If you’ve been paying attention to Vintage lately you would know that there was just a major event in New York where 150 of Vintage’s finest came out to battle for big prizes.  At $100 per player the NYSE is one of the most expensive Magic tournaments held each year in the United States, and you can bet that the competitors were serious about winning a piece of Magic’s infamous Power 9.

After the dust settled, there was one deck that sat atop all others – DREDGE!  Behold:

1st – Sullivan Brophy

Column Title 1

4 Undiscovered Paradise
4 City of Brass
4 Petrified Field
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 Dakmor Salvage
4 Serum Powder

4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Bloodghast
4 Ichorid
4 Narcomoeba
3 Golgari Thug
1 Flame-Kin Zealot
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

4 Cabal Therapy
4 Bridge from Below
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Dread Return


3 Wispmare
4 Nature’s Claim
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Sudden Shock

Credit where it’s due, this deck has Sudden Shocks in the sideboard presumably to help out against Monastery Mentor decks and other assorted creatures that have been popping up in Vintage lately. That’s not a bad piece of tech. Still, this Dredge deck is far from radical and isn’t too terribly different from the Dredge deck I lost to in the finals of the Vintage Championship back in 2011 – It’s been almost five years since then and it seems like many people still haven’t given the Dredge deck the respect it deserves. I get it – testing against Dredge is pretty obnoxious, and you can just solve it by jamming some cards into your sideboard. Except that’s not true. We need to accept the facts:
Dredge wins major tournaments now.
Dredge is a powerful deck that often gets to win game 1 uncontested most of the time.
You need to be ready for Dredge or you are likely to lose to it.
So how do we beat Dredge?

Leyline of teh Void

Or maybe…


Grafdigger's Cage


Take that, zombies!

Cage and Leyline are a good start and represent the premium sideboard cards we can use against Dredge.  Dredge plays 4 Cabal Therapy, so any sideboard card we can’t play on the first turn might end up in the graveyard before we have a chance to use it.  Tormod’s Crypt, Rest In Peace, and Nihil Spell Bomb are also pretty good sideboard cards.  Rest In Peace is a little bit harder to play but is a combination of Tormod’s Crypt and Leyline, which is very powerful and more than makes up for its slightly higher casting cost.   I’d recommend packing at least 6 Dredge hate cards in your sideboard if you want to have a chance and playing with 7 of them if you really want to be serious about it.

Here’s the thing, though – the Dredge players know you’re going to bring in these cards and they are going to use their sideboard cards to remove yours.  This sideboard features a lot of ways for the Dredge player to beat your sideboard very efficiently:

3 Wispmare
4 Nature’s Claim
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Sudden Shock

That’s 8 cards that can remove Cage and 7 that can remove Leyline or Rest In Peace. If you can’t protect your Dredge hate cards or get a lot of them into play they will simply be speed bumps for the zombie army. My favorite way to beat Dredge is to get a Dredge hate card to buy some time and then execute a fast combo to close the game. Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus, Tendrils of Agony, Show and Tell + Griselbrand, Oath of Druids, Time Vault + Voltaic Key or Auriock Salvagers + Black Lotus are all good ways of winning after the Dredge is turned off. If you need to use Tinker to win its possible that you may need to sacrifice Grafdiggers Cage to pay for the Tinker so that the Cage doesn’t prevent you from getting your Blightsteel. I once made a major mistake in a top 8 by playing two Grafdigger’s Cage – I drew Tinker and wasn’t able to use it to close the game.

The other option you have is to lock off the graveyard and prevent your opponent from removing your Dredge hate while you assemble a slower win condition. This is often the case in a Workshop deck where resolving a Cage then preventing the opponent from being able to remove it with an Ingot Chewer or Nature’s Claim is often the primary game plan. Winning games 2 and 3 with a strong sideboard plan is the traditional way of defeating Dredge, but what if we took a more radical approach? What if we could win game 1? If you know you’re up against Dredge in game 1 you should mulligan looking for a hand that can win in under 3 turns, as that’s about how fast Dredge will kill you in game 1. If your hand can’t win in 3 turns and isn’t playing Dredge hate in the main deck you should probably just pitch it. Several decks are capable of beating Dredge in game 1. Here’s a good one:

Steel City Vault Paul Mastriano 2nd Place


Creatures (2)

  • 2 Goblin Welder

Planeswalkers (2)

  • 2 Dack Fayden

Lands (11)

  • 4 Seat of the Synod
  • 2 City of Brass
  • 4 Mana Confluence
  • 1 Tolarian Academy

Spells (45)

  • 1 Black Lotus
  • 1 Lotus Petal
  • 1 Mana Crypt
  • 1 Mana Vault
  • 1 Memory Jar
  • 1 Mox Emerald
  • 1 Mox Jet
  • 1 Mox Pearl
  • 1 Mox Ruby
  • 1 Mox Sapphire
  • 1 Nihil Spellbomb
  • 1 Sol Ring
  • 1 Time Vault
  • 2 Voltaic Key
  • 1 Ancestral Recall
  • 1 Brainstorm
  • 1 Fire
  • 4 Force of Will
  • 1 Gifts Ungiven
  • 1 Hurkyl’s Recall
  • 1 Mystical Tutor
  • 1 Thirst For Knowledge
  • 1 Vampiric Tutor
  • 4 Mox Opal
  • 2 Burning Wish
  • 1 Demonic Tutor
  • 1 Imperial Seal
  • 1 Ponder
  • 1 Regrowth
  • 3 Thoughtcast
  • 1 Time Walk
  • 1 Timetwister
  • 1 Tinker
  • 1 Wheel of Fortune
  • 1 Yawgmoth’s Will


  • 1 Nihil Spellbomb
  • 1 Myr Battlesphere
  • 1 Ancient Grudge
  • 2 Misdirection
  • 3 Nature’s Claim
  • 1 Balance
  • 1 Mind Twist
  • 1 Tendrils of Agony
  • 1 Transmute Artifact
  • 1 Vandalblast
  • 1 Void Snare
  • 1 Windfall

Steel City Vault is a great deck to play against Dredge because it is very capable of winning on the first turn when the opponent doesn’t disrupt it, and Dredge does a poor job at disrupting. It has Nihil Spellbomb which can be recurred with Goblin Welder. Finally it plays one of the best maindeckable cards against Dredge:


Dude, where’d your graveyard go?

Timetwister is a Dredge nightmare.  If you do it first turn (on the play) you can draw them into a hand with no Bazaar of Bagdad, and if you do it later in the game you can reset the graveyard to zero while refilling your hand.

Another Deck that can win game 1 is Oath:



Main Deck: (60 cards)

Sideboard: (15 cards)

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Demonic Tutor
3 Griselbrand
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
2 Flusterstorm
4 Force of Will
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Mana Drain
4 Mental Misstep
2 Misdirection
4 Preordain
2 Show and Tell
1 Time Walk
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Oath of Druids Lands (16):
4 Forbidden Orchard
1 Forest
1 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Mindbreak Trap
4 Nature’s Claim
2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Null Rod
1 Pithing Needle
1 Thoughtseize
2 Yixlid Jailer

A turn 1 Oath can potentially defeat Dredge but it’s far from a sure thing.  You will probably need to link together Time Walk and Yawgmoth’s Will in this build to win fast enough, or buy time with Maelstrom Pulse.

It’s possible for ANY deck to have a better shot against Dredge by playing a few Dredge hate cards in the main deck.  Dredge is much softer to hate cards in the first game so a few Nihil Spellbombs or a Grafdigger’s Cage may be all you need to actually play in game 1 instead of just getting run over.   If Dredge is a problem for you then this could really be the best solution.

Or we should all just start playing Dredge ourselves.



Sharpening the Blade – The 2015 Vintage Champs Gauntlet | Vintage Magic says:

Aug 19,2015

[…] I just did a whole article about strategies for facing Dredge: ( […]

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