How appropriate that this week on magicthegathering.com it was Golgari week and all its Dregde-y goodness. Not since last year, when Pierre Canali took Affinity and won Pro Tour-Columbus, has a new mechanic made such an impact on Extended.
The Dredge mechanic works well with Extended decks in two ways. First, it allows access to the same spells time and again. In a format filled with disruption cards such as Cabal Therapy and Duress, being able to get back your spell time and again can be valuable to always have a threat available. Darkblast, Nightmare Void and Life from the Loam all fill this role.
The second way that players this weekend were using Dredge was to fill up their graveyards with tons of goodies. This provides the Dredge decks with both a high quantity of cards in their graveyard and a new way to search for the exact cards they need.
Greg Weiss built a deck that uses Stinkweed Imp to fill up his graveyard. First, he uses Idea's Unbound, Mental Note, and Careful Studies to get the Stinkweed Imp into his graveyard. When he returns the Imp to his hand, he is able to mill five cards off of his library. This gives him Threshold, which powers up Cabal Rituals. Greg does all of this in preparation for a Patriarch's Bidding or Twilight's Call.
So what creature type does he name? Elementals!
As Greg described it, he started the deck as a red-black Reanimator but quickly discovered that the Extended rotation meant that the traditional tutoring of red and black were gone. Next he experimented with adding green to the deck, replacing red. As he played online he came across an Italian player, Iacobo Varriale, playing a deck only a few cards off. Together they put the finishing touches on the deck. But why do they reanimate Elementals?
Greg said that they went through Ravnica: City of Guilds looking for good haste creatures. They came upon Flame-Kin Zealot and knew that he was an excellent choice for a Bidding deck. When he went searching for Berserkers, he couldn't find many good options but Elementals were just the ticket. With fatties such as Living Hive, Silvos, Rogue Elemental and Thorn Elemental, Elementals had the perfect combination of fat, evasion and haste.
Itaru Ishida and his Japanese teammates were using a new version of Psychatog with Dredge called Dredge-atog. They have Life from the Loam, Nightmare Void, and Darkblast all in the main deck with Gifts Ungiven to search each of these Dredge cards up.
Life from the Loam appeared to be a tame enough card on its own. As the people who have missed the upcoming combo in their testing have said, "Life from the Loam just brings back lands, how good can that be?" Well, they obviously didn't pair Life from the Loam with Cycling Lands like Barren Moor and Lonely Sandbar. Life from the Loam returned the three cycling lands to the Japanese players hand time and again. Dredging Life from the Loam replaced one of the draw phases, leaving you up two Cycling lands that can be turned into real cards. This kind of repetitive card advantage was what players need to win in a tough Extended format.
Geoffrey Siron and his teammates took Dredge and instead of using it in a Psychatog archetype took the Blue-green Madness deck and made room for Golgari Grave-Troll. The Grave-Troll has the highest Dredge cost of all, 6. Siron uses Wild Mongrel and Psychatog to pitch Golgari Grave-Troll into the graveyard before returning it to mill six cards off his deck. He takes advantage of the milling to search for Genesis, Wonder and Brawn. These three different Incarnations, along with Deep Analysis, help him access the exact cards he wants. Dredge also allows him to filter cards off of his library so that his Sensei's Divining Top always stays fresh.
Dredge has proven successful so far this weekend for all three players. Siron, Ishida and Weiss have all started 3-1. Whether their new decks will continue stand up to older Extended staples remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the combination of repeatable spells and graveyard tutoring has found a home in the Magic tournament scene.