Since the banning of Faithless Looting, Dredge has fallen out of favor in the Modern format. The deck had a couple appearances in some online and SCG classic top 8’s, but outside of that, hadn’t really put up the winning numbers that it used too. Faithless Looting was a card that really felt like it couldn’t be replaced. I still think that stands, as Faithless Looting is a unique card that provides card selection for both your hand and the graveyard. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a card that could take it’s spot with a similar power level.

For those of you who don’t know, Dredge: If you would draw a card, instead you may put exactly x cards from the top of your library into your graveyard. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand. Otherwise, draw a card. So at the beginning of your draw step, you may choose any card that has the dredge ability in your graveyard and mill your own library for however many dredge is listed on the card, i.e. dredge 4.

With the Release of Theros Beyond Death this weekend, I believe Dredge may have found it’s card to fill the void Faithless Looting has left in Ox of Agonas.

Ox Dredge (Sodeq 20th Place Modern Challenge 01/19/20):

Creatures: (24)
Bloodghast
Golgari Thug
Merchant of the Vale
Narcomoeba
Ox of Agonas
Prized Amalgam
Stinkweed Imp

Sorceries: (12)
Cathartic Reunion
Conflagrate
Creeping Chill
Life from the Loam

Artifacts: (4)
Shriekhorn

Lands: (20)
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Copperline Gorge
Dakmor Salvage
Forgotten Cave
Mountain
Scalding Tarn
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard: (15)
Conflagrate
Ancient Grudge
Blast Zone
Leyline of Sanctity
Lightning Axe
Nature’s Claim
Thoughtseize

At first glance, the Ox of Agonas is essentially another Bedlam Reveler with a 4/2 body. Bedlam Reveler has seen some appearances in Dredge before, but never really could find its place in the deck. Dredge is creature deck with a graveyard base strategy and there just aren’t enough instant and sorceries to consistently turn on your Reveler. Enter in Ox of Aganos. Part of the reason why Faithless Looting was so good in Dredge decks, was its ability to be cast from the graveyard.

Dredge is able to put a lot of cards into the graveyard very quickly and needs something to do once the graveyard is full (given that your opponent is still alive afterward). Ox of Agnos helps fill the “curve” for dredge as a potentially game winning play on turn 3. Casting a 5/3 from your graveyard, discard your hand full of dredgers and filling your graveyard with 12 or 15 cards, seems unbeatable. When playing Dredge, there are points during a game where dredging 4 a turn just isn’t enough to push you ahead on board state or apply enough pressure on your opponent to force game actions. Ox of Agonas’ ability to discard cards, that have a tendency to just sit in your hand doing nothing, is often the final push needed to win the game.

Post board games with Dredge can be very tricky as a sub-game is played when deciding what kind of hand to keep. Do you keep a hand that is powerful, but has no answer to graveyard hate? Do you keep a hand with answer to graveyard hate, but no powerful follow up? Ox of Agonas is a card that allows you to keep hands that have answers to graveyard hate because it’s ability will impact the board the second it resolves. It is four-mana, which is slow for Dredge, but often in post-board games, opponents will keep hands that aren’t as powerful given they have graveyard hate in it. So four-mana doesn’t seem so bad when they game typically slows down in post-board anyway.

The rest of the list is pretty much stock when it comes to Dredge standards post Faithless Looting ban. Merchant of the Vale from Throne of Eldraine has really found a home in Dredge as pseudo-one drop 5, 6 and 7, falling behind the four Shriekhorn. A real balance for the deck will be between the number Oxen and Conflagrate the decks plays, as they function similarly in the deck. Ox of Agonas is clearly a more powerful card than Conflagrate and side with Sodeq on the 3-1 split.

I don’t have any modern tournaments coming up, but if I did, I would strongly consider playing Dredge.

Could Ox of Agonas been seen in any other decks in Modern or other Formats?

My first thought is no. There aren’t too many ways for it to maximize its ability to be cast from the graveyard in any other archetype in Modern, with the exception of one deck which will be featured here later this week so I’ll let my colleague Abby Rose Gibson expand on that-no spoilers here.

Pioneer has seen recent development with graveyard strategies, but most of them revolve around the Chronic Flooding, Underworld Breach and Hidden Strings. Maybe the Ox can find into an engine like that, but doesn’t really feel like it adds anything to the engine. Arclight Phoenix or Bedlam Reveler may be better fits since neither of them are taxing to the graveyard and are both essentially “free spells” once the engine is going.

Standard has a few graveyard strategy decks running around. UR Phoenix is what, I would say, is the most viable. There could be a world where the Ox of Agonas is good in a deck like UR Phoenix, the only issue is there aren’t a lot of good ways to fill up your graveyard. Once you have reached the point of doing so, something like Crackling Drake seems better in the four-drop slot as it is an enormous threat that needs to be dealt with. However, there could be a world where you play 4 Arclight Phoenix, 2 Crackling Drake and 2 Ox of Agonas, i just don’t know if it would be able to keep up with the other decks in the format.

A mono-red Fires of Invention deck is another place where Ox of Agonas could be found. However, Cavalier of Flame already has this effect and its ability far more relevant in the deck. The ability on the Ox is not a “may” ability, and discarding your hand of Cavalier of Flame and Purphoros does not seem ideal.

Mono-red aggro is another possible choice for Ox of Agonas to fit into, but currently the four drop slot is being preoccupied by Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and I wouldn’t for a second consider swapping him out.