Mill Through the Ages

Posted in Arcana on August 19, 2015

By Michael Yichao

Yichao is a writer of words for plays, television, theme parks, and—most recently—Magic: The Gathering. He loves Cube Draft and corgis.

"More than one mage was driven insane by the sound of the Millstone relentlessly grinding away."

Millstone | Art by Kaja Foglio

Recently, Michael Majors took home the trophy at Grand Prix San Diego 2015 with a deck that relied on milling an opponent to death—that is, removing all the cards from an opponent's library. Majors's weapon of choice? Sphinx's Tutelage, a powerful little uncommon enchantment.

Michael Majors's Blue-Red Tutelage—1st Place Grand Prix San Diego

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By running a flurry of draw spells and 27(!) lands, the deck proved surprisingly consistent, digging for a copy of Sphinx's Tutelage and ruthlessly grinding opponents out—sometimes in dramatically quick fashion.

In Magic's history, mill decks have always occupied a special place in players' minds. Most players either love them (yours truly) or hate them (people who like "having fun" and "casting their spells"). Today, we take a look at a few mill decks from the past, in homage of Majors's victory.

ORIGINAL MILLSTONE

At the very first Pro Tour in 1996, not one by two decks packing the original Millstone made it to the Top 8, with Michael Loconto taking home the top prize!

Michael Loconto's Millstone—Pro Tour New York 1996

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MILLSTONE: COMEBACK EDITION

We now jump forward in time to US Nationals 2001. Zvi Mowshowitz showed up with a blue-white deck featuring Millstone. The two-mana kill condition was great at sneaking into play before opponents could have counterspells ready, and the transformational sideboard would surprise beatdown players with some sweet giant fliers. Grind, grind, grind goes the Millstone!

Zvi Mowshowitz's Millstone—US Nationals 2001

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JACE BE TRAPPIN' SOME ARCHIVES AND HOWLIN' SOME MINES

Let's cast Time Warp and jump forward to 2009, when Joel Calafell went 6-0 in Standard, also by casting Time Warps. This time, we're milling players out with our prince of mill, Jace Beleren, combined with Archive Trap action. Howling Mine and Font of Mythos help round out the deck and guarantee that opponents draw their decks dry.

Joel Calafell's 6-0 Standard—2009 World Championship

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Planeswalker (4)
4 Jace Beleren
Sorcery (7)
4 Time Warp 3 Day of Judgment
Artifact (8)
4 Howling Mine 4 Font of Mythos
Enchantment (2)
2 Sunspring Expedition
60 Cards

DROWNYARD: THE NEW MILLSTONE

What's better than a two-mana win condition? How about a zero-mana win condition? At Pro Tour Gatecrash in 2013, Ben Stark made Top 8 with an Esper Control deck that killed people with Nephalia Drownyard! . . . Okay, sure, sometimes he killed them the boring way by attacking with Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, or even Augur of Bolas, but most of the time Stark controlled the board and won by "killing people with lands."

Ben Stark's Esper Control—Top 8 Pro Tour Gatecrash

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Magic sure has seen its fair share of mill decks over the years. And "more than one mage was driven insane by the sound of the Millstone relentlessly grinding away" over the years as well!

Perhaps you too can slowly drive your opponent mad by killing them a few cards off the top of their library at a time. . .

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