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Balustrade Dredge

Legacy Dredge



My Manaless Dredge build has evolved over time, and for a while was pretty close to Hollywood's build (http://jupitergames.info/articles/2012/52180/the-cutting-room-floor-manaless-dredge-in-legacy). However I've made some changes since Gatecrash hit to make the deck feel more like my own. And then since then have brought it closer to a lot of the other manaless builds to make it more competitive.

Manaless Dredge Primer: Opt to play second to get the draw. Use the clean-up step to discard a dredger into the graveyard (ie. Golgari Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp , Golgari Thug, or Shambling Shell ). Then, each draw, dredge instead, using Street Wraith to accelerate and Phantasmagorian to dump your hand into your graveyard. Dredging allows threats like Narcomoeba, Ichorid , and Nether Shadow to pop into play for free, with Bridge from Below netting you 2/2 tokens whenever your creatures die.

How to win: There are two basic ways to win, first is beatdown: each Ichorid can swing for 3 per turn, and self-sacrifices at end of turn giving you a 2/2 Zombie for each Bridge from Below you have in your graveyard. This puts your opponent on a very short clock, and in some matches, allows you to cruise to an easy beat-down victory.

The second win condition is enabled by Dread Return: Optionally you can begin by Sacrificing something to flashback Cabal Therapy to try to remove counter spells from the opponent's hand. Once in the clear, Sack three to Dread Return Balustrade Spy. When he hits, self target, and since the deck has no lands, his ability flips the whole library into the graveyard, giving you access to all your goodies. I've messed around with a couple win-condition-packages, some more amusing than others, but the cleanest is Flayer of the Hatebound. Just Dread Return : Flayer of the Hatebound, then Dread Return : Golgari Grave-Troll, dealing obscene amounts of damage, dependent on the size of your graveyard.

The sideboard was at one point lands and disenchant to deal with graveyard hate, Miracles and any other deck with Rest in Peace is a big problem for me. I've come to accept that even with a board entirely geared to that match up, I still lose it most of the time, thus, my current sideboard is dedicated to strengthening me against match-ups I still have a chance in. Leyline of the Void gives me the upper hand against Life from the Loam, Reanimator, and other Dredge decks. Progenitus provents me from decking myself if I drop in Balustrade Spy off Show and Tell. Leyline of Sanctity helps against most discard, and Burn. Contagion keeps Deathrite Shaman from tearing me up.



An unofficial Legacy Tournament put on by some of the more dedicated Legacy players in the Greater Vancouver area. It took the format of Swiss rounds plus one, and I managed to take second place, which I was pleased with as it was the first time I've run this particular build outside of my regular playgroup.

Round One: Vs. UW Counterbalance Miracles. It was a friend of mine playing it and he was the only one there running Rest in Peace mainboard. I knew how easily he can find Rest in Peace so I was not looking forward to the match. Game one he played Enlightened Tutor for Rest in Peace on turn two or three. I had no answers, so I scooped and we moved onto game two. I boarded out Balustrade Spy and the other parts of that win condition, and replaced them with Dryad Arbor, Nature's Claim, and Reverent Silence. With these changes I can survive through Rest in Peace but it is still better to race to win before I need to deal with it. I got going quick and he failed to find an answer, and I took game two by using Griselbrand to deck myself with Laboratory Maniac in play. Game three he found his Rest in Peace early, countered my attempt to destroy it, then won while I was searching for another answer to it. I was just happy to take one game out of the match. I lost 2-1

Round Two: Vs. Pox. The game plan of Pox is to destroy lands and put make you discard... I don't have lands and all I want is all my cards in the graveyard. So not a good match-up for Pox; but, it was piloted by a friend from my regular play group and he knows his deck well, and mine also, so he knew what he needed to to to win. He knew game one was a write-off for him but sideboarded well for game two. Unfortunately for him, I got the cards I needed before he got the cards he needed. I won 2-0.

Round Three: Vs. High Tide. Game one I started out with a great hand and got rolling quickly, and was able to get Balustrade Spy out before he was able to get going. When the Ball-Spy hits I'm at my leisure to choose the win condition of my choice, and there isn't all that much that can be done about it so long as a play smartly. Game two went in much the same way; I had a good hand, which made me get to where I needed to be before he could combo-off. I won 2-0.

Round Four: Vs. Landstill. Another deck that is designed to mess with decks that "play the game normally". Game one I sacked 3 early to Dread Return , but he responded with Force of Will; I had one Bridge from Below in the graveyard so my attempt got me 3 tokens, and I still had another Dread Return in the graveyard, so I gambled on him not having another Force in hand and tried again. This time it was good, and game one ended in short order. He had no dedicated graveyard hate to sideboard in, so game two went much the same way, with the exception of me using Cabal Therapy to try to clear his hand of counter spells before risking a Dread Return . I won 2-0.

Round Five. Vs Junk. Game one I was able to flip my library with an early Griselbrand then brought in Flayer of the Hatebound followed by Golgari Grave-Troll for the win. Game two he was able to slow me down with a couple of Thoughtseize targeting my non-dredgers. In this time he got down a Deathrite Shaman, Scavenging Ooze, and Pithing Needle naming Griselbrand. It took me a few turns to get going, but with a couple Ichorid and Bridge from Below I was able to over run him before he could gain control of the board and put the Ooze and the Shaman to work. I won 2-0.

The rounds finished in a three-way tie in points for first, and I ended up in second place after the tie breakers. With a match record of 4-1 and a games record of 9-2, I was quite pleased with my deck's performance.


Scarman says... #1

A very original deck, funny and powerful too. Congratulations for the deck you created, for the detailed analysis you wrote, and for the result in the tourmanent.

You've really deserved a +1!

February 22, 2013 6:24 p.m.

EvenDryke says... #2

You are the best kind of evil genius. +1 from me.

I really want a mana-free deck now...

March 5, 2013 2:27 a.m.

Blakkhand says... #3

You are running WAY too many reanimation targets. I would reduce that number down to no more than 6 (unless they have additional utility like the chancellor cycle, one of my favorite targets). I would drop your combo as well. It is fun, but it is so easily disruptable you would be better off not using it I think. You could easily replace these cards with things like Gitaxian Probe or a Bloodghast + Dakmor Salvage package. In your sideboard, I don't like the seven land that much. Consider dropping the forests (and probably Reverent Silence as well) for Noxious Revival which would give you similar chances of getting anti-hate while freeing up a lot of your sideboard, which you could fill in with nice things like Chancellor of the Annex against storm and occasionally hate. I have to say that I really like it that more people are catching on to the true power of Balustrade Spy. =)

March 18, 2013 11:35 a.m.

sharoth says... #4

Thanks for the feedback, guys!

Blakkhand, you make a good point, I run more Dread Return targets than are necessary, but I really enjoy the combo aspect and will probably do so until the element of surprise wears off and I need to change to something more defensible. You have some great suggestions (some of which I've tried before) that would make the deck more rounded and stable, but would not, unfortunately, match my current reckless play-style! I feel like Balustrade Dredge is a bit of an all-or-nothing rogue build, and that's kind of why I love it!

Thanks again for the suggestions!

April 15, 2013 3:45 a.m.

Rivotril says... #5

Very nice deck! I'm getting myself a very similar one, except for less Dread Return targets, and on their place the addition of 4x Chancellor of the Annex and 4x Gitaxian Probe for the extra speed! +1 :)

May 3, 2013 1:17 p.m.

Matsi883 says... #6

I'd take out Iona, Shield of Emeria and Flayer of the Hatebound . They're not necessary in the build.

July 7, 2013 7:55 a.m.

ampos says... #7

What happened if the other player cast Rest in Peace or something similar?

March 17, 2014 3:31 p.m.

ampos says... #8

I cloned this deck, but Iona go to main and Azami to sideboard, and Angel of dispair replaced by Elesh Norm.

Played in a litlle tournament with 7 people and 4 rounds, lasting first.

In a 19 people tournament, 5 rounds, 2-2 and 1 tie due to time. Finished 9th.

March 30, 2014 10:46 a.m.

sharoth says... #9

ampos, there is a very simple solution to Rest in Peace : Scoop.

Haha. Manaless Dredge is terrible against hard graveyard-specific hate, you can sideboard to try to deal with it, but I find that even when I do I still loose. I haven't updated this decklist in a while, but I played an updated version of the deck at the Legacy side events at GP Vancouver, and I removed all disenchant from the sideboard in favor of Leyline of the Void , Surgical Extraction , Chancellor of the Annex etc. to help me out against other graveyard or combo decks (aka. likely match-ups that I have a realistic chance of winning). I've accepted that if RIP resolves, I'm done, so I just race Miracles, and don't bother worrying about when I don't get there first. Balustrade Dredge isn't the best deck out there, but its perfectly situated to a meta game where people aren't thinking about graveyards. If Reanimator or Loam-Decks are big in your meta, don't bring Manaless, because you'll get hated out, but if everyone is sideboarding to beat Delver, you can blow them away! That is just to say, Manaless can mess people up and it can get messed up, and which way it goes depends on the decks other people are playing. I'll also say that I won a sealed box of Thereos boosters because I won one of the GP Vancouver side events, going 5-0 in matches without losing a single game because I didn't see any real hate.

Recently I've cut the Reveillark / Azami, Lady of Scrolls win condition since its a bit overkill, and while amusing, not as competitive. I now rely more on Flayer of the Hatebound . I've also swapped Angel of Despair for Ashen Rider since the Rider is way better in that it exiles (can hit indestructible permanents) and has double use. In one match against Omni-Tell, my opponent played Show and Tell he put in Omniscience , I put in Ashen Rider , blowing up his Omniscience . A few turns later I sacked Ashen Rider to Cabal Therapy , blowing up one of his untapped lands in the process leaving him insufficient mana for Pact of Negation , which was the only counter in his hand (Gitaxian Probe !) meaning I could Dread Return Balustrade Spy and go on to win by the end of that turn, or he could Pact, and I win on his upkeep. The moral of the story, Ashen Rider is the way to go!

March 31, 2014 6:31 p.m.

ampos says... #10

Thx for your comments, it was my 15 y.o. boy who played your deck... I don't bother to understand it, it is beyond me :D

I play a mono-red burn/rdw deck in legacy :D

In his last game, he was playing against a mono white deck. They were 1-1 and my son casted Iona, but the other had a aether vial, and my child, eventually, lost. I think it was more dificult to lost than to win :D

OTH, this other guy was the one that won the tournament in the end.

April 1, 2014 2:01 p.m.

You're missing the Angel of Glory's Rise for the easy kill.

April 10, 2014 10:45 a.m.

axeswinga115 says... #12

What if you get hit with a Balustrade Spy or a creature with an ability like that? If they do it on your turn, then pass turn, does that mean an automatic defeat because you couldn't draw?

January 20, 2015 2:38 p.m.

sharoth says... #13

axeswinga115, while it is not particularly common, I have indeed lost a couple of games by having an opponent Reanimate my Balustrade Spy on their turn, and target me with the ability. The key thing to remember is that I lose if I would draw a card when my library is empty, but if I can find a way to keep a card in my library, or win before I have to draw, then I'm fine.

This is why there is Progenitus in the sideboard, so even when I get fully milled, I still have one card in my library, and survive past my next draw step. This is a must board-in against Reanimator decks, for the above reason, and Show and Tell decks so I can drop in Balustrade Spy on their turn and win the next turn if they don't have the kill ready.

I've also had a strange situation where my library was empty and my opponent passed the turn expecting that to be the game... however I had a Flayer of the Hatebound in play and was able to bring in all my Nether Shadow and Ichorid during upkeep, getting lethal damage on him before having to lose in my draw step.

So while it can be a liability, so long as you know what matchups to look out for, and are prepared, you can avoid it.

April 15, 2015 9:28 p.m.

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Date added 5 years
Last updated 3 years

This deck is Legacy legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.30
Tokens 2/2 Zombie
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Top rank #65 on 2013-03-19
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