Deep Analysis – The Dead Return


Wizards R&D has recurred a monster and this monster looks to take over the Modern metagame this winter.

When Golgari Grave-Troll was unbanned on January 19, 2015, players were quite worried due to the card’s potential engine for Modern Dredge.

Fast forward to the release of Shadows over Innistrad.  The additions of Prized Amalgam and Insolent Neonate gave the deck a base once more.  This moved the deck back into the Modern Metagame.

The deck was very strong pre-Kaladesh, but the additions of Scrapheap Scrounger and Cathartic Reunion, the power level of Dredge is through the roof.  We have already had some format warping decks during winter’s past like Combo Winter in 1998 and then Eldrazi Winter just a few months go.

We maybe headed for another one.


What kind of enemy are we facing?

Dredge is lightning quick and very resilient.

Here is a sample decklist post-Kaladesh:

ggt4 Insolent Neonate
4 Bloodghast
4 Narcomoeba
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Golgari Grave-Troll

3 Conflagrate
4 Faithless Looting
3 Cathartic Reunion
2 Life from the Loam

4 Gemstone Mine
3 Aether Hub
1 Dakmor Salvage
3 Wooded Foothills
3 Bloodstained Mire
1 Stomping Ground
1 Blood Crypt
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Steam Vents
1 Mountain


2 Darkblast
2 Lightning Axe
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Collective Brutality
2 Gnaw to the Bone
4 Leyline of the Void

Using rummage effects (Insolent Neonate, Cathartic Reunion) and loot effects (Faithless Looting) allows you to activate the Dredge ability on Golgari Grave-TrollStinkweed Imp, or Life from the Loam to return cards from the graveyard back to your hand instead of drawing cards.  By using Dredge, you put more cards into your graveyard setting up scenarios where you can return multiple creatures from your library or graveyard to play (Narcomoeba, Bloodghast, Prized AmalgamScrapheap Scrounger).  I’ve seen the deck create quite a presence on turn 2 and it usually can kill in as few as 2 attacks as early as turn 4.

How do we stop the onslaught?

While we don’t have any valyrian steel, we might can find some dragon glass.

The deck is very linear and can be disrupted with the correct cards and/or deck.

Graveyard Removal

by Jean-Sébastien Rossbach

by Jean-Sébastien Rossbach

This is the first major tactic that players attempt to control the deck.  There are many cards that deal with the graveyard including Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace, and Leyline of the Void.  Once most of the threats exiled from the graveyard, there isn’t much that the deck can do except deploy threats the old fashion way, by casting them.  That usually slows the clock down quite a bit.  Rest in Peace / Leyline of the Void are much better at this than Relic of Progenitus as you have to time when to crack Relic just right or the opponent can get out from that.

Other useful cards include Scavenging Ooze, Hallowed Moonlight, Surgical Extraction, and Faerie Macabre.

Removal that exiles or puts creatures on the bottom of the owner’s library

Anger of the Gods by Noah Bradley

by Noah Bradley

This one, to me, is the only foul proof method to deal with this deck.

The best cards that see some amount of play in Modern include Path to Exile, Anger of the Gods, Celestial PurgeFlaying Tendrils, Ugin, the Spirit DragonCondemn, and Hallowed Burial.

The board sweepers (Anger of the GodsFlaying Tendrils, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon) are the most effective of the group since they all exile.

Ensnaring Bridge


by Ron Spencer

The only card that shuts the deck almost completely down is Ensnaring Bridge.  Other than attacking, the deck doesn’t have any reach with the exception of Conflagrate and many lists are only running 2 copies but some run up to 4 copies.

There are a couple of decks that are packing this card already in their 75: Lantern Control and varies burn strategies.

Depending on the popularity of Dredge, I’d look into moving to one of those two decks if the undead begin to rampage your metagame.

For the North!

Be prepared this winter or get snowed under in undead.


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