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Budget Magic: Hollow Herald (Modern)


Mbote na bino, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! It has been a while since we've explored Modern on Budget Magic, but the format is back this week, with a super-sweet Theros: Beyond Death–driven list: Hollow Herald. The combo of Storm Herald and Eldrazi Conscription is one that I've been wanting to try in Modern for a while. The challenge was figuring out the right shell to support the synergy. Since we need to get Eldrazi Conscription in the graveyard to reanimate it with Storm Herald's enters-the-battlefield ability, it eventually struck me that the cards that make Storm Herald and Eldrazi Conscription work are the same ones that make Hollow One work! As such, today's deck is a mashup of Mono-Red Hollow One and Storm Herald combo. Thanks to cards like Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore, we can play Hollow Ones for free while also filling our graveyard with copies of Eldrazi Conscription to annihilate our opponent with Storm Herald. Can the plan work in Modern on a budget? How good are Storm Herald and Eldrazi Conscription in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Hollow Herald (Modern)

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The Deck

At its heart, Hollow Herald is a very random, graveyard-centric aggro deck. Cards like Goblin Lore, Burning Inquiry, and Cathartic Reunion keep us churning through our deck to find our combo pieces while also allowing us to cast powerful payoffs like Hollow One for free and stocking our graveyard with things like Ox of Agonas, Flamewake Phoenix, and Eldrazi Conscription for Storm Herald reanimation shenanigans. The end result is a weird mashup of graveyard synergies, free threats, and a huge annihilating finish!

Storm Herald Combo

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Storm Herald is a potentially powerful reanimation creature. When it enters the battlefield, we can return any number of auras from our graveyard to play attached to our creatures for one turn only (since they exile themselves at the end of turn). While we can stick the auras on any of our creatures, thanks to haste, Storm Herald is a fine target itself, allowing us to get in a massive, aura-fueled attack right away. Our deck only has a single aura to reanimate, but it might be the most powerful aura in all of Magic: Eldrazi Conscription, which not only gives the creature it enchants a massive +10/+10 but trample and annihilator 2 as well! If we can get Eldrazi Conscription in our graveyard on Turn 1 or Turn 2, then Storm Herald on Turn 3 can potentially just end the game by annihilating away our opponent's board and getting in a huge chunk of damage. In the late game, it gets even more threatening because we probably have multiple copies of Eldrazi Conscription in the graveyard, which makes Storm Herald very close to a hasty, three-mana version of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn!

Discard

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For our Storm Herald combo plan to work, we need to get Eldrazi Conscription in our graveyard as quickly as possible. For this, we are mostly trusting in the Magic gods by drawing and discarding randomly with Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore, although Cathartic Reunion gives us a bit of more controlled discard as well. Along with getting Eldrazi Conscription in our graveyard for Storm Herald to reanimate, these cards also just fill our graveyard (and allow us to discard cards) en masse, which is important to the second half of our deck...

Hollow One

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One of the risks of our Storm Herald reanimation plan is that it can be shut down by graveyard hate, and basically every Modern deck plays at least some amount of graveyard hate in their sideboard (or even main deck). As such, we need a backup plan for killing our opponent if our graveyard gets locked down by something like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. Hollow One is the perfect backup plan for Storm Herald since all of the cards we are using to stock our graveyard with copies of Eldrazi Conscription (Burning Inquiry, Goblin Lore, and Cathartic Reunion) allow us to play Hollow One for free (or, in the worst case, for one mana). This gives us a weird but very random nut-draw that doesn't involve Storm Herald at all—sometimes, we cast a Burning Inquiry on Turn 1, end up with two or three copies of Hollow One in hand, and pick up a free win by beating down with free 4/4s!

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Flameblade Adept gives us another payoff for drawing and discarding so many cards, often turning into a 4/2 menacing attacker as early as Turn 2! This allows us to start chipping away at our opponent's life total and makes sure that by the time we are ready to Storm Herald back an Eldrazi Conscription, one big, annihilating attack should be lethal.

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One of the downsides of using Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore as our looting effects is that we don't have any control over what we discard. One of the ways to get around this problem is by playing cards that like being in our graveyard. Flamewake Phoenix and Ox of Agonas join Eldrazi Conscription as cards that we are happy to discard as we loot through our deck. Flamewake Phoenix comes back as a hasty 2/2 flyer for just one mana with the help of Hollow One, Flameblade Adept, or Ox of Agonas, while Ox of Agonas gives us another way to discard and draw cards while also being a 5/3 for just two mana when we escape it from our graveyard. Ox of Agonas specifically offers a lot of value in grindy games. Our deck is really good at filling the graveyard with all of our draw and discard cards, which means in the late game, even if our opponent manages to kill Ox of Agonas, it's likely to come back again the next turn for just two mana.

Other Stuff

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Street Wraith is in our deck for one reason: to be cycled away for two life. We don't have any black mana in our deck, so we can never cast it as a creature, but just cycling for free is extremely synergistic in our deck, making Hollow One cost two mana less, pumping Flameblade Adept, and putting extra cards in our graveyard for Ox of Agonas

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Finally, we have a bit of removal. Lightning Bolt is pretty much self-explanatory—it's just the most efficient red removal available in Modern. Meanwhile, Lightning Axe gives us a way to take down bigger creatures and also acts as a backup discard outlet, giving us an additional way to get Eldrazi Conscription into the graveyard to reanimate with Storm Herald

Wrap-Up

Hollow Herald was great! Not only did we go 5-0 in our matches, but we also beat a lot of top-tier Modern decks along the way, like Urza, Eldrazi Tron, Mono-Red Prowess, and Death's Shadow! While all of our matches were close (and each went three games), Hollow Herald actually felt extremely competitive!

The biggest upside of the deck is how hard it is to attack since our plan is so random and dependent on the whims of the Magic gods. Sometimes, we get fast wins with multiple Hollow Ones. Other times, the game goes long, and we eventually win by reanimating two or three copies of Eldrazi Conscription. The combination of being fast and resilient is a really good place to be in Modern at the moment. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I don't think I'd change anything at all. Cards like Blood Moon could be good sideboard additions but would add quite a bit to the budget, making them more non-budget upgrades than budget-friendly upgrades. As far as the budget build is concerned, I'd run it back exactly as is. 

All in all, Hollow Herald felt very solid. The deck is really fun to play and surprisingly competitive against the top tier of the Modern format for a deck that's very close to $100 in paper. As a bonus, if you happen to have the Mono-Red Hollow One Budget Magic deck we played a couple of years ago, you probably have most of the cards you need for this build, and upgrading should be fairly inexpensive! If you're looking for something different and fun to play in Modern that doesn't break the bank, give it a shot! 

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Hollow Herald isn't really a great deck to get down into the $50 price range. Eldrazi Conscription can't be cut, and just a playset of the aura by itself adds up to $32. Cutting as much as possible, I managed to get the deck down under $70, but this comes at a high cost in terms of power (losing most copies of Ox of Agonas, all copies of Goblin Lore, and weakening the sideboard). In all honesty, I wouldn't recommend the ultra-budget build. I'm not sure it's powerful enough to really be competitive, but this seems like a fine-ish starting point if you want to jam some games on the kitchen table while you are saving up for the rest of the pieces from the build we played for the videos.

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Meanwhile, for our non-budget list, the non-land cards in our main deck stay the same. The upgrades all come in the mana base (where we get some Horizon lands in Fiery Islet and Sunbaked Canyon to protect against flooding) and the sideboard (with Blood Moon and Leyline of the Void being the biggest upgrades over Tormod's Crypt and Alpine Moon). Thankfully, the deck is fairly cheap even in non-budget form, coming in at about $250, which is still a solid deal for a Modern deck!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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