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Mill or be Milled


It’s been a long time since there was a legitimate mill deck in any competitive constructed format. Unless you count something like Nephalia Drownyard or Brain Freeze, you have to go all the way back to Sanity Grinding to find one. As it stands, Modern is in a position where mill decks are uniquely well-positioned to crush the most popular strategies. Let’s take a look:

Modern is in a weird space right now where a lot of decks just don’t have very many win conditions. From various Nahiri, the Harbinger decks, to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deck, to Tron decks, and more, quite a few strategies can’t win if you mill over a couple of their namesake threats. Mill decks are absolutely fantastic at hitting a couple of copies of lynchpin cards in the early turns with a combination of Hedron Crab triggers, Glimpse the Unthinkables, and Mind Funeral. With Mesmeric Orb providing a continuous source of mill against non-Abrupt Decay decks and Shelldock Isle letting you get the last couple of cards, you even have the potential to just race decks which don’t care about particular cards.

Another key piece of the puzzle is Crypt Incursion. In a format where you need the ability to deal with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn triggers, but also have to fight against the likes of Persist combos, Dredge decks, and Burn decks, the combination of graveyard hate and lifegain is enormously powerful in the format.

What’s interesting is the inclusion of both Jace's Phantasm and Nihilith. This gives the deck a secondary angle of attack, letting you generate large creatures to function as both blockers and threats. The advantage of this is you’re not completely dead to cards like Leyline of Sanctity or Emrakul’s reshuffle trigger, and you gain the ability to threaten planeswalkers and block infect creatures. The cost is your deck is less linear, and you’ll have draws where you come up a few cards or points of damage short of winning.

All told, this is an interesting development in the Modern mill strategy, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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