MTG Wiki
Keyword Action
Introduced Antiquities (mechanic)
Core Set 2021 (keyword)
Last Used Evergreen
Reminder Text Mill N cards (Put the top N cards from the library into your/their graveyard.)
346 cards
{U} 41% {B} 21.1% {R} 2% {G} 7.8% {W/U} 0.3% {U/B} 8.4% {B/G} 4.3% {R/W} 0.3% {G/U} 0.9% {M} 1.7% {artifact symbol} 10.1% {land symbol} 2%
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Mill is a keyword action used in Magic to describe the action of a player taking cards from the top of their library and putting them into their graveyard. For a player to mill N cards, they put the top N cards from their library into their graveyard. The term alludes to the card Millstone, which was first printed in Antiquities and was the first card to feature this mechanic.


The term "mill" originated with the card Millstone, which originally had the text "{2}:Take the top two cards of target player's library and place them in target player's graveyard." As more cards were printed with the "put X cards from a player's library into their graveyard" effect, players began to call it "milling", and the term became accepted informally even by Wizards R&D.[1] The effect was used infrequently until Innistrad block, when it saw a noticeable increase. As usage increased, R&D wanted to create an official keyword for this mechanic.[2] Although not officially stated, it is likely they did this for the same reason they have created other standard wording changes and keywords - to save space in the text box. During the development of Shadows over Innistrad, there was a point in which milling played a significant role in the design of the set, and the term “forget” was used for a while during its design.[3]

Ultimately, the term "mill" was chosen both in reference to the original card and because it was already so popular as an informal term—it has permeated into other games and some dictionaries, despite the oblique etymology. It was first introduced as a keyword action on the Mystery Booster test card Truth or Dare (To mill, put the top card of that library into its owner's graveyard), and was officially introduced on tournament-legal cards in Core Set 2021.[4] It was featured soon after as one of the many themes in Jumpstart.

With the release of Core Set 2021, all cards with a milling effect received an Oracle update to use the "mill" keyword. Milling does not include effects that instruct players to look at a card from the top of a library and then possibly move it to a graveyard.[5]

Even before it became a keyword action, milling was and still is essentially an evergreen mechanic, though never formally stated as such, as it appears in almost every set.


Milling is a strategy some decks use which takes advantage of the decking rule.[6][7][8][9] Emptying the opponent's library is one way to ensure a victory, although they do not lose until they actually have to draw a card.

There are two basic types of mill decks. The control deck looks to take over the game through killing the opponent's creatures and countering their spells, using milling as a hard-to-disrupt way win the game; some actively mill by cards such as Nephalia Drownyard, and some do so passively, most notoriously with Elixir of Immortality like the champion's deck of Pro Tour Magic 2015. The second approach acts like a burn deck by playing primarily mill cards and looks to mill the opponent out as soon as possible.

Cards that cause a player to mill have most often been found in blue (primary) or black (secondary), especially in the Dimir guild of the Ravnica blocks, though most of the earliest milling cards were artifacts. Green (tertiary) usually mills itself caring about what gets milled in some way, but on rare occasion, does that to all players.[10]

Flavor-wise, milling is often portrayed as mental attacks, memory loss, insanity, or drowning.

Related terms[]

"Self-mill" is the informal term of using mill on yourself in order to fill up your own graveyard or dig through your library. Both blue and black get self-mill both as an effect and a cost.[11]

"Grind" is a variation of milling which puts cards from a player's library into their graveyard until a specified number of land cards are put there.

"Deck", as a verb, is used synonymously with mill, but more specifically when a player has the last cards in their library milled or goes to draw from an empty library. One aims to win through decking by milling, but does not necessarily need to mill in order to deck someone.


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

To mill a number of cards, a player puts that many cards from the top of their library into their graveyard. See rule 701.13.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 701.13. Mill
    • 701.13a For a player to mill a number of cards, that player puts that many cards from the top of their library into their graveyard.
    • 701.13b A player can’t mill a number of cards greater than the number of cards in their library. If given the choice to do so, they can’t choose to take that action. If instructed to do so, they mill as many as possible. Similarly, the player can’t pay a cost that includes milling a number of cards greater than the number of cards in their library.
    • 701.13c An effect that refers to a milled card can find that card in the zone it moved to from the library, as long as that zone is a public zone.
    • 701.13d If an ability checks information about a single milled card but more than one card was milled, that ability refers to each of the milled cards. If that ability asks for any information about the milled card, such as a characteristic or mana value, it gets multiple answers. If these answers are used to determine the value of a variable, the sum of the answers is used. If that ability performs any actions on “the” card, it performs that action on each milled card. If that ability performs any actions on “a” card, the controller of the ability chooses which card is affected.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 104.3c If a player is required to draw more cards than are left in their library, they draw the remaining cards and then lose the game the next time a player would receive priority. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704.)


  • If a player is instructed to mill more cards than they have in their library, they put all of the cards in their library into their graveyard. On the other hand, if a player is given a choice to mill more cards than they have in their library, they can't choose to do so.
  • Once a player's library is empty, that player doesn't lose the game until they try to draw a card and can't.

List of mill instants and sorceries[]



Creatures which cause mill[]

Planeswalkers which cause mill[]


Artifacts which cause mill[]

  • Altar of Dementia {2} — Sacrifice a creature: target player (creature's power)
  • Altar of the Brood {1} — Whenever another permanent enters the battlefield under your control, each opponent (one)
  • Heirloom Mirror {1}{B}{1}, {T}, pay 1 life, you (one)
  • Cellar Door {2}{3}, {T}: target player (one) ((from bottom of library))
  • Codex Shredder {1}{T}: target player (one)
  • Decimator Web {4}{4}, {T}: target opponent loses 2 life, gets a poison counter, then (six)
  • Embalmer's Tools {2} — tap an untapped Zombie you control: target player (one)
  • Folio of Fancies {1}{U}{T}: each opponent (number of cards in their hand)
  • Ghoulcaller's Bell {1}{T}: each player (one)
  • Grindclock {2}{T}: put a charge counter on Grindclock. {T}: Target player (X), where X is the number of charge counters on Grindclock.
  • Grinding Station {2}{T}, sacrifice an artifact: target player (three)
  • Grindstone {1}{3},{T}: Target player (two). If both cards share a color, repeat this process.
  • Hair-Strung Koto {6} — tap an untapped creature you control: target player (one)
  • Keening Stone {6}{5}, {T}: target player (X), where X is the number of cards in that player's graveyard.
  • Mesmeric Orb {2} — whenever a permanent becomes untapped, that permanent's controller (one)
  • Millstone {2}{2}, {T}: target player (two)
  • Mindcrank {2} — whenever an opponent loses life (X), where X is amount of life lost
  • Pestilent Cauldron {2}{B}{1}, {T}: each opponent (X), where X is the amount of life you gained this turn
  • Sands of Delirium {3}{X}, {T}: target player (X)
  • Shriekhorn {1} — Shriekhorn enters the battlefield with three charge counters on it. {T}, remove a charge counter from Shriekhorn: target player (two)
  • Screaming Shield {1} — Equipment; equip {3}; equipped creature gets +0/+3 and has {2}, {T}: target player (3).
  • Sword of Body and Mind {3}Equipment - whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield and that player (ten)
  • Tower of Murmurs {4}{8}, {T}: target player (eight)
  • Throne of Death {B} — at the beginning of your upkeep, you (one).
  • Whetstone {3}{3}: each player (two)
  • Whetwheel {4}{X}{X}, {T}: target player (X) - Morph {3}
  • Worry Beads {3} — at the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player (one)

Lands which cause mill[]


Grind is an unused keyword and informal term for a variation of the milling mechanic which puts cards from a library into the graveyard until a specified number of land cards are put there.[12][13] It was originally designed as the Dimir mechanic for Gatecrash.[14] The mechanic was used without the keyword on several cards.[15]

List of grind spells[]



  • Trepanation Blade {3} — Equip {2} - Whenever equipped creature attacks, defending player, reveals a land card; The creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn for each card revealed.





  1. Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (June 29, 2020). "Odds & Ends: Core Set 2021". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (May 28, 2018). "Hi mark i believe in the past youve mentioned...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Eli Shiffrin (June 20, 2020). "Core Set 2021 and Jumpstart Release Notes". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Eli Shiffrin (June 23, 2020). "M21 Oracle Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (January 11, 2010). "Milling, About". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Tom LaPille (January 15, 2010). "Milled Potpourri". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Michael Yichao (August 19, 2015). "Mill Through the Ages". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Gavin Verhey (February 16, 2017). "The Miserable Mill". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (March 12, 2022). "Is mill primary blue, secondary black, tertiary green?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Gottlieb (December 31, 2012). "Gatecrash Diaries". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (January 7, 2013). "Gatecrashing the Party, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (March 27, 2016). "Can you share anything about Cipher?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater (May 23, 2015). "Do you have any trivia on Consuming Aberration?". Blogatog. Tumblr.