Now for something completely different: a mill deck in commander. It’s not a great strategy since you have three 99-card decks to get through, but then again there are also people out there that build commander decks around the crappy legendary creatures from the old Legends set just because they can. So today’s commander is going to be about mill, just because I can. There are several legendary creatures out there that care about milling your opponent, but today I selected Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker. Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker is a vampire from Dragon’s Maze that costs 3 generic 1 blue and 1 black. He is a 2/4 with flying and whenever he deals combat damage to a player, that player mills cards until they mill through 4 lands this way. That does sound like a lot, but it’s actually quite random how many cards will go into the graveyard this way. Since lands make up about 1/3 of every deck and players tend to run slightly more than 33 lands in commander, I wouldn’t expect to mill more than 7 or 8 cards at a time, maybe a little less, but rarely more than that. Now since he is your commander and he needs to actually hit your opponent to trigger his ability, you may end up dealing 20 commander damage with him before he mills through your opponent’s deck. It’s an okay back up plan, but you still need to get in 10 free hits to do that and the fact that he has flying does help, but the bottom line in all of this is that he is not enough for either strategy to be that effective. So let’s move on to cards that can be included to mill the opponent faster.
Recently it seems that enchantments which mill card have been slightly pushed for Standard. Not in a heavy way, but they exist and are actually quite effective. I think this deck could put some of them to use. Sphinx’s Tutelage triggers whenever you draw a card and then has a chance to repeat itself. To illustrate the ceiling of this card, as long as the cards share a color and neither is a land, this can go infinite, but it probably won’t and instead 2 to 4 is more realistic. However, it triggers for each card you draw so even something like a simple Divination can put 4 to 8 cards into the graveyard. Psychic Corrosion is similar to Sphinx’s Tutelage, but it can’t go infinite unless you find a way to draw infinite cards, but even then your deck is a finite number. Even if you did draw most or even all of your deck, you would probably mill at least one opponent, probably two, before you mill yourself since you’re technically still trading resources at a rate of 2 for 1. Now for the most expensive enchantment (manawise), Patient Rebuilding. At your upkeep you mill 3 cards from an opponent and if any of them are land cards, you draw a card. Now imagine it’s the beginning of your turn and you have these three enchantments in play. Patient Rebuilding triggers, milling for 3, and let’s say that all 3 are lands, you draw 3 cards which triggers Sphinx’s Tutelage and Psychic Corrosion three times each, without Sphinx’s Tutelage repeating itself. That’s already a total of 15 cards milled, and you haven’t even drawn your card for the turn yet. The last two enchantments deal with casting spells. Drowned Secrets triggers whenever you cast a blue spell, which I think it’s safe to assume will be about half, if not most, of your deck. Memory Erosion will cost a player two more cards going into their graveyard whenever they cast a spell. Two cards at a time may not seem like much, but it will add up.
Since I covered enchantments, why not move on to artifacts? Keening Stone is a must in a deck like this and it can quickly end a game by basically doubling the number of cards in an opponent’s graveyard. Mindcrank mills an opponent whenever they lose life for an amount of cards equal to the life lost. This includes any damage that they take as well as any life that they may pay; if their life total goes down, they mill. These next few artifacts are more about helping Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker than just straight up mill, but in the end they help mill as well, just in another way. Fireshrieker can give Mirko Vosk double strike. Since he can now deal combat damage twice, his ability will trigger twice. Trepanation Blade can mill more cards while making Mirko Vosk bigger. Now the only thing that can make it better is to make him unblockable, which can be done with Whispersilk Cloak.
Now for other spells that mill. Unfortunately, most of them don’t mill enough for this format. The reason why everything mentioned up until now has been included is because they are repeatable. Most of them are triggers so they will activate again and again and again and they all add up quickly. These other mill cards are only good if you can repeat them like the following combo. You will need an Isochron Scepter and Brain Freeze. It is a guaranteed mill 3 each turn, but it also has storm which means that you can copy this spell even when it is played off of Isochron Scepter. This can also go off during your opponent’s turn if they start casting a bunch of spells. While Mirko Vosk can attack, you can also use Paranoid Delusions and use its cipher ability to then start casting the spell as a triggered ability whenever he attacks. Psychic Spiral is a great spell that can finish off an opponent in the late game. It puts everything in your graveyard back into your library and then mills the opponent equal to the number of cards that were in your graveyard. There are also a bunch of counter spells (such as Induce Paranoia) that have the added affect of milling your opponent and I would highly recommend them, mainly for protection but the mill effect is also slightly helpful as well.
Now what about creatures? In 60-card formats, mill decks are typically creature light. Most of the creatures that they run are usually walls, but since this is a format that has access to a bunch of mana, you have options. How about Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger? A 10/10 indestructible that has an attack trigger which exiles the top twenty cards of the defending player’s library, yes. Nemesis of Reason, while not as powerful as Ulamog, certainly helps achieve the same end goal. Consuming Aberration can easily get much bigger than Ulamog and take out an opponent in one attack, and it has the ability to get bigger each time you cast a spell leading to a creature that is truly gargantuan. By including Phenax, God of Deception, all of your creatures can mill your opponent simply by tapping. Any player that chooses to ignore Guiltfeeder or is unfamiliar with it will be punished when it goes unblocked.
So far these are all some heavy hitting cards and combos. The problem is getting them when you need them. Black does have access to some of the best tutors and feel free to use whatever you can afford. A great option that can keep on giving is Tamiyo’s Journal. It does take 3 turns to build up clue tokens, but you can add more investigate cards to speed up the token creation. In fact, there is another enchantment that this works well with, Fleeting Memories, which mills an opponent for 3 cards whenever you sacrifice a clue token. Combine that with the journal’s tutor ability and you are milling an opponent for 9 cards. Trail of Evidence lets you investigate whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell helping you accrue clue tokens faster. If you wanted to, you could run every blue card with investigate from Shadows Over Innistrad, except Ongoing Investigation of course. Even without the journal, the clues can be used for card draw. Paying 2 mana to draw a single card isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing and it keeps your stockpile of clues handy when you need to dig for an answer, not to mention the card draw also fuels several of your enchantments which can mill for at least 7 cards when you sacrifice a clue.
Another idea, and this would require quite the build around, but it’s not that hard to do, is Persistent Petitioners. The majority of your deck needs be made up of ramp, card draw, quite a few copies of this creature and anything that has the Advisor type which can also include cards with the changeling ability , and maybe some clone effects. Persistent Petitioners allows you to tap 4 Advisor creatures to mill an opponent for 12 cards. Once you get going all you need to do is fill your hand, play more of these guys or advisor creatures, or copy them and activate that ability as many times as you can. Being 1/3s they can take some early pressure which should indicate that you need to take out the most aggressive player first then move on the next fastest which by that time your board should be decently clogged up with these guys.
This should be enough to give you a starting point on how you want to build a deck with Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker as you commander. Mill decks may not be powerful, but they sure are fun to try out, especially when you win with it. Even in 60-card formats they don’t appear too often, which is probably a good thing. I don’t know if there has ever been a top tier mill deck out there; I haven’t done that much research on it. Every now and then it seems that the Magic R&D team wants to push the archetype just enough to grab some interest and have a small niche of players try it out. There are a lot of decent cards for it, they just need to come together in the right way. There are also plenty of commanders out there like Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker that are just waiting to have a mill strategy built around them. Let me know what commander you want to see next in the comments down below.