Megapitch Dredge: Weekend Report 6/7-/6/10

Lance, I used your shell and some of your theories as the basis for my dredge build. In particular Bloodghast has been really good for me and it was looking at your build that motivated me to actually brew with dredge when it's an archetype I had previously avoided.

The available data I have across a couple of variants and pilots is

Pilot 1: 13-2
Pilot 2: 12-3
Pilot 3: 13-2
Pilot 4: 6-5
Pilot 5: 10-0 (Vintage Challenge win yesterday)

Total: 54-12 (82%)

Naturally, AJ's initial response was "this deck is horribly misbuilt".

It's builds and posts like yours that spur innovation and provide a platform for others to further advance the format and metagame.

Keep up the good work.

last edited by Guest

I can also tell you that from a Hatebear pilot's perspective, if you're interested in that, the land heavy and the Hogaak builds are the hardest to beat. Oh, and of course Hollow One is a bitch as well. I went from a 8-0 record to 11-11 in no time. And I play 2 Containment Priests, 2 Yixlid Jailers, 2 Scavenging Ooze and 4 Deathrite Shaman maindeck alongside the usual Wasteland package (and Thalia and Spirit which can also be good against Dredge). Ironically, my game 1 win-% is higher than my game 2 and game 3 win-%.

last edited by Griselbrother

Vintage Dredge loses to 4 things: mulligans, Wasteland, hate, and faster combo.

Why is Narcomoeba better than Bloodghast? It's better against Wasteland and fast combo, and generally the creature effect is better against hate as well. It also supports a blue package to fight hate and fast combo. Finally, Bloodghast generally requires you to spend a draw on Dakmor Salvage which gives you fewer chances to find additional Cabal Therapy against fast decks or to find your finisher against slow decks.

Why is it important to focus on running more dredgers and dredgers with larger dredge numbers? More dredgers and larger dredgers gives you more speed and consistency to fight fast combo decks, and helps you find key interaction cards like Cabal Therapy as quickly as possible. More and larger dredgers also gives you the best chance to beat Wasteland with slow dredging, or to quickly find key graveyard cards like Dread Return or Hogaak after clearing hate.

Why is Hollow One bad? Hollow One contributes very little when there is no hate, and when there is hate he almost never gets the job done.

Why is Prized Amalgam bad? Prized Amalgam is generally too slow to fight fast combo, his delayed effect is ineffective in fighting through hate (for example, by forcing your opponent to use a Tormod's Crypt more quickly). The fact that Prized Amalgam requires additional graveyard creatures to trigger makes him suboptimal when slow-dredging (for example after Wasteland).

So yes, I think your deck is horribly misbuilt because it allocates a lot of resources and card slots without focusing on actually turning losses into wins. Vintage Dredge is not the kind of deck where you can just throw in "good" or "powerful" cards until you get to 60 or 75 and have a good deck. Narcomoeba is a pitifully weak card, but it's incredibly synergistic with the dredge engine which is why it is almost always a better choice than some other graveyard creature.

Keep in mind that we are undergoing massive metagame shifts and you just got a bunch of new tools that should be expected to help your win-rate with Dredge. If you want to attribute your entire 80% winrate to the strength of your build you have to downplay the importance of these other factors, which I think is disingenuous at best. I'm entirely comfortable saying that an 80% winrate deck is misbuilt because A) I don't believe you will have an 80% winrate with anything like that configuration once the metagame settles down and people optimize their hate and B) I believe with the new tools at your disposal and the relative weakness of the field to dredge you should be scoring even higher. Pointing out that you have a high win-rate does very little to convince me that I have mis-evaluated the build of the deck because I don't believe your build is incapable of winning, I believe it is sub-optimal. So when you say "I have an 80% winrate with this deck" my reaction is "Yeah but what would it be if you took out (what I think are) terrible cards for (what I think are) good cards?" If you wanted to provide some sort of evidence that your build is better than another build you would have to pilot both builds competently and compare their winrates.

Imagine I tell you that a particular build of Survival is the only one being played right now and it has a 58% winrate. How optimal is that build? You have no way to answer the question because you need some point of comparison, a single winrate number tells you literally nothing about how optimal the build is. That's why I am unimpressed with your 80% number - it tells me literally nothing without a comparison to the current winrate of other builds of dredge.

Edit: And of course I've also seen your build in action and Bloodghast has done what I expected it to do, Prized Amalgam has done what I expected it to do, and so on. If I watched it and Bloodghast was way better than the previous 4 times I've tested the card I would update my impression of the optimality of your build.

Edit 2: If you're killing it with this deck, where are the results?

last edited by ajfirecracker

Thank you, Jessica.

This has been one of the most brutally hate-filled times in the metagame because the Blue Pitch variant of Dredge has been so prevalent following last week's challenge. It is also a period of time in which "fast combo" is at an all time low because of the impact of new printings, like Narset, Karn, Force of Vigor, Force of Negation, Ouphe, etc. You have very little basis on which to form you rather strong opinions, but that hasn't stopped you before on other topics. In any case, I have learned the futility of engaging with you, so this will be the last time. I will let the results speak for themselves.

Edit: I built this deck earlier this week and MTGO publishes once a week. I was also pilot 2 with 3 4-1s (even if I did have a 5-0, one of the other pilots would likely get published over me given MTGO's reporting system). I know data analysis isn't your strong suit, but come on... At least make a little effort, Mr. Kruger.

Look at your haven't even played on MTGO in two years. You have no knowledge base with the current metagame and literally every take you had was painfully inaccurate in my testing. Hollow One was incredible when your opponent started at 8 life from Crippling Chills. Bloodghast attacking for 2 and having Haste was amazing with Chills. Not to mention casting Hogaak, which Narcomoeba doesn't do. The entire format was warped to deal with Blue pitch cards, so why play them, and if not playing them, why do you need to play Narcomoeba?

Failing to consider new variables isn't the characteristic of an expert. Medical doctors are constantly updating their knowledge bases as new evidence becomes available. It's the characteristic of dogmatic thinking and intellectually lazy thought...

last edited by Guest

Who is Mr. Kruger? Who is Jessica?

Third-grade strats here

A decade of experience playing Dredge is "very little basis" on which to form opinions...

last edited by ajfirecracker

@chubbyrain said in Megapitch Dredge: Weekend Report 6/7-/6/10:

Hollow One was incredible when your opponent started at 8 life from Crippling Chills. Bloodghast attacking for 2 and having Haste was amazing with Chills. Not to mention casting Hogaak, which Narcomoeba doesn't do. The entire format was warped to deal with Blue pitch cards, so why play them, and if not playing them, why do you need to play Narcomoeba?

I'm happy to see substantive argument here.

Crippling Chill and Bloodghast require an active graveyard, in which case you should be winning without them. That's what I mean when I say that you're not turning losses into wins. These cards in those roles take a win and turn it into a more satisfying win, which is not worth very much in the way of match win percentage.

Narcomoeba casts Hogaak if you can sacrifice it for zombie tokens, which the Narcomoeba decks are built to do in the first place, but I agree Hogaak is one of the few things that promotes Bloodghast over Narcomoeba. I just think it doesn't make Bloodghast net better than Narcomoeba. Most matches the real win condition is making a bunch of zombie tokens, which Bloodghast is worse at. In matches where you need the finisher, you also need earlier and more consistent Cabal Therapies, which Narcomoeba is better at.

I think the blue pitch cards are good even if the format is "warped" to deal with them, which I question in the first place. Across two decades of play blue decks have never really hit a point where the metagame made Force of Will a bad card, I don't see why that would be the case here. I think you might be saying that Leyline of the Void is more widely played than other hate, but in that case your points about Crippling Chill and Bloodghast are totally undercut. Moreover, if you are going to be playing Hollow One as one of your outs to Leyline of the Void it seems like you want the blue package to protect it long enough to actually kill the opponent.

last edited by ajfirecracker

This was an interesting read. I have been playing Dredge now and then recently and I played it in the challenge this weekend. My build had two Hogaaks, no Dread Returns, 12 dredgers, 8 pitch counters, and maindeck Leyline of the Voids.

Some of the things I learned through playing this deck is that is doesn't need the Dread Returns. I went 4-3 in the challenge. Two of the match losses were because both opponents had turn one Leylines in both side boarded games. In my league matches I consistently dealt with these situations with sideboard Force of Vigors. Losing these games caused me to reconsider my strategy. Going forward I will be testing 4 Elvish Spirit Guids and 4 Nature's Claims along with the Force of Vigor. To accommodate these cards I had to cut some Dredge and creature hate and move some Unmasks to the main while cutting the rest.

I also lost a match to Matt Murray's Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. I have played quite a bit of Dredge in the past, so this isn't a card that I have recently played against. This card is crippling to the version I was playing. I added the Dread Return package back to the main deck because that is the only way my deck is beating this card once it is in play. I don't think its a common card, but it could be going forward. The Dread Returns also had to come back in because I took out the Leyline of Voids.

I think the main thing with Pitch Dredge in the current meta is having a higher dredger count and a more reliable way to deal with Leyline of the void. Both of these things were already possible before Modern Horizons. I haven't really studied Matt's Dredge list, but I get the concept. No pitch counters, Bloodghasts, and hate from the side board. I think its a smart strategy because there are fewer Karn and PO decks which means faster damage is a statistically sound way to approach this meta.

These issues are interesting to me, so I think I will stream some Dredge tonight. Probably my version and Matt's version to get a better feel for their respective capabilities. I think these two Dredge variants are strong at the moment, so I want to learn more about them.

last edited by Guest

@ajfirecracker @ChubbyRain I do not really want to get involved in your "discussion" but I respect you both immensely as deckbuilders and players. I think you guys can and should have a constructive conversation and discussion on Dredge because it is possible and it is interesting, but resorting to name calling and insulting each other is not going to help. I think you guys are misinterpreting/misunderstanding each other's arguments and then focusing on only one aspect. This does not seem to be going anywhere and does not seem very constructive as it is a vicious cycle. I think if you guys want to have a good conversation then you guys should start out with a more broad critique and then delving into the nitty gritty to really get some good insights. I think this should go without saying but try and keep the discussion civil and polite. I understand that there has been some disagreement recently on TMD but everybody deserves respect.

Well let’s go down the Dredge theory rabbit hole then. I agree with the assessment that via reductionism the deck only loses through 3 routes:

  1. Mulligans
  2. Faster “combo”
  3. Hate

The problem is though that all 2 and 3 are incredibly complex. 2 and 3 can also be intertwined at times complicating the problem even more. Let’s cover 2 first.

Faster “combo” can be almost any deck in the format right now with exception to Xerox/Blue Control decks that as I laid out the decks I played had over a 50% win % post board. So slower decks simply arent a big problem assuming you have some decent plan at tackling hate.

Beating the other decks involved disrupting their particular game plan, and/or speeding the deck up past it’s more typical turn 3 kills. That means focusing on cards actually capable of disrupting / winning before turn 3. Other cards that don’t do this and don’t help with beating hate are simply win mores. One of the first things that I started doing as a Dredge pilot was cutting down on these no-added value cards. My first win with the deck didn’t play Dread Return and a number of wins there after didn’t play Bridge from Below. The idea that you need to play these cards, and you need to play them together is patently false. Commonly played cards that are potentially pinned here:

Bridge from Below when not in multiples
Too many copies of Ichorid/Amalgam/Nether Shadow
Often Dread Return in current builds
Cabal Therapy when not in multiples

These cards do almost nothing against hate cards and rarely push you to turn 2 wins unless you happen to luck into multiple copies of Bridge, Therapy, and Return (basically the perfect Dredge). So in most situations they are really superfluous. There was a time when cards like Cabal Therapy and Bridge from Below combo’ed to beat certain hate, but that isn’t really the case in current Pitch Dredge lists. You can’t run 4x Gitaxian Probe to support Therapy. Most decks choose not to run Ingot Chewer or Wispmare to support Bridge triggers.

As go cards that probably should be seeing more play /new cards in this role of speeding the deck up, there is one very big one:

Fatestitcher into Dread Return
Hogaak into Dread Return
Any “free” creatures into Dread Return (like Hollow one)

These all allow you to get to the magic number of 3 Creatures on turn 2 thus opening the route of Dread Return kills before your creatures would’ve done it anyway.

Now let’s shift to talking about reason 3 that Dredge losses games, hate cards. The number of hate cards and variety people are playing is really at an all time high as far as I can recall during my ~10 years as a Dredge pilot. Even the simplest, most predictable is the Shops decks running Tormod’s, Ensnaring Bridge, Strip Effects, AND Grafdigger’s cage along with other major nuisances like Walking Ballista and Wurmcoil Engine. Add on top of that the deck is fairly fast. A dredge decklist from 10 years would’ve been pummeled into the ground by these decks, but we have new tools and with the right cards the matchup can be pushed to favorable (as I have experienced). A variety of hate cards means you need versatile answers, which is the biggest reason that Pitch Dredge has rose in popularity. It helps that Pitch spells are also good at disrupting those game 1 losses too. So naturally, this has been the best way to build Dredge in a traditional manner.

However, there have been a number of new printings that now allow Dredge to almost completely ignore non-exile effects. Including Hogaak, Creeping Chill, Shenanigans, Hollow One along with old ones, like Life from the Loam and other cast-able Dredge cards. I once played won with Dredge lists with no Golgari Grave-Trolls because I wanted to be able to cast all my Dredgers post board. We are a long way from just being able to cast Dredgers now when our opponents don’t exile our graveyards.

The real issue though for Dredge are decks that satisfy both reason 2 and 3. Turn 3 Combo decks running Leyline of the Void and/or 7+ hate cards. Use your pitch spell to take their Hate card and they kill you on turn 3/4. Use it to take their win con and their hate slows you to a crawl. As a result the excessive number of pitch spells post board becomes somewhat of a liability.

I had been keying off these decks with a combination of 4x Ancient Grudge and sideboard Null Rods to beat Tormod’s, but that’s not really very effective at beating Ravenous Traps and Leylines that other decks have shifted to. On top of that space is tight these days playing 12-16 pitch spells and a Red card that costs mana is a dramatic shift from where Pitch Dredge wants to be right now. Finding a little more space via some cuts, or restructuring the deck entirely (by cutting blue) seem like the only ways to really make the deck good against all major matchups.

As to the aside on Narcomoeba, the card is great game 1, but is by far the worst at overcoming hate cards. In ideal situations your expected value of Narcomoebas is only 2.7. That number becomes even less when fighting through hate, and should you have other options they will often be better in games overcoming a resolves hate piece. This means Narc excels at helping reason 2 of losing, but not much when reason 3 of losing is happening.

Bloodghast is the best free creature if you choose to play lands in your decklist (which I highly advise) because it comes into play turn 2 and returns as soon as hate is removed. So he helps tremendously in both reasons 2 and 3. Tapping to cast Hogaak now is also very big.

Amalgam / Ichorid are distant 3rd/4ths to Narc and Ghast. Since they come a turn late and can be fairly difficult at times to get into play. Amalgam pitches to Force (very important), is a great blocker, and sticks around if an opponent drops hate later so seems to be the preferred option, in my opinion. I wonder if 4 is the correct number on these though.

Why do you think Narcomoeba is bad against hate? Prized Amalgam is to me the "obvious" creature which is bad against hate because it requires more mass of graveyard effects than other creatures in order to do anything.

I think you should include Wasteland on your list of ways Dredge loses, and I think your point in the initial post about Bazaar recursion and graveyard density is a serious one that people should bear in mind.

I find it interesting that you want to cut Bridge from Below and Cabal Therapy, my experience has been that Cabal Therapy is the most efficient way to disrupt the opponent in that kind of turn 2-3 dead zone. I would be much more inclined to take seriously the idea of cutting some of these 'sacred cow' cards if the stuff that was going in their place was not something even more extraneous like Creeping Chill.

Edit: I want to add that I am 100% on board with the idea of cutting no-value-add cards in favor of cards that actually matter. That's been my main goal with the deck. I think we might have some disagreement as to which cards are low value and which are effective in which situations, but that seems like something we should be able to hash out fairly well.

last edited by ajfirecracker

not to throw more fuel on the fire here but what is up with golgari brownscale in that list? even without ichorid/unmask, do you really value 2 life over dredging more?

Hitting 16 green and 16 blue cards requires playing some otherwise suboptimal cards. You can’t just cut Amalgam for Ichorid and Brownscale for Stinkweed or the deck’s balance is off on those counts. They have to be replaced by Green or Blue cards.

sure, but why brownscale over shambling shell? is dredge 2, gain life actually preferable to dredge 3?


I was testing the relevance of gain 2 life on my 11th and 12th dredgers.

last edited by vaughnbros

I'm skeptical of Brownscale because I really want to maximize consistency, but IMO it's not totally crazy for two reasons: if you have multiple dredgers you can use the higher-valued ones, and when the deck gets low in card count sometimes you do actually want a smaller dredger.

4 Grave-Troll, 3 Hogaak, 4 Force of Vigor, 2 Shambling Shell, 3 Green card X (probably Noxious Revival) gets you to a reasonable green count with pretty minimal constraints on your deck building

Similarly 4 Force of Will 4 Force of Negation 4 Narcomoeba 4 Mental Misstep gets you to a nice blue count

I don't think the whole blue and green count issue requires running a lot of suboptimal cards just to pad the color count

Edit: I think the bigger disagreement is regarding which cards are 'sacred cows' that don't actually contribute all that much to wins versus which are impactful. @vaughnbros with 12 dredgers, 4 Ichorid, 4 Narco, 4 Bridge, 4 Therapy, 3 Hogaak, are there any of those slots you would replace with non-graveyard effects? It looks to me like you are cutting "sacred cow" cards for other cards which fulfill similar functions, in which case it would seem that you need some density of graveyard effects and the question is simply which is best.

last edited by ajfirecracker

The green cards is something to work out. Noxious Revival seems ok, but not great. There are some ok, but not great Dread Return targets too. 4 Grave-Troll, 4 FoV, 2 Hogaak is the starting point 10 that I think should be played. Finding another 6 good cards is a task that I think is easiest to just throw some Dredgers into, but there are probably better options. Dryad Arbor is one that I'd really like to get working as it was an old Extended staple of Dredge decks ~10 years ago.

I am pretty adamant that I think Bridge from Below is straight garbage in a Dread Return based list. I've been playing without it / minimal copies for like 7 years now. Some how this card got Sacred Cow status, but I don't think it was well deserved. Triskelion and Walking Ballista's rise to power really made it not good in any real matchup of importance, and if you hate Amalgam for its win more qualities than you should really hate Bridge from Below. Without Chewers and Wispmares, it makes no sense to run in these lists. If you cut Dread Return instead, then sure, it has some applications on overcoming difficult board states. I think its really Dread Return OR Bridge from Below, but not both. If we think that Return is part of the core then I wouldn't play Bridge, if we think that Bridge is part of the core then I wouldn't play Return.

Mental Misstep is not worth slots. I've also been playing that on-off again since it was printed. In a format where Grafdigger's is not a primary hate piece of any deck, I just don't see the added value. I tried it a little bit during these 35 matches, and it just pitched to Force every game or sat in my hand doing nothing. It makes more sense to slot in graveyard cards there. I've like Amalgam, but might start looking into Fatestitcher and Chain of Vapors out of the board again as I think having no mana in the deck is a sketchy situation against Shops/Outcome builds.

Therapy. I kind of covered this above, but I just don't see the matchups where it helps. Mostly has been used to clear countermagic from control decks that we are heavily favored against, even if they Force my Dread Return, I've easily been able to recover and still win in a timely fashion. If we are cutting Dread Return it serves no purpose of clearing countermagic. You need to hit into multiple copies to really impact any combo deck. Does almost nothing against Shops/Survival. Ok against the mirror to exile their Bridges. Really just feels better served elsewhere. I think I'd rather have Ancient Grudges in these slots, or something else that can boost Combo matchups.

Ichorid is good, but replace-able by either Amalgam, Nether Shadow, or a critical mass of free creatures from your hand. These turn 3 creatures are really just there to provide some consistency on top of the Narc and Ghast. I've run lists that just have Narc+Ghast before, and was quite honestly fine for the most part. You run into the random game where you exile too many of them, but that was few and far between.

I'd view it as two paths right now:

Ichorid + Bridge from Below focusing on better game 2/3 finishes


Dread Return + Targets focusing on better game 1 finishes

Using the extra space for actual mana + cards that function using mana.


The core required for winning is much more concise at:

Dread Return
Some number of Blue returnable creatures (e.g. Amalgam, Fatestitcher)
Some number of "free" creatures (e.g. Hollow One, Rootwalla, Dryad Arbor)
No superfluous copies of Therapy.

Or the new route of:
Bridge from Below
Maybe some "free" green creatures (e.g. Rootwalla, Dryad Arbor)
Again, no superfluous copies of therapy.

These configurations potentially have more room to support cards like Lion's Eye Diamond and Black Lotus into Ancient Grudge / Fatestitcher / other powerful flashback spells.

I've been banging down the first route with Dread Return, and some of my fellow Academy members have been going down the second route, one of those 5-0 lists that cut return.

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