Budget Legacy: Dredge Deck Tech
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
Welcome back to the latest installment Budget Legacy. This is where I try to take a budget Legacy deck for a spin and see how it holds up against the field!
This time I will be covering a deck archetype that many will be familiar with--Dredge. This deck has a very low entry-level cost and is able to catch your opponent off-guard in most Legacy metagames.
The last time I covered budget brews, I detailed my son’s Mono-Black Depths deck. After a couple of months of playing at the LGS, he has decided to retire the deck and upgrade to something with a bit more substance.
For anyone looking to get into Legacy at the budget level I am describing, you will want to enter with some expectations. First, you will be excited to be sitting at the big-kids table with a deck you can actually win with. Second, the more time you spend playing and learning your deck, the better the odds of success. This goes without saying when applied to any deck but becomes even more important when you are running a deck that is the functional equivalent of a used commuter car.
Lastly, start tucking away a few bucks so you can plan some upgrades when you've reached the competitive ceiling with your budget list.
Without further ado, onto the deck!
Plan of Attack
Your goal with this deck is simple: cheat out Hogaak or Ox of Agonas early or overwhelm your opponent with zombie tokens via Bridge from Below.
Both offer a problematic scenario for your opponent to deal with if you can manage to resolve either plan. Getting there may be tough, however, considering the prevalence of blue decks in the metagame.
Next, let’s discuss how we get there.
As with any version of Dredge, the core relies upon quickly moving your library into your graveyard. We have many tools to do this, such as Golgari Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp, and Golgari Thug. Troll’s Dredge 6 mechanic makes him a beast in this deck, so getting one into your graveyard on the first turn will help speed up the process of how this deck works.
Bridge from Below is a major win-con in this deck. Getting one into your graveyard early, followed by an Ichorid can help you start churning out zombie tokens. Along with early game Narcomoebas, you have eight cards in this deck that can quickly start generating zombies. Casting Dread Return from your graveyard also helps move this process along.
Getting cards into your graveyard starts with your first turn.
We have ten cards that help with this in Careful Study, Faithless Looting, and Otherworldly Gaze. All cost a single mana and any one of them is a prerequisite in your opening hand.
Breakthrough is also an excellent tool that can be cast for a single blue, allowing you to dump more cards into the graveyard. A mid-game Breakthrough can be brutal once you have a few dredgers in the graveyard.
Starting out, you want at least two lands in your opening hand, along with a Faithless Looting, Careful Study, or Otherworldy Gaze. Two mana sources ensure that you will be able to cast an Ox of Agonas if necessary. It is also optimal to have at least one dredger in your opening hand to dump into the graveyard, but not necessary.
Aggressively mulligan to reach this hand state!
If you are lucky, you can resolve a second turn Hogaak. Though not common or your primary plan that early, it is difficult for anyone to deal with and will require their attention, allowing you to continue building towards other threats.
If this should not occur, the next step is to work towards resolving your Bridge from Below combo. A single Ichorid combined with a couple of black creatures in the graveyard will help speed up the process. If you are lucky and feed multiple copies of Bridge to the graveyard, each one triggers on a single creature going to the graveyard, so don’t miss those triggers should they occur. Remember, Dread Return is your ace in the hole here allowing you to sacrifice three creatures on your terms. With the metagame being as it is, you are likely to run across Force of Will in the wild which will help you keep things moving.
I have included three copies of Force of Negation and one copy of Force of Will here mostly because when I brewed this deck, it was what I had. Four copies of Negation can carry you here but be wary of what you pitch, because a Careful Study or Breakthrough could be valuable as the game progresses. More likely, you will want to pitch Narcomoeba as it's nearly useless in your hand.
The mana base in this deck resembles various “Rainbow” decks you may have seen over the years. Four copies each of Gemstone Mine and City of Brass help provide flexibility. You could also run four copies of Mana Confluence instead. Much like Force of Will, I brewed with City because it is what I had. Both will get you there.
There are also three copies of Shivan Reef for obvious reasons. Again, better options exist but since we are budget brewing, this is what we have. With Dominaria United reprinting Reef, it should be easy to get your hands on it.
Last, Cephalid Coliseum is included for its ability to take advantage of your dredgers. Reaching Threshold with this deck is possible by the second turn and can help you generate the early turn mana you need to cast a Careful Study and keep powering your dredgers afterward.
The sideboard is very simple. Since we do not have many mana sources, all our cards are either free to cast, require a sacrifice, or cost one or two mana to cast. There is nothing magical to write about them, and my advice is to substitute as needed.
Creeping Chill can be a great source of damage in a grinder, so do not discount this card which is a staple in the Modern version of Dredge. Cabal Therapy is included as a lower-power version of Dread Return. It also can nab specific cards like Force of Will that your opponent can use to foil your plan.
Tolarian Winds can significantly move your game plan along too if you can manage to resolve it on turn two.
Any choices here likely fall along preference lines and how you chose to pilot the deck. Some meta games will reward your ability to run all of your Dread Returns alongside Cabal Therapy.
Versus the Meta
Because graveyard hate is a real thing in Legacy, piloting this deck can be difficult. A first turn Chalice of the Void is very nearly a game-ender. Without any real means of interacting with artifacts other than Ancient Grudge, you may need to mulligan just to ensure you have one available in the second or third game of a match.
The good thing about Grudge is that it has a mana value of two, whereas most prison decks are casting Chalice for one. Remember that even though you can cast it from your graveyard for a single green, the mana cost is still two.
Similarly, cards like Dauthi Voidwalker effectively end the game. Your best strategy in dealing with cards like this is to have one of your counterspells at the ready because if they resolve, you have no way of getting your graveyard in the game.
Navigating graveyard hate is where you will spend the most time learning how to play this deck. Knowing when to hold and when to fold will make all the difference.
Cost and Upgrades
The version of the deck I have brewed here comes in at around $400 according to the Moxfield page. Not bad for a deck that can throw a few uppercuts in Legacy. You can tinker (no pun intended) with the number of Ox of Agonas and Hogaak to fit your preference. Even though this deck moves through the library quickly, the single copy of Hogaak at the bottom doesn’t help you much if you can’t get to it.
Less “thrifty” versions of this deck include four copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED) in place of two copies each of Faithless Looting and Careful Study. This can significantly accelerate the ability to get cards into the graveyard and with cards like Hogaak and Ox which can be cast from the graveyard, LED can be a real game changer by also generating mana. It also costs upwards of $500.
Similarly, upgrading your counterspell arsenal to include four copies of Force of Will (FoW) provides more tools to protect your game plan.
LED and FoW will both set you back several dollars though, so put money aside early if you plan to invest in this deck.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed this read and are inspired to take this deck for a spin. If you have piloted the Modern version of Dredge, getting to this version is not difficult or expensive. I can tell you from experience that the look on your opponent’s face when you cast a second turn Hogaak is priceless!
What are your thoughts on Legacy Dredge? Got a decklist to share? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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