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:
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
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).
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
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:
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
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
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
The sideboarded games are all about Desert Twisters
buying you time to wreck them with Kataki, Punishment, or
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).
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:
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
compliment the usual. This match is pretty rough. Game 1 is
somewhere around 25% on the strength of quick creature damage
Shredder sideboarded as follows:
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
The CAL: 75%
(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).