Adam_the_Mentat's picture
Jul 30 2015 11:00am
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CJB: MILLitarizing my Commander deck.

Greetings and salutations as usual, loyal readers!
Today's deck has done something I have attempted before (though never written about until today) many times: Mill an opponent to death in Commander.
That's right! Having somewhat perfected my Phenax, God of Deceit deck, I have successfully milled about a dozen people online. I haven't played this deck as many times as I do my other decks, so I'd say out of 37 games, winning 12 times is about 33% of the time. This ratio may go up as I plow through more games. It takes a certain mindset, for me at least, to want to play a mill deck. I have won with attacking creatures in this deck as well, but I'm not counting that in this percentage-ratio of victories, because the deck is meant to mill-death, not murderdeathkill with creatures.
So, I have previously tried this before: With Circu, Dimir Lobotomist-- but it never really worked. My approach to that deck was too heavy handed-- just loading a whole bunch of milling cards into a deck with not enough viable removal and not enough creatures for defense, if nothing else. This deck-- Phenax-- is great because the God's latent ability to grant MILLitant abilities to your whole army provide a valuable new layer to the deck. Circu wouldn't be bothered with a Slagwurm Armor, but Phenax truly appreciates it.  

All right, let's get all of our opponents angry at us:

That awkward moment when you realize Jace, Memory Adept looks like Zack Fair (But probably listens to Bauhaus and The Cure)

 "Why have you gathered us here Jace?"
"You know why, Oona," Jace replied. "Though I am a powerful planeswalker, WOTC's teacher's pet, and have many incarnations, Commander Johnny-Boosh is more powerful than I, and he has summoned me to lead an army to defeat his enemies by stealing their mind's raw intellect."
"So you pluck me from Mirrodin to do your bidding, when you, yourself are doing someone else's bidding?"  Geth snarled.
Jace summons a Mindseeker illusion, and it circles above his head.
"You all question my motives without looking before the feast I present before you!" Jace's eyes seemed to burst with blue energy, and the runes on his cloak glowed. "Together we can form a legion of doom that will destroy Boosh's enemies without laying a hand upon them."
"This pleases Phenax." It was the first time the Theros God had spoken in front of mortals for some time. His voice seemed low and quiet yet still booming. Circu held his hands over his ears.
"Why did you pick me, Jace? Over Mirko? Don't get me wrong I hate that guy, but why is he not among us?" Circu asked.
"Mirko is wild, unpredictable and doesn't fit with my strategy of peeling away the layers of intellect from our enemies. While you are slowly but surely flaying someone's mind, he is trying to barrel through the nuance of mind manipulation."  
"Why is that Gold-cursed lout among us?" Oona questioned aloud. "He's mad with insanity."
"I like him," Circu said.
"That's not the point," Oona hissed back.
"He has his uses," Phenax commanded.
"What you are attempting, has been attempted before," Circu said, with a half-grin. "What's to ensure it works this time?"
"I have some tricks up my sleeve!" Commander Johnny-Boosh's near-omnipotent voice bellowed from the aethers surrounding the Magic legends, and out stepped Hythonia wearing some slagwurm armor---

Withered Wretch 
Agent of Erebos 
Geralf's Mindcrusher 
Jace's Mindseeker 
Cemetery Reaper 
Dimir Doppelganger 
Undead Alchemist 
Myr Welder 
Stitcher Geralf 
Void Stalker 
Circu, Dimir Lobotomist 
Hythonia the Cruel 
Grave Titan 
Siren of the Silent Song 
Yixlid Jailer 
Disciple of Deceit 
Arbiter of the Ideal 
Pain Seer 
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed 
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Seizan, Perverter of Truth 
Shadowmage Infiltrator 
Grimoire Thief 
Hedron Crab 
Geth, Lord of the Vault 
Oona, Queen of the Fae 
Baleful Strix 
1 Solemn Simulacrum

Other Spells 
Jace Beleren 
Jace, Memory Adept 
Imperial Seal 
Demonic Tutor 
Vampiric Tutor 
Archive Trap 
Liliana of the Dark Realms 
Liliana Vess 
Relic of Progenitus 
Tormod's Crypt 
1 Leyline of the Void 
Spin into Myth 
Sever the Bloodline 
Silence the Believers 
Psychic Spiral 
Mana Crypt 
Thousand-Year Elixir 
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 
Karn Liberated 
Dimir Signet 
Hero's Downfall 
Phyrexian Arena 
Cyclonic Rift 
Slagwurm Armor 
Reliquary Tower 
Tectonic Edge 
Myriad Landscape 
Mind Funeral 
Brain Freeze 
Sol Ring 

1 Tectonic Edge
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Dimir Aqueduct
Bojuka Bog 
Volrath's Stronghold 
Encroaching Wastes 
Ghost Quarter 
Strip Mine 
Bloodstained Mire 
Tolaria West 
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 
Halimar Depths 
Darkwater Catacombs 
Underground River 
Underground Sea 
Watery Grave 
Temple of Deceit 
Nephalia Drownyard 
Drowned Catacomb 
Maze of Ith 
Command Tower 
Reflecting Pool 
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea 
Thespian's Stage 
Ancient Tomb 

So, even though I just said above all of our opponents are gonna get cranky with us, I've actually found that people don't get as cheesed off in Commander, because many of your opponents aren't actually of the regard that you are gonna be able to pull this off. Milling a 60-card deck can be tricky, but milling a 99-card deck (100 if you tuck a commander), without being able to include four copies of cards like Traumatize or Archive Trap,  can be exceedingly difficult.

Phenax really rounds out the strategy, and it's pretty-darn-hard-to-kill ability is extremely helpful, but one of the greatest things it enable is Inspired, from Theros where this God hails from.

Inspired:Disciple of Deceit, Siren of the Silent Song, Pain Seer, Arbiter of the Ideal, King Macar-- all of these are epic Inspired creatures, all play double duty of being able to mill and then do something cool. The Siren is the best one to pair with the God of Deceit for the purposes of this deck.

Oona is Phenax's BFFL in this deck. She exile-mills a bunch of cards while simultaneously dropping more Faeries to tap to mill some more! And she can tap to mill for 5. Gearlf and his Mindcrusher both appear, and Geralf can make some big ol' zombies which can continue the Phenax-mill-train, and the Mindcrusher is a beater with Undying.
Next up, Geth. He mills and can score you an artifact or creature to steal. Circu slowly grinds away with exile-mill. Grimoire Thief was made to be paired with Phenax. Hedron crab is repeated mill who is also able to tap to mill two cards. Jace's Mindseeker can score you a stolen instant or sorcery. 
Dimir Doppelganger can abuse the milling of all your opponent's cards, and so can Myr Welder-- the latter of which has toughness 4 naturally to mill for 4. Cemetery Reaper can also abuse milled creatures, and pumps all the various ways to go zombie. Hey, we have a lot of zombies in here: why not round it out with Undead Alchemist, and Grave Titan?
Hythonia is mass destruction and a beefy toughness. Duplicant and Void Stalker round out removal. The Infiltrator and Strix are useful and card-draws. Seizan and Kami help pump more spells into everyone's hands, helping slightly with the decking and getting you more stuff. Solemn grabs you a land and a card, and mills for two.
Graveyard hate: Yixlid, another zombie, and the Agent, yet another zombie, and Withered, a third zombie to add to the heap, are graveyard hate.
Speaking of graveyard hate, don't forget the Relic, the Crypt and the Leyline to round it out.
You'll notice a lot of great milling spells peppered in with removal like Gild, utility like C-Rift and Bribery-steal-effects, card-draw, and tutors. Not to mention the fun add of Slagwurm Armor.
Thousand-Year Elixir is also a fun include, and one I'm proud of if I do say so myself, to allow everyone to begin Milling right away.


I've played numerous games with this deck, not in the hundreds like Titania, or the hundreds of hundreds, like Grenzo, but I've played a good 50 games since I started the introduction to this article, until writing this part. There are plenty of games that fall short, and you almost just win-- but when you do pull it off, it's really great.


This is just here to illustrate how good of a board position I mustered in this game against a longtime friend. I used the Disciple of Deceit to pitch a Sol Ring for the Slagwurm Armor, because I had plenty of mana. I have a deathtouch birdie for blocking, and I just case the Thief and Midas, and my Commander has turned into a creature. Hythonia can mill for 12, twice. Needless to say, I dominated this game.



This one shows a successful mill, in the nick of time, as I am at 9. Often my wins with this deck happened when I was very low and on the brink of death. Right before this turn I drew the armor and equipped it to the Duplicant, which was 5/5 from hosing a Bogardan Hellkite. I milled for 11, twice. He got to attack with his Steel Hellkite, and had to decide whether to hose my support stuff or take out the Duplicant for 6, in hopes I didn't have another creature in my hand (or draw one), since the Elixir was out. But, I had two in hand.

The reason why this deck can be so awesome is because it can plow through an Avacyn deck, or an Elspeth emblem, and still come out on top (these also happened, but I got no screenshots).

Slagwurm ArmorOona, Queen of the FaeThousand-Year ElixirDisciple of Deceit

Thanks for joining me again, Milling can be fun, in a more difficult setting! Who wants to play Rock Band on easy when you can start at difficult and then impress your friends? Anyway.

I might add in Praetor's Counsel or something to hose potential Legendary Eldrazi that mess up mill stratagem, but I haven't had to worry about it in all my games yet.

Did I miss anything you would've included? Lemme know in the comments below, or maybe shoot me a message in Twitter: @CmdrJohnnyBoosh.

Once this guy comes out, he's going in the deck!