The Hall of Fame
I recently outlined how I would be looking to the community for your opinions on who to choose for my 2012 Pro Tour Hall of Fame ballot and you sent them to me in great quantity. I had a strong gut feeling of who I would be voting for this year after seeing the list of candidates and your comments tweets and emails confirmed that the five I had in mind would indeed be the five getting my vote.
My ballot is identical to many others I've seen from some of the game and community's best already so at least I know I've not made a total hash of it! However this means you'll likely have read many words on these fine gentlemen already so I'll keep it brief.
Easily one of the top ten (and for many top five) Magic players to have ever lived and he's younger than me and still has years of play ahead of him! If Paulo continues on his current trajectory we will be having serious discussions as to whether he is the #1 player of all time in years to come. A very easy first pick he was the player most mentioned/suggested in your comments.
Narrowly the second most mentioned player by you Kenji was another easy pick. Impressive stats and well thought of by all many of you also noted his continuing contributions to the Japanese Magic official site despite being on a break from pro play due to focusing on his studies.
Several voters expressed concern before the voting was opened that Oiso wouldn't get the votes they felt he deserved because of a potential Western bias from the American and European players. Fortunately though this does not seem to be the case and Oiso was not far behind Kenji in number of mentions from the community. As if that and his six PT top 8s weren't enough a number of Tweets such as this one would surely seal the deal:
Brian David-Marshall (@Top8Games) June 22 2012
I was happy to see Patrick ranked #4 by your mentions as while you may not consider his stats to be as strong as some of the other potential choices he was one of the players I most wanted to vote for. Back in 2007 it was this semifinal matchup on live coverage that really got me hooked good and proper on Magic illustrating so well the intense moments it can create that you might not expect to witness from a tabletop game (see also: Joey Pasco's Inception remix). It also cemented Patrick as the first of many "favorite players" I've had since.
Back to the present though. Full disclosure there were a handful of people (general public not pros I must say) who told me NOT to vote for him. As I've said before any trouble in his past outside the game is not relevant to this discussion; it's simply not fair in my opinion to have that hang over him forever. Also I can appreciate people/things that are a little controversial—without someone who dislikes or even HATES you/your product/your company no one truly LOVES you/it either. Patrick's contributions to the Magic community have been huge and while the self-styled "Innovator" may be largely thought appropriate for his dogged determination to make control work in every format for me the real innovation is in the range of ways he's found to add to the game and shake up his writing over the years.
My final vote was the slightly difficult one with a handful of the more notable "old school" players all receiving a similar number of mentions and amount of lobbying from the community. It was "Huey" that ended up coming out on top though beating the likes of Chris Pikula and Justin Gary to my final slot. He stopped playing before I started so a little background reading was necessary. I found amongst other things a GP Top 8 with Battle of Wits* a Master's Series (which is apparently very similar to a PT) win and numerous great pros singing his praises with the Jon Finkel even saying that he should definitely be in the Hall of Fame.
This isn't the "Hall of players Jon Finkel likes" though so it did take your support as well to seal the vote. With Battle of Wits having just been reprinted in M13 and the big announcement of who has made it in this year being made on his birthday I can't help but feel the planets are lining up for Huey...
As alluded to above Chris Pikula and Justin Gary were ranked #6 and #7 by number of community positive mentions and after hearing of the many wonderful and inspiring things they have said and done over the years I can only hope they make it into the Hall in years to come.
Chris is well known for fighting cheaters and other scummy players in the early days of the Pro Tour and for being the Meddling Mage but I also heard a lovely story in which he sent some signed cards without being asked at all to a young Magic player who had written to him as part of a school project.
I was surprised to see very little support for Saito at this point in time; the feeling I've seen shared by pros and community alike is "He's served his time but let's wait til he's back on the train before voting him in." As I write this he's 5-1 at a PTQ in Tokyo so I imagine that time won't be long away.
Finally without any community prompting or campaigning behind this I really hope Paul Rietzl gets a ring at some point in the future. Man I love me some Rietzl. He writes among the best tournament reports of any player out there is always fun to watch/read about at big events and is to aggro what Chapin or Wafo-Tapa is to control. I mean look at the guy; he has literally no idea what these cards do.
*If anyone ever wins a PT with Battle of Wits they should be enshrined into the Hall of Fame on the spot.
The Dredge Box
So you want to play Dredge.
On occasion you'd like to completely ignore the "rules" of how Magic is played spend approximately three mana total per game pour your graveyard out in front of you and kill your opponent with some pimp cards from another TCG that represent 2/2 Zombies.
That's cool me too.
I'm not the best person to tell you exactly how to play the deck (see appendix for the strategy guides I keep going back to) but I am the guy to tell you what you need to own to build it in both Legacy and Vintage.
Enter the Dredge Box.
It's like Patrick Sullivan's fabled "Red Box" only with Dredge cards in it instead and no Arabian Nights Mountains to be found.
The following is a list of all the cards that have been played as far as I am aware (with thanks to Dredge expert Matt Elias for double-checking for me) in successful Legacy or Vintage Dredge decks in the past eighteen months. Because the deck changes very little with each new set release once you have acquired the following you will need to spend very little to maintain it over time (barring any major format shakeups).
I have organized this into some sections that make sense at least in my mind. Quantities of each card required are given at the start of each section but exceptions are marked in brackets along with an L or V if that card is only played in one of the formats. Sometimes I have made a useful or "witty" comment as well.
The Core of the Deck
You 100% without question need four of each of these cards before you can even consider playing Dredge.
Golgari Thug – Some lists play only a couple but I am solidly in the twelve Dredgers camp. Also remember it has text other than "Dredge 4" on it; for example it can be relevant for "resetting" a Narcomoeba.
Cabal Therapy - Learn to play this well and your opponents will think you are literally reading their mind.
Dread Return (3)
Serum Powder (V)
The Creatures That Come Back From the Dead
Gravecrawler – Has not seen a great amount of play yet but there's certainly potential.
Not included – Ashen Ghoul (we have much better options now than when Stephen Menendian wrote about this early Vintage list) Vengevine. Right now all the best draw/discard enablers are spells but if say Lion's Eye Diamond was banned in Legacy and a bunch of great one- and two-mana creature-based enablers were printed Vengevine could be playable.
The Discard and Draw Enablers
You need to get (dredge) cards into your graveyard and then have means of drawing them back to your hand again. The following fulfill one or both of these roles and four of each are required.
Faithless Looting – A+; would cast again. Best buddies with LED.
Breakthrough – GAS. Along with Looting and LED allows you to race equally fast combo decks. Usually the first thing to board out.
Deep Analysis (2) – Has fallen out of favor recently and is mainly played be people who think abbreviating its name is hilarious.
Gigapede – For the Legacy "manaless Dredge" lists that were popular a while ago.
Burning Inquiry – I've never tried it but apparently someone has.
The Lands and Other Mana Sources
Sometimes you actually need to play lands and even generate mana to win games as disappointing as that can be for your "not playing by the rules" deck. Four of each required.
Petrified Field (V) – Used to get back Wastelanded Bazaars
Tarnished Citadel – The big ouch.
Black Lotus (V 1)
Fetchlands + Dual Lands – Some decks in the past have played a more "traditional" Eternal mana base but in my opinion it's not any better/necessary.
Dryad Arbor (2) – Pretty much exclusive to the fetchland/dual based decks.
The Dread Return Targets
These are all game 1 Reanimation targets—the sideboarded ones appear later. You usually only need one of each.
Flame-Kin Zealot (2) – Your "I win now" target; you need this plus six Zombies on the battlefield when he enters play to kill an opponent from 20. Often left out as unnecessary these days before Faithless Looting was printed a second was sometimes sideboarded in versus equally fast combo decks.
Blazing Archon – For aggro.
Sadistic Hypnotist – If you want to entirely empty your opponent's hand.
Sun Titan (3) – Usually played in higher numbers in Vintage where he can return dredged Bazaars.
Angel of Despair – Your all-purpose solution to problem permanents.
Woodfall Primus – Again answers an awkward permanent.
Iona Shield of Emeria – GG mono-color decks!
Elesh Norn Grand Cenobite – For small-dude based decks (Elves Goblins etc.).
Flayer of the Hatebound – Allows you to win without using the attack step.
The Sideboard and Other Cards
The following cards are either sideboard cards for certain hate cards you may see/a specific Dread Return target for a given matchup or are just used to round out the last few slots in a deck/to pre-board a little. The DR targets are one-ofs; the others you'll want 2-4 of.
Leyline of Sanctity – Versus Tendrils Oath Mono Red.
Chain of Vapor (5) – One is hidden in your lap/up your sleeve at all times. Try to avoid registering this extra copy/having a judge see you use it. #samejokeeverytime
Nature's Claim – A common pre-board choice in Vintage.
Unmask – I'm a big fan of this one; it has been great for me against combo decks.
Leyline of the Void – For the mirror and other graveyard decks; common four-of pre-board in Vintage.
Firestorm – Uncounterable discard outlet and wrecker of small mans.
Chalice of the Void (V) – Four-of in many Vintage maindecks where on the play it stops all of your opponent's artifact mana. I don't like it very much but accept I am the odd one out here and probably wrong.
Noxious Revival – Not yet tried this one myself so I'm reserving judgment but it did come up a couple of times in my research. I will use "NYTM" on other cards in this list to indicate a similar (lack of) opinion.
Coffin Purge – NYTM.
Echoing Truth – NYTM.
Memory's Journey – NYTM.
Ancestor's Chosen – DR target versus aggro/burn.
Inkwell Leviathan – NYTM.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind – Lifelinking and unkillable DR target versus certain decks.
Stormtide Leviathan – NYTM.
Emrakul the Aeons Torn – These last two might seem to make no sense whatsoever in a deck that does not want the reshuffle effect at all. However they are a one-card sideboard versus Painter's Servant / Grindstone decks.
Realm Razer (L) – GG 43 lands.
Aura Thief (L) – GG Enchantress.
Llawan Cephalid Empress – GG Merfolk.
Sundering Titan – GerryT used it for a bit; ask him.
River Kelpie – Previously popular "carry on going" DR target.
Force of Will – No one EVER sees this coming though most builds do not have enough blue cards to support it.
Null Rod – Fights Moxen and certain graveyard hate.
Stifle – NYTM.
Mindbreak Trap – Storm etc.
Ingot Chewer- Increasingly seen in Vintage maindecks.
Reverent Silence – In the fetchland/dual decks.
Crop Rotation (V) – Finds you a Bazaar.
Massacre Wurm – Probably worse than Elesh Norn 95% of the time.
Mental Misstep (V)
Finally I must admit my sinister side-motive for writing this list for you all. I am sure many of you would like to read similar listings of what is in Patrick Sullivan's "Red Box" Ari Lax's "Storm Tin" or Shaheen Soorani's "Expensive Sorceries Folder"—so perhaps between seeing an example in this one and some gentle encouragement from you they and others may be persuaded to write such articles!
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