The Death of Mill?

Ever since the dawn of Destiny, a mill victory (where the opponent has no cards in hand or deck remaining) has been a valid strategy, supported by a number of cards. Awakenings arrived with cards like Patience and Command Centre – Lothal, which had no purpose other than to further this win condition. This continued to be the case right up to Covert Missions which brought us diceless Jawas and Utinni! When combined with Déjà Vu, one copy of this card had the potential to discard 8 cards from the opponent’s deck.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of mill. I’ve never been very good at playing or playing against it, and a game against a mill deck doesn’t really feel like a game of Destiny. However, I do enjoy the challenge of a mill match-up.

When Faltering Allegiances rotated out an entire block of mill tech cards, it brought with it not a single card to discard cards from the opponents’ deck, and very little in the way of support for hand mill. Not only that, but rotation removed an entire block’s worth of all important mitigation, while Faltering Allegiances is conspicuously, arguably deliberately, low on mitigation.

Was this a wanton attempt to sabotage mill? Are A Renewed Hope pushing their own anti-mill agenda? Do people miss mill and want it back? I trawled the ARH discord and picked out some excerpts to address these questions. I make no apologies for the fact that I have deliberately quoted people out of context:

With this is mind, is it actually possible to build a mill deck using ARH standard cards?

My first thought was hero mill. We did a review of Chris Strong’s tournament winning pre-ARH deck on this site, and here’s that decklist again, but with cards which have rotated out, crossed out:

That’s 16 of 30 cards no longer available, plus Anakin and the battlefield. The loss of cards like Pacify, Easy Pickings, Bewilder, and Anakin and his podracer really hurt, especially with nothing obvious to replace them with, putting hero mill in a tough spot.

ARH did at least bring us one mill tool in Faltering Allegiances and that is Vibrosword. I initially gravitated towards this card, and tried repurposing Greez Droids, to guarantee that discard side and use Vibrosword for triple or quadruple discards.

Yes, I have doctored that Vibrosword. Makes it look scarier, right?

It seemed like a good idea, and I thought with a bit of work it might be viable. However, it lacked strong options for deck discarding, and it lacked mitigation. And anyway, since ARH have now banned C-3PO and R2-D2 as a combination, I have abandoned this line of thought for now. However, I feel Vibrosword has the potential to be a valid piece of a mill puzzle in the future.

I also considered Jawa mill. With poorer removal options post-rotation, and the loss of Bespin Wing Guard for consistent hand attack, this deck has certainly become weaker. The rotation of Déjà Vu and Double Down also hampers this deck’s ability to aggressively mill like it used to when paired with yellow villain.

That being said, neutral grey still has access to Flank, Near Miss and Harmless Trick for free mitigation (on activation), plus Made To Suffer, Wretched Hive, Sonic Detonators, Pyke Syndicate Mine and of course Utinni! for mill, so with the right colour/affiliation partner (maybe red villain?), this could be a tenable option.

Neutral grey options for Jawa Junk Dealer mill

However, I feel a more promising line of attack for mill lies with villain. Hero have lost their strongest mill characters (Leia, Little Anakin) but villain, especially red, still have the likes of Krennic and Motti, as well as a very strong mitigation package, possibly the strongest in the game right now.

The echobase weekly event on 24 November saw not only one, but two villain mill decks, piloted by Chimaera (3-1) and rockntroll (1-3), who kindly let me reproduce their decklists below:

rockntroll‘s Vader/Krennic mill
Chimaera‘s Krennic/Motti/Guard mill

Both decks utilise Krennic, who is a discarding machine for 13 points elite, plus his ability adds some welcome consistency. I feel that these decks however lack the speed to keep up with current aggressive decks and finish off the opponent’s deck before expiring, or lack the survivability to outlast the opponent in a slow mill match.

These decks only really have access to 3 cards to push their mill agenda: No Answer, which can be played around by the opponent, Clever Distraction, which is a nice tech event, and Command Centre.

I feel that if villain had a way of consistently guaranteeing their battlefield and/or utilising the claim ability, they could be a true force to reckon with. If a Grand Moff-esque card arrives in the next couple of sets, this could be just what mill needs to get it back up and running.

However, as it stands, I can’t see mill being a legitimate contender. I’m not saying it’s impossible, and I’m sure I’ll lose a game or two to mill over time, but I just can’t see a place for it in the meta at the moment. I’m not talking about top tier status, but I wouldn’t be wholly averse to the idea of a mill deck being viable enough to see it cropping up regularly in tournaments. It would provide an additional challenge, and add another element to the rock/paper/scissors/lizard/Spock game of our ever evolving meta.

I appreciate that designing cards for mill is a very fine line between valid Tier 2 deck and broken, and Agent of Zion has expounded eloquently on the topic in much more detail than I have included above. However, I would like ARH to make the bold step of putting in just a couple of mill cards. They have the power to step in and errata if necessary, and much more quickly than FFG ever did or could, but I think I would rather that, than just pretend mill doesn’t exist.

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