Archetune-Up - License to Mill

(Gyruda, Doom of Depths l Art by Tyler Jacobson)

Your Mission, Gyruda, Should you Choose to Accept it...

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

This week, we dive deep into the abyss, beneath cold, choppy waters in order to seek favor with the doom of ships and sailors. No, no, this isn't a repeat of the Wrexial Article in February, I promise! While I will be joining forces with a Dimir colored Kraken, the strategy this time is going to be much different.

Unlike the Wrexial, the Risen Deep article, where milling opponents was a nice, tertiary option (and not key worded at the time), today, milling is our main goal! This deck seeks to use our commander, Gyruda, Doom of Depths, as a way to erode our opponents' minds and accrue value over time. The goal here is to dump our opponent's decks into their graveyards, or overwhelm them with a swarm of reanimated creatures!

Average Gyruda mill

Commander (1)
Creatures (23)
Artifacts (12)
Instants (11)
Sorceries (11)
Enchantments (5)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (35)

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I really like where EDHREC's average Gyruda mill deck starts out, but there are a few noticeable issues.

First is a bit of a card flow issue. Yes, there are cantrips like Ponder and Brainstorm which both synergize with Gyruda and provide deck smoothing, but that isn't enough. This list needs a few other ways to generate tangible card advantage. Second, there are a lot of single-target mill cards in the average deck. I think some of those cards can be clipped for more repeatable mill effect or impactful ones.

No Slackin' With This Kraken

As you could expect, I'll be using the Dimir mill Theme for this week's article. This theme has plenty of great pieces for the deck, including some great creatures!

I'm going to get the outlier out of the way first. Bruvac the Grandiloquent isn't on the mill page... yet. As a creature that doubles all mill against opponents, I think it is only a matter of time before Bruvac not only has his own page in the theme, but tops the charts in any mill deck. Having a Fraying Sanity (another card included from this theme) on a body is powerful and exactly something that any blue-based mill deck would love to get its hands on.

Wight of Precinct Six and Consuming Aberration were already included in the deck, so I figured that Sewer Nemesis and Mortivore would fit perfectly here as well. While the goal for the deck isn't to beat opponents down with our creatures, having cheap, huge beaters that synergize with our strategy is never something I want to turn down. Big creatures like these deter opposing attackers, and the ability to grow as the game progresses allows us to pivot into an aggressive role should the opportunity present itself. Both of these creatures are also have even converted mana costs, giving us extra synergy with our commander too!

Clever Impersonator is an extremely versatile card that functions as a more robust Mirrormade, another card that made it into the deck. Impersonator allows us to copy things like Psychic Corrosion, Panharmonicon, or Consuming Aberration, and allow us to double up on any of our powerful permanents. Clever Impersonator can also be hit with Gyruda's ability to clone our Kraken. We would need to sacrifice one of them, but this interaction will give us another mill trigger and another chance to reanimate another creature! There are Gyruda builds that fill the deck with even-costed Clones to eat through each players' deck incredibly quickly, and either win with a Laboratory Maniac-like win condition or just outright tossing opposing decks into the graveyards.

Lastly, Thassa's Oracle was the final card of this theme I included. Thassa's Oracle can function as a way to smooth out our early game, or win them on the spot later on. Oracle seems a bit weak in this deck if there aren't multiple ways to reuse it, but luckily, we can! Thanks to Gyruda's powerful enter-the-battlefield ability, there's a minor Blink package built into the deck. Cards like Essence Flux, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, and Deadeye Navigator can be used to capitalize on Gyruda's milling, or be used to blink our Oracle multiple times, giving us card filtering or a win condition!

Nothing is as Thrilling as Milling

I already mentioned that I added Fraying Sanity and Mirrormade into the deck, but there are also a plethora of other noncreature spells that fit perfectly into the list that I am itching to talk about.

I mentioned earlier that the deck seemed to suffer from a bit of a card flow issue, so I made sure to find spaces for Discovery//Dispersal, Notion Rain, and Into the Story to help try and mend that problem. These spells slot in at all points in our curve, which is something that I like to be conscious of. Notion Rain and Discovery//Dispersal can filter cards and help set up a creature for Gyruda to mill too! Into the Story will always be a lean four mana in our deck, and is a great way to fill our hand later in the game.

Visions of Beyond is another potential include in the deck if you are looking for cheap card draw, but 20 cards in an opponent's graveyard is much more of an ask than a mere seven, which is why I didn't include it in my build. It is less consistent than Into the Story, since requiring 20 cards is a much higher ask than a mere seven, especially when graveyard hate seems to be plentiful noawadays. I don't mind paying a bit more mana for Into the Story, but if Visions of Beyond is a card you enjoy, it can definitely find its way into the deck.

Card flow isn't always just about drawing cards; often it can also involve tutoring for what you need. With Scheming Symmetry, you are able to get into some interesting situations. It can be used as political leverage with an opponent so you can tutor them a board wipe or removal spell, or you can trick them into putting a good card on top, only for you to subsequently mill it! Regardless of how you want to manipulate your opponents, the best part about this card is that it places the card on top of the deck. With Scheming Symmetry, you can place a creature like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling on top of your deck, cast Gyruda, get Thassa into play for free, and then blink Gyruda again at the end of the turn to re-trigger Gyruda! That single interaction just scratches the surface of this card's potential! There are plenty of devious ways you can use scheme behind your opponents back, which makes it one of my favorites in the deck.

Lastly, we move into game-winning cards.

Folio of Fancies is a self-contained engine that allows you to destroy your opponents' decks from two angles. Not only does Folio let you outright churn through decks by milling them directly, it also lets you "back door mill" by forcing opponents to draw tons of cards that will later become their own undoing. Folio is versatile and a little slow to start, but isn't super mana-intensive once it hits its stride. Once Folio gets going, it is incredibly hard to stop. This is why I chose it over the milling artifact that was originally in the deck, Keening Stone.

While we want to destroy our opponent's decks as opposed to their life totals, we still have cards like Mindcrank and Duskmantle Guildmage as a secondary win conditions. Bloodchief Ascension fulfills a similar role, draining all opponents for two life every time a card goes to their graveyard from anywhere. This means that each Gyruda trigger will hit opponents for eight life, and replenish your own in kind, giving you an incredible buffer against potential aggression and giving you an easy way to close out games! This doesn't even include other heavy-hitting mill cards in the deck which will end up depleting life totals more easily than opposing libraries!

The last card I added was Rise of the Dark Realms. This card is pretty straightforward. All that milling we're doing? Well, it is going to come back to help up two times over. Not only are we eating away at our opponent's decks, but now we are also taking any creatures we put there and forcing them to come work for us! This provides a board state from nowhere that should dwarf any other at the table. This lets us leverage our mill strategy to a secondary purpose, and doesn't just leave us spinning our wheels waiting for our opponents to lose their libraries, since that can often cost us games if we aren't proactive enough.

Mill-ssion Accomplished.

I've been trying to feature a mill deck on Archetune-Up for a number of months, specifically one revolving around Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, but I am happy that I put her on ice and shifted to Gyruda instead. While some Gyruda decks focus on their reanimation capability, I think there is a lot of potential to mill opponents out with their ability while also taking advantage of their reanimation potential.

There are of course a few cards that fit really well into Gyruda decks, namely Conjurer's Closet, Hostage Taker. and Extinction Event, it was unsurprising that they didn't show up on the Mill Theme proper, since they are very specific to this legend in particular. Something else that could be worthwhile to look into are graveyard hate effects like Leyline of the Void or Soul-Guide Lantern to help combat pesky cards like Elixir of Immortality or Eldrazi Titans.

While I believe that the theme pages on EDHREC are the best tools that the site has to offer, it is always important to check your Commander's own page on the site to tune you deck to the way you like, and to make sure you are able to pack it full of the cards and synergies you enjoy!

If you’d like to reach me I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.


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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.