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Gathering Deck Garage
I recently had someone E-mail me to ask if my E-mail address was still accepting decklists. When your readers wonder if you've shut down your column, you know you've let your update schedule slip too far. What a terrible webcomic artist I'd make.
Case in point: today's client sent me this E-mail on July
23. You'd never believe that meeting deadlines was actually
my strong suit throughout college, would you?
I have been a huge fan of your articles and I have been playing in the same magic circle for some time now. Problem is that a lot of my friends have seen all of my decks so come tournament time in a few weeks I figure it is time to show the gang something new. This is where I am begging for your help, I am throwing myself at your mercy. Here is the deck list I was able to put together.
4x Steel Wall
4x Glimpse the Unthinkable
4x Drowned Catacomb
Thank you very much for your time.
But of course, most mill decks today aren't so dedicated to control. In fact, with the exception of Blue/White control decks in Standard today that employ Jace the Mindsculptor and have his ultimate to fall back on as a victory condition, many of them more closely resemble aggro decks, as they typically race the opponent down to zero cards in library as fast as possible. Turn one, Tome Scour, Turn Two, Glimpse the Unthinkable, et cetera.
Personally, I like the control version better. The main reason aggro works is because it can kill in four or five turns under good conditions. If it doesn't, each turn that passes makes victory less likely, as the aggro deck spent most of its resources on a quick push. Mill decks, by contrast, have to get the opponent down from 53 cards in the deck to zero, all the while playing spells like Tome Scour that don't actually impact the game state unless they deal the final blow, emptying the library. Milling has a tendency to be a slow process, and thus you need to be able to interact with your opponent-- to hinder their efforts to defeat you while you gradually grind away their library.
Because of this, the best mill spells, much like the best life gain spells, are those that do something else in addition to their primary purpose of milling.
Because of this, I personally believe that the best milling spell at 3UU isn't Traumatize, or Archive Trap with its alternate casting cost, but Telemin Performance. The amount milled for is random, yes, but it gives you one of your opponent's creatures. You may simply use it to block and help keep yourself alive for a turn, it may simply trade with an opponent's kill spell, which conveniently keeps said spell away from your Steel Walls and whatnot, or you may end up winning off of the stolen creature's combat damage. This is especially potent if your opponent's strategy doesn't revolve around creatures. He may not have any at all in the deck, which would make Telemin Performance a one-hit victory. It's probably not powerful enough against decks with a lot of creatures, especially if the majority of them are small, quick beaters not worth paying five mana for, but at its most powerful it's a force to be feared.
Next up is one of the better counterspells to be painfully overshadowed by Cryptic Command in Lorwyn Block: Broken Ambitions. As a counterspell it doesn't make your opponent pay as much to get his spell through as Mana Leak, but the clash function means that you can mill your opponent and jack up the cost of his spell in one move. You also get to see the top card of your library and have the option of putting it on the bottom if you don't want to draw it next turn. The fact that your opponent gets to do the same is mitigated somewhat by the fact that your opponent never really gets the chance to leave it on top, because you're going to put it into his graveyard before he can draw it, right?
Induce Paranoia is another milling counterspell, and will never fail to counter the spell. The main advantage of Broken Ambitions is that it can be played for less that four mana, and lets you effectively Scry 1 when you cast it. The advanatge of Induce Paranoia is that while Broken Ambitions may let the spell resolve if you can't make X high enough, and may fail to mill if you lose the clash, Induce Paranoia rarely fails at either.
Next, you should replace Dimir Infiltrator with Vedalken Entrancer. I understand that the Infiltrator can be Transmuted into Glimpse the Unthinkable or Mana Leak, but that's not a powerful enough use for it. Vedalken Entrancer is a better blocker and can mill two each and every turn, adding to that "slowly grind them down" motif I mentioned earlier.
Speaking of activated abilities that mill, Millstone is one of the classics. But, in keeping of our theme of mill cards that can do other things, I prefer Whetwheel, since it can attack for two, as well as occasionally bluff an opponent.
And of course, if you're using Jace Beleren, it only makes sense to include Jace's Erasure. That card turns your every draw step into another fleabite to your opponent's library, and makes Jace's +2 ability a -2 to the other guy's stack. It also rewards you for drawing cards-- something you want to do anyway. With a playset of those, you'd be well advised to add in some draw spells. Something like Ghastly Discovery, Careful Study, or even Temple Bell would give you that much more power, putting precious resources into your hand while filing down the top of the other guy's deck.
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