Breaking Through – Additions to the Dead Guy Army

Dredge is likely about to hits its peak in power for the next three months. It may exist after the rotation of Return to Ravnica from Standard, but it will be much different, likely focused solely around Strength from the Fallen. Until then, though, there are a lot of interesting directions to explore when it comes to dumping a ton of cards into your graveyard. Today, I wanted to take a look at the cards spoiled from M15 and see what gems might be playable for our favorite B/G archetype.

While I am fairly confident that everything here will see print, I can’t be 100% certain of the accuracy of every card previewed.

I will use the term “Dredge” loosely from this point forward. This is just used to classify a group of decks that care about getting things into the graveyard.

Chord of Calling

While this may not initially jump out as a Dredge card, it actually works fairly well outside of not being a creature itself. Dredge tends to produce a higher number of creatures than it does lands as so many of its creatures act as lands. Chord can piggy-back all of those Satyr Wayfinders and Deathrite Shamans that have run out of fodder to grab key one-ofs or just to improve consistency with the important creatures in the list.

What if we were able to go down to 1 copy of cards like Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, Scavenging Ooze, or Lotleth Troll? At various points, each of these cards have been in the deck, but in the case of Troll and Ooze, they were not able to make the cut due to a lack of room and better options being available. That said, both cards have moments of excellence in certain matchups and devoting one slot to each might just be worth the high swings they provide in those cases. Chord allows this, so it is worth keeping an eye on.

Life’s Legacy

A bit of a weird card, but there is little doubt that this can provide a huge swing in a game. Generally, the thought of sacrificing your Desecration Demon sounds pretty good, but if it doesn’t work out for some reason, you rid yourself of one of your better win conditions. In Dredge, the drawback of losing a guy is mitagated by the natural engine we employ. This, combined with the large and undercosted bodies in the deck, make Life’s Legacy a very reasonable option for Dredge.

Nemesis of Mortals is one of the biggest things you can sacrifice without doing much work. I would trade 2 cards for five almost always. Jarad has a natural way to bring himself back, making him a great target. And Nighthowler is not only big himself, but he turns a random Wayfinder or Elvish Mystic into a giant guy in order to sacrifice them. The card can easily not be good enough, but if it has a shot, I would look to Dredge first.

Soul of Zendikar

While this is not likely to be the best Soul for Dredge decks, Call of the Herd is a powerful Magic card.

It also happens to be a 6/6 reach with a board dominating ability. That means that if you ever cast it or Chord it out, it will be formidable, especially considering it answers fliers. There is also the possibility of reanimating this, letting it serve double-duty as a threat in the ‘yard or a value spell should you never draw your Zombify.

Necromancer’s Assistant

While we have a few of this type of creature already in the format (Forsaken Drifters, Returned Centaur), this is probably the first one that comes at an efficient enough rate with a reasonable enough timing on its ability. Because we get the effect right away, there is a hint of playability here.

That said, when you compare this with the likes of Satyr Wayfinder, it looks like a pretty big joke. The extra power might be relevant in Strength from the Fallen Dredge decks, where a mass quantity of cards in your ‘yard and creatures to fuel both halves of the Strength is highly desired.

Necromancer’s Stockpile

Now this is a spicy one. This is a significantly more grindy card than Dredge is used to at the moment, so it may just lead to an entirely new breed of graveyard deck, but I want to brew around it immediately. The fact that this replaces the card you discard is one thing, but creating value beyond that is just insane.

This provides instant-speed threats which are another weapon against sorcery-speed removal, such as sweepers. If you dump a Zombie or two into play on your opponent’s end step and then untap and power up with Nighthowler, this gets very ugly fast. It provides you with an engine that both fuels your primary game plan while also enabling an entirely different game plan. Maybe most important is that this secondary plan does not require things stay in the ‘yard to be valuable, making it strong against the likes of Rest in Peace.

Notable Zombies include:

Looping your Jarad is a reasonable use of a ton of excess mana in the late game, although that might be asking a little too much. At the very least, this would appear to be a suberb sideboard card for Dredge in the fight against control, so I would expect to see it showing up there very soon.

Soul of Innistrad

This is a big one for us, I believe. Drawing three cards for five mana is pretty reasonable as is, but when it does not cost you a card in the first place, that is just value. This is the exact type of card that you would be fine casting, should you ever hit that mana threshold, as it will win you the game with just an activation or two.

Imagine if this were fueling the likes of Necromancer’s Stockpile. You could theoretically dump three Zombies into your yard, draw three cards, then spend the five mana on this to rinse and repeat. Unfortunately, this is not a Zombie itself, but maybe you are just happy drawing a card to get it in the graveyard.

This also makes for an excellent Chord of Calling target as it is pretty expensive to activate, so getting it into play at the end of your opponent’s turn makes getting immediate value out of it a little easier.

Return to the Ranks

This is another card similar to Necromancer’s Stockpile in that it does not necessarily fit the conventional boundaries of Dredge, but it is powerful enough that it might be worth exploring its own direction within the graveyard manipulation archetypes.

This would be a version of the list centered on cheap drops, which can be tough to build around as they are not usually the most formidable creatures. Dredge has a few that are worth returning though. The biggest ones off the top of my head include Lotleth Troll, Deathrite Shaman, Pack Rat, and Satyr Wayfinder (doubly so).

Dredge decks are not really equipped to handle a heavy white splash, but M15 helps out there too as we have the cycle of Apocalypse pain lands returning, which would provide two duals to help the cause. One of those duals is going to be good in just about any Dredge deck.

Llanowar Wastes

This is a big addition to the deck and will not cause much of a stir for the most part. While Journey into Nyx gave us a scry land, Temple of Malady does not allow you to play the turn 1 Deathrite Shamans or Elvish Mystics that this deck really craves. We can easily afford taking a few damage here and there to make sure our mana is good. With Mana Confluence available to supplement these, I would expect our mana to be as good as it is going to get in Standard. This is a huge power spike for the deck as mana has been one of its biggest problems.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

A card that will not see a ton of play in Dredge, but an important one nonetheless. With Temple of Malady, Llanowar Wastes, and Mana Confluence, the number of actual basic lands has gone down quite a bit. With a few copies of Urborg in the deck, we can overload on Forests and go light on basic Swamps while still being able to bring back our Jarad with regularity in the late game.

Remember that Urborg turns the lands into actual Swamps, not just black producing lands. Of course, this also works nicely with Llanowar Wastes and Mana Confluence, allowing you to avoid some damage, but we do need to worry about allowing opposing Mutavaults and off-color lands to provide their mage with the correct mana though, so I don’t expect Urborg to just become a 4-of. Extra copies can be sacrificed to Jarad, which is something.

Soul of New Phyrexia

Of the three souls we have discussed today, this one has the lowest chance of making it into a Dredge shell, but it is still a big creature that has an effect from the graveyard, so I figured it is worth discussing.

Because our creatures are generally so big, giving them indestructible is really only strong against wrath effects and it comes at a time that is generally too late to protect against them. If they cast a sweeper on turn 4 or 5 and kill a couple of mana creatures and a Nemesis of Mortals, the Soul is looking rather weak. Then again, in extremely slow games where you are using bestow to stretch a control deck thin of answers, Soul of New Phyrexia can be clutch.

I would probably look at this guy for the sideboard first, but experimenting is worth the time.

Wrap Up

M15 is almost fully spoiled and I am excited to see the remaining few cards. As I mentioned last week, this set is a brewer’s dream and it really has me excited for the Pro Tour in Portland. Dredge looks to be getting strong but so does the rest of the field, so we will have to wait and see just what decks rise to the top. Thanks for reading!

Conley Woods

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