Posted in Building on a Budget on April 22, 2009

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Wednesday is when you get your weekly dose of succulent flavor from Doug Beyer and your download of combo madness from certified mad scientist Noel deCordova. So what is this introduction doing in front of a Building on a Budget article?

Some of you might recall that when we relaunched the site last fall, Building on a Budget switched places with From the Lab (previously House of Cards). We thought theme weeks in particular would go more smoothly with the swap, but in practice it's put our two most versatile columns on the same day—not ideal.

Rather than stick to a change that didn't quite work out, we're switching them back. Building on a Budget will run on Wednesdays alongside Savor the Flavor, and From the Lab will run on Thursdays next to Top Decks. Tune in tomorrow to see what wackiness Noel has cooked up this week, and in the meantime, enjoy Jacob Van Lunen's take on a deck that I personally love.

Kelly Digges
Daily MTG Editor,

Hello, friends, and welcome to another edition of Building on a Budget. I'm happy the two weeks preceding last week's preview went so well. I feel I have a much better understanding of what my readers are looking for. This is the first part of a two-part column. Everything that is not covered here will be explained in next week's column.

This week I'd like to explore a deck idea that was brought to my attention by Bill Stark. I have seen the deck floating around in the casual room for the past few months, and I'm not sure of its true origins. The deck controls the board with cards like Evacuation and Boomerang and finishes the opponent off with Sanity Grinding. The most exciting part of the archetype is how consistently it beats the Five-Color Control decks. I wanted to work on another Standard deck and the first thing I decided was that whatever deck I made, it had to have a positive matchup against the Five-Color decks.

Why do we need to beat Five-Color?

Standard is in a very interesting place right now. The format seems very healthy, but Five-Color Control decks still seem to dominate when given the opportunity.

Faeries was the dominant deck in Standard prior to the release of Conflux. The Faeries player had strong matchups against almost every deck and had the luxury of beating the Five-Color Control decks with some regularity. Conflux gave the Five-Color decks a new anti-Faeries tool, though. Volcanic Fallout changed everything. Since Nassif's victory in Kyoto people have realized that the new Five-Color decks have a positive matchup against Faeries. The mass removal and card draw available to the Five-Color deck let it maintain its good matchups and jump over the one deck that was keeping it in check.

I got really excited when I saw Bill Stark's Turbo Mill deck because it had so many things that I love. I'm a sucker for any deck that plays Howling Mine. The first FNM I ever won, I had brewed up a Howling Mine / life gain deck that won with a few Millstone and a set of Mines.

Sanity Grinding

I'll start by explaining each of the card choices.

Sanity Grinding: This is our win condition. The deck has enough blue cards that Sanity Grinding will likely be milling the opponent for a good portion of their deck.

Howling Mine: The mine is extremely important. Once we get to five mana it's very important to have a steady stream of Evacuations and other bounce. The mine also speeds up the milling process.

Boomerang: The tempo granted by Boomerang is an absolute necessity. Against control deck you usually want to be using Boomerang on lands during the early stages of the game. Against aggressive decks it's worthwhile to bounce cards like Windbrisk Heights, but once the game progresses beyond the fourth turn it's usually best to save a Boomerang to bounce Ajani Vengeant before he fires off his Ultimate.

Broken Ambitions: Broken Ambitions is a very reasonable counter in any deck. It's especially strong in this deck because the clash actually becomes relevant.

Twincast: Twincast is very important here. Usually you're using it with your Sanity Grinding to finish off the game, but a lot of times it can make things go very well for you in offbeat scenarios. Imagine if your opponent ever plays a Cryptic Command—this card becomes absolutely absurd. I think playing a full four of this is extremely important to the archetype.

Evacuation: Evacuation is one of our most valuable tools. Red-White Reveillark decks will have a very difficult time dealing with multiple Evacuations and this deck is very capable of pulling that off.

Plumeveil: Plumeveil is probably our best anti-aggro tool. It slows the game down to a crawl. Conveniently, it also has three blue mana symbols in its mana cost, it helps make our Sanity Grinding extra juicy.

Dream Fracture: Counterspells are always nice. This one fits our theme very well.

Memory Erosion: This Shards of Alara enchantment will help us mill our opponents as quickly as possible.

Shelldock Isle: I'm a huge fan of this card in Cube Draft, and I'm glad I'm finally getting a chance to play with it in a Constructed format.

Reliquary Tower: Our deck may end up with too many cards in hand once we start to settle into the late game. Reliquary Tower helps us gain card advantage by letting us hold on to the entirety of our hand.

Once we shove all that together the deck looks like this:

Turbo Sanity Grinding

Download Arena Decklist
Creature (4)
4 Plumeveil
Sorcery (4)
4 Sanity Grinding
Artifact (4)
4 Howling Mine
Enchantment (4)
4 Memory Erosion
60 Cards

I want better anti-aggro measures in the sideboard, so I'm going to add a playset of Unsummon and some Remove Souls. I want to have some Negates in there too for the matchups where Plumeveil isn't relevant. In a lot of matchups you'll find yourself wanting to take out both the Evacuation and the Plumeveil. I'd recommend leaving in the Plumeveil because it mills more cards when revealed by your Sanity Grinding. The deck still struggles against red decks, and I'm not not sure whether Kraken's Eye or Dragon's Claw is better. The sideboard looks like this.

4 Unsummon
3 Remove Soul
4 Negate
2 Dragon's Claw
2 Kraken's Eye

Lets play some games with the deck and see how it fares in actual battle.

Match 1 vs. Five-Color Control

I keep Howling Mine, Broken Ambitions, Sanity Grinding, Shelldock Isle, Reliquary Tower, Island, and Island on the draw. My opponent starts with a Vivid Land. I draw a Boomerang, play my Shelldock Isle, hide a Twincast, and pass the turn back. My opponent plays another Vivid Land and passes. I draw another Boomerang, play my Howling Mine, and pass. My opponent plays a Reflecting Pool and passes the turn. I draw a Dream Fracture and another Shelldock Isle, then play the Shelldock Isle and hide a Dream Fracture. I Boomerang one of my opponent's lands during his upkeep. He replays his land and passes. I draw a Boomerang and an Island. I play my Island and pass. I attempt another Boomerang during my opponent's upkeep, but he has a Negate this time. I use the other Boomerang in my hand to successfully bounce one of his Vivid lands. He replays the land, discards some cards and passes. I draw a Twincast and an Island, I play Sanity Grinding and play Twincast targeting it, milling my opponent for over twenty cards. The next turn he plays a land and passes again. I draw another Shelldock Isle and another Dream Fracture, then play my Reliquary Tower and pass the turn. My opponent plays a fourth land and passes. I draw a Sanity Grinding and another Howling Mine. I attempt to play Sanity Grinding and my opponent tries for a Cryptic Command, I use the Dream Fracture that was under the one Shelldock Isle to counter it, I use the the Twincast under the other Shelldock Isle to Twincast the Sanity Grinding. He loses during his draw step.

Sideboarding: -4 Evacuation, +4 Negate

I keep Boomerang, Dream Fracture, Memory Erosion, Shelldock Isle, Shelldock Isle, Island, and Island on the draw. My opponent leads with a Vivid Creek and passes. I draw a Reliquary Tower, play my Shelldock Isle, hide a Sanity Grinding, and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Reflecting Pool. I draw a Dream Fracture, play an Island, and pass the turn. I attempt to use a Boomerang on his Vivid Creek during his upkeep, but he has a Negate handy. He plays a third land and passes. I draw a Howling Mine, play it, play my other Shelldock Isle, and hide a Twincast. My opponent draws a pair of cards, plays a fourth land, and passes. I draw a Plumeveil and a Memory Erosion. I think for a bit before deciding to just play my Reliquary Tower and pass. My opponent attempts a Cryptic Command on my end step to bounce my Howling Mine, I use a Dream Fracture and draw a Twincast. My opponent plays a fifth land, discards, and passes. I draw a Twincast and a Sanity Grinding. I attempt to play my Memory Erosion. He tries to Cryptic Command countering the enchantment and bouncing my Howling Mine, but I use Twincast to counter his Cryptic Command and bounce one of his Vivids. On his turn he plays an Esper Charm destroying my enchantment, but the Memory Erosion still mills two cards. On my turn I draw another Dream Fracture and a land. I play Sanity Grinding and mill fourteen cards. I pass the turn. On his turn he taps out and tries to play a Broodmate Dragon, but I counter it with Dream Fracture, drawing Sanity Grinding. On my turn I play Sanity Grinding, mill him significantly. Then I use my Shelldocks to play another Sanity Grinding and Twincast it. My opponent loses during his draw step.

Match overview: The Five-Color matchup is very good. This is probably the biggest reason to be playing with this deck.


Match 2: Red-White Reveillark

I keep Evacuation, Memory Erosion, Howling Mine, Plumeveil, Island, Island, and Island on the play. I play an Island and pass. My opponent plays a Windbrisk Heights. I draw a Dream Fracture, play my Howling Mine, and pass. My opponent plays a Figure of Destiny and pumps it. I draw a Shelldock Isle and a Reliquary Tower, play my Island, and pass the turn. My opponent attacks with his Figure and I play Plumeveil. He thinks for a minute and decides to pump up the Figure for the trade. I draw an Island and another Shelldock Isle. I play my Memory Erosion, and play a Shelldock Isle, hiding a Sanity Grinding. My opponent plays a Spectral Procession and a Mogg Fanatic and gets milled for four cards. I draw a Sanity Grinding and a Twincast, then play Reliquary Tower and pass. My opponent enters combat, but I use Evacuation. He plays a Siege-Gang Commander and passes. I draw an Island and a Dream Fracture. I play my Island and use Sanity Grinding with the Twincast I have. My opponent uses his turn to attack me for five and play another Commander. On my turn I draw Evacuation and another Dream Fracture, I play a land and play my Evacuation. My opponent replays a Commander and passes. I draw a Sanity Grinding and the game is over.

Sideboarding: -4 Memory Erosion, +4 Unsummon

I keep Unsummon, Boomerang, Howling Mine, Shelldock Isle, Island, Island, and Reliquary Tower on the draw. He leads with a Windbrisk Heights. I draw an Evacuation, play my Shelldock Isle, hiding another Evacuation, and pass the turn. My opponent plays another Windbrisk Heights and passes. I draw another Island, play my Howling Mine, and pass. He plays a Spectral Procession and passes. I draw another Evacuation and a Twincast, play my Reliquary Tower, Unsummon one of his Spirit tokens and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Ranger of Eos finding a pair of Figure of Destiny, attacks for 2, and passes. I draw another Unsummon and a Sanity Grinding. I use Unsummon on my opponent's Ranger of Eos, play my land, and pass the turn. My opponent replays his Ranger, finding another pair of Figures, attacks for 2, and passes. He still hasn't found red mana. He discards some red cards. I draw a Dream Fracture and an Island, play my fifth land, and pass the turn. My opponent attacks with his team, then uses both Windbrisk Heights to put Siege-Gang Commanders into play. I play Evacuation on his end step. I draw a pair of Sanity Grinding on my turn, play one of them, and pass the turn. He plays a Rugged Prairie and attempts to play a Commander, but I have Dream Fracture waiting; I draw another Howling Mine. On my turn I draw a Shelldock Isle and another Tower. I play the Isle and hide another Sanity Grinding, then play another Sanity Grinding, play my Howling Mine, and pass the turn. He plays a Commander and a Figure of Destiny. I draw Twincast, activate my Shelldock Isle with the Sanity Grinding under it, and copy the Grinding with Twincast. My opponent loses on his draw step.

Match overview: Evacuation is key here. Try to preserve your life total as best as possible to survive a random Banefire. It doesn't seem too difficult to stabilize at a good number, especially on the play.

Before we play any more games with the deck I think we ought to look at all the cards we're playing now and decide which are gems and which don't feel quite right. I'd like to hear all of your suggestions in the forums.

Next week I will work my best to refine the decklist and help it reach its true potential. Also, there seems to be some demand for it, so I will add a section at the end where I explain how the deck might look if there were no budget restrictions at all.

I hope you enjoyed part one of Grindin'! A special thanks to Bill Stark and the Starkington Post. Until next week.

Happy brewing!

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