#TwitterBuildsModern Episode Two: The Drudge of Dredge!
- Lee Murphy
Graveyard decks come in many shapes and sizes. There's Living End, which is usually brought back out for a spin every time some new cool ETB effects get printed. UB Storm is in effect a graveyard deck, relying on Past in Flames in order to be able to recycle a big heap of cheap cantrips so as to generate massive card advantage and storm count. There's Dredge itself, happy to dump as many cards into the bin as possible, and then cheating several itty bitty bothersome monsters into play, which have a tendency to come back turn after turn after turn. So then, how does this relate to Maze's End? Read on!
This line is one of high risk and high reward. The plan is to fill our graveyard as best we can, then cheat our myriad Guildgates back into play, hopefully securing the win on the spot. There are, of course, cards out there that are effectively silver bullets against our plan, and so we'll have some counterplay for these if at all possible. But first, a look at some classic deck archetypes and how they might relate…
The End is Nigh
When it comes to enter the battlefield effects, it always helps if there's some neat way to get them into the yard, and luckily for this deck, Amonkhet provided several creatures with Cycling. The set that saw Nicol Bolas's plan set in motion came out in April 2017, a mere month before GP Copenhagen. On that occasion Cristian Ortiz Ros finished in second place, piloting the following 75:
|4Blackcleave Cliffs||3Architects of Will||3Beast Within|
|1Blood Crypt||4Deadshot Minotaur||4Demonic Dread|
|1Bloodstained Mire||4Fulminator Mage||3Living End|
|4Blooming Marsh||4Horror of the Broken Lands||4Violent Outburst|
|1Stomping Ground||3Simian Spirit Guide|
|2Brindle Boar||3Ingot Chewer||4Leyline of the Void|
|2Lost Legacy||3Ricochet Trap||1Shriekmaw|
The main, eponymous card in Living End is one of a cycle from Time Spiral. Riffing on Tempest's Living Death, this card doesn't have a CMC so can't be hard-cast from hand, nor cast with traditional Modern tools such as Snapcaster Mage. However, that doesn't mean it can't be cast by other means.
This deck can spin its wheels incredibly fast. While Living End can of course be suspended for an incredibly slow and very-much telegraphed casting, it's best utilised through a Cascade trigger, here provided for by Demonic Dread. Other versions run a mixture of this and Violent Outburst.
Using Simian Spirit Guide on T2 you can easily realise a modest recursion of Street Wraith and any one of the 3/4s and 4/4s in the deck; not too shabby for when your opponent is untapping their lone Celestial Colonnade.
Speaking of the Worldwake creature-land, W/U Control aficionado Gabriel Nassif recently picked up a U/R Living End build. This version can't ever suspend Living End, but instead utilizes one of the most-recent hype cards, Electrodominance. This 60 is a slower version than the traditional Jund shell, choosing instead a controlling playstyle, controlling the board state until the trigger can be pulled.
|2Cascade Bluffs||2Architects of Will||4Ancestral Vision|
|4Island||4Curator of Mysteries||4Living End|
|2Mountain||4Desert Cerodon||3Cryptic Command|
|4Scalding Tarn||1Faerie Macabre||4Electrodominance|
|4Spirebluff Canal||1Nimble Obstructionist||1Lightning Bolt|
|2Steam Vents||4Striped Riverwinder||2Remand|
|2Tolaria West||4As Foretold|
|1Chalice of the Void|
|1Anger of the Gods||2Bottle Gnomes||1Chalice of the Void|
|2Dragon's Claw||1Drake Haven||1Echoing Truth|
|1Fulminator Mage||2Ingot Chewer||1Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
Grafdigger's Cage has no effect on this deck, and it's resilient to Surgical Extraction, or at least it was in terms of the numbers played in 2017.
You'll see the all-star of Taking Turns in this list, As Foretold, with which you can cheat-cast your Living Ends and your Ancestral Visions. Tolaria West doubles as a copy of whichever Time Spiral card you're looking for. Post-board the deck can transform into a more aggressive, even-more controlling Drake deck, applying continuous pressure and gumming up the board, until you're ready to deal a killing blow. Neither of the lists can cast the Architects, but this is a key creature in match-ups where you know you can resolve a Living End but want to make sure that opposing top decks are complete air.
Sticking with U/R for a brief moment longer, a hat-tip to Guillaume Matignon for taking down GP Bilbao with his Izzet Phoenix deck – a deck that happily dumps birds into the yard, all the while clearing the way for them to come back and win on the spot.
Dredging the Bottom of the Barrel
Closer to what we're looking at, Dredge is one of those wonderfully flexible archetypes that can produce a wealth of creatures out of nowhere or can throw a bunch of damage at your face. It also has the same weaknesses that we expect to encounter, in that we require our graveyard to remain intact if at all possible.
Here is Matti Kuisma's winning deck from GP Barcelona last July.
|2Arid Mesa||4Bloodghast||4Cathartic Reunion|
|1Blackcleave Cliffs||3Golgari Thug||3Conflagrate|
|2Blood Crypt||4Narcomoeba||4Faithless Looting|
|2Bloodstained Mire||4Prized Amalgam||4Life from the Loam|
|4Copperline Gorge||4Stinkweed Imp||2Tormenting Voice|
|2Abrupt Decay||3Ancient Grudge||2Collective Brutality|
|1Ghost Quarter||3Lightning Axe||3Nature's Claim|
Matti had played Dredge almost exclusively for over a year, and nearly gave up on the deck before taking one last tilt at it. In his own words, Shriekhorn is a strict upgrade on the Insolate Neonates that were being played previously, with each of the artifacts providing 6 cards for the graveyard, compared to the 4 that Neonate could manage.
Dredge, as an archetype, self-mills as quickly and as efficiently as possible, with Narcomoeba's helping to recur Prized Amalgams, and every land drop bringing back Bloodghasts which in turn bring back Prized Amalgams. If the engine seizes up, then Golgari Thug can put a Narcomoeba back on top of the library in order to kick it all off again.
Ultimately, Life from the Loam draws you a suitably large hand, allowing Conflagrate to reach lethal levels second time around.
It's worth mentioning that this list was tuned to be resilient against KCI, and so the sideboard was heavily teched towards artifact removal. Matti himself said that he favoured increasing the Grudges to a full 4, but even though KCI is no longer the threat it was, we still see several artifact shells featuring in weekly MTGO lists, such as Lantern, and various Prison shells, all seen in the previous #TwitterBuildsModern article.
The Top 8 in GP Bilbao saw THREE(!!!) Dredge decks.
Milling Like a Maniac
While Dredge and Living End can, when push comes to shove, cast their creature complement in order to go route-one, a deck that's looking to win using Maze's End is unlikely to have access to monsters of quite the same utility. But we do have access to at least one 'classic' Blue Wizard, Laboratory Maniac. This Innistrad rare and Ultimate Masters uncommon provides us with a perfect fail-safe should we reach a position where our primary goal is no longer feasible.
We can also use several creatures that place decisions on the opponent, whether to take damage, or whether to block; wherein blocking leads to beneficial triggers.
As we're planning a self-mill core, we're going to start with Mesmeric Orb in order to begin filling the bin. We can accelerate this with Amulet of Vigor untapping our Guildgates as they enter play. We're also going to ramp a little bit, to smooth things out a bit.
|2Cyclonic Rift||2Dismember||1Fatal Push|
|3Leyline of Sanctity||2Phyrexian Scriptures||3Surgical Extraction|
The deck operates relatively clearly. We ramp into early creatures, dropping our artifacts when a window opens. We have removal and permission to keep us intact during the early turns. Over several turns we advance our own position whilst filling the graveyard, and then use our Saga or Sorcery to put all the lands we need back into play, untapping via Amulet, looking to secure the win on the spot. The Mending of Dominaria can also recur a key creature if required, Laboratory Maniac if he's unfortunate enough to be there, for instance.
We have Life from the Loam to keep that graveyard and our hand full, giving us access to our 10 Guildgates as quickly as possible.
The sideboard gives us added creature removal and graveyard hate. More often than not, we'll end up using our Extractions on our own cards, in response to an opposing Surgical. Phyrexian Scriptures gives us a way to clear the table if needed, doubling as an incidental sacrifice outlet for the World Shaper. Leylines insulate versus burn and Storm.
Next up… 'Normal' Maze's End, working more towards a traditional Turbo Fog 75. Here's hoping War of the Spark can provide some useless Planeswalkers.
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