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By: Jbat, Johnathan Batliner
Oct 12 2020 11:00am

Another set has come and gone and with it comes a new season of Penny Dreadful. Anyone who knows me will know that I am thrilled to say goodbye to the High Tide decks that dominated season 17 and I suspect that I am not the only one. With the previous seasons menace gone for now it raises the question of what might take its place this season. A cursory glance at the notable cards that are rotating into the format suggests that it may be a Delver of Secrets deck or maybe a dredge deck abusing our newfound access to Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Grave-Troll. Without any further delay let us dig into some of the new cards at our disposal. 

Rotating In

Delver of Secrets
Stinkweed Imp
Golgari Grave-Troll
Dream Trawler
Nihil Spellbomb
Expedition Map
Tooth and Nail 

Rotating Out

High Tide
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Abbot of Keral Keep
Soul-Guide Lantern 


It looks like this season promises to be a great season for control decks with Ponder and Brainstorm at their disposal they should have exceptional card selection. They also have access to Dream Trawler as a powerful hard to remove finisher that we never had before. On top of all of that a myriad of powerful counterspells made the cut this season such as Muddle the Mixture Forbid and Dovin's Veto. Control decks are always a sizeable portion of the Penny Dreadful metagame because of the powerful blue cards available but this season looks to be even more packed with counter spells and board wipes like Day of Judgment. Due to this, cards like Vexing Shusher should be at an all-time high on the sideboards of any decks that can run them. 

Dredge is also looking like it could be a top tier deck with access to the two powerful dredgers and cards like Creeping Chill and Silversmote Ghoul which offer instant benefits to self-mill. Opposing grave hate cards like Soul-Guide Lantern rotated out but we did get Nihil Spellbomb which performs essentially the same function but decks that lack black to take advantage of the card draw may be hesitant to play it. As a result, they will be left with only Tormod's Crypt. While effective it can be difficult to know when to activate either of these graveyard removal effects, it is generally best to wait as long as possible or until the opponent is about to bring back a large amount of threats. Unless you have multiple crypts, in that case activate them often to slow the dredge deck down as much as possible. 

Cloudpost based decks look like they are primed for another powerful season. The primary new toy that they have received is Expedition Map and they also might play the newly acquired Treasure Map. I have seen at least one version running Tooth and Nail and as commander players know that card can enable some absolutely absurd combo finishes. Other than that, the deck remains relatively similar to past renditions of it perhaps just a little more consistent thanks to the maps. 

Affinity looks like it could also be a big part of the meta this season gaining access to cards like Tempered Steel and All that Glitters makes it a devastatingly fast aggro list. The colors that this deck wants to play are currently up for debate. It is very possible that it is simply good enough as a mono white list, but I have seen splashes of blue red or black to go along with it. Time will tell what the most efficient version of this list is. 

The High Tide deck is certainly gone seeing as they lost their namesake card. However, the payoff cards are still present in the form of Brain Freeze so time will tell if players find a way to break that cards potential open in a new way. 

I am going to miss Eureka quite a bit it was a lot of fun to dump our hand full of six seven and eight mana cards on turn three. However, the deck had a difficult matchup against control already and with how strong control looks this season it would probably fall further down the tier list even if it did not rotate. 

Wildfire has also rotated out which definitely removes that deck from the meta, but a host of other land destruction spells have found their way in. So perhaps the ponza archetype will find a way to thrive, especially if Cloudpost decks become as prominent as they have been in the past. 

My money is on Delver of Secrets to become the most played deck this season. In practice games for this season I have already seen numerous builds of the Delver list some in mono blue and others splashing a second color. My personal build is in blue white and tries to take advantage of the new modal double face cards from Zendikar Rising they help to enable blind flipping the Delver of Secrets.




Game Plan

The overall game plan of the dredge deck is to get some cards with dredge into your graveyard as early as possible and then begin replacing your draws with dredge to get as much of your library into graveyard as you can. This may sound like an odd game plan, but our deck is loaded with cards that payoff when they hit the graveyard. The primary card of this nature is Creeping Chill which drains our opponent for 3 and we gain 3. This card is more than just random life gain though as it will enable the return of our Silversmote Ghoul an incredibly recursive threat that can also help draw us cards. 

The best way to get cards into our graveyard is by using Cathartic Reunion to discard Golgari Grave-Troll Stinkweed Imp or Darkblast. Once we do that we can immediately replace the draws from Cathartic Reunion with dredge and get all of our graveyard payoffs in the bin right away. Our Graveyard threats are not limited to Creeping Chill and Silversmote Ghoul. We also have Conflagrate which can deal damage to any target and does double duty as a card that be cast from our graveyard and help get other cards into our graveyard as well. Haunted Dead and Squee, Goblin Nabob also love to join the graveyard party. Squee, Goblin Nabob is one of the best cards at enabling our discard synergies since he returns to our hand at the beginning of our upkeep we can perpetually discard him to a bevy of effects in our deck. 

Zombie Infestation is one of the greatest of our discard effects since it not only allows us to discard cards we want in the graveyard it can create a zombie swarm reminiscent of Field of the Dead. A couple copies of Squee, Goblin Nabob and a Zombie Infestation can win a game all by themselves. Both of those cards are also fantastic at fighting past control decks. In fact, almost our entire deck circumvents most traditional control decks since we are usually activating abilities of cards in our graveyard and not actually casting much. 


Honestly one of the only weaknesses I have witnessed for this deck is the exiling of our graveyard. This is something we have to be prepared for since most players are aware of how potent graveyard threats can be, so they likely are packing Tormod's Crypt and or Nihil Spellbomb on their sideboard. To deal with this we have Ancient Grudge and Ray of Revelation both of which have flashback which is essential in a deck like this since we will most likely mill them. Unfortunately, these are not a definitive answer as both popular grave exiling effects can be activated in response to being targeted but at least we can force them to use it on our terms. Occasionally the fastest aggro decks can get a win against us but usually Lightning Axe can take care of that. 

Overall, I would say that this deck is powerful and consistent but more importantly it is a blast to play. I would recommend that every Penny Dreadful player give it a try.

Azorius Delver


Game Plan

The primary idea of this deck is to land an early threat such as a Delver of Secrets or a Faerie Vandal and then to grow and protect that threat. We are often able to get a Curious Obsession onto either of those creatures in order to keep our hand full of counterspells to prevent our opponent from destroying our creature or otherwise disrupting our game plan. Flipping our Delver of Secrets as early as possible is essential to the success of the deck. This is made easier by the access to Brainstorm and Ponder but that has been the way to flip a Delver for a long time now. The more interesting interaction we received from Zendikar Rising is the access to modal double-faced cards like Silundi Vision and Jwari Disruption that act as lands but count as spells in our deck. 

The modal double-faced cards also have an interesting interaction with (Kefnet, the Mindful) allowing us to pick up the lands and use the spell side if we have to or want to. Linvala, Shield of Seagate is another new Zendikar Rising card that make use of here primarily to protect our delver but meanwhile it is a 3/3 flying threat that can help us get some damage in. We run a one of Dream Trawler just to have a top end for the games that go longer than we want. Azorius Charm helps keep us alive in many ways by either putting a creature on top of the opponents library or giving our creatures lifelink or drawing us a card to help cycle through our deck and get counters on Faerie Vandal. The remainder of the deck is mostly counter spells and ways to dig through our deck for the cards we need. 


 The biggest threat this deck faces is usually losing our Delver of Secrets but our mainboard has plenty of ways to help prevent this from happening so our sideboard is focused on the other threats we may encounter. Focusing primarily on removal we have Condemn Glass Casket and Banishing Light to help get rid of threats we otherwise could not answer especially from aggro decks. Banishing Light is also our best way to get rid of pesky enchantments, planeswalkers, or artifacts. We pack grave hate to try and deal with the devastatingly good dredge deck although our best bet against that deck is to just be as fast as possible. 

Ultimately after spending many league runs trying to force Delver of Secrets to work I must say that I am a little disappointed and no longer think it will be the powerhouse I was hoping it would be. That being said the deck was a lot of fun to brew and to play with and who knows maybe one of you can find the missing piece that takes this deck to the top tier and if not just enjoy some casual games of magic for fun. 


This season of Penny Dreadful promises to be just as fun and competitive as previous seasons have been. I do believe that at this moment the dredge deck is at the top of the heap and it might just stay there but unlike the High Tide deck from last season it is a little easier to counter with sideboard cards. I highly recommend checking out all of the new decks and playing some games and maybe making some new friends in this very welcoming community. As always let me know if you would like to see me cover any specific decks or themes this season or if you just want to play some games.