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"Library.exe has stopped working" | Phenax Primer

Commander / EDH Combo Infinite Combo Mill Multiplayer Primer UB (Dimir)

K1ngMars


Hi folks, as you could have already guessed, this deck is mainly focussed on milling your opponents to death. But why would you do that? And how? Well, let me start...

So you like mill, uh? Good for you. I like mill too! Most of EDH strategies revolve around the same strategies over and over again... because who doesn't want to be somewhat competitive and maybe win, sometimes? Well, I play Mill for this very reason: everybody thinks it's not competitive.

Thruth is, actually, mill is not competitive (with a cEDH meter), they're right, but the fact of being seen as the underdog at the table is one of the best strategies for keeping yourself alive, while setting up for an out of nowhere win.

Here stands our boy, our hero! Phenax, God of Deception looks upon mortals from the Command Zone, knowing that in the end, your foes will all be left without memory of themselves!

Jokes apart, Phenax is probably the most versatile Mill commander in EDH. First and foremost, he is an indestructible God from the Theros Block, that allows us to play him and just have him sit on the table for basically the rest of the game. If we can keep devotion into check, we are sure dangerous paths will never cross our way.

We are in Dimir. Everything needed for Memory Erosion is thus easily accessible.
  • Blue lets us keep the draw engine going, while somewhat keeping our opponents in check if anything happens to turn upon us. We have access to two very unique counterspells that also double as combo enablers. We can run Cyclonic Rift , alongside Psychic Corrosion .
  • Black gives us access to creatures that take advantage of FAT graveyards, namely Consuming Aberration , one sided boardwipes and such.
  • You don't have access to green, so if you like to ramp, or like big mana, you can literally suck my kiss, as the only ramp you'll ever see comes from mana rocks.
  • Even though the deck includes many combos, it lacks serious tutors, since they're not playgroup friendly, only exception here being Lim-Dul's Vault . Again, we have to be in the mindset of the underdog. Underdogs don't run Imperial Seal or Vampiric Tutor .
  • Sacrifices must be made: to keep up the milling, sometimes you can be asked to mill too, and maybe lose combo pieces or useful cards, mostly due to Dreamborn Muse and Mesmeric Orb .
  • Graveyard reshuffling effects are a thing, so be prepared to lose your progress. See The Bane of your Exsistence down below for further information on how to react to this.
  • The deck isn't recursion heavy, but can still pull some things out of the yard. This is definitely not a Meren deck.
  • Having big creatures doesn't necessarily mean you'll swing with them, although sometimes you will.
  • You have to play somewhat defensively.
  • You can 100 to zero people. Point blank. With and without combos.
  • You don't focus on the opponent's life total (usually), and thus, even when "attaccking" through mill, so you are less likely to suffer heavy damage in return for your gameplan.
  • Certain decks lack graveyard recursion, and thus, by milling them, you are actively removing cards from their pool of options with a policy of no return.
  • You get to play some of the most unknown and mysterious cards of the format!
  • Your combos are fun, and will leave a smile on your opponents faces once they're dead.
  • You can win in a unique way, as milling 300 cards usually isn't easy.
The general strategy of the deck is to mill all your opponents out of cards from their library, thus keeping them alive until their next draw step. This limbo could be avoided with cards like Deep Analysis or Blue Sun's Zenith , but I like it much more this way. お前はもう死んでいる.

The deck wins in many ways. The most straigthforward is to mill enough to get a big beater on the field and then swing with it. But this gameplan gives rise to two problems: we lose the graveyard of the opponent we killed, thus "shrinking" (if not killing) our X/X creatures, and second, we'll turn the table on us. For this very reason, sometimes we'd prefer to keep threats to a minimum and just combo off in 1-2 turns. Sometimes though, the risk is worth the potential tempo loss, and can pull out a fast victory, so don't be afraid to try.

The most fun way in which this deck can win is by actually milling out all your hopeless opponents. Generally, if the board is locked, we can just stay on the defensive side and tap to mill right before the start of our turn. It's a strategy of variable speed, depending on the quality of our board state. Nonetheless, this is the best way we have to make sure all our opponents die in the same turn, leaving them no chance to react.

We can also win through combos, infinite and not, but since overwhelmingly competitive and reliable combo decks are not fun to play against in a friendly environment, I've built the deck in order to avoid super cEDH tutors and such (apart from the vault which is more good card selection). The sheer amount of potential card interactions is dense enough to don't have to rely too much on tutors. The panel Fantastic Combos and Where to Find Them contains all the information about those iteractions and gives a general ida of how the deck plays out.

Your ideal hand should contain 3-4 lands and some early drops, ideally a Mesmeric Orb , Mindcrank or a Psychic Corrosion or Bloodchief Ascension . One can always dream. Of course one land slot can be replaced by mana rocks or draw spells. Try to avoid keeping more than one mana-intensive (CMC greater than 6) card in hand at the start, as you'll benefit from it only after many turns.
You'll generally start slow, and you could as well suffer some creatureless turn rotations in which you'll take some hits. Don't panic, you'll stand back up from turn 4 onwards. However, early drops are a thing and can help mitigate such a situation: Fog Bank and Guard Gomazoa are there exactly to do so, alongside Profane Memento , which will bring you back on your feet if you happen to take some hits early.

By the way, remember the underdog mentality? Politics are a thing in Magic, you know. Always let your opponents know that attacking an open foe is proof of cowardice on their part. Just saying.

From turn four onwards, we reach mid game. Here you start to feel a bit more confident, as you could actually already combo off or at least set up for it in advance. Generally, this is the part of the game in which you'll play Phenax , there to stay till the world remains. In these turns you'll find the perfect moment to lock down the board with a Silent Arbiter , or to start threatening opponents with a Tree of Perdition .
From turn seven onwards, you reach the critical point. Now, it is either you kill them or they kill you. Phenax should be on the field and huge threats now come to close out the game. You should control at least one big X/X creature to attack/mill with, just remember that sometimes is better to not attack and mill before the start of your turn than get greedy and then die because you don't have your big fat boy available for blocking. At this point in time, graveyards should already be at least one third of the way full, it should be easy from there on to win.
These are all the combos that will put a smile on your face for you are now the winner:
  1. Consuming Aberration has the chance of being he biggest of all, has itself mini mind funerals built inside it.
  2. The Haunt of Hightower is almost on the same powerlevel as the previous, but for different reasons: it flies, and most of all, it gets +1/+1 counters, meaning after you kill somebody with it, it doesn't lose power. Did I mention it also lifelinks you to enormous life totals?
  3. Mortivore it only counts creatures, but at least is a 4-drop that can regenerate itself.
  4. Bonehoard is a creature straight away, thanks to the Living-Weapon. It can further cause damage when equipped to the previous creatures. It doesn't get killd by creature board wipes.
  5. Nighthowler can either enter as a creature or be Bestowed. I'd always suggest the latter when possible, since it can then survive a creature board wipe and then be on the battlefield as a creature.
  6. Wight of Precinct Six only counts creatures in our opponents' graveyards, but works surprisingly well and it's scary lategame, considering the fact that it only costs 2 mana, leaving more mana open to do other stuff.
  7. Sewer Nemesis is the least powerful of the group, but can still pull out decen performances. It forces you to keep that one opponent on the verge of death long enough to let you kill the others first. As a plus, it lets you look at one of your opponents in the eyes and say "I really dislike you, in particular", much like Saskia the Unyielding lets you do.
  8. Dimir Doppelganger that copies one of the previous from your graveyard: surprise, I'm back!

This is the aforementioned list of all (or most of) the cards that can and will destroy your initial gameplan. Also, beware of reanimator decks, as they could always steal a victory . Why list them? I felt it would have been an interesting thing to do, idk.

Fortunately, I don't have such problematic cards in my playgroup, so I don't have to worry about those too much, but still there are fun shenanigans with Time Reversal and Worldspine Wurm in some of my friends' decks.

You may not be as lucky as me though. What to do? If you know well your meta, I'd suggest swapping in Sadistic Sacrament and Praetor's Grasp . Other more versatile options would be Disallow , Stifle , Trickbind , Voidmage Husher or Nimble Obstructionist for Eldrazi's triggered abilities when they hit the graveyard. Disallow can also be used to counter one of the shuffle-spells, so I'd say this would be the more versatile soultion. Again, it depends on meta and playgroup.

In the sideboard I put cards I own, but that were cut from the deck for various reasons. They are good cards, but were underperforming in my playgroup. Feel free to swap around.

In the maybeboard I put cards I do not own. They could be here for various reasons: too expensive (money wise), not playgroup friendly, or simply just too random to be included, but fun for inspiration.

I do know about Undead Alchemist + Thousand-Year Elixir and Leyline of the Void + Helm of Obedience combos. I don't like them for some reason or another, and as of now, I won't include them. Don't suggest them :)

Any feedback is appreciated, positive or (especially) negative, as they will make this deck (or this description) better. Feel free!

  • We broke 5K views! Thanks guys!
  • 2nd highest score EDH Phenax deck on tappedout!
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  • Achieved #1 position in Commander / EDH Mill on 10/04/2019
  • Achieved #1 position in Commander / EDH U/B (Dimir) on 10/04/2019
  • Achieved #15 position in Top Decks on 11/11/2018

Here you can find all the deck Updates:

This deck has gone through many changes since it's inception. Mainly, it went from a more pillow fort-spellslinger approach, to a more Creature-Value approach, while still trying to keep up the combo count in order to be able to consistently close out the game. This list doesn't include swaps in/out, but rather only what has been swapped out and why, as I don't remember what they've been substituted with, I hope you can bear with me for this.

Here are some of the cards I decided to cut after testing:

  • Body Double : wasn't helping the milling gameplan.
  • Fatespinner : originally here as a pillow fort, intended to force my opponents to choose to skip the combat step. They were skipping the draw step since they consistently had another draw engine. It became a dead card quickly.
  • Jace's Archivist : meant to be a repeatable piece of card draw, has been temporarily put in the sideboard. It goes in and out depending on meta.
  • Kumena's Awakening : originally intended as a piece of consistent card draw, wasn't efficient enough, as I often struggled to get the City's Blessing.
  • Mind Funeral : always been a good card, always milled at least 13 cards. Its problems were many, as it targeted only one player, was deck sensitive (more efficient if opponent has low land count and viceversa) and was not repeatable.
  • Nightveil Specter : nice source of card advantage, its problem was that it had to be alive in order to use the cards exiled with it. It didn't really happen often.
  • Patient Rebuilding : cut for straight out being an inefficient mana investment. At 5 mana, this card competes with casting Phenax or Consuming Aberration , and it's not nearly as useful. Not only that, but I have to wait my next turn for the effect to trigger, it targets only one person (for a negligible amount of cards) and the amount of cards I get to draw could as well be zero. Since it was meant to be one of the deck's drawing engines, I substituted it months ago with Recurring Insight , as it can draw more and more quickly.
  • Propaganda : part of the initial pillow fort strategy, never disappointed, but was holding a slot for more mill cards.
  • Stitcher Geralf : for some reason or another, he kept attracting too much attention from the opponents, getting often targeted for removal, and sometimes getting me targeted in general at the table.
  • Wall of Frost : another pillow fort card, didn't really justify its inclusion as nobody would care if their 10/10 trampling guy had to stay tapped one turn, since they maybe had another one to use next turn. The 7 cards mill ability was irrelevant.

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