This isn't the first time I've played Dredgevine for an article. A few months back I piloted a different Dredgevine list that included Deathrite Shaman. After Deathrite Shaman was banned, however, whatever steam the list began picking up was put to a screeching halt.
Well, as I hope to show you today, the deck is far from dead and despite the fact that I constantly fear Modern being overtaken by one card or another, like an old government agent with plenty of leftover paranoia, I continue to be impressed with the potential of the format. This was one of the more fun decks I have piloted and it was significantly different than its predecessor.
At first I wanted to dismiss this deck. I mean, the format was full of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. Because of this, certain decks like the Skred Red list I piloted a couple weeks back, were actually maindecking a playset of Relic of Progenitus just to somewhat neuter the delve cards. However, Magic Online user Taxideos simply kept doing well with the deck. After the third time I saw him place with the same exact list...I had to try it out.
Dredgevine vs. Jeskai Ascension
Dredgevine vs. BG Aggro
Dredgevine vs. UB Control
Dredgevine vs. Splinter Twin
One of the most notable differences between this list and the first list I played is that this list uses the Death's Shadow / Varolz, the Scar-Striped combo. This won me more than a couple of games, as +13/+13 for one mana I nothing to sneeze at (or whatever other bodily function you kids are using these days). The best part is that you can even simply cast Death's Shadow for one mana, especially with all the burn in the format and how quickly your life total drops in Modern due to lands and whatnot. While this isn't necessarily a good thing (the life total dropping part), it is nice that we gain some incremental advantage from it. Heck, even at nine life Death's Shadow is a one mana 4/4. That's pretty sizable.
The other great part about the deck is how resilient our creatures are. Our biggest enemies end up being Path to Exile and Anger of the Gods, but outside of those, it's pretty hard to permanently deal with our threats. Let's take a look at what we're talking about...
- Lotleth Troll: regenerates and gets bigger- Varolz, the Scar-Striped: regenerates- Vengevine: comes back into play- Bloodghast: comes back into play- Gravecrawler: comes back into play- Grim Lavamancer: kills things/deals damage- Death's Shadow: cheap body or game-winning pump effect
Okay, while those last two creatures don't fall under "resilient" necessarily, I think you get the point. Everything in the deck has the potential to either stick around or keep coming back, some of them for free! Outside of Path or Dismember (neither of which see huge amounts of play) it was basically impossible to Remove our Lotleth Trolls. And we had literally 16 cards that we had no problem discarding to make them larger: Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, Death's Shadow, and Vengevine.
Speaking of Vengevine, this guy is terrifying. It's so insanely easy to get this guy to return to play with Faithless Looting, Grisly Salvage, Satyr Wayfinder, and 12 one mana creatures. There were times I was even casting 0/0 Death's Shadows just to bring back a Vengevine or two, and it still felt broken. It basically felt like we were "casting" the Vengevine from our hand for one mana. Sometimes they were Bloodbraid Elf Vengevines, and they cascaded into - you guessed it - another Vengevine! Did I mention he has haste?
The creature doesn't even need to cost one mana. There were times we were casting Lotleth Troll, which would then turn on our Gravecrawlers, which we would then cast to turn on Vengevine. Or we could cast a Satyr Wayfinder on turn three, give ourselves a chance to hit our third land drop while milling a Vengevine or two, then cast a one-drop off of said land, once again turning on Vengevine!
While I haven't seen taxideos 4-0 with the deck yet (I haven't checked the most recent week's decks yet, however), he was consistently 3-1ing with the deck in Modern Daily events. If I had one complaint about the deck it would be the lack of maindeck removal and disruption spells. We're basically dead to decks like Splinter Twin or Scapeshift, so long as they can "combo off" before we can. I felt like I was consistently bringing in Abrupt Decay and Duress. Can I tell you how good Cabal Therapy would be in this deck? I for one am praying for a reprint just so I could "dredge" a Cabal Therapy into my yard, then sacrifice a Bloodghast or a Gravecrawler to it. Only to cast it again and return all my Vengevines!
One thing is that I wasn't a huge fan of was the lone Darkblask in the maindeck, but I can see how it might be a necessary evil. There are a ton of Young Pyromancers, and Delver of Secrets, and mana dorks in the format, but there are also matches where it was straight dead. I could also see the card being played simply as a way to dredge cards like Bloodghast, Gravecrawler, and Vengevine into the yard, which also seems fine.
Tombstalker was the other card I was a little iffy about each match and the first card I boarded out every game. Now I could just be playing completely incorrectly, but I never really wanted to delve cards from my graveyard to cast him, and he was the least resilient creature in the deck I felt. If I were going to make any changes to the deck I would probably cut the Tombstalker and the Darkblast in the maindeck for two Abrupt Decay.
If you couldn't tell by now, this deck was awesome. Sure, it can stumble on mana sometimes, and we often end up taking a good deal of damage from our lands…and if our opponent has graveyard hate, forget about it…but otherwise it's simply a blast. A powerful, powerful blast.
Welp, that's about all I have for this week, folks! Be sure to check back again on Thursday as we go over something new in Standard. Thanks for reading and I'll catch ya then!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV