King of the Hill – BG Self Mill

Hello everyone, Andrea Mengucci here, and today’s article will be about M15 Limited. Pro Tour M15 was the first event with the new cards and there was plenty of room for innovation, in fact today we will focus on archetype that really passed under the radar: black/green self mill.

Before jumping into that, I want to spend a few words on my Pro Tour preparation: this time I was part of Team Day1MTG with captain Ben Friedman at the helm.

Limited preparation wasn’t the greatest, since as a team we did only 3 real drafts. Because I wanted to focus more on Limited than Constructed, I started playing MTGO on Monday by myself.

After the third final in a row in 8-4s with BG Self Mill it was clear that the archetype is underdrafted on MTGO, and if you are the only one at the table you can easily come up with a great deck able to deal with the top archetypes such as white tokens and red aggro. Also, the core of the deck is only about commons, so it’s not difficult to get them in multiples.

At this point I started forcing BG every draft I did (Covenant of Blood over Stoke the Flames, Genesis Hydra over Cone of Flame) running pretty smoothly: I made 37 M15 packs in only 3 days.

On Thursday I came up with the pick order for the team so they could better understand my strategy and force it at the PT. In the end, the majority of the team went for BG Self Mill, and Ben Friedman and Todd Anderson both 2-1’d each pod while some other players did great as well.

Before continuing, it’s important to say that forcing an archetype in draft usually isn’t the right strategy. Speaking with good players like Ben Stark, I found out that he’s against forcing a particularly strategy and he much prefers to follow the flow of the draft.

Although I think that in an unknown format like M15, it’s acceptable to force an archetype that you think is underdrafted and also very good, since if you are alone at the table you will eventually end up with a great deck, and if you aren’t you can switch to similar strategies.

I present to you the pick order for drafting BG self mill:

I have to make it clear though that this is just a “first pick” guide rather than a perfect evaluation of the cards during the draft. In Limited it is important to understand that every card can change its value depending on what you have already drafted and what you’re missing. Use it wisely to understand what card is better than others for this strategy, but always keep in mind the needs of your deck.

I also came up with the ideal ratio of cards that you should always ended up with:

17 Lands:
8 Swamps
8 Forests
1 Evolving Wilds

Evolving Wilds is useful, even though it’s better not to splash any color, since we can mill the splash-color land with Necromancer’s Assistant and not have a chance to get it back. Evolving Wilds might help us to hit the 6th land drop thanks to Restock—this situation is borderline but can happen sometimes, so keep it in mind.

17/18 Creatures:

2 Deathtouch Creatures (Typhoid Rats, Venom Sliver)
4 Self Mill Dudes (Satyr Wayfinder, Necromancer’s Assistant)
5 2-drops (Satyr Wayfinder, Child of Night, Runeclaw Bear, Bronze Sable, Wall of Mulch)
1/2 Reach/Flying Creatures (Netcaster Spider, Gargoyle Sentinel, Carrion Crow)
2 Undergrowth Scavenger
1 Rotfeaster Maggot
3 Evasive Creatures to Win the Game (Shadowcloak Vampire, Accursed Spirit, Siege Wurm)
0/1 Bomb (Hornet Queen, Ob Nixilis, Black/Green Souls)

It’s important to have a lot of creatures in the deck since you want to have at least 2 Undergrowth Scavenger. They will always table and you will not have problems getting them, so it’s important to have a big number of creatures to keep the graveyard full.

The deck requires a lot of creatures so there’s no much room for removal spells. It is important though to have access to some ways to deal with the opponent in a race so you need a good number of deathtouch guys as well as creatures with reach. Remember though that if you find that the deck lacks ways to deal with flying creatures you are allowed to maindeck a Plummet.

It’s also important to have good ways to win the game, and not give infinite time to the opponent, because he might draw something to break our board stall. It’s very important to put them on a clock. Cards like Shadowcloak Vampire or Accursed Spirit are fine, but it would be better to have some flying rares to bring back and play multiple times.

If you run out of win conditions you can even play Caustic Tar. It’s not a creature but if we don’t have enough ways to get out of a stalled game we could deck.

6/7 Spells:
3/4 Removal Spells (Covenant of Blood, Flesh to Dust, Hunt the Weak)
3 Reanimation Spells (Restock, Endless Obedience, Unmake the Graves)

We don’t have room for tricks and pump spells so cards like Necrobite, Titanic Growth, Gather Courage or draw spells like Sign in Blood don’t fit in this deck.

The best removal spell for this deck is Covenant of Blood, since thanks to Restock we can play it multiple times making the life gain a huge upside. This strategy usually takes a lot of damage in the early stages of the game, so life gain can go a long way to stabilize even against burn spells.

Also, having many Restock-effects is wrong, 3 is usually the perfect number since they are cards for the mid-game, like 6-drops in a normal deck.


1 Naturalize. We must be able to respond to threats like Burning Anger or Spectra Ward that usually destroy us.

1 Plummet. We need it when the opponent’s deck is filled with fat flyers such as Nimbus of the Isles and Illusory Angel. Our Spiders are too small to stall their flying army so we need a little help.

1 Festergloom. Triplicate Spirits is the real deal, and it’s huge against our deck. We must always have a Festergloom ready against white decks.

At the Pro Tour I stuck to the plan, and have 2 decks from the tournament to serve as examples.

First Draft Deck:

I opened Genesis Hydra P1P1 and wheeled Necromancer’s Assistant, I had 0 other green cards from my first booster, but I know that this deck doesn’t need green to be open to work.

You just have to pick Satyr Wayfinder very highly, and spells like Restock and Unmake the Graves will come back to you.

In the second booster I had Hornet Queen P2P2 and Ob Nixilis P2P4. So I was pretty settled in the bombs department.

I picked  Satyr Wayfinders highly in P3P1 and P3P2, and Bronze Sable P3P3 since I didn’t have as many 2-drop as I wanted. Early in the draft I picked Unmake the Graves over a Runeclaw Bear, and I really regret that pick, since in the end I had 2 Unmake the Graves in my sideboard.

I finished 2-1 with this deck, losing to Conley Woods because of his Devouring Light on my Hornet Queen while I had Restock and Endless Obedience in hand. Seems like exile is a pretty powerful effect against this deck.

The second draft was in Pod 3 after I finished Day 1 at 6-2. The pod was very tough with Joel Larsson, Melissa De Tora, Dimitri Butakov, Ken Yukiro, and Fabrizio Anteri, but I still thought that forcing was the way to go and first-picked Typhoid Rats over Lightning Strike, and P1P2 Satyr Wayfinder over Brood Keeper.

Second Draft Deck:

The deck was lacking of bombs and way to win the game, even though Hornet Nest + Hunt the Weak is a nice combo, but overall I was very satisfied with the 40 I had.

I lost first round to Ken Yuchiro in 3 very tough games, where he always assembled the Heliod’s Pilgrim + Spectra Ward combo.

I lost the second round vs. Fabrizio Anteri because of a misunderstanding during the last turn of game 3 and a judge ruled in his favor.

I finished 1-2 this pod and I was feeling very bad. My second Constructed portion went badly as well, finishing 9-7, out of the money, but at least locking Italian Team Captain for the World Magic Cup 2014.

This is all from Italy, hope you will try this archetype and like it!


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