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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Mar 10 2008 11:38am
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I wanted to change things up a bit for this week’s article.  First, I had my first opportunity to play in the PE in a while, and I wanted to bring something different from previous tournament reports.  Looking at Dragondung’s analysis of the best-performing decks in Classic PEs, Dredge and RDW were at the top of my list as solid decks that I wanted to try.  I settled on Dredge (Thnx 4 t3h cradz JX!), and began testing.

First, I had to settle on a build that I liked.  I wanted to squeeze in the (Lion’s Eye Diamond) and Deep Analysis package, since it was


They thought this was a fair version of Black Lotus at one point.
 supposed to be broken.  I also consulted articles by Zack Hill, Cromulent Keith and our own Josh Claytor for reference, although none of these were Classic builds.  I started with Putrid Imp and LED as my discard outlets, along with Breakthrough.  My dredgers were four Golgari Grave-Troll, four Stinkweed Imp and two Golgari Thug.  I wanted the Thugs to get my Dredgeable guys count up, and to have some synergy with my three Ichorid.  Ichy seemed awesome, and I wanted to test him out.  Finally, I ran three Nether Shadow, to see if it was worth bothering with. 

One mistake I will point out is that I did not have Cephalid Coliseum in my build to start with.  I know, it’s awesome, but for some reason I forgot about them totally.  I ended up running three and wanting the fourth; I just didn’t have it handy.  Anyway, it’s the best card in the deck pretty much.

I obviously had the Narco-Bridge engine, but after testing Hill’s build (with slight modifications), I felt like it was too reliant on that win-condition with the fall-back plan of flying 1/1s and 2/2s.  I really liked Akroma in the list as a one-of, as she just wins sometimes, and I also liked being able to pressure opponents with Ichorid/Nether Shadow with a Bridge or two in my graveyard, and maybe a Cabal Therapy to complement and disrupt them.  This alternate plan may actually be bad because opponents tend to run “4 x Leyline of the Void” as their beginning sideboard build in almost every Classic deck, and that still slows this plan down, but this plan does tend to wreck control decks when they don’t stick the Leyline on Turn Zero.

To complement my six men that come back from the dead, I ran three Street Wraith to start, as plenty of fuel for the other guys, plus the ability to dredge at no cost.  After quite a bit of testing, I cut back my Dread Return count to three, and then two, which I felt was a mistake in retrospect.  Three lets you see it when you want to, two has you fizzle too often.  The same problem occurred with Cabal Therapy.  The card is SUPER-useful, and absolutely back-breaking against just about everything that can threaten you past Turn Zero.  The ability to sac an Ichorid post-combat naming a hate-card or even just Force of Will, Wrath of God or some other relevant card, and get back one or two 2/2s to pressure them, forcing them to answer your board and your graveyard, is very nice.

After more testing, I felt like the Deep Analysis/LED package was very explosive, but tended to crap out a little too often due to a lack of a recurable discard outlet. Worse, having a hand with only LED as your discard outlet, and no Deep Anal in-hand was loose every time. I cut the package, and in deference to Mr. Hill, ran the five color land-base and four Tireless Tribe  to start with. This was awesome. I NEVER didn't have a discard outlet, and if I had a Dredge source of any type (more or less), I tended to win. Plus, it seemed to strengthen my aggro match-up slightly, being able to chump for a turn or two while setting up my Dredgers over and over again.

For my sideboard, I rocked answers to Leyline/Crypt and Leylines myself, plus one Ancestor's Chosen, which is a blowout against aggro and even some of the combo decks. It's harder to Tendrils me for twenty copies than it is ten, etc. Here's the build. At the end, I'll post the direction I'm heading next with it.

Again, the deck isn't perfect, but I felt reasonably comfortable with the build.  One more note is in retrospect, given that I had a slightly high land-count (Fourteen) compared to most (Ten-Twelve) and plenty of discard outlets (Seven one-drops and the Breakthroughs), Careful Study should probably be replaced by Deep Analysis, even through I decided against LED in the MD.

So, I signed up for the PE, waiting until the last minute, since people had seen me testing Dredge all week in the TP room, hoping to not tip them off right away.  Round one, I'm paired with Magicstop, a solid guy.  I don't know how good he is, having only played once or twice with him.  I win the roll, and play first.  I keep my opener, and he mulls to six.  Sweet, that's like a match win right there right?  Dice roll plus opening hand = two wins!  I keep a slightly slow opener, Island, firing Careful Study (here showing superiority to Deep Anal), drawing Putrid Imp and something else and pitching GGT and Ichorid.  He has the slightly slow opening play of Faerie Conclave.  I dredge my GGT (Nether Shadow is only relevant flip), play City of Brass, and have a Putrid Imp.  He drops Mishra's Factory and then Engineered Explosives with zero counters, helping save him if I try to combo out, but really, with the setup I have (Ichorid in the bin, dredge outlet, GGT to dredge, etc), I feel pretty good about going aggro until he has to deal with my board, then maybe returning a Grave-Troll, Akroma, or just Therapying him into oblivion while generating a token or two per turn.

I bring back Ichorid (removing a Putrid Imp iirc), pitch GGT and dredge him back.  I play ANOTHER City of Brass, then attack for five with Imp and Ichy.   He will Brainstorm here.  Nothing.  I play Tireless Tribe and then pitch GGT again.  Breakthrough is played with X=1 due to him being tapped low (fine, beat me with FoW if you have it), and I hit all my Narcomoebas plus all the other good stuff, and he scoops.  I'm not sure if he had much in the way of options here, but I feel like you should NEVER open up to the second main-phase Breakthrough just on the odd chance that you might have something relevant in your top three during combat.  I don't know his hand though, so there may have been a very good reason to 'Storm here.

I guess that he's going to SB in Tormod's Crypt if he didn't already have one MD, and bring in Chalices and Needle, and one Chain, as a miser's draw in case he has Leylines.

He goes first, mulling to five this time.  Sweet!  On the one hand, you want your opponents to not have awful hands, and just win because you drew better, but on the other hand you want them to mull into the AEther and scoop.  So.  One of those five is obviously Leyline of the Void, and I scoop.  Nah, I'm kidding.  But I'm irritated that I only sided in one Chain.

He plays Hallowed Fountain.  I have Gemstone Mine and Putrid Imp.  He has Faerie Conclave.  I play City of Brass and Nether Shadow, then hit him.  He plays a Factory.  Sigh.  I have a Gemstone Mine and a Stinkweed Imp.  I make a dumb mistake here and attack with both guys.  I pitch to Imp after realizing my mistake, but Nether Shadow is no more after an encounter with Factory.  He does nothing on his turn.

I hit him with Stinky and drop Narcomoeba.  One-power flyers: giving their owners false hope since 1995.  Again he does nothing (he really did have horrible draws).  I draw my singleton Chain of Vapor!  That's cool, but I don't want him popping it with a counter, so I play it cool, and beat down for two again.  He draws and plays Nantuko Monastery.  Bad times, but he doesn't have Threshold.  I play Gemstone Mine and hit for two more.  He's at twelve and I'm at seventeen at this point.

He plays a Windswept Heath, finding another Fountain.  Both flyers beat in, and he trades his Conclave with my Imp.  He plays Engineered Explosive with X=2.  With my flying one-power dream dying, I fire off Chain of Vapor at his Leyline.  He blows up Explosives in response.  I still have my Putrid Imp in play (he probably should have Chained it).  On my upkeep, I pitch GGT to the Imp and dredge him back.  At this point he mentions that he thought I was running Echoing Truth.  I pitch Troll back, and Breakthrough with X=1, which was a bad idea, if he was giving away that he had Spell Snare for ET.  Apparently he didn't, as I dredge three GGTs and he scoops.

Good start, although partly due to bad draws by my opponent.  Round two, I'm paired with Zoranc.  He goes first, mulling to six cards.  He has a Snow-Covered Forest, and a Treetop Scout.  Ummm...  I have Gemstone Mine into Careful Study, pitching Akroma and Dread Return.  He attacks me and runs out Scryb Sprites!  I have Cephalid Coliseum, and Breakthrough for one.  I have a Bridge and GGT in my graveyard, although with other random stuff.  He beats down for two, then drops Skarrgan Pit-Skulk.  I dredge back GGT, then use the Breakthrough I held last time, dredging two Thugs and two Imps.  I hit one Narcomoeba.  I flashback Cabal Therapy, generating three 2/2 Zombies from my three Bridge from Below, naming Berserk.  I whiff, but see two Bounty of the Hunt.  I flashback Therapy number two using a 2/2 token to get the Bounties.  He hits me for four, and I take it.  I bring back two Ichorid, two Nether Shadow, and the dredge a Troll into two more Narcomoeba.  Finally, I use the Coliseum for a massive dredge, finding my stupid Flame-Kin Zealot, and kill him.

Not too bad.  I bring in some bounce in case of Leyline or Crypt, and the Needle.  He goes first, and we both keep.  He plays a Forest and his Sprite.  I have Tireless Tribe off of City of Brass.  I have nothing to dredge yet.  Bad times.  He hits me, and plays Pit-Skulk and Treetop Scount.  I


play Tarnished Citadel and Narcomoeba.  He hits me.  I block his Sprites with the 'Moeba.  He has Silhana Ledgewalker and Rogue Elephant.  I draw Breakthrough.  I Breakthrough for one, discarding only Ichorid that is relavent, keeping a second Breakthrough.  He beats down.  I Breakthrough again, and AGAIN see no dredgers.  He kills me.

This had was alright, but I probably should have just mulled.  Dredge outlet without a dredgeable guy is loose.

Game three is frustrating.  I go first, dropping Putrid Imp.  He plays Ghazban Ogre.  Sweet!  I discard GGT, then dredge it and discard it again to hit Threshold with my now-2/2 flyer.  I attack, putting him to eighteen life, to my nineteen (Due to City of Brass).  I get his Ogre on his upkeep.  He plays Tarmogoyf.  I attack with Putrid Imp after dredging GGT.  Narcomoeba showed up on the dredge.  No gas yet, but next turn looks good with a Bridge from Below and a Dread Return in my GY.  Here's my mistake.  I SHOULD have pitched GGT again, then Dread Returned him, getting a reasonably beefy dude (I think he would have been around a 5/5 or 6/6 ) that I could regenerate, AND getting back two 2/2 tokens as his Ogre would trigger my Bridge's "RFG Clause", but I would get to stack triggers.  Instead, I pass back and see the following.  Giant Growth, Bounty of the Hunt, then Berserk all on Goyf, bumping him up to a 22/x!  I have three toughness of blockers.  I'm at nineteen.  Do the math.

So, that was horrible, but it was my own fault.  Next up is SICKSICKSICKSICKSICKSICKSICK.  He goes first, leading off with an Island.  I play CoB, with Cabal Therapy.  Replays were on at that point, and I'd scouted him out as a UBG kinda-Fishy build.  He stopped that nonsense with Force Spike.  Awkward.  He has a Chrome Mox and drops Tarmogoyf.  I play Cephalid Coliseum and Putrid Imp aka the PImp.  Then I Study Carefully, drawing and throwing away such junk as Stinkweek Imp and GGT.  I cycled Street Wraith dredgine GGT, then pitch the Troll to the PImp again.  Not a very impressive series with all that action.  He hits me with Goyf.  I pitch an Ichorid on his EOT.  On my turn, I return both Ichy and a Nether Shadow.  Then, I flash back the Therapy with Ichy, naming Force of Will.  He has none, and I get two 2/2 tokens from my Bridge from Below.  He also has no removal in-hand.  Cool.  I go for it, saccing NS and the two tokens to Dread Return Akroma.  She and my Pimp hit him.

He Brainstorms and plays an Island.  Seemingly an innocuous turn... but wait... On his EOT, I use Cephalid Coliseum to dredge a bunch.  On my turn, he scoops, due to the various black Horror triggers on the stack with Flame-Kin Zealot ready to be Dread Returned, plus Akroma.  Ok, his turn really WAS innocuous.

Game two, he leads off with a Breeding Pool and a Chrome Mox into Dark Confidant.  I play Chalice of the Void at zero, then City of Brass.  I Carefully Study, losing a Bridge and a Tarnished Citadel for my hard work.  Bad hand that I should have mulled...  Worse, he plays another Dark Confidant and beats down.  I play City number two.  He beats down again.  Worst!  I tap both Cities for mana on my Upkeep, and due to it being a triggered ability, I can't untap them, and so I take mana burn and waste my turn.  I lost that game.  How awful.

Game three I lead off with Breakthrough.  He pitches Force of Will to Force of Will.  Crap... that was my only discard.  He plays land.  I play an Island and Narcomoeba.  He plays Tarmogoyf.  I have no plays.  He attacks and plays Goyf number two.  I have no plays.  He plays a morph and hits me with both Goyfs.  I have no plays!  He flips Fathom Seer on my EOT, then attacks on his turn.  I.  Have.  No. Plays.  Uggggg.  I play a Cephalid Coliseum.  He attacks again, and Ices it on my upkeep.  I play Tireless Tribe and pass back.  He attacks.  Tribe and 'Moeba block a Goyf apiece.  I pitch GGT to Tribe.  He Duresses and sees all creatures.  I dredge GGT.  I pitch GGT and then break Coliseum.  I dredge with all three draws, and get NOTHING out of it.  No Bridge/Cabal Therapy, no Narcos, no nothing.  I die.

That was HORRIBLY frustrating.  Game two was a mistake, and maybe that was the decider, but not hitting ANYTHING on dredging twenty-three cards is irritating.  He played well though, especially on the FoW on Breakthrough.

So I have to win out and get lucky.  Fine, I'm no Kenji, but I'm quite the Lucky Apprentice.  Next up is Dantezeull.  I go first, and he mulls to five.  I lead out with Tarnished Citadel and Tireless Tribe.  He plays the always classic Island.  I pitch and dredge Golgari Thug.  I dig up a Narcomoeba (What the hell are they?  Undead blobs of ectoplasm?  Eww.)  then pitch the Thug again, and re-dredge with Careful Study... not hitting a second source of dredgy goodness.  Ah well.  I hit him for one with Tribe, then play a Gemstone Mine drawn from the time I put in Studying.

He plays a Swamp, Helm of Awakening and then Sensei's Divining Top.  Oh crap!  But he only has one Top and lacks mana to Storm me out
Helm of Awakening
anyway.  I pitch Thug and dredge him back, then pitch again and Breakthrough with X=1.  I dredge two Thugs and two Imps, hitting three Narcomoeba, Therapy him for Force of Will, missing, but getting two 2/2s from Bridges, Therapy him AGAIN for Trinket Mage as it is his only relevant card in-hand to stop him from Top-Comboing or just getting a Tormod's Crypt, beat down and pass the turn.  He plays Bob, and I bring back Ichorid and two Nether Shadows on my upkeep.  I bring the team.  Bob blocks an Ichy and he scoops.

He mulls to six and drops Watery Grave untapped.  I have Tireless Tribe using CoB to pay for him.  He Brainstorms on my EOT.  He drops Island, Helm of Awakening and Top again then passes the turn.  I pitch Ichy and Stinky on his EOT, a dumb idea because I then mislick on my turn and remove my Imp to bring back Ichy.  Sigh.  I hit him for four, then Breakthrough for two (nice Helm).  He digs with Top and drops Bob.  I go nuts with Coliseum and then Breakthrough for one, and win.

Next up is Shandmaul123 with Affinity, having scouted him too.  We both keep, and I Breakthrough my hand.  He drops Seat of the Synod, Ornithopter and Arcbound Worker.  I dredge GGT, getting a Narco.  I Therapy him using it and miss on Arcbound Ravager, but get a 2/2.  He goes Vault of Whispers, Thoughtcast, Frogmite and Disciple of the Vault.  I dredge back Thug and pass.  He attacks with Worker and Froggy.  I take it.  I bring back a couple of Ichorid and Nether Shadows and beat down with them.  He takes.  Then he plays Ravager and kills me.  /vomits.

I side in Pithing Needle and Chains.  I lead out with City of Brass and he has an interesting start: Thopter and Welding Jar.  I play Putrid Imp and Coliseum.  He has a land, Seat of the Synod, and an Arcbound Worker.  I discard a Stinkweed, dredge it back, and then discard it and GGT.  I crack Coliseum and dredge twice, drawing Ichorid on the last card as I had no more dredger in my GY.  Frown.  I did find a Narco, and I pitch the dredgers and Ichord to Coliseum.  I hit him for two with my Imp, then flash Narco back naming Arcbound Ravager.  No dice, but two 2/2s token are alright.  He plays Vault of Whispers, Thoughtcast, Frogmite, Chromatic Star and Myr Enforcer.  Impressive.

I got back Ichorid and Nether Shadow.  Dredge back Stinky, pitch Bridge to Putrid to give it flying and attack.  He blocks in a manner than WON'T kill any of his men (a mistake I feel) and I get six 2/2s from my NS and Ichy dying.  He plays Arcbound Ravager for his turn.  I bring back three Ichys and give my PImp flying, and kill him.

He explodes to start game three.  Thopter, Seat of the Synod, Welding Jar, Chromatic Star and pass the mic.  I have Gemstone Mine into PImp.  He plays Thopter, Darksteel Citadel and Cranial Plating.  Plating is bad news!

I pitch GGT, then Dredge it back.  I get two Narcos.  I discard Thug and GGT, Breakthrough and hit solid stuff:  dredge back two GGTs, one Stinkweed Imp, and one Thug.  I hit for two with the PImp, then Dread Return my Ancestor's Chosen.  The three copies of Bridge from Below give me nine 2/2s, and Ancestor puts me up to 44 life.  He scoops them up.  Ancestor's Chosen should be considered against any aggro deck and really, almost any combo deck that isn't Flash (Flash is too fast and can get one-two 12/12s, which obsoletes this plan).

Alright, I'm matched up against _Major_ to try to continue my streak and hit the Top Eight.  I have PImp and Gemstone to open.  He has Factory
Force of Will

I DID recommend buying these back at 17.
and Top.  I pitch and dredge GGT, then play Coliseum.  I pitch it to Threshold, then dredge back two GGTs and a Thug.  I get two Narcos back off the dredge.  I have two Bridge from Below.  I slap him for two with PImp, then Therapy him with a Narco naming Force of Will.  He loses one, and then I use one of the 2/2 tokens along with Imp and Narco to flashback Dread Return, going for a big GGT.  He untaps and scoops.

I side in a mix of Needle, Chalice and Chain.  Pretty much this game comes down to us both having slow hands, and him casting FoW when I finally have a Dread Return set up, THEN getting Moat out.  GG!  Game three I open with Breakthrough on turn two with no Dredgers, but plenty of good stuff ASIDE from that.  Bad time to keep a bad hand.  He tutors up a Crypt of course, right after I pitched my hate to Breakthrough.  This lets him sit back and counter any spell I try, and Crypt me when I try to pressure him with Ichorid and Bridge.  So, I flamed out at the end, but really, I probably should have just won in round two by playing smarter, and not misplayed at various points during the tournament, I would have been fine.

The deck is REALLY powerful, and a blast to play.  I would recommend changes to the deck as follows: -3 Nether Shadow, -1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath, +1 Cabal Therapy, +2 Deep Analysis, +1 Dread Return.  I'd also max out Pithing Needle and get rid of Chalice in the SB.  I'm no expert on the deck yet, but I felt like that build was a lot more solid later.  If you have any questions, just post them.  Thanks to all those I played, and to you for reading.  I'll catch you next week, when it looks like we might have an interview with Erik Lauer, the man, the myth, the legend among other things.


Thanks guys. by walkerdog at Tue, 03/11/2008 - 14:04
walkerdog's picture

Appreciate the kind words.  The deck is really fun, and I think if you put in the requisite practice, you can have plenty of success against in this enviroment.

good article by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/10/2008 - 16:41
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

this is my favorite quote from yer article:

"Deep Anal in-hand was loose "

 keep up the good werk

by runeliger at Tue, 03/11/2008 - 02:58
runeliger's picture

Great article Walker! Dredge is so annoying to play against, because it's so good, especially in the hands of a competent player.


Also MagicStop, will you stop "namedropping" that event everywhere you go -.- 

:D by MagicStop (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/10/2008 - 16:03
MagicStop (Unregistered)'s picture

Another great read, my friend. Dredge is both a fun deck to play AND play against in my experience. I actually did have really poor draws in our opening game, although I hardly feel like that's an excuse for a decent deck. Another time :D Oh, and to answer your question, I'm an EXCELLENT player, and don't you forget it ;-)

And yikes, next time, let's make sure no one gets muted before the PE, eh? How absurd was that incident....