I have always been fascinated with MTG milling decks and, since Ravnica, have wanted to build a fast Glimpse the Unthinkable based mill deck. I've tried numerous times but the deck is always too slow, puttering out before I finish off my opponent. Further, it's tough to find a balance of aggressively milling while simultaneously defending myself from attacks.

So, is there a way to make a speedy Glimpse the Unthinkable mill deck?

My deck constraints are:

  1. Build around Glimpse, the Unthinkable
  2. Only use Modern legal cards

The latest iteration of my deck is:


  • Island x12
  • Swamp x9
  • Watery Grave x2
  • Drowned Catacomb







The older versions of this deck relied on Ravnica Transmute cards like Shred Memory, Muddle the Mixture, and Dimir Infiltrator to quickly retrieve the Glimpses but, without mana acceleration, it still took 5-6 turns to get three Glimpses out.

  • Also try Modern Deck Help @ Wizards
    – ikegami
    Jun 2, 2013 at 19:08
  • Nephalia Drownyard seems like a card you might be interested in
    – Andomar
    Jun 2, 2013 at 19:13
  • 5
    I'd drop the Wall of Frost and run Fog Bank instead. It's cheaper and it will block flyers. Also, Jace's Phantasm is super cheap to cast and will be a huge flyer after just a single Glimpse. It can also let you win by dealing damage.
    – Discord
    Jun 3, 2013 at 14:32

6 Answers 6


If you want a fast glimpse the unthinkable deck, then the best you are going to do is definitely going to be cutting those wall of frost, and some of the mill enchantments. play 4 ghost quarter (think of it as a 0 mana spell that mills them for 1 card, you can also kill your own land for more hedron crab triggers), and 4 Archive Trap, a spell that does a lot to win you the game when your opponent isn't expecting it after ghost quarter, or turns your ghost quarter into the extremely powerful and mostly banned Strip Mine when your opponent is familiar with your deck.

You would probably be looking to extend your longevity with spells like damnation or black sun's zenith to keep the opponent's side of the board under control. Snapcaster mage will let you reuse your glimpses for additional mill, and provide a defense to slow your opponent down, but remember it cant cast your Archive Traps for their trap cost.

you will want 4 Dimir Signet, because a turn 3 play of Signet into glimpse the unthinkable is a very efficient ramp turn. Mind Funeral and Mind Grind are also both very good cards.

Additionally, you will make better use of those hedron crabs by using fetchlands such as scalding tarn and Marsh Flats, allowing you to get 2 activations per turn, cheaper alternatives include Terramorphic expanse and evolving wilds

I would suggest the following changes:

  • -4 Jace's Erasure
  • -4 Wall of Frost
  • -4 Memory Erosion
  • -4 Keening Stone
  • -4 Grasp of Darkness
  • -2 Visions of Beyond
  • -9 Island
  • -7 Swamps
  • -1 Drowned Catacombs

and bring in:

  • +1 Hallowed Fountain
  • +1 Plains
  • +2 Watery Grave
  • +4 Scalding Tarn
  • +4 Marsh Flats
  • +4 Ghost Quarter
  • +4 Dimir Signet
  • +1 Mind Funeral
  • +2 Mind Grind
  • +4 Snacpcaster mage
  • +4 Damnation
  • +4 Archive Trap
  • +4 Path To Exile

I cut a land as the dimir signets help fix your mana, it might be worth cutting another, it depends on how it plays.

Visions of beyond is a bit overkill, as long as you can average about 7 cards milled per card you play, you can win within 4-6 turns, and visions can slow that down, as winning revolves around spending your mana effectively in the early turns. I kept 2 in though as sometimes you just draw all removal and no mill

Damnation might seem counter productive if you have hedron crabs on the field, but with fetchlands, you can hit 6 cards milled per crab with just one land drop, meaning they will usually provide enough mill to be worth playing out even if you then kill them.

Mind Grind is there to mitigate when you get mana flooded, so that you can get a higher return per card due to having so much excess mana, it's not something you would want to cast for anything less than x = 4.

Splashing white might be beneficial also, path to exile gives you another route to activate archive trap, and does what grasp of darkness did cheaper. it can also turn a snapcaster mage who gave you a flashback mill last turn, into another land to activate hedron crabs for further mill.

these changes should help speed the deck up, and increase your survivability in a more synergistic way than previously. feel free to tinker with numbers based on your own knowledge as i haven't played the deck, but i advise against tinkering the cards that were totally removed back into the deck.

A faster mill deck

Having said all of the above, if you want a fast mill deck, there are definitely better choices than Glimpse the unthinkable.

abandoning the idea of glimpse the unthinkable, a mill deck that will usually run much faster than glimpse the unthinkable can would be the protean hulk combo deck. If you were to play acceleration such as ramp spells (rampant growth, harrow etc) and Heartless Summoning to accelerate casting your Protean Hulk you will be able to get it onto the battlefield around turn 4 or 5, any of a number of spells would allow you to sacrifice it (fling, viscera seer, birthing pod, and many others, just search gatherer for rules text "Sacrifice a creature").

once you have managed to summon and sacrifice your hulk, your milling combo comes to fruition. It's ability to search for a cumulative 6 converted mana cost worth of creatures allows you to search for the 4 hedron crabs in your library, and the 4 dryad arbor, all of which translate to only 4 converted mana cost of creatures. They all enter the battlefield, each dryad arbor triggers all 4 hedron crabs, which is 16 hedron crab triggers which is 48 milled cards. the final 2 CMC can be used to find a viridian emissary, which would either die instantly to the Heartless Summoning, or be sacrificed to the viscera seer or another sacrifice outlet, and give you a basic land and another 12 milled cards.

i will leave the building of an actual 60 card deck of this combo to you, if you wish to pursue it, since it is not strictly an answer to your question. above should give you an idea for the options, and key cards of the deck.

  • Unfortunately, cards like Damnation and Snapcaster Mage are very expensive; I'm more of a casual player. However, I think your points on Archive Trap with fetch lands, Mind Grind w/ Mind Funeral, and Dimir Signets are all reasonable. Thanks again.
    – Craig
    Jun 4, 2013 at 3:19
  • @Craig Damnation has a cheaper cousin in Black Sun's Zenith, but I understand your issue. upping the count of mind sculpt and mind grind may well be the best choice to replace snapcasters.
    – Patters
    Jun 4, 2013 at 8:47
  • I think you do need the card draw, especially with Dimir Signet reducing the density of "business" in your deck a bit. If you don't like 4x Visions, Thirst for Knowledge might be able to fill in nicely.
    – Alex P
    Dec 8, 2013 at 1:15

If you want my 2 cents:

If you want to make a glimpse the unthinkable style of deck, than you're really making a sort of burn deck, except your opponent's life-total is somewhere between 45-50 life.

With that in mind, imagine all of your cards in the context of a burn deck. Does your burn deck want wait until turn 7 to play those keening stone? Do you even need more than 1 of your instant-game-winning card at the same time?(if you don't need more than 1 at a time than you shouldn't run 4). does a burn deck want to run cards that stall the other guy without being able to deal damage? like Wall of Frost?

does a burn deck want to run inefficient cards like gut shot or in your case Memory Erosion and jace's erasure?

thought scour will help replace itself, and tomes scour will help too. Breaking/Entering is like a smaller glimpse, and maybe you want to run some fetchlands to help out with that hedron crab There are cheap fetches such as terramorphic expanse and evolving wilds. They might slow you down a bit if you don't actually have hedron crabs out, but that's a call you'll have to make. you can always use the zendikar ones if you must.

the new sets: Gatecrash and Dragon's maze have dimir cards that also can mill some. You might look into those sets to see if any are good enough.

  • +1 Definitely cut back on the number of Keening Stones and Memory Erosion's / Jace's Erasure. I think you're overestimating how many cards they will actually mill.
    – Discord
    Jun 3, 2013 at 14:36
  • I appreciate the points on keening stone, memory erosion, and jace's erasure. I concur that they've been too slow to be really useful.
    – Craig
    Jun 4, 2013 at 3:20

My mill deck consists of this and it has worked pretty well so far:

12 Islands
12 Swamps

4 Hedron Crab
4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
4 Avatar of Woe
4 Sewer Nemesis
4 Mind Sculpt
2 Jace, Memory Adept
4 Breaking/Entering
4 Jace's Phantasm
4 Duskmantle Guildmage
2 Traumatize

However, I want to add 4 [Liliana's Caress] and don't know which cards to replace for them. I am thinking of getting rid of 2 Traumatize but not sure which other 2 to replace I am very much wanting to keep my ratio of 24 lands 20 creatures 16 (other) for deck.

  • Why do you want to add Liliana's Caress? It doesn't deal damage when you are milling (because the cards are placed in the graveyard, not discarded) and I don't see any discard spells in the above list.
    – Discord
    Dec 6, 2013 at 19:20
  • thanks for the heads up before I edited deck didn't realize that until you said it dumb me for not reading carefully
    – user6284
    Dec 7, 2013 at 4:22

Let's look at a successful tournament list for inspiration!

U/B Mill (Modern)
Dan Paille — 8th place, SCG Invitational Qualifier, 11/03/2013

4 Darkslick Shores
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Watery Grave
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Shelldock Isle
3 Ghost Quarter

2 Snapcaster Mage

2 Jace, Memory Adept

4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
4 Breaking
3 Archive Trap
2 Haunting Echoes

4 Visions of Beyond
3 Howling Mine

4 Thoughtseize
4 Surgical Extraction

3 Ensnaring Bridge
3 Damnation
1 Hero's Downfall

1 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Echoing Truth
3 Engineered Explosives
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Infest
3 Crypt Incursion
3 Fulminator Mage

This deck is targeting a specific metagame, but there are some general conclusions we can draw:

  • A core of aggressive mill cards. Glimpse the Unthinkable, Breaking, and Archive Trap are fast. The Jaces, Haunting Echoes, and Snapcasters flashing back your early mill cards round out the top end. Really the main takeaway here is that you want about a quarter of your cards to mill the opponent, and a couple of those should be repeatable mill (Jace).
  • Card draw. It takes about five of your mill cards to kill an opponent. Unlike a burn deck, your cards aren't quite fast or flexible enough to just run a deck full of kill cards. Thus, without card draw, it's easy to get into nasty situations where you're treading water hoping to topdeck the right card. Visions of Beyond is an Ancestral Recall in this deck. This decks' designer is taking a risk with Howling Mine, which draws cards for both you and your opponent, but he's counting on mill being an unexpected deck, so most of the extra cards his enemies draw won't interact well with his. This decks sneaks a bit of extra card advantage in with Shelldock Isle.
  • Discard, not counters. Most dedicated combo decks will be faster than you, so you want to do something to slow them down. Likewise, a lot of other decks may sideboard "silver bullet" answers that you really want to take out. However, using counterspells requires holding mana open, sometimes for turns on end — which you can't do, since most of your kill cards are sorceries, and you want to cast a bunch of them quickly to power up Visions of Beyond and Haunting Echoes in the later game. Discard spells like Thoughtseize (or its budget-friendlier cousins Duress and Inquisition of Kozilek) offer very mana-efficient disruption that you can use on your own timetable rather than your opponent's (though you do need to keep your opponent's deck in mind for optimal timing).
  • Anti-creature speedbumps. Your pinpoint disruption will slow down combo decks, but it does very little against aggressive creature decks that don't really care about losing a single card (especially if it costs them two life). This particular version picked Damnation and Ensaring Bridge (you're emptying your hand very aggressively) take care of a lot of threats at once. Ensnaring Bridge is also good against the kinds of midrange decks that can use one big creature at a time to get past your Damnation.
  • Land destruction. Big formats are full of powerful lands. In Modern, a particular concern is Tron. Once the Urzatron is assembled, the deck is very hard to stop (especially if they've fetched the Eye of Ugin as well). Ghost Quarter in the main deck and Fulminator Mage out of the sideboard help you aggressively attack their lands. Ghost Quarter also covers a gap in your Damnation strategy: it kills removal-dodging manlands like Inkmoth Nexus and Treetop Village.
  • No Hedron Crabs. Modern is full of creature-based decks, as are many casual environments. So pretty much everyone is running creature removal. Without many other targets in your deck, they will just throw their removal at your your Crabs. The card's also a terrible late-game topdeck since it hardly does anything on its own.
  • Against tournament decks, Surgical Extraction is your best friend. This card is a really important part of the deck. Without it, you are actually accelerating any graveyard deck you fight against. Combined with your aggressive mill plan, Surgical Extraction can neuter a lot of combo decks. It's also a lynchpin against Tron: extracting any of their Urza lands buys you three extra turns at least — and removing Emrakul in response to its shuffle trigger is the only way to mill them out at all.

The sideboard is even more metagame-specific than the main deck, but we can draw some general conclusions:

  • An answer to a variety of controlling permanents — in this case, Echoing Truth out of the sideboard. Unlike a combo deck, you don't actually care very much about having a few of your cards countered. But there are some permanents that just shut you down cold (Leyline of Sanctity soft-locks you, for example). You need a way to get rid of these. Since blue/black is rather poor in non-creature removal, Paille chose to run a bounce spell — follow it up with Thoughtseize or take a "big turn" (like Glimpse, Glimpse, Jace mill) before they can recast their card.
  • Sideboard hate for the fastest or most disruptive decks you expect to see, ideally with overlap. Crypt Incursion is a good example here. It gives you a lot of life gain against aggro decks and stops Living End, which is a graveyard deck that can cause problems for you since it's fast and fairly resilient to Extraction (all of their combo pieces are interchangeable, except for Living End, which doesn't need to be in the yard to work). Likewise, consider how Engineered Explosives and Ratchet Bomb do double duty against Affinity and Twin.

The most important thing to remember is that Glimpse-based mill doesn't play like a typical combo deck, where you're trying to assemble a card from column A and a card from column B. It's more like burn: a bunch of interchangeable kill cards and a few answers to slow down fast decks or get past silver-bullet showstoppers.

  • 1
    +1 for comparing mill to burn. Unfortunately, mill spells rarely have dual purposes. Using Glimpse-type spells as a wincon is like using Lava Spike or Flame Jet to win.
    – Brian S
    Dec 10, 2013 at 20:54

Your mill deck doesn't have to be that fast if you can disrupt your opponents plans.

With that in mind, your mill deck needs something like: 4xSurgical Extraction, 2xExtirpate, 2xHaunting Echoes Therefore, after you've milled, you can remove some dangerous multiples from your opponents library and hand, both accelerating the mill and ensuring you survive long enough to execute the plan.

Also, if your win condition is casting sorceries like Glimpse the Unthinkable, then you may want to consider that workhorse: Snapcaster Mage

You should also consider reset buttons. Others have suggested mass removal. But I think if you use the Snapcaster, something like Devastation Tide is even better. Not only will it disrupt your opponents plans if your mill isn't going fast enough, but if your Snapcaster is on the battlefield, you get to cast it again.

If you add those cards you should probably remove the slow enchantments and keening stone.


Since this question as asked and answered (2013), the metagame has changed tremendously. Therefore, this is not so much an answer as it is a signpost to where to find the (current) answers.

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the deck, I suggest the deck's thread on MTG Salvation. The primer on the first page is certainly old, but the discussions continue for over a hundred pages and the information on the last few pages is usually much more recent. You can read about what other people tried and how it worked for them. It's also the best place to meet other UB mill afficiandos who'll keep trying the latest new cards. As of time of writing it's been a few months since the last post, but you could join in too if you like.

Other places to get the latest successful lists would be MTG Top 8 and MTG Decks. These don't come with guides, but they give you an idea of what's been successful.

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