Legacy is a format that is constantly in flux. Tons of decks are viable and therefore it’s very hard to attack or defend the format from one specific angle. A lot of people dislike this characteristic of Legacy (and old Extended formats), but I think it’s great.
Nowadays Vengevine Madness is slowly starting to dominate, and various decks and their sideboards are adapting to help fight the Vengevine menace, and are tailoring graveyard hate specifically for attacking this threat. This is great news for Dredge since people are now packing graveyard hate that is quite weak against Dredge. After the jump let’s take a look at the available options that are most often played.
Extirpate – This is seeing tons of play right now to neuter the Vengevine aspect of Survival decks. It is also quite good against anything playing Life From the Loam. The good news for Dredge players is that Extirpate is usually weak against you, as you will often need to be Extirpated 3 times to get locked out of a game, and a single Extirpate does relatively little but slow down the game.
Faerie Macabre – This is another card that is generally quite weak versus Dredge. It can work wonders against other decks, but a properly built Dredge deck can almost completely ignore the loss of two cards from the graveyard. There are generally so many potential targets that getting rid of just a couple isn’t good enough.
Relic of Progenitus/Tormod’s Crypt – Both of these cards are seeing less play currently, as most people prefer to run Faerie Macabre (can be searched up with Survival) or Extirpate. It’s still quite likely you will run into them though here and there as sideboard trends fluctuate, but these artifacts generally only slow you down and you have excellent sideboard tools against them such as Pithing Needle and Ancient Grudge. Of the two Relic is most often better because it isn’t a single shot deal like Tormod’s Crypt, but they aren’t going to kill you usually because they are both answered by Needle and Grudge, or by slow Dredging enough to just force the opponent to pop them.
Ravenous Trap – Honestly this card is pretty bad against everything that isn’t Dredge, and that means it shouldn’t be played since Dredge is a very small part of the metagame right now. Because of this you won’t see many of them in tournaments, but for the experienced Dredge player it is also relatively easy to play around. If you refrain from going all in this will certainly slow you down, but it won’t shut you down and lose you the game (similar to Crypt and Relic).
Leyline of the Void – Personally I think this card is garbage. It is terribly designed as it requires no skill, and is based on luck. Because of this I don’t think it should see any play in Legacy, as most decks cannot reliably cast it or search for it if they don’t open with it in their starting hand (generally odds of 40% or less, assuming no Serum Powder type shenanigans). The only decks that should even consider Leyline are Black decks that run Dark Ritual, but even then Yixlid Jailer is better, more reliable, easier to cast, and harder for the Dredge player to answer. Thankfully people rarely play Leyline in winning lists, as it’s really quite bad and requires 4 sideboard slots, as it isn’t effective if you can’t maximize your chances of seeing it in your opening hand. It is also pretty ineffective against everything that isn’t Dredge or 43Lands, and both of those decks see relatively little play, so it is my opinion that nearly every sideboard that is running Leyline of the Void in Legacy is poorly built.
Yixlid Jailer – This card never really saw much Legacy play and still doesn’t, as people have been trending away from Black in general. It can be a huge problem if it comes down against you the Dredge player, but you do have some ways to deal with it. You can run Chain of Vapor and/or Darkblast as your best and easiest to cast answers. Ideally you won’t face it, and based on the numbers we see in tournament results lately, nobody is running it.
With this analysis in mind, I’ve built the following Dredge deck based on the idea that most of the hate you will actually face in a tournament currently is either Faerie Macabre, Extirpate, Tormod’s Crypt, and Relic of Progenitus. You can check out recent StarCityGames Top 16 decklists to verify what hate is actually being played, but right now we’re not seeing a lot of Leyline of the Void, Yixlid Jailer, or anything else for that matter.
The other goal when designing this deck was to make it as consistent, while still maintaning the explosive nature of the deck. One of Dredge’s main advantages is that it will not be facing much hate in Game 1 of every match, so you should generally win most Game 1’s as long as you don’t have to mulligan to oblivion. The last thing I want to do is lose Game 1 because of a mull to 4 or less, so this list has been built and tested to have a lot of consistency through redundancy.
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Golgari Thug[/Dredgers]
4 Putrid Imp
4 Lions Eye Diamond
2 Careful Study
[Combo Pieces] (24)
2 Dread Return
1 Flame-Kin zealot
1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
1 Deep Analysis
4 Bridge from Below
2 Cabal Therapy
4 street wraith[/Combo Pieces]
4 City of Brass
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Cephalid Coliseum[/Lands]
4 Pithing Needle
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Ray of Revelation
2 Cabal Therapy
1 Undiscovered Paradise
At this point you are probably saying “Street Wraith? WTF!?” Street Wraith was actually one of the most productive changes I made to the deck, having played and tested many different options. Here are just a few of the things Street Wraith does:
- Speeds You Up: People don’t realize how much it speeds you up and the explosive plays this can generate. Most people will say, “sure its only 1 extra Dredge,” but in game that can be huge when you are slow Dredging, and it allows you to explode out of certain positions, or if you’re waiting to kill off a hate card and then accelerate. Street Wraith in your opening 7 when slow Dredging essentially functions as a Time Walk, as it speeds you up by a full turn.
- Answers Faerie Macabre: You can respond to Faerie Macabre’s effect of removing your key Dredger by using Street Wraith (thus bringing your Golgari Grave-Troll or Stinkweed Imp back to your hand, out of harm’s way in the graveyard).
- It Feeds Ichorid: This can be relevant especially in post sideboarded Games 2 and 3 when the grinding Ichorid strategy might be your game plan. Many lists don’t have enough Black creatures to really support Ichorid all that well, but the addition of Street Wraith provides you more outlets for doing this when the game goes long, which it invariably will after sideboarding.
The other change to the maindeck are the 2 Entombs. Originally I tested 4 Entombs for more consistency in getting that initial Dredger into the graveyard on turn 1 (or post Crypt or Relic, for example), but Entomb doesn’t really do anything else and you don’t want to draw multiples, so 2 is good enough for the current makeup of the deck. It can tutor up a Dredger early if you have no other way, which is very important as you really can’t keep an opening hand without one. It can also tutor up whatever you might need mid-game, whether it’s Ichorid, Bridge From Below, Narcomoeba (which gets put straight into play), Dread Return, or anything else you fancy (maybe a Street Wraith to feed to Ichorid). It also tutors for your hate cards with Flashback (Ancient Grudge, and in some instances Ray of Revelation) in post sideboard games.
So what cards have gotten cut to make room for these changes? Nothing that the deck can’t live without. You are basically cutting an Ichorid, 2 Cabal Therapy, and a Dread Return, most of which will drop into the sideboard for when we need it. The other cards are going to be things like Careful Study or Cephalic Coliseum which are essentially replaced in terms of functionality and power by the new additions. Trimming some of the main deck staples in this case can make you a little less consistent when comboing, but by that time the engine is probably going already. As stated earlier the goal is to improve opening hands and reduce mulligans, while adapting to the most commonly played hate at the moment. Cabal Therapy just doesn’t have the same impact right now when people aren’t playing as many counterspells and combo cards. So I don’t think there is much reason to run 4 maindeck Therapies at the moment, but we still have them in the sideboard for when they are most useful.
Overall I’m very happy with this decklist. I think it is about as consistent as possible while still maintaining the speed and ridiculous plays that make Dredge very competitive. You are going to be winning almost every Game 1 you play, so I have designed the deck and sideboard to be quite resilient to the hate that is being played today. One of the key things to keep in mind is the hate that is actually being played, and not just what exists or theoretically could beat you.
I feel that Dredge is a very strong choice in the current metagame, and I hope you have enjoyed my first article here on Eternal Central. Hopefully I’ll have some tournament reports coming in the near future based on this and other decks I’m testing. Thanks for reading.
(Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and republished for clarity as of 10-26-2010. This originally escaped our normal editing process before publication, and the editors here at Eternal Central will do all that we can to make sure these errors do not happen going forward. Thank you for your support and patience as we grow!)