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Budget Magic: Tutelage Tribal Mill (Modern)


Ekamowir omoBudget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! A few weeks ago, we played Izzet Tutelage in Standard for Budget Magic, and the deck rekindled my love of Tutelage decks. As a result, we're taking Tutelage to the max in Modern today with Tutelage Tribal Mill. We have not only Teferi's Tutelage but also the original Sphinx's Tutelage, giving us eight three-mana enchantments that mill our opponent whenever we draw a card. The rest of our deck is overflowing with card draw, ranging from straightforward "draw a card" cards to card-drawing counterspells and bounce spells, with the idea being that once we get a Tutelage or two on the battlefield, we can turbo-mill our opponent with one or two big turns of chaining together card-draw spells. Does the addition of Teferi's Tutelage to the multiverse mean it's time for Tutelage Tribal to shine on a budget in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Tutelage Tribal Mill

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The Deck

As its name suggests, Tutelage Tribal Mill is a mill deck. Our game plan is to stall out in the early game with some soft card-drawing counters and bounce spells, stick a couple of Teferi's Tutelages and / or Sphinx's Tutelage, and then mill our opponent out of the game with one or two big combo-esque turns of chaining together cheap, powerful card-draw spells!

The Tutelages

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The core of our deck is our two Tutelages: Sphinx's Tutelage and Teferi's Tutelage. While they are worded a bit differently, they are essentially the same card in our deck, allowing us to mill our opponent for two cards whenever we draw a card. The main goal is to get at least two Tutelages on the battlefield, which will allow us to mill a ton of cards in just a turn or two by chaining together cheap card-draw spells. While the foundation of both Tutelages—milling two cards whenever we draw—is the same, both have slightly different upsides. Sphinx's Tutelage is probably the better of the two, sometimes milling more than two cards if we happen to mill cards of the same color. Meanwhile, Teferi's Tutelage comes with more immediate upside, allowing us to loot when it enters the battlefield, triggering itself and any other Tutelages we have on the battlefield.  Of course, for our Tutelages to do anything, we need card draw to trigger them. Thankfully, we have a bunch of good, cheap options in Modern. 

Card Draw

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Serum Visions and Thought Scour do double duty in our deck. In the early game, they help us find our Tutelages; then, after we have a Tutelage or two on the battlefield, they offer cheap card-draw spells to trigger our Tutelages. 

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One of the best parts of building around Tutelages in Modern is that we have a ton of utility spells that also happen to draw us cards. For example, Remand and Censor give us counterspells that can also trigger Sphinx's Tutelage and Teferi's Tutelage. While neither is a hard counter, with Remand returning the spell to our opponent's hand and Censor being a Force Spike, both offer some amount of defense in the early game while also supporting our mill-combo Tutelage finish later in the game. Meanwhile, Blink of an Eye is our removal spell since blue doesn't really get hard removal. Much like Remand, it doesn't answer anything permanently, but it makes up for this by having a kicker that draws us a card to trigger our Tutelages.

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Finally, Frantic Inventory and especially Visions of Beyond are what I consider our finishing card-draw spells, giving us ways to draw three or even four cards for just one or two mana, which is essential for our big combo mill finish once we get a couple of Tutelages on the battlefield. As for Frantic Inventory, the first copy is just okay, while the second is good and the third / fourth are great. The good news is that thanks to all of the card draw in our deck, it's not that hard to find multiple copies. Meanwhile, Visions of Beyond is the best non-Tutelage card in our deck. Thanks to the mill from our Tutelages, we can usually get 20 cards in our opponent's graveyard fairly quickly, and then Visions of Beyond turns into the greatest card-draw spell in the history of Magic: Ancestral Recall. In the late game, with a couple of Tutelages on the battlefield, a single Visions of Beyond is often six Tutelage triggers for a single mana, which means that along with refilling our hands, it mills a minimum of 12 cards. The easiest way for our deck to close out the game in one turn is to chain together copies of Visions of Beyond with the help of a certain land...

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As you might know, I'm not the biggest fan of Mystic Sanctuary. It's sneakily one of the most broken cards from Throne of Eldraine, being close to a Mystical Tutor attached to a fetchable land. That said, I'm not above playing it, especially in Tutelage Tribal, where it is not only perfect for the deck in general but also essential for our big combo turns. Picture this: we cast Visions of Beyond, draw three cards, and get a bunch of Tutelage triggers. We can then play Mystic Sanctuary to put Visions of Beyond back on top of our deck, cast something like Serum Visions or Thought Scour to draw it, and then cast Visions of Beyond again to draw three more cards. This is an absurd amount of card advantage (and Tutelage mill triggers) for just three mana, and considering that we have a new hand full of cards, we're likely to be able to keep casting card-draw spells and triggering our Tutelages until we mill our opponent's entire deck. Basically, thanks to Visions of Beyond and Mystic Sanctuary, there's a decent chance that on the turn we untap with two Tutelages on the battlefield, we will be able to mill our opponent's entire deck and win the game, which can be as early as Turn 5!

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We also have a couple of non-Tutelage non-card-draw spells to round out our main deck in Thing in the Ice and Ashiok, Dream Render. Thing in the Ice is our main defense against creature decks, giving us a good blocker on Turn 2 and eventually flipping around to bounce our opponent's board after we cast enough cheap card-draw spells. Meanwhile, Ashiok, Dream Render gives us some extra mill and also main-deck graveyard hate, which is important since some Modern decks actively want cards in their graveyard (Dredge, Storm, Uro decks, etc.), so our Tutelages may actually be helping our opponent to execute their game plan. Ashiok, Dream Render gives us a way to sweep away our opponent's graveyard while also milling a few more cards to help out our Tutelages. While keeping opponents from searching their library isn't why Ashiok is in our deck, it does offer some extra upside, hating on fetch lands and being especially good against decks with Primeval Titan, Scapeshift, Bring to Light, or other tutors.

Playing the Deck

The main challenge of playing Tutelage Tribal Mill is staying alive long enough to get a couple of Teferi's Tutelages or Sphinx's Tutelages on the battlefield, especially against aggro decks. In the early game, we need to spend as much resources as possible on slowing our opponent down, which often means leaving up Remand and Censor. If we can get to Turn 5 or 6 and play a Tutelage or two, we can turn the tide of the game quickly with our mill combo turns. The hard part in some matches up getting there.

As we saw against Mono-White Auras, hardcore aggro decks are our hardest matchups by far. As a mono-blue deck, we don't have real removal (outside of Dismember in our sideboard, which is good but painful since we always have to pay four life). Sadly, I'm not sure there is a ton we can do to improve our matchups against decks like Bogles or Burn. In non-budget form, splashing into white or black can improve the matchups by adding hard removal, but there really isn't a way to splash another color while staying under budget. Dual lands are just too expensive.

Don't underestimate how many cards we can mill once we get a couple of Tutelages on the battlefield. Tutelage Tribal Mill is a strange mill deck, in the sense that we don't really mill cards at all in the early game, but once we get things set up, we can mill a ton of cards in one turn. Make sure to think through just how many cards you can mill once Teferi's Tutelage and Sphinx's Tutelage are online. It's often a lot more than you think!

Wrap-Up

All in all we went 3-2 with Tutelage Tribal Mill, although we actually played the same person on the same Mono-White Auras deck twice and lost both times, which drops our total record to 3-3. On the other hand, we probably should have beaten Storm in our last match. Our opponent having five instants to play through Damping Sphere was pretty unlikely; plus, we might have punted by not using a hard counter on Aria of Flame. Basically, the deck felt competitive enough to pick up a decent number of wins. It's really solid against control and midrange, although aggro is tough.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it landed. There might be an argument for playing Engulf the Shore in the main deck. Even though Thing in the Ice is a better card, it does die to removal, which isn't ideal. Otherwise, most of the upgrades would push the deck out of the budget range and require splashing into a second color.

All in all, Tutelage Tribal Mill is really fun to play and reasonably competitive. While I don't think it's a top-tier deck or anything like that, it is good enough to pick up a decent amount of wins, and it's a blast to play! If you're a fan of mill or drawing cards, give it a shot!

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Getting Tutelage Tribal Mill down under $50 isn't too tough, although it does require a couple of painful cuts, with the biggest being Remand, which gets replaced by Unsubstantiate which offer a solid combo of bounce and removal but is missing the all-important "draw a card" text. We also drop Thing in the Ice, but Engulf the Shore is a good replacement, to the point where it might be better in the budget build of the deck since it doesn't die to removal. Otherwise, most of the downgrades come in the sideboard, where Relic of Progenitus becomes Tormod's Crypt and Damping Sphere becomes more counterspells. Altogether, these changes make the deck worse, but the ultra-budget build should still be more than good enough for casual play.

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For our non-budget build, we splash into black for some hard removal to help improve our matchup against aggressive creature decks. Fatal Push gives us a great answer for the early turns, while Drown in the Loch is perfect for a mill deck as both a counterspell and a removal spell once we get some cards in our opponent's graveyard. To be able to cast our black cards, we upgrade the mana base with fetch lands and shock lands, along with adding Damnation, Leyline of the Void, and Thoughtseize to the sideboard. The end result is a deck that should play almost exactly like the budget build but with a bit more game in some of our toughest matchups, thanks to the additional removal.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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