he utterance of that single word may conjure up some memories—either good or bad, depending on if you were the Dredge player or its opponent. One of the strangest decks of all time, Dredge plays more out of its graveyard than anywhere else, using its graveyard almost like a primary hand.
Life from the Loam | Art by Terese Nielsen
There are a lot of archetypes seeded in Modern Masters, and dredge is one of them. Dredge hasn't done a lot in Modern so far, showing up a few times as a fringe result. Once the stuff of nightmares, it is now reduced to an exhibit in the history books. But it is certainly one of those decks that is just waiting for one thing to break—one more crucial card to be printed—to head over the top and into Constructed playability...
While most Dredge lists lean toward the traditional, today's deck takes Dredge in a direction unlike any I've ever seen before. It immediately caught my eye as something original and unique—and with plenty of potential for power—unlike any Dredge deck I've seen in the eight years since the mechanic was released. I was instantly enticed and built this deck up on Magic Online to play games and see how it worked.
Let's take a look:
Shehzad Ahmed's Beck and Dredge
The Battle Plan
What is Dredge?
Well, the dredge mechanic lets you replace your draws by "drawing" a card out of your graveyard. The "cost" to doing this is to put a bunch of cards from your library into your graveyard—but in a deck built around it, that's hardly a cost at all! Featuring plenty of cards that want to be put into your graveyard, like the oddballs Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba, this deck can quickly speed through its library.
Usually, with Dredge, the endgame is reanimating something via Dread Return (and in Modern, where that's banned, Unburial Rites) or attacking with a bunch of Zombies created by Bridge from Below. (Or with a Flame-Kin Zealot, or sometimes both!) This deck does things a little differently.
You see, it's all about the new fuse card Beck & Call.
Unlike Glimpse of Nature before it, Beck draws you a card every time a creature enters the battlefield. A creature like, say... a Narcomoeba, Bloodghast, or a Zombie token! And, since we're playing Dredge, every draw translates into a dredge, flipping more cards into the graveyard. When this deck goes off, it goes off big, flipping most of its library into the graveyard and creating ten to twenty (or more!) Zombies in a single turn.
And that's where Blasting Station comes in.
Blasting Station has a couple roles. First, it gives you a free sacrifice outlet for all of your Bloodghasts and Narcomoebas. It's a bit odd to say that you just want a free way to get rid of one of your creatures, but Dredge is an odd deck. You want your Bloodghasts to go away so you can bring them back yet again, netting you tokens from Bridge from Below every time.
Blasting Station also just lets you kill your opponent in one turn.
As I mentioned before, when this deck goes off, it goes off big. If you just chuck every Zombie you make at your opponent's noggin as you're going off, it will often be enough to kill him or her. This won't always be the case—you have to evaluate about how many Zombies you're going to make when you start—but I've had plenty of turns where I've made enough Zombies, Bloodghasts, and Narcomoebas to outright ping my opponent to death with the station. (Keep in mind that it untaps every single time a creature enters the battlefield.)
In addition to your big combo finish, you can also always just beat your opponent by beating down with Narcomoebas and Bloodghasts, making a bunch of 2/2 Zombies over time, and "grinding out" a game. It just depends on your draw. The operations of this deck take some practice, but soon you'll be Blasting your opponents out in no time.
There's a lot going on in this deck, and all of the pieces work together to create a larger goal. Let's go over them.
Bloodghast is one of the integral pieces of this deck. As a free creature, it comes back out of your graveyard, drawing a card off of Beck, and can be sacrificed to create Zombies. With fetch lands like Scalding Tarn and Misty Rainforest, you can even double up on Bloodghast uses, bringing it back, drawing a card, sacrificing it, making Zombies, then searching for another land to do it all again! I wouldn't play fewer than four copies.
Ever since Future Sight was released and the Dredge deck was truly born, Narcomoeba has been at its center. A 1/1 flier may not look like too much, but a free 1/1 flier goes a long way in this deck. Like Bloodghast, it draws you a card off of Beck and can help make Zombies with Blasting Station. You definitely want all four.
These cards bodies aren't that impressive and, while you may cast them on occasion, that's not the reason why they're there. (Though it is worth noting that Golgari Thug can put Narcomoeba back on top of your library, which can be pretty useful.) Mostly, it's because these creatures sport the dredge mechanic and you can use them to flip several cards from your deck into your graveyard.
I definitely want to play these eight cards. Additionally, I'd like to play a couple more dredgers. Dakmor Salvage is good in this deck because you need to hit land drops to return your Bloodghast, and I'd like to add a second. A singleton Darkblast can help you while going off, either killing your own creatures in lieu of a Blasting Station or, if you can find it early, keeping opposing creature rushes under control.
Mister Crabs is a strange card in that it just serves to target yourself and dump a ton of cards into your graveyard. A turn-one Hedron Crab into a fetch land means six cards will tumble into your graveyard. It's not hard for a single card to flip twelve or even sixteen cards in this deck.
While normally I'd be very happy with that result, I found Hedron Crab to be underperforming in this style of Dredge deck. This deck was already flipping most of its library when going off, and several turns I found myself actively choosing to not dredge because my graveyard was plenty stocked and I wanted to try and find a specific card. It surprised me that I wanted to cut this card, but I did.
The card to replace it is a card I knew I wanted to add: Faithless Looting. Careful Study was always a Dredge staple, and Faithless Looting is that with the potential of a flashback. Whether letting you discard cards early or dredging twice, Looting goes a long way toward this deck's consistency. (Especially since it really wants to naturally draw a Beck to play optimally.)
Despite the weak look, Drowned Rusalka was one of the cards I was most overwhelmed by when playing the deck. I had originally expected that Hedron Crab would be awesome and Rusalka would be the card I would cut based on previous Dredge experience—but the opposite was true. When you're returning Bloodghasts every turn, Drowned Rusalka can generate so many extra cards.
Additionally, it's a sacrifice outlet that isn't Blasting Station. In games where you have to go into "grind mode" and win by attacking with creatures and Zombies, it's an important asset to have around.
This very odd Magic card is one of the keys to this deck, generating tons of extra cards via Beck and an army that you can either choose to attack with or fling away via Blasting Station. I definitely want to play all four.
My largest advice with this card is just to familiarize yourself with how it works. It's an incredibly odd card with lots of corner case interactions, so make sure you know how it works and how to stack the triggers if you're going to take this deck to a tournament.
Another one of the deck's centerpieces, this newcomer from Dragon's Maze works overtime here. You can't cast the Call side (and I never found a situation where I wanted to,) but Beck is pretty crazy with all of the creatures you produce. Once again, keep in mind that you can dredge off of all of these draws too! I always want to draw exactly one and there are plenty of ways to pitch extras, so I'm keeping all four.
Cards like Ideas Unbound are great in this deck, providing consistency while also putting more cards into your graveyard. Between Faithless Looting and Ideas Unbound, I feel confident that I can find most of the pieces I need. You could consider going down to three, but I value consistency highly enough that I want to keep all four.
The first is to sacrifice as many of your creatures as you want. Whenever a new creature enters the battlefield Blasting Station untaps, meaning that you can continually chuck Bloodghasts and the ilk at your opponent's head to get them off the table and generate more Zombies.
However, that's not the only reason to play it. If I just wanted a sacrifice outlet, I would play Spawning Pit (which works great with Beck) or Viscera Seer.
The second role, then, is that Blasting Station allows you to kill your opponent in one turn by throwing all your Zombies (and other creatures) at your opponent to deal lethal damage in one fell swoop! Taking one fewer turn to defeat your opponent is something I prize highly. With some draws, Spawning Pit might speed up the deck by a turn anyway, but overall I like cutting my opponent off from a turn enough that I'd rather have the Station. (Plus, in a pinch, you can always remove an opponent's creature that's causing problems!)
With all of those changes, that brings the deck to:
Gavin Verhey's Blasting Bridges
I made a couple tweaks to the mana base. You'll notice that I cut the Dryad Arbor. While it seems cute with Beck, Bridge from Below, and Drowned Rusalka, I never actually found a situation where I wanted to search for it and so I would rather give that slot to something else.
If you wanted to play a slower version of this deck, one route you could go down is to utilize a Life from the Loam engine with all of the landfall triggers. Then I would consider playing a Buried Ruin to return back your Blasting Station when necessary.
Another card to consider is Thoughtseize. I would definitely sideboard it, and if you can find the room I would love to main-deck it. This deck is vulnerable to other combo decks since I found it to generally kill on turn five, and many Modern combo decks are turn-four kills. Thoughtseize would help out some in that regard.
In any case, there you have it: a unique take on Dredge. There's a lot you could play around with here.
I'm always excited to see what Modern decks are sent in, and each Modern challenge is its own treat. Have fun, and keep innovating!
There are several great and unique submissions this week, from more traditional—Rock Loam—to something a little different... like a deck that combos out with Chimney Imp, or Rebels with Training Grounds! Take a look for yourself!
Joseph Kuzmanovski's Chimney Imp Combo
Bryce Nelson's BG Smallpox
Elias Rudin's RUG Vial
Kaelfros's Loam Rock
Cedric Pagavino's Luminarch Fog
Nick Frega's BR Goblins
Vincent Borchardt's Training Rebels
Adam H's Izzfinity
The Maze's Last Leg
In just three weeks, previews for Magic 2014 begin! It's hard to believe we have another core set upon us already. With that in mind, let's go for one last trip through the Maze in Standard, shall we?
Restrictions: Pick a Dragon's Maze card you think hasn't seen enough play and build a deck around it!
Deadline: Monday, June 17, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (You do not need to adhere to the specific numbers below, but it's just how a general decklist should look when laid out.)
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
Let's give Dragon's Maze one more hurrah, shall we?
If you have any thoughts or feedback on this deck or article, feel free to post in the forums or send me a tweet and I'll be sure to take a look! It's always great knowing what you have to say—especially about crazy decks like this one!
In the meantime, with Grand Prix Las Vegas on the horizon, attention is on Modern. I'll be back next week with something Modern-focused that's a little different than my usual deck critiquing fare. You won't want to miss it.
Talk to you next week!
When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards R&D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.