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Budget Magic: $58 (16 tix) Mono-U Bounce'n'Mill (Standard)


Horas, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! Over the past few weeks, we've had some sweet Standard decks on Budget Magic, but they've all been on the upper end of the price scale. So this week, we are changing things up with a deck that's not only ultra-budget but a fan-favorite archetype: mill! I tend to shy away from playing mill decks for a for a few reasons, including bad experiences in the past (with Mono-Blue Mill in Modern being the all-time worst Much Abrew deck), the fact that many mill decks play like bad burn decks, and most importantly because I usually don't enjoy mill decks.

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Thankfully, today's deck—Mono-U Bounce'n'Mill—fixes a lot of those problems. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun to play and doesn't feel like bad burn because rather than using Tome Scour like a horrible Lava Spike, we are looking to play a small number of mill creatures and keep bouncing them back to our hand to use their mill abilities over and over again. Second, it's actually somewhat competitive. While I don't think it's one of the most competitive budget decks we've played in Amonkhet Standard, it's good enough to win some matches, even against tier decks! Anyway, let's get to the videos, and then we'll break down the deck.

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Bounce'n'Mill Deck Tech

Bounce'n'Mill vs. Four-Color Value (Match 1)

Bounce'n'Mill vs. Mono-Black Zombies (Match 2)

Bounce'n'Mill vs. Abzan Tokens (Match 3)

Bounce'n'Mill vs. Mono-Red (Match 4)

Bounce'n'Mill vs. New Perspectives (Match 5)

Bounce'n'Mill vs. Salty Marvel (Bonus)

The Deck

The basic idea of Bounce'n'Mill is simple: we get our opponent's library empty, bit by bit, and eventually kill our opponent when they draw with an empty library. Since this plan is fairly slow, the rest of our deck is dedicated to keeping us alive long enough to mill our opponent out. So, let's walk through our plan, step by step.

Plan A: Creature Mill

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Manic Scribe and Minister of Inquiries might not look like much, but they are actually the best mill cards in Standard, especially in our deck, which can use them over and over again. Our goal is to eventually have several of these creatures on the battlefield, which lets us mill six, nine, or even 12 cards each turn. The problem is that both of these cards have restrictions that keep us from using them every turn without putting in some extra work. Manic Scribe mills three when it enters the battlefield, but we don't usually turn on the "mill three every turn" delirium ability until the late game. Meanwhile, Minister of Inquiries needs energy to keep milling, which is challenging because Minister of Inquiries is our only energy card. Thankfully, we have a trick up our sleeve, and this is where the bounce part of Bounce'n'Mill comes into play. 

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Engulf the Shore and Crush of Tentacles do two things for our deck. First, they help make sure we can reuse our mill creatures by bouncing them back to our hand, which gives us another Manic Scribe trigger and more energy to keep activating Minister of Inquiries. Second, they help us stall out the game long enough to win with our mill by bouncing all of our opponent's stuff. As I mentioned before, it takes a while for us to actually mill all of our opponent's cards—we usually win somewhere around Turn 8—but considering that both Engulf the Shore and Crush of Tentacles are often double Fogs (buying us at least one turn of not taking damage and sometimes one-and-a-half or even two turns), it's not that hard to make the game go long. 

The upside of Engulf the Shore is that it's instant speed, which lets us leave up countermagic and then bounce all creatures at the end of our opponent's turn. Meanwhile, Crush of Tentacles is pretty easy to surge with the help of our cheap creatures, giving us a huge Octopus token for even more blocking. It's also important because it hits non-creatures as well, which gives us a way to get rid of planeswalkers from decks like Mardu Vehicles and Aetherworks Marvel

This leaves us with a basic plan of casting our creatures on Turns 1 and 2, milling perhaps 12 cards, bouncing everything on Turn 4, replaying our creatures to mill another chunk of cards on Turn 5, bouncing everything again on Turn 6, replaying our creatures for even more milling on Turn 7, and then winning with our big mill finish on Turn 8. 

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Pieces of the Puzzle is our primary way of turning on the delirium ability on Manic Scribe, which is actually super powerful. Milling three every turn cycle adds up quickly, especially on top of all of our other ways to mill. It's also important in helping us find our Engulf the Shore and Crush of Tentacles, which are extremely important. Against most decks, we need at least one and often two mass-bounce spells to win the game, and Pieces of the Puzzle makes sure we have them when we need them.

Plan 2: Spell Mill

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Let's get this out of the way first: Compelling Argument is a horrible card. Milling five for two mana is roughly the same as a two-damage, two-mana Lava Spike, which is far below the curve. So, if Compelling Argument is so bad, why is it in our deck? The answer here is cycling. If you decide to play this deck, don't cast Compelling Argument in the early game—it's correct to cycle it approximately 99% of the time. Since it only costs one to cycle, the opportunity cost is pretty low. Then, in the late game, we can use Compelling Argument to mill our opponent's last five or 10 cards. Basically, while the actual milling effect of Compelling Argument isn't good, it's a fine card thanks to the ability to turn it into a more useful card for just one mana, while also giving us some late-game upside of milling our opponent when they are almost out of cards.

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Our other mill spell is Startled Awake, which is actually pretty good. Milling 13 cards for four mana isn't a horrible rate (in terms of burn being five damage to the face for four mana, which isn't insane but not bad, especially with the weird, fringe upside of coming back form the graveyard). Speaking of the return-from-the-graveyard ability, like casting Compelling Argument, this isn't something that happens often. While in theory it can be good against control decks, in most matchups it is too slow (although it can be sweet with Engulf the Shore if the game goes super long, since we can bounce it back to our hand without actually getting in combat damage). 

More importantly, Startled Awake gives us a super-janky combo kill with Mirrorpool. For eight mana, we can cast Startled Awake and use Mirrorpool to copy it, milling a total of 26, which is almost always enough to get our opponent's library empty. Even when we aren't comboing off, Mirrorpool gives us some odd value by copying Manic Scribe (especially in the late game when we have delirium) for additional milling, or sometimes just copying a Compelling Argument is enough to get our opponent out of cards. The main downside is that it enters the battlefield tapped, which can occasionally be punishing but is a fair trade off for the massive upside of the land in our deck.

Other Stuff

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Pull from Tomorrow is pretty simple: it just draws us a ton of cards, which helps us find our bounce cards to stay alive or our mill cards to finish the game. The only trick worth mentioning is that the ability to discard a card is often an upside because we can use it to get a land or creature (the two hardest card types for our deck to get for delirium) in the graveyard to start milling away our opponent's deck with Manic Scribe

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Finally, we have a handful of counters, which are mostly in our deck to help us fight against Aetherworks Marvel. Our deck can naturally fight through creature decks thanks to Engulf the Shore and Crush of Tentacles, but neither of these cards helps us stay alive against a Turn 4 Aetherworks Marvel, so having access to main-deck counters helps shore up what would otherwise be a bad matchup. 

As for the cards themselves, the upside of Censor is that we can cycle it away, much like Compelling Argument. Negate is one of the best answers to Aetherworks Marvel because it isn't conditional like Censor and can also hit Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Heart of Kiran, and Liliana's Mastery. Meanwhile, Void Shatter has some additional upside thanks to its ability to exile threats like Relentless Dead and Scrapheap Scrounger, which can be pretty annoying. 

The Mana

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As for our mana base, we mostly just have a ton of Islands, although we do have a couple more colorless lands, which are important because we need colorless mana to activate our Mirrorpools. While Sea Gate Wreckage is mostly just a untapped colorless land with a upside we might take advantage of one in every 10 matches, Geier Reach Sanitarium is actually really good in our deck because it can force our opponent to draw a card. One of the strange aspects of mill is that the opponent doesn't die simply because they have an empty library; they actually need to draw a card while their library is empty. This means that, even if we get our opponent's library empty during our turn, they can potentially still kill us on their upkeep with an instant-speed burn spell or by activating something like Bontu the Glorified. In these situations, we can make our opponent draw a card right away with Geier Reach Sanitarium to reduce the risk of something weird happening. Plus, Geier Reach Sanitarium gives us another way to get card types in the graveyard to turn on our Manic Scribe

Wrap-Up

When I started playing the deck, I figured that it would be super fun, unique, and cheap but probably not extremely competitive, and while this is mostly true, the deck is a bit more competitive than I thought it would be. This isn't to say it's one of the most competitive Budget Magic decks, but it is good enough to get some wins. The biggest challenge I've found is fast aggro. While creature decks are fine if they are midrange or even slower aggro, we can really struggle when the opponent has a bunch of one-drop creatures because even if we can bounce everything before we are dead, our opponent can redeploy their threats so quickly that it might not be enough to save us. 

We also get some hilarious random value thanks to our milling against some decks. Probably the best example of this is when we ran into New Perspectives combo. While we could still win the game normally by milling our opponent bit by bit, in this matchup, each card we mill is potentially game winning because if we ever mill the single copy of Approach of the Second Sun, it's almost impossible for our opponent to win the game. 

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One last thing: Glyph Keeper probably isn't necessary in the sideboard. I never actually figured out a time to bring it in, so it would probably be better as Imprisoned in the Moon as another way of dealing with planeswalkers, or even just more counterspells. 

Ultra-Budget Mono-U Bounce'n'Mill

No ultra-budget list this week, since the build we played for the videos is already super cheap. If you are looking to cut back even more, the only card that's really replaceable is Pull from Tomorrow, which would save about $15. Something like Glimmer of Genius could go in its place, although heading this direction would reduce the power level of the deck quite a bit (even though getting some extra energy for Minister of Inquiries would be nice). 

Non-Budget Mono-U Bounce'n'Mill

One of the downsides of being mono-colored is there aren't really a ton of upgrades to be made, even when budget isn't a concern. In fact, we only get two new cards in the non-budget build of Bounce'n'Mill. The first is Torrential Gearhulk, which can't flash back our mill spells because they are sorceries but does let us reuse our Engulf the Shores for even more bouncing and all of our counters. Speaking of counters, we also get access to Disallow, which gives us the upside of countering things like planeswalker ultimates or Aetherworks Marvel activations. While I do think these upgrades make the deck better, they also make it cost three times as much, so I wouldn't run out and spend the money to upgrade Bounce'n'Mill. On the other hand, if you have access to either of these cards, you might as well throw them into the deck. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. We finished our matches 3-2 (not counting the bonus game against Salty Marvel), which isn't too bad for a $58 deck. The deck was actually pretty fun to play, especially for a mill deck, and while it's not insanely competitive, it's good enough to steal some wins in a really unique manner! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 


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