Hello Magic fans, Harrison here with another MTG article for you folks. Now, quite a few of you are players in the Modern format. As well, quite a few – hopefully all – of you noticed that Wizards recently made the decision to ban two cards in Modern, Golgari Grave-Troll and Gitaxian Probe. For the last nine months, Dredge has been my deck of choice. As you might imagine, losing GGT has been a serious issue for me, but I have come up with a few ideas that may help soften the blow when you’re seriously affected by a banning.
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OPTION 1: Replace
One of the advantages of a format such as Modern is the depth of the card pool. Cards such as Probe and Grave-Troll are the best at what they do – Providing information, card circulation and a Storm count, and dredging, respectively – but there are alternatives. Depending on exactly what you used to get out of the Probe, you can replace it with Peek – for information – or with Thought Scour, Serum Visions or Visions of Beyond – for card circulation – or with … well, there’s not really a zero-mana ‘draw a card’ in Modern. Which is why Probe was banned.
Grave-Troll is the highest single Dredge card in any format, which is why the card was chosen to be banned. However, Dredge 4 is also a decent chunk of your deck being added to your graveyard, so Golgari Thug can do a decent Troll impression. And while it has a comparatively small Dredge 3, Darkblast is a very handy card to have access to in a format where Affinity and Infect are two of the strongest aggro decks around.
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OPTION 2: Innovate
The most high-risk, high-reward option, but innovating and changing what your deck is has huge potential. The regular version of Dredge revolves around putting Narcomoeba and Bloodghast into your graveyard, to then bring them out alongside Prized Amalgam. The power of Grave-Troll is that it put the most cards into your graveyard, which enables this gameplan better than anything else. However, you can also use a similar Dredge decklist to power out massive direct damage with Conflagrate and Life from the Loam. Instead of putting 15+ power worth of creatures into play at once, you instead only put 9 or 10 points of power out, and then burn your opponent for the rest.
As well, early editions of Dredge featured the interaction between Bridge From Below and Greater Gargadon to create a massive board state of 2/2 Zombies. While it is quite a bit less explosive than the ‘all-in’ version of Dredge that was popular pre-banning, it does have a lot of inevitable pressure.
Probe is a lot harder to innovate around, as it isn’t actually an integral part of any single deck. However, brews using the interaction between Twiddle effects and Utopia Sprawl effects to generate a lethal Storm count have cropped up at local Modern and FNM events.
OPTION 3: Play Something Else
Unfortunately, not every problem can be solved. Golgari Thug is only a Dredge 4, which is 33% less efficient than Grave-Troll’s Dredge 6. While this doesn’t exactly make the deck 33% less good, it does do a lot of damage to your ability to win games. My testing has found that Dredge is no longer capable of presenting the results it used to, which is why I have recently been testing with Tron variants for the upcoming GP here in Brisbane. Losing Probe has also done a lot of damage to Storm’s ability to win games. Luckily, there isn’t really any other deck that has been crippled by the loss of Probe, so a lot of lists are still very valid.
Hopefully this guy doesn’t get banned before the GP.
Hopefully my thoughts on Modern and its bannings are of some help in your GP prep. What are you looking to play?