Sunday 12 June 2016


Glimpse the Unthinkable
I don't overly encourage mill decks in the cube. The cube has a constructed power level and feel of deck despite the 40 card sizes however mill cards are balanced on 60 card decks. It is even worse than the 50% improvement the deck sizes imply as it doesn't account for initial hands drawn, the minimum number of cards you will have to draw before you can win a game, sac lands etc. In reality a 60 card deck is going to be needing a mill of about 45 while in cube it is more like 25 to close the game. This means mill cards are about twice as powerful or effective in cube than they are intended to be. One of the reasons Ashiok is such a powerhouse in the cube is because he threatens to end games via the mill option far far more quickly or even viably than he ever could hope to in constructed. So, mill cards are overpowered is one reason I don't encourage mill but there are more. No one likes to lose to mill, it is fairly un-interactive and very dull to fight. Lots of decks have this drawback, things like land destruction decks or infinite turn combos however they are typically fairer and use cards that are not entirely useless outside of their archetype. I discourage mill in draft by simply not having those cards in the cube however in other formats like open rotisserie it is always an option. The final reason I don't much like the deck is that it is really easy to hose but in a really non-fun way. Plenty of main cube cards like Emrakul really hamper the mill strategy but there are plenty of other cards you can use to prevent mill actually working like Feldons Cane, Gaea's Blessing, Jotun Grunt.

Ashiok, Nightmare WeaverWe have been doing some rotisserie of late and so I figured I should actually dabble in the dirty mill rather than just hating on it from afar! I have been at the receiving end of mill before and know well how to build a good list for it in cube however I have never as yet joined the dark side and gone for a (non storm) mill deck myself. Against all the odds one of the other players boldly decided to try out mill for himself forcing me out of the archetype. This is roughly the list I was aiming for. In reality this means I should have opened up blue with the Cryptic. Having gone blue previously and wanting to keep my options as open as possible with committing to blue I opened with Demonic Tutor instead. The list is still fine without the top tier generic blue cards but they are the most contested. Sadly I only got about half a dozen picks in before I was forced out but this is still a good example of how to go mill in cube and what I would have ideally wanted in a rotisserie format.

Manic Scribe24 Spells

Elixir of Immortality

Spell Pierce
Visions of Beyond

Manic Scribe
Baleful Strix
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Mesmeric Orb

Spellskite / Thing in the Ice
DarknessArcane Denial
Snapcaster Mage
Cyclonic Rift

Go for the Throat

Mind Funeral
Toxic Deluge
Jace Beleren

Heroes Downfall

Cryptic Command

Archive Trap

16 Land

Nephalia Drownyard
Shelldock Isle
14 More

Nephalia DrownyardLooking at this list it reminds me most of a Spliter Twin list. Basically a control deck shell but padded out with either the combo bits in Twin or mill stuff in this list. The idea is that you win reasonably quickly and effectively compared to control decks hell bent on controlling everything, and as such can get away with lighter and cheaper control cards. This list has 4 dedicated powerful mill cards and a couple of light dual purpose mill cards. Most games are done should you resolve two of the powerful ones which does make this list a lot more consistent than combo decks and far less interested in tutor effects.

This list was designed with rotisserie in mind hence it having both the Elixir of Immortality and the Extract. The Elixir is a real pain to beat, makes up for not getting top quality recursion effects and is one of the better sources of life gain on offer. Not a great card for the deck but reasonable filler utility. The Extract is for things like Emrakul that will be main and will really ruin your day. It is somewhat of a necessary evil in those kinds of format where people will sensibly hedge against you. You totally don't need Spellskite either, it does a good job of protecting your stuff and your face but I would probably cut it if I wasn't running the Mesmeric Orb. Thing in the Ice offers nearly as much defensive power early and a lot more late game all round.

You can go white or green with this list, it offers lots more options on good, cheap and powerful control cards but more importantly it gives you loads more options on good Fog effects. While black and blue has all the best mill it only has Darkness and the highly sought after Cryptic Command. In this kind of deck Fog's are just Time Walks against any deck planning to win with attacks in a fairly standard manner. This is most decks and so 3 or 4 main deck Fog effects is really powerful.

There are some good cards not included in this list. Hedron Crab is a powerful little card but it is easily killable and only really exciting if you make it turn one. If you were really trying to rush mill them down then it would be the thing but a more steady pace suits the deck best. The new delirium mage, Manic Scribe, is punchier in immediate mill as well as ongoing mill and can be of use blocking things. Thoughtscour is fine because it cycles, it might mean a turn or twos difference as well and so is a decent inclusion. Other cheap mill cards tend not to be worth it, they don't really speed you up but they do take a toll on your own resources. Predict would be a fine enough inclusion in the same lines as Thoughtscour but even cards like Mind Sculpt I don't feel do quite enough to merit the cost of a card.

Mesmeric OrbJace, Memory Adept is probably the biggest name mill card not included. It is very powerful mill and an ongoing threat however it is five mana sorcery speed which leaves you vulnerable. You can get similar one hit mill effects on much cheaper cards and not being able to rely on Jace's 2nd hit while at the same time needing to ensure you have around 4 big hits in your deck total, you might as well just run the cheaper cards.

Glimpse is cheap, powerful and easy, Archive Trap is generally very very cheap while always being powerful and easy. I would run it over Jace (Memory Adept) even if I knew my opponent had no shuffle effects. Again, it is better to have fewer mill cards of greater power in your list such that you can play a higher number and better spread of control cards. Mind Funeral is pretty cheap and can be utterly ruinous, I have had it mill for over twenty before (on me, it was sad). Mesmeric Orb is the one most people don't run which I think is a big mistake. It is cheap, does a lot of mill and most importantly punishes the more explosive decks that are typically your worse matchups. Ongoing mill effects are less important because of the scaling to 40 card decks  meaning you can easily end games with just single shot mill cards. Jace's Erasure for example looks good but even made turn two it is still going to be under performing compared to Mind Sculpt most games. You want your mill cards to be good late in the game. Orb is the exception, later in the game it is often as powerful as the good two mana mill cards but you can also drop it turn two and have it be even better.

Visions of BeyondJece Beleren and Arcane Denial are nice tools, just good cards that slightly help your game plan. Visions of Beyond is cute, it is an OK substitute for Treasure Cruise but it isn't anywhere near as good. 20 cards in a bin is so many the game is likely already over. Card advantage is a little more important in this list than in pure control decks as a bunch of your cards do nothing immediately or directly. A lot of these cards are fairly cheap too so you can find you are running out of gas before you get the job done without a good amount of card draw and advantage.

There are not that many great value defensive dorks other than the Baleful Strix and the Delirium Mage in black and blue. I have the Spellskite filling out this role a bit but Sea Gate Oracle is decent. You can even pack Trinket Mage if you want. Solemn Simulacrum is likely one of the better cards for this purpose too, you are just trying to delay or force them to over extend into a Wrath.

Against the unprepared player this deck is near unbeatable. It savagely wreaks control and most midrange decks. A lot of combo decks have a hard time against it too although the occasional one gets a boost from the mill! As with so many decks, the Achilles Heel of the mill deck is the burn deck and the potential hate cards out there.

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