This is a community submission from Nathan Lee.
Hate infinite combos? Love smashing your opponent's life from 20 to 0 so fast they go speechless? Revel in turning huge creatures sideways?
Then you're gonna hate this deck.
I, on the other hand, savor the taste of a little degeneracy every now and then, and Nathan's list sates that appetite well. With Dimir Secrets, we're going to combo off and turn our opponent's library upside-down, leaving them with a nice, pristine twenty life and and a zero in the win column.
Today, we're playing mill.
The plan is simple: play Drowned Secrets, then combo off with Naru Meha and Release to the Wind until our opponent is milled out. Let me explain the combo real quick.
Step 1: Cast Release the Wind, targeting anything. Doesn't matter what.
Step 2: Hold priority and cast Naru Meha
Step 3: Copy Release the Wind. Have the copy target the Naru you just cast.
Step 4: Let the copy resolve, but not the original Release.
Step 5: Naru Meha is now exiled, but we can cast her for free. Do so.
Step 6: Go to step 3.
"But wait, you're not actually doing anything," you say? Ah, but we are. We're confusing our opponent and wasting their time! And, I suppose, if you remember you already casted Drowned Secrets, every time we go through this cycle, we mill our opponent for two. Which kinda kills them.
Everything else in our deck that isn't one of these three cards either helps us find them or keeps us alive long enough to do so. Let's take a quick look at the list.
Helps Us Find the Combo
Discovery // Dispersal is not a new card, showing up in various lists ever since it was released in Guilds. It's a powerful digging spell and at two mana, casting it won't delay our combo if we're playing it on curve. We generally don't want to play Drowned Secrets on turn two anyways, as that just gives it more time to be removed.
Treasure Map is usually only seen in non-blue decks, as there are easier ways to get the scry effect, but we're looking for the other effect it has too, the three-mana ramp when flipped. Our combo can be quite mana-intensive, so being able to hunt for it on curve, then cast it all on turn five to avoid any sorcery-speed disruption is quite valuable. Not to mention, the card draw from a flipped Map can be useful if you've been run out of resources.
Karn does a couple things for us. First and foremost, he'll dig us two cards deep in our search for combo pieces, but he also helps us stay alive. Opponents will generally attack a planeswalker over us, and with four copies of Karn, we're not going to have much trouble getting another one to fetch any valuable cards that may have been exiled with a silver counter on them. In a pinch, he can make 1/1 blockers as well.
Keeps Us Alive
Here we've got our removal package of three Cast Down, two Vraska's Contempts, and two Ritual of Soots. Sweepers are very important for a deck with as few creatures as this, given we have practically no way of slowing down constant attacks other than removing them. The Cast Downs can keep opponents from building a board presence or rebuilding after a sweeper. Vraska's Contempt is important not just for creatures, but moreso for planeswalkers, as our four Naru Mehas are not going to do a good job of attacking them down on their own.
Sinister Sabotage fits nicely into the curve, as we have no other three-mana plays, and it's a great way to protect our pieces while we're looking for a finisher, it can keep our opponent from developing too much of a board presence early on, and the surveil can help us find what we need.
Thought Erasure, Negate, and Nezahal are all devastating against control, which is traditionally the hardest sort of deck for combo to beat, since they'll pack the most instant-speed interaction (whether counters or removal). Nezahal also gives us an alternate win condition if somehow we're run out of combo pieces.
Cry of the Carnarium and Ritual of Soot are there to shore up the aggro matchup, which is usually tough for mill to beat.
Vraska's Contempt can also be brought into more aggressive matchups, but it's really meant for decks with more planeswalkers or recurring threats (it feels pretty bad to have an opponent use Find on a couple Hydroid Krasises).
Finally, a neat little inclusion is one copy of Unmoored Ego. With how popular Nexus Reclaimation decks have been, it's good to have some way to completely shut down their gameplan. It's also quite useful against Esper control, as Ego-ing away their Teferis can end the game right there.
Unfortunately, the win rate with this deck was not that encouraging. I won a decent number of games, but match-wise, I lost a fair majority of them. Partially it was simply because my opponents were playing aggro and this deck (mill in generally, really) does not match up well against aggression.
I saw a couple mono-red and gruul aggro lists, plus mono-blue and boros. That's not to mention the more midrangey sultai krasis, which can still put a heavy amount of pressure with turn 2 Merfolk Branchwalker into turn 3 Jadelight Ranger. A deck that can consistently put a lot of small creatures or a few big creatures on the board is going to give us trouble. It's not like we're defenseless–we have 3 Cast Down, 2 Ritual of Soot and 2 Vraska's Contempt mainboard with even more support in the side through Moment of Craving and Cry of the Carnarium. But without solid creature support, we just can't eke out a consistent win.
On the upside, this deck can really punish a stumbling opponent. Karn, Treasure Map, and Discovery can help us find our combo pieces pretty quick, plus I've used Naru to copy a Discovery (or Dispersal) to get some pretty crazy value. Without any sort of response, our combo can happen real fast.
Something I noticed while playing was that most opponents were very hesitant to use removal on Drowned Secrets, even though it was a combo piece. Granted, it is an enchantment, so not every piece of interaction out there hits it, but there's plenty of Mortifys, Cindervines, Conclave Tribunal and the like in the meta right now. Also, in game one, people typically didn't bother dealing with Naru, either, since they didn't know what she represented nor did I play any other wizards for her to buff. Release to the Wind was handy every now and then when they did finally decide to interact, since it can save your combo pieces by exiling them, though that didn't come up as often as I expected it to.
As far as executing the gameplan, the deck did alright. Turn 1 this deck has no plays, but that's fine since it's a slower deck. Turn 2 I almost always had some sort of play, whether it be removal, Discovery, or a Drowned Secrets. Turn 3 was almost always dead, though sometimes I had a Sinister Sabotage in hand and the opponent played something worth countering.
Turn 4 was when things got tricky.
If your opponent has some creatures out, you might want to Ritual of Soot. But if they're small, maybe you want to Naru Meha to block one and force them to commit to the board more. You also might want to Karn to start building card advantage and help preserve your life total, or maybe you want to remove a single creature with Vraska's Contempt. So much of this deck happens on turn 4 and, while it lead to some interesting decisions that can make this deck fun and engaging, it also led to some frustration and helplessness as you watch your life drop while you're holding a handful of action you just don't have the time to cast.
In order to outright win the game in one turn from nothing, you need nine mana. Usually that's not the case and you'll have a Drowned Secrets out, making it seven mana. Sometimes you'll already have Naru exiled with Release the Winds, making the combo only three, though it'll require a creature to be on the battlefield. What I'm saying here is, if you don't want the combo disrupted, it's very difficult to pull off. The easier you make it to cast, the more risk you expose yourself to.
The core combo of Naru, Release and Drowned Secrets is pretty solid. It requires only three cards and mostly happens at instant speed, plus the most expensive piece is only four mana. I wouldn't change any part of that, except maybe to drop the number of Release the Winds to three if I needed to make room for other things.
Karn, while he's a great resource, is clogging up the four-drop slot along with Vraska's Contempt and Ritual of Soot. I realize these are important tools to have, but the deck is just too clunky at that point in the curve. I'd go for some Opts, Thought Erasures (mainboard), Search for Azcanta, or even Precognitive Preception for card advantage. For removal, make Cry of the Carnarium mainboard, keep the Vraska's Contempts, and modify the Ritual/Cry/Vraska count mostly in games two and three via the sideboard.
It's also worth considering going Esper for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Mortify.
And that's the deck! Again, thank you to Nathan for submitting, I had a great time with it. I got a range of reactions to the combo ranging from "What?" to "That's dumb." to pure laughter, which always makes playing that much more fun. I hope we see more from you in the future. Till then, this is Matt, and always remember that Flash means you can cast at instant speed, not that you should expose your chest.