Since we at T3 had first dibs on revealing the newest Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 DLC, it only makes sense that we’d get our deck guides for Rogues’ Gallery and Mana Mastery out early. After all, what good are new options if you have no idea how to effectively wield them on the battlefield?
To that end, I’ve put together my thoughts on the Dimir Rogues’ Gallery deck, including my analysis of the general value of every maindeck and unlockable card. Got a different opinion? Let me know in the comments or start a topic on the Top Tier Tactics Forums!
Rogues’ Gallery general strategy
This section is currently pending in-depth playtesting – check back soon!
Rogues’ Gallery deck list
60 Cards. 24 Lands (12B, 9U; 3 other).
- 3x Terramorphic Expanse
- 2x Dimir Guildmage
- 2x Inkfathom Infiltrator
- 1x Invisible Stalker
- 4x Agony Warp
- 1x Mask of Riddles
- 2x Dimir Cutpurse
- 2x Phantom Warrior
- 1x Royal Assassin
- 1x Scroll Thief
- 1x Soul Manipulation
- 2x Moroii
- 1x Sangromancer
- 2x Barrin’s Spite
- 3x Flight of Fancy
- 3x Helm of the Ghastlord
- 1x Memory Plunder
- 1x Ghastlord of Fugue
- 1x Nemesis of Reason
- 2x Ribbons of Night
- 1x Harvester of Souls
- 1x Laquatus’s Champion
- 1x Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Rogues’ Gallery card-by-card analysis
Abyssal Specter: 3.5
While not exactly a powerhouse, Abyssal Specter is nonetheless a “deal with me or lose” kind of creature. Its flying evasion, coupled with every-turn discard, means that the longer it takes to kill it, the fewer ways your opponent will have to do so! Of course, that’s not super useful if their hand is already empty, and Abyssal Specter already has to fight for attention at the deck’s most crowded mana drop (four). Still, this is a winner against slower decks with few flying defenders.
Agony Warp: 4.0
Don’t be fooled: this is an A+ combat trick. The most important thing to note about Agony Warp is that it can target two separate creatures, or punish a single nuisance with a full -3/-3 slap to the face. For two mana, that’s an incredible bargain, and will often generate card advantage during combat. You can grant the -3/-0 nerf to something that would normally trade with your own creature (theirs will now be the only one that dies) and outright kill most other critters with the -0/-3 effect.
Ashling, the Extinguisher: 4.0
Ashling sure is daunting, and his/her/its power is only amplified by the number of evasive tricks present in Rogues’ Gallery. Getting this 4/4 through for direct damage won’t be hard, and its effect is a self-fueled feedback loop. The more defending creatures you kill, the less chance there will be anything left to block Ashling the following turn! It also helps that you get a decent beater/blocker at the low cost of four mana. Be aware that the BB in its casting cost may trip you up occasionally.
Barony Vampire: 2.0
A flavorful filler card, there’s no reason you should be running Barony Vampire once you’ve unlocked more of the deck. A 3/2 creature isn’t bad, but you have far better options available for the same mana cost.
Barrin’s Spite: 4.5
Nothing says LOL to your enemy’s defenses better than Barrin’s Spite. For four mana, you can severely cripple your foe’s tempo, forcing two of her creatures off the board. Sure, you don’t get to pick which one gets sacrificed and which one gets bounced, but your opponent is probably screwed either way. If you can follow up Barrin’s Spite with an attack from something like Abyssal Specter, you might even force your enemy to discard the bounced creature, too. Only downside? It does require two targets.
Crafty Pathmage: 2.5
Giving you the ability to sneak any tiny creature through combat, Crafty Pathmage sounds like a good deal. Unfortunately, she doesn’t play nice with your own deck’s tempo. Assuming you play her on turn 3, she isn’t able to boost your 2-power creatures until turn 4 at the earliest. On top of that, most of your smaller creatures are already unblockable – it’s really the big creatures in Rogues’ Gallery you’d want to cheat past blockers. As such, this mage just isn’t crafty enough to cut it.
Dimir Cutpurse: 5.0
Say hello to your opponent’s worst nightmare. Coming out fairly early on turn 3, this mummified mugger delivers a +2 card advantage every time he connects with your enemy’s life total. Sure, you’ll have to find a way to get him to slip by, but with several sources of evasion and block-busters like Barrin’s Spite, that shouldn’t be too hard. If not stopped early in the game, Dimir Cutpurse will pay for itself tenfold very, very quickly. Do not hesitate to run both in your deck.
Dimir Guildmage: 4.5
Finally, a guildmage in Duels 2013 that doesn’t absolutely suck. Not only is the resident Dimir sorcerer a badass from an artistic point of view, his abilities are single-handedly game changing. Being able to restock on cards or force your opponents to ditch theirs is great, and it only gets more impressive the later the game drags on. Yes, his effects are expensive at four mana and at sorcery speed, but anything less would have been absolutely broken.
Dire Undercurrents: 3.5
Powerful, but somewhat overcosted. For five mana, you gain the ability to even out your card count whenever you play a creature, and gain card advantage whenever it’s both blue and black. Like the dual-color effects of other recent decks, it’s certainly a victory enabler, but the fact that it only applies to summons (and not all spells) is a drawback. That said, it makes your topdecked lategame creatures, even the tiny ones, more valuable. In most circumstances, this will be a strong play.
In constructed play, Extract’s value depends greatly on the metagame, since ripping a singleton copy of a key combo card is invaluable. In Duels 2013, I could go either way. Several decks, like Crosswinds, Ancient Wilds, and Obedient Dead have a handful of game-winning bombs they rely on. Extracting them from your enemy’s deck on turn 1 can be absolutely brutal. But against other opponents with more redundant decklists, Extract will have little value. Don’t keep this in unless you’re primarily facing control.
Flight of Fancy: 4.5
Need a way to finagle your fighters past the enemy line? Flight of Fancy gives your creatures wings, not to mention two free cards. That’s right, for the same cost of Inspiration, you get both the card draw and some permanent evasion for your card advantage-generating beaters. Flight of Fancy, like Rancor, laughed at the traditional mantra that “auras suck,” and its power is even more obvious in Rogues’ Gallery. Drop this on a Dimir Cutpurse and get an instant four card lead over your enemy!
Followed Footsteps: 4.0
Though certainly slow, Followed Footsteps gives your opponent a very unsavory proposition: eliminate this creature or you’ll be overrun in a matter of a few turns. Even more painful, your enemy will have to sacrifice his own buddy if you’ve enchanted one of his creatures instead of one of yours. Obviously, choosing a target depends on the situation, but things can get nasty when you pick something with an automatically triggered effect. How does a Laquatus’s Champion every turn sound?
Ghastlord of Fugue: 5.0
As with all hybrid-costed cards, the Ghastlord is imminently castable and ridiculously rewarding once in play. He can’t be stopped by “defending creatures” so when he “attacks,” your opponent will have to discard “something she didn’t want to discard.” The fact that the effect is nearly unstoppable is cake, as is the bonus that you’ll know exactly what your opponent’s gameplan is every turn you can get through (which will be most of them).
Glen Elendra Liege: 4.5
Boosting the rest of your spy network by as much as +2/+2, this morale-generating fairy simply cannot be passed up. All of a sudden, your unblockable weenies are a significant damage threat, and everything that’s not Glen Elendra Liege is now harder to kill off. Nonetheless, she does get a half point deduction for two reasons. First, she makes Crafty Pathmage useless. And second, the Liege is just painfully boring. Is this seriously the best Wizards could do with Glen Elendra lore?
Glimpse the Unthinkable: 2.5
Now wait; before you get upset about my rating, hear me out! I know that Glimpse the Unthinkable is a great card, and I’d easily give it a 5.0 (or hell, a 5.5!) if it were in something like Dream Puppets. For two mana, milling ten cards is an insane deal. But placed as a singleton in Rogues’ Gallery, Glimpse feels lost. There simply aren’t enough other mill effects to threaten a victory by insanity, so 90% of the time, this card won’t influence the game. Against certain reanimation decks, it could even help them!
Grimgrin, Corpse-born: 3.5
Wonky? Yes? Fun to play? Very yes. Grimgrin may seem a bit slow, but his incredible size and creature-killing power are unmatched. In order to use him, you’ll need to feed him fresh bodies every turn, but so will your opponent. And with each swing, Corpse-born gets considerably larger. You may have problems securing enough creatures to sac, but by then, the game is probably over. As a general rule, keep Grimgrin tapped at EOT, opting to untap him in response to removal or to make him a surprise blocker.
Harvester of Souls: 4.0
This demonic, gigantic bloodsucker adds insult to injury by giving you a card whenever something else bites the dust. Think of him as a geeked-out recycling bin! Being a 5/5 for six mana isn’t bad, though his deathtouch ability is kind of wasted, given his enormous body. The card-drawing effect is definitely a big bonus, but you won’t see big gains from it since Rogues’ Gallery has very little direct removal. In other words, if your opponent doesn’t feel like throwing corpses at you, don’t expect to draw many cards.
Hellcarver Demon: 4.0
Previously a junk card in Obedient Dead, Hellcarver Demon is a significant consideration in Rogues’ Gallery. Unlike the mono-black deck, the Dimir pile isn’t full of conditional cards you might want to save for later. A successful swing with Hellcarver is a big risk, but is likely to land you three to four creatures, enchantments, or spells every turn thereafter. And with six power, you don’t need him to swing too many times. And, at the very worst, he’s a gigantic, flying blocker for just six mana.
Helm of the Ghastlord: 4.5
The perfect combination with unblockable creatures, including (surprise, surprise) the Ghastlord of Fugue himself. Much like Flight of Fancy, this aura pays for itself the turn it comes into play, but unlike FOF, it continues to reap rewards with every attack. Your creatures will hit harder while draining your opponent of cards. In essence, if you can get even a single draw out of Helm of the Ghastlord, you’re already ahead of the count. A definite inclusion in any Dimir Duels deck.
Significantly worse and more boring than Distortion Strike, Infiltrate gets one of your creatures through combat unscathed once. Whether that’s worth a card spot is hard to say, though with most Rogues’ Gallery creatures, you’ll make up for the inherent disadvantage via their triggered abilities. For instance, using this on Dimir Cutpurse will pay for itself in duplicate. It’s also an instant, which isn’t super useful, but has certain applications. Obscure example: use it on Taunting Elf to ignore its effect!
Inkfathom Infiltrator: 4.5
Remember the Shadow mechanic? Of course you don’t! But Inkfathom Infiltrator does, and she’s a big fan. So, in exchange for not being able to block, she’s also totally unblockable. And with two power at the super-easy cost of two blue/black hybrid, she’s easy to get into play. Throw a Helm of the Ghastlord or Mask of Riddles on her, and you’ve got a nearly unstoppable (short of removal) engine for card advantage.
Invisible Stalker: 4.5
Following in the invisible footsteps of Inkfathom Infiltrator, the Invisible Stalker trades power and cost versatility for the ability to block and, oh yeah, hexproof. As such, he won’t be swinging as hard as his mermaid counterpart, but he also won’t be dispatched as easily, at least without board-sweeping effects like Mutilate. Plus, he’s useful late game, since he can hang back to chump block. Do bear in mind that doing only one power is a pretty big drawback; don’t expect to win with his puny damage often.
Laquatus’s Champion: 5.0
Now this is a 6-drop I can get behind. Drop this “nightmare horror” squidman into play and watch your vertebrate opponents squirm. As if his 6/3 body and one mana regeneration weren’t terrifying enough, he also slashes an enemy’s life total by six when he hits the battlefield. Sure, they’ll get it back if/when the Champion dies, but his cheap regen makes that highly unlikely. Even if they do recover their life, they’re just back where they started! This is a game-ending prize of a card.
Mask of Riddles: 4.0
Flying solo as the only equipment in Rogues’ Gallery, Mask of Riddles at least pulls its own weight. By dropping it on a creature, you’ll make it hard (but not impossible) to block, plus all of its attacks will come with inherent card advantage. This two-for-one bonus helps fill in a lot of this deck’s weaknesses, since most creatures are either unblockable (with no abilities) or ability-driven (but easily blocked). The fact that Mask of Riddles is so cheap to play and equip is just another reason to like it.
Memory Plunder: 4.0
By no means hot stuff outside of Duels of the Planeswalkers, Memory Plunder is exceedingly strong in this format. Almost every Duels deck has a handful of game-changing spells, and the option to use one (especially after it’s been milled out, discarded, or countered) against its owner has the potential to be devastating. You’ll often find that, when forced to discard, players will ditch cost-prohibitive spells first. Follow up by stealing their Prophetic Bolt, Flame Wave, or Beacon of Immortality for four mana!
Mephidross Vampire: 3.5
Expensive, but effective, this double vampire (points to whoever figures it out) instantly makes your other creatures a slightly bigger threat. I say slightly because in order for Mephidross’ ability to trigger, your little guys are going to have to actually survive combat. That’s not an easy proposition, since most of them are low on toughness, but Agony Warp can certainly help get the job done. Barring that, he’s a decent flyer who can help deliver the deck’s many discard effects.
Mindleech Mass: 3.5
Yes, it’s intimidating. Yes, it’s a 6/6 trample. Yes, it’s ability will pretty much guarantee your victory. But even given all that, this hulking horror is still eight mana. At that price, you’re going to be pretty pissed when someone Murders it or sends it Into the Roil. Besides, its ability is just screaming “win more.” If you can get your six power creature through on turn nine (or higher), you probably had this match in the bag anyway. That said, I certainly wouldn’t be happy to see him come into play against me!
I don’t know how to pronounce this card, but I’m pretty sure it’s something like “Eat this!” Moroii’s life-draining drawback kind of sucks, but you get so much for the cost. A four power flyer on turn 4 is basically unheard of, not to mention its synergy with something like Helm of the Ghastlord. Either way, your opponent is screwed if they don’t kill Moroii fast, and if they do… hey, at least you’ll stop losing life, right? Worst case scenario: someone throws Pillory of the Sleepless on this. Ouch.
Necromantic Thirst: 2.5
In most situations, this aura simply won’t help you win the game. If played early (on say, an Inkfathom Infiltrator), it’s unlikely you’ll have any creatures in your graveyard to resurrect. If cast late in the game, you’d probably prefer evasion or a power/toughness boost to help you ram through defenders. Necromantic Thirst would’ve been cool if this deck had more sacrificial effects in it, but as-is, you’ll rarely get your mana’s worth.
Nemesis of Reason: 5.0
“Words describing it fail. Pages relating it shrivel. Tales recounting it end. Opponents facing it lose.”
Neurok Invisimancer: 3.0
Much like Crafty Pathmage, the Invisimancer has a hard time fitting into this deck. If played turn 2, it’s unlikely he’ll have a good target for his disappearing act, other than perhaps Dimir Guildmage. Of course, unlike Crafty Pathmage, this Neurok magician is also useful as an attacker himself, and can easily push through things like Mask of Riddles. He’s also decent as a lategame play, letting you unleash Laquatus’s Champion, then helping to bust through defenses himself.
Painful Quandary: 4.0
A little too slow for constructed play, Painful Quandary is a lot more welcome in Duels of the Planeswalkers. Dropping it on turn 5 (or even later), it will set the stage for your opponent’s demise no matter which effect they choose. It’s similar to Followed Footsteps in that it won’t win you the match instantly, but it gets out of control, fast. Best of all, they can’t actually opt to discard a card if their hand’s empty, meaning whenever they play the last spell in their hand, they’re losing five life!
Phantom Warrior: 4.0
While some people would be willing to pay three mana for a 2/2 creature with flying, the fact is that even flyers can still be blocked. Phantom Warriors don’t give a damn about flying, terrain, or solid walls… they bypass it all! While certainly an easy way to sneak a Helm of the Ghastlord through to your enemy, I feel Phantom Warriors are overcosted compared to the cheaper Inkfathom Infiltrator and Invisible Stalker. That said, he’s still a solid beater that won’t be easily removed via combat.
Ribbons of Night: 4.0
Outside of Duels (and especially outside of Rogues’ Gallery), I’d probably give this expensive removal option a 3.0 or lower. It’s a sorcery that doesn’t guarantee a kill and doesn’t guarantee a card draw. For effect, compare to Prophetic Bolt, an instant that always sifts through your four next options to find something tasty. That said, Ribbons of Night is one of this deck’s only removal option, and the life gain will help make up for its lackluster speed. It could even be used on your own creature, if necessary.
Royal Assassin: 4.5
“Nice creature you got there. It would be a shame if it attacked and, uh, fell on a knife.” Royal Assassin has been synonymous with mean spirited removal since the dawn of Magic, and now it’s back to mock your opponent’s would-be attackers. This cold-hearted killer fits in well with all the Dimir unblockables, since you’ll frequently be pressing the attack, only to eat more damage in return. With Royal Assassin out, that’s no longer a concern. He also ices activated abilities that require tapping!
Getting a sexy flying vampire for four mana is already a steal, but adding on free life gain whenever very common stuff occurs? Delightful. Sangromancer is a great turn 4 play, since she can immediately hold off smaller creatures while threatening evasive damage as revenge. With just a little bit of dying and discarding, you can easily regain the life you lost to faster decks early on, helping you regain control just in time for your Grimgrin, Corpse-born or Nemesis of Rea
Scroll Thief: 2.5
With no evasion whatsoever and a mediocre 1/3 body, you won’t be getting Scroll Thief’s ability to trigger particularly often. Sure, you could pay to make him unblockable, but… why? You’re better off using more powerful turn 3 drops instead! I guess Scroll Thief can be a decent blocker, but most of the time he’ll die a card-drawing virgin.
Shoreline Salvager: 1.0
As a professional journalist, I told myself I had to give at least one card a terrible rating. This is that card. Don’t use it.
Soul Manipulation: 4.0
Soul Manipulation is this deck’s only countermagic, so treasure it. Sure, it can only undo creature spells, but the bonus option to get one of your own creatures back is well worth the lack of countering credentials. You can also technically use this instant solely for its disentombing properties, but unless it’s a necromantic emergency, you’re better off waiting for the kill-1-get-1-free sale. Of course, don’t be afraid to cast this early game if your foe attempts to play a St. Augustin, either!
Terramorphic Expanse: 4.0
As with all the other recent two-colored decks, Terramorphic Expanse is basically necessary to your mana base. Your best bet is to just run two or three, as four tend to flood your hand, while taking one basically can’t be counted on.
Unliving Pscyhopath: 3.0
Wouldn’t you love to pay four mana for the right to pay even more mana just to attack? I sure wouldn’t. And, as a combat creature, Unliving Psychopath kind of sucks. Pumping it is expensive and dangerous, so you’ll mostly just use this morbid murderer to block. It does have the nifty ability to kill small creatures, but that, too, is expensive, and it’s not likely you’ll be able to afford the ability frequently in the early game. But if enemies hold back their creatures, you can always force a discard.
Walking Corpse: 3.0
A boring Grizzly Bear card, this is actually worse than other Grizzly Bears in Duels 2013. Why’s that? Since half his mana cost is black, you aren’t guaranteed to drop him by turn 2. And a 2/2 on turn 3 or 4 just isn’t impressive without some kind of secondary ability. I wouldn’t use these unless you face a lot of aggro, or if you simply need to smooth out your mana curve with more second turn inclusions.
Wrexial, the Risen Deep: 4.0
Getting a 5/8 behemoth for just six mana is a wonderful deal. Getting that same creature and making him unblockable against a third of the decks in the game? Even better? But receiving a Champion of the Spires effect every single turn? Now that’s unheard of! Wrexial absolutely wrecks your opponents’ plans, especially when they revolve around “blocking creatures” or “casting my own spells and not targeting myself.” This monster synergizes perfectly with both discard and mill effects, too!