Modern Dimir Mill & Dauthi Voidwalker
Posted on Sept. 16, 2021, 11:06 a.m. by StoryArcher
Morning, all :)
I've been playing around with Dimir mill in the Modern format, buoyed in part by the excellent Drown in the Loch. At the moment I'm looking at two approaches; the first is a sort of 'suicide mill' where the focus is less on interaction and more on running them out at all costs. At the moment I just can't seem to get it fast enough, so it's the weaker option.
The second, and the one I'm asking for help with, is a more meta-mill sort of deck, leaning on tempo and control while gradually milling. This deck will have a lot more interaction, including a number of creatures and would be as likely to win through damage as forcing the last draw.
For this deck concept I can't get it out of my head that Dauthi Voidwalker doesn't present a load of interesting opportunities, with cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable and Maddening Cacophony dumping tons of cards into what would be the graveyard. The Voidwalker is actually massively problematic in its synergy (or lack thereof) with many traditional mill cards as it keeps those cards from going into the graveyard and therefor often leaving options like Jace's Phantasm and Visions of Beyond depowered. Still, I can't help but think it has some potential, and there are plenty of match-ups where exiling cards is preferred to sending them into the graveyard.
Has anyone tried to used the Voidwalker in this way? Is it a fool's errand to even try in a competitive deck? Are there any good examples of a more controller-y Dimir mill deck that anyone would like to offer? I'd really like to try to make this competitive and most of my past experience with milling is mono-red land destruction that denies land draws via Grindclock or Codex Shredder + Lantern of Insight.
I did play an earlier version of this deck once in a local tournament and have one of my favorite 'Magic moments' ever - watching my opponent sac a fetch land on the opening play and in response popping an Archive Trap and then a Surgical Extraction, absolutely wrecking his combo deck and watching him scoop before I had even gotten a chance to play my turn. Ever since then I've wanted to make a serious go at this.
Thanks in advance.
It seems like you might like the various versions of UB Mill running around since the printing of Tasha's Hideous Laughter: https://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=32365&d=448906&f=MO
I'm not sure what you're looking for with Dauthi Voidwalker - a mill deck that wins with others' cards? The problem with Voidwalker + Mill is that you're splitting win conditions. You'll be milling only for value and still trying to win via damage since your opponent likely isn't also playing mill cards that you can steal. It's probably better to use Voidwalker by assuming your opponent will put their own cards into their GY by playing them or you killing them. It's also just a good hatebear for GY-based decks. I could see it having a place in the sideboard of mill if you're worried about empowering a GY-based deck with your mill cards.
September 16, 2021 11:28 a.m.
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September 16, 2021 11:30 a.m.
Do you happen to have a deck list? I would be curious to see what you are using for your basis.
Right now, I think the best Modern mill deck you can run is 8-Crab. 4x Hedron Crab, 4x Ruin Crab, a bunch of fetch lands to enable your crabs, and then Drown, Visions, and some “burn” spells and some removal to finish off the deck.
I also know some folks who have been having decent success splashing into Green for a few copies ofAssassin's Trophy - since the deck should run a lot of fetches for your crabs, one can splash into green with one or two copies of Overgrown Tomb and no other green lands relatively easily.
I will also note there are a few cards which are traps - they look like they might be good for mill, but are not. Jace's Phantasm is one of those cards - you are not trying to hit their life total, so you don’t need an attacker. If you feel you need a blocker due to your meta, you’re better off with Ensnaring Bridge than a single 5/5 with flying.
Fraying Sanity is another card that gets tossed around a lot as a suggestion. Realistically, I don’t think Sanity does much for Mill - you want to focus on burning your opponent as quickly as possible, and Sanity comes down at the critical turn 3 point. It does no burn for turn (other than doubling what your crabs might have done), and usually is more of a “win more” card than a “this wins you games” card. By that I mean any game it helps you win, you likely could have won with something else in those card slots, but it doesn’t do much to let you win games you would otherwise lose.
September 16, 2021 11:52 a.m.
The version of the deck you're talking about (well, MY version of the version of the deck you're talking about) can be found below. I think it's pretty strong right now, though any specific recommendations would be welcome - there are a number of other options I'm considering for those Maddening Cacophony slots, including Thought Scour, Mind Funeral, Tasha's Hideous Laughter and Tome Scour. I was also trying to decide whether the Thoughtseize / Inquisition of Kozilek suite might provide better value than Mana Leak / Counterspell.
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I'm in agreement with you about Fraying Sanity, the trap of 'win more' is one I'm always on the lookout for. On the other hand, I've found value in the past of building a deck with more than one way to win, and backdooring a legitimate option through damage isn't something I want to discount right off the bat. Judicious use of the sideboard can allow you to shift the deck towards one option or the other in the 2nd & 3rd game, depending on what you're seeing across the board. Jace's Phantasm and Dauthi Voidwalker are excellent options in that regard and you can get some crazy value out of those mills for the latter.
September 16, 2021 12:50 p.m.
Your deck is missing 3x Field of Ruin. Field is an incredibly powerful card in Mill--it forces them to search their library allowing you to enable Archive Trap (while also getting some crab triggers). Along with that change I would cut Counterspell and move Archive Trap to the mainboard.
You also have too few fetch lands for 8-Crab to really shine, and that is probably a large part of why you feel the deck moves a bit slower than you would like. That is one of the downsides to the current mill deck--you really need to spend a lot on fetches to get it to sing.
September 16, 2021 1:12 p.m.
I hadn't considered that use of Field of Ruin. I'll definitely make that change.
September 16, 2021 1:20 p.m.
And honestly, no workable variant of this deck for the Voidwalker? Just seems like an potentially potent combo to me.
September 16, 2021 1:30 p.m.
Tasha's Hideous Laughter, mentioned by abby315 above, is a solid option. Lots of Modern decks have a very low curve, so you can often hit a large portion of the opponent's deck. Probably worth giving a try.
I think you can also cut Haunting Echoes--by the time you have five lands, you are really going to want to focus on "burn" as much as possible. Surgical extraction generally gets the job done--it might not be as flashy, but it will hit what you need to for the low cost of two life.
September 16, 2021 1:42 p.m.
By 'burn' I assume that you mean burning cards out of their library... unless I'm reading it wrong, Haunting Echoes has the potential to exile pretty much everything out of their library except basic lands - by the time I get to 5 lands, you have to figure I'd have dumped 15-20 cards and collectively they would represent pretty much everything in theri entire deck, no?
September 16, 2021 3:29 p.m.
I would just run the top 8 lists. Mill is already sort of gimmicky but with Fractured Sanity and Tasha's Hideous Laughter it's become a real contender in the format and it fights on an axis that most decks cannot interact with especially since tron isn't as prevalent. The only thing you need to worry about is going faster than other decks - if a creature doesn't expedite your strategy you're better off not running it. I do think the void Walker is a really neat card but it slows your clock down and the decks you're gunna be racing in modern are fast asf now.
September 16, 2021 3:45 p.m.
That's correct and why I put the word burn in quotes. The best way to think of Modern Mill is as an aggressive burn deck--functionally it plays much the same; it is a bit of a glass cannon (though less so thanks to Drown in the Loch) that tries to "burn" the library, not the life total.
September 16, 2021 3:47 p.m.
Right... so wouldn't Haunting Echoes have the potential to pretty much exile someone's remaining library (minus basic lands)?
September 16, 2021 3:54 p.m.
So, focusing on speed, I was looking at a mono-blue mill deck instead. I'm a little on the fence with regards to Sanity Grinding, but with all the fetch lands thinning out my deck, right now I'm thinking its a pretty strong inclusion (ahead of Tasha's Hideous Laughter though not by much).
If you don't mind, would you give the list below a look and tell me what you think?
September 16, 2021 4:08 p.m.
Slow cards are bad, especially when they're so easy to counter.
By the time the card is "good," you're already (generally) in a favorable position. It's a win-more card, which means you could've drawn cards that better fit your overall gameplan, or more interaction for protection.
It's kind of like Vault of the Archangel in a creature deck. Classic winmore trap card that harms the deck more than it helps.
September 16, 2021 4:26 p.m.
I agree with Grubbernaut’s post on Haunting Echoes - it is a “win more” card that is a dead draw early and leaves you open to being countered later. By the time you generate five mana, you don’t want to be looking at “can I remove all their deck’s remaining threats?” - you want to be looking at “how do I get rid of those last couple cards?”
I will also note that, by the time you are at five mana, they will almost certainly have 20+ cards in their graveyard. That’s when you want to be dropping a Visions of Beyond, drawing three, then blasting them with a burn spell or two. Tapping down one of your five lands for a Visions, then drawing into a Haunting Echoes and not being able to play it is also going to be a dead draw.
September 16, 2021 4:41 p.m.
Grubbernaut & ,
I appreciate you guys (gals?) taking the time to illuminate me on some of the nuances of this deck. If you don't mind too much, would you be willing to turn the same insight on the mono-blue version I've also been working on? It's meant to be just pure speed with a little bit of disruption to get me over the finish line.
September 16, 2021 5:03 p.m.
Ugh... I HATE how we can't edit posts after the fact. I meant to ask in the above post if the deck would be better off with the counters or leaning into the speed of the mill and going with something like Maddening Cacophony, Tome Scour and Thought Scour in those slots as well?
September 16, 2021 5:30 p.m.
I have not play tested mono-blue mill, but my gut tells me it is going to be both slower and more fragile than Dimir mill. For speed, you lose out on Glimpse the Unthinkable - Glimpse is a hyper-efficient card that is super easy to pop off. Might some of the three mana spells hit for more mill, particularly the unique-to-mono-Blue Sanity Grinding? Yes. But that consistent ten at two mana is utterly fantastic - the difference between two and three mana is pretty big in Mill. A two mana spell on turn 4 is often going to mean you get to both mill your opponent and have mana for another mill spell or interaction. That can be pretty big and swing entire games.
September 16, 2021 5:46 p.m.
On the specific topic on whether Dauthi Voidwalker has any home in mill, I think the only use-case is if you’re currently running Ashiok, Dream Render in the sideboard, as these cards serve similar purposes and I could see potential for swapping one for the other. However, such a move would be highly meta-dependant, as most mill decks currently don’t run Ashiok anyway, and Dauthi appears in most cases to be worse.
Answering some thoughts specific to StoryArcher: Tome Scour has no place is a mill deck, it equates to a worse Shock. Mono blue mill can perform well, but does struggle as far as controlling the board state, and staying alive. Also, stuff like Sanity Grinding is very gimmicky and liable to cost you games. I think because mill needs so many fetches anyway to make the crabs happy, you can basically run a second/third colour for free, so going mono-blue feels like a big concession.