Strictly Eternal 101 – The Dark Art of the Dredge

Howdy folks! It’s Joe again and we’re here again with another edition of Dredging for Value: How to Gold Dig for Fun and Profit! Or rather, a little Legacy content to whet your whistle while you work.

This week we’re looking at an honest to Maro actual budget Legacy build, a deck that often ends up being a fairly solid introduction to the format, but one that also requires a fairly unique mindset. I’m talking of course about Manaless Dredge!

Let’s get right into the thick of it, shall we?

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The Core of the Deck

First thing’s first, you’ll notice that this deck doesn’t have any lands in it! But we need lands to cast spells, right?! Well, no. Not really. Manaless Dredge functions casting its few spells with their alternate costs, like sacrificing a creature to cast Cabal Therapy, or paying 2 life to cast Gitaxian Probe. Everything else about the deck is either an activated ability (Phantasmagorian) or triggered abilities.

Playing the Deck

So how does this deck do anything? Well, it always always always has to go second in any game (be on the draw), and it can almost never mulligan (I say almost because there are some situations where mulligan to 6 is something that does come up). You draw your card for turn and then you move to your cleanup phase and discard to hand size.

Then, the real fun begins. Either you’ve discarded a card that has Dredge printed on it, or you’ve discarded a card such as Phantasmagorian. You can now start filling your graveyard. Dredge is a mechanic that was printed in the original Ravnica block, and it functions by saying that if you would draw a card you can instead put X cards from the top of your library into your graveyard (where X is the number listed after Dredge on the card) and then return the card you used for the effect to your hand. So for example, if you have a Golgari Grave-Troll in the graveyard and you would draw a card, you can instead put 6 cards from the top of your library into the graveyard and then return the Troll to your hand! It’s important to note that when you do this, you are allowed to look at the cards first and then decide what order they enter the graveyard (because whenever an effect instructs you to put multiple cards into the graveyard, you choose what order they enter).

Once you’ve established how to dredge, then you can start looking at the triggered abilities of a lot of the free creatures. Narcomoeba, Ichorid, Nether Shadow, and Prized Amalgam all function in varying ways, so it’s best to read the cards to understand exactly how they work. One important thing to note is that Eternal formats like Legacy / Vintage are both formats where you are not allowed to reorder your graveyard for any reason. This is important because of cards like Nether Shadow, that care about the # of creature cards in the graveyard above it.

The most important triggered ability to remember and understand however is that of the card Bridge from Below. Bridge is a highly unique card in that it functions solely out of the graveyard, and has two different triggered abilities. The first generates a 2/2 Zombie token whenever a nontoken creature you control dies and Bridge is still in your graveyard when the ability resolves. The second says that if a creature your opponent controls dies and if Bridge is still in your graveyard, you have to exile Bridge from your graveyard. What is important to remember about this card is that as the controller of the graveyard it’s in, you control both triggered abilities, so if you find yourself in a combat situation where each player has a creature that dies, you are allowed to place the Bridge triggers on the stack so as to get your zombie tokens before the Bridge is exiled.

Beyond that, most of the play of the deck is turning creatures sideways and utilizing Cabal Therapy and Dread Return. With Dread Return, the card Balustrade Spy can turn into a combo kill, by casting it and targeting yourself to mill your entire library, then reanimating Flayer of the Hatebound and a Golgari Grave-Troll to lethal damage your opponent.

Matches

I played 5 matches with this deck in the Tournament Practice room on Magic Online, going 2-3 over the course of the 5 matches. My first leagues with this deck were fairly and largely meh (mostly because I had a bad league where MTGO crashed my PC in the middle of it).

Let’s take a look at our matches!

Match 1 vs DnT (0 – 2 LOSS)

Match 2 vs LED Dredge (2 – 1 WIN)

Match 3 vs ANT (2 – 0 WIN)

Match 4 vs Maverick (0 – 2 LOSS)

Match 5 vs UG Post (1 – 2 LOSS)

Post Thoughts

This is a deck that’s very easy to pick up and play and is superbly budgety. If you have Surgical Extractions you can play a few of those in the sideboard. They help with the combo matchups and the like. For a solid entry into Legacy (and especially on Magic Online where the deck only costs 49 tix) this is a good non-Burn way to get your feet wet in the format. That being said, prepare to face hate of course. Due to the omni-presence of other graveyard decks in the format like B/R Reanimator, Dredge tends to take a hit on splash damage.

However, long term, Manaless Dredge upgrades into LED Dredge (which yes, is a bit more expensive thanks to those Lion’s Eye Diamonds), which can then be taken to a deck such as Storm (ANT/TES) or even Belcher pretty easily.

The downside is not many of the cards translate well to other parts of the format (such as the dredgers), but some of them translate well to other formats like Modern (Thug/Stinkweed Imp, Prized Amalgam/Narcomoeba).

Wrapping Up

That’s all the time we have this week folks! In continuing our theme of budgety style Legacy decks, I’m going to be playing around with the other general budget Legacy entry: Burn!

So join me next time on Fireblast Fireblast Fireblast – What We Think Rammstein is Saying in their Songs!

Joseph is an avid player of eternal Magic formats, including Vintage and Legacy.  As a Nic Fit player who will tell anyone who will listen about his deck, Joe spends his time analyzing and playing on Magic Online and various online platforms, while prepping for competitive events.  To follow more Joe, check out his Twitter!

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