High roll chooses? Okay, I rolled a 9. You rolled a 5.
I’ll choose to draw.
A savvy Legacy player can be pretty certain what this means. Legacy is a fast format where getting on the board, either with a land into a discard spell, Spell Pierce, or casting a spell before their Chalice on 1 arrives, is critical. Some decks can even win on turn 1. A less experienced player might be caught completely off-guard. An experienced one knows that this means they’re up against Manaless Dredge.
This is an explosive deck that may also be the cheapest in the format. So many of the most expensive cards in Legacy come in the form of lands, and this deck plays zero! It also mulligans poorly, and any interaction from your opponent will win the game on the spot. A Rest in Peace spells complete doom against a deck that relies totally on the graveyard and has no mana to cast a spell from its hand.
So how does it work?
The key is to get started. There are a number of ways to do this once you choose to draw first. You won’t have a spell to play on turn 1 and will need to discard due to hand size.
From there, you can start to go crazy. The worst hands will discard one of the many dredge creatures. Golgari Grave-Troll is the best of the bunch thanks to its high dredge number. Dredging for 6 simply gives you access to more spells. You also have Stinkweed Imp at 5, Golgari Thug at 4, and even some Shambling Shells down at 3. Discarding any of these will allow you to dredge during your draw step, and even if you miss completely on that, your worst-case scenario would be to just discard the dredge card again.
Your preferred start is Phantasmagorian. This creature allows you to discard 3 cards to return it from your graveyard to your hand. You can actually stack this trigger to make sure you can discard 6 cards if you have lots of awesome stuff in your hand that you would prefer to have in your graveyard. There are only a few cards in the deck that are better in hand than in the bin, so this is a useful tool.
Some of the best creatures to dredge into your graveyard are the ones that you can get back for free. Narcomoeba is a big part of the Vintage dredge engine, as dredging 1 into your graveyard gives you a creature at 0 cost. Nether Shadow and Ichorid are additional tools that come back once your graveyard starts filling up. By bringing back creatures, you also have access to Prized Amalgams to continue growing your army.
Drawing cards for a 0-mana investment is a great way to make sure you both find what you need and can continue dredging once you’re there. Gitaxian Probe and Street Wraith are incredibly important pieces to that puzzle.
The other key cards to get into your graveyard are Bridge from Below and your flashback spells. Bridges will allow you to flood the board out. Getting a couple of Bridges into your graveyard lets your Ichorids create Zombies when you sacrifice them at end of turn, allows you to attack into bigger creatures, and turns your flashback spells into game-winners.
Cabal Therapy is a great tool for creating Zombies off of Bridge from Below and to make sure the coast is clear. A Force of Will doesn’t do too much against this deck, but it can definitely throw a wrench into your plans by countering Dread Return. A Dread Return on your Balustrade Spy mills your entire deck, returns all of your Narcomoebas, makes sure every Bridge is in your graveyard, and will allow you to continue to go off. Flayer of the Hatebound can end the game immediately, dealing damage directly to your opponent as you bring creatures back from your graveyard onto the battlefield.
How you build your sideboard will dictate how expensive the deck ends up being. Commonly, you see counterspells such as Force of Will, which can spike the price a bit. Either way, this is a competitive Legacy deck that you can definitely build on the cheap!