sf106_lastWord

Hope Eternal—Last Word: Cheat Sheet for DC

The Maaaaaaaaaaiiiiiin Event of 2013 is upon us, Legacy brothers and sisters. It’s the last Legacy Grand Prix on this side of the Atlantic, before it comes back next fall, to my home state. To help everyone out, I’ve decided to put together a cheat sheet for ten of the most popular decks in the meta. I will go through each archetype’s early giveaways (how to identify this archetype, having seen as few cards as possible), how they win, and other key things to watch out for. I’m sure that many of you reading this will be in attendance. Or maybe you’ll be playing Legacy somewhere else. Maybe this cheat sheet can help you out at the next SCG event you attend. Or maybe you can use it to help you 4-0 a Legacy Dai—oh wait, never mind. (too soon?)

RUG Delver

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Tropical Island, Volcanic Island, or any fetch that can get either of those. They obviously also have Wasteland, but you are probably not dealing with a very good RUG Delver player if they led off with turn one Wasteland.
  • Possible turn one plays: Delver of Secrets, Nimble Mongoose, Brainstorm, Ponder, Lightning Bolt. They are most likely to lead with a creature, if anything. They may go for a cantrip on turn one if they have no other plays or only have a single land, though I would usually read a turn one Volcanic Island into a cantrip as some sort of combo deck.
  • If they don’t have a Delver or ‘goose, they will usually pass the turn with their land untapped. If it is a fetch, they won’t even crack it. If you see this happen, do not have high hopes of resolving anything on turn one.

How You Die

  • Creature Beats: Delver, Mongoose, and Tarmogoyf are all among the most efficient beaters in the format. They also sometimes have access to Lavamancer and/or Pyromancer in their 75.
  • Burn to the dome: RUG Delver typically packs four Lightning Bolts, along with one or two of Chain Lightning, Forked Bolt, and/or Fire//Ice. They will typically start pointing these at your face as mana permits, either as soon as they know you aren’t going to have any creatures worth bolting, or when you fall to around 10 life.
  • Sometimes they will board into Sulfuric Vortex!

What to Watch for

  • Taxing counters. Be wary of Spell Pierce and Daze. Also, be mindful that a good RUG player will often cut some number of Dazes on the draw. Be even more mindful that a friend of mine once lost to a RUG player by not playing around Daze and walking into it when the RUG player was on the draw; the RUG player later told him that he kept them in, because “you seemed like a good player and I figured you would know that I was cutting my Dazes on the draw, but since this is a bad matchup, I figured I needed to keep them in and catch you off-guard with it to win.” Make of that what you will.
  • Stifle. Try to play around this card, when possible. Usually, it’s correct to hold off on cracking your fetches unless you need them, especially if you play a deck with Brainstorm or other topdeck manipulation, but against RUG, if you see them tap out, crack all your fetches. And do fetch basics if it isn’t horribly detrimental to your game plan.
  • Most of you already know this, but they play Force of Will (duhh).

Sneak and Show

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Island, Volcanic, or a blue fetch. They run Sol Lands, as well, but it is unlikely for them to lead off with that. Well.. unless.. refer to the next bullet point.
  • Possible turn one plays: expect a turn one cantrip. This deck usually runs the full cartel: Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, and the honorary member, Gitaxian Probe. They also typically run Lotus Petals, which they may play immediately, as they are not concerned with holding them for the going-off turn to increase the storm count. Also, remember those Sol Lands that I said they wouldn’t play on turn one? Well they might if they also have a Petal and Show and Tell.
  • With all of the cantrips that this deck runs, it’s pretty unlikely for them to not cast one on the first turn to start sculpting that perfect hand.

How You Die

  • Show and Tell. Usually, this will deploy one of the deck’s two fatties, Emrakul or Griselbrand, though it is sometimes used to play
  • Sneak Attack. This will also deploy fatties. If they drop Griselbrand, he will usually be able to find Emrakul so that both can smash you at the same time. If they don’t have another red source for Emrakul, don’t let that make you feel safe; they will likely find a Petal (or Simian Spirit Guide, if you were hoping to counter the Petal).
  • Griselbrand. Yes, he can smash your face, but his other purpose is to allow them to draw up all the resources that they need to go off again. He will also almost assuredly find the Sneak and Show player a piece of protection or two.

Watch to Watch for

  • Are they tapped out? Don’t let that make you feel safe. They typically run around EIGHT free counters (Huey likes a 2/4/2 split on Daze/Force/Misdirection).
  • Hoping to load up on permission in game two? While I see that Huey didn’t play them in his last list, they often bring in Defense Grid.
  • Blood Moon! This deck plays red, along with a healthy count of basics. That sets them up well to Moon you in sideboarded games. They are also capable of slamming it on turn one off of a Sol Land and Petal.

Shardless BUG

Early Tells

  • First land drop: they play copies of all of the BUG-colored duals and fetches, as well as a few basics. Creeping Tar Pit is also possible. Green is the least important color for them to have on turn one.
  • Possible turn one plays: one-mana discard, suspend Ancestral Vision. If they Brainstorm on turn one, they’re probably desperate, so it wouldn’t be terrible to Daze/Pierce it if you can.

How You Die

  • Creature Beats: Shardless Agent, Baleful Strix, ‘goyf, and Deathrite make up the classic core of creatures in this deck. The newly printed True-Name Nemesis is also sometimes showing up in these lists. A friend of mine who played the Nemesis opted to cut two ‘goyfs and both Strixes for a playset of the new fish. For added late game reach, the deck also has Deathrite’s drain and the unblockable Tar Pit.
  • Jace: Better than all.
  • Liliana of the Veil. She can’t actually kill you, but she can leave you dead, inside. If you let her stick around, one of the above two will kill you.

What to Watch for

  • Shardless Agent cascading into.. well.. anything, but if he cascades into Ancestral Vision, it’s really bad. Be mindful that you may have to deal with a busted cascade in your near future, if they’re casting Brainstorm.
  • Not every build is alike, but be forewarned that the Lejay version, which I consider to be the strongest, runs FOUR Lilianas. Have some sort of plan for her.
  • They aren’t really a tricksie deck with nasty surprises. It’s pretty straightforward. Just try not to get buried in card advantage.

Reanimator

Early Tells

  • First land drop: UB lands or a fetch that gets one. I have also recently seen a version that splashes red, but you would be correct to not put your opponent on Reanimator on a turn one Volc.
  • Possible turn one plays: they might just go off. This deck is very explosive. One mana plays include Entomb, Careful Study, Reanimate (though they need to do something else before they can Reanimate), discard, and various cantrips. They also play Lotus Petal.

How You Die

  • Put fatty in graveyard, bring fatty back to life. Simple, right? Griselbrand is usually the weapon of choice, as he can draw them into a way to protect him and/or the ability to go off again. They have a handful of other various fatties that they play. Some of them include Iona, Jin-Gitaxias, Ashen Rider, Elesh Norn, Tidespout Tyrant, and a few other fringe players.
  • Show and Tell was once the sideboard plan for Reanimator, but nowadays, you see two or three in the main, with more in the board. Just because you drew RiP in your opener doesn’t mean you’re safe.

What to Watch for

  • Like Sneak and Show, this deck plays a large number of free counters.
  • This is more like a piece of advice than something specific to watch for, but you are generally better off countering or making them discard their means of putting a fatty into the yard than their means of getting the fatty out of the yard.

UWR Delver

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Tundra, Volcanic Island, or any fetch that can get either of those. RUG Delver, but with white instead of green.
  • Possible turn one plays: see RUG Delver, but replace Mongoose with Lavamancer. They also have Swords to Plowshare.
  • Like their RUG cousin, there is a good chance they have a counter and/or Stifle if they’re passing with an untapped land.

How You Die

  • Creature Beats: Delver, Stoneforge (and germ!), and Geist are the main beaters.. well, okay, Stoneforge isn’t REALLY a beater, but she can be if she wields a weapon. Lavamancer’s not here for the beats, but he does turn sideways to help make you and your dudes dead. Some versions of this deck are also running True-Name Nemesis, as this deck has a slightly higher curve than RUG.
  • Burn to the dome: See RUG Delver. Except they only play the bolts; none of the other nonsense.

What to Watch for

  • Taxing counters. See RUG Delver.
  • Stifle. See RUG Delver. (noticing a trend, here?) They usually play three, rather than the full playset, so it comes up slightly less often than in the RUG matchup. Three is still a lot, though, so play accordingly.
  • You know how I kept saying “See RUG Delver?” Well do be aware that this archetype has a bit more late game thanks to Batterskull, the gift that keeps on giving.

Elves

Early Tells

  • First land drop: a green-producing land or fetch. They will almost always splash black for Abrupt Decay and discard out of the board. White is often splashed for certain sideboard cards, such as Teeg and/or Pridemage. I’ve even seen blue splashed, before, for Beck.
  • Possible turn one plays: Elves. Lots and lots of Elves (and Symbiote). No, but seriously, this shouldn’t be a difficult deck to read. Aside from Deathrite and Dryad Arbor, which appear in a multitude of decks, every other creature in their list is a dead giveaway as to what they are playing.

How You Die

  • Glimpse combo: Elves has two big combos that can kill you individually or that can intertwine to kill you. The first involves Glimpse of Nature. Glimpse can allow them to flood the board VERY quickly, while keeping their grip full. Thanks to Heritage Druid, these summoning sick creatures can all be utilized for mana. The untap abilities of Nettle Sentinal, Quirion Ranger, and Symbiote also do their part to fuel this card-drawing, mana-generating engine.
  • Fatty Kill: The second part of their combo, which can often be executed without going through the first part, involves bringing a fatty into play. This can either happen by generating a ton of mana and casting a large Green Sun’s Zenith, or by using Natural Order. The fatty of choice is usually a lethal Craterhoof, but I have also seen Ruric Thar, Progenitus, and Regal Force used.
  • The beatdown plan. Sometimes they just kill you by turning lots of 1/1s sideways.

What to Watch for

  • Wirewood Symbiote. Eliminate them with extreme prejudice. Not only is this creature important for them to go off, but it will also make all of your spot removal useless against Elves. Not to mention that it does a lot of work with Visionary.
  • Gaea’s Cradle. You might think you’re safe, but they can suddenly explode for a ton of mana out of nowhere.

Ad Nauseum Tendrils

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Grixis-colored duals, Gemstone Mine, fetch. Mine is a dead giveaway that you’re up against some flavor of storm.
  • Possible turn one plays: usually just a cantrip. Discard is possible, but they will usually save it for either the turn they are going off or the turn before that. They play LEDs and Petals, but they will save these for the turn they are going off to generate more storm count.

How You Die

  • Tendrils is always the kill. They have three main ways to generate a lethal storm count. The first is by just playing out everything in their hand and then casting an Infernal Tutor for Tendrils to win. You’ve probably had to do a bit of damage to yourself, already, for this to work.
  • Past in Flames. Tutor with at least five mana available to get PiF. Flashback enough to generate a lethal storm count and six mana. Use two to recast tutor. Get Tendrils.
  • Ad Nauseum. Tutor with at least five mana available and enough life to draw enough cards to win. Sometimes you win by them blowing themselves up if they go this route.

What to Watch for

  • You will bring in some form of disruption. Expect them to have reliable ways to interact with it, whether it be through Abrupt Decay, more discard, Surgical Extraction, or a whole host of other cards.

OG Stoneblade (Esper, UW)

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Esper-colored duals, basics, or fetches.
  • Possible turn one plays: one-mana discard, Swords to Plowshare. They could also Brainstorm, but it’s not ideal to be casting that on turn one.

How You Die

  • Creature beats: Stoneforge and Snapcaster are the two givens, then there is room for personal flare. Some like to use legends like Clique and Venser (along with Karakas to accompany them). Some like manlands like Factory, or Mutavault. If Mutavault is the choice, then Spellstutter Sprite could make an appearance. This deck hasn’t been a major player for awhile, but I decided to include it because…
  • True-Name Nemesis. The Stoneblade decks of yesteryear, before we had newfangled Deathblade, might be the best new home for True-Name. Can we call this Esper True Blade? He just carries equipment SO well.
  • Jace: Better than all.

What to Watch for

  • True Name carrying a stick. Seriously, it’s scary!

Omni-Tell

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Island or blue fetch. They may also use a Sol Land if they’re going to try to go off on turn one.
  • Possible turn one plays: see Sneak and Show.

How You Die

  • Show and Tell. Rather than dropping a fatty like Sneak, Omni will drop in an enchantment that lets them Enter the Infinite for free. Or they will drop their one Emrakul.
  • Hard-cast Dream Halls. From here, they can either just enter, or drop an Omni and eventually find Enter.
  • Once they’ve drawn their library, they will release an infinite number of ants on you (or, you know, twenty). Some versions kill you with Lab Maniac, instead, though I think that version is worse due to the fact that it requires more sideboard space.

What to Watch for

  • Watch out for all of the things I mentioned in Sneak and Show (except Moon).
  • D-Sphere/O-Ring/Venser effects are not as good in this matchup due to their ability to wish for Trickbind. I’d still side them in, but just be aware that it might not be as effective as you hoped.

Jund

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Jund-colored duals, basics, or fetches. Or Grove of the Burnwillows.
  • Possible turn one plays: Deathrite, one-mana discard, Bolt.

How You Die

  • Creature beats: Jund is good at smashing you in the face. Bloodbraid, Bob, and ‘Goyf will all gleefully beat up on you. Deathrite will drain you.
  • Burn: in addition to Bolts, Jund usually plays the Grove/P.Fire package. It’s slow, but it will eventually grind you out.. after it’s left you with zero creatures.
  • Liliana: just because I hate her, but she doesn’t ACTUALLY kill you.

What to Watch for

  • If there is one creature that you MUST kill on site, it’s Bob. Try to save removal for him. If they make you discard removal, it is likely that they are going to try to stick a Bob.
  • Sylvan Library can act as a green Jace. If you are a control deck or a kill-you-in-one-turn combo deck, they will freely get to draw lots of cards with this.

Death and Taxes

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Plains, Horizon Canopy, Karakas, or Cavern are the most likely candidates. Horizon Canopy could also indicate some flavor of Maverick, but starting out with basic Plains or Karakas USUALLY indicates Death and Taxes (it could be Miracles, but they usually aren’t going to keep a hand like that unless they also have Top). In rare cases, they may lead off with Wasteland or Port if they have a turn one play of…
  • Possible turn one plays: Vial! The only other turn one plays in the deck are Mom and Swords to Plowshares. Also, be aware that if they lead off with Port into Vial, they could also be on Goblins. If they lead off with Waste into Vial, add fish into the mix, though they are the least likely Vial deck to lead off with a colorless land (more on that later).

How You Die

  • Creature beats: you could get beaten down by an ensemble of two-power creatures, with Mirran Crusader doing a lot of the heavy lifting (talk about a nice Jitte-carrier!), but the Stoneforge package also lets them drop Batterskull, the ultimate racing machine, onto the battlefield.
  • Lockdown. Death and Taxes originally focused more on being a white weenie deck that was annoying to play against, but the way that Ari Lax’s Legacy Championship-winning build is constructed, it’s more about just completely preventing you from playing a real game of Magic. With eight lands worth of mana-denial, and the quad-Thalia package, it can quickly become difficult for an opposing deck to play any spells. Quad-Revokers will shut down anything troublesome like Top, Sneak, Jace, Deathrite, etc. If you are a control or combo deck, it’s very possible to stare in horror as 2-3 power worth of little white men (or ladies) chip away at your life total while you remain powerless to stop them.

Watch to Watch for

  • Mangara and Karakas. In conjunction, this pair can exile one of your permanents (including your manabase) every turn!
  • Mom. Kill her on site if possible or you will have a nigh-impossible time dealing with anything they play for the rest of the game (outside of sweepers). Do NOT let them untap with her if you can avoid it.. well, unless you’re a goldfish deck that doesn’t particularly care.
  • Shenanigans via Vial and flash. Aven Mindcensor has flash. Don’t crack your fetch if you are staring at three untapped mana or a Vial on three. Also be mindful of Flickerwisp or Fiendhunter coming in off a Vial on three and ruining your day. In fact, just watch out in general if Vial is on three, because it can do a lot of nasty things.

Goblins

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Mountain, Cavern, a red dual for whatever their splash color may be (Plateau is usually a big giveaway since white is most common), or a red fetch. Like D&T, they may lead with one of their mana-denial lands if they have the vial, but that’s usually not the best seven card keep.
  • Possible turn one plays: Vial or Lackey, that’s really what it’s all about. Ok, fine, there’s also Skirk Prospector. Bottom line is, if you see a goblin or a red land and a vial, you know what you’re dealing with. Note that the one exception to this rule is one of the best goblins ever printed, the Guide; he is not played in this deck and if you see him, you are dealing with Burn, not Goblins.

How You Die

  • The fast kill. This typically goes something like turn one Lackey, turn two Piledriver plus something else off of Lackey’s trigger (they have a large number of cards that the “something else” could be that will put you in a world of hurt), then Piledriver starts smashing you for a billion (not an exaggeration). Also, keep in mind that they have EIGHT mana-denial lands to back this up.
  • Getting swarmed and buried in card advantage. Ringleader typically lets them “draw” 2-4 cards when he enters the battlefield. Matron finds Ringleaders at will.
  • Reach. Sometimes you may think you’re safe behind a clogged board state or a Moat, but Tarfire and Siege-Gang Commander can go straight to your dome.

Watch to Watch for

  • Some versions (in my opinion, the best versions) also run Thalia. You probably won’t be able to counter her thanks to Vial or Caverns, so you’re going to have to be able to deal with her.
  • Remember that Gempalm is a combination cantrip removal spell that you can’t counter (unless you have Stifle).

Merfolk

Early Tells

  • First land drop: Island or a blue fetch. They also run Wasteland and Mutavault, but there is going to have to be a very good reason for them to lead off with either of them, as the Island is important for them to be able to represent Daze.
  • Possible turn one plays: Vial or Cursecatcher. They may also have some countermagic for your turn like the aforementioned Daze or Force.

How You Die

  • Creature beats with exponentially growing power on the board. Most of the creatures in this deck pump each other, so playing a measly 2/2 adds AT LEAST four power to the board (and often MUCH more).
  • Islandwalk. Blue is the most popular color in Legacy, so the fact that eight of their lords make all of their other creatures unblockable in lots of matchups is relevant.
  • TRUE-NAME!!! This is the guy that really put this deck back on the map. Was it really necessary to also make him a Merfolk? The fact that he is baby Progenitus and blue weren’t strong enough? They had to also let him get pumped by all the fishlords too!

Watch to Watch for

  • Vial Vial Vial. Because of all of the lords in this deck, the on board power can grow shockingly fast. You may think you’re safe as you pass the turn, but they may flash in a lord on your end step, then flash in another one mid-combat, and suddenly, they went from a measly four power on board to 16.
  • More Vial trickery.. or Vialry. A Vial on one may represent Cursecatcher. If it’s vital for a spell to resolve, play around that as you would any other taxing counter.
  • Not playing a blue deck? Think you can block? I’m not entirely sure how common this piece of technology is, but some versions will run Aquitect’s Will. Because Island is the best card in Magic, and EVERYONE should get to have one!

Miracles

Early Tells

  • I’m just going to keep this one a secret in case you get paired against me, so I don’t help you figure out how to beat me.
  • *maniacal laughter*
  • What? That’s not acceptable? Fiiiiiiine, fiiiine.
  • First land drop: in order of likeliness (that I would be to play them) blue or white fetch, Island, Tundra, Volcanic Island, Plains, Karakas, Mystic Gate. I generally would not lead off with any of the latter three unless I have a Top. One of the key characteristics to identify my deck in the early going is multiple Islands and or Plains, as Miracles tends to run a lot of basics.
  • Possible turn one plays: the only absolutely correct turn one play is Top or hold up mana. If I Brainstorm, that usually means I am desperate, so you should probably go ahead and counter that if you can, because you will put me in a VERY bad spot. The same often (but not as often) holds true if I lead off with a non-blue land and attempt to cast Top. If I pass without doing anything other than playing my land, I am likely a mystery to you, but I may be holding up Pierce, Force, Swords, or Flusterstorm.

How You Die

  • Legendary beats: the version I like to play, Joe Lossett’s build, runs five legends in the 75 (Cliques and Venser). These flash creatures have very powerful ETB triggers that can be reused again and again thanks to Karakas.
  • Jace. Relax guys, I won’t link the song again. But he is still better than all!
  • The heavens open up and God (don’t worry Matt, I’m still an atheist, but proper grammar dictates a capitalization in this context, regardless of my beliefs) takes a steaming dump of angels on your face. I used to not be huge on this card and actually only run one, but I love it, now, and find myself siding into the third copy against EVERY fair deck. Most decks can’t deal with an Entreat for three or more, especially on their end step.
  • Not being able to resolve anything, ever. CounterTop is tough to deal with. There are clever ways around it, like casting Green Sun for way more than you need to, or doing something similar with Explosives (remember, sunburst and X don’t have to be the same number).
  • Combo kill. I no longer play this version of the deck, but you can lose out of nowhere to RIP and Helm. Instant speed enchantment removal is good for this (like Abrupt Decay). The combo kill versions will also often run Energy Field to create a soft lock.

What to Watch for

  • DON’T OVERCOMMIT TO THE BOARD! No, seriously, don’t. I run six sweepers in my 75 if you count explosives. Four of them can be cast at instant speed for a single mana. One of them cannot be countered (and pitches to Force, ohhh yeaaah). Please, sandbag some dudes if you want to win.
  • Maindeck RIP. Many versions pack this powerful piece of hate in the maindeck, just because it incidentally hoses so many commonly played cards (like ‘goyf, Deathrite, and Mongoose).
  • Maindeck Blood Moon. I think this has fallen out of favor, but some versions still like it.
  • Venser and Karakas. Not as brutal as Mangara and Karakas, but still a beating.
  • E-Tutor package out of the board.

‘Belcher

Early Tells

  • First land drop: trick question! Well, sort of. they play one Taiga, and they have four copies of Land Grant to find it, though they don’t necessarily need to play to make other plays.
  • Possible turn one plays: Kill you. I’m not even kidding. This is probably more appropriate in the “How you die” section. But individual cards that they can play include various free mana sources such as Spirit Guides, Petals, LEDs, Chrome Mox, the aforementioned Land Grant. They also have rituals and Tinder Wall for more mana. In post-board games, Xantid Swarm might be a turn one play to allow themselves to go off without you bothering them with silly countermagic.
  • A somewhat significant early tell is if they take an inordinate amount of time to resolve their mulligan. While many combo decks will often take some time to grapple with the mulligan decision, ‘Belcher is the deck where this is far and away the most important decision they will make in the game.

How You Die

  • Goblin Charbelcher: they vomit out their entire hand worth of mana sources, cast this, and shoot it at you. The important facts are that it takes seven mana to kill you, but they don’t have to do it all in one turn. If three of their sources are sticking around (Mox, extra Petals, Taiga) or if they have three or more cards in hand, it’s very probably that you are getting fired at on the second turn.
  • Empty the Warrens: You’ve got a Force of Will in hand. You’re feeling pretty good about your chances of stopping the Charbelcher, then all of a sudden, they look at the last card in their hand and look at you and say, “Storm count six,” and before you know it, fourteen goblin tokens are about to come down, and your Force can only stop two of them. The right way to play this is to use the Force on the last ritual that would put them below four mana. In other words, if they have five mana floating and they use three of it to try to cast Seething Song, you may be better off countering the Song than waiting for their next play.

What to Watch for

  • You know their namesake win-condition? Here’s a mistake that I made the first time I played against ‘Belcher that I don’t want to see you make. When they flip over their whole deck, at least have a look through it before acknowledging that you’re dead so you can see what their exact configuration is, especially if it’s game two so that you can see what sort of hate and/or protection they brought in against you.
  • Reverent Silence. It’s pretty much their only answer to many of the hate cards in the format, and they are capable of Wishing for it.

Some more, due to the convergence of popular demand and my lack of a life!

Dredge (Both Versions! Two for the Price of One!!!)

Early Tells

  • First land drop: LED Dredge, the more powerful of the two, in my opinion, typically plays three different lands, Cephalid Coliseum, City of Brass, and Gemstone Mine, so they will likely lead off with one of those, as you can’t be too picky with only twelve lands in your deck. Can you guess what land Manaless (HINT!) Dredge leads off with? Very good, class (I don’t know if you actually got this question right, but I sure hope you did).
  • Possible turn one plays: LED Dredge wants a discard outlet, right from the get-go. It might be Putrid Imp, it might be Breakthrough. They may lead off with Faithless Looting or Careful Study. They could even lead off with LED, crack it for red, discard a non-zero number of dredgers and a Faithless Looting, then use the mana to flashback the Looting to start dredging. If they really need to discard something, they could even Cabal Therapy themselves. They have a lot of different lines they can take. Especially compared to Manaless Dredge, where turn one is always draw, move to cleanup, discard.
  • Other major early tell: If they win the die roll, Manaless Dredge will choose to be on the draw. I probably far too often make the awful joke, when my opponent says that they will be on the play, of, “Well I guess that means you’re not playing Manaless Dredge.”

How You Die

  • By not playing any graveyard hate.
  • Oh, you wanted more than that? Ok, let me elaborate…
  • Creature beats: Ichorids, and zombies, and 1/1s, oh my! Once they get a Bridge from Below in the yard, they can start generating a zombie every time Ichorid goes back to where he came from at EOT. Once they have multiple Bridges, you can get overrun rather quickly. There’s also Narcomoeba, who can peck at your life total, and act as a combination of flashback fuel and zombie fuel when used in conjunction with an active Bridge and a Therapy or Dread Return in the yard. Speaking of Dread Return, if there was ever a MUST-counter spell in this deck…
  • Dread Return kill: the combo kill of choice in both versions of Dredge involves Returning a fatty. In Manaless, it really feels combo-y; the plan is to Dread Return a Balustrade Spy to mill your entire library. Then you use a Return that you just milled to get back Flayer of the Hatebound. And then, you use another Return to get back a lethal Golgari Grave-Troll. LED Dredge sometimes uses a similar plan of Flayer into Grave-Troll, but they also can play a more traditional Reanimator target (refer back to the section on Reanimator).

What to Watch for

  • LED Dredge plays the more robust anti-hate cards. Manaless often scoops to something like Leyline of the Void or RIP. Still, though, graveyard hate is incredibly strong in this matchup. When someone brings Dredge to a tournament, they are basically banking on Legacy being diverse enough that people couldn’t afford to pack TOO much hate in their boards. Don’t hesitate to mulligan to your hate, especially if you’re up a game.
  • One thing that I do often see players miss is opportunities to get rid of a Bridge (or multiple Bridges). Always remind yourself that if one of your creatures dies, so does Bridge. Bolting your own Delver might be correct at times. And flash creatures are fantastic for this, because they often won’t see it coming.. well.. you know, as long as you didn’t let them Therapy it away. Just be wary of having them cast Contagion on your Clique, because Manaless plays that out of the board.
  • I honestly don’t have too much good advice to others on how to play this matchup, because I kind of just shrug on account of the fact that I play maindeck RIP.

 

“Evil” Tim Akpinar is one of Brooklyn’s finest durdlers. If there’s a top-tier control deck in the meta, you can bet he’s spent a minute taking it apart to see what makes it tick. If it wraths and draws cards, “Evil” Tim Akpinar approves. You can find Tim on Twitter/Twitch @efil4zaknupome or on MODO under the username ziggy_stardust. 

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