After spending the last couple of installments talking about playing fair, today we are going to take a look at a deck that is both interactive and a combo deck. Like many decks in Immortal, the deck we are going to talk about today has roots in an old standard deck that has since rotated. The combo finish in our Terror Mill deck utilizes these two powerful cards:
How the combo works is we use Phenteo to load some Terrorantula eggs into our opponent’s deck. Ideally we want nine or more eggs in their deck before we attempt to combo. Then we deploy Azurefate Sorceress with the Major Sapphire of Subterfuge. This means Azurefate causes the top four cards of our opponent’s deck to be put into their crypt. If there is an egg in those four cards, a five cost Terrorantula is created. This spider gets inspired by Azurefate which causes another ten cards to be put from our opponent’s deck into their crypt. Then if there are any eggs in these ten cards, another ten cards get flipped over. Very quickly our opponent’s entire deck ends up in their crypt and we end up with a giant army of spiders.
If you want to see what it looks like when the combo happens see this video.
The Terror Mill deck is so much more than just a combo finish though. Let’s take a look at what a current iteration looks like.
Let’s take a look at a sample decklist shall we?
4x Exarch of the Egg
3x Webborn Apostate
4x Phenteo the Brood Priest
3x Azurefate Sorceress [Major Sapphire of Subterfuge and Minor Sapphire of Mischief]
Actions, Artifacts, Constants
4x Arcane Focus
1x Call the Grave
1x Psychic Ascension
5x Blood Shard
1x Necropolis Coins
4x Sapphire Shard
2x Scrios Coins
4x Shard of Cunning
4x Well of Cunning
4x Zin’xith Silk
At its core Terror Mill is a Blood-Sapphire Control deck first and a combo deck second. Because Phenteo is a Vennen, we do not have to play that many more other Vennen troops to easily gain access to Zin’xith Silk in our resource base:
Exarch of the Egg is actually a fairly well positioned card in the Immortal format. Because it has lethal it is able to hold the ground against troops much larger than itself – including Spellshield Rune Ear Hierophants. In our deck with other Vennen the egg ability of Exarch is also extremely relevant as well, often able to put four or more eggs into their deck most games. This means even against midrange and controlling decks Exarch is a reasonable threat that will generate us some value in the late game.
Webborn Apostate is a card that may seem odd on the surface. This is because it is a card that has not even seen much play in Standard, however Immortal is a bit of a different beast. In Immortal there are lots of people looking to do broken things in the early turns and many of these strategies are counting on their champion activation to “go off”. Webborn Apostate allows us to commit some pressure to the table without having to worry about getting comboed the following turn since we are putting them behind a charge.
We talked a bit about Phenteo above and the role he plays in the combo. Part of the reason Terror Mill is a good deck, though, is that Phenteo is a reasonable card outside of the combo as well. Against aggressive decks, Phenteo provides a fairly sizable road block with his 1/4 stats. Against slower decks, the eggs he is loading up into their deck are still scary even without the threat of a game ending combo.
As we move past the troops we find the reason this archetype is so powerful – its interaction.
Transmogrifade and Herofall are probably the two most powerful and flexible pieces of removal in Immortal and this deck gets to play a full playset of each. Transmogrifade allows us to quickly downgrade cheap threats against aggressive decks, while also turning things as scary as Walking Calamity into something more manageable. It also provides a clean answer to historically difficult to beat threats such as Lixil the Deathless Gem. Herofall is just a clean answer to most problems our opponents could play out while also generating card advantage on occasion when taking a card out of their hand.
Past our spot removal we also have access to arguably the best sweeper Hex currently has:
This card punishes opponents for going wide against us, while also giving us a clean way to mop up any stragglers left behind from Transmogrifade. It is the “reset” button that control decks need on occasion.
Beyond our ability to interact with things that are already in play, Terror Mill is powerful because of its ability to interact with our opponent’s hand and things on the chain:
Inquisition can be used both aggressively and defensively. Against fast combo decks, or decks with low threat density, Inquisition can take key cards away from our opponent in order to slow them down to a manageable pace. Against midrange and other control decks, Inquisition can often clear removal out of our opponent’s hand to make it safe to stick our Phenteo and start setting up our combo. Deny plays a similar, but more reactive, role. It plays well with our copies of Azurefate Sorceress which are quick.
Tying our deck together are four copies of Arcane Focus. This is just a flexible card that is valuable in most decks that can produce Sapphire. Against combo decks it can find our disruption faster, while against aggressive decks it can help us dig for that copy of Extinction we desperately need. In addition, it helps us hit our resource drops in the early game.
The last two non-resources in our main deck are one ofs that help us against other removal heavy decks:
Call the Grave acts a “fifth” copy of Phenteo against removal heavy decks. More importantly, against opposing Herofall decks, Call gives us a way to still get a Phenteo into play after he has fallen. Also, keep in mind that Call the Grave can take a troop from any crypt. So against other decks with Blood and Sapphire troops, we can snag something from their discard pile as well.
Psychic Ascension is a one card “win the game” against the more grindy decks in the format when we can get to it. Any time we resolve a Psychic Ascension in a Herofall “mirror” we will generally be hard pressed to lose.
As we move into the reserves we will find a lot of additional copies of tools we have in our main deck. This allows us to configure ourselves post reserves with whatever tools are best for a given matchup. To start, we have some supplemental board control:
As well as some additional tools for interacting with cards on the chain:
Lastly, we have a few tools for when games are slowing down a bit and we want to be less combo oriented and more value focused:
Lanupaw’s Sight is everything we want to be doing in any match that is slowing down. Drawing three cards for three resources is a rate that is difficult for most decks that are trying to 1 for 1 to keep up with.
Vampire Princess is an extremely flexible card that is generally good against the two extremes the format has to offer. Against aggressive decks, she is a 2/3 with Lifedrain that can buffer our health total. Against control decks, she is a must answer threat that pressures their hand.
Something Borrowed is a “catch all” answer to troublesome cards like Mind’s Pyre or Drowned Shrine, while also being a clean answer to something like Underworld Crusader that we can then play out ourself.
The first Immortal Championship has come and gone, but the format is still growing and developing in terms of which decks are optimal. This section will talk about some of the more popular decks in the format recently and what roles we should take against them when playing the Terror Mill deck.
The winner of the first Immortal Championship was the Mono Sapphire Empress deck. On average, I think this is a good matchup for the Terror Mill deck. They are fairly soft to our targeted removal and the combination of Herofall and Extinction will generally be more than enough to keep their board in check. Post board we trim some of our more grindy elements, such as Call the Grave / Ascension and a couple Exarch of the Egg, to bring in some more interactive cards such as Strangle, the additional Extinctions, and a Cheap Shot. Cheap Shot can combine with Strangle to kill their five defense troops and it can kill Copycat in response to it targeting something.
The second place deck in the championship was another mono shard deck – Ruby Angus. This deck is a bit harder of a matchup for us because in addition to having aggressive curves, they also have a plethora of reach to steal games after we have stabilized the board. Thankfully, we also have more tools in the reserves that are reasonable here as well.
Extinction is less than stellar in this matchup because their deck has a good mix of troops and actions. They are also fairly quick to empty their hand so we should cut Inquisition as well for more cards that can impact the board. We bring in Vampire Princess, Cheap Shot, and Strangle. These allow us to match their curves with removal in the early game and buffer our health total a bit as the game goes long.
The matches where Terror Mill really shines are against the other combo decks in the format such as BD Conversion and SW Turns. While we are generally a couple of turns slower than these other combo decks in terms of goldfishing, we have more than enough tools to interact with them profitably. Against the Conversion deck we want to prioritize spot removal and interrupts, while against the Taking Turns deck we want to prioritize discard and interrupts.
The hardest matchups for Terror Mill are opposing Herofall decks. The five shard Lixil deck is easily the most popular of these right now. The important thing to remember when playing against the Herofall decks is that we are a control deck first and a combo deck second. Generally the games we win against these decks will involve Psychic Ascension more often than combo finishes.
We want to trim less impactful Vennen, such as Exarch of the Egg, as well as most of our copies of Azurefate Sorceress. We want to bring in our additional copies of Deny, Sight, Something Borrowed, and Vampire Princess.
If you want to see a couple matches of the Terror Mill deck in action, check out my video archive below.
If you are looking for a combo control deck in the Immortal format than I think Terror Mill is easily one of the best choices right now. It has all of the tools you need to fight against a variety of strategies while also having a strong proactive plan that can let you steal some games you are behind in.
Have a question about this archetype that I did not cover in the article above? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Thanks for reading.