Dredge has always been considered as a “really easy to play” deck. You find your Bazaar of Baghdad, you dredge a bunch of cards, you Dread Return your victory condition, and it’s all over. Well, if it’s not far from being totally true in game 1, where the only difficult thing is to name the good card on Cabal Therapy and correctly counting your Bridge from Below tokens, it’s really far from being that simple in post board games. And with dredge, you will have to play a lot more post board games, just because you have a really high game 1 win rate, and your opponent brings a lot of hate for game 2 and 3, lowering your win percentage to around 50-60% in games with sideboard.
First of all, before speaking of how to sideboard, we have to speak of how the deck is designed. I’ll take my gauntlet list as an example, it’s close of the “accepted” list, with a few personal tweaks :
|[Maindeck]2 Petrified Field (58)|
4 Undiscovered Paradise
4 City of Brass
4 Cabal Therapy
2 Golgari Thug
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Grave-troll
4 Bridge from Below
3 Dread Return
1 Sphinx of the Lost Truth
1 Flame-kin Zealot
1 Angel of Despair
4 Bazaar of baghdad
4 Serum Powder[/Maindeck]
|[Sideboard]4 Chain of Vapor (11)|
3 Natures Claim
1 Petrified Field
2 Gemstone Mine
4 Leyline of the Void[/Sideboard]
There are a few things to note. Several of my maindeck choices are made to have more hate solutions in post board games :
Unmask is a huge tool against any hate an opponent can bring in against you in games 2 and 3. I tend to really prefer it to Chalice of the Void for that reason, simply because you will win game 1 fast anyway, and Chalice of the Void does almost nothing post sideboard against any hate but Tormod’s Crypt.
Those choices help me to compact my sideboard plans.
Then, when building a dredge sideboard, you have to consider two things:
- What can my opponent brings in with the deck he plays ?
- What do I need to fight those hate cards ?
The most common hate cards played in vintage against dredge are :
- Universal solutions, playable in any deck even if they can’t hardcast it, such as Leyline of the Void or Ravenous Trap
- Universal artifacts solutions, also playable in any decks, such as Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus
- Colored solutions, played only if the deck support the color, such as Planar Void or Yixlid Jailer
- Niche cards, not specifically played to fight dredge but sided in, such as Ensnaring Bridge, Tabernacle at the Prendell Vale, Firespout, Pyroclasm, Balance, Pithing Needle and many others.
Now that we know our enemies, we have to choose our weapons to fight them. The main goal of a dredge player is to have 6 or 7 solutions against any of the most played hates (Leyline of the Void, Ravenous Trap, Tormod’s Crypt, Relic of Progenitus, Planar Void and Yixlid jailer). With that in mind, I designed this sideboard :
- 4 Chain of Vapor: Universal solution to ANY hate the opponent can brings in, even many of the niche cards.
- 3 Nature’s Claim: Solution #5 to 7 against any artifact or enchantement hate, such as Leyline of the Void, Planar Void, Tormod’s crypt, Relic of Progenitus,
- 1 Darkblast: Solution #6 against Yixlid Jailer
- 1 Petrified Field : Solution #3 against wasteland decks
- 2 Gemstone Mine : To help you cast your anti hate cards post sideboard, 10 lands is perfect
- 4 Leyline of the Void : To win the mirror match and usefull against Goblins and MUD, which can destroy your bridges with Karn and Mogg Fanatic
The last question to ask yourself is what to side out and what to side in in every matchups.
First of all, note that I side in nine cards, whatever the matchup is :
- 4 Chain of Vapor
- 3 Nature’s Claim
- 2 Gemstone Mine
And I side out 9 cards, whatever the matchup is :
- 1 Golgari Thug
- 1 Dread Return
- 1 Sphynx of the Lost Thruth
- 1 Flamekin Zealot
- 3 Fatesticher
- 2 Ichorid
You don’t need any of your pure combo cards because your opponent bringing in some hate cards will make his deck slower and less effective.
From there, it all depends on the matchup you are facing :
- Against a Wasteland deck, I also side in Petrified Field instead of 1 Gemstone Mine.
- Against ANY deck playing black beside Oath, I side in Darkblast and side out the second Golgari Thug.
- I also often side out 1 Serum powder, sometimes a second Dread Return and Angel of Despair, depending on the matchup.
How to play post sideboard games is the last, and more difficult question to answer. The easiest way to do it is practice, practice and practice again (you should almost not play any pre-board game in during your playtest, except against a few decks that can win on game 1, such as MUD).
The general tips I can give you are the following :
- Open as a traditional game: You need to operate with a Bazaar on board. Against any Wasteland deck, if you have something like cabal therapy on hand, I recommand to play it before bazaar (or on the draw, just discard a dredger end of turn with 8 cards in hand before landing bazaar on turn 2, because of wasteland)
- Play really conservative, do not overextend your dredges
- Use Bloodghasts to mindtrick your opponent and force him to use his hate earlier.
- On the first Cabal Therapy, if you cannot Unmask, you almost always have to name Ravenous trap. It’s really hard to play against it and will always disrupt you on the most effective way.
- In the mid/late game, any Cabal therapy should try to hit the cards that make your opponent win.
I Hope this article will help you to improve your game with Dredge and understand the mechanics of the dredge deck when you play against it.