You Lika The Juice? – This and That

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It really bums me out that all the work I did in exploring what I call the “classic” Dredge strategy got eclipsed and trumped by the successes of Reanimator Dredge, and later the silly Bridge from Below combo Dredge. Pre-Future Sight, Classic Dredge had gained valuable tools in Damnation, and Fa’adiyah Seer and I were fired up to play that beast at Regionals this year.

[Editor’s Note: This article replaces the promised Online Outlook, which was held back from Monday. Sorry for the delay, folks. I’m house-hunting at the moment, and I should have the article ready for tomorrow’s update. Until then, here’s Bennie! — Craig.]

I Googled “this and that” because I wanted a column title a little more snazzy than, well, This and That, and ran across this interesting website:

The Top 100 This-and-That’s of the 20th Century

It’s got “Top X” lists for News, Sports, The Arts, Books, Films, Television, Music, Misc. Things, Women, Misc. People, Overrated & Irrelevant, The Worst. There’s “The Top 100 Sports Stories of the Century,” “The 100 Best English-Language Non-Fiction Books of the 20th Century,” “Top 100 Business Events at a Glance,” and “The 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century,” just to name a few. The Internet has no shortage of time-killers, but this one seems a little more interesting than most.

Anyway, my other writing gig produced another cool phone conversation with another Wizards luminary, this time Magic Head Developer Devin Low, to talk about some cool Magic information in our September issue of Scrye. After the PR gal introduced us on the conference call, Devin asked me if I were the guy who did well at States with “that Dredge deck” a few years back. “Yeah! That was me!”

Devin is now my most favorite dude at Wizards. The smile he put on my face is still here. For us non-pro, non-Flores writers scrambling through Champs, Regionals, and PTQs, having a home-grown creation catch the notice of someone in R&D is like a dream come true.

It really bums me out that all the work I did in exploring what I call the “classic” Dredge strategy got eclipsed and trumped by the successes of Reanimator Dredge, and later the silly Bridge from Below combo Dredge. Pre-Future Sight, Classic Dredge had gained valuable tools in Damnation, and Fa’adiyah Seer and I were fired up to play that beast at Regionals this year.

Then Bridge from Below and turn 3 kills popped up and scared the living hell out of everyone, immediately demanding hateful graveyard killers in all sideboards. Between that and the fact that my deck had zero chance against Dragonstorm, my pet deck was obsoleted into oblivion.

Then StarCityGames.com’s own awesome Ben Bleiweiss over at MagicTheGathering.com Building on a Budget column kicked off The Great Dredge Contest! (Part 1 of 3), and suddenly I had an opportunity to revisit Classic Dredge, which is actually very easy to build on a budget. He had some rules constricting the build (otherwise, we would definitely have two copies of Svogthos, the Restless Tomb in here), but this is the deck I submitted to the contest:

Nicedraft.dec, Budget Style! ($27.90 total)

4 Greenseeker ($0.40)
4 Darkblast ($0.40)
3 Life from the Loam ($6.00)
3 Saffi Eriksdotter ($4.00)
4 Fa’adiyah Seer ($0.40)
3 Edge of Autumn ($0.40)
1 Jotun Grunt ($2.00)
3 Golgari Thug ($0.20)
4 Stinkweed Imp ($0.40)
4 Golgari Grave-Troll ($6.00)
3 Deadwood Treefolk ($0.30)
1 Teneb the Harvester ($1.50)
1 Avatar of Woe ($1.50)
1 Horizon Canopy ($6.00)
2 Selesnya Sanctuary ($0.20)
2 Orzhov Basilica ($0.20)
8 Forest
7 Swamp
3 Plains

Here was my blurb on the submission:

This build is classic Dredge styling without all the Reanimator nonsense that’s so ridiculous nowadays. It’s all about getting the Dredge engine online quickly, and then utilizing the graveyard as a card selection resource for your creatures, and as a card advantage engine with Life from the Loam and Fa’adiyah Seer. One of the main goals of the deck is to get Deadwood Treefolk and Saffi on the board together to give you an endless supply of creatures without necessarily dredging your deck away, so we’ve got three Thugs to help make that happen (though you may have to Darkblast him if your opponent won’t cooperate in getting him killed).

I tossed a Jotun Grunt in here in case you needed to keep yourself from getting decked, and he’s a pretty good beater or blocker if you draw him early. Horizon Canopy is expensive, but with Life from the Loam I thought I could squeeze one in for card drawing.

I figured this build would definitely make the final cut, though because Ben and I go way back, I figured he wouldn’t pick mine to “evolve” since he might get accused of nepotism. Boy, was I wrong!

For his first cut, Ben selected: a Bridge from Below deck, three Dread Return decks, a Tombstalker deck, a Jotun Grunt deck (the winner), and six non-Dredge decks with minimal to no Dredge cards (though one did include Saffi/Deadwood). Wait a minute – wasn’t the name of this called The Great Dredge Contest? Now, all the decks Ben chose were pretty cool decks, but c’mon- it was a Dredge Contest! Each finalist should have a Dredge deck, period.

And I thought my version was a darn good budget build given the constraints… *sniff*

So, those of you who are interested in a budget take on Classic Dredge, here you go.

A few weeks back in this column I gave out an email address (starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com) to contact me for what I was calling a Hometown Heroes program, where we could give recognition to people on the local level who have gone out of their way to support their Magic Community. I also mentioned that the email address could be used to ask advice, questions, whatever floats your boat. Sadly, I haven’t gotten any “Hometown Heroes” emails, but it occurred to me the Dog Days of summer might not have been the best time to do that; casual, local players are often busy doing other things during the summertime, and won’t focus on Magic much until the Fall rolls around with Lorwyn and State Champs and such. While the offer to recognize Hometown Heroes is still out there, I think I may try to re-launch the effort this fall when presumably more people will be out there playing Magic and reading about it here on StarCityGames.com.

Even so, I did get a couple emails through my starcitygeezer gmail account, so I thought I’d share a few of them here.

Robert Johns of Oak Harbor, WA writes:

Hi Bennie, I haven’t even finished your article yet and I had to send this off.
My subject line is because – at 46, I’m sure I have a few years on you.
I definitely fit in the category of people you want to hear from. I doubt my total forum posts is more than 12 in 3 or 4 years at the “mother” site. I didn’t join the SCG forums till a few months ago, so I’m at one there.

Anyway, on to my story. I am a very casual player, but circumstances have forced me into a situation where I’ve done very little but prereleases and drafts since Ravnica came out. Last Friday I finally won my first draft! And it was a true win, in that I beat the top three players in the store. (Where I’m definitely the geezer of the crowd). The biggest nail biter was game 3 of round 2. I had just put down Cutthroat il-Dal, with one in hand. It was his turn, the rest of the board was stalled and time was called. He’s playing Blue/Red so I was expecting a burn or bounce, but lucky for me it never came, and dealt the last points of shadow damage on turn 5! The other reason this is such a great accomplishment for me is that, starting with the Time Spiral prerelease, I went over 15 matches before winning. And then the win I got was probably out of pity.

I know it really isn’t that big a deal, but hey, it feels good to share with another “old timer.”

Now, I would normally have just replied directly to Robert on this, since it’s a fairly short story and all, but I just wanted to put it up here as an example of emails I love to get… and here’s why. This fellow is a casual gamer and considers others at his store to be “top players,” and Robert’s obvious excitement on finally winning a draft suggests to me that these top players didn’t begrudge or belittle his win and blunt his positive experience. Perhaps these top players have even helped Robert on his Limited game? Reading between the lines, I think at least one of these top players might be worthy of the title Hometown Hero if we had some more information.

The health of any local Magic scene relies on the support of the top players in the area being willing to help out the casual and new players when they are interested in improving their game. I hear too many horror stories (and have experienced a few first hand) of the “good players” at a store or PTQ heaping scorn and ridicule on the newbies and casual players, so I love hearing these good guy stories from people like Robert. The fact that he’s a geezer like me (though he’s got me by six) is icing on the cake.

Keep ‘em coming!

Sherwin Langholdt of Rock Rapids, IA writes:

Hi Bennie,

I’m a big fan of your writing on StarCityGames.com. I’m also a “Magic Geezer” myself, still playing strong at age 42. Anyway, I’m emailing because I’m wondering if you are still playing with your “Sexy Scryb” deck, and if so, what is your current build? I’ve been playing three-color Glittering Wish control, but I’m looking for something new for FNM since I’m losing some cards due to rotation, and I remembered that I always wanted to try Sexy Scryb, but never got the chance.

Again, just curious if you were still playing some incarnation of that deck. Thanks!

Woohoo – another Magic geezer! Suddenly, I’m not feeling quite so old. Of course, now I’m starting to worry about my choice of email address – It’s not just for fellow geezers to email me; I’m happy to hear from youngsters, geezers, and ages in between!

It’s interesting that Sherwin wrote in with this request; since Regionals I’ve abandoned my Project Z deck in favor of G/W Saffi like my Sexy Scryb deck from last Fall’s Champs. Here’s how it looked then:

Sexy Saffi

4 Gather Courage
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Llanowar Elves
2 Saffi Eriksdotter
3 Scryb Ranger
3 Griffin Guide
4 Ohran Viper
4 Loxodon Hierarch
3 Magus of the Disk
4 Spectral Force
3 Chord of Calling
1 Pendelhaven
4 Brushland
4 Temple Garden
4 Selesnya Sanctuary
3 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
2 Plains
4 Forest

3 Paladin en-Vec
4 Mangara of Corondor
3 Weatherseed Totem
3 Harmonic Sliver
2 Spirit Loop

Here’s my current version:

What I’m loving about the card pool available now — between Saffi, Epochrasite, Deadwood Treefolk, and Treetop Village, Wrath and Damnation just don’t bother me much anymore. Speaking of Epochrasite, how nice is it to Chord for a two-mana creature and be able to put a 4/4 beatstick into play? I’ll probably have 4 Wraths of my own in the sideboard.

This deck is perfect for some fun games up at Friday Night Magic. I have no idea how it will fare in the current competitive metagame, though it should go toe-to-toe with Gruul decks fairly easily between Hierarchs and Spectral Forces. I just built this for summer Magic fun, and hopefully Sherwin and some of you might find it fun too. Drop me an email or hit me up in the forums and let me know if you give it a whirl.

Wither, Gleemax?
Before I sign off, I wanted to ask – is there any place people are discussing the upcoming Gleemax site Wizards of the Coast is putting together? From what I’ve read about it in Randy Buehler’s blogs, it seems like it’s meant to be a pretty significant place for gamers to go to network and play games. As a Livejournal junkie (as well as an avid gamer), it’s got me interested.

Yet I’ve heard nary a whisper about it in any of the columns and such I read and visit on a regular basis, so I was curious if maybe I’m just not visiting the right places? I didn’t want to jump up on my soap box and bellow, “why is nobody talking about Gleemax?!” and then have somebody tap me on the shoulder and say “dude, people are talking about it right over here…”

If there is such a discussion going on, let me know before I look like a fool (or at least, more of one than I normally appear to be…)

‘Til next week!

Bennie Smith
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com