M21 Spotlight: Trouble at the Mill


Core Set 2021 brings about some changes to terminology. Wizards of the Coast let the Dogs out, and now, 26 years after the original Millstone, the word "mill" finally becomes a keyworded action. The first proper card to showcase the new wording may find some application in Standard too!

One on't cross beams gone
owt askew on treddle, but
was it not expected?

Not available in Spanish

What an amazing game Magic is. We can play with karoos, but not necessarily an actual Karoo, we can blink permanents, but only momentarily, we can even Shock ourselves, but with lands! And, since the days of Antiquities and Revised, we've been able to mill, even if Millstone was not in our 75.

Now, for the first time ever, mill is an actual keyword, although this was very much foreshadowed by the recent Mystery Booster playtest card Truth or Dare. That being said, it's not like Wizards didn't put some effort into exploring other options for keywords, but it is what it is.

teferi's tutelage sphinx's tutelage

The first card to get the new keyword is Teferi's Tutelage, a card that riffs in no small part on a Magic Origin's uncommon, Sphinx's Tutelage.

That card already has some high-level tournament credentials to look back on:

This is the deck that Michael Majors used to win Grand Prix San Diego in 2015. You likely recognize several big cards in the list, a number of which were considered too powerful for formats like Modern. Almost every other card either protected you or drew you ever deeper into your library. Once Baby Jace hit the battlefield, it was no time at all before he flipped, allowing you to control aggressive decks more readily. Ultimately you won by decking your opponent via Tutelage. Majors was of course in good company, as Andrew Cuneo had taken a similar version to a 23rd place at Pro Tour Magic Origins just the weekend prior to San Diego. This likely explains why Majors's team was testing the deck and had it ready to go.

So, maybe we'll see Teferi's Tutelage make some waves once the the new set hits the shelves? While we do have a Tutelage, we certainly don't have anything quite like Dig Through Time to help power us to a late game. However, we do have a number of decent options.

Tutelage 2021

teferi's tutelage

Unless Ancestral Vision sees a reprint, we're probably not going to be a dedicated Draw-Go deck. The existing Drowned Secrets strategies are all about playing blue spells rather than drawing cards. But we do have other interesting ways to generate massive amounts of card advantage. In short bursts. How about a musical number?

This deck can bury your opponent quickly if left unchecked. Once you've got Song in play, you have the possibility to draw several cards a turn, turning your Tutelage into a very fast clock. There are enough Adventure creatures present, which can sit in reserve until such time as you need them. Uro is a key recursive threat in current Standard, gaining value each turn it sticks around and is able to attack. All of them get around the Song's main drawback, able to to start a chain of card draw even after you've discarded your hand. The Triomes are great early on, and great late as they can be cycled for more triggers, and more food for Uro. Other variants could include a playset of Fae of Wishes // Granted to dig for some silver bullet in the sideboard, perhaps some late-game Divination variant or a River's Rebuke-style card.

Teferi's Tutelage, being honest, is not as good as Sphinx's Tutelage, in that there isn't the Grindstone clause allowing you to potentially mill additional pairs of cards. But it does start milling right away, and provides some additional card selection. As more cards with the mill keyword are revealed, be it in this or later sets, we might see the possibility of a more dedicated build.

O Rielley?

No questioning owls here, just plenty of card draw. The following is reminiscent of so many spells-matter decks, and can be so much fun at any level — especially at the FNM level.

Here, all we're trying to do is untap with Rielle and a Tutelage in play. Being able to discard two cards to Cathartic Reunion and drawing five in total is backbreaking in almost any matchup. Radical Idea, Thrill, and 2UUferi give you the option of getting added action out of your legendary Human on opposing turns also. Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor is basically a Doom Blade in this deck, with the added advantage of being able to target a planeswalker.

Your sideboard can be transformational as needed, taking out Teferi and his Tutelage, bringing in playsets of Arclight Phoenix and Sprite Dragon. With only Rielle getting a buff from your graveyard pre-board, you could find yourself facing a very much unprepared opponent in game two. As with all blue-X decks, Mystical Dispute is a must, as are a myriad of cards from Aether Gust to Negates.

What Else?

Expansion // Explosion. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

What cards from the upcoming set excite you the most? Let us know in the comments!

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