Modern Mill Deck Help

Modern Deck Help forum

Posted on May 25, 2021, 12:45 p.m. by BlubShlub

Hello! I'm looking for any help that I can get. This is my first time trying to build a Competitive Modern Mill deck. I'm looking for thoughts, ideas, and suggestions! I'm looking for a quick easy mill build. I know its lacking Counter Spells and Creature Destruction but is it needed?


TriusMalarky says... #2

So Mill is actually a competitive modern deck now. Not like tier 1 but it competes. Anyways, there should be plenty of lists online.

Here is the mtggoldfish mill entry, that should help.

May 25, 2021 1:14 p.m.

Mtg_Mega_Nerds says... #3

Alright, here we go. Best cards: Maddening Cacophony , Glimpse the Unthinkable , Bruvac the Grandiloquent , Fractured Sanity (this is from modern horizons 2 so there is no image), Archive Trap , Fraying Sanity , and Traumatize . Hope that helps.

May 25, 2021 2:42 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #4

Bruvac the Grandiloquent is indeed great for mill, but it's a card from the Jumpstart set, and therefor not modern legal

May 25, 2021 3:37 p.m.

lagotripha says... #5

Most mill decks are trying to generate value with Hedron Crab + Ruin Crab + fetches, with Fatal Push / Drown in the Loch as support. Its a pretty well established archetype, with a set of cards that all work pretty well, but it looks set for a shakeup.

I have seen more budget lists leaning harder on Fraying Sanity , Sphinx's Tutelage and Mesmeric Orb , often with a lot more interaction.

Fractured sanity (new cycling mill spell)+ Counterspell looks like the kind of thing that will breathe some life into the mono blue lists with Sanity Grinding . Small stuff like Sea Gate Restoration  Flip having 3 blue on a land, and Archmage's Charm being printed as potential support means that the whole thing is worth keeping an eye on.

May 25, 2021 3:45 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #6

Fraying Sanity is a bit of a trap. Despite increasing your milling, it does not really increase your chances of winning--games you would win with Fraying Sanity you probably would have won anyway.

You could probably stand to cut a copy of Field of Ruin. Its being colorless is a tad problematic since so many mill spells and mill-adjacent value cards are light on generic mana costs.

May 25, 2021 4:04 p.m.

wallisface says... #7

I agree with Caerwyn that Fraying Sanity is a bad card. You can possibly get away with running a single copy (drawing a second one loses you the game), but even then there are just better things to be doing.

Anything with a low mill-quantity is also usually quite bad - stuff like Mind Funeral and Tome Scour might feel like they’re doing things, but really they’re just not worth it.

The way I think mill plays best is as a sudo-control build. Aim to give your opponent a taste at the start of the game, so you can Surgical Extraction away their key cards. Then ensure your opponent can’t do anything of value before finally wiping their deck away. This list here is what i’m currently running for Mill, and it regularly wins events at my local game store.

The other thing to note it Mill deck builds heavily rely on tuning themselves to what they’re playing. Their sideboard choices are more important than a lot of other decks, and its not uncommon to see them moving 9+ cards around during sideboarding.

Some general other tips I can offer:

  • don’t run any creatures other than the crabs. No other creatures are worth it

  • i’ve found running Ensnaring Bridge is far better than havinv Lurrus as a companion

  • limit the amount of spells you run that specifically target an opponent. It’ll stop misery happening if your opponent runs Leyline of Sanctity in the sideboard

Looking at your list it seems pretty close to good-mill. Just drop those bad mill cards and get some control elements in there instead, imo (as well as the other crab!).

May 25, 2021 4:36 p.m.

Mtg_Mega_Nerds says... #8

Grist could be pretty interesting, especially since it can be your commander.

May 25, 2021 4:54 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #9

wallisface - One countermeasure against Leyline of Sanctity is splashing for Assassin's Trophy . Since the deck should be full of fetch lands anyway, you only need two copies of Overgrown Tomb or Breeding Pool (which depends on whether you want more blue or black lands) to get Assassin's Trophy online.

Plus, as an additional boon, most players will not search for the land when hit by the Trophy, fearing an Archive Trap . Or, better yet, they will search, and you can blast them with an Archive Trap .

May 25, 2021 4:54 p.m.

Sorry, wrong place.

May 25, 2021 4:55 p.m.

wallisface says... #11

Caerwyn that does sound like an appealing option, and one I’ll need to try. Currently i’m getting around Leyline largely by just having a high-density of “each opponent” based mill cards, and then having Echoing Truth and Set Adrift in the sideboard - both of which give me ample time to get the job done.

The Trophy option does sound really strong, and something I’ll have to try out at somestage. My local meta is currently going a bit ham over Blood Moon , so at the moment for me personally the bounce cards are probably more viable.

May 25, 2021 5:04 p.m.

antacidbrn says... #12

For Funsies, play Mill.

But do not expect it to win anything. I have tried, over and over again, in 4 different states, at 12 different FNMs to win with mill.

The best I ever did was 2-2 in any meta.

May 25, 2021 9:13 p.m.

wallisface says... #13

Gotta disagree with you antacidbrn, Mill has become a super-competitive deck and i’ve won many events with it (and yes, my local meta is dominated by tier-1 decks)

The thing with Mill is that it takes a LOT of practice. Too many people treat Mill like its a burn deck for libraries, which will get you nowhere - it needs to primarily focus on shutting down the opponents ways to win. The deck itself has to be constantly tweaked to cater for the meta - both mainboard and sideboard. And even then, it’s probably one of the more complicated decks to pilot. You have to know your opponents options, so you have to know the meta super-well.

Keep at it - Mill is a competitive deck and super-rewarding when you get the hang of it.

May 25, 2021 11:38 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #14

Of course the reason mill went from meme to dream is the second crab in ZNR, so it's a fairly recent addition to the Modern Hall of Fame(nice upgrade from the Modern Hall of Just Not Good Enough), so it's probable antacidbrn's experience happened pre-ZNR.

May 25, 2021 11:49 p.m.

antacidbrn says... #15

TriusMalarky - I did in fact retire the mill deck prior to ruin crab, so "8 Crab" was not flown. After I failed with Drown in the Loch , I retired the deck.

A lot has changed in Modern but a lot has not. Mill feels like a Burn deck, but rather than deal 20 damage, I now have to "burn" 52 cards. The opponent instantly knows what the plan, and they react accordingly. TBH, the most impactful spell was Archive Trap but even then, it was only 13 cards down.

You have several challenges: answering your opponent's threats, and no combat to speak of, milling their cards, keeping the graveyard empty.

I tried building the deck in many ways:

  1. As a control deck with Ensnaring Bridge , Mesmeric Orb , Surgical Extraction , etc.

  2. As a hybrid beatdown deck with Jace's Phantasm , Vantress Gargoyle , and Delver of Secrets  Flip.

  3. As a combo deck, going Esper, to use Winds of Abandon , Scheming Symmetry and Archive Trap .

I learned that the deck loses to Tribal decks such as Goblins, Elves and Spirits.

It loses to Collected Company and Infect decks. At the time, Affinity was a rough matchup, but so was Death's Shadow and Jund threats.

Some decks such as Dredg just got better when they were being milled, so anything which used the grave as a resource was rough.

In conclusion, it was fun to be "the mill player" and you always got a lot of attention as the villain. It was also fun to watch people get killed. But I never won anything more than a few pity packs.

May 26, 2021 12:04 a.m.

wallisface says... #16

antacidbrn your option 1 of playing it as a control deck is certainly the way to go. It has indeed been the case that Mill got a LOT stronger since the printing of Ruin Crab , so don't give up hope on the archetype just yet! As far as the threats you mentioned, i'll give my thoughts:

  • Infect should be pretty straightforward. The goal is to have a hand with Fatal Push and Surgical Extraction . Kill the first infect boi they put into play and extract away any infect creature that hits the graveyard. They'll quickly run out of ways to hit you with infect damage, and you should be able to mill them out before they can kill you with Noble Hierarch . Ensnaring Bridge is pretty good for lasting into the late game. When sideboarding, you want to be going full killspell/hand disruption, and removing most of your mill spells - with the assumption that you win when once they can't play anything meaningful anymore.

  • Tribal decks such as Goblins, Elves and Spirits is a pretty wide basket. Between Ensnaring Bridge and Crypt Incursion these should largely be free-wins. Spirits and Humans will give you the most grief, and Humans in particular is considered a bad matchup in general - but the other tribal decks should be easy picking provided you keep the right hands and sideboard in all the beforementioned cards. I'll put Collected Company decks in this same bucket, as in general any creature based deck has a hard time getting through a resolved Crypt Incursion . Generally in these matchups we sideboard out our Surgical Extraction just because there's not a single-threat we can cut them off that shuts down the gameplan.

  • Dredge decks are possibly the easiest matchup we have. Mill often runs both Surgical Extraction and Crypt Incursion mainboard, as well as having 6ish graveyard hate cards sideboard in more Crypt Incursion , as well as Extirpate , Ravenous Trap , and sometimes Ashiok, Dream Render . The goal here is to not mill them, but wait till they mill themselves and then get rid of any value they may have put in their yards. Within a few turns of this, they'll have nothing left to threaten you with, and you can finish them off at your leisure.

  • In general, anything with a "grave resource" is easy pickings, because we have mainboard Surgical Extraction , and often a playset of it (or at least 3). We also have very strong matchups against any deck where we can ruin them by extracting a single card for this same reason - so matchups against Tron, Storm, and various Combo are generally considered almost free-wins.

Our bad matchups include Humans (but its certainly not an auto-lose, and the matchup still feels close), as well as Burn (its a race we often lose, but they also often sideboard wrong so there's hope), but otherwise I'd say we have good-to-great matchups versus most other decks I can think of right now.

If you're wanting me to have a look at your list and help you out versus matchups where you're struggling, let me know (PM me a list). It sounds like your control build was close-to-the-money, but perhaps lacked a bit of interaction and sideboard tech to get you competing well in your lcoal meta.

May 26, 2021 1:14 a.m. Edited.

antacidbrn says... #17

I totally forgot Humans. Yep, I never was able to beat Humans either. Also, Stoneblade was another matchup I would experience a lot that never seemed to go well in my main meta.

So, I do not have any of the lists that I once flew in Modern Mill. I got rid of all my cards in the archetype. I would love to see your list though. If you were successful against decks like Spirits and Infect that is impressive.

My other problem with Mill was sideboarding. I could often win Game 1, but once my opponent knew what I was up to, they would drop Leyline of Sanctity or just play around the "surprise" of Mill.

May 26, 2021 1:24 a.m.

wallisface says... #18

Yeah the recent cards printed help get around Leyline cause they reference “each opponent” instead of “target opponent”. It’s still a case of running some sideboard bounce effects to get it off the board though.

Sideboarding is defo the hardest thing when piloting mill, both for knowing what to bring in, take out, and what to expect your opponent to be bringing in. Mill will often be sideboarding in and out around 6-11 cards in an given matchup. There were a lot of articles online a Mill player named “Sqlut” wrote a while back - they helped me big with my sideboarding game. Googling “Sqlut Mill” might yield some results (??)

My current deck list is here if you wanted to have a gander. I can’t remember how lazy my description was so feel free to ask any questions about card choices etc.

May 26, 2021 2:51 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #19

Also, there's a distinct lack of GY decks in modern right now -- most of them died when Looting got banned. That also helps Mill out a bunch. So the Crab in conjunction with the banning of Looting gave Mill a real niche in the meta.

May 26, 2021 1:28 p.m.

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