Continuing the success of the previous two seasons, Mmogg started the third season of the Classic League on October 24th. The league had a total of 33 participants with six rounds of swiss with a cut to the Top 8.
I decided to take a slightly different approach to Dredge with my deck choice for the league. Innistrad had just been released on MTGO, so I expected to see lots of Snapcaster Mages. Additionally, the recent success of Dredge prompted me to decide to maindeck four Leyline of the Void to try and steal as many matches as I could by simply having access to the best anti-graveyard card printed. This is important because all the decklists are made public at the outset of the tournament to curtail cheating, so I would know right away if I should mulligan to Leyline or not in Game 1.
This conscious decision was to forego the explosiveness of Sun Titan Dredge for a more resilient deck that would be better suited for the rigors of a long league. With that game-plan in mind, I sleeved up the following deck:
Classic Dredge by enderfall
My main computer was still broken when the league started so I was forced to play Round 1 on my shoddy laptop without recording software. I’ve taken the liberty to provide as close to a written play by play as possible after taking notes during the match and watching the replays (which miraculously were all saved on MTGO!).
Round 1, Paired with jagr6688 with a Snapcaster Mage control build. Game one should be a breeze as my opponent has no maindeck hate and only two Wastelands and a Strip Mine to slow me down. Unfortunately, a bit of bad luck struck as I lost the die roll, and I had to mull down to two without any Bazaar of Baghdads. I ended up finding a Bazaar at nearly the last minute, keeping a two-card hand of Bazaar and Narcomoeba.
Here were my hands that I pitched in case people were curious:
My opponent plays Underground Sea, go. I draw a Golgari Thug, play Bazaar and activate, drawing a Gitaxian Probe and a Grave-Troll. I discard the Thug, Troll, and Narcomoeba in order to cast Probe and dredge the Troll (Bridge, Imp, Leyline, Zealot, and two other cards, which I can’t recall hit the graveyard). I see my opponent’s hand is Mystical Tutor, 2x Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Dark Confidant, Brainstorm, Mana Crypt. At the end of turn, my opponent casts Mystical to find a Demonic Tutor. On their turn, they drop the Crypt and cast Demonic Tutor. Next, they drop Wasteland, targeting my Bazaar and pass the turn. On my Turn 2, I activate Ichorid, exiling my Thug and dredge with the Stinkweed Imp to find double Cabal Therapy, Bloodghast, Undiscovered Paradise, and Chain of Vapor. Knowing my opponent has some powerful draw spells, I flashback the first Therapy after having attacked with the Ichorid, targeting Jace, and passed the turn. I could have used the second Therapy, but I wanted the zombie token that I received. Having known that their hand was only Brainstorm and Confidant, there was more value in getting Jace since all they needed was one more land to cast it and start getting value. Letting Confidant resolve at least buys me a turn and hurts them further with the Crypt in play. My opponent lost the flip to Mana Crypt, bringing them down to 14, then drew for the turn, and cast Dark Confidant. They missed the land drop and have locked up their mana for the Brainstorm, so I felt like I was in good position to perhaps pull out the match if I found something useful in my dredging next turn. On my next turn I decide to not activate Ichorid since my opponent has a blocker and there is no sense in needlessly blowing up my Bridge, and worse, any additional Bridges if I happen to dredge into them. For my draw, I dredge another Stinkweed Imp and find Bloodghast, Narcomoeba, Ichorid, Grave-Troll, and another Therapy; just about the perfect dredge! At that point I could have double Therapy’ed my opponent, naming Brainstorm and then whatever card they had drawn for their last turn, but I wanted to keep my Narcomoeba, as it has evasion and the Crypt and Confidant would keep lowering my opponent’s life total. Passing the turn, my opponent flips up a Polluted Delta with Confidant and loses the coin flip for Crypt yet again, lowering them to 11. Things were going well until my opponent cast Brainstorm during their first main phase, finding a Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus and passing the turn. In a last-ditch effort to pull out a quick win, I activated one Ichorid during my upkeep, pitching the other Ichorid so that I would have three creatures in case I dredged into a Dread Return. Naturally, I mis-clicked and drew for the turn instead of dredging my Grave-Troll. Trying to recover from that mistake, I knew I had one more turn as I could block Blightsteel with a Zombie token, bringing me up to 9 poison counters. Knowing that my Ichorid would bite the bullet this turn anyway, I cast a Therapy for value to see if my opponent had drawn into Force of Will to stop a potential Dread Return on the following turn. His hand revealed Jace and Duress. I attacked with my Narcomoeba to bring the opponent down to 9 and passed the turn. Confidant revealed a Sol Ring, bringing them down to 8, enough for me to still eke out a victory if I could still find a Dread Return. After attacking with Blightsteel, they passed the turn. During my upkeep I activated my last Ichorid in the graveyard, exiling a Bloodghast, and dredged my Grave-Troll as I intended last turn. Unfortunately, I could not find a Dread Return and was dead in the water.
In Game 2 I keep a great had of Bazaar, Leyline, Powder, Grave-Troll, Thug, Imp, and Therapy. I drop Leyline and Bazaar and pass the turn. A quick Wasteland on my Bazaar on my opponents turn causes me to activate the Bazaar, where I draw Elesh Norn and Bloodghast, discarding Grave-Troll, Bloodghast, and Serum Powder. I dredge the Grave-Troll finding a Bazaar, Emerald Charm, Petrified Field, Thug, Grave-Troll and a Bridge and pass the turn. My opponent plays Tropical Island and passes the turn. Needing a land or a Bazaar, I draw for the turn instead of dredging. I was lucky enough to find a City of Brass, which I play, triggering Bloodghast. With the Bloodghast in play and the City available for black mana, I hardcast the Therapy from hand, goading out a Mental Misstep after the opponent had Brainstormed in response. I flashback the Therapy, naming Dark Confidant. I whiffed and saw a hand of Mana Drain, Force, Duress, Misty Rainforest and Polluted Delta. On the next turn, my opponent drops a Rainforest and fetches out an Underground Sea to cast their Duress, which whiffs as well, and they pass the turn. Drawing for the turn again, I draw a Bloodghast, attack with my Zombie token from last turn and pass the turn. My opponent does nothing but play a Delta and passes the turn again. Drawing again for my turn, I find an all-important land, an Undiscovered Paradise, which I promptly play, triggering the Bloodghast again. With a Bloodghast in hand, I hardcast it knowing that it would get Mana Drained. Since I had the Paradise coming back for another land drop next turn, I was not concerned about this as it would trigger the Bloodghast next turn. I attack with my lonely zombie token and pass the turn, having brought them down to 13. After cracking the Delta, my opponent dropped to 12 and played a Volcanic Island passing the turn unable to do anything with the extra mana from Mana Drain. Having found the two critical lands, I dredged for the turn with my Grave Troll, finding 2 Bridges, 2 City of Brass, Leyline, and Powder. Having dropped the Paradise to trigger the Bloodghast, my opponent conceded.
Game 3 I open with a hand of 2 Leyline, Powder, Bridge, Revival, Salvage, and a Grave-Troll. Having no removal or Bazaar, it was an easy pitch for the Serum Powder. My next 7 was: 2 Thug, 2 City, 2 Paradise and a Bloodghast. Again, no Bazaar and no hate, so I threw that back as well. My next 6 were: Powder, Leyline, Firestorm, Thug, and Grave-Troll. Again, no Bazaar, but despite the removal spells, there was no mana to cast them so I threw it back using Serum Powder again. My next 6 come up with a playable group that consisted of: Darkblast, Revival, Paradise, Ichorid, Imp and Powder. Having a land to cast the important Darkblast against my opponent’s Yixlid Jailers, as well as a way to bring it back with Revival in the face of a quick Jailer, I thought that it wouldn’t get much better than this. My opponent leads off with Underground Sea and passes the turn. I draw a Salvage, play it and my opponent casts Brainstorm at the end of my turn. A quick Volcanic Island into a Jailer is a tough break, but I have the cards to deal with it! For my turn, I draw a Bloodghast and play the Paradise. With my opponent tapped out, I cast the Darkblast with hopes that they don’t have a Mental Misstep or a Force. No such luck, as it’s quickly countered with a Misstep. Worried of my opponent drawing another Misstep, I cast the Revival to get the Darkblast back from the graveyard, placing it on top of my library. My opponent untaps and plays a Senseis Divining Top and activates it with the second land. After attacking me with their Jailer, they pass the turn. I drew the Darkblast that I put on top of the library and cast it again; this time, it was countered by Force of Will, pitching a Mystical Tutor. With nothing else to do, I passed the turn. My opponent then attacks with Jailer again and uses their Top to draw the top card of their library. A quick Duress taking my Serum Powder, followed by a Rainforest, ends their turn. For my turn I draw another Bloodghast, hardcast one, and pass the turn. My opponent then plays their Top, activates it to sort their top three cards and attacks with Jailer. At this point, I’m at 12, and my opponent is at 17. I draw for the turn and pull an Ichorid. I attack with my Bloodghast and cast the second from my hand, bringing them down to 15. After passing the turn, my opponent plays a quick Tinker, and I’m dead in the water unless I topdeck my last Chain of Vapor. With a 1 in 37 chance, naturally I draw Bridge from Below and have to concede.
So, Tinker got the best of me in Round 1; hopefully that is not a prelude to future problems. Rounds 2, 3, 4, and 6 were recorded (Round 5 was a scoop after Cownose and I had a small scheduling mishap over the Thanksgiving holiday), and here are the results:
All in all, the deck did not perform as I had hoped. I was able to manage two official wins against decks that I would expect to beat, but Tinker and Workshop ultimately doomed me. As of this writing, I had not received the final results, but I expect to finish in the 13-16 range when all is said and done.
In hindsight, my build was not as optimal for the metagame as I had hoped and I would probably have been better off running the Sun Titan Dredge list with four maindeck Leylines instead of my “resilient” version. The Top 8 appears to be a mix of Shop and GWx Hate Bears decks with an Oath, Sun Titan Dredge, and Landstill deck thrown in (though the results have not been finalized at the time of this writing).
Going forward, Mercadian Masques Block will certainly change the metagame for the next iteration of the Classic League. Workshop decks will have a clear bulls-eye on them as they stand to benefit the most from the new cards in Masques Block.
Next time out I’ll be providing my thoughts on Masques Block drafting with a video or two, depending on how they go. There is next to nothing on the Internet on strategy for Masques, which makes it difficult to predict what the best draft strategy will be. Those who were fortunate(?) enough to play in paper when the block was released may stand to benefit if their memory serves them well, though the “block pack” format will certainly throw some strategies for a loop, as you can not depend on a steady and even supply of cards from each set, as one normally would expect. Theoretically, one could see a typical draft where something near 50% of the cards are from Masques (due to the fact that it’s a much larger set than either of the other two in the block), with only 25% each from Nemesis and Prophesy. How that impacts typical Masques Block strategy remains to be seen.
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