BFZ: Is there a G/U deck?

In Battle for Zendikar, blue and green have the most cards with converge and the most cards that generate Eldrazi Scion tokens. That means G/U could potentially function as a deck that uses manafixing to maximize converge and/or a deck that uses ramp spells and Eldrazi Scions to cast expensive spells. However, are there enough of either card to make this a deck that can be consistently drafted?

Let’s take a look at the blue and green converge cards first:

  • Blue: Brilliant Spectrum, Roilmage’s Trick, Exert Influence (rare), Prism Array (rare)
  • Green: Tajuru Stalwart, Infuse with the Elements (uncommon), Woodland Wanderer (rare)
  • G/U: Skyrider Elf (uncommon), Bring to Light (rare)

Neither of the blue commons with converge are particularly good, especially in multiples, so there’s little reason for a converge deck to be G/U. Green provides both the manafixing and the good commons and uncommons, so any G/X deck can play the green converge cards and splash Exert Influence and the G/U cards. G/W Allies is the most likely candidate since it often splashes additional colors for Unified Front anyway, and Tajuru Stalwart and Skyrider Elf are also Allies.

Next, let’s consider the cards that produce Eldrazi Scion tokens to see whether a G/U deck is likely to end up with enough of them to build a ramp deck.

  • Colorless: Spawning Bed (uncommon), Blight Herder (rare) = average of 1.3 cards in an 8-person draft
  • Blue: Eldrazi Skyspawner, Incubator Drone, Adverse Conditions (uncommon), Drowner of Hope (rare) = average of 6.1
  • Green: Call the Scions, Eyeless Watcher, Brood Monitor (uncommon), Void Attendant (uncommon), From Beyond (rare) = average of 7.0

An 8-person draft usually has about 3 people in each color, but many drafters tend to avoid green in Battle for Zendikar, so we’ll instead assume that there are 2 green drafters and 3.5 drafters in each other color. Then, we might expect to end up with 1.7 of the blue cards and 3.5 of the green cards, along with an occasional colorless card. Unfortunately, both the green commons are filler and a G/U ramp deck would have to play them in order to have more than a couple of cards that produce Eldrazi Scion tokens.

A G/U ramp deck would also have access to more traditional green ramp spells. However, green gains little from being paired with blue in that scenario, and is probably be better off as a R/G landfall deck since the ramp spells help it trigger landfall more frequently.

Unfortunately, a deck like this is likely to have draws that only have ramp spells/filler Scion producers or only have expensive spells with insufficient ramp. Also, the environment has a number of ways to deal with large creatures: white has Sheer Drop and Smite the Monstrous, blue has Clutch of Currents, Murk Strider, and Tightening Coils, black has Bone Splinters, and all colors have access to Scour from Existence, and that’s just at common.

Consequently, it seems that G/U(/x/y) is not a good color combination in this environment. Blue has little to offer in terms of converge spells and G/W Allies can make better use of the green converge spells. Similarly, blue has little to offer in terms of ramp spells and R/G landfall can make better use of the green ramp spells.

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M15: G/U creature reuse

Magic 2015 has a plethora of ways to return permanents, especially creatures, to your hand. Some of these, such as Into the Void, can be used on opponents’ creatures and so are always playable if you’re in the color. Others, such as Peel from Reality and Quickling, are instant speed and so are usually playable even if you don’t have particularly cheap creatures or creatures with enters-the-battlefield (ETB) triggers. However, cards such as Invasive Species and Roaring Primadox usually need to be in a deck with multiple ETB triggers in order to shine, so let’s take a look at what Magic 2015 has to offer in that department.

The list below has all the permanents in Magic 2015 that have ETB triggers, sorted by color and rarity. I’ve bolded the common/uncommon creatures that we really want to recur, or that provide a reasonable benefit when we recur other creatures. Italics mean that this permanent has an ETB effect that allows you to reuse creatures.

  • White:
    • commons: Heliod’s Pilgrim (x), Kinsbaile Skirmisher (/, ETB is irrelevant), Midnight Guard (~, ETB is irrelevant), Tireless Missionaries (x)
    • uncommons: Boonweaver Giant (x), Constricting Sliver (B, but it’s only useful to recur Slivers played before Constricting Sliver was played, and the set has very few good Slivers)
    • rares: Resolute Archangel (B), Spirit Bonds (+)
    • non-creatures: Divine Favor (common, x)
  • Blue:
    • commons: Coral Barrier (/, but ETB is rarely relevant), Frost Lynx (/)
    • uncommons: Kapsho Kitefins (+), Quickling (+)
  • Black:
    • commons: Necromancer’s Assistant (~, ETB is useful only in a very specific archetype), Rotfeaster Maggot (S)
    • uncommons: Gravedigger (/)
  • Red:
    • commons: Forge Devil (/), Foundry Street Denizen (~, ETB is irrelevant)
    • rares: Hoarding Dragon (B, ETB is irrelevant since you lose access to the exiled artifact if you bounce Hoarding Dragon), Siege Dragon (B, ETB is rarely relevant)
    • non-creatures: Hammerhand (common)
  • Green:
    • commons: Invasive Species (?), Living Totem (/), Satyr Wayfinder (/), Shaman of Spring (/), Undergrowth Scavenger (?, ETB is irrelevant except perhaps in a B/G self-mill deck)
    • uncommons: Reclamation Sage (+)
    • rares: Genesis Hydra (+), Hornet Queen (B), Kalonian Twingrove (+)
    • non-creatures: Verdant Haven (/, ETB is irrelevant)
  • Artifact/Land (all non-creatures):
    • commons: Radiant Fountain (S)
    • uncommons: Meteorite (~), Staffs of the X Magus (x)
    • rares: Obelisk of Urd (?, ETB is rarely relevant), Phyrexian Revoker (~, ETB is rarely relevant)

Looking over this list, it is clear that there are only a small number creatures that we want to replay or that cause us to want to replay other creatures. Most of these creatures are in blue and green, which are also the colors with the most ways to bounce your creatures. Blue has Peel from Reality at common, Quickling at uncommon, and Mercurial Pretender at rare. It also has other cards that let you bounce your own creatures or your opponents’ creatures: Void Snare at common, Into the Void at uncommon, and Jace the Living Guildpact at mythic. Green has Invasive Species at common and Roaring Primadox at uncommon. Of these cards, only Void Snare and Jace the Living Guildpact let you bounce non-creatures, so we do not have a reliable way to reuse ETB effects on those.

Consequently, a creature reuse deck will usually be G/U, and the colors do have enough bounce and ETB effects that the 2 groups of cards can build off each other. The colors also have cheap creatures with ETB effects, so Invasive Species and Roaring Primadox can be played relatively on curve. It is worth noting that Satyr Wayfinder is the only creature in these colors that would be played on turn 1-2 and still have a useful ETB effect, so you should make sure to pick up a few of them if you’re drafting this deck. They can also fix your colors to some extent, so they can give you the option to splash ETB creatures from other colors.

JOU: Additions to the enchantment reuse deck

I’d previously written about a deck that might use Floodtide Serpent to reuse enchantments, primarily cantrip enchantments, but also some others. Journey into Nyx also brings us 3 additional ways to reuse enchantments: Kiora’s Dismissal, Riptide Chimera, and Triton Cavalry. An 8-person JOU/BNG/THS draft has an average of 0.4 copies of any given Journey into Nyx uncommon, so there are likely to be 1.2 copies of these 3 cards, roughly equal to the number of Floodtide Serpents you’re likely to see (1.3).

Reusing enchantments works well with constellation since you can retrigger each of your constellation abilities. In addition, there are a couple of Journey into Nyx cards that work especially well in this deck:

  • Harvestguard Alseids allows you to attack with Floodtide Serpent without worrying about losing it in combat.
  • Crystalline Nautilus becomes reusable removal if you bestow an opponent’s creature, target that creature, and then return Crystalline Nautilus to your hand once it’s a creature. Journey into Nyx also provides several reuable targeting effect on permanents with constellation: Harvestguard Alseids, Whitewater Naiads, Dreadbringer Lampads, Forgeborn Oreads, Goldenhide Ox, Oakheart Dryads, and Strength from the Fallen.
  • Dictate of Kruphix can become a one-sided Howling Mine if played on your opponent’s turn and returned to your hand during your turn. (It doesn’t work with Riptide Chimera, however, since that requires you to return the enchantment on your upkeep.)

(Note that Skybind doesn’t fit in this deck because it only allows you to flicker nonenchantment permanents.)

There are also 3 green cards that might fit well in this deck: Kruphix’s Insight, Reviving Melody, and Strength from the Fallen. Strength from the Fallen is likely unplayable since it has a very high setup cost; it requires you to have a large number of enchantments in your deck, to have creatures in your graveyard, creatures in play (to receive the +X/+X bonus), and to be on the offensive (since the set provides only a few ways to have an enchantment enter the battlefield at instant speed).

Given the above analysis, I will now rate 3 of the TBD cards from my evaluation of Journey into Nyx cards:

  • Triton Cavalry: good; defends while you set up your combos
  • Kruphix’s Insight: good; stocks your graveyard while drawing you cards
  • Strength from the Fallen: unplayable

BNG: Floodtide Serpent and the enchantment reuse deck

Since the release of BNG, I’ve primarily drafted very aggressive decks, usually after being passed multiple copies of Loyal Pegasus, Fanatic of Xenagos, and/or red removal spells. I haven’t yet tried the archetypes I’d theorized that Born of the Gods might make possible. I’m particularly eager to try the enchantment reuse deck since I often see Floodtide Serpent late. I did once draft 2 Floodtide Serpents and 4 cantrip Auras (2 Dragon Mantles, 1 Stratus Walk, and 1 Fate Foretold) but left them in the sideboard because I had a U/R spells deck with Flamespeaker Adept, 2 Spellheart Chimeras, and a Prescient Chimera and so needed my noncreature slots for spells and not Auras.

Let’s consider which colors are best able to exploit Floodtide Serpent. Here are several ways to profit from bouncing and replaying enchantments, listed in order of descending importance for BNG/THS/THS drafts, along with the color(s) that benefit most (-C means that it interacts with rares or mythics in that color and so is less relevant):

  1. (U, G) Reusing enchantment with enters-the-battlefield effects: The format has several cantrip Auras — 1 in white, 3 in blue (including Eternity Snare), 2 in black, 1 in red, and 2 in green — plus Raised by Wolves and Ephara’s Enlightenment.
  2. (W, U, G) Retriggering heroic abilities: W/U and G/W have the most number of creatures with heroic, but both tend to be quite aggressive and probably wouldn’t run a 5-mana 4/4 maindeck.
  3. (all colors) Converting bestow creatures into bestow Auras: This is useful if you have a creature with bestow (either because you cast it as a creature early or because the creature it was enchanting died) and you’d prefer to have it be an Aura.
  4. (W, U, G) Moving Auras from one creature to another: You may want to move certain powerful Auras like Eidolon of Countless Battles, Ghostblade Eidolon, or Flitterstep Eidolon to a different creature as a game progresses. Or you can use it with Feral Invocation or Boon Satyr to make combat difficult. Or you can use it with the Ordeals to get additional +1/+1 counters (although you have to return a different enchantment, otherwise you won’t get the counter).
  5. (R) Bouncing borrowed enchantment creatures: This works with Akroan Conscriptor and Portent of Betrayal. The borrowed creature won’t get to do combat damage, but your opponent loses tempo and any Auras on the creature fall off.
  6. (U, -W/R) Moving a removal Aura to a different creature: This works with Eternity Snare, Chained to the Rock, and perhaps Viper’s Kiss. (You can’t use Chained to the Rock to trigger enters-the-battlefield effects on your creatures that aren’t also enchantments since it can only target an opponent’s creature.)
  7. (all colors) Rescuing an enchantment creature you control from some removal Auras: This is primarily useful against Eternity Snare and sometimes Viper’s Kiss. (Floodtide Serpent doesn’t work against Chained to the Rock since that exiles the creature.)
  8. (-R, -W/U, -G/W) Replaying enchantments to trigger enters-the-battlefield effects of other permanents: Purphoros God of the Forge, Ephara God of the Polis, and Karametra God of Harvests. These are all mythics, so this situation will rarely arise.
  9. (-G) Getting a second use out of an enchantment that has/confers a tap ability: This can potentially be used with Epiphany Storm (requires 3 mana + tapping 2 creatues), Ephara’s Radiance (5 mana + 2 creatures), Evanescent Intellect (5 mana + 2 creatures), Claim of Erebos (6 mana + 2 creatures), Bow of Nylea (7 mana), Oracle’s Insight (8 mana + 2 creatures), Hammer of Purphoros (9 mana). However, there are easier ways to reuse tap abilities granted by the Auras, and you’re unlikely to get to 9 mana if you have a Hammer of Purphoros in play, so this is mostly useful with Bow of Nylea, a rare that is rarely passed.
  10. (-B) Removing enchantments you no longer want in play: This is only useful if you need to get Herald of Torment out of play, a situation that should rarely arise.

(Note that the enchantment is returned as the attack is declared, so you don’t get the trigger from cards like Spiteful Returned and Thunderous Might before they return to your hand. It is also not a combo with Perplexing Chimera because it only allows you to return a creature you control you to hand, not a creature you own.)

Looking over this list, we see that white, blue, and green have the most cards that work with Floodtide Serpent. However, W/U and G/U both tend to be aggressive decks in this format, and Floodtide Serpent is better suited to a control deck that can win by eking out card advantage. The control decks in this format are usually B/X or U/R, and we’ve already observed that U/R is not a good color pair for Floodtide Serpent. That leaves U/B and perhaps B/G/u. And there might also be a G/U control deck that uses Sedge Scorpions and Omenspeakers to hold the ground and mana acceleration to cast Floodtide Serpent earlier, while gaining incremental card advantage with Floodtide Serpent and Meletis Astronomer.

The good U/B decks I’ve drafted tend to run a lot of removal, and don’t usually have a lot of space for Auras. A U/B inspired deck could be a good home for Floodtide Serpent, but inspired creatures + cantrip Auras that grant evasion + Floodtide Serpents is a lot to ask of a single pack of Born of the Gods. However, it might be more feasible if you’re drafting with 2-3 packs of Born of the Gods.

B/G decks tend to focus on devotion or the graveyard. There are few enchantments that interact with the graveyard other than Evanescent Intellect, but B/G/u devotion is a possible home for Floodtide Serpent. The deck is happy to run Auras to increase devotion and can afford to run a couple of splash cards even though they don’t contribute to devotion.

Let’s look at which cards in blue, green, and black would work well in a control deck with Floodtide Serpent:

  • Commons: Chorus of the Tides, Fate Foretold, Stratus Walk, Wavecrash Triton // Baleful Eidolon, Grisly Transformation, Scourgemark // Sedge Scorpion, Feral Invocation, Karametra’s Favor, Nylea’s Presence, Setessan Oathsworn, Staunch-Hearted Warrior
  • Uncommons: Eternity Snare, Flitterstep Eidolon, Meletis Astronomer, Triton Fortune Hunter // Ashiok’s Adept, Ordeal of Erebos (if drawn late), Tormented Hero // Centaur Battlemaster, Order of Nylea (if drawn late and you already have access to blue mana), Raised by Wolves
  • Rares: Agent of the Fates // Anthousa Setessan Hero, Boon Satyr, Bow of Nylea, Hero of Leina Tower // Prophet of Kruphix // Astral Cornucopia

There seem to be enough cards that this deck might be possible. As always, keep in mind that an 8-person BNG/THS/THS will only have an average of 1.3 copies of any Born of the Gods common, so you don’t usually want to draft this deck unless you’re already in these colors and have a couple of Floodtide Serpents.

THS: G/U skies

I had a chance last night to draft one of the archetypes I’d theorized about in my last post. After taking a Curse of the Swine from my first pack, I got passed a Mistcutter Hydra. (I guess the person to my right dislikes green even more than I do in this format!) After a few packs with uninspiring choices, I saw a Vaporkin and a Voyaging Satyr midway into the pack; knowing that G/U is more likely to be a skies deck than a ramp deck helped me realize that Vaporkin was the better pick. The prior analysis also helped me realize I should draft the Warriors’ Lesson I was passed late in the pack, even though it is a card I usually avoid (it often ends up just cycling, and is useless if you don’t have creatures with evasion). It turned out to be excellent in the deck but it might not have occurred to me to draft it if I hadn’t described the archetype in my last post. (Btw, don’t forget to gain life if you also have Horizon Chimera on the table.)

One of the weakness of G/U is that it lacks hard removal, but my deck lacked even the bounce and counterspells that help compensate for that. As a result, I decided to splash white for the Elspeth Sun’s Champion that I’d opened in pack 2 and a Divine Verdict. The final decklist was:

2 Vaporkin
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Opaline Unicorn
2 Agent of Horizons
1 Wavecrash Triton
2 Horizon Chimera
1 Staunch-Hearted Warrior
1 Nessian Asp
1 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Horizon Scholar
= 15 creatures

2 Warriors' Lesson
1 Triton Tactics
1 Traveler's Amulet
1 Nylea's Presence
1 Divine Verdict
1 Elspeth Sun's Champion
1 Curse of the Swine
= 8 non-creatures

1 Prowler's Helm
1 Fleetfeather Sandals
2 Guardian of Meletis
2 Shredding Winds
2 Commune with the Gods
1 Vulpine Goliath
1 Satyr Hedonist
3 Benthic Giant
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Spellheart Chimera
1 Demolish
1 Boon of Erebos
1 Viper's Kiss
1 Forest (foil)
= 19 sideboard cards

This list conforms somewhat to the G/U skies outline that I laid out in my last post, but lacks the early defense and bounce/counterspells that I’d believed were an important component of such decks. However, I did have mana acceleration in place of the early defense, and I had some hard removal in place of bounce/counterspells.

The deck went 3-1. Elspeth Sun’s Champion won a couple of games and Divine Verdict was also excellent, and was particularly devastating when the white mana for it came from Prized Unicorn or Nylea’s Presence since my opponent would usually play around Divine Verdict in that case if they hadn’t already seen Plains previously. Elspeth Sun’s champion did languish in my hand during one game, but was fine the rest of the time due to the Voyaging Satyrs which often provided the second white mana.

M14: Archaeomancer

To date, I’ve mentioned Archaeomancer in the context of a few different archetypes: U/R control, U/G control, U/G mill, and W/U skies. And intuitively, it would seem that U/R or U/B are the best color pairs for Archaeomancer since you can regrow instant/sorcery removal in those decks. (Much of the removal in white and blue is in the form of enchantments, and the removal in green is largely conditional, hitting flyers and non-creature permanents.) However, I always prefer hard numbers (hence this blog), so let’s get crunching.

M14 has 61 instants and sorceries. This spreadsheet breaks them down by color, rarity, and quality. It’s clear that red and black have the most number of exceptional instants/sorceries per player in an average M14 draft (0.6 and 0.4 respectively). If you combine bomb, exceptional, and playable instants/sorceries, red and green have the most (1.4 and 1.2 respectively). This corroborates some of my intuition above, and seems to reinforce U/R control as the best home for Archaeomancer.

However, this also include spells that are better in aggro decks (e.g., Act of Treason and most combat tricks) or spells that usually win you the game when cast (e.g., Devout Invocation and Planar Cleansing). Let’s take a slightly different look at this; let’s look at which instants/sorceries we’d most want to recast:

  • White: Celestial Flare
  • Blue: Cancel, Divination, Essence Scatter, Frost Breath, Negate, Time Ebb, Tome Scour, Opportunity (uncommon); you won’t usually want to recur Traumatize since the second casting will typically mill about as many cards as a Tome Scour
  • Black: Altar’s Reap, Liturgy of Blood, Wring Flesh, Corrupt (uncommon), Doom Blade (uncommon)
  • Red: Chandra’s Outrage, Shock, Flames of the Firebrand (uncommon), Molten Birth (uncommon), Volcanic Geyser (uncommon)
  • Green: Fog, Hunt the Weak, Plummet, Howl of the Night Pack (uncommon), Windstorm (uncommon)

Blue itself has the most number of instants and sorceries we’d want to regrow with Archaeomancer, and white has the least. Black, red, and green have similar numbers of them, but red has the most number of good removal spells, followed by black. The green instants and sorceries have very specific purposes, with Plummet and Windstorm only being useful against flyers, and Fog usually only useful if you’re playing a mill deck or if your opponent has falter effects.

Conclusion: Archaeomancer is at its best in U/R control where it can recur removal and blue card draw and counterspells, and in G/U mill where it can recur mill spells and cards like Fog and Frost Breath that can buy you time to mill your opponent out. It may also be playable in U/G control and U/B. That is a fairly limited set of archetypes and Archaeomancer only leaves a 1/2 body behind, so I would consider it only conditionally playable.

M14: Millstone and the mill deck

Now it’s on to evaluating artifacts, so we can determine whether it makes sense to maindeck artifact removal. Among the artifacts that I don’t have a good handle on yet is Millstone, even though I was forced to cobble together a U/B mill deck this weekend when I found both my colors cut off by the person to my right. I had Jace Memory Adept, Jace’s Mindseeker, Millstone, and 2 Tome Scours, but lacked early defense and was knocked out in the first round. Let’s look at the mill deck and evaluate how important Millstone is in that deck.

Other than Millstone, all the cards in the format that cause your opponent to mill/draw cards are blue:

  • Tome Scour (common) mills 5 cards.
  • Opportunity (uncommon) causes a target player to draw 4 cards, but you won’t usually want to target your opponent.
  • Traumatize (rare) mills half the library rounded down. If cast on turn 5, it will usually leave your opponent with 14-15 cards in their library.
  • Jace’s Mindseeker (rare) mills 5 cards and is a bomb even in the absence of any other mill cards because it’s still a 4/4 flyer that can give you a free spell.
  • Jace Memory Adept (mythic) can mill 10 cards each turn and is a bomb even in the absence of any other mill cards since it can single-handedly mill your opponent out in 2-3 turns if you can protect it.

An average draft will have only 1.2 Millstones and 2.4 Tome Scours, which are not enough to build a mill deck around, so you should only consider drafting the mill deck if you get Traumatize or are passed multiple Millstones late. (The mill on Jace’s Mindseeker is a one-time effect, and neither it nor Jace Memory Adept need a mill deck built around them. And late Tome Scours aren’t sufficient reason to draft a mill deck since you’d need to cast about 4-5 of them to win the game, which means you’d need to draft about 8-10 of them if that’s your only mill spell.)

Next, let’s figure out how fast you can mill an opponent out. Even if you play Millstone on turn 2 and mill your opponent on every subsequent turn, they still have 13 turns, which is usually enough for them to kill you, even in a slow format like M14. Even if you have a Tome Scour to go with your Millstone, they still have 11 turns to kill you. If you cast Traumatize on turn 5 instead of activating Millstone, your opponent still gets 10 turns. Even with a perfect draw consisting of a turn 2 Millstone, turn 5 Traumatize, and turn 6 Tome Scour (it’s better after the Traumatize), your opponent still has 8 turns to kill you; if you don’t have any creatures, they can accomplish that simply by playing a 2/2 creature on turn 2, a 2/2 creaure on turn 3, and attacking with both of them every turn. So clearly we need more than just the mill cards listed above.

Given this, I would say that Millstone is conditionally playable bordering on unplayable since it usually requires you to have certain rares before it is playable, and since takes a long time to mill out the opponent. However, it is still playable if you get those rares.

Blue does have several other cards that are quite effective in the mill deck:

  • Time Ebb allows you to get rid of a creature permanently if you can mill your opponent before their next draw step. And it slows them down significantly even if you can’t.
  • Frost Breath can buy you time by holding down your opponent’s 2 best creatures for 2 turns.
  • Essence Scatter and Negate have the same converted mana cost as a Millstone activation so you can decide whether you’d rather counter a spell your opponent is casting, or mill them and save the countermagic for another spell.
  • Archaeomancer allows you to reuse Tome Scours, Traumatize, or any of the spells listed above, and then chump blocks their largest creature.
  • Nephalia Seakite works well with countermagic.
  • Scroll Thief can block 2/2 creatures and force your opponent to play more defensively that they normally might. (Most people are far more scared of it drawing their opponent a card than they should be.)
  • Seacoast Drake and Armored Cancrix are unexciting but reasonable on defense.
  • Wall of Frost (uncommon) is one of the best defenders in the format because of its high toughness and because it effectively blocks 2 creatures if your opponent attacks each turn.
  • Elite Arcanist (rare) imprinted with Frost Breath, Fog, or Silence (rare) can potentially buy you a lot of time. Note that you can only imprint instants, so it does not work with Tome Scour.

What color is likely to work best with blue in a mill deck? On the one hand, white has great defenders in the form of Angelic Wall and Wall of Swords (uncommon), both of which fit quite well in this deck. Griffin Sentinel is also quite good on defense, and Pillarfield Ox and Siege Mastodon are okay if unexciting. Divine Favor can make a creature nearly impossible to get past, and if you’re lucky, you might also get Planar Cleansing (rare) which your opponent might be forced to overextend into if you have a Millstone on the table.

However, I think green actually has better defensive cards: Rumbling Baloth and Sporemound can gum up the ground effectively while Deadly Recluse and Giant Spider (and Plummet postboard) hold the air, Brindle Boar and Fog can neutralize entire combat steps (Fog is also great with Elite Arcanist, as mentioned above), Elvish Mystic and Verdant Haven help you get going faster, Briarpack Alpha (uncommon) and Rootwalla work well with countermagic, and Bramblecrush (uncommon) and Naturalize deal with troublesome noncreature permanents. The next time I try a mill deck, it will likely be U/G.

Finally, let’s look at the cards in M14 that are problematic for mill decks. Elixir of Immortality is the most concerning but is an uncommon, so an average 8-person draft will only have 1.2 of them. Cards that interact with the graveyard can also benefit your opponent if you’re milling them: Auramancer, Archaeomancer, Corpse Hauler, Rise of the Dark Realms, Shadowborn Demon, Vile Rebirth, Chandra’s Phoenix, Scavenging Ooze, and Trading Post. However, many of these are rare/mythic, and the rest aren’t scary enough that they make mill decks unplayable. So these cards shouldn’t concern you too much if it looks like you’re going to end up with a mill deck.