We play Magic for lots of reasons. To be around friends. To meet people. To compete. To travel. To innovate. To be recognized. To affect the community. To see our hard work pay off!
I have been driven by all of these forces at various stages in my career, but right now there is something strong that drives me to come home after a long physical day and play several grueling hours of Magic Online every single night: to wake up mentally fitter tomorrow because of my hard work today. Truly.
Magic is a hard game. The level of depth is staggering. The number of decisions is overwhelming. I find that if I can successfully navigate through some wildly complex games tonight, tomorrow morning’s problems will be elementary.
School was always easy for me, as it is for many Magic players. That’s not to brag, and it’s not to say that I am “smart.” I was merely prepared. People around me were wondering how to focus for the four-hour SAT test. Well, I played in a 12-hour tournament last weekend. This will be easy.
So, for those of you who have kids and for those of you who will have kids. I implore you—give them this game. It will train them mentally. It will make them strong and equipped to deal with life’s problems. Yes, life is hard, but Magic is hard. That’s perfect.
I wanted to build a deck that produced the most absurdly complex and lengthy matches possible. There are lots of decks we can play—lots of decks that will help us win. But not all of these decks will push us to our mental limit. Mono-red aggro is a great deck. It is a fun deck. But it is a deck that produces short matches, and short matches means fewer decisions, and fewer decisions means less complexity, and less complexity means less mental gain.
I was inspired by [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card]. I drafted a Modern Masters deck around this card in a single elimination queue. I decided to play 50 cards in order to allow for more dredges. I won the first round on timeout. I won the second round on timeout. I won the third round on timeout.
The games were epic affairs of blocking and resource denial. There were so many decisions of when to draw and how to play. How could we make this a Constructed deck?
So, over the last week I have been playing with a deck I am now calling Complex Dredge, for the absurdly difficult situations that arise while playing the deck. It aims to hang in the game while slowly grinding the opponent down to nothing. Eventually, it ends the game.
On Friday night I played in and won my FIRST 8-man with the deck. I’m really excited about that. It seems really strong and really rewarding of skill. The matches usually last at least 30 minutes. That’s everything I want in a deck.
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
4 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Dakmor Salvage
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Gavony Township
1 Tectonic Edge
4 Faithless Looting
4 Raven’s Crime
4 Drown in Filth
4 Life from the Loam
4 Lingering Souls
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Unburial Ries
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
2 Borborygmos Enraged
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Ray of Revelation
1 Fulminator Mage
3 Sin Collector
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria[/deck]
The deck aims to play a long, low resource game.
It attacks the hand with [card]Raven’s Crime[/card], [card]Smallpox[/card], and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card].
It attacks mana with [card]Smallpox[/card] and recurring [card]Tectonic Edge[/card].
It attacks the battlefield with [card]Darkblast[/card], [card]Drown in Filth[/card], [card]Smallpox[/card], and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card].
It gums up the board with [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card] and [card]Lingering Souls[/card].
All while slowly moving the deck to the graveyard. Eventually [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card]s pair with [card]Gavony Township[/card], or [card]Unburial Rites[/card] pairs with a giant fatty and that’s it.
Complex Dredge Card Breakdowns
[card]Faithless Looting[/card] is amazing, and obviously I am in love with it. It offers a ton of decisions and value over a long game. It pairs with all the dredge, generates massive card advantage with [card]Life from the Loam[/card], and bins our Unburials and fatties.
It’s worth stretching the mana base for, because it is SO strong.
The more Raven’s Crimes the better. We want to trade our cards for their cards early and often, because we won’t run out of gas going long. It work with [card]Life from the Loam[/card] for massive hand disruption. It is also a nice discard outlet to set up our reanimation combo on a key turn.
[draft]Drown in Filth[/draft]
This card is really, really good. For 2 mana it kills most things. And it bins FOUR cards, which is a lot. That is a ton of value.
It can be a bit inconsistent as there will be situations where you fail to uncover a single land. Well, [card]Mulch[/card] is equally as bad in these situations, but either way 4 cards get turned over, which is still value.
[draft]Life from the Loam[/draft]
Life from the Loam does a lot of things. It allows us to generate massive resources in a low resource game. Three lands a turn, over and over, all while filling the graveyard is a big deal. It flips [card]Raven’s Crime[/card]s to completely decimate their hand, and uncovers [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Gavony Township[/card] to take the game over.
[card]Life from the Loam[/card] is crucial to this deck’s existence.
Smallpox keeps both players in the stone age. That favors us. We can follow up Smallpox with Spirit tokens, [card]Life from the Loam[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card], and so on. If neither of us has many cards, that’s great for us, as we can dredge and gum up the board from as little as 2 lands in play and no cards in hand.
[card]Lingering Souls[/card] is our superpowered [card]Narcomoeba[/card]. Over long grindy games we are looking at at least 8 blockers. That is a LOT of blocking. These guys come out cheap also, which is awesome when fighting games where neither player has much.
[draft]Liliana of the Veil[/draft]
Liliana does a little bit of everything. It pressures the opponent’s hand and board and takes pressure temporarily off of our life total.
There will be times where Liliana slowly ticks up behind a wall of Spirits and Stinkweed Imps. A Liliana ultimate is hard to come back from.
[card]Stinkweed Imp[/card] is the soul of the deck. Dredge 5 is a LOT. But really this is important as a recursive blocker. Nice [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]! Block. Dredge. Replay Stinkweed. Nice [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]! Block. Dredge. Play Stinkweed.
A lot of decks just can’t handle that level of recursion and it can shut down attacks for days. Over really long games this guy can slowly start getting into the redzone as well, especially with Spirit tokens.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
This is the big finish. As we slowly turn over more and more cards, eventually [card]Unburial Rites[/card] lines up with a giant monster. Elesh Norn acts as a board wipe and super fast kill with Spirit tokens, while Borborygmos teams up with Life from the Loam to go crazy.
Note that these cards are not only castable in the deck, but WILL be cast. Look for opportunities, because they will happen. Seven and eight mana is a lot, but with Loam we are hitting a land EVERY turn. Sometimes this is what it comes down to. Don’t miss it when it happens!
The deck is a slow grind engine. It is really fantastic to play, and a valid strategy.
Fighting the Hate
People are going to try to stop you. They are going to play annoying cards. The best answer is knowledge and preparation.
Deathrite Shaman is everywhere. It seems like it’s in half the decks. Obviously it can be very annoying, but it is quite beatable. The easiest way to get it off the board is with a Smallpox or Liliana, but if they are on the play that might not work.
[card]Drown in Filth[/card] can generally kill a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], but remember that the Deathrite can protect itself sometimes by removing a land. This means you can’t always go for Drown in Filth and expect it to work, even if you only need to hit one land. Plan ahead with fetch lands!
[card]Darkblast[/card] can sometimes kill [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. There will be opportunities to [card]Darkblast[/card] on upkeep, dredge, and play it again, but the Deathrite can protect itself from that somewhat too.
Finally, there will be times to just hardcast a fatty. Deathrite can control our graveyard, but it can’t remove it entirely, so Deathrite often contributes to the slow grind. If it looks like it’s gonna stick, don’t discard your fatty. Hang on to it, and grind towards 7 or 8 lands to cast it.
[draft]Rest in Peace
These cards are much more annoying than [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], as they aren’t creatures and aren’t vulnerable to most of our tactics.
The good news is that these cards are rarely played, and when they are they appear in small numbers. The bad news is that means we can’t really prepare for it. If we always prepare for it, we put ourselves at a disadvantage in almost every other case.
If we can’t remove it with a sideboard card, we need to kill them with our cards faceup. Maybe we attack their mana, maybe we protect a Liliana ultimate. Whatever it takes. It won’t be easy—but it won’t happen often either.
Sideboarding Complex Dredge
I usually build my sideboards by first figuring out what cards should come out. I realize this is backwards from the “standard” way of building sideboards, but this is the only way to do it. If we put a card that is “good” in a matchup, but every card in our deck is “good” in this matchup, we aren’t benefiting ourselves by having this card in the board. So first, let’s talk about common cuts.
This card is amazing on the play and sometimes useless on the draw. For this reason I find myself boarding this out on the draw a lot.
Some decks dump their hand fast AND play for a longer game. We definitely don’t need four of these vs. decks like that.
[draft]Drown in Filth
Some decks don’t play any early creatures, and we don’t need this there.
Some decks don’t play creatures that attack us AND aren’t very susceptible to Spirit beatdown. Against decks like this, we don’t need 4 Souls.
Those are the main cards we board out. [card]Faithless Looting[/card], [card]Life from the Loam[/card], [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], and the Unburial package is almost never touched. That is the core of the deck.
Complex Dredge Sideboard
[deck]1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Fulminator Mage
3 Sin Collector
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Ray of Revelation
[draft]Iona, shield of emeria[/draft]
Iona is much better than Elesh Norn against certain combo decks that need to resolve a spell to win. She’s not great in the main deck because she doesn’t do much to come back from a losing board position.
I like having extra mana denial against decks like [card]Scapeshift[/card]. It can also pair with [card]Unburial Rites[/card] to keep their mana even lower.
Sin Collector is great at attacking the hand and providing a body against decks that like to hold a lot of spells in hand. It’s not essential, but it’s nice to have something when our creature removal isn’t good.
[card]Pyroclasm[/card] is incredibly strong in Modern. There are lots of creature decks that crumble to one of these. It could definitely be a 4-of.
I like having the 4th Smallpox for when we are on the play against especially vulnerable decks.
[card]Abrupt Decay[/card] is a nice catch-all. It kills creatures and can kill random hate cards. It’s nice to have at least 1 of these in the deck against most sideboarded opponents.
[card]Ancient Grudge[/card] is a great value way to kill artifacts. It’s great against Robots and nice to dredge up against [card]Birthing Pod[/card] as well.
[draft]Ray of Revelation[/draft]
[card]Ray of Revelation[/card] isn’t quite as useful as [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], but it has some targets. There will be [card]Prismatic Omen[/card]s, Leylines, [card]Ethereal Armor[/card]s, and so on.
Some opponents will try to get us with [card]Blood Moon[/card]. These are red players with few nonbasics. Against these players I want to be prepared to fetch basics early. However, these lands are pretty bad in the main deck, as they don’t allow us to cast our spells as well, so I think they belong in the sideboard.
Adjusting Complex Dredge
The deck is still pretty new and could use adjustments. It could use a 4th Unburial and a 4th fatty main. We could trim [card]Darkblast[/card] or [card]Smallpox[/card]. Maybe [card]Sin Collector[/card] and [card]Fulminator Mage[/card] aren’t necessary. We could use a 4th [card]Pyroclasm[/card].
I will be working on it on my end, and if you pick it up, let me know what you find. I’m not after being right—I’m after the right answer.
This deck is solid. It wins. It wins 30-minute matches. It wins 30-minute matches filled with absurd complexity. That’s everything I want in a deck right now, and I know some of y’all feel the same way!
Peace out, and dredge 5!
Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I forgot!?