWurmcoil EngineFlamewake Phoenix

Our threats are incredibly difficult to deal with for Tron. Their most effective fatty is 《Wurmcoil Engine》. Even then I’ve had many opponents lose to an army of menace creatures and flyers after tapping out for their best card!

Death’s Shadow

Against Death’s Shadow

Out

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Burning Inquiry
Burning Inquiry

In

Fatal Push
Liliana of the Veil
Leyline of the Void
Death's ShadowTemur Battle Rage

We shouldn’t dilute our game plan too much with all 4 copies of 《Leyline of the Void》. It’s also not very effective in every game because their best path to victory is 《Death's Shadow》 with 《Temur Battle Rage》.

《Arclight Phoenix》

Against Arclight Phoenix

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Burning Inquiry

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Fatal Push
Bedlam RevelerArclight PhoenixThing in the Ice

Most decks in this archetype revolve around 《Bedlam Reveler》 and 《Arclight Phoenix》, 《Leyline of the Void》 is incredibly effective at shutting down those cards. Their sideboard plan usually revolves around 《Thing in the Ice》 which is why I like bringing in 《Fatal Push》. This archetype is also very new so this is subject to change.

Burn

Against Burn

Out

Street Wraith Street Wraith Street Wraith Street Wraith

In

Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge Collective Brutality Fatal Push
Ancient GrudgeEnsnaring Bridge

《Street Wraith》 is too often a dead card against them. Make sure to keep in mind 《Ensnaring Bridge》 when sideboarding.

UR Storm

Against UR Storm

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Bloodghast Bloodghast
Fatal Push Fatal Push Burning Inquiry

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Flamewake PhoenixEmpty the Warrens

Usually 《Flamewake Phoenix》 is worse than 《Bloodghast》 against combo decks due to requiring one mana to return. However when faced with a swarm of goblins the game can stall out on the ground.

Infect

Against Infect

Out

Burning Inquiry Burning Inquiry Bloodghast Bloodghast
Gurmag Angler Gurmag Angler Flamewake Phoenix

In

Grim Lavamancer Grim Lavamancer Collective Brutality Fatal Push
Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge
Kitchen FinksShapers' Sanctuary

In this matchup we take full control. They can have annoying sideboard cards like 《Kitchen Finks》 and 《Shapers' Sanctuary》 but for the most part we can bury them in card advantage because they will have so many dead pump spells.

《Krark-Clan Ironworks》 (KCI)

Against KCI

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Burning Inquiry Gurmag Angler Flamewake Phoenix

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge Ancient Grudge
Sai, Master Thopterist

《Sai, Master Thopterist》 has to be on our radar after sideboarding. 《Leyline of the Void》 is so powerful in this matchup as it shuts of all of their eggs, I’ve won far too many games by casting it for 4 mana!

Conclusion

If by now you’re not convinced, I’ll leave you with a quick summary of why RB Hollow One is one of the best decks in Modern.

Pros:

Cons:

Thank you for reading and may your days be forever hollow.

Peter Ward

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Peter Ward

Peter Ward Peter Ward is a young Pro Player from England. His first achievement at the highest level was Grand Prix Bologna 2018 where he became the runners-up with his teammates. He also won WMCQ and represented his country at World Magic Cup 2016. Now He is a Silver Level Pro and well known as an enthusiast for RB Hollow One Deck of Modern. Read more articles by Peter Ward