Video: Dredge Zombies In Standard

In this video article, Sam dives into Return to Ravnica Standard. Check out his latest brew if you’re looking to try something different in Standard at the upcoming SCG Open Series: St. Louis.

As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t played or watched any Standard these last few weeks. Now that I’m finally home, I’m just getting into it.

For my starting point, I decided to pick up where I left off and try playing a deck I wrote about before Return to Ravnica was officially released to see how it stacks up against the decks that people have come to play in the real world. I think that’s more interesting than playing a deck you may have already seen, and I generally prefer playing my own decks.

So today I’ll be using an update of a deck from my article “Brewing Golgari”:

Since writing that article I’ve added Deathrite Shaman, Gatecreeper Vine, Evolving Wilds, and more Thragtusks to the maindeck. Gatecreeper Vine is a way to keep my creature count high so that Grisly Salvage is more likely to power up Ghoultree and Jarad since I can essentially just play it over lands at a certain point.

Evolving Wilds in conjunction with Faithless Looting and Grisly Salvage let me use Deathrite Shaman for mana a very respectable portion of the time, which is worth working for given the power level of the Shaman.

I’m only playing two Ghoultree because I really don’t want to draw too many of them. Splinterfright is a realistic consideration that I really just now remembered. Disciple of Bolas and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord give me good outs to not killing myself with him, and he could potentially be very deadly. It’s another card that can be bad early, but I might try it after a few games.

I think the basic plan is pretty obvious. I’m just trying to grind everyone out, like any good Golgari deck should. I’m not at all confident that I shouldn’t be playing four of any of the cards I’m playing three of, but I just don’t know how to fit everything yet. Maybe as I play something will disappoint me.

Let’s see some games.

I’m pretty impressed by how well my deck was able to grind him out there. In game 1 he was stuck on lands, but that meant he had more spells, especially when he three for oned me with a Terminus on turn 3. Game 2 I just sat around until I had things to do and he didn’t.

I feel like this match strongly indicates that control decks will really need to be putting a very real clock on me in order to win, which is a good position to be in, although they can certainly do that with cards like Entreat the Angels.

Well, that was a pretty brutal match. I feel a lot worse about my control matchup with the deck as built now that I remember that they’re all just trying to Angel of Serenity me. Also, I said several things in that match that clearly demonstrated my unfamiliarity with the format, like putting him on a more aggressive deck because of Centaur Healer, which is just the opposite of what that means. I also didn’t remember if that was the same player I’d played against in the first video.

I think people are too ready to play against Gravecrawler in this format. He’s bad against Zombies, and he’s bad against control. Liliana seems like she might be a pretty reasonable maindeck card, and I still want to try a few Gravecrawlers because he really does have a lot of synergy with the deck.

I’m moving the fourth Thragtusk to the main and adding two Lilianas over three Gravecrawlers, and I’m putting an Appetite of Brains to the sideboard. It’s possible that I should have a Murder to deal with the Angel and other creatures, but I think Liliana might work. Also, Appetite for Brains over the fourth Duress is a bit of a hedge.

Two Swamps isn’t enough to search for. I need one more of those and think I probably have too many Faithless Lootings, so I’m going to cut another Blood Crypt and a Faithless Looting for a Swamp and an Abrupt Decay from the sideboard. Then I’m going to try a Rakdos’s Return in the sideboard, and I think I want to cut a Gnaw to the Bone to try a second Rakdos’s Return.

That means my current list is:

It’s unfortunate that I failed to save and played with the old deck there, but I think it’s still worth showing. His deck basically just won the way Snapcaster decks have always won, and it’s important to be aware that that’s still a real thing. My deck is set up so much to grind that it can definitely have trouble with the tempo-oriented strategies. A card that I’m keeping in mind for the sideboard if a lot of Lingering Souls is getting played is Golgari Charm, but I’m not sure how much that really helps here.

Moving away from the aggressive cards (Gravecrawler) probably makes the matchup worse, but it’s possible that that’s just not how I’m supposed to win and that I’m supposed to focus on trying to overwhelm them with Huntmasters and Thragtusks. But without Cavern of Souls, that seems pretty hard.

My opponent probably did get pretty unlucky in that match, but I think it’s probably good for me since I have so many different ways to gain life. I certainly could be wrong because I can definitely get some clunky draws as well.

Conclusions: I was impressed by the Deathrite Shaman / Evolving Wilds / Grisly Salvage interaction. Faithless Looting helps with that, but it wasn’t as impressive. Disciple of Bolas was good, and Huntmaster seems like it’s at least a good sideboard card. I’m not sure if Faithless Looting / Lotleth Troll / Veilborn Ghoul is worth bothering with if Gravecrawler’s bad, but I’m not sure if there’s a better way to take advantage of Grisly Salvage / Jarad / Disciple, which I like. I think the deck is firmly in the “shows some promise but still needs work” phase, but I like a lot of what it’s doing.

Thanks for watching,


@samuelhblack on Twitter