B/U/G Self-Mill-Dredge-Reanimator. Advice?

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This is the first deck I've ever made, although I've been tweaking it for quite some time now. It started as a blue/black flashback-and-zombies affair (Flashdance, I called it), and evolved over time to what you see here: 

21 Lands
Island x5
Forest x4
Swamp x3
Dakmor Salvage x1
Evolving Wilds x4
Shelldock Isle x1
[C]Savage Lands[/c] x1
Vivid Creek x1
Vivid Grove x1


24 Creatures
Boneyard Wurm x2
Deranged Assistant x2
Golgari Thug x1
Havengul Lich x1
Hedron Crab x4
Isleback Spawn x1
Kessig Cagebreakers x1
Laboratory Maniac x1
Lord of Extinction x1
Mirror-Mad Phantasm x1
Narcomoeba x2
Necrotic Ooze x1
Putrid Imp x2
Sheoldred, Whispering One x1
Sphinx of Jwar Isle x1
Splinterfright x2


1 Artifact
Mistvein Borderpost x1


14 Other Spells
Darkblast x2
Dragon Fangs x1
Dread Return x3
Gnaw to the Bone x1
Life from the Loam x1
Spider Spawning x2
Think Twice x2
Tracker's Instincts x2


This deck has all sorts of great interactions going on.   Every card is either a creature that I can resurrect or a spell I can cast from my graveyard, so my graveyard is basically a really big hand.  I start milling myself right away, and the Narcomoebae, Golgari Thug, and one-drops power an early Dread Return. The wide range of singleton bombs might be weird in any other deck, but here it works really well since I can grab whichever one I need most.  Depending on what I'm facing, I can roll out a couple heavy hitters, piles of tokens, or my entire library into my graveyard for a Labratory Maniac win.

Some of my numbers might seem a little odd; this is because I have quite a low budget for new cards, but a bunch of friends with large collections who are happy to lend out anything they aren't using. If money were no object, I'd surely have more Narcomoebae, a full set of Bloodghasts, etc... but as it is, this is where I stand.  I have extras of many of the cheaper cards (<$1), or at least can easily get more.

What do you think? Partial versions have played pretty well, but some of the cards are still in the mail so I haven't had a chance to try out the deck in its entirety. Is there anything I could afford to cut? I've been feeling I should get more Think Twice in there to help with dredge, but the other non-creature spells are pretty important and the creatures all have their role to play.  Is there anything else I should add? Earlier versions of the deck have included things like Mindshriekers, Delvers of Secrets, a Cephalid Illusionist, Dream TwistSilent DepartureRestless DreamsReassembling Skeletons, a Jace, Memory Adept, and a Jace's Archivist, among others.

So, your thoughts? 

Consider putrefy for versatile removal, vigor mortis for more reanimation, deep analysis for efficient drawing, and wonder for obvious reasons. I'd also suggest more boneyard wurms, and an additional dread return. Take out mistvein borderpost and gnaw to the bone. I think mirror-mad phantasm winning you the game is so unlikely with one in the deck that you might as well take it out. Kessig cagebreakers doesn't seem to have much of a purpose either.
Sorry, I should have been a little clearer about how this deck fits together.

The way I have it, just about every card in the deck is useful while it's in my graveyard. The non-creature spells all have flashback or dredge, the creatures can be rezzed or left in place to pump other creatures, and even the lands can come back (Dakmor Salvage or via Life From the Loam). Any card that does nothing in my graveyard but sit there would have to be really incredible to get in.

Putrefy is good, but not so good that I'd take the full three or four I'd need to have one when I needed it. I've been using Darkblast for soft removal... would it be worthwhile to take something like Deadly Allure or Ancient Grudge just in case? 

Vigor Mortis isn't so great, since I already have quite a bit of reanimation. Dread Return, Havengul Lich, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Golgari Thug can all do it for relatively cheap, since I usually cast Dread Return from the graveyard.

Wonder and Deep Analysis are fantastic, though; thank you! You're probably right about the Mistvein Borderpost... the main reason I had it was to stretch my landfall a bit longer, but I guess another Evolving Wilds would be better in every way.

Gnaw to the Bone has saved my life a few times in this deck. If my luck takes a turn for the worse in the late game, I can fish it out of my graveyard to get some breathing space.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm is even better; I can't always be sure of getting it, but if I don't then it's only because I've got some other good bombs in my graveyard instead.  And when I do, well. Having only one in the deck means it mills an enormous amount: half my library, on average. That's a Traumatize for just sac 3 and 1U!

Kessig Cagebreakers is an alternative to Spider Spawning; it's slower, but a lot more efficient. That said, it's still in the mail right now (I've been using an extra Spider Spawning in its place) so maybe it'll turn out to not be worth it.

Oh, and I figured I didn't need more Boneyard Wurms because of the Splinterfright. Is the Wurm a better deal?
Sorry, I should have been a little clearer about how this deck fits together.

The way I have it, just about every card in the deck is useful while it's in my graveyard. The non-creature spells all have flashback or dredge, the creatures can be rezzed or left in place to pump other creatures, and even the lands can come back (Dakmor Salvage or via Life From the Loam). Any card that does nothing in my graveyard but sit there would have to be really incredible to get in.


Consider Crucible of Worlds as a replacement for Life From the Loam.

Putrefy is good, but not so good that I'd take the full three or four I'd need to have one when I needed it. I've been using Darkblast for soft removal... would it be worthwhile to take something like Deadly Allure or Ancient Grudge just in case?


There's no point in using Ancient Grudge unless you know for sure your enemy is using artifacts. You wouldn't put them in your main deck. Putrefy on the other hand is good even if artifacts aren't being run because it's non-conditional targeted creature removal. Deadly Allure isn't that good because it lets your opponent choose which creature to block with.

Vigor Mortis isn't so great, since I already have quite a bit of reanimation. Dread Return, Havengul Lich, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and Golgari Thug can all do it for relatively cheap, since I usually cast Dread Return from the graveyard.


Consider Unearth to get your Boneyard Wurms and Splinterfrights into play for one black mana!

Wonder and Deep Analysis are fantastic, though; thank you! You're probably right about the Mistvein Borderpost... the main reason I had it was to stretch my landfall a bit longer, but I guess another Evolving Wilds would be better in every way.


Regarding lands, I'd probably run more Evolving Wilds and take out the vivid lands.

Gnaw to the Bone has saved my life a few times in this deck. If my luck takes a turn for the worse in the late game, I can fish it out of my graveyard to get some breathing space.


The thing is, life gain often just delays the inevitable. Play them at your own risk.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm is even better; I can't always be sure of getting it, but if I don't then it's only because I've got some other good bombs in my graveyard instead.  And when I do, well. Having only one in the deck means it mills an enormous amount: half my library, on average. That's a Traumatize for just sac 3 and 1U!


Oops, I didn't read the card properly. I didn't see that it gets shuffled back into the deck. Still, I think it's a bit risky. If it arrives too close to the top it won't end up doing much, and if it lands too close to the bottom you won't have much room left. It's a bit like playing roulette.

Kessing Cagebreakers is an alternative to Spider Spawning; it's slower, but a lot more efficient. That said, it's still in the mail right now (I've been using an extra Spider Spawning in its place) so maybe it'll turn out to not be worth it.


I'm a bit skeptical of both of those cards - they just seem so expensive for their effects.

Oh, and I figured I didn't need more Boneyard Wurms because of the Splinterfright. Is the Wurm a better deal?


I would personally run 4 of each. Boneyard Wurm isn't better or worse than Splinterfright but I think both are very good in this deck. And since Wonder gives them flying, they pretty much obsolete most of your big creatures. I'm looking at you, Sphinx of Jwar Isle and Isleback Spawn!
Keep gnaw to the bone.

Putrefy is top-notch.

Consider:
mystical teachings
crypt of agadeem
golgari grave-troll 
Consider Crucible of Worlds as a replacement for Life From the Loam.


Oh man, Crucible of Worlds is absolutely perfect. The only problem: it costs like $20, which is more than I've spent on the rest of the deck combined. If I ever turned one up on my own somehow, though, I'd take it in a heartbeat.

There's no point in using Ancient Grudge unless you know for sure your enemy is using artifacts. You wouldn't put them in your main deck. Putrefy on the other hand is good even if artifacts aren't being run because it's non-conditional targeted creature removal. Deadly Allure isn't that good because it lets your opponent choose which creature to block with.


Yeah, I figured that was the case.  I'm still leery of taking something I'd actually have to draw to use, though. Then again, Metalevolence makes a good point with Mystical Teachings. It's a little mana-expensive, but it would definitely help me get that Putrefy when I needed it.  I'll think about this some more.

Consider Unearth to get your Boneyard Wurms and Splinterfrights into play for one black mana!


Also a good card, but again something that stops being useful once it hits my graveyard. Dread Return is great for these guys because paying its flashback cost actually make them stronger, and costs no mana at all.

Regarding lands, I'd probably run more Evolving Wilds and take out the vivid lands.


The vivid lands are useful for the Havengul Lich, since he can cast creatures from enemy graveyards.

Gnaw to the Bone has saved my life a few times in this deck. If my luck takes a turn for the worse in the late game, I can fish it out of my graveyard to get some breathing space.


The thing is, life gain often just delays the inevitable. Play them at your own risk.


Delaying the inevitable is quite all right in this deck. See my next point.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm is even better; I can't always be sure of getting it, but if I don't then it's only because I've got some other good bombs in my graveyard instead.  And when I do, well. Having only one in the deck means it mills an enormous amount: half my library, on average. That's a Traumatize for just sac 3 and 1U!


Oops, I didn't read the card properly. I didn't see that it gets shuffled back into the deck. Still, I think it's a bit risky. If it arrives too close to the top it won't end up doing much, and if it lands too close to the bottom you won't have much room left. It's a bit like playing roulette.


It's actually great if I don't have much room left; Laboratory Maniac is my secondary win condition. Even if he doesn't work out, my profusion of dredge will keep me safe. You only lose the game if you have to draw a card but can't; other forms of milling just don't do anything if your library is empty.

Kessig Cagebreakers is an alternative to Spider Spawning; it's slower, but a lot more efficient. That said, it's still in the mail right now (I've been using an extra Spider Spawning in its place) so maybe it'll turn out to not be worth it.


I'm a bit skeptical of both of those cards - they just seem so expensive for their effects.


Do note that mana costs on creatures are pretty much irrelevant to me, since anything that costs more than 4 will be getting reanimated instead of hard-cast. (I was actually considering taking some Eldrazi in this deck for a while.) Spider Spawning's flashback is expensive, but the tokens it makes are so flexible that it'd be a shame to lose them. They're great as blockers and sacrifices to Dread Return, and I can attack with them too in a pinch. Maybe if I had just one Spider Spawning and one Kessig Cagebreakers?

Oh, and I figured I didn't need more Boneyard Wurms because of the Splinterfright. Is the Wurm a better deal?


I would personally run 4 of each. Boneyard Wurm isn't better or worse than Splinterfright but I think both are very good in this deck. And since Wonder gives them flying, they pretty much obsolete most of your big creatures. I'm looking at you, Sphinx of Jwar Isle and Isleback Spawn!

As I mentioned just above, a high mana cost isn't a problem because of Dread Return. Expensive creatures also benefit greatly from Dragon Fangs, and since the Sphinx and Spawn both have shroud it'll be hard to kill them and get a card-advantage twofer.  (Not that this deck cares about card advantage.) That said, Wonder renders Dragon Fangs mostly obsolete, so I suppose I could swap that out and lose the Spawn for more Wurms or something. The Sphinx is actually really useful, though; it helps me decide when to draw and when to mill, which tunes my hand and graveyard nicely. If I check my library at the start of my upkeep and see a Narcomoeba on top, I can mill it off with a Deranged Assistant or dredger and get to a juicy land drop or something underneath.

crypt of agadeem
golgari grave-troll 


I considered the Crypt, but I only have seven black creatures in the entire deck, and a lot of them I'll want to take out of the graveyard as early as possible. If the deck ever skews blacker, though, I'll definitely look into that.

Golgari Grave-Troll is a bit out of my budget. I try not to spend more than $1 on any one card, and preferably no more than half that.
I can't believe I forgot to mention: Roar of the Wurm.

Also, could you write up a new decklist if you've decided to make changes?


Oh man, Crucible of Worlds is absolutely perfect. The only problem: it costs like $20, which is more than I've spent on the rest of the deck combined. If I ever turned one up on my own somehow, though, I'd take it in a heartbeat.


$20?! I didn't expect it to be that expensive!

Yeah, I figured that was the case.  I'm still leery of taking something I'd actually have to draw to use, though. Then again, Metalevolence makes a good point with Mystical Teachings. It's a little mana-expensive, but it would definitely help me get that Putrefy when I needed it.  I'll think about this some more.


I think the mana cost for Mystical Teachings is a bit high for its effect as well.


Also a good card, but again something that stops being useful once it hits my graveyard. Dread Return is great for these guys because paying its flashback cost actually make them stronger, and costs no mana at all.


If you try to limit yourself to cards with flashback, it's going to be problematic for you. You will inevitably draw cards which land in your hand, and they might as well be good ones.


The vivid lands are useful for the Havengul Lich, since he can cast creatures from enemy graveyards.


How do the vivid lands help the Havengul Lich?


Delaying the inevitable is quite all right in this deck. See my next point.


It's actually great if I don't have much room left; Laboratory Maniac is my secondary win condition. Even if he doesn't work out, my profusion of dredge will keep me safe. You only lose the game if you have to draw a card but can't; other forms of milling just don't do anything if your library is empty.


Dredge won't save you from losing. You only get to draw the dredge card if you can satisfy the requirement of milling cards from the top of your deck. If you can't satisfy this requirement, you draw a card as normal (and if the deck is empty, that means you've lost unless laboratory maniac is in play).


Do note that mana costs on creatures are pretty much irrelevant to me, since anything that costs more than 4 will be getting reanimated instead of hard-cast. (I was actually considering taking some Eldrazi in this deck for a while.) Spider Spawning's flashback is expensive, but the tokens it makes are so flexible that it'd be a shame to lose them. They're great as blockers and sacrifices to Dread Return, and I can attack with them too in a pinch. Maybe if I had just one Spider Spawning and one Kessig Cagebreakers?


At this point in time, you only have four cards that can bring stuff from the dead - one copy of Havengul Lich and three copies of Dread Return. I personally don't think you need either Spider Spawning or Kessig Cagebreakers, as most of your other cards are simply better for this deck.


As I mentioned just above, a high mana cost isn't a problem because of Dread Return. Expensive creatures also benefit greatly from Dragon Fangs, and since the Sphinx and Spawn both have shroud it'll be hard to kill them and get a card-advantage twofer.  (Not that this deck cares about card advantage.) That said, Wonder renders Dragon Fangs mostly obsolete, so I suppose I could swap that out and lose the Spawn for more Wurms or something. The Sphinx is actually really useful, though; it helps me decide when to draw and when to mill, which tunes my hand and graveyard nicely. If I check my library at the start of my upkeep and see a Narcomoeba on top, I can mill it off with a Deranged Assistant or dredger and get to a juicy land drop or something underneath.


I think you're a bit too hopeful regarding Dread Return. There's only three in the deck.

If you do end up using Wonder, Dragon Fangs needs to go. It basically ends up being a +1/+1 bonus on one creature you control, which is pretty hopeless in my opinion.

There are also much better cards for looking at the top of your deck, namely Ponder and Preordain. The sphinx's body on the other hand is a waste of space compared to Boneyard Wurm and Splinterfright.
I can't believe I forgot to mention: Roar of the Wurm.


I considered it, but I decided it was less efficient than just taking another Dread Return.

Also, could you write up a new decklist if you've decided to make changes?


Sure, but not until I've had a chance to paw through my friends' collections and see if they have any of the cards you recommended. I don't want to put a card in the list unless I actually have a physical card to put in the deck.


Also a good card, but again something that stops being useful once it hits my graveyard. Dread Return is great for these guys because paying its flashback cost actually make them stronger, and costs no mana at all.


If you try to limit yourself to cards with flashback, it's going to be problematic for you. You will inevitably draw cards which land in your hand, and they might as well be good ones.


That's true, but I want to consider the deck as a whole, too. The deck needs as many creatures as it can, and every non-creature spell I take counts against that. Flashback spells are good because I can get as much use out of two of them as from four of a regular spell, and that gives me more space in my graveyard for creatures.

I suppose the ideal solution would be to find a creature with an enters-the-battlefield ability that duplicates Putrefy. Then I could be happy to have it in any zone.


The vivid lands are useful for the Havengul Lich, since he can cast creatures from enemy graveyards.


How do the vivid lands help the Havengul Lich?


If I'm playing against a red or white deck and my opponent has a creature in his graveyard that I'd like to steal, the vivid lands will give me the red or white mana I'd need to cast it.

I also don't have any dual lands to put in my deck, so the vivid lands give me some leeway if I need to, say, hard-cast Dread Return or something.


Delaying the inevitable is quite all right in this deck. See my next point.


It's actually great if I don't have much room left; Laboratory Maniac is my secondary win condition. Even if he doesn't work out, my profusion of dredge will keep me safe. You only lose the game if you have to draw a card but can't; other forms of milling just don't do anything if your library is empty.


Dredge won't save you from losing. You only get to draw the dredge card if you can satisfy the requirement of milling cards from the top of your deck. If you can't satisfy this requirement, you draw a card as normal (and if the deck is empty, that means you've lost unless laboratory maniac is in play).


Oh, good point.  Still, even when the Mirror-Mad Phantasm ends up close to the bottom of my library, it's very unlikely that I'd end up with no cards left. I don't know anybody who plays a mill deck, I can easily slow down my own milling, and it's not exactly hard to get my Laboratory Maniac on the field when I need it. The only way I can really lose by decking is if I mess up my own timing, somebody exiles my Maniac, or somebody hits him with instant removal at precisely the right moment (very hard to do in the late game).

At this point in time, you only have four cards that can bring stuff from the dead - one copy of Havengul Lich and three copies of Dread Return. I personally don't think you need either Spider Spawning or Kessig Cagebreakers, as most of your other cards are simply better for this deck.


Sheoldred, Whispering One and Golgari Thug can both rez as well.

I think you're a bit too hopeful regarding Dread Return. There's only three in the deck.


They come up remarkably often when you mill as fast as I do, but I'll keep your words in mind.  I think what I'll do is play around with a few different configurations--more Dread Return, less tokens, more Wurms--and see what actually plays best in practice.

If you do end up using Wonder, Dragon Fangs needs to go. It basically ends up being a +1/+1 bonus on one creature you control, which is pretty hopeless in my opinion.

There are also much better cards for looking at the top of your deck, namely Ponder and Preordain. The sphinx's body on the other hand is a waste of space compared to Boneyard Wurm and Splinterfright.


Yeah, if I find that Wonder I'll definitely take out Dragon Fangs, and probably the Sphinx of Jwar Isle as well. I don't know about Ponder and Preordain (I have the same problems with them as with any other non-flashback spell), but I might be able to make do with a Delver of Secrets or two instead.

My new cards should be arriving within the next few days, so I'll be able to try some things and let you know how they work out. Thanks for all your help!
If you're looking for some additional/reusable removal spells you should consider Haakon, Stromgald Scourge + Nameless Inversion. Once Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is on the battlefield you can cast Nameless Inversion as often as you can spend because it's a knight and returns to the graveyard after casting. You can also use it to pump your own creatures.
The following is how I would probably make your deck using the cards discussed in the thread so far (+ some tricolour lands) while keeping things inexpensive:

20 Lands
Island x1
Forest x2
Swamp x1
Arcane Sanctum x4
Crumbling Necropolis x4
Savage Lands x4
Seaside Citadel x4


27 Creatures
Boneyard Wurm x4
Havengul Lich x1
Hedron Crab x4
Lord of Extinction x1
Narcomoeba x4
Putrid Imp x4
Sheoldred, Whispering One x1
Splinterfright x4
Wonder x4


13 Other Spells
Deep Analysis x4
Dread Return x4
Gnaw to the Bone x4
Life from the Loam x1
Tracker's Instincts x4

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