I built and played a HollowVine variant for the recent Team Serious Invitational and finished in 2nd. I went 5-0 (no draws) in the Swiss, and lost in the finals to a player I beat earlier in the day. I couldn't be happier with the list. Working on this deck has been a ton of fun ... it forces you to think about the game in a way that's less traditionally Vintagey, it kind of uses Dredge reasoning to do non-Dredge things, and I think an experience Standard aggro player would get a kick out of it.

It does one of two things, it does them on the first turn, and it does them very consistently. Bazaar of Baghdad can put a 4/x (Hollow One/Vengevine) into play, or artifact mana/Elvish Spirit Guide will put a hate-bear (Thalia, Guardian of Thraben/Collector Ouphe) into play. Often both.

On reflection, I believe this is a Sligh deck. Not in the sense that it's aggressive, but that it's a deck that was willing to run Brass Man because having a one-drop was more important than having a not-terrible card. I'll get more into that below.

Here's the decklist, with a built in primer:

Here's how I sideboarded:

Outcome

-4 Stonecoil Wurm
-2 Deathrite Shaman
-1 Strip Mine
-1 Wasteland
+4 Mindbreak Trap
+4 Force of Vigor

Workshops

-1 Thorn of Amethyst
-1 Chalice of the Void
-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
+4 Force of Vigor
+2 Kataki, War's Wage

Dredge

+3 Leyline of the Void
+2 Surgical Extraction
-4 Collector Ouphe
-1 Chalice of the Void

misc notes/thoughts

  • Personal opinion, of course, but I think the use of hatebears is an upgrade (side-grade?) over other hate packages. I won a third to half of my games without active Bazaar, and I feel that if I had pitch counters or Spheres over Thalia/Ouphe, I would have slowed my opponent down more effectively, but given them more than enough time to comeback from it. Thalis and Ouphes triggering Vengevines is also pretty significant. I do think that the counters/spheres are better disruption if you already have a strong hand without them.

  • The **Outcome ** matchup feels very good, despite being my one loss. No matchup feels particularly bad in the way that Shops v Outcome does. I think you can build a reasonable deck that's very favorable against this, but there aren't metagame incentives to do that right now. I was most afraid of BUG with Tarmogoyf and Tabernacle, but I beat them 2-0.

  • The weakest card in the deck was Stonecoil Wurm, which I ran over Memnite because I wanted a way to kill Bridge from Below against Dredge. I'm not sure if there's a minimum number of free creatures you need to run to make the deck work - bad free creatures might be a necessary evil.

  • Surgical Extractions are a nod to the TSI metagame where Survival is more likely than Dredge. I'd probably run more dedicated Dredge hate in the Champs metagame, but so far I've been very favorable against the deck despite not dedicating many cards to it.

  • Kataki, War's Wage is very bad against Walking Ballista. I thought that the Collector Ouphes would make it better, but I'm not sure that they do. It's really nice in that matchup to have your hate card be a 1W creature, but I'm not sure it's correct.

  • Deathrite Shaman isn't here for the mana, just for the other two abilities. It's been strong for me in that role alone. I considered, but didn't test, Dryad Militant

  • Lavinia, Azorius Renegade seems real powerful in this, but I'm a little worried about the inability to play it turn one off of Elvish Spirit Guide. Gaddock Teeg might be good, I didn't test it.

  • Once the deck stalls out, it's very unlikely to recover, creatures such as Tarmogoyf that can block a 4/x are very scary, though in practice I've been able to pressure fast enough to force my opponent into bad attacks or blocks. I have this weird feeling that the Exalted trigger on a Noble Hierarch could be really effective against opposing Lhurgoyfs/Constructs/Eldrazi, but with the deck as it is there just isn't much use for the mana, and maybe a Path to Exile would be better.

  • It doesn't use the graveyard as much as you think. It doesn't use the graveyard as much as your opponents think. People see Bazaar and Panic but there's just 4 Vengevines in the list and I'm not sure Tormod's Crypt is any more effective than a Swords to Plowshares. I do think perhaps there's some opportunity to run a few more graveyard-centric cards and I want to try Ox of Agonas in this

  • Once Upon a Time is really good. It's probably great in Survival and solid in Dredge. I have a lot of thoughts about it, some unintuitive. People see the card as a way to find Bazaar more consistently, but in a Bazaar reliant deck, you can't keep an opening hand that has OuaT and no Bazaar. The card is at its best in a hand that can be greatly improved by a specific Land/Creature, but still has plays if you miss. In that sense I think that this list is one of the best homes for the card, but it's excellent in Survival as well (maybe better). This deck just just need Bazaar, it has a ton of hands that need one particular piece to take them over the edge and Once Upon a Time gets all of them. It gets Vengevine to make your Bazaars better and Basking Rootwalla to make your Vengevines better. It gets Collector Ouphe to shut your opponent down and Elvish Spirit Guide to cast it on turn one. It finds Strip Mine and your opponent groans. I believe I found literally every creature in my deck with OuAT at least one time during the event.

  • This is maybe the most aggressively mulligan'ing deck I've played, even moreso than Dredge because I'll happily Serum Powder a hand with Bazaar in it. I did more than once and didn't lose those games. On camera I Powdered three times and opened with Bazaar which means I saw literally 30 cards before either player played their first spell.

I think there are some properties of this deck that might not be clear just looking at the list. The combination of Serum Powder/Once Upon A Time/Bazaar of Baghdad compresses your possible opening hands, which makes some lines more common or relevant than they look. Some of your hands are going to be Bazaar hands where other cards don't matter so much. To speak in specifics ... a deck with 4 Elvish Spirit Guide and a bunch of 2 drop HateBears is one of the oldest archetypes in vintage and it's never been particularly dominant, and certainly isn't seen as a "raw power" deck. HateBears are slow most of the time and 4 ESGs isn't enough to consistently play them turn one. This deck isn't any more likely than those decks to have a turn 1 Thalia in a random 7 card hand ... but there is a key difference.

The 7 card hands that go "turn 1 land, ESG, Thalia, turn 2 land Ouphe" are just as common as they were in any other aggro bears deck. Those hands are strong in HateBears and they're strong in HollowBears. The flaw in HateBears is that those hands aren't common enough, and the other possible hands are very weak. Once Upon a Time improves both decks, making those hands more likely. But with HollowBears, some large portion of the hands that don't have that opening, have a strong Bazaar opener instead. But if you don't have either your chance of having a Serum Powder in those remaining cards is much much higher, and Powder is extra strong in that scenario.

The end result is that you see a manabase that looks like manabases you've seen before, but in practice the amount of games you play turn 1 lock piece is much higher than the amount of games you play one on turn 2.

Because of this effect, which honestly I'm having a hard time articulating ... the entire design of this deck is pushed toward your opening hand, and choosing which cards to run seems to be more about crafting a turn 1/turn 2 sequence which work together than it is about finding cards that are particularly good.

last edited by Brass Man

Very interesting. I think the pitch counters in both HollowVine and Dredge load more of the value of your deck into your opening hand, and having strong early hate-bear options mirrors this quite a bit.

It feels to me like Pitch Dredge showed that there was room in the Dredge archetype to load in almost any package you wanted. That point was driven home by Zias' Shops/Dredge hybrids, and now we're looking at massive hybridization of the Bazaar-as-creature-engine concept. Admittedly, in HollowVine decks the Bazaar doesn't serve quite so squarely as a graveyard engine in particular, but it feels like a close cousin to me.

My personal preference is always to maximize consistency if your deck has sufficient power level. I would be interested in seeing a version of the HollowX archetype with artifact-based lock pieces, because the mana for that can be much more consistent (one mana source being sufficient for almost all lock pieces). Granted this would weaken Once Upon a Time quite a bit, but perhaps it would be worthwhile.

last edited by ajfirecracker

@ajfirecracker I believe a Bazaar/Vengevine deck with Mishra's Workshops to power Sphere of Resistance and CMC=X creatures has seen some success on MTGO and predates this build of the deck. I tried finding a list on MTGGoldfish but couldn't, it's possible I'm mixing it up with the Zias Workshop/Dredge lists. In preparation for the event I tested a list with Workshop and Skullclamp, but ultimately I liked this better.

I like this deck, and based on our conversations the day of the event, I'd think about these small alterations if I was tuning my own version:

  1. Dropping the 4 Stonecoil Serpent, and adding more mana or interaction in those slots. The full suite of Deathrite Shaman seems very useful to me, for both triggering Vengevine as well as hardcasting stuff, should the game go a few turns, or as another tangential tool against Dredge and graveyard-centric decks.
  2. Anther option could be more off-color Moxen, to help more reliably power out the first turn Thalia or Collector Ouphe draw, which could help greatly when you know what deck you'e up against.
  3. 2-3 Lavinia would be another interesting choice, and could potentially be swapped in some of the floating slots. This would also keep the creature count up (for Vengevine triggering purposes).
  4. I think more graveyard hate is necessary in the sideboard against Dredge (likely the 4th Leyline of the Void, and maybe 1 more card).

How relevant was Thorn of Amethyst in your experience? It seems incredibly powerful in theory, but I'm wondering if you had time to cast it on curve, and if it proved worth the slot.

Could this list run Gemstone Cavern as a mana booster for turn 1 lock peices? With Powders/new mulligan?

@brass-man I don't like Skullclamp in this context. As you identified, you want to load your opening hand to make an immediate impact. Skullclamp is more of a win-eventually card.

does this deck want lotus petal? having one more white accelerator for early thalia when your land drop is bazaar seems worth considering

I just want to say I love everything happening here and this is the most excited I've been for a list in a long time. Keep up the good work.

I'm conflicted about the benefit of the blue pitch counters over Thalia/Collector Ouphe. I played some games against Andy with Paradoxical Outcome and found it pretty unlikely to beat Thalia/Collector Ouphe on turn 1. I liked how proactive the deck was and it forced me to try to mulligan into hands that had Force of Will along with early action.

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