Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Dredge Work in Magic?
Magic's dredge mechanic is a powerful tool that lets you substitute your turn's draw to add a card with dredge from your graveyard to your hand. You also send a number of cards from the top of your deck to the graveyard equal to the listed dredge value.
Not only does this help you reclaim spells, but it's also perfect for quickly stocking your graveyard, empowering certain spells. But despite their renown, only a handful of dredge spells exist; which reign supreme? These are the ten best dredge cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Dakmor Salvage
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 0
Like a basic swamp, Salvage simply taps for a black mana, but it enters tapped, so you have to wait to use it. But its dredge two lets you recover it from your graveyard by milling two cards off the top of your deck and forfeiting a draw, especially handy in graveyard-reliant black themes.
Not only does this spell have arguably the best name of any Magic card, it's a nice check against artifact-heavy commander decks. For two mana, you simply destroy an artifact at sorcery speed. Admittedly, there are cheaper and faster red spells that do this, but none have this card's dredge one (a weaker dredge, but still nice to have available), perfect when you need to shut down a "Sol Ring" or "Paradox Engine".
8. Grave-Shell Scarab
Scarab has a pretty specific cost, and considering his price, he's only average at 4/4. However, you can spend a mana and sacrifice him to draw a card, a nice response to a removal that would kill him anyway. This also sets Scarab up for his dredge one, rotating him between your hand, field, and graveyard as needed.
Necroplasm begins as a weak 1/1, but automatically gains a +1/+1 counter during your upkeep, gradually becoming a bigger threat. However, at your end step, he destroys each creature with cost equal to his +1/+1 counters.
This means that unless you somehow save him (perhaps by regenerating or proliferating), Necroplasm will eventually kill himself alongside other cost-three creatures. Still, he's a great anti-token measure (destroying all tokens when he ends your first turn with zero counters), and even if he destroys himself, he'll be set to activate his dredge two.
Darkblast instantly gives a creature -1/-1 for the turn—use this to weaken foes once blockers are already locked in. And despite its low cost, it has an impressive dredge three, rapidly supplying your graveyard with fuel to exploit.
5. Golgari Thug
Even for his low cost, Thug is a weak 1/1, and he lacks useful subtypes like vampire or zombie. But when he dies, you can place a creature from your graveyard on top of your deck, helping reclaim defeated aces. He's also got dredge four, another fantastic way to stock your graveyard.
4. Shambling Shell
3/1 aren't great stats for Shell's cost, but you can sacrifice him at any time to give a creature a +1/+1 counter, ensuring Shell won't go down without a fight and setting himself up for dredge three.
And unlike most dredge creatures, Shell actually has a useful zombie subtype (plus plant for good measure), blending well with black's most abundant faction.
3. Stinkweed Imp
Imp is a weak 1/2, but he's actually a potent blocker since he has flying and destroys any creature he deals combat damage to (similar to deathtouch). And even once he dies, his powerful dredge five can recover him while stockpiling your discard pile.
A frequent member of my own zombie and golgari decks, Imp is also surprisingly cheap, costing less than two dollars!
2. Life from the Loam
Even without dredge, Loam's a strong card, recovering up to three lands from your graveyard for just two mana. Coupled with dredge three, you can easily gain massive amounts of card advantage, ensuring you're never without a land drop. Blend with lands that sacrifice other lands like "Lotus Vale" for even more synergy.
1. Golgari Grave-Troll
Grave-Troll provides an example of why it helps to stock your graveyard, entering with a +1/+1 counter for each creature in yours. You can spend a mana and remove one of these counters to regenerate him, a helpful defense.
Or, just let him die to soon activate Troll's dredge six, the biggest dredge yet. By doing so, you'll probably fill your graveyard with more creatures, making Troll even bigger when he next arrives.
Using Dredge in Magic
So, beyond recovering cards, what are some applications for dredge? Try using it to set graveyard-activated effects like flashback, aftermath, and threshold, or to strengthen effects that play off graveyards (like "Rise of the Dark Realms").
As powerful as dredge is, watch out for mill decks and graveyard-exiling spells, both of which dredge can struggle against. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of self-recovering dredge spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill