Mill as an archetype is rarely explored in anything beyond fringe Modern decks and the bravest (or possibly naive) Commander players. However, out of the burning sands of Hour of Devastation rose to glory a handful of cards worthy enough to be the salvation that mill has needed for quite some time. The deck tech this Wednesday is a mill deck, to be sure. However, it is also a madhouse of control and tempo pieces strong enough to lock any player out of the game, begging for mercy. You won’t be granting that to them though because, with all of the draw engines, counterspells, and removal pieces, you’ll be at the helm of a hardline control shell that wins through mill. If you’re ready for a draw-go Control deck, this one is for you! Remember, the best fun is when your opponent isn’t having any: this is Locust Mill!
The namesake of the deck, The Locust God, is a wall of text that gets better every time you read it. Not only do you create a one power one toughness flying insect with haste whenever you draw a card, but you can pay two and a red and a blue to loot a card (Draw a card, then discard a card) and when the God dies, return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step. All of that on a four power four toughness flying body is more than enough to make sure your opponent always has something to worry about.
Fraying Sanity is a very powerful enchantment, and will slowly accrue value throughout the game. It is a curse, or an enchantment placed upon a player, and reads that at the beginning of each end step, enchanted player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the number of cards put into their graveyard from anywhere this turn. In short, for however many cards put into the yard from anywhere, your opponent mills that much. This works when we mill them directly, remove their permanents and counter their spells, which are all things we will be doing very frequently. At only three mana, this card can be played early and often, and what’s best is that getting multiple of these insane enchantments on the battlefield will allow the abilities to stack, making your opponent’s library and patience steadily dwindle to nothing.
Fevered Visions will be rotating out of the format soon, but it has been a favorite card of mine since it was first printed. For one, a blue and a red, this enchantment has a universal effect that at the beginning of each player’s end step, that player draws a card, and if that player is your opponent and they have four or more cards in their hand, they take two damage. Typically speaking, allowing your opponent to draw cards is up there with one of the last things you want to do in Magic, but the second clause adds up eventually. So much, in fact, that it will cause your opponent to make decisions they don’t want to make as they try so desperately to avoid the damage of the visions. Just like Fraying Sanity, having multiple copies of this on the field can be a crippling vice to your opponent’s library and state of mind.
Startled Awake is a very powerful card by itself, making your opponent mill thirteen cards is pretty unforgiving. Having the spell be able to turn into a creature once the spell hits the graveyard is a unique ability, and the creature can return the spell back to your hand to restart the descent into insanity. This alone would qualify the card for a premier spot in any mill-centered list, but it’s this card combined with Fraying Sanity that makes it a legitimately viable strategy. The ability to mill twenty-six cards off the top of your opponent’s library is something that I have not seen in a very long time, especially with only two cards.
Manic Scribe is the only other creature well equipped enough to make it to the main board of this list. He mills the top three cards of your opponent’s library upon entrance to the battlefield, and at their upkeep provided you have delirium. The delirium trigger is not hard to achieve with this deck, as we mainboard five different card types, and have two more in the sideboard that can help with consistency. The scribe stems the bleeding that this deck will assuredly take from low-to-the-ground aggro strategies, and he provides six cards to be milled during each of your opponent’s turns when you have fraying sanity.
Removal is king, and in this standard scene and red is the king of kings. With two board wipes at this color’s disposal, one for each stage of the game, the color combination has viable responses for things that manage to get through the plethora of countermagic that this deck slings around.
Sweltering Suns is an early game wipe that hits most of the things that we care about. Later in the game, you can pay three mana and cycle it away by discarding the Suns and drawing a fresh card. The card tends to overperform when your meta is token-heavy, and actually, comes out against any control strategy where the few creatures render the Suns useless.
Hour is a powerhouse of a card. Two red and three for all creatures losing indestructible, and it dealing five damage to each creature and each non-Bolas planeswalker. This is the premier removal spell of the format, and I feel that it can shine in this deck, as the creatures that will be dying will trigger the Fraying Sanity to mill them at the end of the turn, crating more and more value for us at the opponent’s expense.
Disallow, the mono blue voidslime is the card I never thought I needed until I played with it first hand. The be able to counter a Gideon emblem in response to them activating the ability feels good… Or just countering the Gideon before your opponent can respond also tends to work. Countering a spell or ability at instant speed is something that will be relevant for a long time in standard.
Censor is not the best counterspell, but for one and a blue, it is hard to beat the consistent early protection. The card may as well read “counter target spell from turns 1-4 because your opponent will likely not respect this two mana Uncommon’s presence”.
Negate hits the threats that you can’t deal with utilizing removal. Planeswalkers, Dynavolt Tower, any vehicle, or even an opponent’s Fraying Sanity are all quelled with this tried and true counterspell. Each piece of countermagic works like clockwork with your opponent’s ever dwindling library, for with a Fraying Sanity on the board, all of the cards being put into your opponent’s graveyard will trigger the Sanity at the end step.
This deck brings a competitive edge with an alternate win-condition, and boy does it bring it. In testing, I have completely killed someone out on turn five. With two Fraying Sanities out, I cast Startled Awake, milling for thirteen cards. At the end step, both triggers go on the stack. The first one resolves, seeing that thirteen cards were put in the yard, making them mill an additional thirteen. The second one then resolves, and sees a whopping twenty-six cards have been milled, and then mills them for twenty-six cards, milling a total of fifty-two cards, more than what is in their library, and they lose at their draw step. The most fun deck in the colors, this deck is what mill has evolved into. I played mill when it was hyper-aggressive, and you had to work so hard for a victory. The work is done for you with this bonkers enchantment. If you love having fun at your opponent’s expense, then this deck is perfect for you!
The Locust God X2
Fraying Sanity X4
Fevered Visions X4
Startled Awake X4
Manic Scribe X4
Sweltering Suns X4
Hour of Devastation X3
Spirebluff Canal X4
Geier Reach Sanitarium X2
Parker “Constructed Pork” McDonald