What does a Burn Mage play when sleeving up blue cards? Mill, of course!

Today I have a special guest brew for this weeks column. My good friend Mike Girouard showed me this spicy list and I just had to share it with all of you. I have known Mike for a long time. He is one of my oldest friends and is actually the person who first taught me how to play Magic. For as long as I have known him, Mike has been a Burn player. Not because the deck is cheap, but because he knows how to win with it. He is one of the rare players who plays Burn because he knows the strategy inside and out. When he takes the mindset of Burn and applies it to other colors, you end up with a very cool brew.  

This deck will make even "Emo Jace" crack a smile

This deck will make even “Emo Jace” crack a smile

Nic Fit Mill

Creatures (10)
Deathrite Shaman
Veteran Explorer
Eternal Witness
Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Spells (29)
Cabal Therapy
Surgical Extraction
Life from the Loam
Abrupt Decay
Maelstrom Pulse
Archive Trap
Leyline of the Void
Helm of Obedience
Jace, Memory Adept
Sensei’s Divining Top
Pernicious Deed
Toxic Deluge
Lands (22)
Verdant Catacombs
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Volrath’s Stronghold
Phyrexian Tower
Ghost Quarter


It's a TRAP!!!!!

It’s a TRAP!!!!!

The Work Horse

Burn is to life total as Mill is to deck size. The name of the game is to play as few cards as possible to bring the target number down to zero. In the case of this deck, the target number is the cards left in our opponent’s deck. The strongest card at accomplishing this goal is Archive Trap. Assuming your opponent has a standard 60-card deck, a single Archive Trap will deal with 21.6% of your opponent’s deck. Factor in the opening  seven cards your opponent drew, that figure goes up to 33%. That is is the equivalent of a burn card dealing seven damage to the face, for free if your opponent searched their library this turn. I would play that card. Wouldn’t you?

It only takes a couple of Archive Traps for your opponent to realize that they can no longer afford to search their library. This is where Jace, Memory Adept comes in to finish the job. Some may argue that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is inherently more powerful, and they would be right. But in the context of this deck, Memory Adept is the perfect fit for milling away the last couple stubborn cards.   

"Go ahead search... I dare you"

“Go ahead search… I dare ya”

The Cheeky Enablers

Between fetchlands, Stoneforge Mystic, Entomb, Gamble, and Recruiter of the Guard, people are searching their libraries all the time in Legacy. We want Archive Trap to be free as often as possible though, so sometimes we need to help our opponents along. This is where Veteran Explorer really shines. My favorite part of this deck is the “Gotcha” moment. Most players are familiar with basic Nic Fit. But the last thing they will expect is getting blown out with an Archive Trap in response to searching for the Veteran Explorer trigger. Even if they have no basic lands to search for, the ramp from Explorer will enable you to hard cast Archive Trap as early as turn two.

I'm pretty sure this is where Soylant Green is made

I’m pretty sure this is where Soylent Green is made

The ramp from Veteran Explorer also enables an extremely powerful opening line for the deck. Turn one play a land to cast Veteran Explorer, turn two play Phyrexian Tower, sac the Explorer to the Tower and cast Jace, Memory Adept.


Some of you might think Ghost Quarter is a budget substitute for Wasteland. The fact is, Ghost Quarter is so much better than Wasteland in this build. Most legacy decks only run a handful of basic lands, if any at all. If they have already grabbed those lands in response to a Veteran Explorer trigger, or have a healthy fear for Archive Trap, Ghost Quarter turns into a straight up Strip Mine. What is important to remember is that you are not trying to cut your opponent’s access to mana entirely. The Veteran Explorer strategy is counterintuitive to that. What you are trying to do is to cut them off of utility lands, or cut them off a specific color of mana. If it is a control match-up, Life From the Loam will allow you to grind your opponent’s mana base into dust.


Sideboard card? HAHA that’s a good one!

Speaking of destroying your opponent’s will to continue playing, four main deck Surgical Extraction will send some opponents into Tilt Town. Against a deck like Lands or Miracles, a well placed Surgical Extraction will remove every win condition in the deck. Against a three color deck like Grixis Delver, Surgical Extraction on a Dual Land can cut them off an entire color. Surgical Extraction also acts as a pseudo mill card, shaving up to three cards out of the deck. Archive Trap will also ensure that you always have plenty of targets to chose from.

Another member of the class of "cards with text box's too long to actually read"

Another member of the “cards with text box’s too long to actually read” club

Plan B

Sometimes Mill decks run into a problem. Certain cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn will shuffle the graveyard back into our opponents deck. While we can respond to the trigger with a Surgical Extraction, it still adds an unwanted hoop for the deck to jump through.

That is where Leyline of the Void and Helm of Obedience come into play. A two card combo that can win the game on the spot, Helm and Leyline don’t care about Emrakul triggers. If the game starts looking bleak, this is a great hail mary play to save yourself. A funny quirk of the deck is that this is probably the only deck that does not want to reveal Leyline of the Void in its opening hand. Keeping it in hand to hard cast latter is almost always the better play (unless you are against Dredge of course).

"I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack"

“I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack”

The Spicy 61st

This card is my spicy addition to the deck. You may remember our friend the notorious O.B. from the Maralen of the Mornsong deck I wrote about a few weeks ago. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is a great beefy beater that is tailor made to partner up with Veteran Explorer. Even if your opponent does not search their deck, Explorer dying will add a +1/+1 counter to O.B. and quickly turn him into a unstoppable flying beater.   

Hope you all enjoyed the deck this week! See ya next time!

Jerry Mee is a Boston Native who has been playing Magic since Onslaught Block. Primarily a Legacy player, he cohosts the weekly Leaving a Legacy Podcast found on Mtgcast.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @Jmee3rd

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.