Dredge has been a popular Modern deck since the beginning of the format. As the name implies, it revolves around the dredge mechanic that Life from the Loam, Golgari Thug and Stinkweed Imp have, trying to put creature into play from your graveyard such as Narcomoeba, Prized Amalgam and Ox of Agonas, all while dealing damage to your opponent and their creatures with Creeping Chill and Conflagrate. Let’s break down what makes Modern Dredge tick.
Modern Dredge by Andrea Mengucci
Two summers ago, Dredge lost a powerful enabler in Faithless Looting. However, last year it gained a powerful tool in Ox of Agonas, which lets it explode around turn three or four to guarantee the win whenever unchecked. In addition, Strixhaven gave Dredge another powerful enabler, one that’s as good as Cathartic Reunion: Thrilling Discovery!
Thanks to Thrilling Discovery, you now have up to eight two-mana enablers that only require a couple of dredgers in your hand to really burst out. Thrilling Discovery is slightly different than Cathartic Reunion since the discard clause comes together with the spell resolving. A Force of Negation, for example, will simply exile Thrilling Discovery, without you having to discard any cards to it, whereas with Reunion, you’d have to.
Discarding your cards as an additional cost might be good because it’ll put your dredgers in the graveyard regardless, or it might be bad since you’ll find yourself without cards for a second Cathartic Reunion. Ponder their timing accordingly.
I decided to go up to three Ox of Agonas since you really want to have it in your graveyard after your turn two Cathartic Reunion/Thrilling Discovery to completely go off on turn three. Alternately, Ox of Agonas is a perfectly fine card to hardcast in the more controlling matchups. You’ll have Life from the Loam to help you hit your land drops, so even if your opponent counters your Reunion, you’ll still be able to make your land drops and keep your plan going by simply casting the Ox from hand.
Mulliganing accordingly with Dredge is very important. The deck just gained Thrilling Discovery, which just skyrockets the number of keepable hands you’ll open. What you’re aiming at is any two lands, a Cathartic Reunion or Thrilling Discovery and a couple of dredgers. This means that you can easily mulligan down to four cards and still have a perfectly fine draw. Ship back 99 percent of your one-landers since, again, this deck mulligans so well.
Stinkweed Imp is a totally fine card to cast in creature matchups as a reasonable recurring blocker. Again, you’re able to cast Ox of Agonas when Life from the Loam guarantees those extra land drops. Ideally, you’ll mill/dredge an Ox of Agonas which will let you go off as early as turn three.
The mulligan decisions get harder post-sideboard, when you have to predict what graveyard hate your opponent will bring. You have to balance that with your hand, which has to be both functional and have the right precautions.
Other than Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void, most graveyard hosers are one-shot artifact, mostly Nihil Spellbomb. You can play around those by simply not over extending, and just deploy your game while also keeping an extra Cathartic Reunion in your hand.
Remember that Dredge is a deck that sideboards very little. You can’t take a lot of pieces out or the whole castle will crumble. Swapping Lightning Axe in place of Shriekhorn will be the most common way of sideboarding whenever up against a creature deck.
Bloodghast used to be a pillar of Dredge, and now it’s relegated to the sideboard. You have Ox of Agonas and Narcomoeba to trigger Prized Amalgam in the main deck. Bloodghast is really only good against control decks that will try to grind you down by removing your creatures piece by piece, meaning you need more threats to keep the Prized Amalgam always coming back.
Blast Zone is a very common card to sideboard in. It’s usually a free roll to answer sideboard cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Auriok Champion. Blast Zone is great in combination with Life from the Loam as well, since unlike Nature’s Claim that you have to draw in order to answer Grafdigger’s Cage, you can just dredge the Blast Zone and pick it up with a Life from the Loam.