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Crab Mill - Brian Baker (11/18/2009)

Do you have crabs?

Let me ask that question another way: does Hedron Crab
Hedron Crab
Hedron CrabSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Crab
Rarity:
U
Number:
47
Artist:
Jesper Ejsing
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
get your Magic-deckbuilder-sense tingling?

Milling is the most popular alternate win condition in Magic. Other than through loss of life and milling, other win conditions are created purely card-by-card (think Epic Struggle
Epic Struggle
Epic StruggleSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
112
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt

Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control 20 or more creatures, you win the game.
, Helix Pinnacle
Helix Pinnacle
Helix PinnacleSet: Eventide
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
68
Artist:
Dan Scott
Text:
Shroud X: Put X tower counters on Helix Pinnacle. At the beginning of your upkeep, if there are 100 or more tower counters on Helix Pinnacle, you win the game.
, and poison/poisonous cards), and no other alternate win condition has been explored more thoroughly throughout Magic’s history. Milling cards have ranged from terribly slow (Millstone
Millstone
MillstoneSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
2, T: Take the top two cards from target player's library and put them in target player's graveyard.
) to swingy (Mind Funeral
Mind Funeral
Mind FuneralSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
26
Text:
Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until four land cards are revealed. That player puts all cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard.
) to fast (Glimpse the Unthinkable
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Glimpse the UnthinkableSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
208
Artist:
Brandon Kitkouski
Text:
Target player puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
) to ridiculous (Grindstone
Grindstone
GrindstoneSet: Tempest
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Greg Simanson
Text:
3, T: Put the top two cards of target player's library into that player's graveyard. If both cards share at least one color, repeat this process.
, with the printing of Painter’s Servant). Milling can be straightforward or take the alternate approach of mass card-drawing (think Forced Fruition
Forced Fruition
Forced FruitionSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
66
Artist:
William O'Connor
Text:
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, that player draws seven cards. 0
, one of my favorite cards of all time).

I have had an on-again, off-again fascination with milling decks over the course of my years playing Magic. Whenever a new milling card or set of cards comes out that looks promising, I invariably try to make the most of them. One of the most exciting sets for me in this regard was Ravnica, thanks to the Dimir guild. Unfortunately, milling is a difficult concept to really apply well in both casual and tournament decks.

Casual decks can certainly be designed to be played in duels, which makes milling an easier concept to pull off than in multiplayer. You know that you have to take about 60 cards down to 0, and the opponent’s draws help advance your goal as a side effect of playing. When we extend casual to multiplayer games, however, the concept becomes much more difficult. A number of good milling cards and strategies are aimed at taking out one deck at a time, which is a difficult enough task to accomplish while staying in the game. Once at least one opponent catches on to what your strategy is, which is hard to conceal if you’re making any progress whatsoever, it’s fairly likely that the group will attempt to finish you before you can succeed. Even simply multiplying the number of decks necessary to mill makes this task difficult.

Tournament-caliber milling decks are few and far between. The reasons for this are numerous. Wizards has been making creature quality higher and higher over the past few years, which means that creature decks (and the color green in particular) have reached an all-time high in efficiency. With so many decent to good to crazy creatures available and comparatively small number of cards that mill, along with the strictly numeric difference of 20 life versus 60 cards (or 53, if we’re discounting opening hands), milling decks have to be very good or they will fail to compete.

The most successful milling deck of recent times has been the Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
deck of pre-M10 Standard. In a field dominated by Faeries, Kithkin, and most especially tokens of the white, black, and green variety, the deck used a high quantity of fog spells (Holy Day
Holy Day
Holy DaySet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Justin Hampton
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is assigned.
, Angelsong
Angelsong
AngelsongSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
4
Artist:
Sal Villagran
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Cycling 2 (2, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
, Pollen Lullaby
Pollen Lullaby
Pollen LullabySet: Lorwyn
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
36
Artist:
Warren Mahy
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Clash with an opponent. If you win, creatures that player controls don't untap during the player's next untap step. (Each clashing player reveals the top card of his or her library, then puts that card on the top or bottom. A player wins if his or her card had a higher converted mana cost.)
), quasi-fog effects (the ever-relevant Cryptic Command
Cryptic Command
Cryptic CommandSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
56
Artist:
Wayne England
Text:
Choose two - Counter target spell; or return target permanent to its owner's hand; or tap all creatures your opponents control; or draw a card.
), and occasional sweeper and simply relied on the opponent decking out first from Howling Mine
Howling Mine
Howling MineSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Each player must draw one extra card during the draw phase of each of his or her turns.
and Font of Mythos
Font of Mythos
Font of MythosSet: Conflux
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
136
Text:
At the beginning of each player's draw step, that player draws two additional cards.
. This deck was extremely frustrating to play against, but its existence in the format actually pleased me a great deal.

Now, looking at the current Standard, a number of Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
’s key spells are gone. Pollen Lullaby
Pollen Lullaby
Pollen LullabySet: Lorwyn
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
36
Artist:
Warren Mahy
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Clash with an opponent. If you win, creatures that player controls don't untap during the player's next untap step. (Each clashing player reveals the top card of his or her library, then puts that card on the top or bottom. A player wins if his or her card had a higher converted mana cost.)
was a fog and occasionally a Time Walk
Time Walk
Time WalkSet: Alpha
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Take an extra turn after this one.
. Cryptic Command
Cryptic Command
Cryptic CommandSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
56
Artist:
Wayne England
Text:
Choose two - Counter target spell; or return target permanent to its owner's hand; or tap all creatures your opponents control; or draw a card.
is one of the best blue spells of all time and all four possible modes were relevant to this deck. Even the loss of Holy Day
Holy Day
Holy DaySet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Justin Hampton
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is assigned.
for Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
drops out a white fog spell. Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
may or may not be able to adapt and survive to the new Standard environment, although it is important to note that creature decks- especially of the Jund variety- are still thriving and leading the way. The question I’m addressing in this article is not whether Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
specifically is still a good deck, but the more general question of what a milling deck might look like.

Milling is principally a blue mechanic. Let’s take a look at the applicable blue milling spells in Standard:

Cathartic Adept
Cathartic Adept
Cathartic AdeptSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T Target player puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Hedron Crab
Hedron Crab
Hedron CrabSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Crab
Rarity:
U
Number:
47
Artist:
Jesper Ejsing
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Tome Scour
Tome Scour
Tome ScourSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.

Memory Erosion
Memory Erosion
Memory ErosionSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Text:
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, that player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

Jace Beleren
Jace Beleren
Jace BelerenSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Jace
Rarity:
R
Number:
71
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
+2: Each player draws a card. -1: Target player draws a card. -10: Target player puts the top twenty cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.


Two creatures, eh? Cathartic Adept
Cathartic Adept
Cathartic AdeptSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T Target player puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
is probably too slow to work in most milling decks and isn’t worth the slot. While that one card a turn will add up (or more in multiples), its frail body along with less than stellar ability aren’t crying out for addition. Hedron Crab
Hedron Crab
Hedron CrabSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Crab
Rarity:
U
Number:
47
Artist:
Jesper Ejsing
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
, on the other hand, is much better. Taking away three cards a turn is a good place to start, and multiples of the Crab and/or multiple landfall triggers can let this get out of hand quickly.

Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
is the main workhorse of a deck like this. At five mana, this has to be close to the top of the curve, but 13 cards is a sizable chunk, and instant speed certainly helps. While you won’t always be able to set off the trap for its discounted price, even the possibility of playing it for free is great. Currently, there is one spell in Standard that lets an opponent search his or her library, which can help this out if it’s good. Is it good? It’s Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
. I’d say it’s worthy.

Tome Scour
Tome Scour
Tome ScourSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
is a better Cathartic Adept
Cathartic Adept
Cathartic AdeptSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T Target player puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
. It gives you five Adept activations (assuming that the Adept would have lived that long to begin with) all at once. While it will never get you more than 5, it can hit the opponent hard and fast, which is what the deck probably needs. Is that good enough? Either way, Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
is. The ability to knock out half of a deck all at once is great, although again at 5, it’s actually at some tension with earlier milling, since Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
is at its best when it mills for more cards. Still, even though it won’t hit for as much, its potential power can’t be denied.

Memory Erosion
Memory Erosion
Memory ErosionSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Text:
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, that player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
is tricky to analyze. Pros: it’s a non-creature permanent, it’s a continuous ability, it can add up, and it punishes opponents for doing something they want to do. Cons: two cards at a time probably won’t cripple them, it can be played around, and it is vulnerable to cards like Maelstrom Pulse
Maelstrom Pulse
Maelstrom PulseSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
92
Text:
Destroy target nonland permanent and all other permanents with the same name as that permanent.
. I’m not 100% sure that it’s worth it, but I want to keep it in mind, since it does advance the goal.

Jace Beleren
Jace Beleren
Jace BelerenSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Jace
Rarity:
R
Number:
71
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
+2: Each player draws a card. -1: Target player draws a card. -10: Target player puts the top twenty cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
has spend the last few years helping the Faerie decks out, but he was clearly designed with milling in mind. The “drawback” of forcing the opponent to draw cards depletes the opponent’s library and can actually finish them off a turn sooner (since a player doesn’t lose from having an empty library in and of itself, a player loses when they would have to draw a card but cannot). He’s weaker now thanks to the Vampire Hexmage
Vampire Hexmage
Vampire HexmageSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
114
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
First strike Sacrifice Vampire Hexmage: Remove all counters from target permanent.
, but he will always at least replace himself. If the opponent does not or cannot stop him from going off, then they should be about done for.

So that’s about it for blue. Of course, other blue spells come to mind that could help with the milling spells. Twincast
Twincast
TwincastSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R
is the obvious choice, as forking either an Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
or a Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
will end the game quickly, and even copying a Tome Scour
Tome Scour
Tome ScourSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
gets you a Glimpse the Unthinkable
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Glimpse the UnthinkableSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
208
Artist:
Brandon Kitkouski
Text:
Target player puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
. Other blue spells can buy you time, Whiplash Trap
Whiplash Trap
Whiplash TrapSet: Planechase
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
C
Number:
16
Artist:
Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
Text:
If an opponent had two or more creatures enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {U} rather than pay Whiplash Trap's mana cost. Return two target creatures to their owners' hands.
, kicked Into the Roil
Into the Roil
Into the RoilSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Kieran Yanner
Text:
Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell.) Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.
, and Kederekt Leviathan
Kederekt Leviathan
Kederekt LeviathanSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
8
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Leviathan
Rarity:
R
Number:
48
Artist:
Mark Hyzer
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
When Kederekt Leviathan comes into play, return all other nonland permanents to their owners' hands. Unearth 6U (6U: Return this card from your graveyard to play. It gains haste. Remove it from the game at end of turn or if it would leave play. Unearth only as a sorcery.)
get you card advantage and tempo all at once, while Time Warp
Time Warp
Time WarpSet: Starter 1999
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Target player takes another turn after this one.
and Sleep
Sleep
SleepSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
71
Artist:
Chris Rahn
Text:
Tap all creatures target player controls. Those creatures don't untap during that player's next untap step.
can literally get you another turn. Telemin Performance
Telemin Performance
Telemin PerformanceSet: Conflux
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
35
Text:
Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until he or she reveals a creature card. That player puts all noncreature cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard, then you put the creature card into play under your control.
can out-and-out mill a creatureless control deck.

While it is possible to go straight mono-blue with some artifact support, I think that it’s worth looking at what each (yes, each) of the other colors can bring to a milling deck.

White- White brings the mass creature kill in Day of Judgment
Day of Judgment
Day of JudgmentSet: Zendikar
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
9
Artist:
Vincent Proce
Text:
Destroy all creatures.
and Martial Coup
Martial Coup
Martial CoupSet: Conflux
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
11
Text:
Put X 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens into play. If X is 5 or more, destroy all other creatures.
that the deck needs to survive the early rushes (vampires and the like), while Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
, Oblivion Ring
Oblivion Ring
Oblivion RingSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Wayne England
Text:
When Oblivion Ring comes into play, remove another target nonland permanent from the game. When Oblivion Ring leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner's control.
, and Journey to Nowhere
Journey to Nowhere
Journey to NowhereSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
14
Artist:
Warren Mahy
Text:
When Journey to Nowhere enters the battlefield, exile target creature. When Journey to Nowhere leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to the battlefield under its owner's control.
deal with singular threats. Remember that Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
makes the opponent think about whether you have Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
in hand, possibly removing Path’s drawback entirely. Luminarch Ascension
Luminarch Ascension
Luminarch AscensionSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
25
Artist:
Michael Komarck
Text:
At the beginning of each opponent's end step, if you didn't lose life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Luminarch Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life.) {1}{W}: Put a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only if Luminarch Ascension has four or more quest counters on it.
can serve as a secondary win condition if the milling isn’t going anywhere. Going in the Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
direction, Angelsong
Angelsong
AngelsongSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
4
Artist:
Sal Villagran
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Cycling 2 (2, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
, Safe Passage
Safe Passage
Safe PassageSet: Magic 2010
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
28
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and creatures you control this turn.
, and Knight-Captain of Eos are all still in Standard. Wall of Denial
Wall of Denial
Wall of DenialSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wall
Rarity:
U
Number:
16
Power:
0
Toughness:
8
Text:
Defender, flying, shroud
is as efficient a defense as you can ask for, and Kiss of the Amesha
Kiss of the Amesha
Kiss of the AmeshaSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
6
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
177
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Text:
Target player gains 7 life and draws two cards.
refills the hand while padding the life total (albeit at a high cost). Overall, the blue-white milling deck is probably a slower option but has protections against losing to creature strategies that blue itself lacks.

Black- These days, black’s mass removal is lacking compared to white’s, but there is a plethora of spot removal to choose from. Disfigure
Disfigure
DisfigureSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Text:
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
, Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Doom BladeSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
Destroy target nonblack creature.
, and Agony Warp
Agony Warp
Agony WarpSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Dave Allsop
Text:
Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn. Target creature gets -0/-3 until end of turn.
are great at what they do and splash easily. Adding black most notably boosts the milling component of the deck significantly and in a different way than straight blue. Mind Funeral
Mind Funeral
Mind FuneralSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
26
Text:
Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until four land cards are revealed. That player puts all cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard.
will always mill for four and will sometimes take away much more, and it actually works better when the opponent has been thinning their deck of lands via the new sac-lands. Nemesis of Reason
Nemesis of Reason
Nemesis of ReasonSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Leviathan Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
28
Power:
3
Toughness:
7
Text:
Whenever Nemesis of Reason attacks, defending player puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
only needs to attack a few times, and represents repeatable mill with only one mana down-payment. Sadistic Sacrament
Sadistic Sacrament
Sadistic SacramentSet: Zendikar
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Dan Scott
Text:
Kicker {7} (You may pay an additional {7} as you cast this spell.) Search target player's library for up to three cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his or her library. If Sadistic Sacrament was kicked, instead search that player's library for up to fifteen cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his or her library.
“mills” out the best cards in their deck, and can close the game if kicked and other milling has been accomplished. Soulquake
Soulquake
SoulquakeSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
7
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
30
Text:
Return all creatures in play and all creature cards in graveyards to their owners' hands.
is just awful (and gives your opponent access to all of the creatures you’ve milled), but is the closest thing to an Evacuation
Evacuation
EvacuationSet: Stronghold
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
30
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
Return all creatures to owners' hands.
available. Finally, while not a milling card per se, Bloodchief Ascension
Bloodchief Ascension
Bloodchief AscensionSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
82
Artist:
Adi Granov
Text:
At the beginning of each end step, if an opponent lost 2 or more life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Bloodchief Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life.) Whenever a card is put into an opponent's graveyard from anywhere, if Bloodchief Ascension has three or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 2 life. If you do, you gain 2 life.
can be absurdly powerful when active when an Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
goes off. The blue-black milling deck has more options than the mono-blue deck, and presents unique ways to deplete the opponent’s deck.

A special note must be made about Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
. Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
is a strong card all on its own and becomes a monster card when combined with milling. A Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
on turn five and Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
on turn six can be the end of an opponent’s otherwise healthy deck right there. Do not underestimate the power of this combo, on the other hand, relying on it may get you killed in the meantime. If it can be pulled off, it’s the ultimate in milling.

Red- A blue-red milling deck may seem counterintuitive, but can actually have some potential. Burn, including Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
, Burst Lightning
Burst Lightning
Burst LightningSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
Kicker {4} (You may pay an additional {4} as you cast this spell.) Burst Lightning deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If Burst Lightning was kicked, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.
, Punishing Fire
Punishing Fire
Punishing FireSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
142
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Punishing Fire deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Whenever an opponent gains life, you may pay {R}. If you do, return Punishing Fire from your graveyard to your hand.
, and Volcanic Fallout
Volcanic Fallout
Volcanic FalloutSet: Conflux
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
74
Text:
Volcanic Fallout can't be countered. Volcanic Fallout deals 2 damage to each creature and each player.
will fry attacking creatures crispy. Burning Inquiry
Burning Inquiry
Burning InquirySet: Magic 2010
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
128
Artist:
Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
Text:
Each player draws three cards, then discards three cards at random.
and Chandra Ablaze
Chandra Ablaze
Chandra AblazeSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Chandra
Rarity:
M
Number:
120
Artist:
Steve Argyle
Text:
+1: Discard a card. If a red card is discarded this way, Chandra Ablaze deals 4 damage to target creature or player. -2: Each player discards his or her hand, then draws three cards. -7: Cast any number of red instant and/or sorcery cards from your graveyard without paying their mana costs.
force card draw in such a way that can force the best cards out of the opponent’s hand, and Runeflare Trap
Runeflare Trap
Runeflare TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
U
Number:
146
Artist:
Franz Vohwinkel
Text:
If an opponent drew three or more cards this turn, you may pay {R} rather than pay Runeflare Trap's mana cost. Runeflare Trap deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards in that player's hand.
can combo for an alternate win condition. Pyromancer’s Ascension may be the single best thing for a dedicated milling deck- imagine forking a Tome Scour
Tome Scour
Tome ScourSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
, and while it’s on the stack, forking a Twincast
Twincast
TwincastSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R
, milling for twenty cards. Now imagine forking Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
, with or without Twincast
Twincast
TwincastSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R
. Yeouch. A blue-red milling deck has the potential to be explosive but unwieldy, but it certainly sounds fun to play.

Green- Green probably provides the least for milling strategy, but can aid the blue milling cards in various ways. Green’s mana acceleration, notably Rampant Growth
Rampant Growth
Rampant GrowthSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
246
Artist:
Tom Kyffin
Text:
Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.
, Khalni Heart Expedition
Khalni Heart Expedition
Khalni Heart ExpeditionSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
167
Artist:
Jason Chan
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Khalni Heart Expedition. Remove three quest counters from Khalni Heart Expedition and sacrifice it: Search your library for up to two basic land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
, and Harrow
Harrow
HarrowSet: Tempest
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Eric David Anderson
Text:
Sacrifice a land: Search your library for up to two basic land cards and put them into play. Shuffle your library afterwards.
, serves two primary functions. First of all, it allows Hedron Crab
Hedron Crab
Hedron CrabSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Crab
Rarity:
U
Number:
47
Artist:
Jesper Ejsing
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
s to go bonkers and pull their own weight. Secondly, it allows the bigger spells like Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.
to hit the deck sooner. In the direction of Turbo-Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
, M10 brings back Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
itself and Zendikar provides green with Tangle
Tangle
TangleSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
213
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.Attacking creatures don't untap during their controllers' next untap steps.
c2Fw. Blue-green milling might not quite get there on its own, but with all of this fixing, blue-green-x milling is definitely possible.

So there you have it. If you’ve gotten this far expecting me to name the best possible Standard milling deck, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I believe that it’s a good idea to lay out the possible contenders in each of the many ways that this deck can be built and let you take it from there depending on your collection and your own interests. Hopefully you’ve found this helpful and it’s jogged your own interest in whittling away the opponent’s deck. I’ll leave you with my take on a Grixis
Grixis
GrixisSet: Planechase
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
15
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Text:
Blue, black, and/or red creature cards in your graveyard have unearth. The unearth cost is equal to the card's mana cost. (Pay the card's mana cost: Return it to the battlefield. The creature gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step or if it would leave the battlefield. Unearth only as a sorcery.) Whenever you roll {C}, put target creature card in a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.
-color build, it builds on the foundation of blue milling with the power of black and red removal, Pyromancer’s Ascension, and Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
.

10:Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.

6:Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

2:Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

3:Crumbling Necropolis
Crumbling Necropolis
Crumbling NecropolisSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
0
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Number:
222
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Text:
Crumbling Necropolis comes into play tapped. T Add U, B, or R to your mana pool.

2:Scalding Tarn
Scalding Tarn
Scalding TarnSet: Zendikar
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
223
Artist:
Philip Straub
Text:
{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Scalding Tarn: Search your library for an Island or Mountain card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

4:Hedron Crab
Hedron Crab
Hedron CrabSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Crab
Rarity:
U
Number:
47
Artist:
Jesper Ejsing
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

3:Howling Mine
Howling Mine
Howling MineSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Each player must draw one extra card during the draw phase of each of his or her turns.

3:Pyromancer’s Ascension
4:Archive Trap
Archive Trap
Archive TrapSet: Zendikar
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Trap
Rarity:
R
Number:
41
Artist:
Jason Felix
Text:
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap's mana cost. Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

4:Twincast
Twincast
TwincastSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R

4:Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Doom BladeSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
Destroy target nonblack creature.

3:Agony Warp
Agony Warp
Agony WarpSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Dave Allsop
Text:
Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn. Target creature gets -0/-3 until end of turn.

4:Tome Scour
Tome Scour
Tome ScourSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

2:Traumatize
Traumatize
TraumatizeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
110
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Target player puts the top half of his or her library, rounded down, into his or her graveyard.

2:Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.

4:Mind Funeral
Mind Funeral
Mind FuneralSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
26
Text:
Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until four land cards are revealed. That player puts all cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard.


I considered other removal such as Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
and Terminate
Terminate
TerminateSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
128
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Text:
Destroy target creature. It can't be regenerated.
. Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
would probably go in the sideboard for black decks or weenie rushes, removing some or all of the Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Doom BladeSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
Destroy target nonblack creature.
s. Terminate
Terminate
TerminateSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
128
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Text:
Destroy target creature. It can't be regenerated.
is a favorite, but it seemed a little unwise to run a card that required both splash colors in this current Standard (where, after all, colors in casting costs matter again). In the end, and of course depending on the metagame, I think that this is one of the more interesting builds available. It also makes for some crazy, memorable plays (Twincast
Twincast
TwincastSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R
to copy an opponent’s Cruel Ultimatum
Cruel Ultimatum
Cruel UltimatumSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
7
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
Ralph Horsley
Text:
Target opponent sacrifices a creature, discards three cards, then loses 5 life. You return a creature card from your graveyard to your hand, draw three cards, then gain 5 life.
with a fully charged Ascension, for example).

Thanks for reading!


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