Better Call Souls - A Mardu Hollow One Tournament Report


It's time for some report action! Last month I talked about Hollow One variants and now I am bringing you m y latest experience as well as some discussion regarding small communities and tournament organization. Want to know more? Just keep reading.

A Quick Disclaimer: This isn't a GP report, nor a Huge tournament report. I intend, with this article, to share my recent experience testing Mardu Hollow One, which I wrote about here, while also giving you a fun little look at the tournament I took it to.

I have been playing Magic since I was a kid at school and that quickly developed into the competitive scene, especially when you consider that my home town of Madrid had no shortage of FNMs, GPs, and other organized events, meaning I was immersed in competitive Magic, often having an event to attend every day of the week.

Melbourne, where I lived after Madrid, also was a large city with plenty of Magic events for me to immerse myself in as well. However, earlier this year, I found myself at a new job in a smaller city in the north of Spain – Pamplona – with only one shop and a significantly smaller magic community with mostly casual or Commander players.

Town Square

Suddenly, attending a tournament became a huge deal, as they need a lot of effort to organize a weekly event or a monthly league. In this article, I'll share my experience at the July Modern League, and, in addition, my thoughts on Mardu Hollow One, so let's get started: 

The Deck 

Mardu Hollow One - Rodrigo Martin - Liga Modern Pamplona Julio

In the past few months, I've been playing a lot of Hollow One in preparation for Summer events I was planning on attending. I did perform poorly at the Modern League in June, but I still wanted to give the deck a chance, so I added the Lingering Souls plan in order to improve some grindy match-ups like Jeskai or Abzan midrange that had defeated me previously.

There's nothing new in the main deck, adding three Souls by cutting one Gurmag Angler and moving two Collective Brutality to the sideboard. Although the fifteen sideboard slots are pretty much established nowadays, I chose not to run Leyline of the Void and leave two Nihil Spellbomb as I didn't expect so many graveyard-based decks (I was mistaken about this).

Finally, two Big Game Hunters were my removal spells of choice instead of the third copies of Fatal Push and Grim Lavamancer. Even it's more synergistic with the whole looting theme of the deck, it became a dead card for the whole tournament that will be removed for future events until the metagame shifts again.

Round One: Esper Control

When I realized what my opponent was playing, I felt favored having Lingering Souls on my side. As a matter of fact, both games ended up being attrition fights were my creatures were Path to Exiled, Pushed, or eventually fell victim to Wrath of God.

My plan was to apply some early pressure but not drop all my raw power on the battlefield. I made sure to always fetch for Sacred Foundry as soon as I had red and black mana so it didn't get randomly discarded. Afterwards, I choose to play Lingering Souls from hand rather than loot it away so I got more Spirit tokens.

Game two also went longer but this time I removed Lightning Bolts for the discard outlets, so I could play around my opponent's hand. In the end, Lingering Souls was the MVP of the match since my opponent got mana screwed and couldn't find the board sweeper against my flying tokens. 

Sideboard Plan (1st line: In; 2nd line: Out):

Sideboard 1

Result: 2-0

Round Two: Humans

This matchup is quite hideous, and you need a lot of sideboard cards to improve it. It was a huge mistake not to run the second copy of Engineered Explosives which is a "catch all" answer against so many decks and hate cards.

I knew my opponent's list quite well as we played on the previous league and I had given him some brand-new Militia Bugler, which makes the deck even stronger and more resilient against control match-ups.

Luck favored me, so I started the game aggressively on game one by cycling two Street Wraith plus fetching to Blood Crypt in order to play Hollow One. On turn 3, I was already at ten life after another cycled wraith and fetched Mountain.

He, on the other hand, put up an Aether Vial on two, and ended up with a Kitesail Freebooter, which had stolen my Goblin Lore. A Thalia, Guardian of Thraben rounded out his board.

On the deciding turn, I summoned a Flamewake Phoenix from my hand. The attack led to my opponent activating their vial for Thalia's Lieutenant, but it wasn't enough to beat my army of soul tokens, backed by the usual suspects.

Game two was a whole different story, we both mulliganed, I kept a good six and my opponent went again and again until he stopped on four cards. This was my hand:

Hand 1

Even though I had all the card advantage, he put up a good fight, stabilizing the board with Auriok Champion. In the end, Grim Lavamancer did his job, killing every creature that entered the battlefield.

Overall, I was extremely lucky in both games and even with the souls, the matchup seems favorable for Humans. 

Sideboard Plan (1st line: In; 2nd line: Out):

Sideboard 2

Result: 2-0 / Overall Games: 4-0

Round Three: Burn

Up until this point, the souls did a bunch of work for me. From here, they were less than great. In the first game against Burn, I was on the play and kept a risky no lander with a couple of cyclers, two Faithless Looting, Hollow One, Gurmag Angler and Flamewake Phoenix. 

The single red land I had was enough to make for a strong turn one Hollow One, but, from there, it went downhill as I found no lands... seemingly for an eternity:

Hand 2

That's right, I didn't find another land in the next eight turns. If I'd found one, the match would've probably gone quite easily. But my opponent managed to find what he needed to crush me handily before I could find said land.

My deck was asking for some forgiveness in the second game, granting me double Collective Brutality and it was an easy win.

Game three though, my opponent was on the play and I had to mulligan, but I ended up with a medium one that couldn't beat turn one Monastery Swiftspear followed by lots of direct damage.

When I had finally stabilized, I was already at five, which made for a quick handshake just a few turns later. Nevertheless, I find this matchup quite favorable, especially without souls.

Sideboard Plan (1st line: In; 2nd line: Out):

Sideboard 3

Just in case you're wondering, Ancient Grudge goes just in case the opponent plays Ensnaring Bridge, otherwise I would leave two souls in.

Result: 1-2 / Overall Games: 5-1

Round Four: Storm

Although it might seem like a linear matchup, this is the round I enjoyed the most. Game one is all about who's able to kill first, we have to run a lot or have Bolt for his guys. On this case, my opponent was on the play, casted Goblin Electromancer on turn two, Gifts Ungiven on three and the game was over.

After sideboarding, we both bring in more disruption, adapting our game plan. The Storm player tends to cut out all the Gifts, instead favoring Empty the Warrens and Pieces of the Puzzle strategy. The Hollow One player adds more discard, graveyard hate, and finally, some Engineered Explosives for the goblin tokens.

I started with double adept and both were bolted, then I discarded an Empty the Warrens and he proceeded to cast Baral, Chief of Compliance. After being stacked with only one Bloodghast looking sad against Baral for a couple of turns, a top-decked Faithless Looting brought me double Hollow One and, following one Bolt to kill Baral, we moved on to game three.

In the final game, we both mulliganed to six and had a slow start. Thoughtseize on turn two revealed and discarded Pieces of the Puzzle, leaving Empty the Warrens and Unsubstantiate. When he was at 6 life, he stormed off to make ten goblins, but I had the Explosives for the win.

Sideboard Plan (1st line: In; 2nd line: Out):

Sideboard 4

Lingering Souls didn't work in this match again, where a second explosives would've helped to counter the goblin plan.

Result: 2-1 / Overall Games: 7-2

Top 8 Matches

Top 8 Pic
The Top 8 consisted of three Hollow one decks, the aforementioned storm and burn decks, Two Affinity players, and finally, a W/U Spirits player.

Quarterfinals: Storm

Sadly, for this article at least, I ended up paired against my round four opponent for the quarterfinals. The result ended up exactly the same: I lost the first round and won the other two. Both were close and intense games where we exchanged resources but yet again the singleton explosives saved me from the red token army. 

Sideboard Plan: Same as before.

Result: 2-1 / Overall Games: 9-3

Semifinals: Hollow One

Being the most representative deck at the top meant that at some point we had to encounter each other. I felt quite favorable playing souls against the mirror and in game one, I won quite handedly. Being on the play was crucial and I didn't need end up needing the souls at all.

After sideboarding, we both mulliganed to six and found myself against a Leyline of the Void. I couldn't beat it, despite a Hollow One on turn two, as my opponent had Ancient Grudge ready to go, so we moved onto game three quite quickly.

Last game was he most skillful of the whole tournament and kept me thinking for a long time after the tournament. I kept my first seven and my opponent mulliganed, but failed to find the Leyline, so we had a real game.

I played the first Hollow One, which fell victim to one of two looted ancient grudges my opponent sent to the grave. I knew My 4/4 Golems wouldn't decide the match.

We kept developing our boards and casting some Goblins Lore and I found a precious Nihil Spellbomb to wipe out his graveyard, so no flashback Looting and recurring Phoenix for him.

Later, I had to play defense when he found not one but three Hollow Ones! He attacked against my Gurmag Angler and Flameblade Adept and I had to double bolt one of them and block the other with Gurmag, taking four and going under ten life.

Next turn, we traded the Angler for his last Hollow One plus Brutality and suddenly I felt favored although I was at 3 life. I started the Lingering Souls plan, playing for its full value since I had to block an annoying Bloodghast. 

On the crucial turn, my opponent was at 8 life and I was at 2. Two soul tokens plus Adept on my side the battlefield, my hand was double Phoenix and I drew Bloodghast whereas his side was empty except for one Bloodghast.

At that very moment, my main concern was to attack him down two four so next turn he became dead on board so I summoned my own Bloodghast and attacked with it plus the tokens leaving the Adept on defense. There were lots of cards that killed me on the next rurn: Brutality or Bolt, and a hasty Phoenix. Instead, he drew a second Bloodghast and became victorious.

The correct play was to cast my Phoenix, attack with it an only one token, leaving the other on defense along with the Adept but I only saw it after the match had ended.

Sideboard Plan (1st line: In; 2nd line: Out):

Sideboard 5

Result: 1-2 / Overall Games: 10-4

Despite my mistake at the end, I ended up quite satisfied with the deck. Lingering Souls might not be the best choice right now but even when it's not very useful, it generates some value. I would definitely bring three graveyard hate cards moving forward, especially for the new Vengevine deck from the Pro Tour, and the second Explosives instead of the Hunters as I mentioned before.


If you read up to this point, thanks for your patience and hope you enjoyed the matches and the tournament narration.

Before closing, thumbs up to the Pamplona Modern crew for the magnificent organization they do every month to gather people, look for the prizes, the venue all by themselves with almost no help from the local shop.

Moreover, if you want to check the deck-lists, they post it every month on Tcdecks and on this July edition, UW Spirits won the tournament, defeating every Hollow One he was paired with a very interesting list thanks to M19 additions: Remorseful Cleric and Supreme Phantom, check it out on the link below.

Top 8 Decklists

Again, thanks a lot for reading and until next time.

Rodrigo Martin.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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RonePro(22.08.2018 08:47)

18Lands 23Creatures 19Other Spells
1Sacred Foundry 1Tasigur, the Golden Fang 4Lightning Bolt
1Stomping Ground 2Gurmag Angler 3Lingering Souls
1Swamp 4Bloodghast 4Burning Inquiry
2Blackcleave Cliffs 4Flameblade Adept 4Faithless Looting
2Mountain 4Flamewake Phoenix 4Goblin Lore
3Blood Crypt 4Hollow One
4Bloodstained Mire 4Street Wraith
4Wooded Foothills
2Ancient Grudge 2Big Game Hunter 2Collective Brutality
1Engineered Explosives 2Fatal Push 2Grim Lavamancer
2Nihil Spellbomb 2Thoughtseize

That's the list I played, the new one will remove 2 big game hunters and 2 nihils for the second explosives and 3 leyline of the Void.

Thank you so much for you comment bale11

bale11(17.08.2018 18:03)

Would you mind sharing your new list? 3 Souls main is where I'm at too ;) greetings from Spain