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By: Gardevi, Lee McLeod
Nov 14 2011 1:52pm
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In the Innistrad prerelease, my friend Sushi (yes, strange nickname) built a U/G beatdown deck with an absurd number of Boneyard Wurms and blue enablers. In one memorable game, a Curse of the Bloody Tome was killing him, but also powering up his Boneyard Wurms. With his Splinterfright dead, these Wurms were crashing into chump blockers like Mausoleum Guards and various other spirit tokens, unable to get through damage. On the penultimate turn before he died to mill, Sushi topdecked his lone Laboratory Maniac and won the game on his next draw step.
Then I knew I wanted to draft this deck.
Boneyard Blue is very similar to U/B Self-Mill, with the very vivid distinction of having Boneyard Wurms instead of removal. The deck's core is the blue enablers like Forbidden Alchemy, Armored Skaab, and Deranged Assistant to fuel your needy creatures - both Boneyard Wurms and Skaabs such as Makeshift Mauler. So, You'll be spending your first few turns milling yourself (or playing some Darkthicket Wolves) to get some aggressive starts with Stitched Drake and the like. Then you begin laying down creature after creature, which will usually be bigger than those of your opponent's, and start beating down.
The main advantage of this deck is the sheer amount of creatures. This deck is full of creatures - if you stop making creature drops, something has gone horribly wrong. In addition, because of the heavy self-mill theme, you tend to "draw" extra cards by finding Silent Departures and Grasp of Phantoms that you can flashback (for value).
The obvious weakness of this deck is it's lack of hard removal. Blue and green are still not known for their sterling removal options. You're relying pretty much upon Ambush Viper, Claustrophobia and Prey Upon to "permanently" remove creatures from play. Otherwise, you have to deal with only having bounce spells like Silent Departure and Grasp of Phantoms. In addition, your creatures are very vulnerable to opposing removal: Bonds of Faith gets every creature in your deck, and Victim of Night can gun down every 9/9 Boneyard Wurm in play for just two mana (granted, your scads of Skaabs are immune to Victim of Night, but are appropriately gunned down by Slayer of the Wicked).

When to Draft it

I'm not going to hide the truth: The fact of the matter is, you won't draft this deck much. It just doesn't shine in comparison to U/B Self Mill. There are a few different reasons to go into this archetype.
The first is to simply force it. If I open a Splinterfright or Kessig Cagebreakers very early in the draft, I'd be very inclined to just draft around those cards, as they are extremely effective if drafted around appropriately. Plus, in the case of Splinterfright, very few players will want a mediocre Splinterfright that most decks will have, so they just pass it along. So another reason to go U/G is passing a Splinterfright early because there is something better, then seeing another Splinterfright in the same pack. You can take the second Fright and expect to wheel the second, than go into the archetype if you get the second one.
The second reason is that you are drafting U/B and are simply cut from black. In this case, you'll have to rely on another color to fill out the rest of your deck, and that color may be green. Boneyard Wurms go very late, so it's very feasible to just wheel all the Boneyard Wurms in a given draft. Or, you could be drafting some sort of self-mill deck but be undecided on your second color, then open a green bomb like Garruk Relentless or Moldgraf Monstrosity. In that case you would definitely want to play green, and might shift your deck accordingly to accommodate the Boneyard Wurms you'll see late in the draft.
Card Choices

Spend the first part of the draft prioritizing removal or enablers, you don't want to have to commit to green if you have to yet, so don't pigeon-hole yourself into picking green cards over black cards just yet. If you see a ton of Boneyard Wurms in the early picks of the draft, you can expect to wheel them and then decide if you want to go into U/G instead of U/B.
Removal Pick Orders:
Grasp of Phantoms
Silent Departure
Prey Upon
Blazing Torch
Ambush Viper
Enabler Pick Orders:

Deranged Assistant
Forbidden Alchemy
Civilized Scholar
Selhoff Occultist
Armored Skaab
Dream Twist
Curse of the Bloody Tome
Once you start piecing your deck together, go ahead and start taking more and more creatures - this deck can support more skaabs than the average self-mill deck, so don't be afraid to take more than you usually would. Just be aware that in order to support Boneyard Wurm, you may have to take creatures over cards that may be better than "just another creature".
Also, a note on the interaction between Boneyard Wurm and casting Makeshift Mauler - yes, it's true, Boneyard Wurm does get -1/-1 for each Skaab you play. But, you generally make up for it by that skaab being a 3/4 flier, a 4/5, or a 6/9 trampler. Somehow I think you'll live. I wouldn't even mind playing Skaab Ruinator in this archetype because you can play it from your graveyard, though I would be quick to side it out against white decks due to Slayer of the Wicked and Bonds of Faith - don't want to make your Boneyard Wurms too bad.
The Beatdown Pick Orders

Spider Spawning (very insane)
Murder of Crows
Skaab Goliath
Geistcatcher's Rig
Stitched Drake
Makeshift Mauler
Lantern Spirit
Gatstaf Shepherd
Darkthicket Wolf
Moon Heron
Villagers of Estwald
Boneyard Wurm (I've never seen this not wheel. Pick up whenever)
Remember to keep a close eye on your curve while drafting. You want to be playing creatures every turn. Moon Heron is a great card and all, but you don't want to be staring at a bunch of Moon Herons in your hand while skipping your first three turns. Laying out a more diverse threat base also helps you deal with opposing creatures (remember, you don't have much removal). For instance, how do your two Moon Herons deal with just one opposing Voiceless Spirit?
Some fringe cards to keep in mind: Wreath of Geists and Gnaw to Bone. Gnaw to Bone is a workhorse in a deck with enough creatures - any card that can buy you two to four turns is worth a card to me. It's a very good board card against decks with a lot of small creatures, and I've even maindecked it before. Wreath of Geists has a pretty bad downside: it's an Aura, and you never want to 2-for-1 yourself if they have something just as simple as a Victim of Night. BUT, you are in the colors with Invisible Stalker, and Wreath goes fairly late... you just may live the dream.
Sample Deck:

May your boneyards be well stocked!
Lee McLeod
Gardevi on MTGO
@Gardevi on Twitter


I have a UG selfmill deck by ShardFenix at Mon, 11/14/2011 - 16:29
ShardFenix's picture

I have a UG selfmill deck like this that i play casually with some friends and the concept is fun. I might have to try this in draft soemtime soon, i am getting tired of U/W fliers though getting three crows is nice

I actually got to draft this by Gardevi at Mon, 11/14/2011 - 17:57
Gardevi's picture

I actually got to draft this deck Friday at FNM and ended up with the 21 creature special - with both Splinterfright and Kessig Cagebreakers! Usually if the archetype is open, it's wide open.

well im definitely going to by ShardFenix at Mon, 11/14/2011 - 21:25
ShardFenix's picture

well im definitely going to have to keep an eye open for it.