DLCR: Sage's Row Denizen

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Todays GTC card to rate is...

Sage's Row Denizen

 
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5.0: First pick no matter what.  I will always play this card.
4.5: Splashable and first pick worthy.
4.0: First pick pack 1.
3.5: Early pick though not always a first pick.
3.0: Solid early/mid pick.
2.5: Solid pick in color.
2.0: Should generally make the deck if in this color.
1.5: Decent filler.
1.0: 23rd card if you have to.
0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in.
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding).


This guy is good.  He's a key part of the dimir mill deck and he's actually pretty good even if you aren't trying for mill.  A 2/3 for 3 is fine and you'll occassionally mill some bombs or removal away from your opponent.

2.5

Discuss! 
just for CMC and body alone he's at least a 2.0, the mill is a nice perk so 2.5

I found Carmen Sandiego before you were born unless you're Zlehtnoba.

I think 2.5 is right. Higher if you can build a deck with mill as the primary win condition.
1.5-2.0. He's servicable in Simic, unimpressive in Dimir.
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2.5.

I'm suprised that you find him less useful in Dimir. He turns Wight and Deaths Approach on, and adds to the incidential mill win that Dimir falls back on. 
2.5.

I'm suprised that you find him less useful in Dimir. He turns Wight and Deaths Approach on, and adds to the incidential mill win that Dimir falls back on. 



Most of my Dimir decks don't fall back on that plan. In simic, he at least evolves dudes some of the time.
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1.5-2.0. He's servicable in Simic, unimpressive in Dimir.

I don't often disagree with you Lobster, but I will here. I really like this guy in Dimir, though mainly for his P/T. I agree there's better and more evasive options, but I'll gladly pick this guy.
The mill is what it is, and I agree there - this guy gets a few cards, but unless you have some really specific interactions (have assembled the Mortus Strider, Denizen, Informer 'engine' in one game - fun) and are gunning for it it's not usually relevant.

I'd put him at 2.0-2.5 in Dimir and Simic. As you point out he's OK at evolving stuff on curve.
I would like to point out that I gave the card a decent rating. It'll often make the cut, but you're never that happy to have him. He's the least interesting three-drop in Simic (but will still be run) and is a non-evasive creature in Dimir (Rogue is so much better, and Informer's ability is a lot better).
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1.5-2.0. He's servicable in Simic, unimpressive in Dimir.



He is good in both, but if I had to pick one, I'd say he is better in Dimir. Death's Approach and Wight of Precinct Six are both integral, and if you can get two of these on the field they become a win condition on their own in addition to two 2/3 blockers to deter the bears. Dimir has removal and incidental mill that will let you deck most opponents, Simic has nothing.
He can be a plan in Dimir by himself, or rather a plan by himself when you have multiple copies. Then he is really good.

If you don't have enough mill to make it a strategy, the incidental mill can make some of your other dimir cards better. In that case you definitely want one in your deck.

Failling both of the above, he is just a 2/3 body. If you could, you would maybe prefer to run something else, but since there aren't that much 3-drops in dimir he will often make you deck.... and that isn't the worst since 2/3's are well placed in this set.
1.5-2.0. He's servicable in Simic, unimpressive in Dimir.



Admittedly I'm not as established in Dimir as in other guilds but this guy seems to do a lot of work in my Dimir decks and actually keeps me alive as a "bear killer" long enough to get my evasive+cipher ideas going.

If you get a second one in play (not that difficult as these pass around pretty late) it becomes quite useful.

I don't need to mill a guy to death to be happy with mill. If I incidentally mill a bomb or two than I may just win the game.

2.5 better in multiples Tongue Out
bulletd Guidelines: 5.0: I will take this card no matter what. Creature 1 or playable 1 or hate 1.Archangel of Thune 4.5: Bomb and splashable. Creature 1-2, playable 1-2, removal 1. Jace, Memory Adept 4.0: Excellent first pick first pack, will sway me into same colors. Creatures 1-4, removal 1. Haunted Plate Mail 3.5: Excellent first pack pick two, will confirm colors or possibly sway into second color. Doom Blade 3.0: Good in-color addition, or splashable removal/creature. Creatures 3-9, removal 1-3. wall of Frost 2.5: Solid pick in-color; creatures 5-12, removal 3-5. Dark Favor 2.0: Creatures 10-16; removal 6-7. Elvish Mystic 1.5: My 23rd or 22nd card, depending on removal. Act of Treason 1.0: 23rd card if I don't maindeck an additional land. Lay of the Land 0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in. Brave the Elements 0.0: I will shred this card for counters. Darksteel Forge
While Dimir has cards that reward you for milling (and can, technically, win by it), you should ignore what you are milling unless it affects the battlefield directly (ie. such as Death's Approach). Milling a Ghor-Clan Rampager and a couple of Muggings might feel sweet, but you could just as well have been milling away a clump of 4 lands that the opponent would just have lost from drawing. Milling is inherently neutral. Most Dimir decks do not win by mill, which basically makes this card a 2/3 vanilla for 3, not something you want in your creature-base if you can at all avoid it. With no mill interaction and no sacrifice interaction, I think most Dimir decks would be almost as happy to have Mortus Strider in this card's spot, and cards like Deathcult Rogue, Gutter Skulk and Metropolis Sprite are obviously better in that spot.
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While Dimir has cards that reward you for milling (and can, technically, win by it), you should ignore what you are milling unless it affects the battlefield directly (ie. such as Death's Approach). Milling a Ghor-Clan Rampager and a couple of Muggings might feel sweet, but you could just as well have been milling away a clump of 4 lands that the opponent would just have lost from drawing. Milling is inherently neutral. Most Dimir decks do not win by mill, which basically makes this card a 2/3 vanilla for 3, not something you want in your creature-base if you can at all avoid it. With no mill interaction and no sacrifice interaction, I think most Dimir decks would be almost as happy to have Mortus Strider in this card's spot, and cards like Deathcult Rogue, Gutter Skulk and Metropolis Sprite are obviously better in that spot.



Considering that the majority of a player's deck consists of spells, not mana, mill can't be inherently neutral.

Milling land is often important as well. Sometimes milling lands takes away their ability to play splash cards or never allows them to get to 5 or 6 lands to play their bombs, or mill their bombs, etc.

Milling Obzedat doesn't just "feel sweet" it is a crushing effect.

Besides, the mill is a by product. You don't have to expend any extra tempo, mana or resources to get this mill effect and you kill bears all day.

I'll agree with the majority here that this is quite good in Dimir and maybe only ok in Simic. 
bulletd Guidelines: 5.0: I will take this card no matter what. Creature 1 or playable 1 or hate 1.Archangel of Thune 4.5: Bomb and splashable. Creature 1-2, playable 1-2, removal 1. Jace, Memory Adept 4.0: Excellent first pick first pack, will sway me into same colors. Creatures 1-4, removal 1. Haunted Plate Mail 3.5: Excellent first pack pick two, will confirm colors or possibly sway into second color. Doom Blade 3.0: Good in-color addition, or splashable removal/creature. Creatures 3-9, removal 1-3. wall of Frost 2.5: Solid pick in-color; creatures 5-12, removal 3-5. Dark Favor 2.0: Creatures 10-16; removal 6-7. Elvish Mystic 1.5: My 23rd or 22nd card, depending on removal. Act of Treason 1.0: 23rd card if I don't maindeck an additional land. Lay of the Land 0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in. Brave the Elements 0.0: I will shred this card for counters. Darksteel Forge

Considering that the majority of a player's deck consists of spells, not mana, mill can't be inherently neutral.



It's inherently neutral because the composition of the milled cards will be a representative sample of the cards remaining in the deck being milled. If there are 10 lands and 20 spells left in the deck and you mill 3 cards from it, you should expect to mill 1 land and 2 spells on average. Unless you have information regarding how the cards are ordered the milling will be inherently neutral. Therefore the only considerations are whether you'll be able to deck your opponent and how the cards in your opponent's graveyard effect things like Death's Approach and Wight of Precinct Six, not the specific cards that were milled. 


Considering that the majority of a player's deck consists of spells, not mana, mill can't be inherently neutral.



It's inherently neutral because the composition of the milled cards will be a representative sample of the cards remaining in the deck being milled. If there are 10 lands and 20 spells left in the deck and you mill 3 cards from it, you should expect to mill 1 land and 2 spells on average. Unless you have information regarding how the cards are ordered the milling will be inherently neutral. Therefore the only considerations are whether you'll be able to deck your opponent and how the cards in your opponent's graveyard effect things like Death's Approach and Wight of Precinct Six, not the specific cards that were milled. 




This exactly.

You can't say "milling lands can be good" and "milling spells is always good" because this entertains the thought that you are somehow never improving your opponent's draw but you are able to weaken it. That is an impossible proposition. Milling an opponent's deck could be compared to shuffling it in that you randomly change what cards he will be drawing. Milling away cards is only relevant if the game goes long enough to become an endurance contest - that is, if you mill away enough spells that your opponent has no more (an unlikely occurence) or so many lands that your opponent cannot cast their spells (something to the effect of 12 before they draw 6 - very improbable).
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If you can end of turn Totally Lost their bomb, then untap and play, for example, Mortus Strider, the mill has a positive effect on the game (it turned totally lost into hard removal).  However, what is being said about mill in isolation being neutral is completely true.  Outside of effects that care about the graveyard (Death's Approach, Wight of Precinct Six etc), milling a card from your opponent's library is no different than if they had never drawn it in the first place.  You could mill the card they needed to win, or you could mill them to that card.  Without library manipulation it just doesn't matter until you mill the very last card.  You can even go so far as to say that milling your opponent can give them an advantage in certain situations.  I know it's early, but when Dragon's Maze comes around, you may just be milling your opponent's scavenge cards into their graveyard, effectively 'drawing' them extra spells.

People at my FMN cheer when they see their opponent's good cards being milled, or grumble when they see their own.  I just ignore it and keep playing my game, with the new knowledge of what I can still draw into and what I can't.

Cheers
Saying it doesnt matter what gets milled away feels logically superior in some way, but it in reality it's not true.

When two decks battle, each one has cards that are either more or less effective vs the opponent depending on the opponent's deck. For example, grisly spectacle is always good but it's even more powerful when your opponent is relying on auras. Illness in the ranks is not great but actually becomes good vs a token deck. Many more examples could be made. Think of all the creature matchups that might exist between two decks.

When the two players play, the cards come up in certain combinations. When you mill someone, you might mill away those cards that were inherently a bit stronger against your particular deck. You might also mill away the cards that are actually weaker than normal against you. For that reason, you can't say that mill is an advantage, in a vacuum. That's the part you guys are talking about. However, in an actual game, actual cards get milled away. If I mill away my opponent's top 5 cards, the rest of his deck is literally that much weaker now.

It's not a strategy you look to rely on in any way. It's just a luck thing in each individual game. You could just as easily mill away his 5 weakest cards against you. Either way, the effect is real and could impact the game.

Finally, to say that you should ignore what gets milled is pretty silly. I think you must be misstating what you mean. Of course it's totally legitimate to pay attention to what gets milled! If you ever try to play around an opponent's trick or spell, be it aetherize or merciless eviction or wrecking ogre or mystic genesis or martial glory or totally lost or homing lightning, well, then seeing what is milled is just nice information. If you never ever consider what spells your opponent might have, then yeah, go abead and ignore what is milled.

Finally finally, I hope we have all been in a very tight situation where we had to weigh whether or not to play a certain way based on how we "might" draw our next card. People often call it "what outs do we have". If someone mills you, then it gives you extra information.

Just my thoughts on this interesting, rarely-discussed topic.
EDIT: ^^^ Yeah, pretty much the same as my sentiment

I would like to point out that milling is not inherently neutral.  It gains you information.  If you mill your opponent game 1 and see a Merciless Eviction in his yard, that is very valuable information.  That can and should completely change the way you play in the subsequent games.

This is often why you will see streamers use up the mana on Duskmantle Guildmage before conceding, just to see more of their opponent's deck.
While Dimir has cards that reward you for milling (and can, technically, win by it), you should ignore what you are milling unless it affects the battlefield directly (ie. such as Death's Approach). Milling a Ghor-Clan Rampager and a couple of Muggings might feel sweet, but you could just as well have been milling away a clump of 4 lands that the opponent would just have lost from drawing. Milling is inherently neutral. Most Dimir decks do not win by mill, which basically makes this card a 2/3 vanilla for 3, not something you want in your creature-base if you can at all avoid it. With no mill interaction and no sacrifice interaction, I think most Dimir decks would be almost as happy to have Mortus Strider in this card's spot, and cards like Deathcult Rogue, Gutter Skulk and Metropolis Sprite are obviously better in that spot.

Lobster, I largely agree with you on this, milling is largely neutral.

That said, there is one value that Mill provides - information. May not be for this game, but for game 2 & 3, helps with your sideboarding and helping you know what you should be playing around. 
I agree on the information part: I always maximize milling my opponent with cards like Undercity Informer in game 1 if I'm sure I've won/lost.

I think you are overstating my point, K_P. I didn't say "ignore what was milled", because obviously milling an opponent's Obzedat probably means you won't have to deal with it this game, but I'm saying "when evaluating a card (as we are doing now), you cannot claim that milling is an inherent plus in itself". You'll be strengthening the opponent's draw as often as weakening it, and while you might point to cases after the fact and go "I milled away his good cards and won", that's the same as saying after the fact that a coinflip came up heads. It might just as well have helped your opponent (only you're less privy to that information because you can't see your opponent's hand).

You can't say "milling was good this game" when you're milling their bombs and say "milling was neutral this game" because you didn't mill anything important. You don't know if it was actively detrimental.

Most people fool themselves into over-valuing the "best cases" and not identifying the similar downsides that milling could have.

In conclusion; information and mill-relevant cards make milling interesting, but that's not enough to reliably make this card (Sage's Row Denizen, for those who've forgotten) significantly better than a 2/3 for 3.
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@Lobster-You mentioned something about milling Obzedat (or another bomb) "seems sweet"

I don't get what you mean. For me, when I mill Obzedat it IS sweet.

Paying no mana and making no effort (beyond casting a blue creature you were already going to cast) to put the opponent's bomb in the graveyard IS sweet.

In the abstract this may or may not happen, I understand that.

But obviously milling is never neutral, as it always tells us what to watch out for in the form of information. 
bulletd Guidelines: 5.0: I will take this card no matter what. Creature 1 or playable 1 or hate 1.Archangel of Thune 4.5: Bomb and splashable. Creature 1-2, playable 1-2, removal 1. Jace, Memory Adept 4.0: Excellent first pick first pack, will sway me into same colors. Creatures 1-4, removal 1. Haunted Plate Mail 3.5: Excellent first pack pick two, will confirm colors or possibly sway into second color. Doom Blade 3.0: Good in-color addition, or splashable removal/creature. Creatures 3-9, removal 1-3. wall of Frost 2.5: Solid pick in-color; creatures 5-12, removal 3-5. Dark Favor 2.0: Creatures 10-16; removal 6-7. Elvish Mystic 1.5: My 23rd or 22nd card, depending on removal. Act of Treason 1.0: 23rd card if I don't maindeck an additional land. Lay of the Land 0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in. Brave the Elements 0.0: I will shred this card for counters. Darksteel Forge
Interesting combo: 

Stolen Identity copying Sage's Row, and ciphered on any flyer.

From experience doing this, your opponent will go slackjawed when there are 3-5 Denizens in play.
inally, to say that you should ignore what gets milled is pretty silly. I think you must be misstating what you mean.

You're right, 'ignore' was the wrong word to use.  What I meant was that I do not cry myself out of the game when 'Good Card A' gets milled from my library, nor do I rejoice that the game is as good as won when 'Good Card B' is milled from my opponent's.  I simply take note of it and continue with my game.

Re: milling Obzedat, Ghost Council, it might seem sweet, but then your opponent might have already been holding Midnight Recovery, in which case you just helped them get it on the board. 

Cheers
The advantages of milling:
1) As a win condition.  This requires other mill cards in all but the least likely scenarios.
2) Combos with Beckon Apparition, Consuming Aberration, Diluvian Primordial, Death's Approach, Diskmantle Guldmage, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, Sepulchral Primordial, and Wight of Precinct One, or numerous three-card combos with cards like Totally Lost.
3) Gathering information to potentially sideboard cards in match 2 or 3.

The disadvantage of milling:
Graveyard use/recursion by Beckon Apparition, Immortal Servitude,  Midnight Recovery, Orzhov Charm, Serene Remembrance, Treasury Thrull and Wildwood Rebirth.

After Dragon's Maze is released, Scavenge will be a tough matchup for mill decks.


2.0 without a plausible mill scenario or card combos.  2.5 if the deck has some of the combo cards.  3.5 for a mill deck.  He's a bear-eating, card-milling machine.
Interesting combo: 

Stolen Identity copying Sage's Row, and ciphered on any flyer.

From experience doing this, your opponent will go slackjawed when there are 3-5 Denizens in play.



I've done this. It's very janky, but it can get there (interestingly I almost lost to the anti-token part of Legion Loyalist's Battalion ability in that game).

UA: I agree - in an individual game, it can be an advantage if you mill a bomb. But in any case where you don't mill a bomb, you might be milling them closer to a bomb. It's a zero-sum system, which means it is net neutral. Whether it is actually neutral in any individual game should not affect your evaluation of the card in general.
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..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I've done this. It's very janky, but it can get there (interestingly I almost lost to the anti-token part of Legion Loyalist's Battalion ability in that game).




Yeah, it's janky.  Did it after my opponent removed my early evolvers, and all I had out were a Sage's Row and a Nimbus Swimmer.  Wasn't going to win through damage, so it was an out of nowhere plan B for my Simic build.  Opponent got me down to 2 life with his bomby Boros build, but couldn't get through the last bit of damage for the win before I milled him.
Lobster is of course right that milling is inherently neutral, thought he probably underestimates how important the incidental mill is for other dimir cards, and how good the denizen can be for a full mill strategy.
Milling away Obzedat or a Reckoner seems sweet, because it becomes impossible for them to draw those cards.  However, outside of that, it doesn't do anything because it does not directly affect the resources available to your opponent.

As Lobster mentioned, you're just as likely to mill them TO their bomb as you are to mill the bomb away.