Brewing in a Top Hat: Bant Dredge Dance Standard + Historic Guide
Hello everyone, I’m MonkeyInATopHat, and I am a Johnny-Spike who writes deck profiles for Standard, Historic, and Arena events for some of my friends! I have just started to write for MTG Arena Zone, and I hope you enjoy this spicy brew I have for you all today. I’ve been polishing this list for various metas ever since Theros came out. Without further ado, enjoy!
Standard Bant Dredge Dance
This is a Control-based Reanimator list that wants to out-value your opponents through card advantage gained through leveraging your graveyard. It focuses on milling your own library and then reanimating and Escaping different threats to grind down your opponents then overwhelm them. There are so many neat little interactions in this list; it’s a ton of fun for Johnnies/Jennies, but it can also take some games from the top tier decks out there. One big thing you will have going for you if you try this list out is that no one knows what it is doing. We will have to see how the meta shakes out, but I expect that, with the banning of Cauldron Familiar in Standard, that we will see far less graveyard hate than was previously around. This puts you in a great spot to take a reanimator deck into Standard.
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath What else is there to say about Uro at this point? The card just does it all. He will be your main creature reanimation target – just mill him into your graveyard then escape him over and over for incredible value.
4 The Binding of the Titans Symmetrical mill is important for you because it turns on your Vantress Gargoyles while fueling your reanimation game plan. The second tick is surprisingly relevant, because it can hit opposing escape targets like enemy Uros. The third tick can fix your mana by grabbing a land, get back the right creature like Emry or Uro, or even get back a board wipe in Realm Cloaked Giant. All in all, a versatile and effective card for this deck.
3 Dance of the Manse This will usually be your game ending spell, but don’t be afraid to cast it on x=2 for a great tempo swing. If it brings back a combination of two of Vantress Gargoyle, Binding of the Titans, and Witching Well, you are getting incredible value.
4 Vantress Gargoyle Cheap and big-bodied, these guys do everything you want. They stall versus aggro, and they stock the graveyard. Most importantly, they are a huge threat once they can attack. One fun trick you can do is Aether Gust something important then, if they put it on top, you can activate the Gargoyle’s ability to mill it. Powerful? Situationally. Hilarious? Always. You can also do this when they scry and put things on top, so look out for it.
4 Witching Well Fix your draws, fill your hand, recur card draw with Emry, and reanimate with Dance of the Manse all in a neat, little one mana artifact package. I love this little addition, and I love having a card I can play on turn one.
4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch The self-mill can get your Uros and Gargoyles into the graveyard. Her tap ability can enable repeated Scry 2/Draw 2 with Witching Well. Vantress Gargoyles can be replayed with her, which forces your opponents to deal with Emry before dealing with your blockers. Aggro really suffers against this strategy if you can get both out quickly. The amount of resources they have to put into dealing with it can be enough to let you play your game ending spells.
4 Shark Typhoon This card seems to have been made for this deck. You can cycle it early to use as a blocker, or to get over your opponent’s blockers to take out a pesky planeswalker (I’m looking at you, Narset). You can then bring it back with Dance, and it costs the exact amount you need to make it a creature! Big sharks are a great way to close out a game that has stalled, or to come back from behind.
The Removal Package
2 Shatter the Sky Board control is key to winning with this deck, and this board wipe can replace itself. Don’t be afraid to kill your own Vantress Gargoyles with it, as they can be reanimated with Emry or Dance of the Manse. A common line of play against aggro is to play Vantress Gargoyle on turn two to scare off attackers, then play Shatter the Sky on turn four for a huge tempo swing.
2 Realm-Cloaked Giant A board wipe that doesn’t kill Uro can be clutch. Binding of the Titans can get you this board wipe back if you mill it because it’s technically a creature, turning Binding into a powerful toolbox. It also can be a giant attacker if a game stalls out, so it is not a dead draw against ramp game 1. One really convenient thing about the body of this card is that he costs exactly enough that opposing copies of Ugin, Spirit Dragon have to suicide in order to get rid of him with their minus ability.
4 Banishing Light So far in this new format, removal spells have felt extremely powerful. As with most new formats, aggro is all over the ladder, so having single target removal that can hit anything is important. Reanimating a few of these with Dance can be quite the nasty Plague Wind your opponent didn’t see coming.
1 Aether Gust This is a meta call. I was seeing a lot of mono red and Gruul/Temur. Having a copy of Gust in for game one can be exactly what you need, and Green is popular enough that even if you don’t face aggro you can usually find a use for it.
3 Aether Gust Bring this in against Temur Clover, Gruul, or Red Deck Wins. It can also be useful against ramp depending on how green-heavy they have built their list.
2 Negate If you are facing control, or ramp with a planeswalker payoff like Ugin. Creature-light lists or combo decks also. You can use this or Dovin’s Veto. I prefer the consistency of only needing one color, but you wouldn’t be wrong to change these for Vetoes.
2 Glass Casket Aggro and Midrange are all over the ladder right now. Temur Clover specifically. You might even want more of these. Remember, it can hit an escaped Uro.
2 Tormod’s Crypt Right now I am not sure how important this is, since the meta is still settling down. I think you could flex these out for more Negates and/or Caskets, but if a graveyard based list shows up you want these. Being able to recur them with Emry shuts graveyard strategies down. I prefer the zero cost of this to the draw ability that Soul Guide Lanturn offers, but it would be an acceptable substitution.
2 Wilt This is also a flex spot that could change depending on what happens with the meta. I prefer Wilt as my artifact and enchantment removal because I can cycle it if I need to, but Revoke Existence is also an option if Theros Gods get popular.
2 Sorcerous Spyglass This is just an all around great card for dealing with planeswalkers. We can also reanimate it if it gets milled or destroyed. This is our best way to deal with Ugin.
2 Shatter the Sky Aggro is everywhere at the beginning of a meta. You are going to want those 6 board wipes against certain decks.
If you’re thinking “MonkeyInATopHat, this is a children’s card game and I can’t drop 40 rare and 6 mythic wild cards on a fun brew” then fear not. I have several cheaper options for you to mess around with.
Alseid of Life’s Bounty is a neat option. Reanimating him with Dance will make him a 4/4 lifelink! Cheeky!
Conclave Tribunal/Prison Realm Go all in on control! Make the list even grindy-er with some added Enchantment based single target removal.
The Birth of Meletis This card has come in and out of my list several times, depending on the current meta. It adds nice consistency against the aggressive decks, if they’re heavily represented.
Omen of the Sea Like Birth of Meletis, this card has been in the list before, but usually against less aggressive metas.
Omen of the Hunt/Omen of the Sun They are slower, but for a budget list, that’s okay sometimes. The fact that you can play them then sacrifice them to reanimate is nice synergy.
Ominous Seas Here is a cheap, fun, win condition for the list to mess around with. You can cycle it then reanimate it. You can drop an early one, and in conjunction with Witching Well plus Emry start cranking out Krakens. Love the tentacle!
Arcanist’s Owl Another recurrable flyer for Emry, with the synergy of fetching you a card every time you play or replay it. Also Dance makes it even bigger.
Primal Empathy Play this right after you play Vantress Gargoyles and you will usually have the biggest boy on board. This deck is very card hungry, so this is a great budget option for generating more advantage.
Building for Historic
The Historic version of the list is lower to the ground, because the historic format is seeing a big influx of Goblins decks at the moment. It is going to focus more on setting up repeatable small artifacts to bounce aggressors and generate card advantage.
The Artifact Recursion Package
4 Aether Spellbomb The spellbomb is the perfect card for Emry and Lurrus. It is 2 mana to continuously bounce a creature or draw a card every turn. This card (plus Aether Gust) is how we beat Goblins. Bounce their lords and force them to replay them. Bounce the Prospector the turn they would tap out to play Muxus so they can’t combo you. Also very good against Gruul Aggro. Keep a single blue open to bounce your opponent’s Embercleave target.
4 Chromatic Sphere Fixes your mana and provides repeatable card draw. What more could you want?
4 Vantress Gargoyle We know the neat things this card enables in the deck, but in the Historic version he has the added benefit of being relevant in the meta. Goblins hate him. They have to use their Incinerators to get to him, but that means they aren’t using it on Emry or Lurrus, and he will just come right back.
3 Emry, Lurker of the Loch This deck wouldn’t function without her and Lurrus. She is so good that I added 3 Lurrus so I could have 6 copies of the repeated recursion effect.
3 Lurrus of the Dream-Den Essentially another Emry that doesn’t mill or get cheaper, but with the added benefit of being able to replay Binding of the Titans (and Containment Priest in the sideboard) from the graveyard.
The Removal Package
4 Shatter the Sky The board wipes are even more important in Historic, due to the frequency that Goblins have been picked up.
2 Settle the Wreckage One mana cheaper than Realm-Cloaked Giant, and can hit things that are indestructible like Ulamog, the Gods (Heliod and Klothys are somewhat common in Historic), and Adanto Vanguard.
|+4 Aether Gust|
+2 Settle the Wreckage
|-1 Dance of the Manse|
-1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
-2 Chromatic Sphere
-2 The Binding of the Titans
Gargoyle is the MVP of this match up. Remember you can stop their Snoop with a timely Gargoyle activation. That “Aether Gust-Gargoyle Ability” trick is SO good against Muxus, especially if they Prospectored him out.
Lands (inc. Field of the Dead) Decks
|+2 Settle the Wreckage|
+2 Field of Ruin
|-2 Shatter the Sky |
Match-up Notes: It is tough to say which Lands list will end up on top. We want to switch out Shatters for Settles because they usually will not have any basics left by the time they are attacking with their horde of zombies. We win this match up in the air. They will fill their own graveyard for us pretty quickly. Get your Gargoyles going.
|+4 Aether Gust||-2 Chromatic Sphere|
-1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
This is a tough match-up. Sometimes going up to 4 Settles is the game plan, but not if you see them with Gruul Spellbreakers. They will probably have Scavenging Ooze in the main; try to keep an answer for it handy, like Shatter the Sky or Aether Gust.
|+3 Tormod’s Crypt |
+1 Mystical Dispute
|-4 Binding of the Titans |
-2 Settle the Wreckage
Get your Tormod’s Crypt out alongside Emry/Lurrus, and they hard fold. Punish them for filling their yard early with Gargoyle. DO NOT MILL THEM WITH GARGOYLE. That plays into their game plan better than it does yours.
Mono Blue Tempo
|+2 Mystical Dispute |
|-2 Dance of the Manse |
-1 Chromatic Sphere
Your larger spells will never land without a negate to back them up. Aggressively bouncing their creatures with curiosity is how you win this. Keep their hand empty.
|+3 Tormod’s Crypt||-3 Binding of the Titans|
Keep their Cauldron Familiars out of play with repeated Tormod’s Crypts. Save your board wipes for dealing with Mayhem Devil and/or Woe Strider.