Building_on_a_Budget

Evolving the Gruntcursion deck into a lean killer.

The Great Dredge Contest! (Part 3 of 3)

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The letter H!ello everyone, and welcome back to Building on a Budget! This is the final part of the Great Dredge contest. For those just joining us, I threw out a list of 80 cards with point (ticket) values, and challenged people to build a deck worth 30 tickets or less. There were over a hundred responses, and I picked twelve decks to highlight from among those and ended up going with DELangley's Gruntcursion deck as the winner that I would playtest and modify. In today's article, I take the deck for a spin, and work out some of the kinks.

Game 1: noles (Mono-White Flankers)

Noles starts out with some Icatian Javelineers, and follows with Children of Korlis, Outrider en-Kor and Gustcloak Cavalier. I drop a second-turn Golgari Thug, and it gets hit by his Javelineers. This is when I learn the timing on the Thug—if is it the only creature in your graveyard when it goes to the graveyard, it will return itself to the top of your library! This completely foiled my plans for dredging it on the third turn to get the deck going, plus it set my draw back a turn (I'd have to draw the Thug again the following turn).

I finally start getting guys down on the table, and I draw a Greenseeker to get Golgari Thug to the graveyard to start dredging. This lets a Mystic Enforcer get threshold, and lets me drop Jötun Grunts to start swinging. I knock him to 10, but run into two straight Dawn Charms to allow him to survive a Grunt/Enforcer swing.

I also misread Gustcloak Cavalier and think it can fly, which leads me to lose while I'm at 2 life—he has two attackers, and I could have dropped triple Golgari Thug to block his Outrider en-Kor and Cavalier (even through the tap ability) to allow for a third attack with my Jötun Grunt and Mystic Enforcer. Frown!

Record: 0-1

I'd like to take a little time to talk about misplays. As you'll notice, I made two pretty significant errors during Game 1, both of which probably cost me the game. The first (letting my Thug die as the only creature in my graveyard) was due to being unfamiliar with both the Thug and with this deck. The second, thinking that the Cavalier had flying in addition to flanking, was due to not reading a card that I'm unfamiliar with.

While the latter comes down to laziness (it takes two seconds to read a card—if I'm at 2 life and about to die, I should be reading every piece of electronic cardboard on the screen to see if I have any outs), the first mistake came more from bad rules judgment than from sloppiness. Golgari Thug reads, "When Golgari Thug is put into a graveyard from play, put target creature card in your graveyard on top of your library." Note that the triggered ability (put target creature card in your graveyard on top of your library) happens upon the Thug being put into the graveyard (when Golgari Thug is put into a graveyard from play), so the timing works out, of course, that it will return itself if it is the only creature.

This is why, last week, I thought that Stinkweed Imp might be a better choice for this deck than Golgari Thug. I knew that whenever I saw an opponent play Golgari Thug in previous matches, I loved it—because I knew I could kill their Thug and make them return a creature they didn't want to draw from their graveyard to their library (or force them to dredge the Thug itself). I didn't make the connection that, if the Thug was the only creature around, it would return itself.

Game 2: tortur3 (White-Green Thrumming Stone)

This was a very short game, as tortur3 concedes on turn three after I've dropped Greenseeker on turn one and dredged Golgari Grave-Troll twice. Tortur3 let me know that his deck wasn't ready yet to take on a dredge deck, and I respect that.

Record: 1-1

Game 3: Mastercard_169 (Red/Blue Storm)

Mastercard_169 starts building up cards in hand with Sleight of Hand and Foresee, and I get a slowish start without anything to dredge with my Greenseeker except for Dakmor Salvage. On turn five, he drops Grinning Ignus. On turn six, he plays multiple Seething Songs, returns Grinning Ignus, and replays/returns Grinning Ignus multiple times until he gets down to four mana. At that point, he plays Empty the Warrens with a storm count of seven, and runs me over with sixteen goblins. I do have a couple of guys on the board, but Mortivore and Nether Traitor aren't going to be able to get through for enough damage with that many goblins on the board. I stare at the Reclaims in my hand and decide it's time for some changes.

Record: 1-2

It's time for the first round of changes! So far, there have been two main offenders in the deck – Golgari Thug and Reclaim. I've already talked about Golgari Thug above, but let me mention a little bit about Reclaim.

Last week, I contrasted Reclaim and Recollect. In practice this week, I found that Reclaim was absolutely the inferior choice to Recollect for a dredge deck. If all is going according to plan with this deck, I want to be dredging every single turn of the game until I reach the end of my library and can get Gruntcursion going. Every time I cast Reclaim, that's a turn I can't dredge—I have to basically stop going through my library so I can draw the card I want to Reclaim.

Recollect doesn't set me back a dredge turn. Reclaim does. The extra two mana and sorcery speed be danged, Recollect just works with dredge, whereas Reclaim works against dredge.

G'bye Reclaim!

Last, I want to get another Golgari Grave-Troll into the deck. He is king dredge, the big six cards, and there's every reason to up the count in this deck. To make ticket room for Golgari Grave-Troll, I yank out the Bitter Ordeals. I don't see a time when I'll get that many creatures into the graveyard in one turn (barring a flashback on Dread Return), and it doesn't affect the board position of the game at all.

Out: 3 Golgari Thug, 2 Bitter Ordeal, 4 Reclaim (-3.7 tickets)
In: 1 Golgari Grave-Troll, 4 Stinkweed Imp, 4 Recollect (+2.2 tickets)
New Cost: 28.5 Tickets

You'll notice that I left a single Golgari Thug in the deck. This is in case of emergency—if I am running out of cards in my deck, and need, need, need to draw a Jötun Grunt, having some sort of out (Golgari Thug) is a necessary evil.

Game 4: Regrets (Red-White Pandemonium)

I double-mulligan, and his deck can set up a lot faster than mine. He drops multiple Icatian Javelineers, a Soul Warden and an Aven Riftwatcher. I have a Nether Traitor die before I can drop a creature of substance (Mortivore) to the board, but by then he's gotten me down to ten, and dropped Pandemonium to the board with (what turns out to be) double Whitemane Lion in his hand. I get smashed by Pandemonium.

Record: 1-3

Game 5: kcoughlin (Black-Green Dredge)

I get Mortivore early, which is a 5/5 due to some dredge action on Greenseeker/Golgari Grave-Troll. He drops Shambling Shell and Vulturous Zombie, and I trade my Greenseeker for his 3/1 ground pounder. His flying plant (I love saying that!) hits me for 7 before becoming a 12/12 on a Stinkweed Imp dredge. The dredge puts a Putrefy into my graveyard, and just to make sure that he doesn't have removal for my Imp to kill me, I choose to Recollect a Putrefy and kill his Vulturous Zombie right there and then on my turn.

He drops a Golgari Grave-Troll of his own, and puts two Svogthos to the board. I dredge back another Stinkweed Imp and a Golgari Thug and flashback Dread Return to put Mystic Enforcer and double Nether Traitor into play. I then play my second Recollect of the game to put a second Mystic Enforcer onto the board, and his deck can't deal with a pair of 6/6 protection from black flyers and a 15/15 regenerating creature on the ground.

Record: 2-3

Game 6: HBK679 (Green-Blue Control)

He gets Remands and Repeals, but every time he counters one of my guys, I dredge it back. Eventually, I land Golgari Grave-Troll on the board, and that's the signal for the flood gates to open. A 6/6 Grave-Troll, a 6/6 Mystic Enforcer, double Nether Traitor and Stinkweed Imp all rampage into the red zone to win this game.

Record: 3-3

Game 7: Vaportrain (G/U Doubling Season)

I can't keep up with a Doubling Season, Evolution Vat, a Spike Feeder, and a Llanowar Elves. He takes his Elves from 3/3 to 13/13 in a turn—it's a 1/1 with two +1/+1 counters. He uses Evolution Vat to give it two more +1/+1 counters (four +1/+1 counters), and then uses the "double the counters" ability from Evolution Vat to give it another eight +/1+1 counters, making it a 13/13 to kill me. I had a Recollect in hand, but I really, desperately needed to dredge a Mortify into my graveyard to take out his Doubling Season.

Record: 3-4

It's time for another round of changes. I haven't been getting a fast enough start due to the inability to drop dredge cards into my graveyard consistently, so I feel it's time to get Llanowar Mentors into the deck—the other one-drop green creature that can enable a turn-two dredge. I also want another Forest in the deck (to support a full eight green one-drops), and a third Dread Return—I find myself wanting to use the Return, but never having one in my graveyard when I need it!

To make room for these, I yank out a Selesnya Sanctuary (straight for the Forest), all four Nether Traitors (for the Mentors) and a Jötun Grunt (one) for the Dread Return. Three Grunts seems plenty for what this deck wants to do (get down to no cards in library, and then use Jötun Grunts to set up the rest of the deck via recursion).

The Nether Traitors were virtually impossible to hardcast, and there isn't a self-sacrifice outlet aside from Dread Return with which to kill your own creatures to enable a return of the Traitors. In addition, 1/1 haste creatures aren't where this deck is at—when I can drop 12/12 Mortivores, 6/6 Mystic Enforcers and 4/4 Grunts as kill conditions, a lone set of 1/1 shadow creatures isn't going to really tip the game in my favor.

Out: 4 Nether Traitor, 1 Jötun Grunt, 1 Selesnya Sanctuary (-5.1 tickets)
In: 4 Llanowar Mentor, 1 Dread Return, 1 Forest (+1.6 tickets)
New Cost: 25 Tickets

Game 8: Rippenflesh (Black-White Control)

He suspends Curse of the Cabal and tries to Mortify my 5/5 Golgari Grave-Troll. I regenerate from the Mortify (remember from last week! Mortify lets you regenerate; Putrefy does not), and go on to dredge multiple times with other Grave-Trolls and Greenseeker. Eventually I drop a 17/17 Mortivore and he plays Wrath of God. I just drop more 18/18 Grave-Trolls, and one eventually connects for lethal damage.

Record: 4-4

Game 9: Devillion (Four-Color Control)

We both double mulligan. He gets triple Harmonize and Body Double for a Mortivore. I get Greenseeker, fix my mana, and start dredging Stinkweed Imp. I get Imp, Golgari Thug, and Greenseeker on the board, followed by a Mortivore of my own, and a 12/12 Golgari Grave-Troll. I start swinging with my two large guys and regenerating, and then go in for lethal on a Recollected Purtrefy for the win.

Record: 5-4

Game 10: Frocious (Blue-White Bounce)

This is a long an epic game that ends up lasting 22 turns! We go back and forth, with him casting Venser, Seht's Tiger, Riftwing Cloudskate, Draining Whelk and Momentary Blink. I end up, for the first time, getting the Gruntcursion plan to work—I dredge my entire library into my graveyard except for one card (just in case he bounces my Jötun Grun) and start recurring all of my Recollects. I set up my library with four Recollects, and two Jötun Grunts, and then let my first Grunt die. This lets me bring back creature kill or Mortivores/Golgari Grave-Trolls at will, and after a long-sought game, I am able to finally break through with an army of 22/22 creatures against his draw of double Epochrasite, Urza's Factory, and other sundry creatures.

Record: 6-4

If I were to continue to change this deck further, I would get in one more land (to help mulligan issues), swap out a couple of Dakmor Salvages for Swamps, and add in a fourth Life from the Loam (to allow me to "draw" the lands I've dredged) for a Mystic Enforcer. However, this last game (10) was the only game where I got the Gruntcursion plan to work—in other games, I was either ending the game quickly (with 12/12 or larger creatures) or getting run over by weenie creatures. As a black-green dredge deck, this deck would show a lot of promise—I could bring in more dredge cards or focus more on recursion. As a black-green-white deck, this is about the end of the line—the Grunts and Enforcers would probably go in favor of a solid black-green build, and I didn't want to test this deck out of the original intent. Consider Gruntcursion 4 the final build of this deck while retaining the white!

Out: -1 Llanowar Mentor, -1 Mystic Enforcer, -2 Dakmor Salvage
In: +2 Swamp, +1 Forest, +1 Life from the Loam

CHOOSE!
I CHOOSE ALL OF THEM! DRAGON WARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! 4902 53.6%
Intet, the Dreamer! 1177 12.9%
Numot, the Devastator! 1084 11.9%
Teneb, the Harvester! 1054 11.5%
Oros, the Avenger! 474 5.2%
Vorosh, the Hunter! 453 5.0%
Total 9144 100.0%

Next week: DRAGON WARRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

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