Deep Analysis — Resilient Ichorid Play-by-Play

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, Nick Eisel’s article will be appearing on Friday… in its place, we’ve brought Richard Feldman’s article forward from Thursday! Today’s Deep Analysis concentrates on Extended, with exhaustive play-by-play coverage of many games featuring Ichorid against NarcoBridge and Gaea’s Might Get There. The Pro Tour is mere days away… get all the relevant tech right here!

Writing about Lorwyn-free Extended when the new set is fully unveiled feels a bit odd. On the one hand, I too want to salivate over Cryptic Command and solve Gaddock Teeg. On the other, if all any of us do is write about Lorwyn, the topic will become stale in record time. Besides, there’s only one week left until the Pro Tour turns all this Extended speculation into hindsight – which, to me, will be the really interesting part.

This week I focused in on two matchups: Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, and Ichorid versus Domain Zoo. I wanted to highlight the difference between my proposed resilient list and the speed-oriented NarcoBridge list from Karsten’s article last week, so I did a full ten games of play-by-play. I then did the same for the three matches (with boarding) against Domain Zoo, to show how a prepared sideboard can shut down a Dredge deck.

Here are the decks:

Here we go!

Ichorid vs. NarcoBridge, Game 1

Ichorid’s opener: Cephalid Coliseum, Golgari Thug, 3 Golgari Grave-Troll, Putrid Imp, Ichorid. No Black mana; throw it back. The next hand is Swamp, Watery Grave, Golgari Thug, Bridge from Below, Ichorid, Stinkweed Imp. This one has no discard outlets; send it back again. Five-carder is Polluted Delta, Swamp, Zombie Infestation, Wonder, Leyline. Not bad, for a five-card hand. Keep.

NarcoBridge’s opener: 2 Gemstone Mine, 2 Street Wraith, 2 Bridge from Below, Cephalid Sage, Chain of Vapor. Even against a known mull to five, this hand does nothing. Ship it back and see Gemstone Mine, Tireless Tribe, Breakthrough, Bridge, Narcomoeba, 2 Chain of Vapor. Better than five, certainly. Breakthrough will probably find a dredger.

Ichorid opens with Leyline and Polluted Delta.

NarcoBridge draws Dread Return and plays Gemstone Mine. This is an interesting question for the NarcoBridge player: I have Breakthrough, Chain of Vapor, and Tireless Tribe as plays here. What do I do? Obviously I have to Chain the Leyline at some point, but do I do that now or play Tireless Tribe first?

Based on Delta and Leyline alone, I don’t know what I’m up against yet, and with Gemstone Mine as my only land, I can only reliably cast three cards in my hand. I must resolve a Chain of Vapor to have a shot at this game, so I’ll play that first in response to the cracked Delta. Then next turn I’ll play either Tribe or the Breakthrough, depending on what I draw. Pass, Chain the Leyline in response to the cracking of the Delta.

Ichorid untaps and draws Bloodstained Mire. This is interesting. I now have a third land, and a shot at hardcasting the Leyline that was just bounced. However, to go for that, I cannot pitch the Leyline or any lands to Zombie Infestation. I think that’s more worthwhile than trying to get there on Zombie tokens alone; it allows me to topdeck either a land or a dredger to get back in this game. Play Swamp and Infestation; pass.

NarcoBridge draws Putrid Imp. Not much help. Now that the opponent has played ZI, I know I’m up against Ichorid, so I know I can play a recurring outlet and have it stick. This is safer than going all-in on Breakthrough, hoping I hit a dredger, and that I then dredge into more thereafter. I still might also topdeck a land next turn to let me keep a card from Breakthrough. Play Imp over Tribe, as he flies past opposing Zombie Infestation tokens.

Ichorid draws another Leyline. That’s not a land or a dredger, so I’ll just play Bloodstained Mire and pass.

NarcoBridge draws the other Tireless Tribe. I now discard Bridge from Below to give Imp flying (in case the opponent makes zombie tokens in response), then cast Breakthrough with the last Gemstone Mine counter. I draw Cephalid Sage, Dread Return, Tarnished Citadel, Breakthrough. No dredgers at all! Discard the whole hand, attack with Putrid Imp. Opponent pitches Leyline and Wonder to ZI, and blocks and trades with a token. Super-awkward. My Bridge from Below is removed before I can get a token from it, and now I have no permanents or cards in hand.

Ichorid draws Street Wraith and cycles it into Chrome Mox. Not quite a land, but I’ll take it! Next turn I get to play Leyline no matter what (well, unless I draw another Mox), and can thereafter ride ZI to victory. Pass.

NarcoBridge draws Golgari Thug and passes. Opponent cracks Mire for Watery Grave (notice how I did not crack it last turn, as I was hoping to topdeck a land) on end step.

To make a long story short, Ichorid replays the Leyline and keeps churning out Zombies. NarcoBridge bounces it for a turn, and gets a Dredge off, but it’s not enough.


Looking back, this was one of the most awkward fights I’ve ever seen between these two decks. It’s a decent example of how completely miserable both decks can be when they don’t get to dredge on turn 2. Leyline was MVP for Ichorid, obviously, and the only reason there was a game at all. NarcoBridge would have had a better shot playing Tireless Tribe over Putrid Imp, but lacking the information that the opponent happens to be (playing and) holding Wonder, it seems like the correct play is Imp because Tribe will never get any significant amount of damage in, and playing Tribe in defense mode doesn’t have much value when the opponent is digging for dredgers and therefore cannot muster much of an offense. (Narc knows Ichorid lacks dredgers because he declined to pitch any on the previous turn.) Thus, racing with Imp seemed the better play at the time. Regardless, playing Tribe and keeping it for the duration of the game would not have saved Narc in this case.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 2

NarcoBridge’s opener: City of Brass, Chrome Mox, Narcomoeba, Cephalid Sage, Street Wraith, Bridge from Below. Turn 2 Narco beats, anyone? Woo! Mulligan into a zero-lander. Boo. Ship it back for Mox, 2 Flame-Kin (boooo), Narcomoeba, Ichorid. Four is better than that dreck; finally keep Mox, Grave-Troll, Dread Return, and Street Wraith.

Ich’s opener: Bloodstained Mire, Cephalid Coliseum, Stinkweed Imp, Golgari Thug, Ichorid, Bridge, Leyline. No discard outlet, no dice. Not even against a mull to four. (Remember, this is game 1, so I don’t know what I’m playing against, and can’t keep on the strength of Leyline alone.) Ship into Polluted Delta, Overgrown Tomb, Street Wraith, Ichorid, Cabal Therapy, Stinkweed Imp. Keep.

NarcoBridge starts by cycling Street Wraith into Chrome Mox and passing.

Ich: Draw Wonder. Play Overgrown Tomb and Therapy myself for Stinkweed Imp. Cycle Street Wraith to dredge it, milling Chrome Mox, another Therapy, another Stinky, Wild Mongrel, and a Grave-Troll. Pass.

Narc: Draw City of Brass and play it.

Ich: Dredge Grave-Troll, flipping Breeding Pool, Swamp, Coliseum, Deep Analysis, Street Wraith, and Golgari Thug. Crack Delta for Island, flashback Deep Analysis, dredging Stinkweed Imp and flipping Leyline, Bridge, Delta, Mire, and Deep Analysis. Finally, dredge Golgari Thug to mill Delta, Thug, Mongrel, Coliseum. That’s two cards short of half of my deck gone on turn 2. Not bad! Pass.

Narc: Draw Flame-Kin Zealot. Still nothing to do. Pass.

Ich: Dredge Golgari Thug, milling two more Bridges, Grave-Troll, and Putrid Imp. Summon a Thug, sacrifice it to flashback Therapy on myself, naming Ichorid and putting a Street Wraith on top of my library. Get six Zombie tokens.

Narc: Draw Bridge from Below. Pass again.

Ich: Bring back Ichorid, removing a Street Wraith. Dredge Grave-Troll, seeing Mox, Grave-Troll, Ichorid, Stinkweed Imp, Grave-Troll, Mire. Beat for eight. Play another Thug, flashback the other Therapy on myself for Wonder, and get six more Zombies. On my end step, Ichorid dies and gives me another six Zombies.

Narc: Draw Careful Study. Concede to 18 power worth of Zombies and two Ichorids.


I wouldn’t normally bother with the details of a one-sided blowout where the opponent sat there like a vegetable the whole game, but I chose to walk all the way through this game because it demonstrates that Ichorid can get some very explosive draws despite being powered-down compared to NarcoBridge.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 3

Ichorid’s Opener: Chrome Mox, 3 Bridge, 2 Grave-Troll, Leyline. Can’t possibly keep that hand, folks. Ship into zero-lander. Wonderful. Ship that into Polluted Delta, Cephalid Coliseum, Putrid Imp, Golgari Thug, Bridge from Below. Beautiful! By far the best hand I’ve seen in any of these games.

NarcoBridge has Mox, Putrid Imp, Tireless Tribe, Thug, Stinkweed Imp, Bridge, Breakthrough. Good Lord, a keepable seven-card hand? Must be a full moon.

Ichorid: Play Delta for Watery Grave (I’ll need the Blue for Cephalid Coliseum later) and Putrid Imp.

NarcoBridge: Draw Dread Return. I know my Imp won’t die in this matchup, so I’ll be able to keep pitching Stinkweed for dredging purposes. As such, I imprint Thug on the Mox instead of the Dread Return. Play Mox and Imp, pass.

Ich: Upkeep, discard Thug to give Imp Flying. Dredge it, milling Wild Mongrel, Bridge, Stinkweed Imp, and Polluted Delta. Play Cephalid Coliseum, discard Thug and Bridge to get Threshold, beat for two. Opponent declines to give his own Imp flying and chump.

Narc: Upkeep, discard Stinkweed Imp and dredge it on the draw step. Flip Mox, Street Wraith, Ichorid, Tireless Tribe, and Tarnished Citadel. Pitch Stinkweed Imp and Dread Return to get up to threshold (don’t pitch Bridge yet, as it will die if the opponent hits Ichorid next turn). Beat for two, to take the opponent to 15. (I’m still at 18.)

Ich: End step, sac Coliseum to dredge Stinky, flipping Street Wraith, Ichorid, Mox, Infestation, Deep Analysis. Then dredge Thug, flipping Grave-Troll, Infestation, Thug, Mire. Finally, dredge Grave-Troll, flipping Mongrel, Grave-Troll, Mire, Coliseum, Mox, Infestation. Discard my hand, then untap, bring back Ichorid by removing Street Wraith. Dredge Grave-Troll into Putrid Imp, Island, ZI, Bridge, Leyline, Therapy. Attack for five, swinging the life totals to 15-13 in my favor. With three Bridges in my graveyard, and plenty of dredgers stacked up, flashing back Therapy with Imp here is nuts. I do so, targeting my opponent.

What do I name here? What cards am I worried about? Obviously Echoing Truth would be nuts against me, but this is game 1 – no real chance of that. Really, the worst card he could be holding that I would want to get out of his hand would be Bridge from Below; if I knock one or more of those out, and then my Ichorid dies on end step, I’ve just neutralized a dangerous threat. Name Bridge, hit one, get three Zombies. Then Ichorid dies, I get three more Zombies, and I pass with twelve power on the board and three more coming in next turn.

Narc: Dredge Stinky, seeing 2 City of Brass, Bridge, Ichorid, Bridge. Too little, too late. My threshold prevents my Imp from blocking, so I’m about to take 15 damage when my life total is 13.


This is another example of Ichorid getting a strong draw, in this case thanks to Cephalid Coliseum. There was nothing particularly wrong about NarcoBridge’s opener; it just failed to dredge into anything useful in time. I don’t think you throw that opener back just because it had only Black mana instead of Black and Blue (to enable Imp plus Breakthrough), as if there’s anything this ten-game set has shown me, it’s that NarcoBridge has no shortage of auto-mulligan, seriously-do-nothing hands.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 4

NarcoBridge’s opener: City of Brass, Tireless Tribe, Breakthrough, Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp, Street Wraith, Dread Return. This is probably a turn 2 kill, so keeping it seems wise. Heh.

Ichorid’s Opener: Overgrown Tomb and all two-drops or worse. No thanks. Ship into Watery Grave, Coliseum, Mox, Ichorid, Leyline. If I have my opponent scouted as Dredge, I totally keep this on the back of Leyline. However, I don’t, so I don’t. Keep Delta, Coliseum, Mox, Ichorid, Stinkweed Imp.

NarcoBridge starts with City of Brass, Tireless Tribe, pitch Grave-Troll, cycle Street Wraith to dredge the Troll, mill Careful Study, Sage, Tarnished Citadel, Gemstone Mine, Stinky Imp, Careful Study.

Ichorid: Draw Chrome Mox. Play Polluted Delta, pass.

NarcoBridge: Discard Grave-Troll on upkeep, dredge it, flipping Stinkweed Imp, Breakthrough, Gemstone Mine, Bridge, Wraith, and Troll. Discard Grave-Troll, then cast Breakthrough. Dredge both Grave-Trolls and both Stinkweeds; don’t find any other Trolls. Flip two Narcomoebas into play and a Flame-Kin along the way. Use them and the Tribe to flashback Dread Return (getting three Zombies) on Cephalid Sage. Dredge Grave-Troll. I have two cards left in library (neither are Bridges) when all is said and done, and I have two more Narcomoebas in play. Sacrifice them along with a Zombie to flash Dread Return on Flame-Kin, getting another eight Zombies in the process. Attack with Flame-Kin and my ten 3/3 Zombies for 33 points of damage.

I guess that was an okay turn 2. My opponent got to play a Polluted Delta this game!


This kind of draw is what all the fuss is about.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 5

Ichorid’s opener: Mox, Putrid Imp, Zombie Infestation, 2 Grave-Troll, Deep Analysis, Ichorid. This hand is borderline, but I think it’s on the keeper side. On the plus side, it has a discard outlet, two Grave-Trolls to spare (in case I’m against a Red deck that kills my Imp right away), and an Ichorid already. On the minus side, I have no Street Wraiths, and will never get to the two-mana mark to enable Deep Analysis, Wonder, or Cephalid Coliseum; I’ll be stuck on one dredge per turn to get me through this game. I don’t think that’s so terrible that I should go fishing for something better, but I will keep with the understanding that it’s not great.

NarcoBridge’s opener: City of Brass, Mox, Tireless Tribe, Careful Study, Narcomoeba, Cephalid Sage, Bridge from Below. Man, that would be nuts if it had but a single dredger… alas, it is crap instead. Throw it back for a zero-lander, go back for another zero-lander, then keep Gemstone Mine, Mox, 2 Narcomoeba.

Play Mox, removing Zombie Infestation, and Putrid Imp.

Draw City of Brass and play it.

Upkeep, discard Grave-Troll, dredge it, seeing Stinkweed Imp, Delta, Stinkweed Imp, Delta, Street Wraith, Deep Analysis. Discard the Grave-Troll to get Threshold and beat with my flying Isamaru.

Draw Chain of Vapor. Play Gemstone Mine and Narcomoeba. End step, opponent discards Ichorid.

Return Ichorid off a Street Wraith, then Dredge Grave-Troll, seeing Mire, Grave-Troll, Street Wraith, Leyline, Therapy. Beat for five, knocking opponent to 12. There’s no money in casting Therapy for Bridge here; to do so, I’d have to throw away my Imp if I wanted to RFG it with Ichorid. Plus, Bridge is not terribly threatening with the opponent having only one Narcomoeba for creatures. I like Therapy for Psychatog better here, as the opponent has played two lands so far, and Tog is one of the few creatures that could actually get him far enough back in this game to beat me. I sac Ichorid, whiff, and pass.

Draw City of Brass, play Narcomoeba, beat for one, pass.

Return Ichorid off another Street Wraith, dredge Grave-Troll into Thug, Leyline, Bridge, Ichorid, Grave-Troll, Street Wraith. If I beat with Ichorid and Imp here, the opponent will block, and I will get no Zombies because my Bridge will die right away. Alternatively, I can hold off on the attack and get a Zombie token for free on my end step.

Which is better?

The short answer is that attacking is better, and it’s not close. First, I’m dredging six every turn, I have 35 cards left in my library, and this is the first Bridge I’ve seen; I’ll find another if I need to. Second, and far more importantly, I’ve got this guy on the ropes and am attacking with two Ichorids next turn. I would love to trade my Bridge for putting him this much closer to death.

Attack with Ichorid and Imp. Opponent chumps Ichorid and drops to ten.

Opponent draws Street Wraith, concedes to inevitable death in two turns.


Okay, next time it’s a total blowout, I’ll skip the details. Promise. I only went through this one because I wanted to talk about the “attack versus get Zombies” play.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 6

NarcoBridge mulls a no-lander into Mox, Citadel, 2 Dread Return, Bridge, Sage. Mulls that into another no-lander, then keeps City of Brass, Golgari Thug, Ichorid, Dread Return. Awful lot of mulls due to no-landers…is 14 mana sources really enough?

My opener: Breeding Pool, Cephalid Coliseum, Leyline, Putrid Imp, Stinkweed Imp, Street Wraith, Cabal Therapy. Hm. Things are different because I know the opponent mulled to four, but let’s pretend he kept at seven for a second. Should I keep this? I have 13 black mana sources in my deck (about 25% chance of drawing one each draw), I’m on the draw, and I have Street Wraith. This hand is awesome if I topdeck black, or if my opponent is screwed up sufficiently by Leyline that I can get away with doing nothing for the first couple turns, but I don’t think I can reliably enough count on those things going right for me. If I were up against a fully-stocked opponent, I’d ship this, but against a mulligan to four, I have plenty of time to get going, and this hand has everything I need except black mana. I’ll keep.

I don’t immediately topdeck a Black source, but I cycle the Street Wraith into Watery Grave on the first turn. It’s not close after that.


See? I kept my promise: total blowout, no details.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 7

Ichorid’s opener: Swamp, 2 Putrid Imp, Wild Mongrel, Bridge, Ichorid, Stinkweed Imp. Keep!

NarcoBridge’s opener: Mox, Tribe, Breakthrough, Narcomoeba, Street Wraith, Bridge, Grave-Troll. Seems fine.

Ich: Lead with Swamp, Putrid Imp.

NarcoBridge: Draw Street Wraith, cycle it, hit perfectly with Gemstone Mine. Play it, and Tireless Tribe. Discard Grave-Troll and cycle the other Street Wraith to dredge it. Flip Flame-Kin Zealot, Gemstone Mine, Ichorid, Bridge, Street Wraith, Breakthrough. Discard the Grave-Troll again, play Mox imprinting Narcomoeba, and go for Breakthrough. Breakthrough hits two Stinkweed Imps and a Grave-Troll, bringing back a Narcomoeba. With three Bridges in the ‘yard, I can Dread Return the Zealot for lethal as soon as I find a third creature. Unfortunately, my last two Narcomoebas are in the bottom 23 cards of my library – otherwise this would have been a first-turn kill to the tune of 30 hasty points of damage. I have also yet to see one of my two Ichorids.

Ichorid: On my opponent’s end step, discard Stinkweed Imp, Ichorid and Bridge from Below. I untap, return Ichorid, removing Putrid Imp, and dredge Stinky. I flip three lands, then Zombie Infestation and Deep Analysis. A total dud, but that’s not what I care about this turn. What’s important here is that I do not attack. I just let my Ichorid die, net a Zombie token, and remove my opponent’s three Bridges without giving him a million free tokens. I do that, and pass.

If he had four Ichorids, he would have won on damage here, for sure, having milled over half of his library at this point. However, he doesn’t, and instead has simply no action now that I’ve removed his Bridges. We one-for-one dredge back and forth for a few turns, but as I hit a second Ichorid before he even finds his first, and as I’m cranking out a Zombie every other turn, I win this fight easily.


I’m not sure if it’s correct to go for the turn 1 kill or not. On one hand, if the other guy immediately has an Ichorid or a Cabal Therapy, I lose all my Bridges. On the other hand, I might just kill him if I go for it, and if I wait, and he Therapies my Breakthrough next turn, I lose all my explosive potential. There’s also something to be said for the possibility of dredging into one or both of the two Ichorids – which didn’t happen, but could have – and being in a decent position anyway despite losing the Bridges…Yeah, overall, I think it was correct to go for it.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 8

NarcoBridge’s Opener: Gemstone Mine, 2 Mox, Careful Study, 2 Dread Return, Flame-Kin Zealot. Ship into Gemstone Mine, Tireless Tribe, 2 Narcomoeba, Bridge, Grave-Troll. Keep!

Ichorid’s Opener: Island, Coliseum, Delta, Wild Mongrel, Thug, Street Wraith, Ichorid. Keep!

NarcoBridge leads with Mine and Tribe.

Ichorid: Draw Zombie Infestation. A-Ding! Even better than Mongrel. Play Delta and pass.

NarcoBridge: Discard Troll on upkeep and dredge it. Hit Dread Return, Flame-Kin, Bridge, Stinkweed Imp, Mox, Narcomoeba. Beat for one with Tribe, pass. Delta is cracked for Watery Grave on end step.

Ich: Draw Wonder. Play Coliseum and Zombie Infestation. Notice I have no intention of playing this Mongrel; I didn’t even fetch out Green mana. I’m going to pitch all six cards in my hand to ZI this turn, and next turn’s mana will be spent activating Coliseum. I want to go hunting for a Therapy, as the two Bridges in my opponent’s graveyard, coupled with his Dread Return and Flame-Kin Zealot, mean I really need him to not find a third creature before I get rid of his Bridges. I pitch Thug and Mongrel to ZI, cycle Street Wraith to dredge, but don’t hit the Therapy. Pass.

NarcoBridge: Discard Grave-Troll on upkeep, dredge it into Gemstone Mine, Troll, Thug, Narcomoeba, Ichorid, Bridge. Mise! Three Bridges and all four Narcomoebas in the top 18 cards! Pitch my hand, flashback Dread Return on Flame-Kin, attack for 30. Why yes, it is nice. Thanks for asking.


NarcoBridge definitely gets some very explosive starts. It’s quite consoling that the Nuts Draws have been its only wins so far, however.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 9

Ichorid’s opener: Overgrown Tomb, Island, Mongrel, 2 Stinkweed, Troll, Leyline. Sold!

NarcoBridge’s opener: 2 Gemstone Mine, 2 City of Brass, Stinkweed Imp, Grave-Troll, Breakthrough. That’s, like, half the lands in my deck! Still, this seems worth keeping; I can certainly dredge once per turn from turn one onward.

Ichorid: Leyline, Overgrown Tomb, pass.

NarcoBridge: Uhhhhh. Draw Dread Return? Play Gemstone Mine? Pass? Man, is that some good maindeck Leyline.

Ichorid: Draw a third Stinkweed. Play Island and Mongrel, pass.

NarcoBridge: Draw Chain of Vapor. A-Ding. Play Gemstone Mine and pass.

Ichorid: Upkeep, discard Grave-Troll and dredge it on the draw. Hit Thug, Wraith, Putrid Imp, Thug, Mox, Mox. Beat for three. End step, Leyline is hit by Chain.

NarcoBridge: Draw Careful Study. Runner, runner, and counting! Play it, pitch Troll and Imp, play City of Brass, and play Breakthrough for one. Hit one Narcomoeba, three Dread Returns, a Bridge, and a Flame-Kin. Keep Golgari Thug in hand. Pass.

Ichorid: Upkeep, pitch Troll again, and dredge it. See Troll, ZI, Putrid Imp, 2 Mox, land. None of these are the Therapy I need, so I get crushed next turn when he plays Thug and flashes Dread Return to beat with 21 points of hasty power.


Ichorid was fortunate to pull out the game against the (almost) turn 1 kill, and NarcoBridge was fortunate to pull out the game against the Leyline by drawing Chain and then a second discard outlet to yield a win off just the one-turn window worth of dredging. This is a classic example of how NarcoBridge can get away with playing only Chain of Vapor as an answer to things like Yixlid Jailer and Leyline – if you can cast multiple draw spells in one turn, you really can do enough dredging to just win on the spot, even though you only had one turn to do so.

Ichorid versus NarcoBridge, Game 10

NarcoBridge’s opener: City of Brass, Gemstone Mine, 2 Grave Troll, Flame-Kin Zealot, Street Wraith, Chain of Vapor. No outlets; ship for zero-lander, ship that for another zero-lander, ship that for Golgari Grave-Troll, Street Wraith, Narcomoeba, Stinkweed Imp. I like my chances with this better than I do a three-card hand; keep.

Ichorid’s opener: Watery Grave, Cephalid Coliseum Putrid Imp, Ichorid, Street Wraith, Golgari Thug, Wonder. Keep, for the love.

NarcoBridge: Cycle Street Wraith looking for a land; hit Thug instead.

Ichorid: Draw Therapy, play Watery Grave and Putrid Imp. Pitch Thug and cycle Street Wraith, dredging Leyline, Troll, Delta, Coliseum.

NarcoBridge: Draw Narcomoeba.

Ichorid: Dredge Grave-Troll, hit ZI, Stinkweed, 2 Putrid, Wraith, Ichorid. Play Cephalid Coliseum, pitch Troll and Thug, activate Coliseum, dredge into three Ichords, two Therapies, and three Bridges. I beat with Imp, pitch my hand, flashback Therapy, get three Zombies, and bring back the Ichorids to swing for 15 in the air next turn.


You know, I really want a fourth Cephalid Coliseum in here. All of my really explosive draws involve either a Coliseum or a Deep Analysis, and the former is easier to fit in. I also do not want to cut any more Black sources, as I feel they’re essential to this deck. In fact, I honestly want to replace the Breeding Pool with another Bloodstained Mire. (This makes more sense after I mention the next change.)

Besides Wonder being completely irrelevant – I would love for that to be a third Deep Analysis if it proves unnecessary against Boros-type decks – I didn’t really dislike much else about the list. Something that did not occur to me previously is that Cabal Therapy #3 and #4 would probably be better in game 1 than the two Mongrels. Therapying yourself is a surprisingly reasonable discard outlet; it doesn’t deal the opponent damage like Mongrel/Imp/ZI do, but as long as you can chain-dredge or flash it back off a Thug or Ichorid, it mitigates that downside by letting you start dredging on turn 2 instead of turn 3, and also adds some extra game against TEPS and opposing Bridges. Since he fights and deals damage on his own, Mongrel is a more useful discard outlet in the face of hate than Therapy – so I’ll just board him in.

Therefore, my changes:

+2 Cabal Therapy
+1 Cephalid Coliseum
+1 Bloodstained Mire

-2 Wild Mongrel
-1 Island
-1 Breeding Pool

Next, I want to try out the Domain Zoo matchup. That’s where I’m predicting the most gain from Wonder, and one of the matchups where I can most effectively test out the deck’s resilience to sideboard hate. (That is, after all, the whole reason I’m trying it out over NarcoBridge.)

I tested against a particularly hateful Domain Zoo build, with 2 Jotun Grunt main and 2 Armadillo Cloak main, a third Cloak in the board, and 3 Tormod’s Crypt, 3 Yixlid Jailer post-board as well. If Ichorid can break even against this, I’ll be happy.

Here’s the list.

Match 1

Ichorid’s opener: Coliseum plus all two-drops. Ship into Delta, Mox, Thug, Troll, Street Wraith, Therapy. This is fine; keep.

Zoo’s opener: Mire, Breeding Pool, Isamaru, Lavamancer, Swiftblade Gaea’s Might, Tribal Flames. Keep.

Ichorid: Delta for Watery Grave, Therapy myself for Troll, pass.

Zoo: Draw Sacred Foundry, play and crack Mire for Mountain, play Lavamancer. End step, opponent cycles Street Wraith and mills Leyline, Wraith, Leyline, Coliseum, Ichorid, Bridge. No dredgers to keep the chain going is frowns, but both Ichorid and Bridge is smiles.

Return Ichorid off Street Wraith, draw Ichorid. Play Mox, imprinting Ichorid (tear), and Thug. Sac Thug to Therapy opponent for Tribal Flames (hit), netting a Zombie and putting Street Wraith on top. Don’t attack with Ichorid; if I do that, he’ll just block with Lavamancer, take out my Bridge, and take no damage. If I decline to attack, though, I get a bonus Zombie, and my opponent has to spend his own mana to have the Lavamancer commit suicide.

Draw Armadillo Cloak. Play Sacred Foundry untapped and Isamaru. Pass, with Lavamancer mana open.

Decline to return Ichorid, as that would necessitate removing Thug. Dredge Thug, flipping Wraith, Infestation, Therapy, Delta. Play Thug, sac Therapy, targeting opponent. In response, Lavamancer commits suicide to RFG Bridge and deny me another Zombie. Name Swiftblade, and hit, obviously. Now I know about the Cloak, so I can’t attack with my two Zombies. If I do, he’ll bash back for four with Isamaru, undo the damage, and crush me in a race. I just pass back.

Draw Lightning Helix. Play Breeding Pool untapped and Cloak on Isamaru.

Dredge Thug, seeing Wraith, Bloodstained Mire, Stinkweed, Tomb. Play Thug, pass.

Draw Tribal Flames. Beat with Isamaru. Opponent can’t block, as he knows I’m holding Might. Play Might, swing life totals from 15-15 to 23-7. Tribal Flames opponent down to three, and pass.

Return Ichorid off Street Wraith, dredge Troll into Putrid Imp, Bridge, Grave-Troll, Ichorid, Stinkweed, Leyline. Die to Helix next turn.

Armadillo Cloak is crazy good against me; that, and Jotun Grunt, are Domain Zoo’s best ways to win game 1.

Zoo boards like this:

+1 Armadillo Cloak
+3 Tormod’s Crypt
+3 Yixlid Jailer

-3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
-2 Reckless Charge
-2 Lightning Helix

Ichorid’s opener: One-lander, and it’s Coliseum. Pitch for Mire, Therapy, Thug, 2 Stinkweed, Troll. This stinks, but it’s better than five. If I keep this, I only win if he doesn’t have any hate. Here’s hoping.

Opponent: 2 Wooded Foothills, Windswept Heath, Mogg Fanatic, Tormod’s Crypt, Yixlid Jailer. Keep, set, and match.

Ichorid: Mire into Swamp, Therapy myself for Stinkweed, pitch them. Get them Crypted away, do nothing of further consequence, and lose horribly.

0-2 in games, 0-1 in matches

Match 2

Ichorid’s opener: Mire, Tomb, Coliseum, Watery Grave, Therapy, Zombie Infestation, Leyline. Pitch for Mox, 2 Coliseum, Therapy, Infestation, Grave-Troll. Keep it.

Zoo’s opener: Flooded Strand, Isamaru, Mogg Fanatic, 2 Tarmogoyf, Swiftblade, Helix. As one-landers go, this one doesn’t seem worth it. Mull into 2 Heath, Isamaru, Kird Ape, Goyf, Cloak. Much better; keep.

Zoo leads with Heath into Stomping Ground and Kird Ape.

Ichorid: Draw Deep Analysis. Play Coliseum and Mox imprinting Therapy. Cast Zombie Infestation and pass.

Zoo: Draw Flooded Strand, beat with Ape. Play Heath, crack for Godless Shrine, play Isamaru. End step, opponent pitches Deep Analysis and Grave-Troll to make a Zombie.

Ichorid: Dredge Troll into Putrid Imp, Mire, Swamp, Putrid Imp, Wonder, Ichorid. Pitch Coliseum and Grave-Troll to make a Zombie, flashback Deep Analysis. Dredge Troll into Wraith, Thug, Delta, Watery Grave, Stinkweed, Coliseum. Dredge Stinkweed into Infestation, Mox, Stinkweed, Leyline, Infestation. Beat with Zombie; Isamaru blocks. Pass.

Zoo: Draw Helix. Play Strand, leave Ape on defense. End step, Troll and Stinkweed are pitched to make a Zombie.

Ichorid: Return Ichorid off Putrid Imp, Dredge Troll, seeing Delta, Bridge, Bridge, Therapy, Thug, Wraith. Doesn’t make much sense to crash two Zombies into the 2/3, so just leave Ichorid at home, let him turn into two Zombies, and pass. End step, Strand becomes Breeding Pool.

Zoo: Draw Tarmogoyf, beat with Ape. Opponent takes it. Play Goyf and pass.

Ichorid: Return Ichorid, removing another Putrid Imp. Dredge Thug, seeing Troll, Bridge, Ichorid, Putrid Imp. Summon Thug, flashback Therapy naming Tribal Flames (miss), get three Zombies, and battle with Ichorid and four Zombies. Opponent blocks a Zombie, takes nine, drops to four, and packs it in when Ichorid dies and raises another three Zombies, leaving me at ten life and with nine Zombies on the board.

That’s my kind of game 1! On to the second.

Ichorid’s opener: 2 Delta, Mire, Mox, Mongrel, Therapy, Thug. Keep.

Zoo’s opener: Foothills, Mire, Strand, Kird Ape, Fanatic, Goyf, Might. Not the most hateful draw ever, but it’s got a mix of disruption (Fanatic) and very fast damage (Goyf, Might), so I’ll keep it.

Zoo starts with Mire into Stomping Ground and Fanatic.

Ichorid: Draw Tarmogoyf. Now that I have Goyf and Thug, I can play Goyf superiority as long as I have one and he doesn’t. Change of plans. Play Mire into Overgrown Tomb and Therapy naming Goyf. Hit, and pass.

Zoo: Draw Yixlid Jailer. Play Strand into Godless Shrine and Jailer. Beat with Fanatic.

Ichorid: Draw Ichorid. Play Delta into Swamp, and Mongrel.

Zoo: Draw another Might. Play Foothills, beat with team. Opponent blocks Jailer with Mongrel. Might it up to 6/5. Mongrel pumps to kill it by discarding Ichorid, Mox, Thug. Still before damage, crack Foothills for Breeding Pool and Might again. Mongrel dies, Jailer lives.

Ichorid: Draw Therapy. Play 5/6 Tarmogoyf and Mire; pass with life totals at 14-11 in my favor.

Zoo: Draw Jotun Grunt! Play it, and Ape; pass. Opponent cracks Mire for Watery Grave on end step.

Ichorid: Draw Cephalid Coliseum. Play and activate it on myself. Draw Street Wraith, Stinkweed Imp, Polluted Delta. Discard all but Stinkweed. Can’t attack here, so just pass.

Zoo: Grunt away Ichorid and Chrome Mox, then draw Swiftblade. Beat with Grunt into 4/5 Tarmogoyf. Opponent accepts two-for-one of Fanatic and Grunt for Tarmogoyf. Play Swiftblade.

Ichorid: Draw Mongrel. Play Stinkweed Imp and pass.

Zoo: Draw Yixlid Jailer. Beat with Jailer, Ape, and Swiftblade. Opponent trades Imp for Jailer and drops to 10. Play another Jailer.

Ichorid: Draw Bloodstained Mire. Play Mongrel and pass.

Zoo: Draw the third Yixlid Jailer. Play it and pass.

Ich: Draw Polluted Delta and pass.

Zoo: Draw Wooded Foothills. Crash with team. Opponent blocks a Jailer and pitches a Mire to keep Mongrel alive, dropping to 4 on the attack.

Ich: Draw Echoing Truth, pass.

Zoo: Draw Grim Lavamancer and play it. Two turns later, opponent is fried.

I was doing fantastically well on the Goyf plan until Jotun Grunt showed up… pretty sure I’m not winning with any build of NarcoBridge against the amount of hate he drew this game. I mean, Fanatic, Jailer, Jailer, Grunt, Jailer?

On to the deciding game.

Ichorid’s opener: Mire, Delta, Tomb, Wraith, Therapy, Goyf, Ichorid. Keep.
Zoo’s opener: Mountain, Heath, Mire, Lavamancer, Swiftblade, Might, Flames. Keep.

Ichorid: Overgrown Tomb, Therapy for Tarmogoyf. Miss, pass.

Zoo: Draw Tarmogoyf (is, thanks), play Mountain and Lavamancer.

Ichorid: Draw Tarmogoyf, play it and pass.

Zoo: Draw Crypt, play Mire for Godless Shrine, Swiftblade, and Crypt.

Ichorid: Draw Grave-Troll, beat with Goyf, cycle Street Wraith after no blockers, and draw a second Wraith. Play another Goyf in second main phase.

Draw Tarmogoyf (because, in this game, that’s apparently all the draw step knows how to do), play Heath, crack it for Breeding Pool, activate Crypt on the opponent, Lavamancer the (now 0/2) Tarmogoyf, removing Crypt and Heath, beat with Swiftblade and Might it to drop the opponent to 2, with Lavamancer out and Tribal Flames in hand. Win.

1-4 games, 0-2 matches

Dredge decks are not the only ones with explosive openings. Boros Swiftblade plus Gaea’s Might looks cute on paper, but man is it ever deadly when they actually draw it.

Match 3

Ichorid’s opener: Mox, Thug, Bridge, 2 Grave-Troll, Stinkweed, Therapy. Ship into no-lander, ship into Bloodstained Mire, Cephalid Coliseum, Putrid Imp, Street Wraith, Bridge. This is extremely marginal, but I think it’s better than going to five. At least I have a discard outlet and a shot at cycling into a dredger; if I go to five, there’s not a great chance I’ll upgrade my draw to having a discard outlet and a dredger, and my hand can certainly get a lot worse.

Zoo mulls one-lander into one-lander into Mire, Strand, Stomping Ground, Might, Helix. Ew, but better than four.

Ichorid: Mire into Watery Grave; Putrid Imp.

Zoo: Draw Mogg Fanatic; play Stomping Ground and Fanatic.

Ichorid: Upkeep, opponent sacrifices Fanatic to kill Imp. In response, cycle Street Wraith and hit Ichorid. Pitch Ichorid and Bridge; get a Zombie. Draw Golgari Thug, play Coliseum and Thug.

Zoo: Draw Mountain, play Flooded Strand.

Ichorid: Draw Leyline, beat for three. End step, Strand turns into Godless Shrine tapped.

Zoo: Draw Tarmogoyf. Play Goyf and Bloodstained Mire.

Ich: Draw Leyline again. Pass. End step, Mire turns into Steam Vents.

Zoo: Draw Tarmogoyf. Play it, and Mountain. Pass.

Ich: Draw Delta. Play it and pass. End step, the Zombie eats a Helix.

Zoo: Draw Flooded Strand and pass. End step, Delta is cracked for Overgrown Tomb.

Ich: Draw Deep Analysis.

Zoo: Draw Tribal Flames. Cast it on the opponent to pump the Goyfs to 5/6s and take him to 10. Beat with both animals, pump the unblocked one with Might for exactsies.

Well, I didn’t get there. Should I have gone to five there after all? I’m still not sure; it seemed very close.

Ichorid’s opener: 2 Delta, Coliseum, Mox, Putrid Imp, Stinkweed Imp, Street Wraith. Barring Leyline, this hand is fine. I can get a Dredge in and put Stinky back in my hand before Crypt even resolves, giving me a chance to dredge into some stuff that he’ll be more interested in Crypting. If he has neither, I can just go nuts on him. Keep.

Zoo’s opener: Breeding Pool, Windswept Heath, Lavamancer, Fanatic, Tribal Flames, Might, Helix. Keep.

Ichorid: Delta into Watery Grave, Imp, pass.

Zoo: Draw Steam Vents, play it and Fanatic, shoot the Imp. In response, Stinky is pitched and dredged via Street Wraith, flipping Stinkweed, Delta, Stinkweed, ZI, Grave-Troll. Stinky is then pitched again.

Ichorid: Dredge Troll into Therapy, Coliseum, Mire, Swamp, Mox, Troll. Play Coliseum and pass. I don’t want to crack it yet, because if he surprises me with a Tormod’s Crypt, I will want to play around its activation instead.

Zoo: Draw Helix. Play Lavamancer and Heath. End step, opponent cracks Coliseum, dredges Troll into Therapy, Putrid Imp, Delta, Thug, Thug, Troll. Then dredges Troll into 2 Echoing Truth, 2 Ichorid, Mongrel, Tombstalker. Then dredges Stinkweed into Ichorid, Goyf, Mox, ZI, ZI. He pitches three Trolls.

Ichorid: Upkeep, return three Ichorids, removing Street Wraith and two Putrid Imps. Beat for nine, then flashback three Therapies to obliterate the opponent’s hand. He doesn’t topdeck Crypt or Jailer, and gets run over.

If you know the opponent is boarding out Bridges, this is a bad keep for Zoo, as it contains no actual hate cards. However, if the opponent is leaning on Bridges, it’s probably fine; Mogg Fanatic and Lavamancer are quite good at holding those off.

Moving on to the deciding game…

Ichorid’s opener: Swamp, Mox, Putrid Imp, Thug, Wraith, Goyf, Echoing Truth. Sure, keep.

Zoo mulls a one-lander into Temple Garden, Sacred Foundry, Bloodstained Mire, Jotun Grunt, Gaea’s Might, Armadillo Cloak. Cloaked Grunt? Better than five.

Zoo: Temple Garden, pass.

Ichorid: Draw Bloodstained Mire. Play Swamp and Putrid Imp.

Zoo: Draw Steam Vents. Play Bloodstained Mire and pass. End step, opponent pitches Golgari Thug and dredges it with Street Wraith, seeing Coliseum, Stinkweed, Street Wraith, Troll.

Ichorid: Dredge Troll with draw step, flipping ZI, Thug, Therapy, and three lands. In order to keep my options open, I’m going to throw down Mox imprinting Grave-Troll instead of fetching out Overgrown Tomb with Mire. That lets me keep the Mire for Watery Grave, enabling the Echoing Truth in my hand. I still have Stinkweed and Thug in my graveyard, plus another Thug in my hand for dredge outlets, which I expect to be enough. Play Mox, imprint Troll, and play Goyf. End step, Mire turns into Godless Shrine.

Zoo: Draw Grim Lavamancer. Play Steam Vents, Lavamancer, and Grunt.

Ichorid: Dredge Stinkweed, flipping Mox, Wraith, Delta, Mire, Therapy. Crack Delta for Grave, play Echoing Truth on Grunt. Pitch Stinkweed to give Imp flying, come across for six. Sacrifice Imp to flashback Therapy on Grunt.

Zoo: Draw Tormod’s Crypt. Play Cloak on Lavamancer, attack for three. Play and activate Crypt.

Ichorid: Draw Mongrel. Play him, beat for three with Goyf.

Zoo: Draw Kird Ape. Beat with Lavamancer. Opponent blocks with Mongrel and pitches Thug to pump. Cast Might on the Lavamancer, trample over for five and gain eight. Play Kird Ape and pass.

Ichorid: Dredge Thug, hitting Thug, Therapy, Tombstalker, Mox. Play Thug and pass.

Zoo: Draw Swiftblade, play it, pass.

Ichorid: Dredge Thug, flipping ZI, Mongrel, Troll, Stinkweed. Play Thug; end step, opponent shoots me with Lavamancer to go up to 23 and take me down to 9.

Zoo: Draw Gaea’s Might. Attack with the team. Opponent blocks Lavamancer with Goyf and Swiftblade with Thug. Might the Lavamancer, Trample over Goyf for 2 and drop him to 5 with the Kird Ape. Dead Thug puts Goyf back on top.

Ichorid: Draw Goyf, play it, pass.

Zoo: Draw Bloodstained Mire. Pass.

Ichorid: Dredge Stinkweed, flipping Putrid Imp, Stinkweed, ZI, Stinkweed, Tomb. Beat with 5/6 Goyf, opponent activates Lavamancers, removing the game’s only Instant, and gets me with Drain Life for 2, putting the totals at 21-5 in his favor.

Zoo: Draw Tribal Flames. Dome opponent for 5, then activate Lavamancer to finish him off.

2-6 games, 0-3 matches

What a beating.

It’s tough to say if I’m back to the drawing board on this or not. On one hand, I was up against a sufficiently hateful build of Zoo that I could expect to lose with any dredge approach… on the other hand, I hardly did any winning at all, despite my added resilience.

Was it worth it, then? Perhaps not, but the numbers against the NarcoBridge make an interesting case for playing Ichorid just for the sake of beating the Best Deck. Not what I expected (I thought these two matchups would go the other way around), but not promising, overall, either.

In any case, I’m out of time. I’d love to do some more analysis, but Craig needs my article early due to an emergency, so we’ll see what next week brings.

Until then!

Richard Feldman
Team :S
[email protected]