Last updated on December 18, 2023
Phenax, God of Deception | Illustration by Ryan Barger
Players love an alternate win condition, and one of the most popular alternate win conditions is milling out your opponents. A player loses the game if they don’t have cards in thseir library to draw. But is mill any good in a format like EDH with 100-card decks?
Fortunately the right commander can give you mill synergies or potentially your main mill strategy, and it can make the task that much easier. I'm covering mill with all the mill-related commanders you can think of. Which ones rank the best, and how can mill be a good tool in EDH.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Sheoldred | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
Mill commanders are primarily legendary creatures that benefit from self-milling or milling their opponents. The benefits can range from having creatures that get stronger the more cards are put in graveyards or that count the number of cards in a graveyard. Your commander maybe allows you to cast spells or reanimate creatures from graveyards. Let’s also not forget mechanics like delve that get stronger the more cards you can put into your graveyard.
Lots of mill commanders are attrition commanders that get more tools when your or your opponents’ graveyards are filled. If you’re milling yourself, there’s always the possibility of winning via alternate win conditions like Thassa's Oracle.
An example of what isn’t a mill commander is Tazri, Stalwart Survivor.Yes, the card text references milling, and you mill cards and have access to the milled cards, but that’s it. You’re not filling the graveyard for a specific purpose or winning via milling.
Ambassador Laquatus has a way to convert infinite mana into a win condition by milling every player. The problem is that when you don’t have infinite mana, you’re left with a bad commander. There are better-suited commanders for milling or infinite combos.
#2. Zellix, Sanity Flayer
Zellix, Sanity Flayer is a defensive commander that gives you lots of 1/1 Horror tokens in a mill deck. You can buff your Horrors with tribal effects and you can choose a background to add another color, be it green for ramping or black for extra mill effects.
With a black background and Syr Konrad, the Grim around, you can deal damage while making tokens.
#1. Bruvac the Grandiloquent
Bruvac the Grandiloquent makes a dedicated mill strategy more powerful. Whenever you mill a card, you mill twice that many cards.
Cards like Traumatize or Maddening Cacophony can empty a player’s library straight away, and all your little mill effects are also more powerful and consistent. Bruvac is an advisor, so decks that rely on Persistent Petitioners are much better because you can also tap Bruvac, and you’ll mill 24 cards per activation instead of 12.
#2. Sheoldred / The True Scriptures
The front side of Sheoldred requires one of your opponents to have eight or more cards in their graveyard for you to transform it, so you’ll want to mill your opponents.
The backside, The True Scriptures, is pure value, allowing you to destroy creatures or planeswalkers, make them discard, and the great finale, reanimating all creatures from graveyards and getting your black commander saga back in creature form. It’s a little slow, but those are the added effects of a single card.
Here’s a commander that’s a good mix of mill and damage. Syr Konrad, the Grim wants creature cards to be put into graveyards, and it doesn’t matter if they died or if you milled them. The important part is that for each creature put in a graveyard, Syr Konrad deals 1 damage to each opponent.
In a situation when each player mills 3 cards and each player mills a creature, that’s 4 damage to every opponent. On top of all the mill support you can get from your spells, you can win by generating a large amount of mana and activating Syr Konrad’s abilities.
Zask, Skittering Swarmlord is a commander that relies on self-mill to fill your graveyard with lands and insects. Zask lets you play these from your graveyard, resulting in a huge source of card advantage. There’s even an interesting combo using an obscure card from Odyssey (Verdant Succession) and Ashnod's Altar.
You can sacrifice an insect to Ashnod's Altar, generate two mana, and mill two cards. The insect is put on the bottom of your deck via Zask’s trigger, and you’ll tutor the sacrificed insect because of Verdant Succession’s trigger and put it into play, repeating the process.
The last ability on Circu, Dimir Lobotomist is null in EDH, so you’re left with a commander that exiles a card from a library each time you cast a spell, or two cards if you cast a spell.
Wrexial, the Risen Deep is a commander that rewards you for milling other players because you’ll cast an instant or sorcery from their graveyard for free when you hit them. It’s easier to hit blue or black players due to the islandwalk and swampwalk ability. You can even take someone out via commander damage this way.
Szadek, Lord of Secrets is in a weird spot to be a commander. It’s a 5/5 flier that gets bigger in the long run, and it deals damage to opponents via milling. It starts as a 5/5, deals 5 damage to a player to mill 5 cards and grow a 10/10. Rinse and repeat.
The problem is that Szadek doesn’t do any of these jobs well, besides costing 7 mana. Szadek would benefit from combat-related mechanics available in white, like vigilance, double strike, or myriad. I guess encore is a good option in ).
Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker mills players whenever it hits a player, and it’s got evasion to ease this task. You can expect to hit around 6-10 cards with each Mirko hit due to the 4 lands condition. It’s a good number of cards milled but not enough to win.
I really like Tasha, the Witch Queen because I really like the play style for the commander. But it’s not a great mill commander without a good support. With Tasha, each turn you’re drawing cards and exiling your opponents’ instants and sorceries.
The -3 ability lets you cast one of them for free. What’s more, you also get a free 3/3 Horror when you cast a spell your opponents own. The new Halo Forager allows you to further cast spells from your opponents, while Siphon Insight and Xanathar, Guild Kingpin complement the spell-stealing strategy.
Kroxa and Kunoros is a beefy creature with great abilities, and it also provides a free reanimate effect if you exile 5 other cards from your graveyard.
Lord Xander, the Collector interests us because just by attacking with it, you’ll mill a player for half their library. That can get to 100% with Bruvac the Grandiloquent. That said, Xander is expensive and doesn’t have any evasion.
It’s a powerful commander and can do a lot on entering the battlefield, but it requires some ramp and protection for it to be effective at milling opponents.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind is the kind of fun commander that you can do all kinds of tricks with. Each time you mill an opponent’s creature or kill it, you may have Lazav become a copy of that creature, and you can pull these tricks during combat.
Kill a giant creature, have Lazav become a copy of it, block, and profit. If one of your opponents is playing reanimator, that’s even better because they’re going to do the job of putting a good creature in their graveyard to help you.
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is an interesting commander with weird combos. What you want to do is sacrifice big creatures so that your opponents lose life, but also you want to mill yourself to grow Jarad and have a big, beefy creature.
Wall of Blood and Phyrexian Devourer are cards that can get very big, and you can sacrifice them to Jarad’s ability. Or, you can use good recursive cards like Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis as sacrifice fodder.
Umbris, Fear Manifest is a commander that exiles cards from an opponent’s library whenever a nightmare or a horror enters the battlefield. I like that Umbris gives you a reason to play nightmares or horrors, and EDH players love the challenge of building weird tribal interactions.
Tasha's Hideous Laughter exiles cards from every opponent’s library and fits an Umbris deck perfectly. If the mill plan goes south, you can win by attacking with a giant commander plus Rogue's Passage. Or something along those lines.
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is a unique commander because it can’t be cast by mana, only by convoking and delving. You’ll need lots of cards in your graveyard and tokens/creatures.
It’s a nice combo with Altar of Dementia since you can mill eight cards with Hogaak and delve them right away to do it again or abuse sacrifice engines that care about power/toughness with Korozda Guildmage or Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord.
Getting a 2/2 free zombie whenever you mill a creature is no joke, and you can build Sidisi, Brood Tyrant in various ways: milling yourself to win, zombie tribal, or reanimator. Adding green to a mill deck gives you access to Hermit Druid, a card that can mill your entire deck if you don’t have basic lands.
A more value-oriented build can have cards like Old Rutstein that mill a few cards here and there, producing zombies more frequently.
Captain N'ghathrod is a commander that provides value every turn if you’re milling opponents. You want to mill opponents to get access to their creatures or artifacts, and you can keep attacking people with horrors to mill even more cards. If the reanimator + value is hated, milling them out of the game can become a viable plan B.
Oona, Queen of the Fae is a nice leader for a faeries/flying token deck, with a mill subtheme. You can exploit milling your monocolor opponents to produce more tokens, and you can even use cards like Painter's Servant to make more tokens or the combo Painter's Servant and Grindstone.
Grolnok, the Omnivore occupies a similar space to Muldrotha, the Gravetide because you’re milling yourself and exiling permanents to cast them back. The most common way to play Grolnok is to mill your deck and win with something like Thassa's Oracle. If you mill the Oracle, you can cast it from exile.
Another nice thing is that unlike many other mill commanders, Grolnok allows you to mill your own deck by attacking with the commander or with other frogs and changelings, requiring less external support.
Araumi of the Dead Tide is a commander that can be built in fun ways to exploit your own graveyard with lots of creatures and self-mill. The most important thing is that you’re building around the encore mechanic, so you want an abundance of value creatures in your graveyard.
The Mimeoplasm is a classic Sultai commander that’s a stronger copy of a creature card in a graveyard when you cast it. It’s a powerful commander, but it’s also a fun deck-building exercise because you’ll want creatures that are big and creatures that have nice abilities to add to The Mimeoplasm.
You’ll want to mill everyone so that you have access to better targets. Cycling strong creatures like Titanoth Rex or Waker of Waves early in the game makes sure that your commander is always big when it enters, and synergies with ETB effects or +1/+1 counters work great here. Another nice thing about this commander is that you don’t care that much if it dies. You’ll simply cast again and obtain a better commander.
The Scarab God‘s main power lies in being able to eternalize a creature from any graveyard at any time. Because of that, you’ll want to mill everyone around including you. You’ll pay to get a 4/4 zombie token that’s a copy of a great creature, and you can do it at instant speed.
Add the fact that this commander returns to your hand after it’s destroyed, so you get around commander tax. You don’t need to mill everyone for the win because each turn you’re making them lose life based on the number of zombies you control.
#3. Anowon, the Ruin Thief
Anowon, the Ruin Thief is a rogue tribal commander that gives you a Mindcrank effect if you deal damage with rogues. Rogues are often related mechanically to mill, so you can have an aggressive/tempo build with rogues attacking every turn and have mill as a subproduct. The great thing about Anowon is that you can take advantage of its abilities in different ways.
You can have rogues that benefit from mill or you can use cards that care about the damage dealt and enjoy the extra cards. Zareth San, the Trickster exemplifies that versatility by being a rogue that deals 4 damage, mills 4 cards because of Anowon, and steals a creature from their graveyard.
Muldrotha, the Gravetide works exceptionally well with self-milling and being able to play extra permanents from your graveyard, be it enchantments, artifacts, creatures, and more. The value Muldrotha provides is immense. Being able to play a simple card like Burglar Rat or Elvish Visionary and sacrificing it to play again every turn is annoying, so you can have fun with simple creatures and sacrifice outlets.
Other staples include casting Mindslaver every turn to control one of your opponents or casting Spore Frog to avoid taking damage. You’ll actively want permanents with this deck, so instead of playing cards like Doom Blade or Naturalize, try Seal of Primordium or Executioner's Capsule instead.
On top of being a 4/7 indestructible, if you have enough devotion, Phenax, God of Deception is an awesome tool to mill opponents out. You’ll fill your deck with high-toughness creature cards like 0/7 walls or something like the 0/13 Charix, the Raging Isle.
These creatures let you mill dozens of cards per turn, and they get better with untap effects. Phenax, God of Deception isn’t the most powerful commander, but it’s one of the better raw mill commanders.
So you’re milling your opponents through your commander’s abilities or some sweet mill spells. Let’s see how to get the most benefit from it.
When your opponents have filled graveyards, mass-reanimate cards like Rise of the Dark Realms, Breach the Multiverse, or Living Death are more valuable since you’ll get lots of your opponents’ goodies, with more choices too!
Cards that get beefier the more cards are in players’ graveyards are a fine choice. Whether it’s Consuming Aberration, Urborg Lhurgoyf, or even Tarmogoyf are nice. Consuming Aberration even helps with milling when you cast spells.
Sets like Throne of Eldraine and Zendikar Rising have cards that care about the number of cards in your opponents’ graveyards, and they get better if an opponent has 7 or more cards there. Look out for cards like Soaring Thought-Thief, Vantress Gargoyle, and Drown in the Loch to play in mill Commander decks.
Graveyard recursion is king when you have a mill commander, especially if you’re milling everyone. Cards like Eternal Witness, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, or Wrenn and Realmbreaker are effective tutors for you.
Mill’s main problem in EDH is that you have more opponents (usually 3 instead of 1), and they have more cards in their decks. Most cards that mill only target a single opponent, like Tome Scour. The design of mill cards is scaled for 60-card deck formats, so if WotC prints something like “target opponent mills 30 cards” for EDH, it’ll be broken in Standard or Modern. Eldrazi creatures like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre undo all your hard work if they’re milled.
Mill can also be a risky strategy because there are good commanders that benefit from having their graveyards filled, so by milling them you’re actively helping them in their own strategy. You’ll usually not want to mill a Muldrotha, the Gravetide opponent. That risk can be reduced by exiling cards from their library instead of putting the cards into their graveyards.
You’ll usually win by milling with infinite combos, using Altar of the Brood for example, and some interaction that produces infinite ETB/LTB effects. You’re looking for mill-related cards like Mesmeric Orb or Mindcrank which can affect everyone instead of “target opponent mill X cards.” You may need very specific combos like Fleet Swallower with Bruvac the Grandiloquent, which mills all of a certain player’s cards.
Araumi of the Dead Tide | Illustration by Daarken
It’s hard to win in EDH with a dedicated mill deck since you’ll need to mill around 240-250 cards between three opponents, and usually one opponent at a time. There are few mill cards that affect everyone, and they’re quite expensive to acquire and put into your decks.
On the bright side, WotC is always finding new ways to make mill more viable in EDH. It’s easier to build a deck that mills everyone to use their resources in their graveyards, and aside from infinite combos that’s usually how mill decks operate, especially if we’re talking about low-level EDH decks.
What do you think about milling in Commander? Does your playgroup rely a lot on milling to win? Let me know in the comments section below. Or leave a tweet on Draftsim’s Twitter.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe folks!
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