Creature (1)

The only Phenax Mill deck you'll ever need. Heavy focus on permanents over instants and sorceries.

Artifacts really run this show. Providing support for Creatures and control against aggression.

Custom Categories are set if you want to see the purpose of each card. Though it's worth noting that a few of the instant speed Recursion cards can be used to combat Eldrazi Reshufflers.


In general I focus on Synergy. Mindcrank, for instance, was left out because while it combos with a card (Formally two cards) in this deck it is next to useless on its own. Training Grounds was an automatic inclusion because while it does nothing on its own and only combos with Pili-Pala and the Commander out it enables a lot of other cards to be more than they should be. Especially Umbral Mantle, who lets a creature mill its toughness plus twice your available mana, times your available mana plus one. (T+2M)*(M+1). So if Toughness is 1 and mana is 1 you can mill someone 6, if they're both 2 you mill them 18 and at 3 you can mill them for 36.

Pilot's Guide:

Due to its win con this deck is a casual deck at its core. But if you don't play it competitively you will have to deal with drawing aggro from every player that doesn't understand the value of a well stocked yard and you will be taken advantage of by every player that does.

While this deck was built for synergy I personally play to reflect power levels. I may not always search for the best thing out of my deck but I will absolutely take the best thing out of your graveyard.

This ideology is useless in 1v1 and I don't recommend it there but it does allow you to be political in multiplayer. Be sure to remind people that in order to remove a threat they just have to remove the person that brought it.

If you want to mill like a pro you have to think fast. These cards require you respond to anything that comes your way.

Sands of Time

This ancient Artifact is hard for many players to understand. It provides advantage for you as long as you control your Commander. You can activate tap abilities during your upkeep and let Sands Untap your creatures. It allows your creatures to make up for the turn they were summoning sick, while most of your opponent's creatures get another turn to rest.

Run it with Mesmeric Orb and if they want mana untapped they'll have to mill for it.

Copy it to Stasis opponent's creatures and give yours an extra untap each turn.

Don't mix it with Intruder Alarm if you're using it for defense.

Umbral Mantle

This Equipment is about as tricky as you can get. To use it effectively remember that the untap itself is a cost that can't be responded too. Tap to mill a player and activate to Untap then let each +2/+2 Ability Resolve before repeating the process. When you're done Phenax's mill ability will see the Toughness the creature ends the sequence with rather than what it had when the ability was activated.

For reference with a 2/1 Rat and 9 mana you can mill someone for 28. If it's Grimoire Thief you'll take 44 cards out of their library and for 12 mana you can make that 65.

The equation for this interaction is Cards Milled = (T+M2/3)(M/3+1) where M is the mana you have to spend and T is the starting toughness.

Intruder Alarm

Almost always good to play. This deck includes enough creatures to make up for the restriction on untapping them normally and your opponents may think twice about playing a creature if i means them milling 10 or 20 cards when it lands. Thousand-Year Elixir will also allow you to get a tap out of new creatures as they land since the Alarm only triggers after it enters the field. Play it with Forbidden Orchard to grant untaps on your timetable or Undead Alchemist To tear creature decks to shreds.

Or if you just like keeping things under control King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, or Avatar of Woe can remove every new creature that hits the field.

Be careful playing it against Green though, they tend to dump their hands to it.

Play it with the new addition of Bitterblossom and you can now simulate the effects of a real untap step in your upkeep.

Necrotic Ooze

Obviously this card is insane. Tree of Perdition is one particular offender with this out but if you happen to have Pili-Pala and Deranged Assistant (Removed from Deck) in your Graveyard the Ooze can put your whole library into your yard at mana ability speed. Make sure and get good use out of it before Kozilek, Butcher of Truth puts it back. You should be able to win before then. Remember that Ooze can use Eater of the Dead's ability to untap off of creatures in your graveyard too. Which may be useful after Necrotic Ooze is a 4/40.

Temple Bell / Geier Reach Sanitarium / Cephalid Coliseum

The Banes of your existence are decks containing Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and/or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, but once your mill power is high enough These instant speed draw permanents allow you to stack sweet victory on top of bitter disappointment. Then you consume the victory first and leave the disappointment for never.

Plus they draw you cards if you need them.

Tormod's Crypt

Good for a bit of control over who gets what, Tormod's crypt lets you remove an opponent's Graveyard from the game.

You have to be pretty selective about its use though. Your reanimators can often get more use out of a graveyard than an opponent and Consuming Aberration and Sewer Nemesis rely on cards remaining within.

Keep it in play until your opponents target something dangerous or trigger an Eldrazi Reshuffle.

That said, don't be afraid to slap it on a Prototype Portal.


As the only vestige of true blue in this deck Disallow has all sorts of unpleasant uses. Countering spells is one particularly heinous function. Additionally, the Stifle side of Disallow lets you do far more than simply counter an Aetherflux Reservoir activation or a Storm trigger.

Sands of Time causes an opponent to skip his or her untap and since you'll be receiving priority after the active player you are well within your rights to ask if he or she will be tapping lands in order to have them untapped by the confusing artifact. Targeting the sands trigger at this point allows you to essentially counter an opponent's turn. (I can't be held responsible for their complete loss of all trust in you afterwards though.)

If someone has the misfortune of swinging their Commander at you you'll be happy to know that some of the land carries defensive capabilities. Hit it with Mystifying Maze! Make sure to ask where they want to put their Commander when you exile it. They'll have to recast it if they choose the Command zone but it's not as safe in exile as they think it is.

If you have the mana consider countering the delayed trigger at the end of their turn. Remind them that you asked where they were putting it when it was exiled and take satisfaction in knowing that the next game in which you Maze their leader they'll be buying it out of the Command Zone. It's gone for the rest of the game. On a related note always counter Norin the Wary's return trigger, no deck that plays him plays fair.

Disallow is also particularly useful for countering the Triggered reshuffler abilities on Eldrazi Titans... all the same, it makes me uneasy to see one laying in the graveyard.

You put them there, why not use them? The Graveyard is a resource and this is what it fuels.

Animate Dead / Necromancy

These cards provide cheap, if slow, access to the creatures in any graveyard and aren't dramatically different from each other. Necromancy's Flash option is useful to disrupt other graveyard targeting spells

Nezumi Graverobber or Nighteyes the Desecrator

With Phenax out this rat's low toughness of 1 is an advantage if you want it to flip. It was loaded in here to remove Eldrazi reshufflers and technically either side can do that. One does it easily and the other does it disgustingly.

It's great to have recursion and Nighteyes gives you a whole lot of access to your and your opponent's deck, while Nezumi grants you the ability to reign in other reanimator decks that you've let get out of hand... sometimes it's a tough choice but usually it isn't.

Sheoldred, Whispering One This monster makes up for her expense by giving you one free creature a turn, and taking one from each opponent. Remember to stack her trigger in front of Mesmeric Orb's since she can't target anything you mill with it and there's always the chance of losing her target to Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. She's a good target for Riptide Shapeshifter if you want to repeat the tutor effect next turn.

Liliana, Death's Majesty Since the Plansewalker Uniqueness rule is gone I decided to put another Lilly in here. This one arrived just in time and provides either useful self mill with token generation or a nice reanimation effect. I've used her -7 ability once too, but it rarely comes up.

Dimir Doppelganger / Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

While these aren't traditional reanimators they certainly have a similar effect. Granting a version of the creature with additional abilities and usually no summoning sickness.

Lazav provides an additional use for Necromancy if you want a hexproof copy of something that already died, and both creatures provide answers to reshufflers. Dimir Doppleganger exiles it and both creatures turn into a ready to swing copy of some of the most oppressive creatures in the game.

Remember that Dimir Doppleganger can also provide a ready to tap version of anything in your own graveyard, and lets you abuse its persistent ability. (IE End of opponent's turn Dimir-doppleganger targets Tree of Perdition which taps and targets Kokusho, the Evening Star. Everything Resolves and you have a 5/40 Koshuko with your opponent at 5 life.)

The Scarab God

Any recursion you get with this guy is one time. He's great for getting solid bodies on cool creatures... or to hit Tree of Perdition. He's pretty nice with Undead Alchemist and he can remove Eldrazi Titans from graveyards before they reshuffle, making little dwarf zombie versions. Ever see a 4/4 indestructible with Annihilator 4? Be careful, if it dies you have to shuffle your own graveyard. On the other hand he's useless for Reanimating Consuming Aberration or Sewer Nemesis since he overrides the P/T effects.

If you hit a cloning creature you can choose for it to become a copy of something or to be a 4/4 zombie but not both.

What these things grab isn't animated but but you can use them for building a mana base, a board state or just ending the game.

Crucible of Worlds

Get any land you self mill. It's great with Polluted Delta. Lets you dig up Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage or Academy Ruins + Mindslaver .

Academy Ruins

Get any artifact you self mill, including Crucible of Worlds if you're still short on mana to run that Academy Ruins + Mindslaver combo.

Volrath's Stronghold

Gets you a creature... a turn later in it's spell form. Still a useful card.

This deck can Draw a lot of aggro, and most of its answers require some set up. These cards buy you time to respond to threats

Cyclonic Rift is the only non permanent that doesn't grab me something out of my deck, but it's an EDH staple for a very good reason.

Mystifying Maze, Silent Arbiter and Ensnaring Bridge try to prevent or dissuade opponents from attacking you.

For true defense; however, you'll need a No Mercy, doubled Sands of Time, or repeatable removal.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed + Phenax, God of Deception lets you remove at least one creature a turn.

Phenax, God of Deception + Surgespanner Can get you some less impressive but more immediate results and also works well with Grand Architect to provide the tapping.

Xathrid Gorgon can convert any creature she targets into a vanilla artifact wall. Which you won't be swinging into. And Dark Impostor always has a chance of comboing off of the creatures he eats. Hit a Palladium Myr and your own Pili-Pala for infinite mana... and then eat the rest of the board.

Phenax, God of Deception, once online, is an amazing blocker but is far more vulnerable.

Sheoldred, Whispering One can lock enemies out of the game, but isn't very useful against hordes.

Hostage Taker exiles or steals a creature or artifact. Make sure you cast the creature if you can, until you do they can buy it back with a lightning bolt.

and Avatar of Woe has a useful removal ability that is less permanent than the other options but a lot cheaper.

This deck's colors allow for tutors and Draw spells to improve its function. They are technical and boring in EDH but useful

Demonic Tutor / Lim-Dul's Vault / Vampiric Tutor

These cards make up almost all of my non-permanent spells. They provide some consistency to the deck when needed and allow for specialized responses to threats. The latter two do not work well with Mesmeric Orb.

Liliana Vess

Providing 3 Vampiric Tutors over 4 turns or 1 and absorbing an attack. This Planeswalker is worth her weight. Forgo the Mesmeric Orb and Tutor up an Ensnaring Bridge.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor / Rhystic Study

Study is a great source of early card Advantage and Jace should be hitting his -0 each turn unless it's an Emergency or the game is locked... If the game is locked though that Ult of his could prove useful.

Tezzeret the Seeker / Riptide Shapeshifter

These permanents fetch other Permanents to the battlefield. When Tezzeret hits Ensnaring Bridge is usually a good bet but Mirage Mirror, Mesmeric Orb, or cheap mana are all great too, and you can always -4 in a pinch for Sands of Time or Silent Arbiter.

The Riptide Shapeshifter lets you get, more or less, a specific creature.

Naming Vampire/Assassin, Avatar or Gorgon gets you removal, Construct should slow down overrun decks, likewise there is only one Ooze if you see a yarded ability you want and naming Rat while you have infinite mana out will let you pull every creature card from your library, though you might as well name Wizard and win. Scarecrow, Knight, Zombie, Sprit/Dragon and Vedalken/Artificer will each get you one specific creature. Wizard and Human are too risky. God or Dragon are good responses to board wipes, depending on the effect you want. Horror gets you a game ender for sure but if you need a strong blocker too it's only 2 out of 3... So in that case I'd name Tree or Eldrazi.

If you want to copy something Rogue Gives you a 50/50 shot Shapeshifter each gives you a 60/40 shot. Shapeshifter gives you 40/60 if that something is an artifact.

But pay attention to which creatures are no longer in your library.

This deck is rife with artifice, from Mesmeric Orb to Ensnaring Bridge artifacts run this show and can keep you involved the game even while the creature threats are being controlled. While the trickiest of these are dealt with in the (Ab)Using the Stack section some artifacts still require some additional explanation.

Prototype Portal

This is an amazing engine. Placing a copy artifact on it makes it even stronger. With Sculpting Steel you can copy any artifact on the field once a turn, including the Portal itself which essentially allows you to play any artifact uncounterallably. Phyrexian Metamorph provides a version of this ability expanded to include creatures,

With Seat of the Synod or Vault of Whispers you automatically get another land each turn and imprinting Sol Ring provides even faster mana acceleration for a slight cost.

When imprinting or copying Sands of Time remember that ending your turn with an odd number forces untapped enemy creatures to tap and ending with an even number means tapped creatures will end up tapped at the end of the whole thing.


This artifact is like no other. Even one use can turn the tide of a game. While you are controlling your enemy you make all of the decisions they would make. Significantly, this includes whether or not a Commander is recalled to the command zone as it transfers between the other zones. You can choose to let it die or place it in exile as appropriate, making this one of very few cards that can still permanently remove a Commander.

Don't forget to play every tutor that you can. Reduce your opponent's ability to surprise you.

Exile doesn't fuel our graveyard exploitation Engines but it does provide sure progress to the wincon. There's usually no way to get these cards back.

Grimoire Thief

I've only used the counter ability once in a multiplayer game but don't discount this Rogue. It mills 5 for the price of 2 and it can do most of that without Phenax to help it. Also your opponent's inability to see the exiled cards puts them at a disadvantage for tutoring, fetching, and planning.

These horrible creatures all increase in power as the mill progresses. Sometimes literally, but they all sit around the five mana region. If I don't name "god" when I drop Cavern of Souls these guys are getting the callout.

Consuming Aberration / Sewer Nemesis

These creatures allow for exponential returns on any mill, they double their power each time you tap them and they are non-legendary, allowing them to be copied.

Eater of the Dead

Eater of the Dead + Phenax, God of Deception can mill any deck without an Eldrazi reshuffler provided it has sufficient creatures. If it does have a reshuffler it can strip that deck of every single creature before it reshuffles. The cost ability means it can't be effectively responded too, just activate again.

As much as I avoided including anything for the sake of going infinite, building a synergistic deck meant that occasionally two things will benefit in complimenting ways from a similar effect and some creatures will inevitably end up with both sides of that coin.

Infinites & near infinites

Grand Architect + Pili-Pala : This was the only infinite combo I included on purpose early on, but as I shifted ideologies I realized that both of the cards still belonged. Grand Architect for the artifact mana and Pili-Pala for the ability to mill 1 for each mana I feed it. (After you produce a billion mana in blue and black and cast Phenax until he lands just use your remaining mana to untap the now 2/2 Pili-Pala half a billion times and mill all the libraries. If there are reshufflers and you don't have anything to exile them then at least you can dump your hand.)

This combo spins off into Phenax, God of Deception + Pili-Pala + Training Grounds for infinite mill but due to colors and typing only the spinoff can be borrowed by Necrotic Ooze.

Eater of the Dead + Phenax, God of Deception : This Near infinite combo is the most disgusting combos in the deck because half of the combo is the Commander. It's also very difficult to respond to. ( ; to mill, ; Target milled creature to untap. Repeat as needed.)

Necrotic Ooze can borrow this ability though it's effectiveness is reduced because of the smaller toughness. If the Necrotic Ooze + Tree of Perdition deal is online then creature concentration isn't really an issue any longer. If either they or you have creatures, you'll win.

Intruder Alarm + Phenax, God of Deception + Undead Alchemist : This Near infinite combo is similar to the Eater combo but due to the pair of triggered abilities it is easier to respond too. The creature concentration it needs is 1 in x where x is the toughness of the tappable creatures on the board. With Thousand-Year Elixir out you can also tap the Zombies you make as you make them. If possible do this on your opponent's turn so any Eldrazi you mill are exiled before they reshuffle instead of after due to APNAP. ( Tap all creatures to mill opponent, each creature that they mill it is exiled and a zombie is made, Training grounds then untaps all creatures after the first Zombie enters. Repeat as needed.) Necrotic Ooze can't touch this combo.

On your turn, or any turn where an opponents triggers will go on the stack after your own this can go truly infinite if that opponent is running a Serra Avatar type creature. As they are milled out the creature will appear more and more often until it is the only creature getting milled. This allows you infinite untaps and zombies and as long as you have enough to hit the creature you can direct excess mill power to to other players. Hit them during their own upkeep to finish them off for good.

Academy Ruins + Mindslaver / Mindslaver + Prototype Portal :

For the low price of your draw and almost all of your mana the Mindlock combo allows you to hold one player at a time under your thrall. The Prototype Portal option is cheaper and doesn't remove your draw but is more vulnerable and can't be recovered, while the Academy Ruins is more resilient and can ignore artifact destruction. In 1v1 either of these combos are an automatic win in the absence of some other clock but the real prize is a multiplayer teamup. After you steal your first opponents turn and dash all his or her creatures against the second feel free to take control over that second player until the first is completely defeated. Once you have the mana this 2 piece combo can effectively be started with just Academy Ruins or Crucible of Worlds and some self targeted mill. With Portal: (Once you have 10 mana cast Prototype Portal and imprint Mindslaver, Generate a Mindslaver token at the end step before your turn, pay 4 mana to take an opponent's turn. Activate Prototype Portal again to repeat the process.) With Ruins: (Once you have 12 mana and Academy Ruins cast Mindslaver and activate it, when your opponents are tapped or otherwise unable to interfere with your graveyard use Academy Ruins to make Mindslaver your next draw. Recast and Repeat.)

Necrotic Ooze

With Pili-Pala and Deranged Assistant (Removed from Deck) in the graveyard you can self mill at mana speed until you hit Eater of the Dead and Tree of Perdition then make someone's life total 3 and mill the table 30ish cards for every creature in a graveyard. Or just if you can't wait for them to draw for whatever reason make sure you mill until you see Duskmantle Guildmage, from there the Ooze can produce the mana for an activation and you should be able to cause enough life loss to end the game.

... Now that Assistant is gone this ability still works if you've managed a Mesmeric Orb and to mill or kill an opponent's Mana dork.

Instant Speed kills

Duskmantle Guildmage + Phenax, God of Deception

This interaction turn mill into lifeloss. Once they're ready to go you are usually on the path to victory. I tend to hold up the kill until someone casts an answer to my board. That way they have to produce another one if they want to survive, it cuts down on the opportunity for spiteful removals. Remember you can activate the Guildmage several times if you don't have 40 mill on the table.

Game Ending Synergy

Umbral Mantle + Training Grounds: Umbral Mantle grants it's abilities to a creature and Training Grounds cheapens it to . Now this is insane because a 2/2 can mill 50 cards with 4 mana. If you attach it to Phenax and use the 5 mana you must already have on the board you can mill a player 102 cards in 6 chunks of 17. See (Ab)using the Stack for instructions on how to stack the abilities.

The equation for this iteration is Cards Milled = (T+2M)*(M+1) where T is toughness and M is available mana

This combo spins off into King Macar, the Gold-Cursed + Training Grounds + Umbral Mantle Phenax, God of Deception for inspire triggers paid for by opponent's exiled creatures.

Phenax, God of Deception + Tree of Perdition : What's better than milling someone 13 for 4 mana? Milling them 40. This is why we don't hurt player's life total unless Bloodchief Ascension is out or this has already done its thing.

Yeah, this works so much more disgustingly with Necrotic Ooze... or The Scarab God for that matter. It usually brings people low enough to kill them with Duskmantle Guildmage that turn, or it's ability sitting on a 4/40 Ooze.

The Scarab God + Undead Alchemist : These are the only two cards in the deck that mention Zombies but if you land them both it will feel like you're playing tribal. If you snatch a milled card with The Scarab God you'll still get a 2/2 Zombie and a 4/4 Zombie clone and all of them deal damage as mill. If you play your cards right you can end up with a 10 life clock and huge amounts of scry at the beginning of your turn.

Can only be stolen partially with Necrotic Ooze if you rescue Undead Alchemist but why not just use Ooze make a 4/4 Zombie The Scarab God? It's more susceptible to removal now but for 4 extra mana you got access to both sets of triggered abilities.

Feels like Cheating

Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage / Dark Depths + Mirage Mirror : It's always nice to have a 20/20 Avatar on the field. She provides an excellent blocker, huge mill, or if you're boring you could just smack someone to death with her.


Updates Add

Considering Bitterblossom resists removal and should eventually create more mill than Grimoire Thief I have reluctantly replaced her. Now all merfolk grabs with Riptide Shapeshifter should get me the more powerful Surgespanner. The addition of Bitterblossom should also give me a bit faster recovery in the case of board wipes and a bit of Resistance to Stax effects. In addition to some stickier devotion for my commander.

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Revision 13 See all

3 days ago)

-1 Grimoire Thief main
-1 Liliana, Death's Majesty main
+1 Liliana, Death's Majesty main
+1 Bitterblossom main