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The Mill Deck in Shadows over Innistrad Draft

Shadows over Innistrad has a handful of mill effects: Vessel of Paramnesia at Common, Manic Scribe and Fleeting Memories at Uncommon, and Startled Awake at Mythic. However, the recurring mill effects are all Uncommon or Mythic, and an eight-person Shadows over Innistrad draft has an average of 0.9 copies of any given Uncommon and 0.2 copies of any given Mythic, so I'd thought these cards were only useful as a secondary or postboard plan, and that there wasn't a dedicated mill deck in the format. It turns out I was wrong.

During a draft last week, I took a Manic Scribe first pick out of a relatively weak pack, where the only other card of note was Throttle. Manic Scribe was a riskier pick, but I hadn't drafted this archetype before in Shadows over Innistrad, and was willing to abandon my first pick if I didn't get the cards I needed for the deck. Luckily, the deck did come together. Here's the deck I drafted:

The sideboard contained the following cards:

The deck ended up being very strong. The only game I lost in the three matches I played was due to colorscrew. I won one game by "curving out" with Crow of Dark Tidings, Rottenheart Ghoul, and From Under the Floorboards, followed by a series of removal spells. The rest of the games were won by milling out my opponent. Manic Scribe was the deck's linchpin, but Tooth Collector, From Under the Floorboards, and Gone Missing were also all-stars. From Under the Floorboards' lifegain was often just as relevant as the creatures, and Gone Missing was usually a Time Walk and hard removal if I had a mill effect.

The archetype turned out to be much stronger than I'd expected, for several reasons:

Now that I've covered how the deck works, we can group the cards in the deck into four functional categories instead:

I made a couple of mistakes during the draft because I hadn't attempted this archetype before:

Other Variants

Shadows over Innistrad draft also offers the potential of a Blue/Green Manic Scribe mill deck and a Fleeting Memories mill deck.

Black's most important contribution to my deck was Macabre Waltz, while Green has a number of things to offer the Manic Scribe mill deck:

Black and Green both seem like good options to pair with Blue in a Manic Scribe mill deck. Black offers more removal, has Ever After, and doesn't require splashing a third color, while Green offers more ways to find Manic Scribe and more 2-drops, including including Moldgraf Scavenger. It also provides more ways to make Clues if you are also playing Fleeting Memories.

A dedicated Fleeting Memories mill deck seems less exciting, however. In an eight-person Shadows over Innistrad draft, Blue, Green, and White have, on average, 12.4, 9.4, and 7.6 cards respectively that produce Clues. However, Confront the Unknown and Ulvenwald Mysteries are better suited to an aggressive deck, while Root Out is a sideboard card, so Green is probably not a good fit. White offers few ways to hit Delirium and no cards that interact with Clues. Green has Confront the Unknown, Briarbridge Patrol, Graf Mole, Ulvenwald Mysteries, and Tireless Tracker.

A Fleeting Memories mill deck also has some other issues:

  • Seasons Past, a Mythic, is the only card in the set that allows you to get Fleeting Memories back from your graveyard if you accidentally mill it away or if your opponent destroys it. Vessel of Nascency and card draw spells like Catalog are the only other ways to search for Fleeting Memories.
  • Sacrificing Clues, either to find Fleeting Memories or to mill your opponent once you've found it, requires mana, unlike Manic Scribe's triggered ability.
  • If you have to sacrifice Clues to find Fleeting Memories, you may not have many (or any) left to trigger its ability once you do find it.


The mill deck is stronger than I'd realized. While it does require at least one copy of Manic Scribe, an Uncommon, there are a number of cards that can help you find it more consistently. If you have a Macabre Waltz in your deck, Pieces of the Puzzle can help you get Manic Scribe into your graveyard and help find the Macabre Waltz. Macabre Waltz is the only key Black card in the deck, so the deck doesn't have to be Blue/Black, but can also be Blue/Green splashing Black.

If you don't get a second Manic Scribe, you can try to make use of Fleeting Memories if you're Blue/Green, or you can look to Rise from the Tides as an alternate win condition.

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