Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Magic - An Attempt at a Blue-Black Milling Deck

After my first loss to a mill deck, I have been intrigued by the idea.  I always like looking for new, different ways to solve puzzles or complete challenges, so alternate win conditions in Magic are quite appealing.  I put together a decent mill deck a few years ago, but I haven't kept up with the newest cards that could find a home in a mill deck.

I have therefore decided to scrap the old deck completely and start anew.  This time, I'm inspired by Gatecrash's Mind Grind and the possibility of using cipher to mill my opponents, so I want to try to make a blue-black milling monster.  What follows is the first iteration of this proposed deck.

Mind Grind is brutal, and the grinding mechanic (revealing cards from a player's library until they reveal a land card, then dropping all those cards into their graveyard) can be potent.  I'd like to focus on grinding my opponents out, as that seems to be the most efficient way to do it, but there aren't enough grinding options to make a full deck at this point.  I also want to avoid cards like Undercity Informer, because I don't want to divide my efforts between grinding and creature generation, which further limits my grinding options.

So, as it stands, my best bet is probably to sprinkle some grinding cards into a deck, the primary focus of which is Jace's Erasure and card draw - I can mill using Erasure and deal the killing blow with Mind Grind.

That said, one tricky thing I'd still like to try is combining Balustrade Spy with Deadeye Navigator.  It's a nasty two-card combo with near unlimited grinding potential, but it's a bit expensive to get off the ground (4UU for the Navigator is rough).  Still, if I can set it up (and keep both creatures alive), it becomes a good "1U: grind" ability.  I'd like to see how reasonable it is to get this combo up and running, so I'll give it a shot in this first attempt at the deck.

So, here's the current version of this deck:


1 Invisible Stalker
2 Hover Barrier
1 Wall of Frost
Balustrade Spy
1 Giant Oyster
Deadeye Navigator


2 Power Sink
Thought Scour
2 Counterspell
2 Mana Leak
2 Crippling Chill


2 Ponder
Mind Grind
2 Paranoid Delusions
2 Divination
2 Last Thoughts
2 Sleep


1 Grindstone


Jace's Erasure
1 Mind Unbound


3 Dimir Guildgate
15 Island
5 Swamp
1 Watery Grave

Invisible Stalker is there for recurring drawing and milling with Last Thoughts and Paranoid Delusions.  The walls and Sleep are purely defensive, while the counter spells give me some power to control the battlefield.  Giant Oyster aids in the lockdown and can slowly destroy my opponent's creatures.  Everything else works towards the milling in one way or another.

My biggest concern here is getting trapped halfway between my milling options.  If, for example, I end up with a bunch of card draw but no Jace's Erasures (not too likely), I'm pretty much screwed.  Similarly, getting Mind Grind and a bunch of counterspells screws me, too.

What I really need is a full playset of Invisible Stalkers - play Invisible Stalker, cipher everything onto him, and then cast eight spells each time he deals damage.  Paranoid Delusions mills directly, Last Thoughts mills through Jace's Erasure, and Hands of Binding locks my opponent's creatures down.  It's a beautiful concept, but I only have one copy of Invisible Stalker, so this is the best I can do...

I will obviously tweak the deck after playing with it a few times.  I'm mostly looking to see how the mana curve and card draw pan out; if I'm able to draw into my power cards pretty easily, I may try to shift more towards emphasizing the Mind Grind by including some mana ramp of some sort (Keyrunes might work out well).  If I'm having trouble drawing the cards I need, I may remove the Oyster, Stalker, and all the cipher cards and try to focus more on triggering Jace's Erasure.

I think a blue-black deck with Invisible Stalkers, cipher cards, Balustrade Spies, and Mind Grind, filling the rest of the deck with control, removal, and card draw spells could be really strong, but it's not something I can manage just now.  Maybe if I can come into a few more Stalkers...

Still, this deck serves as a test of a weird concept given my collection.  It has some potential, but I need to see how it works out in practice before making any further modifications.

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