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Arena Boys Deck Guide: Yarok Turbo Mill

We’ve tried to mill people out in the past, which resulted in one of the worst Arena Boys videos we’ve ever made.This time, however, it’s different. With the power of Yarok on our side–in addition to a smattering of actual playable Magic cards–it was a little different this week. People were sick of losing to Merfolk Secretkeeper in Limited, and now we’re here to do it in Constructed.

Alert viewer Jonas Ristimäki sent in a stack of lists for us to look at, but there was a clear standout. A Constructed-playable mill deck is something of a white whale for many Magic players, and we’re no exception–there’s something so innately satisfying about melting an opponent’s library.

However, milling people out is a tall order! This is a creature-based mill deck, doubling the effect of cards like Wall of Lost Thoughts and Sage’s Row Denizen with Yarok. And that’s not to mention the thicc defensive body he provides as a 3/5 lifelinker, which means we’re a little more likely to survive long enough to live the dream with a list like this.

Yarok Turbo-Mill by Jonas Ristimäki

4 Breeding Pool
4 Watery Grave
2 Temple of Mystery
2 Fabled Passage
1 Castle Vantress
8 Island (335)
2 Swamp (339)
1 Forest (347)
4 Merfolk Secretkeeper/Venture Deeper
4 Overwhelmed Apprentice
4 Wall of Lost Thoughts
3 Sage’s Row Denizen
3 Yarok, the Desecrated
4 Drowned Secrets
1 Folio of Fancies
4 Drown in the Loch
1 Assassin’s Trophy
4 Ashiok, Dream Render
3 Enter the God-Eternals
1 Flood of Tears

Card Choices

There’s not the widest mill suite in Standard at the moment. While Throne of Eldraine brought us some decent enablers and payoffs, they’re not particularly numerous, and so we’ve had to make do with what’s available. Having said that, this unorthodox approach to building a mill deck is undoubtedly sweet–usually, you don’t have a mill deck that’s so heavily creature focused.

Overwhelmed Apprentice, Wall of Lost Thoughts, and Sage’s Row Denizen all offer double-triggers with Yarok, as well as providing reasonable defensive bodies. Merfolk Secretkeeper is a downgraded Tome Scour with an 0/4 body attached, which again, provides us with some very relevant defense. If nothing else, it’s hard to overrun this deck with cheap aggressive creatures, purely thanks to the blockers it can deploy.

Ashiok is a way to keep graveyard nonsense to a minimum (fringe interactions such as Cauldron Familiar plus Witch’s Oven can be a problem, otherwise), and will also definitely get people who unthinkingly crack their Fabled Passages. It doesn’t interact well with Drown in the Loch, but as we showed in the video, there are ways around that.

The interaction suite is quite robust. Enter the God-Eternals packs a real punch and is a great way to stabilize while still supporting the mill plan, and Flood of Tears is an emergency reset button that allows you to redeploy your Yarok. Assuming it lives, you can then redeploy all your smaller mill creatures for extra value with the double triggers.

The best cards in the deck are, by a country mile, Drown in the Loch and Drowned Secrets. Drown in the Loch is a Counterspell/Murder split card, which is absolutely ridiculous. You’ll very rarely be unable to counter or kill absolutely anything, as your opponent usually has five to eight cards in their graveyard in the first few turns.

Drown in the Loch

Drowned Secrets upgrades every single card in the deck (except Assassin’s Trophy) with a mill kicker and will end games much faster as a result. Think carefully before mulliganing it away–it makes such a huge difference, especially in multiples!

Throne of Eldraine Standard Top 50

Gameplay

Shields up, engines at full–this deck isn’t interested in getting on the front foot and attacking. The suite of defensive creatures allows you to forestall attacks from low-to-the-ground aggro decks, and there are even ways to buffer your life total with Yarok and Enter the God-Eternals. This means you’re looking to play an extremely defensive game.

Between the deck’s extremely efficient removal and high-toughness blockers, aggro decks are easily contained. Happily, slower decks will often help you in burning through their library by drawing a bunch of extra cards, so if you don’t die to planeswalkers, you should be in reasonable shape there, too. In matchups like that, it’s often worth sandbagging cards like Overwhelmed Apprentice until you have Yarok and/or Drowned Secrets out to get full value.

Midrange decks are more of a problem. With high-impact creatures that can overload your interaction, plus powerful planeswalkers to dominate the game, this list can struggle. Without any good answers to planeswalkers outside of Assassin’s Trophy and Flood of Tears, things can quickly get out of control.

In that case, you need to hope you can get ahead by exploiting the engine cards you have, hopefully multiple copies of Drowned Secrets. This means your all-important interaction also furthers your gameplan. Use Overwhelmed Apprentice to dig to the answers you need. If a midrange deck presents you with a respectable threat you’re unable to answer, you’ll lose very quickly as the blockers in this deck can’t hold off cards like Questing Beast or Hydroid Krasis.

Moving Forward

I don’t think we gave the deck its best possible showing in the video. We ran up against multiple graveyard-based strategies, which I would consider fringe players in Standard these days, and actually accelerated their gameplans by milling them out. This deck is, I think, better than it seemed in the video.

Having said that, this is by no means a powerful, tier-one strategy. I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to win games–but if you want to tilt your opponents and assert your dominance at FNM, this list is perfect. I don’t know what changes you could make, really–perhaps switch out the underperforming Folio of Fancies to play an extra Assassin’s Trophy?

Broadly speaking, the card pool isn’t deep enough to support wide variety within mill decks. You could try Vantress Gargoyle if you want to get aggressive, but then you’re playing two different strategies at the same time. Into the Story is a good option, but pulls us away from the creature-based nature of the deck.

In any case, we’ll be back next week with another viewer-submitted list–this time we’ll be doming fools for 21 by casting Sundering Stroke for full value!

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