I would like to start off by giving a huge shout-out to the community and thanking everyone for helping me test the deck and fine-tune it for tournament play. Thanks! As with most RogueDeckbuilder brews, this one started out as a crazy idea.
I received an email from Jeremy Vasquez about a crypt incursion deck he was having loads of fun with. This got the gears turning and I decided to try my own version of the deck which ended up taking down an eight man on MTGO. While playing this deck I began to realize that I was winning a lot of games off of Lotleth Troll + Nighthowler rather than the Crypt Incursion + Sanguine Bond combo.
Having recently brewed a Jund Midrange deck for PTQ Salt Lake the power of Flesh / Blood and Ghor-clan Rampager was still fresh on my mind. I put two and two together and had one of those ‘viola’ moments where I knew that I had found the perfect home for the two: Jund Dredge!
This is the finalized version that I ended up taking to Vegas:
ROUND 1 – R/G Monsters
Game number one started off rough. I hooked up a Lotleth Troll with a Nighthowler which was answered by a Main Board Destructive Revelry , which was then followed up with a Mizzium Mortars to kill the now defenseless Lotleth Troll (I had tapped out for Nighthowler). He then played a Main Boarded Scavenging Ooze and started eating my graveyard. Thankfully, I topped decked into a Shadowborn Demon to answer the Ooze Menace. I was able to do some more dredging, found another Nighthowler and proceeded to overwhelm my opponent. 1-0
Game 2 I was not as fortunate. My opponent started out the gates with a turn 1 Elvish Mystic into a turn two Courser of Kruphix, turn 3 revealing a land off of the top and playing the land for immediate card advantage. Turn 3 he drops a Domri Rade and the land being a Temple of Abandon) Scrys another land off of the top to reveal a Stormbreath Dragon for Domri to successfully draw off of the +1. This is pretty much how the game went. Too much card advantage to deal with. 1-1
Game 3 my opponent again started off with a fast hand. A turn one Elvish Mystic was followed up with a turn two Sylvan Caryatid. Turn 3 he plays Xenagos, God of Revels which was too much for me to handle. It put me on the defensive which is not where you want to be with Jund Dredge. Two Ghor-Clan Rampagers later I was dead. 1-2; 0-1 overall
ROUND 2 – Orzhov Control.
Lets just say I felt sorry for my opponent. I have a 1 of mainboard of Lifebane Zombie which I was able to have in my opening hand which found a Blood Baron Vizkopa turn 3 and began to apply some insane pressure alongside Lotleth Troll. My opponent was able to drop a Obzedat, Ghost Council but he had to keep him back on defense which wasn’t enough to stop a buffed up troll. I was able to Flesh / Blood Turn 7 exiling a Desecration Demon for 6 counters on Troll as well as 11 or so damage to the face. 1-0
Game 2 my opponent got to have two key cards exiled with 2x Lifebane Zombies he was never able to recover from those blows. 2-0, 1-1 overall.
ROUND 3 – Monoblack Devotion
Game 1 my opponent 1st turn Thoughtseize and didn’t exactly know what to take and I think ended up making me ditch a Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord which didn’t really hurt at all. I was then able to start the dredge with Grisly Salvage and Satyr Wayfinder eventually finding a Nighthowler and a Flesh / Blood. I think my opponent thought he had stabilized with an Underworld Connections followed by a Gray Merchant of Asphodel which put him at 18 or so life, but he found out the hard way that 18 life is an easy obstacle to overcome with Jund Dredge. Next turn I was able to ditch my entire hand to the Lotleth Troll bestowed with his best friend Nighthowler and even sacrifice a forest and a swamp to return my Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord back to my hand to ditch to the Little Troll that Could for an extra +1+1. He blocked with the Gray Merchant to absorb 4 of the damage but the 11/10 trample Troll still got in for 7. My last card in hand was a Flesh / Blood for perfect 11 damage. 1-0
Game 2 didn’t go so well. In fact, this is a huge weak spot for Jund Dredge that I am trying to remedy. The deck cannot beat the Monoblack “God Draw” of a first turn Thoughtseize into a second turn Mutavault + Pack Rat. I am going to go ahead and say that 90% of the losses to Monoblack / Orzhov have been this draw. I am messing around with Pithing Needle as a possible solution to this shenanigans! 1-1
Game 3 I kept another amazing hand of two lands, Grisly Salvage and Nighthowler. I was able to drop a Overgrown Tomb and a Deathrite Shaman turn one. Unfortunately my opponent had the Thoughtseize and wisely took the Grisly Salvage. But, as luck had it, next turn I drew into a Satyr Wayfinder and found another land, one in the graveyard and two more creatures in the graveyard as well. This allowed me to exile a land to add a green the following turn and cast a Nemesis of Mortals turn 3 which made my opponent use a Hero’s Downfall on Mr. Snake. This allowed me turn 4 to bestow a Nighthowler onto my little Satyr who was now a 5/5 and get in there for some quick damage. Again, my opponent had to use a removal on the Satyr, which really put him in a tough spot as he hadn’t advanced his board. With the Nighthowler falling off and becoming a 5/5 creature himself, I was able to bestow another howler on the howler forcing the third removal. Eventually my opponent ran out of removal and the Howler + a Ghor-Clan Rampager got the job done. The MVP of this game was definitely Deathrite Shaman as I believe he did 8 damage from exiling sorceries as well as the key ramp turn 3 to put pressure on my opponent. 2-1, 2-1 overall.
Round 4 – R/G Monsters
I am not going to go much into detail about this match other than my opponent got to see just how fast dredge can come out of the gates with 3x Ghor-Clan Rampager and Nighthowler. 1-0.
Game Two I believe my opponent got a tad bit mana-flooded and I kept the pressure forcing him to be on the defensive. I think 10/10 Nemesis of Mortals was too much pressure. 2-0; 3-1 overall
Round 5 – Orzhov Control
My opponent kept a 2x Thoughtseize hand on the play which really didn’t slow me down any, especially with first turn Deathrite Shaman making each of those Thoughtseize ending up costing him 4 life a piece. I believe he then had to use a Pharika’s Cure and a Bile Blight to kill a Nemesis of Mortals further putting him into a card deficit. He dropped a late Pack Rat and didn’t really draw into any more threats. 1-0
Game 3: I kept a hand with Lifebane Zombie. We both started out pretty slow with scry lands. Turn 3 I drop the zombie and see Elspeth, Blood Baron Vizkopa lands Desecration Demon and some removal. With blood baron out of the way and a Zombie he has to use a removal on, I was too quick for him. I don’t believe he ever got to cast either the Demon or Elspeth. 2-1 ; 4-1 overall.
Round 6 – Rakdos Aggro.
This was an interesting deck. It came out extremely fast; Rakdos Cackler, Spike Jester, Herald of Torment. Fortunately for me I had the stall hand. 2x Satyr Wayfinder, a Deathrite Shaman to trade with the Spike Jester and 2x Nemesis of Mortals that became too much for him to handle even though I was at a low life total. 1-0
Round 7 – Boros Devotion
This was the matchup I wanted to avoid. Worst part about this, is that I HAD to win to get into the top 8. Game 1 he gets the turn 2 Ash Zealot , turn 3 Burning-Tree Emissary, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – generate 4 mana and cast a Hammer of Purphoros and then proceed to unload his hand turn 4. 0-1
Game two we both had to mulligan to six. The good news is Boros Devotion is a terrible deck when it has to mulligan. It needs all seven cards to fully function. Jund Dredge however is a GREAT deck when it comes to the mulligan. It can win with just a few key cards. I think my opponent started off with an extremely slow start. Having to temple on turn 2 and turn 3 cast a Burning-Tree Emissary into nothing. I kept a heavy removal hand and killed everything that came out including a turn 4 Boros Reckoner. My 3/2 Lotleth Troll put him on a pretty fast clock. 1-1
Game three was a nailbiter. He was able to apply a ton of pressure with Burning-Tree Emissary and Fanatic of Mogis + a Hammer of Purphoros . A had to throw a couple of Lotleth Trolls under the bus, but the third Troll allowed me to stabilize and hook up a Nighthowler. With one card left in my hand and me at 4 life, I was able to Flesh/Blood for the win.
TOP 8 vs Monoblack Devotion.
At this point I was pretty confident about my chances. In the top eight were the following decks: Esper Control, Bant Control, Orzhov Aggro, Monoblack Devotion, Monoblue Devotion, Jund Monsters and G/B Rock (Monoblack Devotion splashing for Abrupt Decay and Golgari Charm.
After seeing the pairings I became more excited as I knew I was going up against Monoblack and Esper would be facing Jund Monsters, Bant vs Monoblue – which hopefully meant Bant would take out the Monoblue which is a terrible matchup for me, and G/B rock vs Orzhov Aggro. This meant if I beat Monoblack I would most likely be facing Bant Control which I am highly favored against in the quarterfinals. I was also confident that either Jund Monsters or G/B rock would take out the other tough matchup being Orzhov Aggro which would mean that I was in the clear against any matchups I wasn’t the favorite. Also, being ranked 4th, I would get to go first against monoblack.
Game 1 I drop a scry land and my opponent follows with a Thoughtseize which he hasn’t a clue what to take and ends up pitching the Deathrite Shaman which at this point not being able to throw it down turn one was pretty much a dead card anyways. Having Scryed I already knew that a Satyr Wayfinder was on top and I was able to shock myself and play a turn two Satyr finding a land a three creatures = perfection. Jarad then hit the board a couple of turns later which he had to continue to be on the defense rather than progress his board state. Nighthowlers and Nemesis of Mortals joined the party and a revived Jarad was able to finish him off through sacrificing the fatties. 1-0
Game 2 is one of those games where you just hate the variance in Magic: the Gathering. I had to mulligan a no land hand into a 5 land hand and an Underworld Cerberus. To make matters worse, NONE of the lands were scry lands. I shipped back the hand and saw a five hand of 1 land and a Satyr Wayfinder which at this point was probably the best I could hope for. A turn one Thoughtseize made sure I had no chance of coming back into this game by taking my Satyr. I didn’t see the second land for another two turns which meant that his Desecration Demon and Gray Merchant was too much for me to handle. 1-1.
Game 3 I kept a two land Grisly Salvage and two Nighthowler hand and felt pretty confident. My opponent, however, had other plans. He first turn thoughtseized the Grisly Salvage which cut me off from finding my second black source for the howlers. Second turn he drops the dreaded Mutavault + Packrat combo and follows it up with ANOTHER pack rat and a second mutavault. I tried to stabilize with a Ghor-Clan rampager but on block steps, my poor Rampager was Bile Blighted. Miraculously I was able to sort of Stabilize with a Domri Rade + Ghor-Clan Rampager fighting off a Pack Rat, followed by a Flesh/Blood killing off another Pack-Rat. I had somehow managed to clear the board of Pack Rats, however being defenseless to two mutavaults and a very low life total, my opponent smartly decided to ignore the one loyalty Domri and go directly at me taking me down to a four. My only hope was to draw runner runner with Domri +1 and my natural draw. However, I found land land and that was game. 1-2.
Losing in the first round of the Top 8 I was pretty bummed. However, the whole experience was a huge confidence boost for me. Lately I have been second-guessing myself as a player. Going 3-5 at PTQ Fort Collins and 5-3 at PTQ SLC dropping a 3-0 start was very frustrating. But, once again, coming from behind from a 0-1 start and playing some really stellar magic to top eight I think has boosted my confidence enough to where I am certain I will make another top finish sooner than later. With a top 16 finish at a SCG Open, a Day two Pro Tour, a PTQ Win and another PTQ Top 8, I think I can finally rule out the luck factor and start to believe in myself.
Speaking of the deck, I really feel that it has proven its worth. With two 8 man MTGO victories and a top eight PTQ in less than a week, this deck is definitely a powerhouse. The changes that I would make as a result of playing on MTGO as well as the PTQ I would put in AT LEAST two Pithing Needles in the sideboard to combat the dreaded Pack Rat. Other options would be Gaze of Granite or Ratchet Bomb, but I feel the deck needs some sort of answer besides abrupt decay to deal with a turn two Pack Rat. To make room for this I would definitely drop a Putrefy and a Xenagos, God of Revels. I really don’t think that either are necessary. The one time I drew Xenagos he stuck in my hand and did absolutely nothing. I think the temptation of a Xenagos + Nighthowler was just too much and I had to do it, however realistically it is probably just over-kill. The Putrefy is also a redundant card as it is too slow to take out the early threats that this deck struggles against, whereas later threats can easily be taken care of by either just going over-the-top or using a Flesh / Blood as removal. I think the Pithing Needles are also decent answers for Domri Rade, Scavenging Ooze, Elspeth, Jace, Underworld Connections, Mutavault, and of course, public enemy number one: Pack Rat.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks again for all of the support and encouragement. We took a Rogue Deck to the top eight of a PTQ! There is no reason why this deck cannot be a powerhouse. It has great matchups against Monoblack, Orzhov, and R/G Monsters, which is a HUGE percentage of the metagame.