Drafting GB Dredge in Theros Block
While doing my set review for Journey to Nyx I commented that there was a clear draft theme in the set. As it became clearer with each card I promised that I would return with a primer on how to draft the GB Dredge style deck. For those of you confused by the name Dredge understand that the archetype name has come to mean any deck which used the graveyard a resource and cares about what is in the graveyard. (This is not to be confused with Solar Flare decks which are reanimation decks which care only about returning creatures with powerful “enters the battlefield” effects from your graveyard to play.)
The reason why Dredge decks win is that they act like they are playing a completely different game. When you play against normal decks once cards end up in the graveyard they no longer matter because you have been dealt with them. Dredge decks want to have lots of cards in the graveyard to start doing busted things with them, which most decks can't interact with. So we want to get more wins then we are going to look to use this counter game style. To do that we need to have a plan before we start to draft.
Step one is to do our homework. This means we need to review the Theros block for all the key cards in the deck. The great thing about this Draft plan is that your not going to be fighting most players for the key cards you will want. Everyone else is looking for Bombs and Removal in there first picks. If you are keeping what you draft like on MTGO then people will also be using up first picks to take money cards. This means if you open any of the top cash cards (Ajani, Gods, Temples, or Mana Confluence) you can just take them and then draft this plan for you other picks.
Journy to Nyx Pack
Let's say we crack our Journey to Nyx pack and go to check out our rare card. In truth you will already be started on the deck if your rare in pack one is Mana Confluence, Pharika, God of Affliction, or Temple of Malady. The lands are prefect mana fixing for the deck and Pharika allows you to turn dead dudes into more creatures all with deathtouch so you can hold off ground troops till you have a large fatty ready to start attacking for the win or you get one of your bomb creatures into play.
There are some other rares that you will want in the deck. Dictate of Erebos allows you to chump block and get removal out of the deal. This plus Pharika can make every block into a two-for-one trade. If I see this in pack one I'd take it. Hydra Broodmaster could be a first pick rare if you want. It's a large fatty to use late games and with some of you reanimation and semi-reanimate spells. Master of the Feast, like the hyrda, this is a good bomb just to have in the deck as it's in our colors. Silence the Believers is good as you'll need some removal as you spend early turns filling up the graveyard. King Macar, the Gold-Cursed is a another rare that this deck will want, as having it unanswered will win all the games. All of these rares are good cards on their own and taking them will allow you to jump-ship into another deck build if you have to later in the draft.
If we don't see any of these cards in the opening pack we need to look next at the uncommons and commons. Now when it comes to picking cards in Draft I have a code system I like to use. Cards are either first picks, hates, or tables. First picks are the cards that I know that others are also going to want because they are creatures removal, or draw spells. Hates are cards I don't want anyone else to have or that can hate out other decks; graveyard removal and creatures with land walking. Tables are cards I know that other players are going to passover and I can get when the pack comes back to me. Knowing what cards to wait to take is a skill all good drafters need to have.
So seeing how we are still in the Journey to Nix packs for picking we need to root out all the first pick cards this deck will want.
The removal cards this deck wants are very much to hate out the bestow Voltrons, and dudes that get suited up with normal enchantments, that come with playing in this Limited format. This is why you are going to want to take Consign to Dust, Desecration Plague, and Feast of Dreams when you can. Just remember that Nyx Weaver trumps these when you are making picks.
Now every green based deck needs more mana so Golden Hind isn't going to make it back around the table to you for a later pick.
Nyx Weaver is pack-one, pick-one for this deck every time. If I open a pack and see this guy looking out at me and none of the money rares I'm taking this card. If you pass this card to me I will windmill slam it all day. This is the card that will put you all in on this deck.
Ritual of the Returned is a low priority first picker. You want these but you can let them go and hope they table if you have a better first pick in the pack. The fact that this makes a creature is enough that another black deck will take it if it is the only black card in the deck so it might not come back to you once you let it pass the first time. But that is going to be rare enough that I would only take this as my first pick out of the pack if the pack is also very lite on black cards.
I would say Renowned Weaver is low on the first pick meter but if the pack doesn't have any other on deck cards or removal I would take this before taking a table card. This is just because the deck needs some early game chumps to block faster decks. This being a one-drop dork means any green deck is going to take it just to fix their mana curve.
The honor of being the best common to draft in this set is Returned Reveler. These are snap keeps if the pack doesn't have the rares or Nyx Weavers. Other black decks might just pick these because they are creatures before the pack tables so don't give them the chance unless you have to take those rarer cards. This is just too good of a blocker for you that becomes fuel in the mid to late games.
The one rule I have about hate cards is that you never take them over first picks. Now in this set there isn't much graveyard hate so you only really have to take all the Agent of Erebos you see. Upside is that this is only a 2/2 for four mana so it should table nicely if you need to pick a first pick card over it. Still when it does come back around the table you are going to take it and before one of the black decks takes it to protect themselves from you.
Bassara Tower Archer, I know it has nothing to do with the deck but you'll need this as a blocker verses fliers and to chump block.
Font of Return is a great card for the deck and only this deck. You should be able to take the better cards that you will be fighting over with the other players before this.
Many of the table cards in this set are going to end up being simply used at targets for Ritual of the Return. Goldenhide Ox fills this role great as a six-drop that will get passed over for more aggressive prices creatures.
This deck is going to rely on getting some very vanilla fats in to play. This is where you are going to want to have a Humbler of Mortals in the mix. Either you can use it as a target for Ritual of the Return or you can drop it from hand to bash face with other fatties already in play.
I bashed on Nessian Game Warden so much in my set review but going back over this I see just where this wants to be. See the only two decks that want this are the ones that take it late. The first is our deck where we use it as a Ritual of the Returned target to make a fatty. The other deck that wants it is a player that learns after his first eight picks that mono-green is wide open. Which might just be us if we don't get enough first pick cards to make us want to keep with this deck.
Reviving Melody again is a table card. Sure you are going to want this but most other decks aren't even going to main deck it. I feel safe shipping this around the table because I'm sure it will come back.
Yes, Spiteful Blow is a removal card but it is a six-drop removal card. Other players are going to pick a number of cards over this so don't think that you have to take this the first time around. Granted if you are seeing it pick six to eight, and black has been very thin you might think about taking it just to cut black out of the pack.
Strength from the Fallen is a card that you can let make it's way around the table before you take it. As it is neither a creature or removal spell I'm sure no one else is going to snap pick it the first time through. I feel very safe calling this a table card.
The draw back on Swarmborn Giant isn't going to make it a high first pick for any player. Chances are they are going to want to take a removal spell or evasive creature over this guy. Also we only really want it as a target for Ritual of the Returned, so it doesn't matter if it doesn't table back to us that much. Still it's a beefy creature if you can get it.
Born of the Gods Pack
Alright, let's rip the wrappers off our second set of packs in this draft. Again I want to start with the snap keep rares before we move into the first picks, hate, and table cards.
Champion of Stray Souls is a total wind-mill pick. Cast this, sac all your small dorks and then reanimate all the fatties. The upside is that it can come back from the graveyard if you milled it already.
Okay, if this is a keep draft then Fated Return is not going to table as some one is going to rare draft it in my playgroup. I have a large number of players that just never let rares go past them because they feel they have to take every rare they see. But if you are playing in a real Draft or a redraft where the rares and foils are the prizes this will drop to a table card.
Every deck that has black mana wants Gild. Sure it's a four mana removal but it gets you extra mana to save up. Total windmill keep card.
Next up is a card which has found a home in the Standard brew of this deck. Herald of Torment just wins games as you can bestow it on a fatty late and win games in the air.
Speaking of fatties you can't let someone else take the Nessian Wilds Ravager that you cracked in your Born of the Gods pack. Being able to cast and reanimate this once it eats removal is going to win games all day.
Scourge of Skola Vale helps to fuel the deck by eating Returned Revelers. Also you can eat chump blockers that are just going to die anyway. Then once you get some fatties out you can eat them to swing for the game. This is just a bomb in this deck.
Most of the first pick common and uncommon cards in Born of the Gods are going to be removal cards. Asphyxiate, Bile Blight, Unravel the Æther, and Weight of the Underworld are all good removal that you are going to want to take. If you don't see any of those then start taking the enablers for the deck instead of tabling them.
Satyr Wayfinder is the only enabler that I wouldn't risk tabling back to me. Other decks are going to take this in hope of it being a mana fixer if they have a really greedy mana-base. So this might not end up making it's way back plus you want to have all of these, so just take them when you see them.
Because it has reach Graverobber Spider is going to be a high pick for green decks. Which is why this is going to be a first time picker. You don't want someone to take this to even-up their matches verses blue and white fliers.
There aren't any true hate cards in this set. Mostly you are going to be pressed a lot with questions about what off-colored cards you don't want to pass because you don't have any picks left in the pack. Just use your best judgment; take removal in off-colors, take bestow dorks, and basically ask yourself what cards are good that others would want.
No other deck but yours is going to want Forsaken Drifters so let these table around to you. That 4/2 body means it will die to any removal in the block so this is only going to get picked up by the black decks if you pass it up the second time. Odunos River Trawler only has two decks that want it, our deck and BW bestow, so it's going to be a very late pick for both. Don't worry about not getting this back as you might not have enough Nyx dudes to use with it.
Alright, let's start with the rares as we have with the other packs.
First up is Abhorrent Overlord, which is a good 6/6 body for Ritual of the Returned, and it can be an awesome reanimation target. Don't think this is going to be a bad card just because it doesn't see much Standard love. It's a limited bomb.
Arbor Colossus is a second fatty for the deck that also has reach and can kill fliers.
For a utility rare in the deck you can't go wrong taking a Bow of Nylea. Killing X/2 fliers and putting four cards from your graveyard on bottom of your deck is going to make things work for you.
Hero's Downfall is just too good of a removal spell not to take if it's in the pack.
With the lack of gorgons in the block Hythonia the Cruel is a stone cold bomb in Limited. Just cast her and nuke the table as you set up more graveyard tricks.
Reaper of the Wilds is another bomb creature that is just awesome. The fact that you can scry when ever all those creatures die that you've been throwing under the bus for mill triggers. This way you can fix top-decks after the mills. Tasty.
Sylvan Caryatid is just plain good in this build. Take this and have a great blocker that also ramps you into fatties.
Thoughtseize is #YOLOSwag$. You take this and you play it in the deck. Heck, I would take thoughtseize if I saw it in any draft pack, even when I'm not drafting black cards. Either you take this to play it or you hate draft it from everyone else.
Whip of Erebos is the stone cold bomb to crack in the Theros packs when you are playing this deck. You just take this and ride it to the win.... I say, ride it to the win.
First up you have to start taking the utility cards. At this point you are going to just need to draft on the battle plan to make sure the deck has a solid frame.
Pharika's Mender was designed for this deck. The 4/3 body works great in Limited and the ability to get back a fatty when you cast this keep the deck on track.
I know that Prowler's Helm isn't part of the battle plan for the deck, but it's a key part of plan B; drop fatties and attack. With only one wall in the block this is a must take.
The 2/4 body on Returned Centaur makes this just the kind of mid to late pick that wont come back to you the second time around. Granted this is very low on the pick order so if you have a better choice take it over this.
Sure Erebos's Emissary isn't Lotleth Troll but the two fill the same role. Because it's a 3/3 Bestow dork I can see this going before it gets back to me. Granted, if the pack has a better card I'm willing to risk tabling this.
One card you don't want to pass up is Nemesis of Mortals. Some times is just a 5/5 for six, but if you drafted right it should be a 5/5 for two that will soon become a 10/10 next turn. Put a Helm on it and that's GG in two.
Seeing how Theros has no graveyard hate cards you are only really taking creature and enchantment removal spells. Understand that this is once the pack has been mined of all key first and table pick cards.
I know it's odd that I would but Rescue from the Underworld as a table card when it is clearly a big part of the deck. The reasons being that no one else is going to take this as they will want more creatures and removal. Granted if this is the only card you need in the pack then just take this and call it good.
Seeing how the first time around everyone is focusing on the action cards Burnished Hart should table around to you. The deck is going to want this to ramp lands and put another dork into the yard.
Commune with the Gods is an odd card to assign a spot in the pick order. IF the pack has no key first picks in it you take this above any other table cards. Only a green bestow deck is going to fight you over this card so I'm going to call this one safe to table if you have been seeing a lot of green table back to you.
Lash of the Whip as a five-drop removal, Lash is a safe bet to table around to you as people start picking out of the pack.
March of the Returned is another card that only your deck is going to really want so it's safe to let this make it's way around the table. Also it's a common so there might be more than one in the pool.
I know it might sound odd but this deck will want to take Defend the Hearth when the packs have tabled around. This is kind of your go to late pick card. This should buy you time verses the aggressive decks and allows you to counter and an alpha swing with your own.
Well there you go, all the picks lined up. Now all we need to do is start cracking some packs and getting some testing in of this theory. I'll be doing this once Journey to Nyx pre-releases end on Magic Online. I just wish the local shops did more drafting. Maybe we'll have to get the troops together to buy some packs and do some drafting for fun at the cafe. Don't worry, I'll be back with an update and tournament report on my use of this plan. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
This has been...
Jeffrey Carmichael II
KDPfenthing on MTGO
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