Hello, my name is Dan Walton, and I recently played Dredge at the SCG Legacy Open in Baltimore to a Top 4 finish. I also placed in the Top 8 with Dredge at SCG Legacy Open: Buffalo. In this article, I will share my thoughts on the deck, reasons for certain card choices, and an overview of each round along with explanations of somewhat questionable plays during the video feature of my semifinals.
To start off, here is the deck I played.
I think that Dredge is in an interesting spot in the Legacy metagame right now. Wizards recently printed some cards that are quite good against it that can be maindecked, which makes winning game 1 against Dredge a little more likely than it used to be (although still not that likely). The cards I am referring to are Deathrite Shaman, Scavenging Ooze, and sometimes Rest in Peace. All of those cards are in the maindeck of BUG, Maverick, Junk, RIP Miracles, and possibly more.
Because of this and the lack of Dredge's presence overall, I believe people are not sideboarding as much hate, relying on the cards mentioned above already in their maindeck. They supplement that with a small amount of graveyard hate in the sideboard, if at all. As a quick example, if BUG is playing four maindeck Deathrite Shaman, I doubt they would want to dedicate four slots to Leyline of the Void in their board.
As you might have noticed, my maindeck features zero copies of Dread Return. The theory behind this is that instead of having Dread Returns and a Dread Return target that might not even be relevant in the matchup you are in, you streamline the deck as much as possible. The majority of the time you will win game 1, and it will probably not be necessary to Dread Return.
However, I do have the Dread Return package in the sideboard because there are obviously matchups where the targets straight up win the game. The following are some quick explanations of the card choices that may not be in every stock list of Dredge.
Pithing Needle: Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze are the main reasons for this. However, you can bring these in against things like Engineered Explosives, Pernicious Deed, Umezawa's Jitte, and even Tormod's Crypt effects.
Firestorm: Good in aggro matchups. Sometimes I board this in against decks like RUG because worst-case scenario it is an uncounterable discard outlet since discarding is part of the cost.
Nature's Claim: Used to be Chain of Vapor because Chain can be cast off every land in the deck whereas Nature's Claim cannot be cast off Cephalid Coliseum and cannot bounce creatures like Blazing Archon. I thought that with Rest in Peace being a card I would rather have Claim to permanently kill it because unlike Leyline of the Void, Rest in Peace can be recast immediately.
Terastodon: Should most likely be Angel of Despair. Honestly, this is one of my favorite cards, and I have a hard time not playing it. Realistically though, it is better against some decks like Enchantress and other decks that play multiple permanents. Blowing up multiple lands and even your own lands is sometimes relevant.
Now that you have seen my deck and explanations of some specific card choices, here is a very quick rundown of each round in the tournament.
Round 1: Daniel Moroz with Shardless BUG
Round 2: Robert P. with Goblins
Honestly, he got pretty unlucky both games with him hitting me with a Lackey three times and dropping nothing. Game 2 he presented no hate cards.
Round 3: Ning with The Epic Storm
Ning is my buddy who rode down to the event with us. I was unhappy to have to play him this early. Anyway, I won the die roll, which was huge, Therapied him multiple times, and won with Zombies.
In game 2, he Probed and Therapied my discard outlet, but I topdecked a Lion's Eye Diamond and won a few turns later because his hand was quite slow.
Round 4: Sean Glover with U/R Delver
I got him down to one life and had nothing else going on because he countered my Dread Return. He attacked with everyone and left nothing back. I brought back Nether Shadow and attacked him for one to kill him. He didn't notice the card has haste. It was reasonable for him to think that because the card doesn't have "haste," it is "unaffected by summoning sickness." :)
Round 5: Lucas with Burn
He flooded out a little game 1, and I kill him naturally. Game 2 he had a timely Faerie Macabre and burned me out. I kept a hand with three dredgers for game 3, went nuts on turn 1, and won through his Faerie Macabre.
Round 6: Alix Hatfield with BUG Delver
I mulled to five and kept a no lander with two dredgers and triple Looting. I drew no lands until it was too late.
Games 2 and 3 were pretty much blowouts because he never saw a Deathrite Shaman and didn't board much hate. My favorite play was when he went to fetch an Underground Sea for his second land when he already had an Underground Sea. He sat and looked at it for a while before getting a Bayou instead. I thought about why would he want double black instead of a Tropical Island and knew he had to have Tombstalker or Liliana of the Veil. I Therapied, snap called Tombstalker, and hit.
Round 7: Paul Lynch with U/W/R Miracles
Game 1 I had a natural win.
I got Surgical Extracted three times in the second game, and I never brought in Nether Shadow.
Game 3 I kept a good hand with double Golgari Grave-Troll, which would blow me out if he had Surgical Extraction but would be good otherwise. He didn't have Surgical, and I Dread Returned a Terastodon to blow up a couple of my lands as well as one of his.
Rounds 8 and 9 were intentional draws.
Top 8: Alix Hatfield with BUG Delver
You can read about this match here.
Top 4: vs. Daniel Signorini with BUG Delver
You can watch this match here.
This match contained many questionable plays in the sense that I drew instead of dredging often.
I am going to explain the way I played this game because to an inexperienced Dredge player it may have seemed poor. Before I explain, I am not saying that I was 100% correct, but there was a reasonable thought process behind both games.
I played Lion's Eye Diamond and a land on turn 1 and did not sac the Lion's Eye Diamond because I wanted to play the Coliseum next turn. I planned on Darkblasting a Shaman or Delver to start things off, and he played…Ponder. Awkward, so I drew my card, laid down Coliseum, and I Therapied myself (which the commentators did not realize). Daniel Force of Willed this Therapy.
I said go, and he played a Deathrite Shaman, which I Darkblasted just to start dredging and because I didn't have double black mana to kill the Shaman.
Now in simple terms, he eventually got a Deathrite Shaman in play, and I continued to draw cards instead of dredging. Let's think about this for a moment. If I hit a Narcomoeba, he'd exile it, and if I hit double Ichorid, he'd eat them both by my next turn. So unless I dredged into something like triple Narcomoeba and Ichorids in the same dredge, I'd literally be doing nothing. I chose to draw cards, hoping to find any Looting effect, Coliseum, or Breakthrough to power through the Shaman. I think this was a reasonable plan because I had thirteen or so cards to this effect. I never hit one and died.
We both mulliganed to five, and things started off normally. I eventually got Nihil Spellbombed and had to restart dredging. The key point in this match was when he played a Tarmogoyf and I knew he had an Umezawa's Jitte in hand. If I dredged Darkblast, I could possibly hit a Therapy to get the Jitte. Once he played the Jitte, I knew it would be hard to race. I will sum up the reasons why I chose to draw cards once again instead of dredging most of this match in one sentence. Dredging one card a turn is not fast enough to beat a Tarmogoyf with an Umezawa's Jitte equipped.
I had no gas in hand and started to draw for the same reasons as game 1. I wanted to draw a Coliseum or Looting or Breakthrough to power through his Goyf. I also had the out of drawing Pithing Needle.
I will always draw a card instead of dredging if I think that dredging one card a turn will not be fast enough to beat the current board state. It may have looked foolish, but that is only because I whiffed and never found what I was looking for. It was a risk I was willing to take because I felt I had zero chance to win if I just dredged once a turn.
One could argue that unless you hit what you are looking for immediately, then by the time you hit that Cephalid Coliseum you would have already had three dredges. The difference in dredging three times in one turn as opposed to three times on three consecutive turns is that if I dredge multiple times in the same turn, he only gets one or two activations of Deathrite Shaman. If I choose to dredge once a turn for three turns, he gets three or four activations of Deathrite Shaman, allowing him to individually pick off my threats as they come.
So there you have it: my SCG Legacy Open: Baltimore tournament report and thoughts on Dredge. If anyone wants to know how I sideboard, feel free to ask, and I will respond or post something about it later.
Also, check out my stream here on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:00 PM EST. I play all Constructed formats.
This is my first article, so be gentle. :)