Modern Spotlight: Dredge

Dredge as a strategy hasn’t seen a ton of love in modern. Maybe until now: Korey McDuffie had a deck tech featuring the following deck this past weekend and it looks sweet!

I’ve always been really interested by the idea of dredge, but it has always seemed like a deck that is super hard to make work. Perhaps the following deck, which Korey McDuffie took to a 5-4 finish at SCG Indianapolis, is a good starting point to how to build the deck. He also had a deck tech during the event, which can be found here.

Creatures (40)
Bloodghast
Golgari Grave-Troll
Golgari Thug
Insolent Neonate
Narcomoeba
Phantasmagorian
Prized Amalgam
Stinkweed Imp
Street Wraith
Vengevine
Wild Cantor

Spells (8)
Dangerous Wager
Faithless Looting
Gitaxian Probe
One with Nothing
Lands (12)
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine
Mana Confluence
Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Ancient Grudge
Forest
Gnaw to the Bone
Golgari Charm
Hooting Mandrills
Leyline of the Void
Tasigur, the Golden Fang

The Combo

Despite being a deck with 40 creatures in it, this is essentially a combo deck. The reason is that when things align correctly you are dumping a ton of power onto the battlefield in the first one or two turns, which is all set up through dredging. There are 3 primary methods of getting said power in play:

  1. Bloodghast: The easy one. You dump this vampire into the graveyard and then he comes back when you play a land. All of them do. With a good early dredge it’s possible to get 2 of these back turn 2. Overall not the most impressive thing but it’s free and often sets up the following guy….
  2. Prized Amalgam: This zombie returns when any of your creatures enter the battlefield from the graveyard. Free Bloodghast due to landfall? Here, have your zombies too. Narcomoeba got dredged away and then enters the battlefield? Well, it came from the graveyard.
  3. Vengevine: Another way to get Amalgam back, the real trick with the elemental is through using Wild Cantor and Insolent Neonate. It’s pretty easy to chain these two together, and doing so brings these guys back.

Setting Up

The main thing with this deck is the setup needed in order to return creatures quickly and then to go wide with them. This deck is designed around setting up or even hitting “the combo” on turn 1. The main method of doing this is by pitching a dredge card and then forcing a draw, which can be done either with Insolent Neonate or any of the “free” cycling spells (Gitaxian Probe or Street Wraith). Going turn 1 Faithless Looting, dropping two cards with dredge into the yard, and then cast Probe is quite possibly going to get you going very quickly, especially if you have a second way to draw on the spot.

More Options

This deck really got me thinking about other options for dredge, and cards that may be worth looking into closer with the addition of Prized Amalgam and Insolent Neonate to the format.

  • Bridge from Below: One of the coolest interactions I can think of is you can drop Neonate, activate the ability, discard Bridge, and then you sacrifice the Neonate to immediately get a 2/2 zombie. The only thing that needs to be done to make this really busted is setting up dredge off of the drawn card, but I don’t think that’s possible turn 1 without jumping through some major hoops (such as playing Simian Spirit Guide).
  • Gravecrawler: Especially with the above as it provides you with zombies. Amalgam is also a zombie, and being able to pay to actually cast a creature from the graveyard makes it easy to setup bringing back Amalgams and Vengevine.
  • Bloodsoaked Champion: Maybe we’re going a bit deep here, but you can bring this guy back at any point by paying two mana so long as you attacked. This sets up Amalgam really well as it will also bring all of them back (even if you attacked with it this turn and it died in combat). Certainly a bit slower than some of the other options, but maybe it would be okay?

There’s a ton of potential here, and I can’t wait to hopefully see more dredge at future events!

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.