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Budget Magic: $77 Splendid Mill (Standard)


Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading back to Standard (a Standard that has been almost shockingly good since Streets of New Capenna was released) to see if we can mill our opponents out in one of the jankiest ways possible—by combining Splendid Reclamation with the common fetchlands from Streets of New Capenna and Hedron Crab! While we can also win by copying Tasha's Hideous Laughter or Maddening Cacophony a few times with Galvanic Iteration, our main plan is to take advantage of a very unique mana base—29 lands, with all of them being either the Streets of New Capenna sac fetchlands or basic lands to fetch out—to power up Splendid Reclamation, turning it into an absurd ramp spell that can also mill our opponent's entire deck if we find a Ruin Crab or two! The best part? The deck costs just $77 in paper and has only 16 main-deck rares for Magic Arena purposes! Is it finally time for Splendid Reclamation to shine in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Splendid Mill

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The Deck

Splendid Mill, as its name suggests, is a mill deck. In general—especially before sideboarding—it plays like a combo deck: we're trying to set up a big turn where we'll mill our opponent's entire deck, either by copying Tasha's Hideous Laughter two or three times with Galvanic Iteration or Dual Strike or by reanimating a bunch of fetchlands with Splendid Reclamation with a Ruin Crab or two on the battlefield.

The Splendid Reclamation Plan

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Our Splendid Reclamation land-reanimation plan takes advantage of the fact that our deck is playing a very unique (and very budget friendly) mana base consisting of 29 lands, with 14 of the Streets of New Capenna sac fetchlands and 15 basic lands we can tutor up. These lands do a couple of things for our deck. In the early game, they give us some incidential double-milling with Ruin Crab while also stocking our graveyard with lands. Later, we can reanimate them all with Splendid Reclamation, either as ramp to set up our "copy Tasha's Hideous Laughter plan" or, ideally, with a Ruin Crab or two on the battlefield. Let's say we get just four fetchlands in our graveyard, which isn't too difficult. With a single Ruin Crab on the battlefield, we can reanimate the lands in our graveyard to mill 24 cards. With two Ruin Crabs, this will mill 48 cards, which should empty our opponent's entire library. Of course, we can easily have more than four fetchlands in our graveyard later in the game, which makes it even easier to mill our opponent's entire deck, and doubly so if we manage to do some early-game milling with Ruin Crab, Maddening Cacophony, and Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

The Tasha's Hideous Laughter Plan

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The second way we can mill our opponent out is with the help of Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Maddening Cacophony, and spell-copying effects like Galvanic Iteration and Dual Strike. In most matchups, Tasha's Hideous Laughter will exile somewhere around 15 cards from our opponent's library, which means it usually takes two (if we have some other mill) or three (if we don't have other mill) to win the game. While not directly related, the Tasha's Hideous Laughter plan is connected to our Crab Mill plan by Splendid Reclamation. It takes eight mana to cast a Galvanic Iteration, flash it back, and follow up with a Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Reanimating a bunch of lands with Splendid Reclamation is one of our best ways to ramp into this kill. As for Maddening Cacophony, its value is really dependent on the situation. Sometimes, we just cast it early in the game to mill some cards and try to set up the Splendid Reclamation or Tasha's Hideous Laughter kills later. Sometimes, it's a way to get the last few cards from our opponent's library after we come up just short with Splendid Reclamation or Tasha's Hideous Laughter. If our opponent's draw is slow enough, we can even wait until we get up to six mana and kick Maddening Cacophony to mill half of our opponent's deck, which should get our opponent low enough on cards that we can finish the game with two Tasha's Hideous Laughters or with the Ruin Crab / Splendid Reclamation combo.

Other Stuff

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The rest of the main deck is pretty simple: eight card-draw spells in Expressive Iteration and Thirst for Discovery (which can also help stock our graveyard for Splendid Reclamation) and two copies of Fading Hope so we have a bit of interaction.

The Sideboard

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If our main deck seems a bit light on removal, that's because it is. Pretty much all of our removal is hiding away in the sideboard, with four copies of Burn Down the House, Cinderclasm, and three Thundering Rebukes to go along with a playset of Test of Talents. After playing a bunch with the deck and finding that we were sideboarding in seven or eight removal spells pretty much every match, I think the deck would probably be better off after trimming back a bit on combo pieces or even card draw in the main deck and moving cards like Burn Down the House and Thundering Rebuke to the main. If you look at the most played decks in Standard, creature removal and Burn Down the House are good against pretty much all of them, outside of a few Goldspan Dragon control / combo piles. As such, I think the deck would be better starting with the removal in the main deck and then moving it into the sideboard as necessary, rather than the other way around. As for Test of Talents, you can make an argument that it is sort of a weird mill spell since it allows us to exile all of the copies of the instant or sorcery it counters, removing some cards from our opponent's library. But in practice, it would probably be better as some combination of Disdainful Stroke and Negate. A lot of the cards we want to counter aren't instants or sorceries but creatures like Goldspan Dragon, planeswalkers like The Wandering Emperor, or artifacts like Esika's Chariot. Even with the upside of (sort of) milling three cards, Test of Talents just doesn't hit enough important cards to really be worth a slot in the sideboard.

Playing the Deck

Think of Splendid Mill as a combo deck, especially before sideboarding. The main goal is to manipulate the game into a position where we can resolve one of our two mill plans and hopefully use it to win the game. In its current form, there isn't really much interaction in the main deck, so playing a more controlling game isn't really an option, although this could be a good option if you decide to make some of the changes we just talked about.

It's also worth mentioning that the Tasha's Hideous Laughter plan is somewhat matchup dependent. It gets much worse if we run into a deck with a lot of expensive spells because it will exile fewer cards on average, while if we play against an aggro deck with a low-to-the-ground curve, just a couple of copies can mill most of the opponent's deck. While Tasha's Hideous Laughter is never bad enough to sideboard out, if you run into a ramp deck with a bunch of expensive cards, keep in mind that two or even three copies of Tasha's Hideous Laughter might not be enough to get the job done.

The other challenge of the deck is how to play Ruin Crab. Do you run it out early to mill a handful of cards even though it will likely eat a removal spell since we don't have any other targets for removal? Do you hold onto it in the hopes playing it on the same turn as Splendid Reclamation for the combo kill? The right answer probably depends on your hand and the matchup, although in general, I tend to run out Ruin Crab early, especially if we have a fetchland or two in hand. Milling nine or 12 cards is a pretty good deal for one mana and often ends up being enough that we can empty our opponent's library with Maddening Cacophony and Tasha's Hideous Laughter later in the game. That said, it's usually not worth playing Ruin Crab on Turn 1. Our deck doesn't have much to do on Turn 2, so it's usually best to play Ruin Crab then and immediately follow it with a land drop so we'll get at least some mill out of the one-drop, even if it dies.

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, we finished 2-3 with Splendid Mill, although a lot of our losses felt super close. If we had been able to buy one or two more turns, we might have been able to win at least one and maybe two more matches. 

I really like the plan of the deck. The janky sac-fetch mana base is actually hilariously perfect for Splendid Reclamation, and Splendid Reclamation is the perfect way to combo kill with Ruin Crab. But as we talked about during the sideboarding section of the article, I do feel like the deck was misbuilt and should have at least some of its removal in the main deck. Having the ability to sweep the board with Burn Down the House or even just kill a Luminarch Aspirant with Thundering Rebuke has the potential to buy us that extra turn we need to close out the game. 

So, should you play Splendid Mill in Standard? The deck felt good-ish for a budget deck, although, all in all, we didn't quite manage to win half of our matches, which isn't ideal. However, the deck should be greatly improved if you're willing to make a few upgrades (that don't really add anything to the budget). Here's the build of Splendid Mill I'd play today:

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Ultra-Budget Splendid Mill

The bad news about Splendid Mill is that there isn't really a way to make it meaningfully cheaper, either in paper or on Magic Arena. The rares in the deck—Maddening Cacophony, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Splendid Reclamation, Galvanic Iteration, and Burn Down the House—are all essential to the deck's plan. Often, the easiest way to cut back on the price of the deck is the mana, but that doesn't really work with this deck since Splendid Mill already has an all-common mana base. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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