Shredder v2.0 – More Rock than Domain

The Innovator Patrick Chapin updates his powerful Shredder.dec, an Extended offering that has positive matchups against the majority of the field – especially that ornery Friggorid. Last time, the deck felt more Necro than Prison… this time, it feels more Rock than Domain. This article is packed with dedicated matchup strategy and explicit sideboarding advice… could Shredder v2.0 be the deck for you?

Not long ago, I wrote about an Extended deck I am particularly fond

of, Shredder.dec. It is essentially a board control deck

fueled by the insanity that is Life from the Loam (that

classy dredge card). It is loosely based on Mike

Flores’ Terrible Undead Gladiator deck from the last

Extended pro tour.

The last build I discussed also featured Burning Wish (as

opposed to its namesake, Shred Memory) and Collective

Restraint (in an effort to ruin its own manabase). The

Collective Restraint experiment worked reasonably well;

through the mana issues were annoying. Putting all of your

eggs in the Restraint basket is also suspect in the big


While I think that was a fine direction to take the deck,

I was inspired by a number of readers to return to my roots.

After spending two and a half days putting together my family

tree, it hit me: they meant play Shred Memory as my tutor.

While Shred is one mana more as a tutor for Life from the

Loam (or whatever), it only costs two colors out of the deck.

The Red was only for Wish. The Blue was only for Restraints

(my anti-Friggorid tech). In theory, Shred Memory fills both

roles. This deck will probably live or die whether or not

Shred is enough to keep up with Friggorid.

Seeing that the deck would need a heavier Black element

for Shred, I decided to scale down the White. The Monastery

is too key to give up, the White sideboard cards are saucy,

and the mana is easy, so I didn’t cut it completely.

A G/B/W deck, eh? Where have I played these colors

before? With Duress, Elder, Witness and Deed, I was already

halfway there. Why not try a Shredder-Rock Hybrid?

The main difference between the list I started with and

the list I ended with were:

Cabal Therapy became Cranial Extraction.

I don’t have nearly enough men to utilize Therapy

well. It has the upside of costing one, whereas Cranial costs

four. However, its downside is that it often does nothing,

whereas Cranial often wins the game. (“What do you

expect for 4 mana?” —Zvi)

The matches where Cranial is dead, Cabal is basically

dead too, since I rarely flash it back. However, when Cabal

is good, Cranial is incredible. This also frees a lot of

sideboard space. Unlike The Burning Wish build, I plan to

make the most out of this sideboard.

I added more White mana to support this sideboard I speak


A couple of Putrefies became Dark Heart of the Woods

(think about it…) and the fourth Shred.

Let me go ahead and show you what we’re looking at


The similarities to the Rock are obvious, but the play

feels far more like control Necro, complete with Consult and

Disk. Generally, you are the control deck no matter what

your opponent is playing. The only question: is he aggro

or combo? Affinity, Friggorid, Zoo, and Rock are all aggro,

whereas Tog, Heartbeat, No Stick, The CAL, and decks with

Terravore are combo.

Rather than go through a game-by-game breakdown,

I’m going to take a look at some match-ups in general,

basic sideboarding plans, and strategic maneuvers. I did test

quite a few games, as well as a bit of the old “play

testing in my head” (I will point out instances where I

am suggesting untested theory).

Due to the sheer volume of decks and my desire to explore

sideboarding, I could not play every match as extensively as

I would like. I did play 70-plus games, as so, yielding much

useful information.

First up, Friggorid, a.k.a. The Bad Guy. I was only

mildly pleased with the 40%. The old Shredder posted and

hoped to be closer to 50%. Played ten games… Shredder

won seven(!)… And that was before

Therapies became Cranials. Shred Memory is amazing versus

them. If they aren’t dredging, they aren’t

winning, and Shred Memory is remarkable for this.

I only transmuted it once, and that was to set up the

Dark Heart of the Wood and Life From The Loam combo.

Shredder’s ability to dredge (LFL) into a Shred,

then Eternal Witness it gives it a very powerful and

deceptive amount of library manipulation.

The games generally involve Green dorks blocking, Black

removal stalling, Loam to get ahead, and Shred to make sure

Friggorid can’t. Cranial works as a Shred. Remember, it

can name Golgari-Grave Troll too, though Ichorid is usually


Seventeen cyclers and land tutors allow Shredder to race

through his deck to relevant action (which is important in

all match-ups). When combined with Loam and Shred itself,

this makes the deck 42% library manipulation (48% counting

witnesses). The longer the game goes, the leaner and meaner

Shredder will be, and with a juicy graveyard to use as a


Sideboarding was interesting. My sideboard initially

contained 4 Leyline of the Void, but after testing, I dropped

to two, then one. I would like to go back up to two or three

on principle, but the sideboard is so tight.

Between Shred, Cranial, Leyline, and Wretch, Friggorid

has a very difficult game and little hope of dredging. As

long as you don’t lose to random zombie beats, you

should easily destroy them (Calls and Deeds).

I suggest:

– 4 Duress
+ Cranial Extraction, +1 Leyline of the Void, + Withered

Wretch, +1 Nostalgic Dreams

Simply replace worthless discard with insane graveyard


Wow, this was a good start. I can confidently

say Shredder v 2.0 will wreck Friggorid. I am talking

blowout, like the candles on the birthday cake my sister made

for me four years ago, just before I was sent up the river

(note to self: phrase birthday wishes more carefully in the

future. Wishing for a change of pace and the chance to meet

new people may be broadly interpreted…)

In all, probably an 85% match in Shredder’s favor.


The next stop? Well, in the forums it was clear Heartbeat

is a high priority. The old Shredder struggled with Heartbeat

somewhat, having to double Cranial to win (with Wishes and

Witness); this was not super.

The new Shredder has the same plan, but the Cranials are

main, meaning one does not need to spend two mana and

forecast one’s intentions. The first Cranial typically

names Cunning Wish. The second names Brain Freeze. It should

be noted that the list I tested against, while popular, does

not include new tech such as Research/Development. If

Heartbeat can stand double Cranial, you may need to choose

alternate targets, such as Wish and Mind’s Desire (if

they even play it).

I played a few pre-sideboarded games and v 2.0 split with

Heartbeat, though it felt 40 — 60 in favor of

Heartbeat. Aside from main deck Cranials, you also have the

use of your tutors to find you card drawing. Before, your

tutors had to find Cranials. Now you have a better chance to

draw into them. Also, Shred is a hot response to Nostalgic


I’d be interested in seeing a Heartbeat players

list for current Extended to improve my testing in the

future. The version I used was essentially Chris

McDaniel’s list from the Pro Tour. It is certainly

good, though it could use a face-lift. If Heartbeat can

survive two Cranials, I am sure this match would have to be

re-evaluated, though it would not be a lost cause.

Sideboarding was a good time for Master Shredder.

Heartbeat… not so much. Heartbeat sold its soul and its

sideboard for Cunning Wish, leaving it without even the

ability to transform like its Standard counterpart.

Shredder had the good fortune of realizing another

benefit of Shred memory. You get a sideboard! And sideboard

he did. Here are the 11 changes in all:

+4 Pernicious Deed, -3 Call of the Herd, -1 Smother, -1

Chainer’s Edict, -1 Dark Heart of the Wood, -1

Crime/Punishment, +3 Vindicate, +3 Gerrard’s Verdict,

+2 Naturalize, +1 Cranial Extraction, +1 Nostalgic Dreams, +1

Leyline of the Void.

The idea is to totally focus on disrupting Heartbeat,

moving towards the double Cranial lock. Naturalize is faster

than Deed. Calls are worthless, as you cannot possibly race.

You must double Cranial them. The creature kill and life gain

is obviously dead, but it sure feels good to be able to side

them out. Thank you, Michael J. Flores, for reminding me of

the “other” cost to Wishes (or, in this case, the

benefit of not playing them).

While Flores generally undervalues Wishes, I generally

overvalue them. This is one circumstance where I am on his

side (Wishes: still great in the abstract)… but having

a sideboard is nice.

The sideboard disruption slows Heartbeat while you search

for double Cranial. Even Stone Rain (Vindicate) is playable.

Anything to slow him down. Nostalgic Dreams is a potential

second Cranial that can be Shredded too. The random Leyline

is versus Nostalgic Dreams and is better than anything you

are cutting.

I’m not really sure how Heartbeat expects to win

after sideboarding. I played six games and Shredder took

five. Even the one loss involved Heartbeat getting Mind

Twisted, then drawing like a madman. So 40% (I guess) game

and 85% games 2 and 3? That is over 80% for the match.

Some final comments on the Heartbeat match. Aside from

being double Cranial resistant, Heartbeat could also fight

back with Muddles, which I did not try. It is almost always

wrong to attack with Monasteries (here). The mana is

typically better spent drawing cards. There will be time to

swing after you put two holes in his head. Don’t race.

(Unless it’s right, hehe.)

So far so good, what about Affinity, the

“other” degenerate aggro deck? At first I was

losing over and over (with Shredder), but always by a turn. I

decided to re-evaluate my strategy and start over.

The second time I played as tempo oriented as I could, as

opposed to looking for card advantage. I also

didn’t play around anything not already on the

board. I just don’t think Shredder has that luxury in

this match-up. As a result, Shredder after lost to what

Affinity held, but its win percentage went up (above


I found if Shredder plays as fast as possible and just

hopes his draws will work out, he can post about a 20 —

25% record game! (Though that does include Affinity knowing

Shredder’s list and plan).

Shredder sideboards heavily, in an attempt to salvage the


-4 Duress, – 3 Cranial Extraction, – 1 Life From the

+ 3 Vindicate, + 2 Naturalize, +2 Kataki, War’s Wage, +

1 Nostalgic Dreams

After sideboarding, Shredder only won half of the test

games, though it felt more like 55% in favor of Shredder.

That puts Shredder’s expected win percentage around 40%

for the match. Not terrible, but certainly not what you want

to face.

The sideboarded games are all about Desert Twisters

buying you time to wreck them with Kataki, Punishment, or

Deed. Be aware of Engineered Plague and Darkblast. (i.e.

catch them when they don’t have a Black untapped, etc.)

It is hard to get Loam going, so don’t force it.

Up next, Goblins. Now, from what I’ve gathered,

Goblins is not popular anymore. This is fortunate because

Shredder cannot possible beat Goblins. Ever. Not even a game.

Just don’t play against Goblins, or figure out some

sideboard tech if people play Goblins in your area (though if

Goblins was popular, I wouldn’t play this deck).

Engineered Plague, maybe? Ghostly Prison? The problem is

Goblin Ringleader. You can’t win if they cast him.

However, Piledrivers and Warchiefs are annoying to. Seriously

though, who plays Goblins?

I didn’t test the CAL, as I don’t have a

recent list, but in theory (playtesting in my head) you wreck

their game 1 with Cranials and Shreds, then sideboard heavy

disruption and totally ruin everything they do. This one

should be very favorable.

What about Tog, you say? The Tog list I tested against

was U/B Mental Note Tog, as it is the fastest, most

consistent build. Versions with their own Loans get beat on

card advantage, Shred, and Cranial. Admittedly Cunning Wish

builds might be better versus this version, though it is


The keys to the Tog match-up are that your tutors are

uncountable, your Necro is uncountable, and Cranial is game.

With so much removal, it is hard for Tog to keep one on the

table. Eventually, Shredder draws tons of cards, depletes

Tog’s resources, and puts a hole in his head. Game 1 is

probably 80% in favor of Shredder. The sideboard changes are:

– 4 Pernicious Deed, – 3 Call of the Herd, -1 Dark Heart

of the Wood, +3 Vindicate, + 3 Gerrard’s Verdict, +1

Cranial Extraction, +1 Leyline of the Void.

Again, disrupt and draw, eventually forcing through a

Cranial. Call beatdown is too slow. You want to kill Togs,

disrupt their hand, and dredge land.

Depending on how much graveyard hate they sideboard, and

if they have a Melokus, you are looking at anywhere between

70 — 90% post-sideboard. This is basically an auto win,

as I suspect most match-ups would be for v2.0. (No Stick and

Tog hybrids may be exceptions).

Finally, Zoo. I played an aggressive build with

Burning-Tree Shaman and Goblin Legionnaire as choices to

compliment the usual. This match is pretty rough. Game 1 is

somewhere around 25% on the strength of quick creature damage

and burn.

Shredder sideboarded as follows:

-4 Duress, – 3 Cranial Extraction
+3 Vindicate, +3 Gerrard’s Verdict, +1 Circle of

Protection: Red

This helped some, but it still didn’t put it over

50% a game, for 2 and 3. Overall. The expected win percentage

is about 35% for Shredder.

Where does that put us? A quick review of the rough


Friggorid: 85%
Heartbeat: 80%
Affinity: 40%
Goblins: 0%
The CAL: 75%
Tog: 90%
Zoo: 35%

(Remember, these are crude estimates based on small


Not bad numbers, especially when you close your eyes and

pretend Goblins doesn’t exist. I am always skeptical of

extreme play test results (anything better than 80% versus

multiple Tier 1 decks, etc.) but this deck is essentially

pre-sideboarded, so it may make sense.

If you expect more Friggorid, Heartbeat, Tog, and the CAL

than Affinity, Zoo, or Goblins, I think this build could be a

good call. It is essentially pre-sideboarded versus

combo and control.

I don’t know what The Rock, No Stick, or Balancing

Tings matches look like, but I would suspect The Rock is

close to even (maybe slightly unfavorable depending on their

build), No Stick is even (a little down game 1, a little up 2

and 3), and Balance might beat Shredder.

The weakest cards in the deck, overall, were definitely

the Calls, and I suppose the Dark Heart, though it may be

necessary. It sure would be nice to have Wraths instead of

Calls, but you’d have to re-do the manabase. I really

miss the Wraths in this build (Punishment is not a Wrath,

according to Myr Enforcer), especially versus Affinity and

Zoo. They would also help versus Goblins and Tog (yes, Tog).

I found Shredder was always the control deck,

never needing elephant beatdown. They are fine blockers, but

Wrath would be better. The synergy with Loam is not to be

underestimated, though if you are dredging, you are probably

winning anyway. Personally I think Elders, Witnesses, and

Monasteries are plenty to win with if you play quickly.

As far as the sideboard goes, I think it is solid, though

I am not sold on COP: Red. I guess in theory it gives you a

prayer versus Goblins, but you’ll still probably be

overwhelmed. Dark Heart is better versus Zoo.

Depending on your metagame, you may want to cut a Verdict

or even a Vindicate for Leylines or Kakakis. It seems weird

to sideboard Vindicate in versus everyone, but that is

because if it not quite good enough for the main on its own

merits. However, you will always have dead cards you want to

side out, and Vindicate is decent versus nearly everybody.

I am excited about Coldsnap, but don’t see any of

the new cards making it in Shredder. May I suggest acquiring

4 Scrying Sheets before everyone realizes how insane they

are? (Think Sensei’s Diving Top plus 20 — 36 snow

cards, mostly mana.)

I’m greatly interested in your feedback on this

incarnation of Shredder.dec. Is this the right direction to

take the deck? What can be done about Goblins, if anything?

Or, all the aggro match-ups for that matter? Can Wrath

return? Does this deck fit your current meta? Finally, which

style of deck coverage do you prefer, detailed game notes or

general match-up analysis?

It’s been fun (Shredding always is).

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”