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By: Westane, Jeff Torres
Nov 25 2011 3:02am
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Eating My Words

splinterfrightboneyard wurmarmored skaabkessig cagebreakers

When I very first started theorycrafting with Innistrad, the first and most obvious block deck was UG Dredge. My first incarnation had Snapcaster Mage, Garruk Relentless and Mayor of Avabruck in it, and was generally bad. I had also been ignoring Boneyard Wurm in favor of Mindshrieker, as I passed the wurm off as being bad. I had Ambush Viper and Think Twice and Dissipate and everything was just bad...

When Innistrad debuted online, and Block DE's began firing, the deck in general turned out to be... bad.

Sure, the deck pulled out a few 3-1's here and there, but at the time I was really just writing it off to something I would never really need to worry about. I went so far as to say it's not even a deck. Well...

It's A Deck

ISD Block Dredge
Lands: 22
7 Forest
4 Hinterland Harbor
3 Island
4 Shimmering Grotto
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Woodland Cemetery

Creatures: 23
3 Armored Skaab
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Boneyard Wurm
4 Deranged Assistant
4 Kessig Cagebreakers
4 Splinterfright
Other Spells: 15
2 Dream Twist
3 Gnaw to the Bone
4 Mulch
1 Silent Departure
3 Spider Spawning
2 Unburial Rites
Sideboard: 15
4 Blasphemous Act
1 Gnaw to the Bone
3 Memory's Journey
3 Naturalize
2 Sever the Bloodline
2 Silent Departure

This is not the standard build, but rather the list that placed in a recent Premiere Event. The typical build runs a full set of Dream Twist, a final Armored Skaab and only 19 lands. The sideboard, generally, is also very different. Personally I favored the above list for consistency's sake. There's a few changes I'd make to it after actually playing it, but for the most part I like it. 19 lands felt far too greedy for me, and I was never a huge fan of Dream Twist to begin with. Sure it's a great enabler, but you can safely go a whole game without seeing one.

I didn't have a ton of time to practice with the deck, but I felt like I had lost to it enough to have a pretty basic understanding of how it worked. I spent about an hour in the Tournament Practice room just to get a feel for it, then hopped in the next available DE.


Those of you who read my last article may recall the mentality that I have been trying to work out of, and following that article up with a tournament report may seem odd. Over the weekend, my wife and I decided to spend our anniversary in town, at the Hotel Monte Vista. It's one of the most historical locations in Flagstaff, and it put us right in the middle of Historic Down Town. Due to certain travel restrictions, we really don't get out much, and when we do our time is limited by public transportation schedules. By staying in a hotel, we no longer had such issues.

We stayed out all night eating at hole-in-the-wall restaurants, checking out all the local shops and just taking in the college nightlife. We ate at an underground barbeque. We stumbled into a very hidden away baseball card shop that also sold Magic cards, and picked up duel deck to take back to the hotel room. Yes, we're THAT nerdy. Speaking of, part of what drew us to this hotel was the fact that it's also noted as the most haunted place in Flagstaff, with a history of deaths and murders and, well, history. We brought along cameras and voice recorders and the works.. and didn't catch a single thing. After packing up all our "equipment" for the night, one of our curtains yanked itself open. Go figure.

After a weekend of this, I was emotionally reset, and ready to just have fun again. I went into this event relaxed, and didn't really care how it ended up. If I won, cool, I can play in even more events. If I lost, then it's a solid learning experience. Either way, I planned on just having fun playing the game I like to play.

Round 1 - GWr Humans

Well, for game one there just wasn't much I could do. He curved out very nicely and got the cards he needed, while I was unable to get anything relevant going. By the time I had a Splinterfright online, it was far too late.

Game two worked exactly how i hoped it would after bringing in the Blasphemous Acts. It was my army against his, but in the end there's not much he could do against a board wipe followed by a reanimated Cagebreaker in the same turn. Unburial Rites helps this deck so much, especially in cases like this where you can clear the board for such little mana.

In game three, I feel like I started off with the advantage, but I got greedy, and didn't go after Garruk as aggressively as I should have... or at all. I must have forgotten he was good. In the end it was Garruk that cost me the game, allowing him to find his Fiend Hunters and his ultimate only secured the win.

Round 2 - Jund

I was off to a good start in game one, but I just could not get anything into play fast enough to take advantage of his mana situation. By the time my cagebreaker hit the table, he had stabilized enough to take the win. I've been very impressed with Jund lately, it's just packed with good cards. Still, I felt like this match was definitely winnable for me.

Game two was over for him in a flash, and game three wasn't very different. Curse of Death's Hold just doesn't do enough against Dredge, especially when I'm in a position to make so many wolves.

Round 3 - GW Tokens

In racing games, there's something called the rubberband effect. This is where once you put a certain distance between yourself and the car(s) behind you, they magically teleport right behind you. This is only used in some racing games, notably Burnout and Modnation Racers, and is meant to make the races feel more engaging for their entirety, rather than allowing you to simply coast to victory after lapping your first opponent.

I get the same vibe from Dredge. It's like the deck can't really win, until it's lost a little. Many games feel like you just sit back, lose creatures, take damage, gain life, then snap back with your choice of now-super powered win condition.

Game one ended before it started and it was off to game two. I didn't even mind losing game one against tokens, as I felt the Blasphemous Acts made that much of a difference, not to mention the Sever the Bloodlines.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit lucky in game two. Not only do I get to use a board wipe while he has a Fiend Hunter in play (One of my favorite plays) but I get to draw three of my four Blasphemous Acts. A pair 14/14 Splinterfrights seals the deal, and it's off to game three.

I had to keep a shaky hand for game three, but I wasn't the only one who went to six, so I didn't feel too bad about it. It took a while for me to find my off colored mana, but once I did the game was smooth sailing. A huge Splinterfright and a topdecked Kessig Cagebreakers quickly forced a concession. The Unburial Rites in my hand didn't hurt my position either.

I love being 3-0, it's my favorite position to be in. Inversely, I absolutely hate being 2-1. Now, if I lose this round, I'll have been not playing Skyrim for three hours for no good reason!

Round 4 - GW Tokens

So, as expected, I lose game one. I tried to hold him off as long as I could with Gnaw to the Bone but the outcome was inevitable. Oh how I wish Prey Upon had Flashback...

Game two went about as smoothly as I could hope. Blasphemous Act into Splinterfright into Kessig Cagebreakers into game three.

Game three had me very anxious. My life total was in constant flux and I was lucky to topdeck that Blasphemous Act at exactly the right moment. I stabilize both my field and life points, and proceed to drop a metric ton of tokens. It's late, and I decided to make a very poor block forgetting that my life total is back to a safe level, and the game drags on a few more turns than it should have as a result. Still, a reanimated Kessig Cagebreakers ties up my loose ends, and wins me some packs!


gnaw to the bonespider spawningdream twistmulch

It was nice breaking my losing streak, and I actually did have fun piloting this deck. I'll end the article in the usual way.

  • I don't like Silent Departure, I don't like Dream Twist. I would like to cut all three cards and add removal to the main.
  • I'm torn between 3x Blasphemous Act, 3x Sever the Bloodline, 3x Ambush Viper or even 3x Prey Upon to fill that slot.
  • I've considered Snapcaster Mage for the deck to make Prey Upon playable and make Blasphemous Act that much better.
  • As much as I love Garruk, he doesn't belong in the deck. He has no value milled, and little synergy with the deck all in all.
  • Forbidden Alchemy should be great in this deck, but I feel it's just too slow. I'd still love to be playing it.
  • The more I think about it, the more likely it is I'll be adding a trio of Sever the Bloodlines to the deck.
  • I think all in all, this is still a Tier 2 deck. However, the rest of the block will either make or break it.
  • Unfortunately, all it's going to take is some good, accessible graveyard hate to kill off this deck.
  • I would be extremely surprised if we didn't get that in the next set.
  • On the other hand, Narcomoeba? Please?
  • And could you image Life From the Loam here?
  • That last one isn't going to happen...
  • I know my videos aren't HD anymore, but I simply don't have time to encode HD video. FRAPS has a limit where it splitting video files, and combining AVI's then re-encoding them is just too time consuming now. So, sorry.

Hope everyone has/had a great holiday.

Until next time!

-Jeff Torres



Great job highlighting what by ShardFenix at Fri, 11/25/2011 - 13:11
ShardFenix's picture

Great job highlighting what is probably my favorite deck from innistrad block. Im even running a casual standard version of the deck. I cant wait to run the block version, though I will miss my viridian emissaries and birds of paradise which were a huge help. So I wonder how this would do in my FNM? I dont think many run nihil spellbomb lol, guess ill find out.

Board by chann23 at Sat, 11/26/2011 - 13:14
chann23's picture

Can you post your sideboard plans for each matchup? Also maybe what you think are the best/worst matchups, and why?

Wonderful deck, the by Jackscifi at Sat, 11/26/2011 - 14:05
Jackscifi's picture

Wonderful deck, the Blasphemous Act seemed really good and I would think it'd be better in the main deck. I'm also wondering about the role of Boneyard Wurm, many a time was he a t2 graveyard fodder.