Sultai Mill – Standard Deck Guide
Hey everyone. Today’s deck focuses on everyone’s favorite alternate win condition: Mill! We’re going to be playing a mostly-Dimir control deck with just a splash of green that seeks to mill out the opponent with Ashiok. I hope you enjoy Sultai Mill.
Sultai Mill Deck Overview
Sultai Mill is a deck that I’ve played with a little bit on and off since War of the Spark. The key feature of the deck is that it’s mostly just a heavy control deck that has a lot of flexibility in the control tools it uses because it only dedicates 3 slots to pure mill. The version of the deck we’re looking at today is teched against the Bo1 casual meta, but with a few substitutions that could easily be changed.
The nicest thing about this deck as a mill deck is that only 3 slots in the entire deck are dedicated to just milling. The deck runs 3 copies of Ashiok, Dream Render. Ashiok’s only utility besides milling is that they prevent the opponent from searching their library, so they turn off cards like Fabled Passage. On the off chance this affects your opponent it’s great but usually Ashiok has no actual effect on your opponent’s board.
The only other card in your deck that actually mills your opponent is Enter the God-Eternals, of which we run a full playset. This card is definitely one of the best in the deck and is also our curve-topper. EtGE gives us a 4/4 blocker, gains 4 life, removes something and mills the opponent for 4 cards. This means that the card is effective in almost every single matchup.
A Splash of Green
The other planeswalker in the deck is also the reason we have green mana in the deck at all. Three copies of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales are responsible for turning our Dimir into Sultai. Tamiyo’s primary purpose is recurring our mill spells or our counterspells in order to make sure we can actually end the game. Her -3 ability allows us to grab a copy of Ashiok or a copy of Enter the God-Eternals to accelerate our gameplan without causing significant card disadvantage. She also is capable of self-milling in order to find whatever we happen to need.
Sometimes Tamiyo gets a little bit carried away and actually ends up milling us faster than we mill our opponent. Because of this we run a single copy of Clear the Mind. This is just insurance against accidentally decking out faster than our opponent if all of our Ashioks are quickly answered. In the incredibly rare instance that we need to cast it more than once, Tamiyo is capable of snagging it right back from the graveyard.
The Control Tools
The nice thing about this deck is that there are a whole lot of flex slots for control cards that you can mix and match as necessary. The version of this package that I’m going over was specifically designed to combat the aggressive decks that people are playing in Best of 1 while they’re trying to grind out quests and daily wins, but this could be changed substantially to favor a more midrange or control-heavy meta.
First we have 4 copies of Thought Erasure. Of all of the cards in the list of control tools I think this one is likely to be the best one in most matchups. Everyone knows what Thought Erasure does by now. We get to yoink any card we want out of the opponent’s hand and we get a surveil to top it all off. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
Next we have 4 copies of Sinister Sabotage. This card is also pretty likely to stay in the deck in most metagames. These are the only counterspells in the version of the deck I’m posting today and they serve as our catch-all answer to cards like Nightpack Ambusher and Embercleave.
4 Murderous Riders gallop in to the next slot. Sometimes the two life can hurt but they can always be played as lifelink blockers with butts too big to be Shocked or Stomped off the board. This is also our only answer to on-board planeswalkers and we’re usually happy to see one in the opening hand.
A slightly less common piece of removal comes next. We have 3 copies of Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty in the deck. This card isn’t often played but we like it for being a piece of removal in the 3-drop slot that doesn’t require two colored mana. It’s in the deck to kill everything from Questing Beast to Skarrgan Hellkite to Gruul Spellbreaker. -5/-5 kills almost everything in the meta and it exiles to boot. It’s a weird choice, and it’s a little less flexible than Murderous Rider but it definitely comes in handy.
Next are the 5 board wipes, and if you’re teching for a different meta these are going to be the first cards to be cut. 3 copies of Cry of the Carnarium make up the first wave of sweepers. This is specifically to shut down Mono-Red and Knights strategies on turn 3 or 4. Exiling a mono-red board usually sets us up to stabilize and win with Enter the God-Eternals and gives us a real fighting chance in those fast matchups. As backup we have 2 copies of Ritual of Soot, which also hits Gruul Spellbreaker and basically every knight regardless of its toughness. Unfortunately of all of the cards in the deck these 5 are dead draws the most, but that’s a necessary evil in the Best-of-1 meta.
The last flex slot belongs to our playset of Chemister’s Insight. This slot is just a tad less flexible because the deck does need some form of card advantage and this particular one lets us use lands as copies 5-8 of the card. Unless you find yourself in an absolute ton of very aggressive matchups I would strongly suggest leaving this card in.
As always we’re going to drop a little section about the lands here toward the end. This deck is, at its core, a Dimir control deck so we want more lands than normal. With a curve that tops at 5, 25 lands ends up being about the right number. We have a full 9 green sources, plus three copies of Fabled Passage for finding our singleton Forest to let us cast Tamiyo as often as we need. The only other notable lands in the deck are the pair of Castle Locthwain, which hopefully allow us to get a small edge in control matchups.
Mulligans are tricky with this deck because it can be very tempting to keep a hand with our mill cards in it in the hopes of a swift victory. The problem with mill is that it takes a while and Ashiok in the hand can sometimes just end up being a dead card. The best opening hands to keep have a variety of mana – at least 3 with all of our colors – and a couple of control tools. More than one boardwipe runs the risk of playing against a midrange deck and being stomped before you draw the spot removal. Snap-keep hands that have at least 3 mana including both Black and Blue, and have a variety of removal pieces.
Who’s the Beatdown?
It’s hard to imagine a matchup where you’re the beatdown with this deck. You’re at a disadvantage automatically when trying to play the beatdown because you’re trying to mill ~45 cards while your opponent only needs to deplete 20 life. As you might expect with a deck that is mostly Dimir Control, you’re almost never on the attack. Traditional control decks tend to have faster win conditions that you’ll be forced to control to give Ashiok the time to whittle them down.
Other Possible Control Tools
I’m going to throw in one last section here to discuss the flexibility in this list that I’ve been talking about. This deck obviously has a lot of slots dedicated to dealing with aggro decks but Mono-Red isn’t really in the competitive metagame at the moment, so it may be better to make some substitutions. Here are just a few suggestions:
Witch’s Vengeance is better than Cry of the Carnarium if you’re playing against Knights because it can hit slightly larger knights like Acclaimed Contender, or Knight of the Ebon Legion after it gains a counter.
Disinformation Campaign can be substituted in for basically any of the board wipes or Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty in a control-heavy meta. It could also replace some number of Chemister’s Insight if you were so inclined.
Negate is a good substitution for Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty or the board wipes in a control-heavy meta or when you think you might need to be countering a lot of Nissas. Quench can also be thrown in this slot against many of the Gruul big aggro decks that are trying to curve out with 3, 4 and 5 drops against you. Both of these spells also effectively counter Teferi and Fires of Invention on curve.
So that’s this deck! Mill is not really strong enough to be a competitive force just yet, but it’s still a blast to play and this version of it is flexible. With some tweaking and practice it feels more like a traditional control deck than a mill deck, but you still get the satisfaction of forcing your opponent to draw from an empty library at the end.
Deck 4 Chemister's Insight (GRN) 32 4 Sinister Sabotage (GRN) 54 2 Ritual of Soot (GRN) 84 4 Thought Erasure (GRN) 206 4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253 4 Watery Grave (GRN) 259 3 Island (GRN) 261 4 Swamp (GRN) 262 1 Forest (GRN) 264 1 Clear the Mind (RNA) 34 3 Cry of the Carnarium (RNA) 70 4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 3 Ob Nixilis's Cruelty (WAR) 101 4 Enter the God-Eternals (WAR) 196 3 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (WAR) 220 3 Ashiok, Dream Render (WAR) 228 4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97 2 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241 3 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244