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Dawn of the Deaf: Grand Prix Indy Top 8 Report

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Hello, all. I’m Ando Ferguson, a deaf player who piloted Dredge to a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix: Indianapolis. First, let’s get this out of the way. Here’s my list:

To address a couple of specific questions about my list:

Flayer of the Hatebound
Why Flayer of the Hatebound instead of Flame-Kin Zealot?

The Flayer allows me to win in many situations that Flame-Kin Zealot cannot. Examples: winning through twenty Zombie blockers against a dredge deck (which actually happened!) or winning despite an Elephant Grass or Blazing Archon in play. I also liked the fact that it could burn a creature in desperate situations.

Why did I run the third Dread Return?

To make maximal use of the Flayer of the Hatebound, you must have two Dread Returns in the graveyard. Running only two Dread Returns decreases your chances of finding the second in a timely manner. For those people who do not know, to win with the Flayer, I Dread Return it to the battlefield, deal 4 damage to my opponent, sacrifice it to cast the second Dread Return—it has undying, so that triggers—and it comes back to deal 5 to my opponent. The Golgari Grave-Troll I targeted with my second Dread Return then enters the battlefield. At this point, there should be at least eleven creatures in my graveyard, so the Grave-Troll should deal 11 or more to my opponent, for a total of 20 damage . . . equaling a dead opponent.

Why were the fourth Cabal Therapy and two Ichorids in the sideboard?

That’s because I decided to make sure to help me parlay my greatest advantage: the ability to nearly always win every Game 1. Ichorids are among the most slowest aspects of my deck. I nearly never managed to return any Ichorids in any first game all through the tournament. The Cabal Therapys are at their best against hate, and since most decks do not have maindeck hate in Game 1, why would I want to waste a slot on something that did not come up frequently in the first games? I nearly always sided in the Therapies in Games 2 and 3.

Why did I run the Chain of Vapors when Richard Feldman’s article says that it’s never needed to run anti-hate?

Because he is utterly wrong. I always end up needing anti-hate cards. I can only hypothesize he is trying to make Dredge players pilot suboptimal decks (joking).

 


Now that’s out of the way; let me start my tournament report!

For the few days before the tournament, I was agonizing between Dredge and W/U Stoneblade. I believed that Dredge was well-positioned in the metagame, but after seeing it do well at the SCG Open right beforehand, I was concerned about people bringing along an array of graveyard hate. What drew me to W/U Stoneblade were the facts that I love Stoneforge Mystic and I do not usually play Force of Wills. Finally, on Thursday night, after some playtesting and Commander (which I naturally won with my fearsome Jaya Ballard, Task Mage deck), my friends Doug Hanrion and Mike Stanley urged me to play Dredge. I was inclined to agree because I kept on making stupid misplays with Stoneblade due to my inexperience with the deck. I was not making those misplays with my Dredge deck. As an aside, I have been playing Dredge in Legacy for the last two years, which I feel qualifies me to consider myself really good with the deck.

After settling on a Dredge deck, which already included Flayer of the Hatebound since the day Dark Ascension came out, I had a good night’s sleep and headed out to Indianapolis in the morning. There were three of us, and we drove to University of Maryland to pick up Ben Friedman. Once we were on the road, Ben and I proceeded to playtest Legacy. I learned several things about his masterful piloting of W/U Stoneblade. I also learned that playing with a thirty-card graveyard in a car moving seventy miles per hour made things slightly difficult.

I arrived at the hotel twelve hours later. I sat down and realized that playing only three Cephalid Coliseums was probably a mistake because I noticed I wasn’t drawing enough lands all day. I decided to cut a Sphinx of Lost Truths and replace it with a Coliseum. This turned out to be the correct choice, although I wished I put the Sphinx in my sideboard instead of cutting it entirely.

Firestorm
Arriving at the tournament, I was really impressed by the size of the Colts stadium. I was envisioning us playing Legacy on the field of the Colts with spectators in the stands. No such thing. Instead, we were directed to a subterranean convention hall. Bah! After I paid the entry fee and received my Goblin Guide but no play mat, I decided to browse the dealers. I picked up a really sweet judge foil Doubling Season. It’s gonna go in my Ghave Commander deck. Aside: I currently have thirteen Commander decks, and I’m considering a fourteenth. I also saw Firestorm at the dealers, and I realized that it should go into my sideboard, so I cut three Nature's Claims for Firestorms at the last minute before I wrote up my deck list. Why Firestorm? I was really worried about Maverick decks.

The player’s meeting began, and I sat bored out of my mind, wishing they could at least hand me a script of what the judges were saying. I really dislike asking the player across me to please, “Let me know if they say anything important,” and hope that the guy is nice enough to actually write down important things. Wizards of the Coast: Is there any way that you can make the script available to players upon request at major tournaments?

Round 1

After the “moment of silence” ended, I went to see where I was at for the first round. I made a nice discovery. I had a bye! Sweet. I then went browsing at the dealers. After buying too many cards, I saw and bought a German Flayer of the Hatebound. I immediately upgraded the one in my deck. Then, Round 2 and my tournament finally began.

Round 2 – Nick Becvar with Maverick

Scavenging Ooze
Game 1: I lost the die roll. (I have almost never won a dice roll in a long time. No idea why—maybe my opponents just know how to roll higher numbers than mine.) His opening: turn-one Noble Hierarch. Mine: Careful Study, discarding a Grave-Troll. He plays: turn-two Scavenging Ooze. I promptly lose.

Note: I don’t really recall what I sided in or out in most matches. What I recall: I did not side in Chain of Vapor.

Game 2: I have an extremely slow hand. He casts a Wheel of Sun and Moon on the second turn, and that was game. I forgot that the Wheel was in Maverick’s sideboards. I feel extremely concerned with the rest of the tournament because if I was going to face Maverick decks all day, I can see no way to make Day 2.

1–1

Round 3 – Robert Johnson with Dredge

Game 1: I shuffle up, lose the roll, and see him with a City of Brass and a Putrid Imp. I laugh and go Lion's Eye Diamond (LED) in Breakthrough for the quick win. (Cast LED, cast Breakthrough, break LED in response for 3 red mana, discard my hand, dredge like crazy.)

Game 2: He Leyline of the Voids me. I can’t draw an answer before I die.

Game 3: He goes busted, but he can’t find the Flame-Kin Zealot to send his army of twenty Zombies at my face, so he passes the turn to me. I’m able to barely combo off with the Flayer directly at his head. This was a game I would not win with Flame-Kin Zealot.

2–1

Round 4 – Tim Morrsion with Twelvepost Eldrazi

I keep a couple of bad hands, and he just blows me out with fast ramping into Eldrazi. I found the deck a pleasure to watch in action. I’m now really worried about my bad start to the tournament.

2–2

Round 5 – Travis Short with Belcher

Empty the Warrens
Game 1: I lose the die roll as usual. He shuffles and hands me the deck to cut. I shuffle, and then notice one sleeve slightly of a different color. I call the judge. After a moment of discussion, the judge allows him to replace the sleeve with the correct color. I have no idea why he doesn’t earn the game loss here, but I just roll with it. Aside: Judges, when dealing with deaf players, please be considerate and write down what you are telling the opponent. Anyway, in the process of replacing the sleeve, he shows that it was an Empty the Warrens. I quickly place him on Belcher, and I was right. He turn-one Warrens for ten. I go busted and am able to kill him with Flayer on the second turn.

Game 2: He keeps a hand without a win condition and plays a Tinder Wall. I take a gamble and guess he won’t know that saccing the Wall would get rid of my Bridges. I was right, and I was able to fire off four Cabal Therapys on the second turn, hitting two Chrome Mox, two Simian Spirit Guides, and one Seething Song. He’s left with zero cards in hand, and he scoops.

3–2

Round 6 – Derrick Tubbs with High Tide

Game 1: I go busted and kill him after I Cabal Therapy a couple of High Tides away.

Game 2: I choke and dredge really slowly. I only get one Narcomoeba and one land in play, and I Cabal Therapy him a few times, hitting nothing significant. He ends up casting Time Spiral with six lands in play, incidentally shuffling my graveyard into the deck. He is unable to combo off. He ships the turn to me. My Time Spiraled hand: Breakthrough, Faithless Looting, two Lion's Eye Diamonds, two Golgari Grave-Trolls, and land. I proceed to dump my deck in the graveyard and win that turn.

4–2

Round 7 – Jason Adams with Hive Mind

Progenitus
Game 1: He turn-twos a Progenitus into play with Show and Tell. I’m able to kill him faster than his Progenitus can kill me.

Game 2: He opens with a Leyline of the Void. I do not have a Chain of Vapor in hand. He then Show and Tells out an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. My response? I flip an Angel of Despair. Bye-bye, Flying Spaghetti Monster. He bounces my Angel back to my hand. I hard-cast two Golgari Thugs, and they thug away at Jason until he dies—with the help of a hard-cast Ichorid for an extra 3 damage.

5–2

Round 8 – Mark Moritz-Rabson with A Deck I Couldn’t Identify . . . Four-Colored Loam?

Game 1: I kill him before he does much.

Game 2: I Cabal Therapy him for some card, see that he has an Enlightened Tutor in hand, and then I Cabal Therapy him again. He slides paper over to me, which I feel is the same as telling me it resolved and asking me to name a card. I write down Enlightened Tutor, and then he stops me and tries to cast the Tutor. I tell him that it was too late, and then we call a judge. After ten minutes of discussion with the judge, the judge rules in my favor. (Judge: Same thing; please write down what you say. It would be much appreciated.) I proceed to destroy him. Postgame, he tosses out almost his entire sideboard, which is all very good against me, gathers his cards up, and tearfully walks away. I feel guilty.

6–2

Round 9 – Dan Musser with Zoo

Wild Nacatl
I realized that I needed to win this round to make Day 2, which would be a huge accomplishment for me because to the best of my knowledge, no deaf guy has ever made Day 2 of a Grand Prix before. I’m paired up against a pretty friendly guy. As he shuffles, I see a Savannah and a Windswept Heath. I groan because he’s probably playing Maverick, which was my worst nightmare at that point.

Game 1: He opens with a Wild Nacatl, which actually makes me smile—I now know my chance of victory is upgraded from 0% to 100%. He is only able to drop a Goblin Guide after that . . . before I kill him.

Game 2: I go all-in with Breakthrough and Lion's Eye Diamond. It backfires epically when he discards a Faerie Macabre to remove my dredgers from the graveyard before I draw. I lose quickly.

Game 3: He agonizes about whether to keep or mulligan. He ends up keeping. I open with a slow but respectable hand, and I keep. I Careful Study and lose two Trolls to Macabre. I pass the turn, and he ships it back to me. He kept a no-lander. He never draws a land and loses.

7–2

I feel elated at this point, and then I make a stop at Taco Bell, buy a pile of food, and go to sleep.

Round 10, Day 2 – Bob Yu with The Epic Storm

Game 1: His land drop makes it obvious he’s on Storm. I Cabal Therapy blind, and I hit an Infernal Tutor. He tries and doesn’t draw anything after that. I get rid of his Dark Rituals, and then he casts Burning Wish for Past in Flames, but he never casts it. I flay him alive with my Flayer of the Hatebound.

Game 2: I open very aggressively, so he casts Diminishing Returns with no mana floating, but he is unable to win, so he ships the turn. Apparently, when people give me a new hand, I’m guaranteed to draw the nuts. I kill him.

8–2

Round 11 – Joel Gagnon with Maverick

I figure out how to win against Maverick this round: Win die roll, win turn one. Lose Game 2. Repeat Game 1.

9–2

Round 12 – Max Tietze with Maverick

Grafdigger's Cage
Game 1: I win die roll, and I win turn one—I even cast a Cabal Therapy naming Squire at one point in my turn.

Game 2: He drops a turn-one Grafdigger's Cage. I proceed to dredge a little bit, and then he drops a Scavenging Ooze. I go for it by bouncing the Cage, then dredge a lot, then Dread Return an Elesh Norn into play for the win.

10–2

At this point, I feel unbeatable.

Round 13 – David Sharfman with Hive Mind

Game 1: I lose the die roll. He drops an Island with a fancy picture. I ask him if he was on High Tide. He says “yes.” I explode on my turn one, but he scoops after I Cabal Therapy him. I suspect that meant I was wrong about High Tide.

Game 2: He turned out to be on Hive Mind, and he combos off on me the turn before I’d have killed him.

Game 3: I explode and kill him with ease.

11–2

Round 14: [Unnamed] with Hive Mind

Hive Mind
As we shuffle up, he calls a judge out of nowhere and refuses to write. I get slightly aggravated. The judge sits down next to me and explains to me that he’s there by request to ensure that no communication difficulties arise. Thanks a lot, uncommunicative opponent. I blow him out Games 1 and 2.

12–2

Elated at making the Top 8, I look and see that I’d have to win one more to make it in the Top 8. Depressed, I walk to the pairings and see I’m paired against Ben Friedman. I’m severely worried because on the trip up to Indy, he kept on winning against me. It always sucks playing against a friend.

Round 15 – Ben Friedman with W/U Stoneblade

Game 1: He keeps a slow hand, and he just scoops against my fast opening.

Game 2: A Surgical Extraction on my Ichorid slows me down enough for his Stoneforge-for-Batterskull to exile all my Bridge from Belows and beat me down.

Game 3: He keeps a really bad hand with four lands and no grave hate, and he is unable to do anything when I go nuts on the second turn.

13–2

I apologize for knocking a friend out of the Top 8, and I go to the head table. After a bit of confusion, I finally convince somebody to tell me how they do the Top 8.

Top 8, Round 1 – Colin Chilbert with High Tide

High Tide
I’m paired up against a High Tide guy with a cool The Source play mat.

Game 1: I draw a hand, try to go nuts, and fizzle when I’m unable to dredge my fourth Narcomoeba in time before he Cunning Wishes for a Ravenous Trap and murders me.

Game 2: My deck finally decides to melt down on me, forcing me to mulligan all the way to four cards: two lands, a Faithless Looting, and a Golgari Grave-Troll. I take it, but I’m unable to do much before he combos off on turn four. I’m not too put off by this, seeing that my expectation for the tournament was to go 3–3 and drop. I’m happy with my placing.

13–3

I wish my opponent good luck and go to collect my prize. I find out that it’ll be mailed to me in three weeks. Ah, well.

 


Sphinx of Lost Truths
Going forward, I’d cut my Firestorms from my sideboard because they ended up never used, and I’d replace them with one Sphinx of Lost Truths, one Chain of Vapor, and one Faerie Macabre. This is to help me draw Chain of Vapor in games in which Leyline of the Void comes down, to give me Sphinx when I need to make sure my dredge engine will be running at full power against the combo matchups, and to make sure I have a Faerie Macabre in my opener against other dredge decks and Reanimator. Otherwise, I really love this deck, and I’ll probably keep on playing it.

Props: My friend Doug telling me to play Dredge, Taco Bell for being awesome, Flayer of the Hatebound for flaying my opponents alive through two days, Tom Martell for a really cool usage of Intuition, and myself for being possibly the first deaf Magic: The Gathering player to Top 8 a Grand Prix and earn Pro Points.

Slops: Knocking out Ben Friedman, my Round 14 opponent, and unclear judge communication. (Don’t get me wrong—the judges were really great, but they could have done a bit better).

Keep dredging!

Ando Ferguson