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Thread: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

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    [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+






    I. Overview and History

    Magic is a complex and intricate card game that is both a fun and exciting endeavor that has endured for over twenty years. Since the game's inception, the entire evolution of the game has brought with it countless changes and interactions. As the quote above from the original gaming manual suggests, a game of Magic (used to be) predicated on selecting a color or colors and building a deck using a variety of these cards - with their colored resources - entitled, "mana." Mana is not only one of the most important aspects of Magic deck building, it can also mean the difference between winning or losing games. Years ago people cringed at the idea of a well-timed Stone Rain or Strip Mine subduing the advancement of their resources, only to fall behind and lose a game after being one or two mana short of being able to cast a key spell. Not only have cards been banned because of this, others have increased significantly in value (Wasteland, for example) because of the growing popularity of non-basic lands integrated within the framework of competitive deck building.

    Things have certainly changed over the course of twenty years.

    It's no secret that competitive Eternal players over the course of the last ten years familiarized themselves with one of Magic's most notorious "boogeymen," namely, the Dredge archetype. From the very beginning, Dredge as a mechanic eschewed basic interaction with an opponent to replace draws and fill the graveyard up with deadly recursive threats such as Ichorid. Spells also played a key role in the advancement of the archetype, as cards like Dread Return (also as of this writing banned in Modern) and Bridge from Below continued to escalate the raw power of the archetype, creating potent redundancy. These Dredge decks continued to play multicolored lands as a resource to augment the powerful Dredge cards with key draw spells like Careful Study and Faithless Looting. To this day, it still remains a highly effective strategy that unprepared players cannot contend with. It becomes even more difficult for inexperienced opponents based on the numerous graveyard interactions, stack-based intricacies and the non-interactive dynamic that most Dredge decks adhere to.

    Placed in the hands of a talented and competent pilot, Dredge can be deadly. But what if it were possible - somehow, someway - that you could actually play a Dredge deck that interacts even less with an opponent and plays zero(!) mana?

    Behold: Manaless Dredge.

    Manaless Dredge is arguably the most unique anomalies to ever come out of competitive Eternal deck building. Consider this: it's a deck that aims to win games of Magic without so much as using a single land in the process. How is that even possible? This isn't what Richard Garfield and friends had in mind when they designed the game. Mana is a ubiquitous resource in Magic that you use to actually play the game, so how can you do that without so much as a single source? In 2011, we witnessed a revelation of sorts in the competitive Eternal community. While the existing of decks without mana wasn't anything really new during this time, what wound up being more relevant was the fact that a relative unknown by the name of Nicholas Rausch took his Manaless Monstrosity to the Star City Legacy Open in Cincinnati and wound up becoming a folk hero for Timmy and Johnny everywhere:

    Witness the final match here.

    "When or where should I play Manaless Dredge?"

    Well, the video of Rausch's win certainly got people excited to try something unique and different in Legacy - which is always fun. However, it's not always the best choice to play Manaless Dredge in certain metas unless you are an incredibly skilled pilot with the deck and thoroughly understand interactions and defense options. I get this question a lot from people, and the honest truth is there is no best time or place to play the deck unless you feel comfortable navigating with it and accept the fact that you most likely will lose a few game twos (and possibly threes) to graveyard hate. It's just the nature of the beast.

    Fortunately the deck is so overly redundant and consistent that an opponent will generally have to mulligan to search for their hate because they only come in packages of two to four cards at most in Legacy. This is turn warps an opponent's options before the game even begins, as keeping a four or five card hand with a land or two and hoping for the best off the top is the only option left. Vintage, however, is a different story all together, where sideboards have seven or more cards dedicated to beefing up their chances against decks like Dredge that just roll over them.

    It should also be noted there were earlier incarnations of the Manaless Dredge archetype before Rausch piloted his deck to that finish. The earliest iterations of the deck used cards like Urza's Bauble, Mishra's Bauble, Gigapede and the Chancellors to facilitate faster Dread Returns and the ability to side-step certain types of hate. Alexander Lapping was one of the first people to put the deck on the map, which can be referenced here.

    In the Mental Misstep era where everyone became accustomed to countering spells with a converted mana cost of one, Manaless Dredge eschewed the ability to interact and instead used the Cleanup Step to discard a card for the turn and unload a massive assault on an opponent who simply couldn't react in time - almost always usually put on the backpedal as soon as the first card hits the bin. What Rausch did was not only impressive, it was revolutionary in that he won an Open with a deck that no one had ever seen yielded before in a competitive REL event - at least not in the crude capacity that Rausch was able to do.

    Here you can even find an old write-up by elder Legacy statesmen Alix and Jesse Hatfield of the Manaless presence towards the end of the Mental Misstep era.


    II. Reasons to Play Manaless Dredge

    Manaless Dredge, unlike its mana-producing counterpart, is a deck that operates much differently and requires an intricate knowledge of stack-based interaction and situational Magic. Essentially, a Manaless pilot needs to be highly aware of what he or she is doing from start to finish. Being cognizant of the order of your graveyard and seeing plays as they unfold in front of you is incredibly important. While this may seem like a natural deterrent to playing Manaless Dredge, it can actually be quite an advantage in the hands of a skilled pilot. Being able eschew interaction with an opponent and autonomously "shadow draw" (or the virtual card advantage each dredge grants the pilot) into high-octane recursion can be quite satisfying and highly rewarding to the prepared and battle-tested.

    With high reward also comes high risk, however. Understand that piloting Manaless Dredge in a field that is sure to have some sort of relevant hate cards can completely cripple the pilot and, in some cases, force an automatic concession. Cards such as Leyline of the Void, Grafdigger's Cage and Rest in Peace are devastating once resolved. Knowing this going into a tournament is key, because you could very well lose a match or two (or even a round) if these cards resolve. Still, the raw power of the deck is enough to attract people who hate dealing with conditional counter-magic or Brainstorm decks in general. Manaless Dredge has the ability to kill or cripple an opponent by the second turn - or simply the ability to overrun an opponent with a horde of zombies.

    Keep in mind, that still gives the opponent a full turn and free mulligan to find an answer. If they can't, that's where Manaless truly shines. Consider in your area what hate cards are seeing play and if Manaless is a good choice for you. Constant play and success with the deck will possibly force others to tailor their sideboards to beat you. The non-interaction and constant recursion of a swarm of creatures gives an opponent a false sense of security even behind hate cards like Tormod's Crypt or Relic of Progenitus, which is a very potent and psychological edge over someone who does not know how to activate their hate with proper timing.


    III. Manaless Design: Base Layer

    Manaless Dredge takes from its predecessor and integrates a full compliment of redundant creatures and spells to augment the existing strategy of overrunning an opponent with a horde of zombies or undead creatures. Here we'll look at what makes up the actual core of Manaless Dredge, as there are a group of invariable cards that should never change as they lay the framework for an entire deck list. These cards operate at the base layer of Manaless Dredge.

    For reference, here are those cards:

    Golgari Grave-Troll
    • The most critical component of any Dredge variant. Serves as the largest dredging quantity and as a formidable Dread Return target.

    Stinkweed Imp
    • The "Robin" to Troll's "Batman," this is the second most critical component of any Dredge variant at a dredge quantity of five.

    Golgari Thug
    • At a dredge quantity of four, this dredger augments the aforementioned and instills redundancy in hands that require a dredger to operate.

    Shambling Shell
    • Manaless variants are the only ones that tend to run this dredger, as you cannot really afford to mulligan and require a dredger to kick-start the engine. This is also one of the most misunderstood creatures in the entire deck, in that it serves multiple functions: it dredges for a slightly below average number of three, stacks on top of Nether Shadow and feeds Ichorid. There are even times when this will be your only dredger in your opening hand, making you feel somewhat fortunate to start the process of dredging hard.

    Bridge from Below
    • As with any Dredge variant, Bridge is the backbone of the deck that allows you to generate zombies and overrun an opponent. While also enabling Dread Return faster, it requires a great deal of thought and understanding of the stack to get full value when creatures die simultaneously.

    Cabal Therapy
    • A "free" discard spell that can cripple an opponent's hand, especially in multiples. You can also fire this off on yourself to discard or to create zombies in the process, which can mean the difference between winning and losing games.

    Ichorid
    • The ultimate recursive threat. At the cost of eating a black creature a turn, this Lightning-Bolt-on-legs has a built in sacrifice outlet and cannot be Abrupt Decayed. The massive black-creature count in this deck augments the ability for this creature to come back - often times in multiples - and overrun an opponent with a constant source of damage.

    Narcomoeba
    • A "free" flyer that enables Dread Return or Cabal Therapy for multiple zombies. It can also serve as a blocker in a pinch and creates complex blocking situations with Bridge. If you manage to have a Street Wraith in your hand, you can also dredge and trigger this creature at instant speed to screw an opponent's impending attack decision over.

    This core group of cards makes up the foundation for which any Dredge list exists. Without them, there would be no Dredge, let alone a Manaless variation. We need these cards - in quantities of three or four, no less - as redundant and powerful functional pieces to make this deck work. Their applicability at this point should be self-explanatory. However, mastering their interoperability and interaction with other cards in the deck is what makes this a complex and gutsy decision decision to run in any tournament.

    What do I mean by "gutsy"? Well, we'll get to that later. For now, let's look at the combo layer of Manaless Dredge and see how it operates with the core components.


    IV. Manaless Design: Combo Layer

    In order for Manaless Dredge to win games more quickly without any lands, the deck utilizes cards that serve to augment the existing core group of cards by enabling the pilot the option to combo out quickly and win games faster. This not only disrupts the opponent's ability to find graveyard hate in an expeditious amount of time, but it also gives the pilot the ability to beat other combo decks just as fast (if not, faster). These cards operate at the combo layer, or the layer in which Manaless Dredge operates to finish a game quickly by using an assemblage of specific cards. One could argue that the base layer of cards is interchangeable with the combo layer of Manaless, which is absolutely true. This is a tremendous advantage of built-in synergy that a good portion of other combo decks tend to lack.

    There are several cards that do this, so we'll take a look at those right now.

    Nether Shadow

    A card as old as the game itself, Nether Shadow was clearly far ahead of its time given its unusual ability to recur itself while also being the first creature in Magic to have the "haste" ability. This card is incredibly versatile and helps work at the combo layer in a variety of ways. Firstly, the ability to come back turn in and turn out is incredibly annoying for an opponent looking to constantly jam that Tarmogoyf down your throat. Secondly, it can attack the turn it enters the battlefield, so in multiples that extra damage can mean the difference between losing and winning. And third and most importantly, its ability to recur itself fuels the next card on the list which - for all intents and purposes - wins the game on the spot once resolved.

    Dread Return

    Not a staple of all Dredge lists, Manaless Dredge indefinitely incorporates Dread Return as a primary engine to fuel zombie tokens via Bridge from Below, in addition to reanimating a massive (and likely) utility creature to grind through your entire deck and win the game. One of the more popular kill methods incorporates Dread Returning a creature that draws an enormous amount of cards (like Griselbrand or Whirlpool Rider), dumping your deck, bringing back Flayer of the Hatebound and subsequently a Golgari Grave-Troll for an arbitrary amount of damage.

    Unlike its counterpart, Manaless Dredge requires the use of Dread Return as a primary kill method (outside of attacking with zombies) due to the loss of draw spells and mana resources to fuel those draw spells. In order to Manaless to close games out quickly, one must turn to Dread Return as a powerful alternative method to winning games.

    Phantasmagorian

    Most people still have no idea how this card works, but those same people tend to have an understand how the stack works in general. The moment that Nick Rausch used this card to level up his graveyard on an opponent, flabbergasted masses looked in awe as a once-maligned uncommon became the most critical backbone for this entire archetype. The unparalleled ability to dump your hand without interaction is unprecedented with this card. How it works is rather simple, in that you dump three cards into the graveyard by activating its secondary ability. Once you do this, you're either passing or retaining priority. If you choose to retain, you give yourself a chance to discard three more cards into the graveyard. At this point, you'd pass priority back to an opponent and begin the process of bringing back your threats.

    Phantasmagorian has a very unique ability that at first glance makes little sense to activate, as keeping cards in your hand is generally a productive way to win games. However, in a Dredge deck that uses no lands and gravitates to discarding down to seven cards at the end of your turn, this card allows you to accelerate into wins by discarding your hand and overrunning an opponent the following turn.

    Combo Creatures

    There are a variety of creatures a Manaless pilot can use to finish games off with. Here is a sample size of some of the more notorious creatures that do the trick:

    Flame-Kin Zealot
    Griselbrand
    Balustrade Spy
    Whirlpool Rider
    Angel of Despair
    Sun Titan
    River Kelpie
    Sphinx of Lost Truths
    Flayer of the Hatebound
    Eternal Witness
    Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
    Inkwell Leviathan
    Woodfall Primus
    Akroma, Angel of Wrath
    Ancestor's Chosen
    Iona, Shield of Emeria
    Terastodon
    Stalking Vengeance
    Sadistic Hypnotist
    Chancellor of the Annex
    Realm Razer


    As you can see, each of these cards has a built-in utility that generally wins games on the spot. Some aren't as game-breaking as others, but most are suitable choices. Each of these creatures serves its own purpose in a Manaless deck. Recently, however, Manaless has typically gone the route of Flayer of the Hatebound to finish games off in conjunction with a huge Golgari Grave-Troll.


    V. Current Deck List

    As of 25MAR2015, this is my current Manaless deck list:

    Manaless Dredge

    [4x] Golgari Grave-Troll
    [4x] Stinkweed Imp
    [4x] Golgari Thug
    [4x] Ichorid
    [4x] Nether Shadow
    [4x] Narcomoeba
    [4x] Bridge from Below
    [4x] Cabal Therapy
    [4x] Dread Return
    [4x] Phantasmagorian
    [4x] Street Wraith
    [4x] Gitaxian Probe
    [3x] Force of Will
    [3x] Shambling Shell
    [3x] Whirlpool Rider
    [2x] Chancellor of the Annex
    [1x] Flayer of the Hatebound

    //Sideboard
    [4x] Disrupting Shoal
    [3x] Contagion
    [3x] Faerie Macabre
    [2x] Ashen Rider
    [2x] Mindbreak Trap
    [1x] Force of Will


    VI. Alternate Card Selections

    Serum Powder

    Serum Powder is a card that has a very unique effect. The ability to completely exile your opening hand and draw a new set of the same number of cards can be critical. Consider that when you do this, you're drastically increasing the percentages in which you'll draw the desired card(s) you wish to start the game off with. Notably, this is used to find Street Wraith or Phantasmagorian to accelerate into a faster win. It can create some awkward situations where you open with one and have the cards you need already, but I believe the reward outweighs the risk with the card as the deck is already so redundant as it is that being able to attempt to start the game off faster could mean the difference between winning and losing.

    Because you're not losing a card when performing this action, it makes for an attractive pregame utility effect.

    Force of Will

    Manaless by its very nature is a deck that operates on the strength of its opening draws and subsequently its dredges. Because of this, it also can be forced to sit on its opening hand and hope for the best. This is especially scary against decks that are a turn faster than it, notably, Storm and fast combo. Force of Will is the definitive free counter, so being able to stop fast combo in its tracks or counter an impending piece of hate can be incredibly important.

    Of course, it is an expensive card, so the cost barrier of obtaining a set of Forces can be prohibitive. Still, if you're looking for an answer to hate before it resolves or the ability to fight off the storm, this is your best option.

    Disrupting Shoal

    Like its Alliances counterpart, Disrupting Shoal is a free counter that is a bit more conditional. Though most blue cards in a Manaless variant have a converted mana cost of two, the attractiveness of being able to counter key cards like Rest in Peace is very important and augments the Forces as your primary defense mechanisms in stopping hate before it resolves.

    Dryad Arbor

    Green variants of Manaless tend to run a full compliment of these as a means to accelerate into Dread Returns faster and augment the sideboard strategy with green anti-hate cards such as Reverent Silence and Nature's Claim. It also stacks above the Nether Shadow and allows for its recursion. One of the better utility creatures in Manaless.

    Shifting Wall + Phyrexian Marauder

    These are two very unique creatures in Magic that serve a very special purpose in faster versions of Manaless Dredge. Here's how they work: You start the game off with a dredge or a Phantasmagorian that dumps some Bridges into the graveyard. You may then play these creatures for free, at X=0. When this happens, they immediately die and thus give you zombies from your Bridge(s). Here are the other added benefits of these two creatures:

    • Built-in sacrifice outlet.
    • Stacks on top of Shadows.
    • Makes up to four zombies for zero mana.
    • Cannot be Spell Pierced or Flusterstormed.
    • Can make multiple tokens under Cage.
    • Free to cast around Thalia.
    • Facilitates more tokens when Dread Returned.

    As you can see, two highly versatile creatures that serve a very distinct purpose in this deck. They do rely a bit heavier on Bridge from Below, but at worst, still stack on top of Shadow for recursion.

    Mishra's Bauble + Urza's Bauble

    The Baubles used to see more play in earlier incarnations of Manaless as previously mentioned, but not as much play these days. While still effective for what they do, the Baubles have tremendous synergy in protecting the deck from hate cards like Relic of Progenitus so you can exile the Bauble to protect your dredger, and in turn replace itself with a draw or dredge. The information can at times be invaluable, as sometimes activating an Urza's Bauble turns on Cabal Therapy.

    Blightsteel Colossus, Serra Avatar, Progenitus

    This card and its replacement-effect brethren have some application with Balustrade Spy in preventing the potential for decking yourself, and in some instances have application against Show and Tell and Painter's Servant builds. Middle of the road choice for folks wishing to protect their investment with Spy.


    VII. Primary and Alternate Kill Conditions

    As mentioned before, Manaless Dredge is made up of a group of core cards that build the very foundation for which the deck exists. Without them, the deck would not be able to function. One of the cards that provides Manaless the tremendous boost it needs is Dread Return. When you resolve this card, you should win on the spot - or at least put yourself in a winning position. It's so incredibly swingy with Bridge from Below that one must not underestimate its power in this archetype.

    Let's look at the predominant method to winning games with Manaless Dredge in 2015.

    Flayer of the Hatebound

    This creature was one of the best finishers ever printed for Manaless Dredge. The synergy it has with everything else in your deck is just insane. Not only does it have "Undying," the devastating synergy it has with cards like Cabal Therapy and Dread Return make this the ultimate win condition in Manaless Dredge. However, to win the game on the spot, you generally want to Dread Return another creature in Golgari Grave-Troll. You see, when the Troll enters the battlefield, it deals an arbitrarily large amount of damage to an opponent - typically more than enough to win the game. Sometimes you can win the game in conjunction with Cabal Therapy and Flayer, as that alone takes away almost half an opponent's life total on the spot.

    Sometimes, in order to maximize the graveyard, there are really two creatures that do this better than any others...


    Balustrade Spy and Griselbrand

    Both of these cards provide explosive enough capability to immediately win you the game on the spot. Griselbrand on its own serves as a well-enough finisher that for a 7/7 lifelinking flyer, that can be all you need. But if you pay seven life, you will likely flip your deck and win the game.

    Balustrade Spy, however, allows you to essentially flip your deck on the spot with no life investment and acts as a more "all-in" card than its counterpart. This opens the deck up to more vulnerability to Surgical Extraction, which can stop you from winning that turn. If you don't have something that replaces itself once dredged like Blightsteel Colossus or Serra Avatar, you could wind up losing on the spot. Still, the ability to flip your deck unimpeded is extremely powerful and realistically what this deck is trying to do to begin with.

    Neat Trick: If a Surgical does put you in a position where you need to pass the turn without being able to kill an opponent and you risk being decked the following turn, you can always Dread Return a Golgari Thug, flashback Therapy and trigger the Thug to put a creature on top of your deck. This will enable a massive assault the following turn and likely the win.


    VIII. Predominant Sideboard Construction Packages

    Because Manaless Dredge is often referred to as a combo deck (which it rightfully is), Dread Return is a key component in facilitating fast wins out of nowhere. There have been a variety of packages over the years that all have a common goal in mind: to win the game either immediately or to incapacitate and overwhelm an opponent so much that they have no way of recovering from an impending next-turn defeat.


    The Green Package


    For all of Manaless Dredge's strengths, the deck certainly has some glaring weaknesses. To address the elephant in the room: this deck effectively loses to a Leyline of the Void, Rest in Peace or any other permanent-based hate that goes unanswered. When I originally piloted this deck, I wanted ways to not only facilitate faster Dread Returns but ways to fight resolved hate out of the sideboard. This was more of a proactive way of fighting hate, which worked at the time. With Dryad Arbors in the main, the sideboard was able to be freed up with design space used for cards that just destroyed the aforementioned hate cards.

    The problem with this side-boarding strategy is that the hate has to resolve first, which means you need to have a way to destroy it or lose. Lands out of the sideboard help in conjunction with the Arbors to cast these anti-hate cards. Some people don't think that it's worth it, as this particular sideboard has a tendency to dilute the main-deck and offers little synergy with other cards in the graveyard aside from Dryad Arbor(s). The anti-hate package is also slightly more conditional, as it requires sometimes waiting a full turn for Dryad Arbor to become active in order to cast a Nature's Claim.

    Not really the ideal sideboard these days in a Cage and Peace-heavy meta, but certainly not the worst option in the world.


    The Blue Package


    After a long hiatus with the deck and some chatter going on in the prior Manaless thread, it was becoming more and more recognizable that the only way to truly stop hate from resolving was to counter it first. Cards like Force of Will and Disrupting Shoal provide free answers to Rest in Peace and Grafdigger's Cage, which are both game-breaking spells against us. Typically, a mulligan occurs by the opponent to find either of these cards to try and win on the spot. Going down a card or two by them usually helps us immensely.

    Whirlpool Rider was another fantastic addition to the archetype as it conveniently has a converted mana cost of two - perfect for Disrupting Shoal in countering Rest in Peace (arguably the most popular sideboard hate these days). The great thing about the counter package in stopping Rest in Peace is that you get to discard first before going with the counter to stop it from resolving, and even in the instance you only have a Narcomoeba or Rider in your hand to start the game off with, you do have Street Wraith which enables you to freely cycle into either counter and stop the hate from resolving.

    Once this occurs, you can begin the process of allowing your dredge cards to fill the graveyard up and destroy an opponent. The wider application of the blue counter package is what makes it the most attractive anti-hate package in Manaless Dredge these days, as the ability to stop fast combo is absolutely critical. You could also consider Mindbreak Trap in the side if there's plenty of Storm in your meta.

    There are plenty of other options to consider when opting to go with an alternate sideboard in Manaless Dredge. Most of these options include various utility creatures and spells like Ashen Rider, Contagion, Sickening Shoal, etc. These cards serve a great purpose, and if you're looking for more utility-based action out of the board, those cards and cards like them will be good for you.


    IX. Sequencing

    Sequencing in Manaless Dredge is absolutely pivotal, as there are multiple interactions that can occur over the course of a single turn. Instead of casting Brainstorm at the end of an opponent's turn, this deck oftentimes opts to activate one of two primary cards to facilitate faster kills: Street Wraith and or Phantasmagorian. This creates a situation where you typically win or completely take the game over the following turn.

    Let’s shift gears now to some in-game analysis of Manaless Dredge and how the deck works. Let’s assume we’re running against BUG with Deathrite Shamans at the ready. We’ve won the roll, and obviously elected to draw first. Our opponent has been tipped off and mulligans his first hand.

    We then take a look at our seven, and here’s how it shapes up:

    Stinkweed Imp, Phantasmagorian, Contagion, Nether Shadow, Shambling Shell, Dread Return, and Flayer of the Hatebound

    Nothing too out of the ordinary here: just a few dredgers and a Contagion, perfect for the possible hate-bear. Our opponent decided to keep their six cards, and the game begins with a fetch retrieving a Bayou. The Bayou is tapped and a Deathrite Shaman hits the board. Our opponent is now down to four cards in their hand, likely another land and some sort of useless removal, leaving two likely unknowns. (Note our opponent fetched up a Bayou and not an Underground Sea. This definitely tips us off to a hand without Daze; they needed to drop that Shaman immediately.) Keeping this in mind, we take our turn and draw a card which happens to be another Nether Shadow.

    And so the question beckons: Do we remove the Shaman now or wait to discard a Phantasmagorian and do it once they activate it?

    We can look at this in one of two ways. If our opponent is hell-bent on removing that Phantasmagorian or whatever we discard to it, it won’t make much difference if our graveyard is filled up. On the other hand, we can discard that Phantasmagorian and then during our opponent’s upkeep we can kill it. In this instance, we have now just put ourselves in a much better situation by being able to discard our goodies and killing the critter before he does anything relevant.

    So we take the latter line of play and discard Phantasmagorian. Then during our opponent’s upkeep, we pitch a Nether Shadow (remember, we have one in our hand and we have to ensure that our dredging will continue through Shell in the event we whiff on Imp). We Contagion-out the dude, and he opts not to use the Shaman.

    Smart play. You see, our opponent knew that by tapping their green source they would be simply robbing themselves of playing something relevant on their turn two because they knew we would be filling up our yard and returning the savage discarding monster to our hand. It would be pointless, basically. After doing nothing relevant, our opponent passes and we clean up in a turn or two.

    The point of this example is to illustrate the difference between good and bad play. We can’t always assume our opponents are dumb people, but smart and with a good mind for what they want to do. If something like this catches you off guard, then you’re not thinking ahead clearly. You need to be able to anticipate your opponents’ plays, including them reacting to your own, and understand how these plays can come back to haunt you at a certain point in a game.

    Let's look at another scenario:

    Our next example will look at a game three against Storm. We’ve won game one on the heels of some massive discard and just lost game two by getting gold-fished turn one without any help. Game three begins and we draw our seven cards:

    Chancellor of the Annex, Street Wraith, Golgari Thug, Mindbreak Trap, Bridge from Below, Cabal Therapy, and Ichorid

    We like it, and it has a nice touch with Cabal Therapy and Ichorid to supplement the hate we have. Scarily enough, our opponent snap-keeps their hand. However, little do they know we run Chancellor of the Annex. You see, we run it out of the board and our opponent got no information game two by killing us turn one. This could set them back in the event they’re unprepared for it.

    We start the game off by revealing a Chancellor, to which our opponent tanks for a minute as we’ve just changed the entire dynamic of the game. They think for a second and make a play, a Gemstone Mine to pay for a Lotus Petal. They pay the mana to resolve it and pass the turn.

    We draw our card for the turn and it’s a good one: Street Wraith. We proceed to the end of our turn and discard a Phantasmagorian. Our opponent takes their turn, draws and plays a fetch. They then Ponder (one spell) off the Mine. They keep the card and drop a fetch, only to crack it and look for an Underground Sea.

    Now remember this is a huge tip-off here. Our opponent kept their card and shuffled away the rest, which means it has got to be something good. Our opponent then casts a Lotus Petal (two spells) and declares, “Storm is two.” They then cast a Dark Ritual (three spells – mental fist-pump). Storm is now irrelevant in our minds, as we can Trap them out, which we do once the Petal cracks for red mana into Rite of Flame and Ad Nauseam is hard-cast. Once we blow-out our opponent, we then proceed to go bonkers with our cards the following turn.

    We’ve got to be wondering if our opponent found that crucial acceleration spell or Ad Nauseam on the top of their deck, which they probably did. But that’s what the deck does sometimes; they know we don’t run any counter-magic and just decided to win the game right then and there. Fortunately, there’s more to it than this.

    Our opponent defeated us so quickly in game two that they weren’t able to conclusively determine what we were sideboarding into for game three. The idea here is to take full advantage of our available resources to shore this match up by having redundancy in our boards to stop them from killing us quickly. Would a Silence have ensured our deaths? It’s hard to say. We forced our opponent to tap their mana on turn one to play a spell they probably weren’t intending on paying mana for, which changed slightly the way the game played out. Which might not have mattered in the overall scheme of things, we had the answers.

    This is why Chancellor alone might not be worth it in this match-up. The Storm player can afford to pay a mana for their cards like Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal and Gitaxian Probe, but when they do and pass the turn you’re still discarding and waiting the next turn to try and kill them (or rip their hand apart). With Trap you can just wreck them with nothing else to worry about.

    There really is no contest between Force Spike and a big Mind Twist in this match-up, which for all intents and purposes is what Chancellor and Mindbreak Trap represent here. With Trap you’re depleting an opponent of their Storm buildup and knocking out their key spells when they’re cast. That’s huge and something that simply cannot be ignored. While not nearly close to being identical in nature, dredging a Golgari Grave-Troll for free or cycling a Street Wraith with a dredger in the graveyard feels like a de facto Contract from Below in that your graveyard acts like a virtual "hand" that you play with throughout the game. (I also always thought it was interesting correlating big dredges to Contract from Below, which in name is eerily similar to Bridge from Below.)

    "Holding priority..."

    A key phrase in Manaless Dredge if there ever was one, holding priority with Phantasmagorian can mean the difference between winning and losing. Let's say you discard three cards to Phantasmagorian and only one of them is a dredger (say, Stinkweed Imp). The other four cards in your hand include three blue cards with a counter, with the last card being Street Wraith. In this instance, because you discarded those three cards, you are essentially going all-in on Stinkweed Imp getting you another dredger in the process. Now, while deck construction and situational awareness of what you have in your hand may dictate what you mathematically think will come of those five cards, there's no way of knowing with 100% certainty if that's going to be the case.

    In that instance, you should likely do the following: Upon activating Phantasmagorian, you hold priority and cycle Street Wraith. This will not only dredge you five cards deeper to setup the following turn, it will allow you to discard the dredger back into your graveyard because the Phantasmagorian's activated ability hasn't finished resolving. It may be at the cost of discarding a key card(s), but the benefit of having 100% certainty that a dredger will remain in your graveyard for the following turn is paramount.

    Otherwise, you're risking what amounts to a virtual Time Walk times four that could prove ultimately fatal.

    To sum things up: there are important intricacies and dynamics involved with Manaless Dredge, most of which opponents don't understand because you're working with no mana and putting things on the stack that require attention to detail by both parties. This is incredibly deceptive and the reason this deck has adopted cards like Force of Will, Disrupting Shoal and Mindbreak Trap to fight back against faster decks and graveyard hate. Sometimes, discarding a dredger and playing the role of defender for a turn or two can work, because you're not investing mana or resources into filling up your graveyard for free.


    X. Cabal Therapy: Effect Optimization

    My experience with Cabal Therapy is something that even I up until recently didn’t stop to think about as it pertains to my history of deck choices over the years. I would estimate that since its printing I’ve played Cabal Therapy in close to 85 to 90 percent of the decks I’ve built. A big reason for this is my love for the color black in Eternal Magic. I don’t know why, but it’s really been a ‘fatal attraction’ of sorts for me since I started playing a long time ago. By this I mean my sentimental attraction to the color made it predictable for opponents to put me on something with black before a game even began.

    That evolution wound up benefiting and strengthening my play over the course of many years, which it certainly can do for you too, if you so choose to harness it. Cabal Therapy in that respect deserves a great deal of attention and dedication as a card that can be extraordinarily powerful if the pilot utilizing it maximizes its potential. I first noticed its power in a deck I used to pilot entitled, “The Game.” In that particular deck the card Cabal Therapy in conjunction with Gamekeeper was able to milk removal out of opponents’ hands and subsequently acted as a de facto sacrifice outlet that would allow the pilot to chain Therapies and Gamekeepers until they hit a behemoth, such as the now-antiquated Darksteel Colossus.

    With that being said, let’s take a look at one of the most misunderstood, misplayed and commonly used discard spells in the history of the game.

    Cabal Therapy

    So for a single black mana, a player can cast Cabal Therapy and target any player they so choose, including themselves. This strategy can be important when the pilot needs to put something relevant into the graveyard, such as in Dredge or some form of unusual Reanimator. The flexibility it provides is massive in that respect and makes for a nice combo application outside of the typical “make you discard cards” routine.

    However, what makes Cabal Therapy truly powerful is its ability to strip multiple copies of important cards out of an opponent’s hand. It’s important to note that you do not name a card when you play Cabal Therapy, but rather upon its resolution. What that means is once you play Cabal Therapy, you need to pass priority to your opponent to see if it resolves. If (and potentially when) it does, you then name a card. At that point, an opponent will reveal their hand and you will see the results of your intuitive assessment.

    Hopefully, it was worth the effort.

    Cabal Therapy is simply a card that screams card advantage. As if it weren’t enough to strip multiple copies of a single card out of an opponent’s hand, you can then subsequently flash it back at the “cost” of sacrificing a creature. In some instances the pilot will use that as an advantage, such as the aforementioned example with Gamekeeper or in more recent times with cards like Veteran Explorer, Bloodghast and Gravecrawler. It’s important to recognize that anyone deciding to build a deck with Cabal Therapy can take advantage of this and generate even more of an advantage.

    Sometimes a single Cabal Therapy is enough to wipe out all of the relevant cards in a player’s hand. That feature alone should sell folks on how powerful its utility can be.

    Now that we know exactly what Cabal Therapy does, it’s important to recognize how to play the card correctly. I want people to understand again that it takes a tremendous amount of intuitive skill to play this card. Therapy is a high risk, high reward spell. I’d equate its play much like a professional poker player would read a ‘tell’ or what cards another player might have in their hand depending on their betting style. A player can bluff the Therapy pilot out by leaving an Island up and representing Brainstorm. In Magic, this would be referred to as “next leveling,” which means that another player anticipates the outcome of a specific line of play and traps an opponent down the line by ‘one-upping’ them with either a trump or something else completely unexpected that crushes the predictability of said line.

    Understanding the fundamentals associated with the card is what makes it so difficult to play correctly. That being said, let's check out a great example of maximizing Cabal Therapy in Manaless Dredge.

    Also take into account that this exercise refers to blind Therapies only, as it’s quite obvious that flashing the card back will almost assuredly grab a card or set of cards that you want to strip from a player’s hand.


    Manaless Dredge versus High Tide – October 20th, 2012 [NELC]

    In game one against a High Tide player, I managed to put myself in a position where I could flash back Cabal Therapy. With an Ichorid in play, I sent the undead Horror in for three damage and subsequently flashed back Cabal Therapy targeting him, making a few Zombies in the process from Bridge from Below(s) in my graveyard. He has one Island in play and not much else going on. In response to my Therapy, he casts a Brainstorm, looking to hide cards on top of his deck.

    Now, it’s at this point one has to wonder what card really matters here if it resolves. If my opponent is on one land, I know that for two more turns they cannot cast Cunning Wish (which gets something like Ravenous Trap or Surgical Extraction). By that time, I should have an established board presence where a spell like that doesn’t really affect me as much as it would on turn one or two. After all, Ichorids and Nether Shadows are going to be coming after him next turn in addition to multiple Zombies. I want to strip him of his ability to win outright in a desperate attempt.

    So I rule out Wish.

    Cunning Wish.

    From here, I look at several other options. Counter-magic doesn’t really concern me unless I want to play out Dread Return, which I have neither that nor a realistically lethal target in my graveyard at this time. Because I know that this line of play is dependent on my next turn’s dredging, I have to play with exactly what I have on the board.

    So Force of Will is relatively useless in a scenario with no interaction.

    Force of Will.

    Finally I think to myself, “Did this guy think I would go after High Tide? And if so, is he trying to next-level me?” After careful consideration, I realize that my opponent has approximately two turns to live if the game progresses at its current pace. We’re both playing combo decks in their own right, and I know he wants to finish me off before my onslaught of attackers can push in for lethal. Did he hide High Tide on top of his deck, or did he just assume I would go after Wish because he gave me the benefit of the doubt based on my familiarity with targets in his sideboard that could wipe me out?

    I had to try for it. It’s the only card at this point that can enable him to win the game, and nothing else really matters to me. Draw spells, counter-magic and all of the cool tap/untap effects he could muster mean nothing to me while he’s on one land. Flusterstorm maybe, but he let this resolve and that tells me something: he’s got something good in his hand.

    I have about ten to twelve more cards that will hit my graveyard in two turns, and they are potentially all crushing to him: more Therapies, Dread Returns and targets.

    I go in for the home run, naming “High Tide.”

    I hit one.

    I see his hand and after him being on the play he has five cards left in his hand at this point. His five cards were (based on memory): Force of Will, Turnabout, Island, Meditate and something like a Preordain. He told me he played under the assumption I would have named “Cunning Wish” because of the potential threat of sideboard hate making an appearance game one. I let him know at this point he needs two more lands in play, and even if he does he’ll be staring down a horde of attackers that remain on the battlefield and that I could care less about Cunning Wish.

    He shrugs and admits that he has nothing left on top of his deck. Even after he casts Preordain, it doesn’t matter. I find a Dread Return, Therapy and a Griselbrand the following dredge (wow) and put an end to any doubt by stripping his Force from hand and bringing back and activating the flying demon for the win.

    This example was meant to illustrate the importance of associating the value of a specific target against a specific deck at a specific point in the game. On turn one, a High Tide player is working with Brainstorms and counter-magic, really. If I was losing that game, I was losing it on turn three if this guy attempted going off, and quite honestly I wasn’t taking that risk. Assuming I didn’t hit more Therapies I would have let him strip my graveyard, wasting a turn doing so, while attacking him and gaining an arbitrary amount of tokens that stay on the battlefield.

    My thinking was that my opponent was trying to bait me into flushing another target out of his hand, but I knew that on turn one with damage coming in and more Zombies hitting play that the only card I care about was High Tide. I want to win the game faster and I’m not taking any chances. Every land a High Tide player taps for something other than an initial High Tide, to me, is a wasted mana source without an untap effect at the ready.

    On turn one I was going for the big hurt and my intuition countered his line of play without having to play a single spell for verification. I took his key spell and he lost the game. Whether it was on the heels of poor hiding or whatever, he made a choice and I made him pay for it. Now unfortunately, you can’t be Superman and always know every single card there is to know in an opponent’s hand at a given time. Thankfully, we have cards that can do that for us.


    I think Cabal Therapy requires a great deal of knowledge about Legacy in order to be effective. If you know what cards in specific match-ups cause you problems, write them down on a piece of paper. For instance, let’s say you’re playing Nic Fit and you know you really don’t want to walk your Green Sun’s Zenith into a Force of Will or Spell Pierce against a control deck. If your opponent taps out to play something, that should telegraph they are probably on a Force or two in their hand because they are comfortable tapping their mana in the face of something dangerous.

    You need to protect your investments and make your spells count is where I’m going with this. Which brings me to my next point: the turn one blind Therapy.

    A turn one blind Cabal Therapy is one of the most dangerous lines of play in all of Legacy. If you have absolutely no idea what your opponent is playing, it’s probably a good idea to wait a turn to see what they’re playing so you can play accordingly and take an educated guess as to what that player has in his or her hand. Casting this card on turn one also sends up red flags to an opponent to physically protect his or her hand.

    For instance, at a tournament in Maryland one time I played against an opponent running a variant of Stone-Blade. I was on the LED Dredge plan at the time and this was a pivotal game two where I could close the deal out. I tapped a City of Brass on turn two and cast a Therapy, earning a Brainstorm in response. He put his cards back and said, “Sure.”

    I knew if this guy had Surgical Extraction, this was when it was being played everywhere with Snapcaster Mage he would have hid the card on top of his deck. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to call “Snapcaster Mage.”

    I knocked three… that’s right, three out of his hand. I never heard the end of it. But I made sure I named the card that would give him the most value with his Extractions. Needless to say I never found out what he hid as he picked up his cards and scooped. This after me being cordial and friendly to him and apologizing for an unfortunate turn of events. He was the one who took a gamble, it didn’t pay off.

    That Therapy felt more like an Ancestral Recall than anything else due to the massive advantage I gained off a single card. If you can find a way to master the power of Cabal Therapy, then you too can in turn can win games. It’s a card that demands high reward based off these three key factors we’ve already spoken about earlier in the piece:

    • Owning a working knowledge of the format you’re playing it in.
    • Becoming a good situational Magic player.
    • Excelling in taking advantage of the card’s alternative cost.

    If you can master these aspects of Cabal Therapy, you will undoubtedly master a great dynamic of Manaless Dredge.


    XI: Categorizing Hate

    It's always a great feeling playing a deck you know has a tremendous chance of winning a very high percentages of its game ones. Unfortunately, with great power comes an even greater responsibility of fighting the hate cards that you can expect to come in against you. I classify these resolved hate cards into three categories: green (very beatable hate), yellow (somewhat beatable hate) and red (unbeatable hate). (I should also note that this classification is only against Manaless and not other archetypes, in addition to playing a variation not able to interact with permanent-based hate cards once they resolve.)

    Green Hate
    Tormod's Crypt
    Surgical Extraction
    Faerie Macabre
    Extirpate
    Nihil Spellbomb


    Yellow Hate
    Relic of Progenitus
    Bojuka Bog
    Scavenging Ooze (with active mana)


    Red Hate
    Leyline of the Void
    Rest in Peace
    Grafdigger's Cage
    Planar Void

    There are a variety of ways to play around and time your dredges to fight through specific types of hate, in addition to cards that allow you to fill up your graveyard faster after a piece of hate is activated. For instance, Faerie Macabre or Street Wraith give you the option to swerve around Relic of Progenitus and guarantee you will be able to start the dredging process unless they exile all graveyards.

    Scavenging Ooze is also beatable, as an activation on turn two leaves the card open to Contagion before the ability resolves. However, cards like Leyline of the Void and Grafdigger's Cage ensure a loss if resolved with no way to fight it. Thankfully, a sideboard with counters or removal helps in this matter, in addition to cards like Chancellor of the Annex that delays the hate a turn so you can discard a dredger and not have to worry about waiting three or four turns to dredge again. Chancellor is also highly effective against one-mana hate cards.


    XII: Manaless Video Links

    SCGPHL-Legacy-Quarterfinals-Reid Duke vs Theo Van Doosselaere
    Legacy Champs Round 6 John Grudzina vs. Sullivan Brophy
    MTG: U/R Delver vs Manaless Dredge
    SCGCOL Deck Tech - Nick Rausch
    SCGLA-Legacy-Quarterfinals-John Kassari vs Michael Boland
    SCGNJ-Legacy-Semifinals-Jake Moldowsky vs Juha Tolvanen
    [StarCityGames Cincinnati Legacy Open] Caleb Durward VS Nicholas Rausch
    GPT Legacy a New Jersey
    [LEGACY] Vendredi du Biland 15/11/2013
    GPT Legacy a New Jersey (final)


    XIII: Manaless Article Links

    My article on Manaless Dredge in Legacy
    Manaless Unplugged
    Gerry T on Manaless Dredge
    Channel Fireball Article on Manaless
    Wizards' Article on Who Needs Lands?
    Michael Boland's Manaless Report
    13th/173@BoM (~PTQ) Qualifier w/ Manaless
    6th with Manaless Dredge at Jupiter Games DFD Event
    14th w/ Manaless Dredge @ Jupiter's NELC!
    [Report] Return of the Living Dead: 3rd @ Jupiter Games NELC w/ Manaless Dredge!
    [Report] Top 8 with Manaless Dredge @ Mythic Games' LIQ!
    GPT Report!
    Last edited by Michael Keller; 07-02-2018 at 02:27 PM.
    The Night HE Came Home.

  2. #2

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Reserved for match-up analysis, sideboarding strategies and future use.
    The Night HE Came Home.

  3. #3

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    This is great, Michael. Just a question here:

    Chancellor of the Annex, Street Wraith, Golgari Thug, Mindbreak Trap, Bridge from Below, Cabal Therapy, and Ichorid

    We like it, and it has a nice touch with Cabal Therapy and Ichorid to supplement the hate we have. Scarily enough, our opponent snap-keeps their hand. However, little do they know we run Chancellor of the Annex. You see, we run it out of the board and our opponent got no information game two by killing us turn one. This could set them back in the event they’re unprepared for it.

    We start the game off by revealing a Chancellor, to which our opponent tanks for a minute as we’ve just changed the entire dynamic of the game. They think for a second and make a play, a Gemstone Mine to pay for a Gitaxian Probe. They see our hand at the cost of the mana and two life. They get the draw and pass the turn.

    We draw our card for the turn and it’s a good one: Street Wraith. We proceed to the end of our turn and discard a Phantasmagorian. Our opponent takes their turn, draws and plays a fetch. They then Ponder (one spell) off the Mine. They keep the card and drop a fetch, only to crack it and look for an Underground Sea.

    Now remember this is a huge tip-off here. Our opponent kept their card and shuffled away the rest, which means it has got to be something good. Our opponent then casts a Lotus Petal (two spells) and declares, “Storm is two.” They then cast a Dark Ritual (three spells – mental fist-pump). Storm is now irrelevant in our minds, as we can Trap them out, which we do once the Petal cracks for red mana into Rite of Flame and Ad Nauseam is hard-cast. Once we blow-out our opponent, we then proceed to go bonkers with our cards the following turn.
    Here you talk about Probe & Trap - but he has seen your hand. Why would he just storm ahead into the Trap? How do you play around discard with Trap in your hand? I usually see it as a way to stall (even if they've seen it) so they have to wait. But I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  4. #4
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    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Link to previous thread, for reference.
    If you fail to explain the reason behind your choice, technically, it's the wrong choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tacosnape View Post
    It's one of the ten strongest cards in Legacy. And in truth, in any deck you design, you really need to have a good reason -not- to run Wasteland.
    Zerk Thread -- Really, fun deck! ^^

  5. #5

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Quote Originally Posted by Daize View Post
    This is great, Michael. Just a question here:


    Here you talk about Probe & Trap - but he has seen your hand. Why would he just storm ahead into the Trap? How do you play around discard with Trap in your hand? I usually see it as a way to stall (even if they've seen it) so they have to wait. But I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    My thought process here is this: their hand has complete potential to immediately win the game. So, unless they have a discard spell to deal with the Trap, it's just a matter of time before you rip their hand apart with Therapy or Dread Return them out.

    EDIT: Never mind, I see that. Let me fix that up. Sorry!
    The Night HE Came Home.

  6. #6

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    They see our hand at the cost of the mana and pass the turn.
    This is still in :-). Otherwise, great write up. I definitely like the part about keeping priority.

  7. #7

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Thanks!
    The Night HE Came Home.

  8. #8

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    I kind of like the Faerie Macabre's main deck, though Chancellors seem to.. have a more general application. Lately I have been doubting the Chancellors though, as they're more of a nuisance than a gamebreaker. I would definitely love to see your sideboard ideas - more importantly what kind of cards to switch out in what situation. Reasoning rather than flat swap choices, to be able to build our common knowledge :-)

  9. #9
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    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Almost every time I have ever played chancellor it has been a dead card. I reveal it, they cast their 1 spell or pay the & move on. It has not been an effective card for me out of the board, I have cut it entirely due to its mediocrity.

  10. #10

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Quote Originally Posted by potatodavid View Post
    Almost every time I have ever played chancellor it has been a dead card. I reveal it, they cast their 1 spell or pay the & move on. It has not been an effective card for me out of the board, I have cut it entirely due to its mediocrity.
    But if that one Chancellor means delaying something like Deathrite Shaman, Thoughtseize, Relic or Cage, that allows you to drop a dredger and possibly counter with a Force or Shoal in hand without having to triple-Time Walk an opponent. Delaying Deathrite Shaman until turn two seems kind of relevant right now. Maybe with the Forces we could run a pair of Chancellors - maybe three - to augment the Phantasmagorians and Street Wraiths?

    I've never been a huge fan of it, but lately I'm starting to really see how good it can be in games two and three.
    The Night HE Came Home.

  11. #11

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Funny, they've always been the cards I felt I "had" to take out because the rest of the deck is so rigid in sideboarding.

  12. #12

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Quote Originally Posted by Daize View Post
    Funny, they've always been the cards I felt I "had" to take out because the rest of the deck is so rigid in sideboarding.
    It really just depends on the matchup. Someone who thinks they have a free draw by putting you on the play and them mulling to six can make Chancellor an equalizer in that they have to pass the turn if they want to protect that key spell. In that case, Chancellor lets you draw into a counter or a Street Wraith-into-a-counter so that you can counter the card on turn two after discarding.

    Seriously, while I love and fully advocate the blue package, there's no more dejected a feeling than an opponent resolving a Relic or Cage on turn one when you draw the Force of Shoal on turn two when you're forced on the play. That extra draw can be crucial to completely pivot the game in your favor - thanks to Chancellor.
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  13. #13
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    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Keller View Post
    But if that one Chancellor means delaying something like Deathrite Shaman, Thoughtseize, Relic or Cage, that allows you to drop a dredger and possibly counter with a Force or Shoal in hand without having to triple-Time Walk an opponent. Delaying Deathrite Shaman until turn two seems kind of relevant right now. Maybe with the Forces we could run a pair of Chancellors - maybe three - to augment the Phantasmagorians and Street Wraiths?

    I've never been a huge fan of it, but lately I'm starting to really see how good it can be in games two and three.
    They water down the deck further and I don't like it. They may delay a turn, but they are never a card I want to naturally draw, I run Blue Manaless and they just seem bad. (if i am going manaless). Also If I am going to dread return something, A 5/5 flyer isn't bad but whirlpool for victory seems better.

  14. #14

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    I actually play a combination of whirlpool riders and spies - bigger chances.

  15. #15

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    As far as alternative card choices, I think Unmask is worth including in that section because its still fast enough to disrupt ANT and Show&Tell decks. Also under the green package, you should mention fetchlands as well as Forest.

    As far as Chancellor is concerned, I don't know of any other SB card that increases your win rate as dramatically vs a T1 deck.

  16. #16

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Congrats on the primer!
    I almost have this deck put together (Spy version), the suggestions, tips and tricks mentioned above sure will come in handy.

    Some questions, how much of a problem is Thalia? Seems like she cuts of Dread Return and Cabal Therapy, but perhaps it's manageable with Spirit/Ihorid recursion along with Bridge from below?
    When siding, which cards are usually sided out (for example, versus combo with the suggested-decklist above: side in 1 force, 4 shoal, 2 Trap for ...)? To the inexperienced eye it seems hard to cut any mainboard card without diluting the mechanism.

  17. #17
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    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    The Quad Cities: twice as nice as the Twin Cities.

  18. #18

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Amazing Primer Michael! Your work and insight on the deck is impeccable. Keep it up!

    I have just a few things to add.

    One thing I think is important to point out. It's just a rule regarding the phases of the game but is something newer players to the deck may not realize or understand. Remember that discarding a card is the very last thing in your cleanup step. This is important against Relic of Progenitus because they cannot get your only card in the graveyard with the tap activation or the full yard with the other ability at the end of your turn. This allows you to better protect your graveyard by discarding fluff and waiting until you find Phantasmagorian or Street Wraith to play around it. It also forces your opponent to use their mana less efficiently possibly giving you an extra turn to recover after the removal of your yard.

    While I don't make it to tournaments very regularly, I still do test the deck with my friend Ryan McIntosh, who originally came up with the list I played back in 2011. After testing all sorts of off the wall things(which I wont get into here) I arrived at much of the same conclusions regarding the blue build. My list is the same as Michael's with the following changes:

    MD
    -2 Chancellor
    +1 FoW
    +1 Shambling Shell
    Nothing super fancy.

    SB
    - 1 FoW
    - 2 Ashen Rider
    + 2 Mindbreak Trap
    + 1 Contagion
    These are mostly Metagame decisions. Use your own discretion.

    Again, great write up! Looking forward to the SB strats and matchup analysis down the road.

  19. #19

    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Wow. If only every deck had a primer this thorough and awesome.

  20. #20
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    Re: [Primer] +Manaless Dredge+

    Quote Originally Posted by Rivfader View Post
    When siding, which cards are usually sided out (for example, versus combo with the suggested-decklist above: side in 1 force, 4 shoal, 2 Trap for ...)? To the inexperienced eye it seems hard to cut any mainboard card without diluting the mechanism.
    The first things to go out are the Gitaxian Probes. After that, the Street Wraiths go. If 8 slots isn't enough, you could cut a DR target and mayhaps a Shambling Shell.

    Or at least, that's how I tend to board. Trading in speed for answers. I like to keep my Chancellors in the 60 even postboard, since often you want to slow your opponent down as much as possible so you actually GET to play the stuff you boarded in.

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