Mill out your opponent turbo-mill style, with an Esper control shell!

As an experienced mill player, mill often fails because mill spells are, in essence, burn spells that cost more, and do about 2/3 the relative "damage". Mill often fails, not because it doesn't have the cards to make it competitively viable, but because Mill needs something Esper can provide:
Secondly, the typical mill is full of gaping holes, defensively speaking. Sure, splashing white allows for some board/mill interaction with Path to Exile + Archive Trap; often not enough to justify the splash for some. However, the actual purpose is to fill in protection from the SB, when sheer speed isn't cutting it. Furthermore, you're going to need to counter the sideboard of your opponent, who is trying to counter your approach; and can do so with just one of a few cards.
The mill base is split into two parts, the Active Mill- spells designed to directly mill your opponent; and Static Mill- mill achieved through passive triggers like untapping and playing land.

Active Mill
3x Archive Trap- Instantly mills 13 cards. It can be cast for free when triggered by the plethora of opposing fetches (abundant in the Modern meta); also, Ghost Quarter and Path to Exile.

Q (submitted by Eledain): "Why not 4 of these?"
A: It depends on your meta, I suppose. I see the point: having the chance of 2 Archive Traps to pop off for free opening hand, is pretty awesome.. and I 100% agree. I appreciate the Sb wiggle room it offers.

Flip side of the same coin, cost for cost, the other mill spells are more efficient and progress the archetype just as effectively, without being so conditional. I can get nearly as much done with a Glimpse the Unthinkable, or a well timed/lucky Mind Funeral, as spending 5 mana because my opponent refuses to be fooled again. That late in the game, I need the mana to control what the board is doing, as there will undoubtedly be a boardstate. In any case, I simply can't decide what to take out for it.

4x Glimpse the Unthinkable- 10 cards for .

4x Breaking- 8 cards for .

3x Mind Funeral- I've seen many decks run 4 of these. I find this to be a bit excessive, as this is a heavy hitting turn 4-5 drop after letting the opponent play as many land and fetches as they please while you mill with Hedron Crab and the Active Mill spells. Thus, making this card increasingly effective as the game progresses. I've never been disappointed in the results of this card.

Static Mill
4x Hedron Crab- Mills 3 through Landfall. Combos well with Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, and Oboro, Palace in the Clouds. Also, chump blocker.

4x Mesmeric Orb- Working as long as your opponent taps permanents, it works well with Remand and Ethereal Haze. Multiples of these are a nightmare.

2x Fraying Sanity- Doubling mill every turn your opponent places a card in the GY, this card is really the first of a few recent new cards printed, to poise Mill as a viable Modern threat.
Hedron Crab's landfall ability is best utilized with fetch lands, so the mana base also contributes to the Static Mill while adding fluidity to the deck's Tempo mechanic.

The mana base is essentially 28% Symbol:B/20% /52% . The land has been selected to keep up with the demands in the deck, while supplying both and resources by turn 2. This is versatile enough to allow many handy white SB cards for problem decks, without having to alter the mana base.

Polluted Delta searches for Godless Shrine, Watery Grave, Hallowed Fountain, and of course, your basic Swamps or Islands.

Flooded Strand searches for Godless Shrine, Watery Grave, Hallowed Fountain, and the basic Islands or Plains.

Oboro, Palace in the Clouds pays for its own ability and is great to feed Hedron Crab if you don't draw a land. Also works as a mana-fix for Symbol:U, as a pseudo-sorcery by tapping Oboro for floating mana
using any other land to pay the return of Oboro to your hand
replaying Oboro and tapping it for another .
This little trick has saved me several times.

Ghost Quarter- Free land destruction. Though, it leaves you short on mana, and specifies that the player "may search his or her library" for a basic land. It's cheaper cost and non-discriminate, but may take away from the element of surprise after the first Trap trigger. That sort of thing is remarkably memorable.

Alternately players also like Field of Ruin. It destroys a nonbasic land for , and unlike Ghost Quarter, forces each player to search thier library; handing you a guaranteed Archive Trap setup, and an untapped replacement land + Crab trigger.

Quarter and Field are six-of-one, half-dozen the other. It's up to your meta and personal preference to decide which one works best.
To support the mill base, a framework of draw, protection and lifegain, are necessary to buy the time needed to get the job done. While leaving room for these spells is getting increasingly difficult as more yummy new mill cards are printed, there are a few that will always have a place in my milling nature.

4x Path to Exile- Rids the board of problematic creatures. Sets up for a free cast Archive Trap.

3x Remand- Not a hard counter, but is indiscriminate, buys a turn, and replaces itself. Even if your opponent casts the spell again, Orb should discourage or at least punish them.

4x Ethereal Haze- A white Fog effect with the added bonus of also preventing non-combat damage from creatures. it buys a turn you may need, and trips Mesmeric Orb if you don't mill them out your turn.

4x Visions of Beyond- a boost in resources, just as you should be getting about empty. These become questionable, but not obsolete when using Ensnaring Bridge from the Sideboard.

2x Crypt Incursion- I often get asked why I don't G1 sideboard this.. because it has proven itself invaluable for buying 1-3 turns; paying for the pain/fetch lands; and being a general nuisance for my arch-nemesis, Reanimator. Regardless of meta, many decks have a hard time bouncing back from this. I put in the bare minimum for this deck. Like a condom: I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
The sideboard is only designed to give you more tempo/control over the boardstate, and does nothing to speed up the main mill mechanic.

3x Ensnaring Bridge- To keep nasties like Aliens and Goyfs, and prowess creatures like Monastery Swiftspear and Kiln Fiend from eating your face.

3x Fragmentize- Defense against anti-mill enchantments and artifacts like Leyline of Sanctity, Wheel of Sun and Moon, Elixir of Immortality. Also, cards like Blood Moon, which have proven problematic.

3x Leyline of Sanctity- Blocks Burn and decks that throw surprises like Lightning Bolt or dredge running Conflagrate. There are 3 of these as I often mulligan until I draw one in my opening hand, usually winning G2 before it even begins.

3x Leyline of the Void- Dredge's Narcomoeba and many Eldrazi screw with the graveyard. Other cards can simply make this deck dead in the water. Take out the problems by taking out the graveyard. Since this renders Crypt Incursion and Fraying Sanity useless, replace these first when sideboarding. The leylines also get around the meta-abundant Abrupt Decay something the previous SB card, Rest in Peace couldn't handle.

3x Surgical Extraction- These were originally in the MB, but for the sake of room, draw, and the uncertainty of what my opponent has in the deck, I took them out and put them in the SB, and decided to use the first game at full throttle, and resolved to make note of problematic cards that may be found G1 to Extract, games 2 & 3.
Land (20)
2x Dimir Guildgate or any other slow dual land.
3x Evolving Wilds or Terramorphic Expanse
2x Ghost Quarter
7x Island
2x Orzhov Guildgate
2x Plains
2x Swamp

Sorcery (17)
4x Breaking
1x Haunting Echoes
2x Mind Funeral
4x Mind Sculpt
2x See Beyond
4x Tome Scour

Instant (15)
2x Archive Trap
1x Crypt Incursion
3x Mana Leak
3x Spell Pierce
4x Thought Scour
2x Trapmaker's Snare

Enchantment (8)
4x Chronic Flooding
4x Oppressive Rays

Mill is often found at casual games as the meta does not do noteably well in competitive. Therefore, this is for "kitchen" or Casual players (for whom, I have a particularly soft spot for).

We all know having the land you need is where the deck begins, it's also often the most expensive part. Therefore, the budget mana base is a bit simpler to run, with Evolving Wilds or Terramorphic Expanse + Hedron Crab doing the job of the Fetches + Crab.

There's nothing quite like Hedron Crab, so you'll either have to dish out the money or trade.

No Crabs available? Chronic Flooding is a great substitute.

Why Chronic Flooding? Flooding + Mana Leak or Spell Pierce really extort your opponent's early-mid game need for mana, while making up for some lost mill speed. This also makes up a little, for the lack of Mesmeric Orb

Beyond the land, there are other expensive cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable (~$30 US).

Let's replace Glimpse's slots with Breaking, if you don't have Breaking you can always use the underrated, less mana-specific, mill-one-less card: Mind Sculpt.

Mesmeric Orb is another pricey card that I've decided to take out of the list altogether. A new card that's been printed is Drowned Secrets. If you don't like the Chronic Flooding approach. While still a rare, it's power is easily abused in a counter/Tempo deck.

Replace Visions of Beyond with Thought Scour. This will make up for lost mill speed and keep the draw coming. The other options for replacement include: See Beyond or Peek (for Modern); Ponder or Preordain (for casual).

Remand isn't terribly expensive, and is preferred over the more mana specific (but more budget friendly), Deprive.

Keep in mind, Deprive is better if you do manage to include Hedron Crabs. Deprive + Hedron Crab hard counters for 2, and sets up a Crab trigger for the following turn.

Archive Trap is currently around $6. To lower the deck another $12, run only 2x Trap. Hence, only the 2x Ghost Quarters, and the absence of Path to Exile(~$8).

Path to Exile can be replaced by Oppressive Rays; which synergizes with Chronic Flooding, very well.

Again, the budget deck is a bit slower, but is designed to add a bit more tempo control, and a touch more draw to your game for the loss in mill speed, in trade for better performance and longevity in a casual game.

I put a lot of work and thought into this (particularly the Budget Version); so, please Upvote it and leave your feedback!

Like mill? Leave some feedback, then the card below to show some love, and support my work! You can also click on my username to follow my page for new mill builds and updates almost weekly!!


Comments View Archive


100% Competitive

Compare to inventory

Revision 36 See all

7 months ago)

+1 Polluted Delta main
-1 Remand main
+2 Fraying Sanity main
+1 Ghost Quarter main
-1 Field of Ruin main
-1 Flooded Strand main
-1 Archive Trap main