Rumors of Mill’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

An In-Depth Look at Cinccino Mill in the UPR–RCL Format
It’ll take more than Dragapult and Giovanni to induce Mill’s obituary.

Hello, my name is Kayan Oladi. I’m an up-and-coming player from Dayton, Ohio who’s one of two people to Day 2 all four Limitless Qualifiers, and the only one to do so with Cinccino Mill. I’ve been playing the Pokémon TCG for about three years now; however, I’ve only started playing competitively this year. Shortly before quarantine started, I decided that I was tired of playing the linear Sword & Shield format. I found blowing things up with Fireball Circus and using Psychic Recharge mind-numbing and unstimulating. Until I picked up Cinccino Mill, ADP/Zacian was the only semi-interesting deck I found. However, even that became tiresome and boring.

I decided that I wanted to play a deck that allowed me to adapt my gameplan to certain matchups, made me think, and provided me with a level of consistency far beyond most other archetypes. That deck was Cinccino Mill.

Why Mill?

Part of Mill’s strength as an archetype lies in its ability to adapt to the metagame and survive most shifts in the meta. An example of this is Mill’s adaptation to counter ADP-GX with Zacian V (ADPZ) during the UPR–SSH format. Initially, Mill ran 4 Crushing Hammer, which made the matchup fairly reliant on flipping heads on Crushing Hammers. At this point, Mill had two major questionable matchups: ADPZ and Mewtwo/Malamar. Fire Box was also a threat; however, Fire Box saw a huge fall-off in play as the format developed further.

In an attempt to improve its ADPZ matchup, Mill players started adding Team Yell Grunts, and, in an attempt to improve its Mewtwo/Mally matchup, Mill players started testing an Aerodactyl-GX in their lists (unfortunately, Aerodactyl didn’t help much). The Yell Grunts allowed the Mill player to have more consistent and frequent outs to Energy disruption, which was its win condition versus ADPZ, while the addition of an Aerodactyl-GX and a F Energy allowed the Mill player to threaten a quick KO on an opposing Mewtwo & Mew-GX that had just used Naganadel-GX FLI’s Stinger-GX attack. Mill’s ability to adapt is shown further when it added Persian TEU to its arsenal.

In response to Mill’s Yell Grunt adaptation, ADPZ started adding multiple copies of Energy Switch into their lists, which allowed the ADPZ player to build a hand where they could get the Altered Creation off without Energy on the board previously. The ability to use Metal Saucer and then move it to the ADP allowed the ADPZ player to circumvent Mill’s efforts to prevent the GX attack. It also served a purpose in the mirror match, but that doesn’t concern Mill. Although Mill could still disrupt the Ultimate Ray, the ADP player could use an Energy Switch again to get Energy onto the ADP or start setting up Zacians. The strategy of building a hand also allowed the ADP player to retrieve their gusting options early, so they wouldn’t get milled.

However, despite all that, Mill counter-adapted. Mill started playing Persian TEU in order to threaten Persian’s Make ‘Em Pay attack, which allows the user to look at their opponent’s hand, and discard specific cards until the opponent only had 4 cards left. This not only prevented the ADPZ player from building such a powerful hand, but also allowed the Mill player to hit key pieces to the ADP player’s strategy and sometimes even brick their opponent. Keep in mind that, if the opponent bricks, they often can’t use Zacian’s Intrepid Sword Ability to draw cards effectively, because Persian can just discard any good cards they draw off of it. Make ‘Em Pay was also very synergistic with Team Yell Grunt, as it allowed the Mill player to threaten the opponent’s hand more by adding a card to their hand.

These adaptations allowed Mill to be slightly more favored in the ADPZ matchup, which was arguably its closest matchup. Mill was in a format where it was favored against almost every popular deck. It’s worth mentioning that some of these adaptations came with a loss of consistency, but it didn’t hurt the deck very much overall. In my opinion, Mill was the best deck of the UPR–SSH format.

The Impact of Rebel Clash on Mill

Heading into Rebel Clash, Mill hit two of its biggest obstacles yet: Dragapult VMAX and Boss’s Orders. Many people assumed that would be the death of Mill. How could Mill survive Dragapult’s spreading? How could it respond to constant gusting on their draw engine? Although these cards do pose a threat to Mill, I think much of the community was ready to throw Mill out, as it has not exactly been the fan-favorite deck of the format. As a result, I think many people were far too quick to turn on Mill. The deck had more obstacles, but—as we’ve seen in the past—Mill just needed to adapt to a new environment.

Going into the Rebel Clash format, successful Mill lists have made two major adaptations:

  1. an adaptation to its list, and
  2. an adaptation to its play-style.

The major adaptation to the standard Mill list has been the addition of Sky Pillar and Lusamine. Sky Pillar allows the Mill player to prevent Dragapult VMAX’s aggressive spread damage, and allows Lillie’s Poké Doll to remain a zero-loss card, where the opponent gains practically nothing by attacking it. Sky Pillar can also serve a role against the PikaRom matchup, and other miscellaneous sniping threats such as Cramorant V. However, its main purpose is to counter Dragapult.

As a support to Sky Pillar as a tech, Lusamine allows the Mill player to effectively respond to Sky Pillar being bumped. Without Lusamine, the only way the Mill player would be able to retrieve their Sky Pillar from the discard would be by using Oranguru UPR’s Resource Management attack, which is an inefficient method in such a close matchup. Lusamine itself can be retrieved with Pal Pad and Cynthia & Caitlin, so it allows the Mill player to have consistent Stadium retrieval. It’s also important to note that, if a Mill player uses Lt. Surge’s Strategy and then plays Lusamine, the Mill pilot can retrieve Faba and Sky Pillar from the discard, which allows the player to remove a Chaotic Swell, which a lot of Dragapult lists are running, and immediately play Sky Pillar.

The major adaptation to Mill’s playstyle in my experience has been a movement toward a more aggressive Mill strategy. Albeit risky, an early Bellelba & Brycen-Man (BBM) can eliminate cards, such as Boss’s Orders, that the opponent needs in order to win the match. I don’t usually find myself playing BBM early if I have a different Supporter that can help me set up my board, but I think a Mill pilot shouldn’t be afraid to attempt to remove some of your opponent’s options at the risk of your own. Keep in mind that a simple Ordinary Rod in hand can often guarantee that the Mill player won’t cripple themselves too severely. Milling a single Boss’s Orders can make the difference between a loss and a win, so any chance to take those out of play is valuable.

I find that Mill’s matchup spread in Rebel Clash has become less polarized as it once was. Mill doesn’t win by a landslide anymore. Many of its games are close. I will still say that PikaRom is extremely favored, but you’ll find that many times it comes down to the last Prize or two. However, Mill lost its worst Tier 1 matchup in Mewtwo/Malamar. Mill doesn’t really have any terrible matchups now. Dragapult is easily its worst matchup, but even that is very winnable.

Decklist

Here is my current Cinccino Mill decklist:

Pokémon (18)

4 Minccino SSH 145

4 Cinccino SWSH009

1 Meowth UNB

1 Persian TEU

2 Oranguru UPR

2 Zacian V

1 Ditto p

1 Girafarig LOT

1 Mew UNB

1 Mimikyu CEC 245

Trainer (39)

4 Bellelba & Brycen-Man

2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

2 Mars

2 Professor’s Research

1 Cynthia & Caitlin

1 Faba

1 Lusamine

1 Tate & Liza

 

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Great Ball

4 Lillie’s Poké Doll

4 Quick Ball

3 Pal Pad

2 Ordinary Rod

 

2 Air Balloon

 

2 Sky Pillar

Energy (3)

1 Capture

1 R

1 Recycle

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 18

* 4 Minccino SSH 145
* 4 Cinccino PR-SW 09
* 1 Meowth UNB 147
* 1 Persian TEU 126
* 2 Oranguru UPR 114
* 2 Zacian V SSH 211
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Girafarig LOT 94
* 1 Mew UNB 76
* 1 Mimikyu CEC 245

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 1 Tate & Liza CES 166
* 1 Lusamine CIN 96
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Crushing Hammer SSH 159
* 2 Sky Pillar CES 144
* 2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy HIF 60
* 4 Great Ball SSH 164
* 1 Faba LOT 173
* 1 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 189
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186
* 4 Lillie’s Poké Doll CEC 267
* 3 Pal Pad SSH 172
* 2 Professor’s Research SSH 201
* 2 Mars UPR 128
* 2 Ordinary Rod SSH 215

##Energy - 3

* 1 Capture Energy RCL 171
* 1 Recycle Energy UNM 212
* 1 R Energy Energy 2

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81417 ******

Most of the list probably won’t be very surprising; however, there are a few other new additions that I think are worth some elaboration.

Card Choices

1-1 Persian TEU

Until Rebel Clash, many Mill lists running Persian ran just the Persian to evolve from Ditto p. However, going into Rebel Clash, I realized how vital Persian became in order to prevent the opponent from holding Boss’s Orders in hand. I needed the ability to not only have multiple outs to its Basic, but also the ability to threaten chaining Persians. Especially in the ADPZ matchup, Mill needs to constantly threaten Persian. This prevents ADPZ from drawing cards so aggressively, which slows them down. As long as you have at least a Meowth or Ditto p on board, ADPZ has to play around Persian, which means you have more time to win the game. Persian is also very good in the Mill mirror. However, I don’t find that to be a very common matchup nowadays.

Persian ProTip

If your opponent has a lot of outs to drawing cards, force them to draw sub-optimally. For example: If the opponent has 2 Professor’s Research, a Quick Ball, an ADP, a Metal Frying Pan, and an Energy, you should discard the Quick Ball and the Energy. Either way, they have an out to drawing cards. However, forcing them to play Professor’s Research guarantees that they don’t play Boss’s Orders that turn, and that forces them to remove 7 cards from their deck, which accelerates your win condition. It’s also important to note that they have to pare their 7-card hand down to at least 4 if you threaten Persian in some manner next turn.

2 Zacian V, 1 Capture Energy

Although the 3rd Zacian isn’t the most uncommon cut, I think it’s important to understand the reasoning behind this. It’s pretty vital to get Zacian V on your board early, which is why many of the UPR–SSH lists played 3. However, I cut the 3rd Zacian in my list for two reasons:

  1. With Zacian being a 2-Prize Pokémon that can be gusted, you won’t need more than 2 in a game, and you run Ordinary Rods if you prize one.
  2. You now have access to Capture Energy. Capture Energy acts as a 3rd out to Zacian, but it also acts as an additional out to any other Basic, so it’s more versatile. In addition, it allows you to combine the needed 3rd Energy with a 9th Pokémon search option, which frees up space for much needed tech cards.

The only negatives behind this replacement is that Great Ball is less likely to find Zacian, and the mirror is slightly harder (you have 2 Energy they can remove with Faba rather than one). However, the mirror isn’t very common, and Persian can assist heavily in that matchup.

1 Mimikyu CEC 245

A common include in a lot of Mill lists is the Mewtwo & Mew-GX/Magcargo-GX combo, where the Mew3 copies Magcargo’s GX attack in order to mill 5 cards. However, I personally opt for the Mimikyu for a few reasons:

  1. it takes up less space,
  2. it’s less prone to being prized than a 2-card combo,
  3. it’s not a bad Pokémon to start, whereas Mewtwo & Mew-GX is a terrible start, and
  4. it doesn’t require a specific Energy type, which makes running the Capture Energy over the 2nd basic Energy less risky.

Mimikyu’s Impersonation attack allows you to use a Supporter in your hand as the effect of the attack. This allows you to play 3 BBM in a single turn, acting as a closer for the game.

2 Mars

Mars is a recent addition that I’m quite proud of. A common issue I had was my opponent effectively playing around Make ‘Em Pay. As a response to this, I added Mars. Mars forces the opponent into a lose/lose scenario. They either don’t pare their hand down and play into Persian, or they reduce their hand to just the good cards and Mars becomes destructive. If your opponent has 3 cards left and you use 2 Mars, your opponent is left with practically nothing and you get to draw 4 additional cards. After adding it, I immediately saw its strength and I consider it one of the most valuable cards to your game plan.

Other Possible Includes

Team Yell Grunt

You may have noticed an omission of Team Yell Grunt in my list. I am currently struggling to find the space for the Team Yell Grunts in my list but I’m heavily considering them. Mill’s most questionable matchups at the moment are ADP decks and Dragapult VMAX. Currently, my list relies a fair bit on having decent luck with Crushing Hammers in those matchups, which I’m not a fan of. Yell Grunt would fix this quite a bit. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, Yell Grunt is very synergistic with Persian. Yell Grunt would also allow Mimikyu to attack to deny Energy, which is another cool use for Mimikyu. Although often unnecessary, using 3 Team Yell Grunt in one turn is a pretty powerful tool to have in one’s arsenal.

Jirachi TEU

A lot of Cinccino Control lists popping up have utilized Jirachi in their lists. Jirachi allows you to dig deeper for key pieces, and adds a nice extra layer of consistency. However, I often don’t find myself comfortable with the Bench space it occupies, and I haven’t found it to be necessary, so I decided against them. In addition, Jirachi requires the player to play Escape Boards over Air Balloons, which makes certain Pokémon such as Zacian V and Oranguru harder to retreat. It’s very minor but it can be annoying.

Boss’s Orders

Boss’s Orders is a very interesting card for me because I don’t find it to have a specific purpose in a specific matchup, which is why I cut it. However, the card still has merit as an include. It’s a very opportunistic card. Sometimes you notice that your opponent is out of options to get one of their support Pokémon out of the Active if it were to be gusted, and that just wins you the game. Will that happen reliably? No. Can it happen and Boss’s Orders wins you the game? Yeah, but I personally don’t want to use a space on that condition at the moment.

Reset Stamp

Reset Stamp allows you to disrupt the opponent’s hand without Persian on the field. It also is very synergistic with Mars, allowing you to leave your opponent with a 0-card hand. However, I don’t find it necessary at the moment. You have Persian and you want to focus on milling. Reset Stamp puts cards back into the deck, which is helpful, but also stalls your win if it’s a large hand. It also doesn’t guarantee that the opponent stays bricked. If you are interested in maintaining a hand lock, I’d recommend trying Cinccino Control, as it is far better equipped to continuously lock the opponent.

Mareep LOT 75

Going into the Rebel Clash Format, I tested a thin Sleep Lock package with Mareep LOT 75 and Slumbering Forest. My main thought process when testing it was that I’d rather rely on a 75% chance that my opponent doesn’t wake up over a reliance on multiple 50/50 chances with Crushing Hammer.

If you are interested, you would cut the Hammers, and add 2 Mareep, 2 Slumbering Forest, and cut the 2nd Sky Pillar for either a Switch or a Scoop Up Net. However, my findings with this build was that it solidified many of Mill’s favorable matchups, but made Mill’s unfavored matchups far worse. Dragapult becomes far less favored. Because the Dragapult matchup usually relies on Crushing Hammers, replacing them with a 50-HP Mareep that dies to a single Max Phantom’s spread makes Dragapult almost unbeatable. The Mareep package effectively repolarizes Mill’s matchup spread. I personally prefer to have a good chance versus everything rather than taking an extremely unfavored matchup against a tier 1 archetype.

Cursed Shovel

Cursed Shovel… what a disappointment. I’m mainly touching upon it in order to explain why it shouldn’t be used. It occupies way too much space, and your opponent will often just gust around it or just choose to not attack into it. It’s extremely underwhelming. Its biggest issue by far is the lack of space. If I had 2–4 spaces I wanted to fill with non-consistency cards, I’d add Yell Grunts. I’d easily add anything else on this list over Shovel.

Matchups and How to Play Them

I think Mill’s success lies in a good understanding of how to deal with each matchup, so I’m going to help give a brief understanding of how to play against each relevant archetype.

PikaRom

The PikaRom matchup is very favored but you need to pay attention to your opponent’s resources and Prizes. Sky Pillar + Mew UNB makes it almost impossible for them to achieve a Tag Bolt once you’ve set up. You need to make sure you always have an Ordinary Rod in order to get Mew back if it’s gusted and Knocked Out. Most of the matchup is hiding behind Dolls while attempting to get rid of their gust options. If you have the opportunity to discard Boltund V, it’s extremely beneficial to do so, as Boltund V acts as a very cheap, hard-hitting option to Knock Out Zacians in one hit. As the Mill pilot, you need to be careful regarding your Zacian V. If your opponent has a gust option left in deck and only has 2 Prizes remaining, it’s often wise to use BBM’s second effect to discard your Zacian from the Bench.

Dragapult VMAX

The Dragapult VMAX matchup varies depending on the opponent’s build. Your two main strategies for the matchup are to disrupt their Energy in order to prevent/stall the Dragapult player from using Max Phantom, and also to prevent spread damage by keeping a Sky Pillar in play. This is where the list of the Dragapult player becomes so relevant. Both Dragapult lists that made Top 8 in Limitless Qualifier 3 played 4 Marnie and 2 Chaotic Swell, which are extremely threatening to your game plan. However, many of the Dragapult lists that utilize Malamar FLI run Viridian Forest as their Stadium, which is a lot easier to respond to as the Mill player. However, it’s important to note that the Malamar/Dragapult variant has a slight advantage over the Swell build in regards to dealing with Mill’s Energy disruption.

I would consider the Marnie/Swell variant to be the hardest variant for Mill to deal with, as a Stadium bump by Chaotic Swell followed by a hand-disruption can cripple a Mill player’s chances. The most forgiving Dragapult list would have to be Micheal Catron’s list from Limitless Qualifier 3, which focused more on Reset Stamp and Power Plant and didn’t play Marnie or Chaotic Swell.

Past the variety in Dragapult VMAX lists, the matchup still requires a fair bit of fortune. You ideally want to mill their Stadium bumps and Boss’s Orders, but that doesn’t always happen. You want to find your Sky Pillars early, but that doesn’t always happen. You want to hit heads on at least a few Crushing Hammers to stall the Dragapult player, but, again, that doesn’t always happen. You don’t need everything to go right, but you need a few things to go your way. The matchup isn’t fun, purely because your strategy to beat Dragapult isn’t absurdly consistent or reliable.

Just a few tips I’ve picked up while testing the ‘Pult matchup:

  • Be careful what you bench. I often find Ditto p a liability in the matchup, and I rarely bench it.
  • Don’t be hasty with your Poké Dolls. Most Dragapult lists run Phione. If you only have one Doll in the Active, a Phione followed by a Max Phantom can mean a lost Pokémon and a lost Doll. If I expect my opponent to have access to Phione while Sky Pillar isn’t in play, I’d wait until you have more Dolls, and ideally have a Sky Pillar in play. Dolls are most useful as a zero-loss card, play to that strength.
  • Never be too confident and never count yourself out. I often can’t even tell who is winning in the Dragapult/Mill matchup until the last turns of the game. I’ve had an amazing start lead to a loss and a questionable start lead to a narrow victory. Play to your outs and see what happens.
  • Persian isn’t amazing in this matchup. Especially if your opponent runs the Marnie build, I rarely see myself needing Persian (consistent Marnies will result in their hand staying fairly small). I usually opt to use the Bench space for another Cinccino, in case my others get Knocked Out due to Boss’s Orders or aggressive spread. Not to say you shouldn’t be opportunistic when it comes to Persian, but I don’t often see a great opportunity.
  • Beware Mr. Mime TEU. If Mr. Mime is on the field and one of your Pokémon has your Recycle Energy on it, Mime prevents the Recycle Energy from returning to hand if the Pokémon has damage on it or gets Knocked Out and the Recycle Energy goes to the discard instead. Make sure not to play into that.

Baby Blacephalon

The Baby Blown matchup is extremely favored. The only things I’d advise to look out for are Cramorant V and Mewtwo UNB + Boss’s Orders. If you don’t get Sky Pillar or Mew down early, Cramorant V can be a nightmare to deal with, as it can pressure you from their first turn. One of the few times I’ve lost against Baby Blowns was because I had a slower start and they kept using Spit Shot and I never set up properly.

I rarely see it, but occasionally I see a Baby Blown list running a single Boss’s Orders with either a Mewtwo UNB or a Pal Pad. If they do this, just use Girafarig’s Get Lost attack to Lost Zone the Boss whenever they can’t get it out of the discard or you mill it. If they somehow play around that, just don’t bench another Zacian until you can get rid of it.

Another thing Baby Blowns has to annoy you is the occasional Victini p. Victini p doesn’t win them the matchup by any means. Victini is rarely an include now, but all you have to do to play around it is to not mill them. If you don’t mill them, they won’t have any more R Energy in the discard, so they won’t be able to attack with Victini again. They have to pivot between another attacker and the Victini p, but they won’t be able to pivot forever, so you can just gather some Crushing Hammers and when you feel the time is right (usually when they run out of Welders) you can Hammer both Energy off the Victini p and start aggressively milling again, they won’t have a huge deck by then, so the single turn of stalling will be enough to win the game.

ADP/Zacian

I’ve already touched upon most of the main strategy behind this matchup: hitting Crushing Hammers can be crucial, and you want to constantly threaten Persian. If you have both Meowth and Ditto on the field, evolve the Ditto into Persian. Some ADPZ decks have been running Mewtwo UNB and Scoop Up Net combo, which also utilizes Galarian Zigzagoon SSH. Although unlikely, I’ve had situations where my opponent has pinged my Ditto 4 times with Zigzagoon’s Ability and then Knocked Out my Persian, which prevented me from utilizing Persian the next turn.

Keep in mind that it’s especially important to be careful with your resources. If ADP gets the Altered Creation off, you will likely only get to use Resource Management once or twice if you’re lucky.

Welder Mewtwo

The Welder Mewtwo matchup is rather straightforward. Sit behind Lillie’s Poké Dolls and try to use Crushing Hammers to prevent Espeon & Deoxys’s Cross Divide-GX attack. Utilize Girafarig to Lost Zone their attackers in their discard. Always be careful regarding Magcargo-GX, as its GX attack can end the game for you as well. If you have the opportunity to Lost Zone it, Magcargo should be your first priority. An advantage Mill has is its ability to completely remove Mewtwo’s attackers. Abusing Girafarig can lead to Mewtwo losing some of its best attackers for the matchup such as Solgaleo-GX SM104 and Magcargo-GX.

Ultimate Mewtwo

The Ultimate Mewtwo matchup varies quite a bit depending on the opponent’s list. It’s similar to the Welder Mewtwo matchup in that you want to restrict their options to attack with Girafarig. However, depending on how it’s built, Ultimate Mewtwo can either be far less favorable or far more favorable depending on the Pokémon it runs. The two hardest Pokémon to deal with in the Ultimate Mewtwo matchup are ADP-GX and Alolan Raticate-GX. It’s important to note that the highest placing Ultimate Mewtwo list in Limitless Qualifier 3 didn’t play either of those. However, the highest placing Ultimate Mewtwo list in Limitless Qualifier 4 played both of them. If they do play those, you play Crushing Hammer to try and stall the Altered Creation-GX, and try to Lost Zone the Alolan Raticate whenever possible. Ultimate Mewtwo doesn’t run any Energy recovery, so once you have milled and discarded a bunch of Energy, Alolan Raticate is their best option to attack, which you can remove with Girafarig and leave them helpless.

Control/Mirror Match

The Cinccino mirror match, whether Control or Mill, is heavily reliant on Persian. Your goal to win the match is to prevent your opponent from using Oranguru’s Resource Management attack, while still being able to yourself. This is accomplished by using Faba on their Recycle Energy, and using Crushing Hammer to discard their basic Energy and following up with Girafarig to completely remove their Energy from the game. However, Persian allows you to punish your opponent if they build a big hand, which is what Cinccino does.

I often find that the person to find Persian first usually wins. I’ve had scenarios where I’ve discarded a 20+ card hand down to 4 and took away every tool my opponent had for the matchup. Cinccino can’t survive losing that many resources that quickly. As soon as you use Make ‘Em Pay, your opponent has to rush to find a way to get their key pieces out of the discard so that you don’t Lost Zone them with Girafarig the next turn, and they rarely succeed in doing so.

ADP/Spiritomb

The ADP/Tomb matchup is close, and it is essentially an ADPZ matchup where they don’t have Energy Switch, but they only need 1 Energy to attack with their secondary attacker. I find that the ADP/Tomb matchup often comes down to how long you can stall with Crushing Hammers and how many gust opportunities your opponent has. Phione CEC is a staple in the deck, so it’s important to always have 2 Poké Dolls in play on turns you are trying to hide behind Dolls. I’ve found Persian to be less influential in the matchup, as they don’t have access to Intrepid Sword. Although, it’s always good to threaten it. Faba is really beneficial early on, as it acts as a guaranteed Energy removal on most of their Energy.

Probably the most annoying thing ADP/Tomb can play are Pokémon Catchers, because it allows them to high roll you on gusts. Fortunately, none of the ADP/Tomb that made Day 2 in Limitless Qualifier 3 or 4 played Pokémon Catchers.

Zacian Combo and Zacian/LucMetal

The Zacian Combo archetype (Zacian utilizing Jirachi p) is often similar to the ADPZ matchup, but frailer, in that they can’t take the extra Prize consistently, and it is more vulnerable to Mill discarding its vital pieces. Mill can often target Switches in order to force the Zacian player to miss an attack. Taking advantage of Persian is always a viable strategy versus a deck with Zacian V in it.

The Zacian/LucMetal archetype is very favored. You can implore a similar strategy to that you use versus the Zacian Combo deck, but they don’t have the ability to take extra Prizes, and they play into Persian just as hard. Besides bricking, Mill shouldn’t lose against Zacian Lucmetal.

Mill vs. Control?

So far I have mildly touched upon Cinccino Control. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Which is better?” or “Is it all that different?” To be honest, I don’t think either is better. I think each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Control has a stronger matchup spread on paper, and the higher-placing lists are very similar to Mill. However, the high-placing Control lists sacrifice consistency for the cards they need to run to completely lock the opponent. My mill list runs 9 Pokémon-search cards and I experience the occasional bad start.

The Control list that got Top 4 at Qualifier 3 and the Control list that won the recent PokeX “Perfection” tournament both played only 5 Pokémon-search cards. Current Control lists are inherently less consistent. They run a thinner Cinccino line, and they often need to build a large hand in order to pull off the full hand-lock. This leaves Cinccino Control more vulnerable to Marnie than Mill, which is relevant with the heavy play Marnie is seeing at the moment. It’s easy to make the conclusion that Control is better than Mill just by studying recent tournament results.

However, not many people are giving Mill a chance. I believe it to be far more reliable as an archetype than Control at the moment. In the end, I think it comes down to play style. Do you want a longer game that you can completely lock your opponent from, or do you want a more aggressive, more consistent archetype that can get unlucky if the opponent draws something good at the wrong time? I personally opt for consistency and aggressiveness.

Closing Thoughts

I think Mill is very well placed in the current meta. Most matchups are favored, with only a couple of questionables. Cinccino Mill is extremely versatile and can adapt to almost anything. That being said, you have to be willing to modify the list to handle any changes in the meta.

Moving forward, Mill has another obstacle to adapt to: Aipom SM244. Aipom is splashable in any deck, and can terrorize a Mill player’s hand. However, Mill has always adapted and Mill has always overcome. I find it hard to believe that Aipom will be the end of Mill. Mill players will just have to get creative.

I highly suggest that anyone interested in Mill gives it a try. People are often quick to judge Mill, as they don’t agree with how it wins. However, that logic can be applied to anything. I don’t like how Baby Blacephalon can pull a 350-damage attack from nowhere. Don’t let people’s opinions stop you from trying an interactive and enjoyable deck.

Mill is far from dead. People were quick to throw it out, but it still thrives in our current meta. It’s harder to pilot than it once was, but it still has a stable foothold in the game. I personally think Mill is still a Tier 1 deck. It was Tier 1 in UPR–SSH and all that changed was that it swapped a near-unwinnable matchup with a slightly unfavored one. Don’t be discouraged by its lack of placements, I bubbled out of Top 64 after sleeping through the first two rounds of Day 2 of Q3 and almost won out from there. The deck is powerful, and I will be surprised if it doesn’t see a major uptick in play once people realize its current potential.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I appreciate your time. I hope I was able to educate in some way. Hopefully I’ve inspired some people to pick up Mill for the first time, or reassured some previous Mill players that the deck can still thrive. I think if there’s ever a time to pick Mill up, it’s now. Mill thrives in a format where no one expects it.

Reader Interactions

6 replies

  1. Olaf

    This is an extremely informative and well-written article. I must say that most of the pay-walled articles do not reach this level of quality and insight. Chapeau!

    Having said that, I am sorry to tell you that your text was useless for me, because I will never play mill or control in my life. The key to this decision is already in your text. You write: “Don’t let people’s opinions stop you from trying an interactive and enjoyable deck”. That’s just another way of saying: “I don’t care if my opponent enjoys the game as long as I do.” I do not share this attitude.

    As a subscriber, I would like to suggest to the editors and authors of this site to focus more on the majority of their readers who are not interested in playing mill/control themselves. This means: instead of publishing articles that teach how to play mill/control, I would like to read texts that explain how to beat these decks. For each of the popular meta decks, I would love to have some guidelines on how to tackle mill/control best. It could be one big text (“How to beat mill/control”), or a section in every new deck profile, outlining the best strategies and techs against degenerate decks. Thanks in advance.

    • Alex Schemanske  → Olaf

      Hi, mini essay alert, I’ve written like 10 different responses to this in my head, but I’m going with this one.

      As a writer and somewhat decent player, Mill and Control decks are easily the most skill intensive decks in the last few years of formats.

      First, I need to establish that there is a massive difference between “Mill” and “Control.” A Mill deck does not prevent its opponent from playing the game like a Control deck does. One of the most dynamic matchups (ADP vs Cinccino Mill) of the UPR-SSH format directly involved a Mill deck. The point here is that Mill decks do not actively prevent the opponent from playing the game, rather they choose to go after an alternate win condition which technically any deck is capable of winning through.

      Mill does not equal Control

      Alright, next point. Part of beating Mill is understanding it’s lines of play, so even to someone who thinks “this entire text is useless,” an article detailing Mill to such an extent as this one does is an incredible asset to both playing Mill and playing against it. Not enough people realize articles are more than just lists. They’re also resources to use when playing against the coveted deck(s).

      If we have no articles covering mill, we are denying our readers access to what’s potentially the most valuable resource we can give them. On top of that, there are players who do enjoy these decks, and us creating no content about them is harmful to them.

      I’m going to use a recent example. I was the first writer to cover Cinccino Mill before OCIC, and had the deck not been covered by any content creators, it easily could have run over the entire event. Even worse, if I don’t write about the very broken deck I’ve helped create, I’m essentially deceiving my readers. That’s a big no no in the morals department.

      I have often been vocal in my dislike for control decks until recently, and have been known to actively hard counter them on occasion. However, the decks are a part of the game, and were obviously designed to be relevant by those who create cards. We can’t change that, nor would I want to.

      This article is incredible, especially because it’s free content. I legitimately cannot fathom complaining about free content.

  2. Kayan Oladi

    Thanks for the compliment and sorry you couldn’t take much away from it. I will agree that providing an strategy for tackling the Mill matchup or any matchup for that matter is a good idea. I think that because Mill isn’t seeing a lot of play, people aren’t concerned with it at the moment. I’ll keep your thoughts in mind. :)

  3. Ryan Hoel

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article. Very thorough–I enjoyed reading it.

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