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Vintage 101: Eternal Weekend Cram Session - The Dark Art of Dredge Fu

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're continuing our cram study sessions on various decks for Vintage Eternal Weekend 2021 (which is next weekend). The Eternal Weekend Entry Tokens are live in the Magic Online store as of Monday, so if you haven't already get your token purchased so you can enjoy access to all of Magic Online! We've also got some Challenge data to talk about, as well as a Spice Corner.

With that being said, let's get right to it!

Cram Session - The Dark Arts of Dredge

Eternal Weekend 2021 is on the way next weekend, and we're continuing our look at various Vintage decks that one might enjoy or play in these events. This week we're looking away from typical Magic games and instead looking at the Dark Arts... of Dredge.

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Dredge is a deck that doesn't play like a typical Magic deck. It does a lot of things that are distinctly different than what one would expect of "tap lands for mana, cast spells" and instead focuses heavily on the utilization of the Dredge mechanic. By now, mostly anyone reading this should be ultra familiar with Dredge given its storied history in not just Vintage but in other formats as well (such as in Modern where Golgari Grave-Troll was unbanned and then later re-banned).  For those that don't know here's how it works a card with Dredge in the graveyard has a number on it (Dredge 6 for example). Whenever you draw a card, you can replace the draw with a Dredge (provided there are enough cards in your library to Dredge that number) and instead mill that many cards from the top of your library and then place the card with Dredge that you used for the replacement effect back into your hand. This fuels a powerful self-mill plan that utilizes free creature threats like Narcomoeba and Ichorid to build a board state and defeat the opponent with the free creatures and spells from the graveyard.

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In 2021, not much has changed with the deck in that it still revolves around one card and that is Bazaar of Baghdad.

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Bazaar is so important to the deck that it is often the only "Land" in the deck and the entire concept of mulligan'ing in Dredge is based on the necessary need to have an opening hand with Bazaar of Baghdad in it. To this end, the deck heavily utilizes the London Mulligan method to make sure it has a Bazaar, but then also combines that aspect with Serum Powder in order to allow the deck multiple opportunities to find a Bazaar. To that end, the number one rule of playing Dredge is to aggressively mulligan to make sure your opening hand has Bazaar in it, and Serum Powder away hands that don't have Bazaar in them. Powdering is a unique function of the deck, as you have to be reasonably certain that the cards you're exiling are cards that you definitely don't care if they're not in the game so sometimes it can be good to mulligan the hand anyways and lean on the London Mulligan strength as well.

Outside of the mulligan process, playing Dredge requires a lot of understanding of the card Bazaar as well as an understanding of how triggers work. Thankfully, on Magic Online, the trigger aspect of the deck is a lot easier to learn and understand and you also don't have to worry about keeping graveyard order like you do in paper. Dredge usually begins most games by playing Bazaar and activating it, drawing two cards and then discarding three, some of which should hopefully be a card with Dredge. Then you can start Dredging and generating value on subsequent turns.

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As noted, triggers are very important to playing Dredge, as the deck comes with a ton of them. From Narcomoeba and Prized Amalgam to even cards like Creeping Chill and Ichorid there is a lot going on. One of the more interesting aspects of the deck is the card Bridge from Below, an enchantment that only functions from the graveyard. Both triggers on Bridge are controlled by the player who owns the copy of Bridge in the graveyard, so it's important to know this in situations where your creatures could conceivably trade with an opponent's creature. In these situations, since you own the Bridge in the graveyard, you can order the triggers so that you get a Zombie token before it gets exiled from the graveyard. This level of understanding is important because those situations do come up rather often. Another fun and cute interaction is the ability to use cards like Noxious Revival to stuff a bridge back on top of your library in response to the exile trigger, which means you'll be able to keep it. Noxious Revival also has a ton of applications, from saving cards from Surgical Extraction or Soul-Guide Lantern to putting a key spell back on top to draw with Bazaar.

Because of the powerful draw aspect of Bazaar, Dredge gets to benefit from the power level of free spells that have been introduced over the years, such as Force of Vigor and Force of Will. Having access to these effects and being able to use Bazaar to draw into them or cards to enable them is very powerful all around, and one of the big reasons this deck no longer wants to play any other actual lands. The only other "actual" Lands in the 75 is typically copies of Wasteland + Strip Mine as those cards are useful for defeating things like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

Hand management is also important for this deck and knowing which of the free spells you can actually cast, and when to hold back a Bazaar activation to try to draw into either a free spell to cast or a free card to pitch is key. Since Bazaar discards three cards you have to be cognizant of the contents of your hand and how best to make that work to your advantage.

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The real Dredge fu however often begins in post-board games for this deck, as Game 1 is generally winnable. Post board games are where things can be really interesting as quite often other decks in the format always have some form of interaction with the graveyard to prevent the Dredge player from executing their game plan. Generally the best card in a lot of these post board games is Force of Vigor due to the fact that it hits both artifacts and enchantments and takes out two things at once, which is how in the past decks would be able to defeat Dredge by playing out more than one piece of graveyard hate and requiring the Dredge player to be able to answer both cards. Now with Force of Vigor that plan is a little more stressed. Mindbreak Trap is also strong in some post board games versus decks that try to go under Dredge's aggressive nature by trying to win early. The free permission given by both Force of Will and Mindbreak Trap helps the Dredge deck play a more controlling role in the post board games like this.

Dredge is a powerful deck, and continues to be one of the major pillars of the format (as a Bazaar deck) and still is one of the best Bazaar decks in the format to be playing. It has its ups and downs in the metagame the more players devote sideboard space to it, but it has a lot of play to it and distinctly feels like no other Magic experience in the game. If you're looking for something for Eternal Weekend 2021 that is different, powerful, and one of the big boogeymen of the Vintage format then Dredge is definitely the deck for you.

Vintage Challenge 11/13

We had two Challenges this past weekend, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event, which had 53 players in it thanks to data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Pretty healthy spread of decks across this event really. Nothing incredibly domineering in meta share and really just looks like a reasonably fun metagame to me. Vintage has had a lot of great events as of late and this is no exception. Definitely a very fun and engaging format right now.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Tempo 1st Bullwinkkle6705
Mono White 2nd grymn
Dredge 3rd PRGJJAR
UR Tempo 4th sixmp
BUG Midrange 5th Beenew
Golos Stax 6th Tsubasa_Cat
Blue Tinker 7th jordanlidsky
Breach 8th swiftwarkite2

Really nice-looking Top 8 here. Decent spread of Bazaar, Shops, even Mono-White Aggro as well as the typical blue shells. At the end of the event however, in just an extremely awesome display of talent was Isaac Bullwinkle as he won the event with very nearly a Legacy deck with Restricted cards on UR Tempo.

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This is mainly what Isaac has been playing in Legacy (UR Saga builds) converted to Legacy, and it is definitely superb. Isaac is a talented player and he's only 16 years old. Big congrats to him on taking down this event! Looks like a super fun list for sure.

The other Finalist of this event was on Mono White Aggro.

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Dryad Militant is definitely an interesting way of attacking decks that seek to often recur cards like Ancestral Recall and also seems pretty solid versus Murktide Regent by keeping the graveyard small and exiling the food that Murktide needs to grow. Of course, playing one after a Murktide is a bad idea, so gotta get it down early on. This list looks super interesting and fun though.

Also in the Top 8 we had another Izzet deck, this one featuring Laelia, the Blade Reforged.

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This is the same list originated by Nathan Lipetz and it's definitely cool to see cards like Laelia (that are technically new to MTGO since it was only recently just added) do some things in this format where it definitely seems like it's very good for it.

Also in the Top 8 we've got Golos Stax.

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Witchbane Orb is some sweet tech in the sideboard here. I remember myself trying that card out to deal with things like Hurkyl's Recall, so it's cool to see it still being used here or there.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got a sweet Painter Tinker list.

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Hullbreacher and Day's Undoing, not to mention the Painter combo. Love how clean this list looks for sure.

Vintage Challenge 11/14

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had 50 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

A bit heavy on the Blue Tinker side of things but the performance of the deck was overall pretty fair, which is nice to see. Aggro Shops had a solid performance given that there were only two in the event and one of those placed in the Top 8. Again, this all looks really solidly healthy and fun.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
GW Humans 1st Wesal
Golos Stax 2nd GYBA
Aggro Shops 3rd Mogged
UR Tempo 4th Phill_Hellmuth
4C Midrange 5th NooxTom
Breach 6th Leofa
Tinker 7th Beenew
Jeskai Control 8th Murkyblack11

Again, this is a pretty reasonable Top 8.  Lot of nice variety and a sweet final between GW Humans and Golos Stax. At the end, it was Wesal on GW Humans (or GW Lumi as some are calling it) that took it all down.

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Outland Liberator was such a huge printing for this deck. When you flip this card it basically becomes a Trygon Predator that only has to attack (and not connect) to do its thing, and even then it can still attack kill an artifact/enchantment and then activate for one to sacrifice it to kill another. Flipping it is really easy too given cards like Archon of Emeria. Definitely a solid and powerful list.

The Second Place finalist was on Golos Stax.

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These Golos lists are definitely powerful but they do have a lot of natural predators in the format, and with the advent of the aforementioned GW Humans deck getting more popular I can definitely see a push back on the Shops decks for sure.

Also in the Top 8 we had a showing by Aggro Shops.

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Nettlecyst is such a powerful card and was probably one of the more impactful new printings from Modern Horizons 2 outside of Urza's Saga on the Aggro Shops variants. It's just such an incredibly strong equipment for the right cost and making a creature to attach to immediately is very powerful.

Also down the Top 8 we've got a 4C Ragavan deck.

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Haven't seen Dark Confidant in a while for sure. Pretty sweet to see here. Also kind of wild to see only three copies of Deathrite Shaman since that's usually a four-of. This is a sweet list though for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a sweet showing by Stiflenought.

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Dress Down is secretly just one of the more impactful newer printings from Modern Horizons 2 and it definitely doesn't see a ton of play, but it is insanely good versus anything playing Urza's Saga.

Around the Web

  • Got a sweet video on Vintage Doomsday. Check that out here.
  • Our good friend Phil Gallagher did a video on the GW Humans variant that has been running around. Check that out here.
  • Jarvis Yu talks about decks he would play for Vintage Eternal Weekend. Check that out here.
  • The content machine that is Justin Gennari cannot be stopped! Check out his videos this week:
    • Justin's big round up of "Everything You Need to Know About Vintage Before Eternal Weekend" is now live. This is a great resource for anyone trying to figure out what to play. Check it out here.
    • Reckless Impulse PO
    • Laelia Tinker
  • Justin also has a new Metagame Dashboard sheet for the data collection project that they do in Vintage land. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

Speaking of Justin Gennari. Reckless Impulse is amazing.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for your continued support of the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into Vintage!

As always you can reach me at Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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