I don’t know about you, but I love a good alternate win condition. Today’s brew was actually built around a challenge submitted from a viewer on stream. The challenge card in question? Minister of Inquiries.
I immediately wimped out and built a Grixis emerge deck with 4 Ministers. When I did so I ended up with a deck that was just a worse version of an already existing deck, and in that moment I knew I needed to commit harder to the plan. Forget about milling yourself. Let’s bring back an old archetype. Mill… you!
Mono-Blue Mill (22 Tix)
Minister of Inquiries
The card that started it all. The Vedalken of the hour. Minister produces a fast clock especially when played in multiples. It is also relatively easy to keep fueled, and is a cheap way to get your plan started. The combination that really got me excited about this deck was Engulf plus mill creatures. Bouncing all your opponent’s creatures and then getting more mills is just too sweet.
This is your other main way to repeatedly mill cards. Delirium is a little hard to get in this deck, and I mentioned we really aren’t interested in self-milling, though Manic Scribe sometimes demands one or two self-mills to get delirious so that he can start going crazy milling your opponent. The Evolving Wilds are purely included as a means to fuel delirium, and your artifact creatures are plentiful enough that you should be able to draw them and trade/chump with them or hit them off a self-mill.
This card looks strange but I wanted the deck to have a little more resilience to Smuggler’s Copter. Traditionally, blue control decks can run cards like Aether Meltdown, but that doesn’t combine particularly well with Engulf.
Weird to see this card in a mono-blue deck, but it fuels your Ministers at no mana. Usually you want to hold this land as long as possible due to Engulf the Shore.
I’ll admit that I hate casting the first copy of Take Inventory. It just does so little! But I wanted a few more sorceries other than Startled Awake for Manic Scribe, and once in a while you’ll hit an Inventory off a self-mill or Epiphany (thrown away with other good cards) that you’ll be able to cast your first copy for 2 or more cards. I think it does just enough to make the cut but it is certainly the weakest card in the deck.
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Jace is pretty much the perfect hit here for a couple reasons. He helps control the game with bounce and to pull you ahead with a bunch of scrys, but he also has some sweet synergy. He’s a planeswalker for delirium, but my favorite interaction is with Startled Awake. If you have 9 mana and a Startled Awake in your graveyard, you can transform it and bounce it immediately with Jace, recast it, and hopefully mill out your opponent on the spot!
Playing the Deck
This deck is actually quite good at slowing the game down. Your Manic Scribes can sometimes block, you have a bunch of chump-blocking artifact creatures, your Skygates prevent Smuggler’s Copter attacks, and Engulfs plus Jace make sure the board never gets too crazy. Due to these board clogging measures, the game will naturally drag on, which is exactly what you want! As you slowly set up you’ll be able to start turbo milling your opponent. It’s really a matter of time at that point and milling is only secondary to staying at a high life total.
The longer the game goes the more cards your opponent will naturally draw and the more time you have to set up a Startled Awake kill. I’ve been on the cusp of death and managed to win shortly thereafter by milling my opponent for 38 cards over the course of 2 turns. The sequence was simply 2 Minister of Inquiries activating for 12 cards total plus 2 Startled Awake for a total of 38 when my opponent had 37 cards in library going into those 2 turns. This deck is totally capable of explosive turns like that, but they aren’t happening right away. Buying time early leads to a kill out of nowhere. It’s also nice that your opponent probably thinks they have more time than they do expecting you to play out as a typical control deck. Then you start deploying all the milling effects just as they’re getting comfortable, and by then it’s often too late.
One problem the deck has is with control decks and specifically Void Shatter (which exiles your Startled Awakes). You have a bunch of defensive creatures to make sure you don’t die alongside Engulf the Shore, but these are all clearly terrible versus a control opponent. The good news is that the game will drag on a good length of time and your opponent will naturally draw a lot of cards. The key in game 1 is patience. Sometimes you can sneak through a Minister of Manic Scribe by playing them before your opponent can get counters up, but more often the plan is to cast many in a single turn when your opponent clearly can’t answer them all. Similarly, you’ll often want to wait and draw cards until you have 2 or even all 3 copies of Startled Awake and can cast them all at once for massive decking.
The good news is that the matchup versus control gets much much better post-board. You can cut all your defensive cards and bring in a ton of counters to fight back against your opponent’s plan. This actually reminds me a lot of mono-blue devotion’s plan except that instead of trying to stick a Thassa you’re trying to land a Minister of Inquiries.
What if you want to add some spice to the deck? Well, I’ve got a second version of the deck for you today!
U/W Mill (32 tix)
As you can see, the game plan here is basically identical but you get a few upgrades. Let’s go through those changes.
Crush of Tentacles
I think Crush of Tentacles is a much stronger and better positioned card than Engulf the Shore as long as you have enough setup to ensure it happens. Minister of Inquiries is a nice cheap way to enable surge, but Authority of the Consuls can also fill that role from time to time. In addition, Authority helps provide a life bonus over the game, keeps creatures entering tapped for incoming Vehicles, and allows wins via damage from time to time since your 8/8 will go unopposed by a bunch of tapped creatures.
In addition, Crush allows you to get extra rebuys on your milling creatures similar to Engulf, but also lets you play with Aether Meltdown and Oath of Jace. Meltdown is a card I naturally wanted in the straight blue version but couldn’t play with Engulf, and Oath combines nicely for added value after a Crush, but also helps fuel delirium for your Manic Scribes.
All in all I think the U/W version is a slightly better deck, but mono-blue offers the ultimate budget friendly experience. Both are a nice breath of fresh air though since it has been a while since I’ve milled people out in Standard. If you enjoy slow grindy games where your opponent has a look of horror on their face knowing they’ll mill out in a few turns, then this deck is for you!