There have been a handful of interesting takes on Modern mill in the last couple years, most featuring cards like Mesmeric Orb, Surgical Extraction, and Shelldock Isle to try to mill your opponent out as quickly as possible. However, that doesn’t mean there some variants that can play a more normal gameplan, rather than going all-in on racing your opponent. This week, nanikuzu has a really interesting take on Mill that looks something like a Death's Shadow deck:
Esper Mill - Modern | nanikuzu
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Mind Funeral
This is such an interesting take on this archetype. It’s part mill deck, part beatdown deck, and part midrange. You’ve still got the ability to just deck your opponent by third or fourth turn of the game, courtesy of draws with Hedron Crab, Archive Trap, Twincast, and Mind Funeral. However, you also have the ability to get aggressive early on with Jace's Phantasm and Phantasmal Image. Not only that, but Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver combined with Visions of Beyond and Snapcaster Mage give you some pretty great ability to attrition opponents out as well.
Depending on what exactly it is your opponent is trying to do, you have some flexibility in how you want to approach the matchup. Is your opponent playing an aggressive deck? You can try to use Jace's Phantasm and Snapcaster Mage to gum up the ground while you find a critical mass of mill or a Ranger of Eos to help turn the corner. Does it look like you’re playing against combo? You can aggressively use your mill spells to try to hit their combo pieces and then follow up with a cast courtesy of Jace's Phantasm. What about control or midrange decks? You can sit back and use your Visions of Beyond to bury your opponents in cards, particularly in conjunction with Snapcaster Mage.
If you’re looking for a way to mill your opponents out in Modern without going all-in on Archive Trap and Glimpse the Unthinkable, this seems like an incredibly reasonable middle-of-the-road approach to the archetype. You have enough fast mill to turn on your payoff spells early, but not so much that you can’t play a more traditional midrange gameplan when the matchup calls for it.