Home Strategy Dream Puppets deck guide: Schemes and dreams

Among the deck archetypes most reviled by Magic players as a whole, “mill” decks often fall somewhere between land destruction and Tempest-era Shadow decks.

What do these three have in common? Why, they’re all about playing around one’s opponent. Instead of directly interacting with his or her life total or board presence, these annoyances simply sidestep your foe’s entire gameplan. After all, they can’t win with no mana, or nothing to draw, or an unstoppable offense. It’s called non-interaction.

But hey– haters gonna hate, right? After all, your enemies are likely to complain about any deck type you play, so why not roll the one that metaphorically represents driving your opponent insane by grinding away his mind? If that sounds like fun for you, you’re in luck: Jace’s Dream Puppets is more than equipped to cause figurative and literal insanity.

 

Grind, mill, slap, chop… with patience

No matter what verb you use to describe the act of emptying a player’s library into his or her graveyard, your bound to enjoy Dream Puppets. Not only does it feature dozens of ways to make your enemy draw to zero cards (and by extension, zero thoughts), it’s also home to lots of hilarious blue control cards. Sure, you could run a tubrocharged mill-only deck that regularly hoses Crosswinds and Obedient Dead, but you’ll find yourself on life support against Goblin Ganglands or even Celestial Light. It’s all about balance.

After all, you can cast Tome Scour any turn in the game for the same effect, but playing a Clone this turn will have an impact on how long you live. There are times when zippy milling will get the job done faster or activate your Phantasms a turn earlier, but in general, tempo comes before library-busting.

After heavy experimentation, I’ve devised a Dream Puppets deck list that has just enough early game tools to (sometimes) make it out alive versus the fastest decks. These key, momentum killing cards (like Aether Adept and Crippling Chill) are supplemented by cheap, cost-effective grinding options that will slowly (but surely) empty your foe’s thoughtbank. As with my Exalted Darkness deck guide, I’m going to begin with the full list available, and slowly populate the article with my thoughts as free time permits.

 

Dream Puppets card-by-card analysis

Hedron Crab: 5.0

Incredibly effective as a first or second turn drop (before your second land, of course), Hedron Crab can single handedly burn off half your enemy’s deck if left unchecked. The fact that he’s a paltry 0/2 creature usually means he’s spared from removal, and often wrongfully so. This little bastard can also hold off small threats and chump later in the game, well after you’ve gotten enough use out of its Landfall ability!

Jace’s Phantasm: 5.0

While old school Magic players will consider a 1/1 flyer a good deal for the price, the truth is that this little beast will hit the ground as a 5/5 more often than not. There are dozens of ways to swing for 25% life by turn two or three with this guy, the most fun of which involves Chancellor of the Spires. These beastly jellyfish will often be your only offense and defense.

Clone: 4.5

While you’ll almost certainly overpay for the creature you Clone, consider the added cost a tax for the incredible selection this creature offers. For the unimaginative, that’s often a copy of the fattest thing on the battlefield. But why not echo your previously played Aether Adept to further stymie your opponent’s offense? Or create a third Hedron Crab, right before playing another land and milling for nine. The possibilities are endless.

Mind Sculpt: 3.5

Perhaps not the best card in general Magic, Mind Sculpt is great at shaving off enough of your opponent’s deck to activate your Phantasms or find something juicy to Body Double. When playing, always remember that, for the most part, it doesn’t matter when you cast this card, so play other threats or leave mana for counters in the early game, unless you really need 10 cards in the graveyard right now.

Counterspell: 5.0

I shouldn’t have to explain why you always need to run two copies of Counterspell. Just remember: you only have two (maybe three with Dream Fracture). Only cancel an opponent’s play if letting it through would cause immediate and catastrophic reversal of momentum.

Dream Fracture: 4.0

You need all the counters you can get, and while this isn’t as good as Counterspell, it’s nothing to scoff at. The extra card draw going to your opponent will rarely matter (they are unlikely to have the mana to use it immediately most of the time), and the fact that you force them to dig actually helps your deck win. As a neat trick, Dream Fracture one of your own spells you don’t need; you’ll draw two cards. Funnier still with Jace’s Erasure out.

Though Scour: 4.0

By no means overpowering, Though Scour is a nearly free cantrip (self replacing card) that helps you achieve your win condition quicker. Don’t judge it by its own utility, but instead by the fact that its inclusion in your deck almost allows you to run a sub-60 card list. You can treat this card as a non entity, drawing into threats you’d rather have. A nasty combo trick: mill from eight to ten for a surprise boost to Jace’s Phantasm.

Tome Scour: 2.5

Tome Scout is everything people hate about library erosion decks. There’s no flavor, no impact on the board, and it’s just a boring, narrow card. That said, it’s basically the equivalent of a Shock, since it hits your enemy’s “life” for about 10%. Unfortunately, Shock can also kill creatures and is instant speed. Don’t use this as anything except low-CMC filler.

Unsummon: 4.0

Narrow, but cheap. Unsummon can give you beneficial combat scenarios, delay threats, or destroy tokens, but it’s important to remember this card is never a permanent solution. It’s best to save Unsummon for situations that your enemies will never see coming, like bouncing a tribal chief to remove +1/+1 bonuses from a horde of goblins or elves right before blocking.

Visions of Beyond: 3.0

I’m torn on Visions of Beyond. On the one hand, the prospect of playing Ancestral Recall is too damn powerful to pass up. On the other hand, this card more frequently ends up being a single mana cantrip. If you’re stuck for filler in your last few spots, this card certainly can’t hurt, but don’t hold out all game hoping to get a 3-for-1 that may never come.

Prosperity: 3.0

People rag on cards like Prosperity because they’re symmetric. Yeah, you get to draw cards, but so does your opponent! But just like symmetrical burn, your deck is better poised to handle the influx of spells and lands than that of your victim, especially when you have Jace’s Erasure or Dreamborn Muse on the table. Warning: this card is suicide against Born of Flame.

Aether Adept: 5.0

Early game or late, few cards are as welcome a sight as Aether Adept. Played on turn 3, she can undo an opponent’s entire turn, then hang around to block when it comes back. Played late game, she can clear a flying blocker to let your Phantasms swing for lethal damage. Don’t forget other applications: bouncing Clones/Body Doubles to recast for new targets, or returning creatures to remove pesky auras.

Jace’s Erasure: 3.5

While I’ve vacillated on this card’s value repeatedly, the math doesn’t lie: it usually yields much better milling for two mana than you’d get out of many other cards. Yes, it’s easier to stop since it’s an enchantment, but there’s a certain psychological effect to its permanence: making foes cringe whenever you draw. Combos with basically everything, especially Prosperity and Howling Mine.

Sapphire Medallion: 3.5

As the only deck in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 that has tons of card draw and cheap, quickfire spells, Dream Puppets is alone in recommendations for Medallion inclusion. Unlike your opponent (in most cases), you actually can empty a hand of seven+ cards quickly. Combine with Howling Mine, Prosperity, or Sturmgeist, and you will very quickly get and stay ahead. Keep in mind, however, that a turn 2 play is a signal to your foe: “I don’t have Counterspell.”

Into the Roil: 5.0

The case could be made that Boomerang would have helped Dream Puppets more, but bounce is bounce, and Into the Roil is flexible enough to earn both spots in your deck. The option for a cantrip adds lots of value, but don’t hold out for four mana if it means taking massive damage in the interim. This zippy instant also makes for a great rescue option should your Chancellor draw the ire of a removal spell.

Grindclock: 2.5

While I appreciate that this artifact’s ability is free (as Dream Puppets is often starved for open lands in the early game), it simply takes this milling machine too long to build momentum. By the time you decide to stop adding counters and start reaping your rewards, the game may well have been decided. If you’re looking for “free” mill, you’re better off taking Jace’s Erasure.

Sands of Delirium: 3.0

While it’s not free like Grind Clock nor does it offer cascading power, Sands of Delirium offers something else: flexibility. Have one extra mana? Mill them for one. Have ten extra mana? Start practicing your evil, evil cackle. You will need mana available to make this card work, but its versatility pretty much guarantees it will never be a dead draw.

Cephalid Broker: 2.5

More useful for digging through your own deck than emptying your opponent’s, these thought-provoking octo-people are a little too slow to make a difference in the long run. Yes, they can provide necessary answers in a long drawn-out control game, but will usually lead to your demise against faster decks.

Vedalken Entrancer: 2.0

With a 1/4 body, you might be tempted to enlist this hypnotist to defend against Goblins or Peacekeepers. In most situations, though, his single point of power isn’t enough to deter a heavy attack. And, unlick Cephalid Broker or the Muse, the Entrancer’s ability will almost never help you out in any meaningful way, assuming you have the time/mana to even use it.

Dreamborn Muse:4.0

Unlike Howling Mine and Font of Mythos, this symmetrical card never benefits your opponent. And while its attacks on your own mind/library may not seem welcome at first, they do present you the opportunity to cast Chancellor of the Spires for the low, low cost of Body Double (5 CMC). More indirectly, Dreamborn Muse forces your opponent to play recklessly, emptying cards he or she might normally hold back… perhaps right into one of your Mind Controls!

Font of Mythos: 2.5

I’m tempted to rate this card-drawing engine over Howling Mine, but at four mana, it’s hard to justify. Dreamborn Muse will often create just as much (if not more) chaos, plus she can attack and block. On the other hand, the Font (I assume Comic Sans?) can quickly flood your opponent’s hand, as three cards a turn is usually too much to ever play. I wouldn’t include this unless you’re also stacking Jace’s Erasure and lots of bounce.

Sleep: 3.0

Sleep works best when you benefit from both offense (tapped creatures can’t block) and defense (nor can they attack). Since you’ll primarily be using Sleep to stave off death, it’s not at its best in Dream Puppets. Crosswinds, on the other hand, would have absolutely adored this card… especially when imprinted on Panoptic Mirror.

Wheel and Deal: 2.0

There’s only one good time to make your opponent draw seven cards, and that’s when it’s enough to kill him/her (either directly or by triggering Dreamborn Muse for a total of 14 cards). At almost every other point in the game, this card is suicide, filling your enemy’s hands with threats and answers. If you must force draws, at least use Prosperity and get something out of it for yourself.

Mind Control: 3.5

While a UUUU-costed version might be more welcome (are you reading this, Wizards designers?), Mind Control is a hilarious play following a turn 3 Aether Adept and turn 4 Into the Roil. By the time your opponent actually gets to play something, it’s yours for the taking! This doesn’t quite have the versatility of Clone or Body Double, which works against it. And keep in mind equipping a Mind Controlled creature with Sword of Body and Mind will leave you in a really bad position.

Body Double: 4.0

Like Clone, Body Double is a card that’s marked up for versatility. Get a Dreamborn Muse in play for a few turns, and Body Double can net you the best creature in either your opponent’s deck or your own deck! And unlike reanimation spells, this card only copies your target, so you’re free to Body Double it again… then Clone your Body Double. You can actually get four copies of a singleton from any graveyard in this manner!

Telemin Performance: 2.5

While I was originally a fan, this artful act is simply too random to merit five mana. Sometimes you’ll rip through ten cards and drop a gigantic angel on the table; other times you’ll flip a goddamn Primordial Hydra from the top and get essentially nothing. A strong card against Obedient Dead, but that’s usually it.

Forced Fruition: 3.5

At six mana, this seemingly terrible enchantment is often unplayable. Even when it does drop, it… helps your foe? Not exactly. With a “penalty” of seven cards a spell, your opponent will be unlikely to cast more than three or four more spells the entire game once this is in play. To that effect, if it can be resolved, it’s a game-winning lockout. However, bounce and enchantment removal can simply fill your enemy’s hands for “free.”

Chancellor of the Spires: 3.5

I’m not usually a fan of blue fatties, but turn zero milling is pretty sexy since it can be followed up with soon-to-be 5/5 flyers. In addition, the Chancellor‘s ETB (entering the battlefield) effect is incredibly powerful, especially against some of the more annoying decks. For instance, you’re probably aware by now that using Chancellor on Rite of Replication yields infinite copies (and possibly an extra turn via Time Warp to seal the deal immediately, as well).

 

Dream Puppets deck guide

 

Example gameplay videos

27 replies to this post
  1. A bit more creature heavy than how I’ve got mine built. I posted my decklist in the comments of your last DP article and I haven’t changed it much since then. I like the Howling Mine/Jace’s Erasure/Dreamborn Muse combo for this deck

  2. I am curious as to your thoughts on Howling Mine, WiNG. I know that there’s a disadvantage because the opponent gets the first extra draw, and then it’s symmetrically beneficial, but is there a particular reason that you didn’t include them beyond that?

    • I could go either way on it. My main thinking is playing Howling Mine = auto lose vs Goblins, Peacekeepers, or Born of Flame. Against the slower decks, it’s good… but is it good enough to flip a coin for inclusion main deck? I’d sideboard it in in a tournament format for sure.

  3. I’ve never had any success with this deck, running it this way is o.k, but I have run several games and haven’t milled an opponant once, I always kill them by using there own cards, the sword, or killling them fast with the 5/5

    • Yes, exactly! Milling seems Plan B for this deck and it of course also helps to get good cards for Body Double and the Chancellor. Usually it’s those 5/5s flying over for beatings after bouncing blockers out of the way.

  4. Awesome build, and the last video above made me laugh out loud several times.

    I tried a variant of what you posted with some success -

    (use jace’s erasure where you had options)
    -1 sword
    +1 sands of delirium
    - 1 thought scour
    + 1 prosperity

    It played extremely well for me. I’ve decided that even with crippling chill it is sometimes too difficult to get a sword hit in against certain decks (OD, BF), and sands, while slow, gets the job done.

  5. Great build, much more fun to play than what I was previously running! You’ve resurrected my interest in this deck. I also throw Sands of Delirium in there for extra milling.

  6. Interesting, I will try this different style out…but why didn’t you review several cards?

    Sands of Delerium, for example – it seems like a way more versatile grindclock.

  7. Wing, you should do one two-headed giant build. Just one build, on the deck you think would be the most effective in general, not designed to play with any specific deck.

  8. Wing did you rate all the cards? I didn’t go through it all to see if you did every other card, but i noticed you were missing forced fruition…

  9. I loathe this deck so much. I’ve been playing blue control decks since ~93, and this one is worse then almost any version I’ve ever used (even when I was a kid and had no clue what I was doing). It just drives me nuts. It’s like they gimped it on purpose. There are so many great common cards that would have made this deck decent, I just don’t understand how they could have screwed it up so badly. Whenever I play this deck, I’m pretty much praying my opponent gets a bad draw. It’s either way too slow, or it has no defense. Give me a couple walls of air/water/or fog and I’d at least have a fighting chance. Really irks me because this would have been my favorite had they done it right. Anyway, screw it… Lol

    /rant

    • DJ 0045′s – Let’s Call a Spade a Stupid Deck Dream Puppets Build

      61 Cards Total

      25 Islands

      2 Hedron Crab
      4 Jace’s Phantasm
      2 Prosperity
      3 Thought Scour
      2 Tome Scour
      2 Unsummon
      2 Visions of Beyond
      2 Counterspell
      2 Howling Mine
      2 Into the Roil
      2 Jace’s Erasure
      3 Mind Sculpt
      3 Crippling Chill
      1 Dream Fracture
      1 Stroke of Genius
      1 Wheel and Deal
      2 Chancellor of the Spires

      This deck sucks, I hate it. I wanted so badly to turn this one into an interesting deck, but it simply lacks anything to keep creature decks from beating it into submission. Therefor, IMO, it can only succeed as a purely aggressive build. Enter the cantrips, exit the useless creatures. The whole purpose of this build is to keep my hand as full as possible, and to cycle through my own cards as fast as possible. It may surprise people to know that this deck wins just as often by killing the opponent as it does by milling them. Try it out.

      That said. I really would have preferred to make a successful control deck. I do not advocate playing this version, but after literally hours of testing other alternatives, IMO this is the build that works best. Is it fun to play? No… Will people rematch you after you play them? Probably not… Does it win consistently? Unfortunately, YES!

      Long story short, this is pretty much the blue equivalent to the goblin deck… Don’t think, just go, go, go. Don’t bluff, just mill. Lol!

      P.s.: Why the cantrips? Because IMO, there are only about 10 cards in the entire f@@king deck that are of any real value. Everything else is just a piece of useless crap. The only value to the rest is that they get me to the cards I want faster, and in some case hurt the opponent on the way. Why not any control cards? Because they are too slow, too reliant on the opponent, and get in the way of the main purpose of this deck: being a total mindless piece of crap.

      • I might suggest a minor adjustment of Sands of Delirium instead of Wheel and Deal. Wheel and Deal is usually suicide, so it’s very situational. Sands are always useful… ::shrug::

  10. Finally, an article about DP.Wong, i’d love to hear your thoughts on the rest of the cards though. Such as the popular mine/muse combo or perhaps cards like Forced Fruition. I’ve been tinkering with this deck for a long time. Here’s my most recent deck:

    Creatures – 15
    2 Hedron Crab
    4 Jace’s Phantasm
    2 Aether Adept
    2 Clone
    2 Body Double
    2 Chancellor of the Spires

    Instant/Sorcery – 17
    3 Thought Scour
    2 Unsummon
    2 Visions of Beyond
    2 Counterspell
    2 Into the Roil
    2 Tome Scour
    3 Crippling Chill
    1 Dream Fracture

    Artifact – 3
    2 Sword of Body and Mind
    1 Grindstone

    Enchantment – 1
    2 Mind Control

    Land – 25
    25 Island

  11. Any commentary and/or ratings regarding Scaleplexis, the 4/8 Shroudy Shroud, or Sturmgeist? Personally I don’t run them, but always appreciate thoughts regarding card options.

    I currently have my Puppets setup to be a creature heavy deck which is more “graveyard-centric” instead of mill. My goal is to get 10+ cards into their yard ASAP and then beat their faces with Phantasms and/or their own creatures. It’s been doing pretty well so far.

    25 Islands

    2 Hedron Crab
    4 Jace’s Phantasm
    2 Thought Scour
    2 Tome Scour
    2 Unsummon
    2 Counterspell
    2 Into the Roil
    3 Mind Sculpt
    2 Aether Adept
    2 Crippling Chill
    1 Sands of Delirium
    1 Dream Fracture
    2 Icy Manipulator
    2 Clone
    2 Dreamborn Muse
    1 Sleep
    2 Body Double
    2 Mind Control

  12. @boredcertified

    I love the concept, but it is IMO bordering on the insane.. You are filling your deck with cards you’d rather not have unless you hit the combo with them. Your turn 7 seven thought scour is a complete disaster. Your body double is only useful under very specific circumstances. Also, hedron crab is of little to no use unless it’s one of your original seven. On turn 5 he’s an ineffectual blocker that probably just lost you the game. Get
    rid of the crab unless you go 100% pure mill. Anything else, and he WILL screw you more often than help you win. If we had 4 it would be a different story – of course.

    I’m probably full of sh@t, but I’d go with someone entirely different for a balanced approach to this deck.

    About Scalpelexis: 0 for reg, 1.5 for pure mill
    He’s a 1/5 blocker that you will never hit with. And even if you do hit with him, he exiles cards… E.g. No body double, no bonus for phantasm, etc… Total waste of space. Worthless in almost all builds. And with basically no creature removal in the deck, you’ll never even hit with it in order to be disappointed with the results. (why wouldn’t your opponent block a 1/5 flyer… Under what circumstance, other than a mana screwed opponent, would you ever actually hit with this card?!? Lol)

  13. @Dj0045

    It might be bordering on insane, but that’s the line I tend to walk with some of my creative deck concepts. That’s the fun part of Magic. I’m trying to bring the concept of paper magic, where you pick a few cards and then build the deck around them. Personally, the mill concept doesn’t interest me, but I didn’t want to bascially ignore a whole deck because of it. Therefore I decided to get creative and work on a more typical gameplay concept for the deck that lets me engage with the other player more instead of just trying to put their deck in their yard. I focused on the 4 Phantasms and then built the deck around them.

    In terms of the crab, it actually works fantasically for what I need it to do. It’s a turn 1 or 2 play that mills and provides me a chump blocker if I need it. If it can mill for 3-6 and absorb a removal spell, then that’s a fantastic result for me. All I’m looking for is to get 10 cards in their yard so that my phantasms can go to work.

    The thing I’ve found with my creature-based Puppets deck is that everyone always expects me to try to win from milling, so they play differently then a typical 1v1 mindset and just start filling the battlefield with creatures, burning up removal on my crabs and phantasms, and basically emptying their hands early to avoid the Muse and try to get damage done ASAP. That gives me a wealth of clone/body double/mind control options, which is exactly what I’m looking for. It’s not usually until turn 4-5 that they realize decking isn’t what they need to be worried about anymore.

    Interestly, the worst matchup for me is Exalted because there are very few creatures worth stealing and the deck is loaded with removal. Conversely, I’ve been pounding Obedient Dead, Peace Keepers, and Pact Instinct into the ground. The better creatures the other deck has, the better my creature Puppet build works :)

  14. I feel you man… And just because I think it’s a wasted card doesn’t make it so (except scalp – he IS a wasted card)… Lol. I took out the crabs and made a slow grind control deck that I’m finally (somewhat) happy with. Tbh, DP just irritates me, it’s no ones fault, just a case of gamer nerd rage.

  15. my modified version of yours:

    2 Hedron Crab
    4 Jace’s Phantasm
    3 Thought Scour
    2 Tome Scour
    2 Unsummon
    2 Counterspell
    2 Howling Mine
    2 Into The Roil
    2 Mind Sculpt
    2 Aether Adept
    1 Dream Fracture
    2 Clones
    2 Dreamborn Muse
    1 Body Double
    2 Mind Control
    1 Telemin Performance
    1 Traumatize
    2 Chancellor Of The Spires

    Took out the Visions of Beyond because I have found them virtually useless. Put the Mines in their place. Mine can work against me sometimes especially against Goblin but in most cases its helped against getting land hosed/shorted and to help get to creature removal and counters faster.

    Took out Crippling Chill because it costs too much for what it actually does and this deck is all about managing resources wisely for those first few turns.

    Took out the Swords bc I’m just not a fan and it hasn’t ever been a game changer for me.

    Took out Jace’s Erasure because it just doesn’t do enough and most decks have some sort of enchantment removal they just can’t wait to use and blowing a counterspell to save it just isn’t worth it.

    Took out Prosperity because this deck really cannot afford any X spells against all these fast creature heavy decks.

    Put 1 Traumatize in because there are tons of noobs out there with 80-100 card decks and it has definitely been a game changer for me.

    Put in 1 Telemin Performance bc its nasty against Pack or Dead. It’s still somewhat on my cut list though.

    Put in 1 more Chancellor bc that opening hand free mill after a mulligan or two is priceless. Plus its just such a fun card. Put him out against a Pack deck and stole a Boundless Realms with a Crab on the board…Hilarious milling ensued.

    Still not sure about keeping in Dreamborn Muses bc they’ve hurt me at times but not sure of an alternative?

    thoughts guys?

  16. @BoredCertified

    I agree, I win with pretty much any build of Puppets via creature stealing over milling at least 3 out of every 4 times. The slow, slight milling that this deck provides is really only an advantage when it gets rid of single copy game changers, or getting big spells and creatures in their fast to Body Double or Chancellor it.

  17. I tried this deck out seriously just yesterday (as it didn’t at all appeal to me before that). I mainly grinded down Bolas for unlocks and fun. It was actually kind of entertaining. Anyway, I hadn’t tuned my deck at this point so I was still running Grindclock and a formula occurred to me that maximizes utility for this card. I think if you are going to run this card (which you could actually make the argument for) you first need to put a “clock” on the game. Let’s say for argument sake that you are playing to win strictly by milling. What I thought is that you need to determine how many turns you believe it will take to mill your opponent to 0 cards this game (with everything, not just grindclock). let’s say this is 8 turns once you play Grindclock to make the math simple. You should devote exactly half (or as close as possible if the “game turn clock” is an odd number), specifically the first half, to placing counters on Grindclock. So in the example it would be 4 turns of placing charge counters on the card. the next 4 turns should be spend milling with it. This gets maximum effect from Grindclock as 4^2 will always mill more cards than 3×5, 5×3, 6×2, 2×6, 7×1 or 1×7. Works out to be 2 cards milled per turn for free which isn’t bad. Seems as good as jace’s erasure doesn’t it? Maybe not quite but i think it is playable. Just use the formula (X/2)^2 to find out how many cards you can expect to mill with Grindclock (where X is the estimated “game cliock” that you expect to mill your opponent to 0 in). And the longer the game goes, the better this card becomes as opposed to Jace’s Erasure.

Leave a Reply

Newest Articles

We here at T3 have, at the risk of spamming your article reading days with posts, posted a lot of Titanfall articles. However, April...