I support Vengeful Pharoah - it's incredibly powerful in a Dredge deck as you only have to give up something like 1/5 or 1/6 of a draw step per creature killed. Obviously it can be meta-dependent but it's firmly in my list of Dredge playables.

I'd encourage you to try to include Ichorids in the deck - they are simply the best creature for grinding games out, especially in the context of Bridge from Below. To my mind, Bloodghast is more of a combo piece, second only to Narcomoeba in this respect, as well as a questionable aggro creature post-board.

The real virtue of Therapy is that once you start Dredging it allows you to buy time to close out the game while taking very few slots from the rest of your deck. If you need more of a 'finisher', I would add Therapy first then start looking at things like Dread Return

Congrats on the 5-0!

Echoing @ajfirecracker, I've found 1-3 Ichorids to be very strong in the maindeck. The biggest value in my mind is having another way to trigger Prized Amalgam. Adding just one Ichorid increases the probability of having a way to trigger Amalgam by 25%.

The down-side of Ichorid is that it is relatively inflexible across the match--it's much better Game 1 than in Games 2-3. I think in general that cards supporting only half of the plan in a hybrid deck need an especially-high cost to benefit ratio for consideration. I think that the first Ichorid meets that criteria comfortably, but I'm not 100% sold on additional copies, as the returns diminish quickly (at least regarding Amalgam triggers; +20%, +17%, and +14% for adding each Ichorid beyond the first).

I haven't had time to play in any leagues in weeks, but I did play in five leagues with 2-3 Ichorids and 1-2 Golgari Thug and went 18-7. A small sample size, but the Ichorids felt smooth.

Like you, I also have developed mixed feelings about Leyline of Sanctity. It's so good at ensuring lockpieces stick around against Outcome, does great things against Oath, and deals with targeted hate like Ravenous Trap and Tomord's crypt. Consequently, it synergizes with both halves of the deck, but it also doesn't help win the game and does so little on its own.

As I side-note-- I have adored your Stax lists since I started playing Vintage in the early 2000s. It's cool to see you back!

vroman doing well with Mishra's Workshop alongside Bazaar of Baghdad sounds about right

I can’t imagine a reason Hollow One isn’t a 4 of in the main.

On the dredge side... I don't think Therapy is necessary, given that you've cut Dread Return, Bridge From Below. I also wouldn't add Bridge or Ichorid back in as that is a very large package that takes the deck in a different direction (back towards more traditional dredge). If you are looking for another creature, I'd play Nether Shadow.

On the shops side... I'd consider Walking Ballista. This is an answer to some hate pieces, along with being a great broken card with Shops. Lodestone Golem is also still great, and always seems like a fit alongside of Workshop (even without the moxen to get it turn 1).

On the combination side... Leyline + Helm is a natural fit for this decklist.


I've tried to make Bridge work in these lists, and have found that like you suggest, it pushes the build too far in to Dredge territory at the expense of the other gameplans.

Regarding Ichorids: out of the several dozen lists I've tried, those with Ichorids have fared best for me. The list I 5-0ed with didn't have the Ichorids (looks like the list above), but on the whole the versions with some number of Ichorids have done best. I kept finding that the Dredge plan Game 1 is a little too anemic with just the Bloodhasts/Amalgams, so I've been trying to give it just a little more strength.

I have also wanted to explore Ballista in these shells, but have hesitated to explore that in the current list because of the dis-synergy with Null Rod. I think there is potential, though, perhaps in a very different list or for matches where Null Rods don't excel.

Also, after a month break from leagues, I took out the below list last night and ran back-to-back 4-1's:


Only losses were to Uba Stax (how fitting in this thread) and Outcome, both in Game 3.

Life From the Loam was fantastic all night. It was responsible for several match wins and felt much better than Crucibles when I've tried them. As both a tutor and recursion engine for the Depths plan, I am optimistic about its role in the deck.

Cursed Totem is a nod to Shops primarily. Shops, for me, has been the worst match-up for these lists. Null Rod is the best card in this match up, and buys a lot of time with Hollow One as a wall. Cursed Totem gets pretty close to Null Rod number 5 in that match-up.

Last night brings my last 7 leagues to 26-9 (somehow managing not to 5-0 in that span).

last edited by Zias

I came up against this online just before last eternal weekend and I was sure that this was going to be something that would show up there.
This is a really great deck only helped more and more as time goes by.

Since OP, I went 4-1 twice w this. 1of Ichorid is surprisingly good. Pithing Needle also worthwhile, maybe 2of main over Thug. I'm interested to try the Loam version, to increase dredge count, and Petrified Field is meh, and living the dream of hardcast Grave Troll ftw.
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishras Workshop
3 Wasteland
2 Petrified Field
2 Dakmor Salvage
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Serum Powder
1 Pithing Needle
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
4 Null Rod
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Golgari Thug
1 Ichorid
4 Bloodghast
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Golgari Grave Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Hollow One
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Dark Depths
4 Thespian Stage
2 Vengeful Pharaoh
1 Pithing Needle

I've been crushing a lot of Pyromancer. Its surreal boarding out Workshop.

last edited by vroman


What's your sideboard plan against Pyromancer? I'm intrigued by the idea of boarding out Shops in that match-up. That never occurred to me.

And how have the Vengeful Pharaohs been for you? It's been high on my list of things to try since @ajfirecracker suggested them to me awhile back.

Pharaoh has been relevant. My board plans:
Oath / Survival / any U-control w Wasteland+Snapcaster
-4 null rod
-4 sphere
-1 Thorn
-1 Trisphere
-4 Workshop
-1 Thug/Ichorid/Imp

+9 Dark Stage and needle
-9 Ichorid/Thug/Imp/Grave-Troll

+13 not Pharaoh
-8 Troll/Imp
-5 Ichorid/Thug/Amalgam

+11 not leyline
-4 sphere
-1 Thorn
-1 Trisphere
-1 Chalice
-2 Shop
-2 Thug/Imp

-4 null rod
-8 Imp/Troll
-3 Ichorid/Thug/Amalgam

last edited by vroman

@vroman It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on Vintage now versus then, after a 7yr lapse. It was fun to follow your innovations on the drain many years ago, looking forward to it again!

Got the 5-0 with the above list featuring Life From the Loam.

I've played Loam in six leagues, going 23-7 across two different lists. Four of those leagues were with the verbatim list posted above (17-3) and two were with a modified version that cut the Salvages/Ichorid for more Portals/Loams/Leyline of Sanctity (6-4).

Obviously a small sample size, but I think Dakmor Salvage may too important to cut. In the two leagues and a bunch of practice matches without it, I've had trouble reliably triggering the Bloodghasts or ensuring a land drop to get Loam going. Dredging a Salvage often accomplishes both in a single turn.

I can't overemphasize how good Life from the Loam has been. What's really impressed me is how good it's been against Shops and Eldrazi, which were the two match-ups that have given me the most trouble. Loam doesn't just help keep Marit Lage looming, but also undermines the ability of Shops and Eldrazi to overwhelm the board with threats by recurring Wasteland. Null Rod and Wasteland consequently buys a lot of time. The Spheres, which I keep in against Eldrazi, have also become more effective at keeping Thought-Knots and Smashers off the table with a stream of Wastelands flowing.

Thanks for the run-down on your sideboarding, I find your approach very interesting. I've always kept in the Shops and lockpieces against the Oath/Survival/U-Wasteland decks to hamper the ability to find and play answers to Marit Lage or the dredge plan and prevent their threats (e.g., keep Oath off the table or Survival from going off in a single turn through a Sphere).

But it looks like you are going for a more all-in attack strategy by keeping the threats and tossing the prison element. I'm going to try that. I think that might be the better approach (especially on the draw).

Also, what are your thoughts on Spyglass vs Needle? Are you going for the latter because you tend to board out Shops?

last edited by Zias

I like the Loam version a lot, but def opposed to cutting Crypt. Lock + bazaar is one of the best T1 plays. Plus loaming thru my own spheres, and tomb#5 for DarkStage and the occasional grave troll finish. The only times I've lost to crypt rolls is when they waste my bazaar which is a tough slog regardless.
I haven't played since my last post until tonight. The London Serum Powder interaction is more complicated than I assumed but still a very comfortable improvement. I went 4-1 w this, only loss to a maestro w T1 Containment Priest both G1+2.
4 tomb
4 shop
4 riftstone
2 waste
1 strip
1 lotus
1 crypt
4 bazaar
4 powder
4 null rod
4 sphere
1 thorn
1 trisphere
1 chalice
4 grave troll
4 stinkweed
4 bloodghast
4 amalgam
4 hollow one
3 loam
1 balance
4 w leyline
4 b leyline
4 stage
3 depths

I brought back sanctity after bad record v oath w last iteration. If I were to cut white leyline again, I like needle over spyglass, bc unlike stax, not trying for long term denial (ie dack/jace), only defending Marit for one turn, so their hand info isn't tactically relevant, and I want to be able to cast via Stage alone, regardless if Shop still in the deck.
Postboard Vs Pyromancer/Survival/Oath Ive found they're pretty good at still playing their hand out through minor locks, and if they hit my yard, I feel dumb starting from scratch w just a sphere in play vs their regular threats. I'm more concerned about spreading my wincons against their hate.
I have yet to face eldrazi w prison dredge.


I’ve played a lot of Balance in Dredge and it’s a a strong card to overcome Containment Priest and Creature-Based Aggro. It’s marginal in other scenarios.

I was very curious about this deck so i test it a bit and bring it to a small paper tournament today. The list was the last one suggested by Vroman and running life from the loam (see a few posts above). The mail was slow so i missed a few cards and made some minor change to it.
Namely -1 balance / +1 needle for MD.
The side was : 4 dark depths, 4 thespian stage, 4 leyline of the void, 1 needle, 1 vengeful pharaoh and 1 ancient grudge.
The results were average but mostly because the pilot did not master enough the deck.

Here are a few thoughts :

  • i really missed 1 ichorid to trigger amalgam, i think i will put it in the balance/needle slot.
  • i agree with Zias about Darkmor Salvage. Rifstone portal and some slow dredging can let us get loam running and getting the lands but it is really slow. Not sure what to cut yet but i will definitively want 1 or 2.
  • i know that it is not exactly the plan but since i had 1 free slot in sideboard i tried ancient grudge. I found it quite neat to deal with cage, needle and time vault. Ray of revelation could be interesting too in sideboard but much less useful.
  • Maybe i played the deck really bad but i am not convinced by Hollow one. It is great when you get it in opening hand or if you happen to get it with bazar when drawing instead of dredging, but most of the time it just get away when dredging. I know people love it in dredge decks but this deck is not exactly a classical dredge deck so maybe it is different. I don't know and will test much more.
  • strip / loam lock is a thing.
  • Hardcasting a 16/16 troll is just a blast !

My 10 cents

I did some more tests with the list and enjoy it a lot.

I am wondering if main deck pithing needles might not be more useful than null rod in the current meta. They help protect our bazaar in game one and protect the combo in other games.

I tried it and i am quite happy but i did not played a lot of games so far. So I am wondering what people with more experience with that deck think of that ?

last edited by albarkhane
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