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Modern DredgeVine Primer
Section 1: What is DredgeVine
DredgeVine as a deck has evolved constantly over the years to cope with new metas, new printings and new ideas. However the core focus of the deck remains the same. DredgeVine fills its graveyard to swarm the field with cheap recursive creatures, the most powerful of which being the decks namesake, Vengevine. DredgeVine excels at aggressively swarming the field with powerful threats, playing a grindy game, and quickly destroying opposition with a powerful alpha strike of strong, hastey creatures. While most decks rely on their hand to cast spells, the fact that DredgeVine can use the power of the graveyard as a resource at all stages of the game gives it a strong and unique play-style with great resilience to common answers.
Section 2: Building DredgeVine
DredgeVine has many builds that can be considered viable. All five of the colors can be used depending on how you wish your deck to play, but the two that every deck will want in its repertoire are access to BBLACKB and GGREENG. Black gives access to recursive threats that help further the game plan like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast and contains the majority of creatures with the ability Dredge. Green allows you to run mana fixers like Birds of Paradise and Satyr Wayfinder, as well as allowing you to hardcast Vengevine.
Section 2.1: Creatures
Vengevine: The namesake of the deck. 4 power with haste coming out in multiples as early as turn two or three is a threat not many decks can deal with. Always run four, no matter what the rest of your build looks like.
Gravecrawler: Gravecrawler is an aggressively costed creature that can be cast from the graveyard. The fact that it says cast is a major bonus because of the synergy it provides in conjunction with Vengevine. Most list will want to run four, although an argument could be made for three.
Bloodghast: Bloodghast provides large amounts of pressure to the opponent. A 2/1 that will almost always present a clock no matter how much removal that is thrown its way terrifies control decks, however the fact that it cannot block makes it weak against aggressive decks. This fact along with DredgeVine's habit of hurting itself with greedy shock+fetch manabases is a reason for many to cut Bloodghast from lists alltogether. If you are going to run Bloodghast, you will always want four.
Lotleth Troll: Troll has it all going for him. Zombie typing for Gravecrawler, Evasion, an ability that makes him a huge threat while removing unwanted chaff from our hands like Vengevine and Bloodghast, and regeneration to make him even more resistant to removal. There is no deck that wants to face down a turn 2 6/5 regenerating, trampling behemoth. Almost always run four.
Hooting Mandrills: Vengevine loves one drops, and everyone loves one drop trampling 4/4's. Mandrills is immune to bolt and presents a major clock on its own, however too much delve in a graveyard based deck causes problems. I would not run 4, but if you are going to run it two to three is ideal.
Birds of Paradise: A one drop for recurring Vengevine, a mana accelerant, and a flying beater if pumped through several of the packages detailed below. Birds is relevant in every stage of the game.
Satyr Wayfinder: Wayfinder has an amazing ability, but a 1/1 for two is lackluster. Running at least two is nice for the mana fixing and mill, but four is excessive because of the shrimpy combat stats.
Varolz, the Scar-Striped: One of the more popular new package additions. Varolz turns everything dead into a permanent pump spell. The sacrifice regenerate stops common exile removal, and is major buddies with our next contender.
Death's Shadow: A really underestimated card on all fronts. One drop for Vengevine, super strong stats late game, and the package deal with Varolz. Scavenging a Shadow will give a creature +13/+13 permanantly for a 1 mana investmant. If thats not a way to win games, I don't know what is. Many people dislike Shadows inability to be much of anything in the early game and run him as a two of, but I swear by four of them if you are running Varolz.
Tymaret, the Murder King: A little bit of reach never hurts. Not being able to attack devastates DredgeVine, so a one of Tymaret in the main or side is a popular addition.
Stinkweed Imp: Cards with actual dredge have fallen out of favor because of inconsistency and weakness to the ever popular Pod and UR Delver. Stinkweed Imp is an unbeatable blocker and has the highest available dredge count legal in Modern.
Golgari Thug: The creature with the second highest dredge count in modern. Golgari Thug has lackluster combat stats as with most dredge creatures, but makes up for it with utility. The death trigger on Golgari Thug can range from amazingly useful to absolutely terrible depending on the situation.
Hedron Crab: The poster child for builds running blue. Does everything the deck wants. If you are not playing Bloodghast, remember to pop fetches in response to your own Hedron Crab triggers so you don't accidentally miss the land you are looking for, especially in such a mana greedy deck.
Magus of the Bazaar: The second lead creature for blue builds. For self milling with Dredge cards, no one beats Magus. She is very weak to removal however. If she lives till your untap step, you are in a very advantageous position. Not reccomended unless you are going balls deep into the dredge plan.
Fatestitcher: Fatestitcher is the major blue utility creature. In full dredge builds, Stitcher was used to untap Magus of the Bazaar, be a free* zombie for Gravecrawler, and do all sorts of combat tricks and utility tapping/untapping. With the fall of full dredge builds, Fatestitcher is not often seen but still has the potential of an amazing utility creature.
Skaab Ruinator: Big, castable from the graveyard and evasive. Skaab Ruinator is expensive and the drawback of exiling 3 creatures from your grave on cast is a doozy. Be careful if you choose to run it with anything with delve or without much mill.
Essence Warden: A sideboard choice against Aggro or Token decks. DredgeVine tends to put a lot of things onto the field so Essence Warden gains a lot of life over the course of a game.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang: A sidegrade to Hooting Mandrills. Tasigur trades trample for a point of toughness and an amazing ability which really helps in long grindy matchups. I would usually choose to only run one of the delve creatures, and 2-3 still feels like the correct number.
Gurmag Angler: Yet another Hooting Mandrills sidegrade. Angler trades trample for a point of p/t and much better typing. If you enjoy the high power and toughness brought by the delve creatures, but would like more zombies for the sake of Gravecrawler Zombie-Fish is the way to go.
Golgari Grave-Troll: Finally unbanned. Took ya long enough Wizards! Grave-Troll has less utility than the other available dredge cards, yet it just does everything bigger. Bigger mana cost, bigger body, and bigger dredge count. Its very hard to reach 5 mana to cast him, but a 20+ p/t dude is hard to say no to, even with no evasion. Dredge creatures are still controversial, so run some mix involving Grave-Troll if you don't mind losing out on the utility of Golgari Thug and Stinkweed Imp.
Splinterfright: Some people have run Splinterfright to great success, and I can see why it would be appealing. A large, relatively cheap creature with Trample and an ability that helps itself grow and helps to fill your graveyard. However the truth of it is that it is extremely weak to graveyard hate which already hurts enough.
"I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about."
-H. P. Lovecraft
Simian spirit guide allows for t1 infestation, double looting etc. He is a hangover from an earlier build but I like the acceleration t1 allow for multiple spells to be cast since t1 dodges almost all countermagic.
Fatestitcher is similar to narcomoeba in that he is essentially free and 'activates' gravecrawlers who can then activate your vengevines. He allows you to cast double crawlers from your grave on only 2 mana and can also tap blockers to bust through for damage.
Darkblast does double duty by killing x/1 creatures and along with rusalka gives 6 instant speed ways to put creatures into your grave should someone try to remove your bridges.
Burning inquiry seems controversial but its actually very good at R to draw/discard 3. The upside Ive found that it can often act as a t1-2 hymn to tourach, making your opponents keepable hands into a 'should of mulligan'd' hand.
Zombie infestation is pretty obvious and can be cast t1 with simian spirit guide for recurring discard + zombies which again activate gravecrawler.
If there are any flex spots they would likely be the zombie infestations, possibly a darkblast and gnaw to the bone although that spell is sick when it goes off buying tons of time. Obviously sideboard would need to answer common hate and would likely include unburial rites + nasty bomb.
Regarding your list I would reconsider thought scour since dredgers do this for free and are reusable. Also I think fatestitcher is superior to dregscape zombie.
I tested fatestitcher actually, and didn't like him. A dregscape zombie singleton works perfectly well as an enabler. Also, bloodghast will do more damage than fatestitcher ever will. Fatestitcher is only able to be used for combo, where as dredge is famous for its combo as well as its ichorid beat down. By using bloodghast we are able to get some of this beat down element back, with 4 recurring 2/1s.
I am testing burning inquiry, but for now the random discards make me reluctant to use it. I use thought scour because it allows for less randomness, but I remain unconvinced in the discard at random idea.
I don't really like zombie infestation too much, it just doesn't seem to be worth it. It seems more like a gimmick than a dependable strategy. I can understand you wanting to include it though.
Also, simian spirit guide is an exile, so it doesn't increase your gnaw count unless your dredging it, and having it in there over a land to increase your gnaw count seems pretty useless to me because you will already be gaining a ton of life just from your dredgers
Anyways, sorry if that may sound critical, its not meant that way. I just tend to sound critical in general when analyzing stuff unless I am very careful. I do like a lot about your list, but I think a couple of the things just seem too much like an unnecessary risk. The chance that you are going to have both a guide and an infestation in your hand turn 1 are pretty small, so I would replace the guide with something more useful to the deck in general.
Actually come to think of it, would think twice be worth including in this deck? The flashback is actually nice, but I don't know if it is worth it for 1 draw. Do you have any opinions on that? (Suddenly realized this as I was writing response, I have no testing to back up this theory that it might work)
Also, thank you for reminding me to put gnaw in my deck, I have been meaning to do that.
Thanks for the critique and I dont feel like your being too critical. You are right on guide btw I corrected my post although dredging does still activate him. I have considered bloodghast and I agree they do bring pressure that stitcher doesnt.
I think the main difference between my build and yours (and others ive seen) is that I have committed completely to the combo plan. This is the reason for stitcher and guide although im still looking for alternatives. Basically im trying to maximize the early pressure of vengevines and zombie tokens at the expense of the mid-late game. I may reconsider guide + zombie infestation but stitcher seems pretty optimal as a free zombie since he can untap the land used to cast him meaning less mana needed to activate VV.
Think twice might be worth including simply for the flashback, although I would then be tempted to go with street wraith for free draw 1.
How has your testing with burning inquiry been? So far ive liked it because the draw effect dumps a ton of cards into the grave and randomly hitting my opponents lands has been pretty nice to me so far. Not hitting a dredger/bridge can suck but with guide I can often reduce my hand enough that I hit most of what I want. I think this card is probably better with the 'all-in' on combo approach though since holding cards isnt really as vital, although I havent actually tested your build either.
Burning inquiry has both helped and killed me so far... so honestly I am thinking I won't include it. I am really looking to draw lands most of the time with my draw spells, and once I have dredgers out my deck just tends to play itself with help where I can find it, normally in the form of a flashed back faithless looting.
Have you considered Shambling Remains? It seems like a great way to include some extra damage in your deck. It is definitely very powerful and fast, but I am still trying to figure out if I want him in my list for sure and what I would want to take out for him.
I did look at shambling remains initially and dismissed it since it doesnt recur. My list basically trys to bank off of free interactions so I dont usually use the draw effects for any other than dredging except turn 1. I would like to include some number of bloodghasts but not quite sure how to do this without LftL except to use my draw effects to find lands. The other option I would like to include is unburial rites, which im surprised you havent fit in somewhere. Any reason why since you are trying to hit land drops anyway?
If you are looking at what to drop to fit shambling remains in I would consider 1-2 LftL honestly. You have 14 dredgers where legacy dredge only runs 11-13. Plus you only ever need 1 LftL and with the amount of people playing surgical extraction for GY hate 4 could often be exiled just as easily as 2.
This is another reason I would like to include bloodghast, to diversify my wincons, since hate could wreck our modern version far easier than the legacy breed.
I go back and forth on the idea of using unburial rites, but I guess it would actually be a good option in general. A third win con isn't a bad idea. The reason I run so many Life From The Loams is that they work so well with bloodghast, Faithless looting (requires 3 mana), and drowned ruskula. I could see taking that number down to 3, but no lower than that. So I am at a loss what else to cut for a unburial rites target, do you have any suggestions there?
Honestly not sure, both lists you have look very tight so I would say more testing is required to show you what if anything you could cut. I have updated my list above replacing the zombie infestations with 4 magus of the bazaar and the list is already performing far better. The deck absolutely needed the extra draw/discard outlets.
Dude you read my mind! Ive been testing the crab as we speak. Check my list for changes, its really starting to dial in. I must say though you were right about SS guide and burning inquiry both. Ive been much happier with mill/draw dorks. This deck is starting to look competitive now. Also I dropped down to a single stitcher for sheer utility and shenanigans because ive found thug recurrs other dorks just fine and can bring gravecrawler to top of library if I stall on zombies.
Also for alternate wins maybe 1-2 skaab ruinators.
I updated the thread a fair amount. Also, I am debating a singleton skaab ruinator since I added the hedron crabs. Now there are more creatures that are just dead in my yard if they get milled, so it might make sense to have it.
Its a really good list, but I kind of want to see if a more dedicated dredge deck is good in modern. The thing about his list is that with all his mana accelerants, he is not really on a full out dredge plan. He is more of on a plan that is like dredge or just ramp. Thats really my only issue with it.
Edited to have some more information. Shadowstalker98, thanks for the links. The first one appears to be more dredgevine like than what I am trying and the second one is too old unfortunately, but they do both contain some good cards I hadn't thought of adding. I am going to go edit those cards into the card choices section now.