"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."
- Kyle Reese
I had a Wrexial, the Risen Deep deck at one point that I had visions of being a decent control deck. Wrexial is such pure card advantage, right? Every time he swings, you get to cast a free spell! So awesome. But in practice it turns out that he needed too many support cards to reliably a) connect and b) have targets to also have a deck that could keep the board under control and protect Wrexial himself.
Enter Grimgrin. On the surface, he looks much worse than Wrexial - no evasion, requires a constant supply of food, and comes into play tapped? Horrible. People seemed to want to make him a combo general where you make an unlimited supply of creatures and then attack with an infinite/infinite creature, but I thought it might be possible to put him at the head of a counter-heavy deck and use him to catch any creatures that made it through the permission, with just enough self-recurring creatures/token generators in the deck to have him eat once a turn and attack constantly. I tested the idea out and haven't looked back since.
Minamo, School at Water's Edge: A very straightforward way of untapping Grimgrin. It makes him grow at half the speed, but for only needing to keep two lands open it's very solid.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner: After long periods of consideration, I decided Kira's ability to shut down targeted removal outweighed the drawback of her blanking Minamo and making Batterskull difficult to equip. Skullclamp remains broken even if you have to pay twice as much to equip it every time.
Trinket Mage: I don't like when people put Trinket Mage in their decks with only Sol Ring and Top as targets and call it a day. My number one Trinket Mage target is Expedition Map for Volrath's Stronghold, which reanimates Trinket Mage to get Skullclamp to draw extra cards when Trinket Mage gets eaten. Then maybe I'll think about Sol Ring and Top, then I can finish up with Elixir of Immortality to reuse all my spent counterspells. That's how you put together a Trinket Mage package.
Acorn Catapult: I really thought this was just a card for the squirrel fetishists that have existed in the game since Odyssey, but it turned out to be amazingly effective as a second Bitterblossom.Trading Post does more stuff with the "drawback" of always costing life, so I'll be using that until I really need to kill X/1s every game.
All the counterspells: My criteria for counterspells was that they had to be hard counters priced between 2 and 4 CMC (4 is a bit much to keep open at all times, but there's not enough 2 and 3 CMC hard counters). Forbid becomes very easy to buy back once you have Skullclamp on the table, and keeps the long game locked down tight. Foil is somewhat of a halfway point between Force of Will and Forbid. There's a longwinded bit of recursion where you can have Spell Crumple each turn using Volrath's Stronghold and Drift of Phantasms - expensive, but it's there.
Long-Term Plans: It's not unusual to be drawing 3+ cards a turn once Skullclamp or Mulldrifter get involved, so Long-Term Plans becomes a pretty effective tutor. It's not quite Vampiric Tutor, but I can find it with one of my transmute guys and my Vampiric Tutors are busy elsewhere.
Black Sun's Zenith, Oblivion Stone, Grave Pact: There's not much actual creature removal in this deck because Grimgrin takes up the bulk of it himself, but sometimes a sweeper is needed. They each have their pros and cons, and there's one for each transmute CMC.
2012-06-01: -Wayfarer's Bauble, +Nihil Spellbomb
2012-08-08: -Acorn Catapult, Fuel for the Cause, +Trading Post, Pact of Negation
2013-01-19: -Mulldrifter, +Torpor Orb
2013-04-20: -Vivid Creek, Vivid Marsh, +Dimir Guildgate, Watery Grave
2013-05-30: -Torpor Orb, Pact of Negation, +Mulldrifter, Notion Thief
2013-06-02: -Gravecrawler, +Sword of Feast and Famine
5 is allot to pay for a small token, which is what Acorn Catapult and Nuisance Engine cost the turn you cast it and activate them. I can't help but feel that you should replace one of them with Puppeteer Clique. That creature can get up to 4 meals for Grimgrin, but that is only half of it. It steals from your opponents graveyard! Trust me you will enjoy the feeling of stealing somebody else's titan after you just got finished countering it.
Mnemonic Wall is much better in this format than Snapcaster Mage. Although it does not flash and costs more, you do not need to exile your Instant/Sorcery after reusing it.
I like Vedalken Orrery simply because I want to reduce the amount of time my opponents have to assess my board and plan around it. You may want it so that you can keep your options open. I am sure you have been in a position where you have casted a permanent and soon after had an opponent cast a spell that you must counter but cannot. The Orrey or Leyline of Anticipation can keep you out of that doghouse.
P.Clique is only two untaps, though, since the stolen creatures have to be used up that turn. I never liked that limitation. Untapping Grimgrin so he can attack again is the thing I really focused on, not the number of counters, so I'd rather have a constant stream of creatures than a quick burst. Also, Puppeteet Clique falls outside the CMC requirements of most of my tutors - I'm aware Nuisance Engine isn't the most efficient way of making tokens, but until there's a better token card at CMC3, it's staying in.
Puppeteer Clique is graveyard hate, though, and that is something that's missing. I could find room for a Tormod's Crypt, or better, a Nihil Spellbomb. Trinket Mage can get both of those, and Spellbomb can be reused without too much disruption with Academy Ruins.
Mnemonic Wall doesn't have flash, so it's not any good if all it's going to be doing is recurring counterspells. There's enough of those in the deck that it doesn't really matter if one or two get exiled. Wall's awesome in a deck with lots of unique spells, but that's not the case here.
I hate Vedalken Orrery, because whenever I've had it in a decklist I've felt like I had to rely on it being around for the deck to function properly, and that's not a position I want to be in. I actually wanted to see if draw-go was possible in EDH without having to be shackled to individual cards like Orrery/Seedborn Muse. I did try it, in both this deck and the previous incarnation using Wrexial, and while it's a powerful card, I didn't like having to find and protect a very specific and high-profile card for my deck to work.
Mainly because Dralnu can't kill players on his own, I suppose. It wouldn't take much to switch the deck over to use Dralnu, just take out the token makers/recursive creatures and add some spot removal and a win condition, but the basic shell of the deck would be the same.
Plus, people expect draw-go control out of Dralnu and zombie tribal/combo out of Grimgrin, so it's not bad to subvert expectations. Grimgrin's not bad as a control wincon - Terminate and +2/+2 every attack step mounts up in terms of card advantage and board presence.