Through the Looking Glass: Dredge (Mana) with Patrick Schuster

Special thanks to Patrick Schuster for his contributions to today's article.

Since the metagame has settled after the bannings of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe, graveyard decks such as Dredge have started to become very strong in the Legacy metagame. A lot of this has to do with the newly found lack of mainboard graveyard hate with the loss of Deathrite Shaman. For this month, we brought on Dredge expert Patrick Schuster to give us some of his wisdom on the TES vs Dredge matchup.

A few words on Patrick Schuster(Orim67 on MTGO, LennistarHs on Twitter):

Patrick Schuster is a physics student from Munich, Germany. He started grinding Legacy Dredge on Magic Online a bit more than a year ago. Patrick's MTG accompishments include a Friday Night Magic win and back to back Legacy Challenge wins.
What is your strategy for winning game one vs The EPIC Storm?
I just try to kill them. Dredge is not a very flexible deck. The best that you can do is to dredge multiple times on turn two or even turn one, which often ends with multiple discard spells being cast and a board that can race goblins and reduce the life total enough to make Ad Nauseam bad.
How effective are discard spells against Dredge, coming from The EPIC Storm?
The effectiveness of discard depends very much on the hand of Dredge, Since Dredge often only needs only two spells to win. It is pretty random how many relevant cards Dredge has in the opener. It also depends very much on play/draw. If you are on the play, you can hit copies of Lion's Eye Diamond, which is Dredge's best card in the matchup by a mile, and sometimes you can get the only discard outlet. Discard becomes worse on the draw, because you can’t stop the first discard outlet and then you can’t interact with Cephalid Colosseum and Lion's Eye Diamond when it is already on the board.
How effective do you think Empty the Warrens is in the matchup, particularly on turn one or two?
Ad Nauseam is obviously much better, but Empty the Warrens can work turn one on the play if it is for about ten goblins or more. Dredge often starts making blockers on their turn two, so it can work. If they also have to block on on your turn three, that means that the copies of Bridge from Below have to go, which means that Ichorid makes fewer or even sometimes even no zombies on the next turn. The matchup also tends to be very fast and Dredge can consistently lock you out of Ad Nauseam by turn three to four, so if your plan is to make goblins, because you drew Burning Wish instead of Infernal Tutor, Empty the Warrens then might be the best plan. Empty the Warrens also becomes a bit stronger if you have Echoing Truth in your deck, since you can bounce tokens or even copies of Ichorid or Narcomoeba before Dredge can sacrifice them.
What kind of disruption do you have pre-board?
Dredge is not the most disruptive deck, Dredge will only have four copies of Cabal Therapy, but it will find them very consistently with the Dredge mechanic. So you mostly only have to care about discard, but that often comes with a fast clock.
Who do you think the matchup is favored for? Why?
I think that the matchup is very close and very dependant on both draws and who is on the play. Both decks are about the same speed, maybe TES is a bit faster, but that might not be true when the only really deterministic kill is with Ad Nauseam. That also makes Burning Wish a very medium card for the matchup, since it is unlikely to get to nine mana in the first two turns. TES is also very bad at winning against a board that also came through for some damage already and Dredge is very consistent at creating a board. But Dredge makes up for that by often doing nothing disruptive on the first turn.
What creatures do you have available to reanimate with Dread Return? Are any of them in the mainboard, or all they all in the sideboard?
I don’t have any creatures to reanimate in the main. I only have one Ashen Rider in the sideboard, since it hits all the things that Cabal Therapy can’t hit. I will often bring in Ashen Rider to hit mana sources like Lion's Eye Diamond and lands, so I don’t die to a hidden Infernal Tutor with one or more copies of Lion's Eye Diamond on board.
Without knowing what's in your opponent's hand, what card would you typically name first with Cabal Therapy? Does this change if your TES opponent is not tapped out on blue mana?
When I start casting copies of Cabal Therapy, chances are that Empty the Warrens is not an out anymore. So I just name the cards that are most likely to end in an Ad Nauseam, like Infernal Tutor and Dark Ritual. I will probably only name Brainstorm if I have enough copies of Cabal Therapy ready, so I can afford to miss once. It is very important that you don’t have access to exactly Infernal Tutor and Dark Ritual in the next turn. Sometimes I will want to cast a Cabal Therapy on turn one when I'm on the play and then I will name Lion's Eye Diamond, but that only happens with very specific hands.
With Dredge playing cards like Leyline of the Void in the sideboard, how do you value graveyard hate in the matchup?
I keep them in the sideboard.
It is a common play from the side of The EPIC Storm to play out our artifacts to play around discard spells, how does this affect your sideboarding for the matchup?
I board in Ashen Rider and Dread Return.
Which Storm deck do you find to be a better matchup, TES or ANT?
I think that TES is the better matchup, because Past in Flames is a much better card in the matchup. ANT is much better at recovering against discard and can win from a much lower life total with Past in Flames.
What does your overall sideboarding look like for The EPIC Storm?
I board out a Golgari Thug and an Ichorid for Ashen Rider and Dread Return. I haven't been impressed with Lotus Petal, because it can get discarded on the draw and a turn two is often fast enough when I'm on the play.
If Storm was a very large percentage of the metagame, what kind of changes would this bring to your decklist, if any?
Interesting question. Iona, Shield of Emeria would be the most reasonable choice, but I don't think that it is much better than Ashen Rider. You rarely lose after you get to Dread Return an Ashen Rider vs Storm and Iona, Shield of Emeria can just get bounced. Holding up mana is very awkward with Dredge, especially when you want to clock storm, so Flusterstorm is not the best. Counterspells also lose the surprise factor because Storm plays discard spells anyways. I have tried Dredge with Brainstorm and counterspells before and it was fine. Another card that might do things without having to change the list too much would be Chalice of the Void. Chalice of the Void on zero turn one on the play seems strong and might slow down TES enough without needing much investment from the Dredge side. It only has the problem that it doesn't stop Lion's Eye Diamond on the draw.
What are some mistakes you see Storm players make in the matchup?
I think that they board in bounce spells too often. Storm players try to justify bounce spells because Dredge often boards in Dread Return and Iona, Shield of Emeria. The problem with that is, that storm still loses after having a bounce spells in hand if Dredge goes for Iona, Shield of Emeria. Dredge can name the bounce spell with Cabal Therapy before they cast Dread Return. Storm will also often have to kill in exactly the next turn after they bounced the fatty, because chances are that Dredge has a huge board, which raises the question why Storm didn't try to cast Ad Nauseam the turn before. Echoing Truth might be fine with Empty the Warrens, but Chain of Vapor is actual trash outside of creating storm with artifact mana, which shouldn't be a reason to board it in anyways. People should also keep discard spells in, they are probably better than most sideboard cards, even on the draw.

I would just like to give a special thanks to Patrick Schuster! His insight was very helpful, more Dredge pilots should be bringing Ashen Rider and Dredge Return in vs Storm. With Magic Online's combo heavy metagame, expect to play this matchup a lot if you play either Dredge or The EPIC Storm.

As always, thank you for reading!


Anthony LaVerde

Anthony LaVerde has had numerous Top 8 finishes of competitive Legacy events over the past five years, most recently making top 8 of the Leaving a Legacy Open series three times. When he is not playing at paper events, you can find him grinding on Magic Online under the username "Aigis." Other than being a pilot of The EPIC Storm, Anthony is also a Smash Bros player, punk music aficionado, and a sales consultant.