Too awesome to die with the rest of the guilds featured in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, the Dimir are back in black (and blue) to wreak havoc upon dueling planeswalkers once more. Well, maybe this is the first time it’ll be wreaking havoc, considering the first one was more of a gallery of overly careful balancing.
Okay, enough with the cheap puns. Like its predecessor Rogues’ Gallery, Masks of the Dimir is neither strong on turn 3 wins nor on big stompy dudes. Instead, it prefers to stay back, carefully weigh its options, and somehow still win in the end.
Because does it really count as winning if you aren’t infuriating your opponent in the process?
Deck overview: New faces, old stomp
Unlocking this deck, it’s easy to feel disappointed. There are no more Cutpurses, no Agony Warp, no Helms of the Ghastlord, because all of those things were way too OP in DotP13, weren’t they. That is not to say that the Dimir have lost all their tricks, of course. Most importantly, they’ve gained a lot of new ones, especially Cipher. Cast once, torture opponent forever.
Overall, the deck hasn’t changed much since its appearance in DotP13. It relies less on power and more on sneaky manipulation, card advantage, and not the least praying to put it through until it can win in the late game. If you play it like Aggro, may the Ghost Council help you.
General strategy: Die fast or start killing
This deck is filled to the brim with enough discard and draw that soon enough your opponent will go into topdeck mode (drawing the cards that you just made them put back on top) whilst staring down your hand being full of potential death and destruction. That being said, while it does have an enormous advantage once it gets going, that point might take a while to arrive, so expect to take some punishment in the early game. If you can stabilise the board eventually, what does a lost life point or ten matter?
Needless to say, this is not a deck for little Timmy mindlessly playing whatever cards he can, so let him go back to his angels. Success with this deck will require not only the tools for stalling and card advantage, but also the proper style to use them. In other words, if you can’t stand sitting around for entire turns doing pretty much nothing, this isn’t your deck.
Masks of the Dimir deck list (by mana cost)*
61 cards, 11 Islands, 10 Swamps, 3 Terramorphic Expanses
- 3 Dimir Guildmage
- 1 Countersquall
- 3 Ravenous Rats
- 4 Last Gasp
- 1 Treasure Hunt
- 1 Hands of Binding
- 2 Chittering Rats
- 1 Consult the Necrosages
- 1 Time Ebb
- 1 Divination
- 2 Evil Twin
- 3 Moroii
- 1 Reins of Power
- 2 Lobotomy
- 2 Sleep
- 1 Dire Undercurrents
- 1 Beacon of Unrest
- 1 Ghastlord of Fugue
- 1 Followed Footsteps
- 1 Painful Quandary
- 1 Dinrova Horror
- 1 Stolen Identity
- 1 Diluvian Primordial
- 1 Avatar of Will
Masks of the Dimir card-by-card analysis (by mana cost)
Thought Scour: 2.5
Look, I know it’s a draw for one mana, you can stop writing comments about it. If it is so great, then why are there Blue tournament decks, quite a lot of them in fact, which run without a full playset of it? Shrinking your deck is only great if there actually is room to do so. Unfortunately, in this one, there are so many single cards that every card is needed to fulfill each role. Not only will Thought Scour only be useful if your deck already runs great without filling a few card slots, it will also harm you directly; Ideally, you will never have too much spare mana, not even on turn one when you’d rather play a fetchland.
Dimir Guildmage: 3.5
First of all, he’s an early body, though he’ll almost never see combat. More importantly, his abilities are expensive yet powerful. In combination with other spells, you can reasonably empty your opponent’s hand by turn 4 or 5 at most, and keep drawing yourself. This, gentlemen, is card advantage at its finest. More than one at a time is superfluvous though, so two will do.
Ravenous Rats: 3.5
Pay two, get a chump for the early game and get the discard train rolling. It’s unlikely that this will hit anything that important, but you have to get rid of your opponent’s discard fodder sometime, right?
Surveilling Sprite: 3.0
I hate this card, and everything it does. That out of the way, its only purpose is being a flying chump blocker that’ll replace itself, assuming that its attacker doesn’t have Trample and that it doesn’t die in some random board wipe before then. Sure it’ll help you draw into the removal you need to actually take care of that threat. You know what also would? Not having this in your deck in the first place!
For this deck, it’s a decent counterspell, not to mention it’s the only one. Still, if the time arises, there’s no better insult than injury.
Last Gasp: 4.0
Like Countersquall, your only method of removal. Unlike it, actually plentiful. A -3/-3 in time can save you the entire game, as far as (with some help) taking down those squiggly Eldrazi monsters.
Treasure Hunt: 3.0
Unlike Thought Scour, this will not draw you only lands a subjectively perceived 93% percent of the time. Don’t expect it to draw you more than two or often just one card, but focus on that that card will always be useful. At any stage of the game, it’s a guaranteed spell draw, with the added benefit of giving you any lands that would happen to be in the way, for whatever you want to do with them. (“Don’t eat the cards.”) It does reveal the cards, but so does Oracle of Mul Daya, doesn’t it? Does the Oracle suck?*
Hands of Binding: 3.5
Only one scary guy on the other side of the field? Just one flying blocker? Now they’re gone. Personally, I would have preferred something like Claustrophobia, but you must use what you have. Lovely for its versatility to switch targets if needed, assuming that you can keep hitting.
Chittering Rats: 3.5
Ah, Mirrodin. Back when we all were just some innocent little girls playing with what crap cards we had happened to pull, Mirrodin was still host to weekly metal concerts, and creatures didn’t need to be 3/3 for 1B with a card advantage effect to be playable even in limited. This doesn’t get rid of the card entirely, but it does completely ruin your opponent in the topdecking phase, which seems to be where 90% of decks are most of the time due to greedy land counts.** What happened with the Phyrexians, anyway? Are they just content with dicking up Mirrodin and now spend their time chilling about there?
Slate-Street Ruffian: 2.0
Yay, unblockable 2/2! Except that it will get blocked and die by turn 4 when your opponent’s hand will be empty anyway!
Threads of Disloyalty: 2.5
While the recent expansion has given this more targets, few of them are really worth it. Don’t be a cheapskate, buy a real Mind Control that will actually take cards worth taking.
Consult the Necrosages: 4.0
Mind Rot when you need it, Divination when you don’t, for the easy price of either. Do be careful when selecting targets though, there is nothing more embarassing than forgetting which mode you chose.
Time Ebb: 3.5
It’s like Chittering Rats, except with more Eldrazi disposal. Assuming that your opponent does have the tools to recast the creature, you have effectively wasted one of his turns which he’ll spend on nothing but restoring the board as it was. If it was a powerful Omnomnommer or cheated into play through Summoning Trap or a (now dead) Elvish Piper? That’s pure evil thinking right there.
Doomsday Specter: 3.0
Can allow you to reuse ETB effects for more discard, which is handy since it will never score a hit itself. It’s Coercion on a stick, except tied to a 4 mana 2/3 flier that will sit around for a turn doing nothing other than reducing your board presence. Which won’t hit more than one card anyway unless you’re in a mirror matchup and losing.
There are better ways of creating card advantage, but at least this is never a dead draw. In fact, it can be quite welcome lategame so that you can sift even deeper. Unless you really, really need to make your opponent discard ASAP, better than its obvious comparison Mind Rot.
Mind Rot: 2.5
Mostly worse than Divination. The window to use it is rather brief, starting at turn 3 and ending as soon as your opponent has less than 2 (or 1) cards in hand. Too brief. For each card, ask yourself: “What if I topdeck this card late or early game rather than on its preferred window?” I’ve found that helps a lot in deckbuilding.
Evil Twin: 4.0
Oooh so evil. Creates your very own version of literally anything on the board, and murders the original if it gets to live one turn. Who knew that there were two It That Betrays…es?
I’m sure the Izzet deck would literally kill to get this. Oh wait, they get it every turn, as a 4/4, with insane pump. Never mind then, I guess we’ll just have to throw this away for doing too little in too specific scenarios
With how this deck seems to be built for EDH (only one copy of any given card per deck), rather surprising. Surprising that they give us a full playset of this bity little devil. Perhaps Wizards wanted to make amends for how much last year’s Dimir deck sucked. Surprising that DotP14′s version is not all that much better. But a 4/4 flier on turn 4 can come in handy. If it doesn’t kill you.
Mark of the Vampire: 2.5
Pumps are great. Lifelink is very great. This card is bad. I like to look down on people saying that auras need to give Indestructible and draw three cards to be worth it even in Draft, but the fact of the matter is that this one just… doesn’t do enough for its money.
Reins of Power: 3.5
Let’s face it: This deck isn’t the greatest. So what better way to laugh defeat in the face than to take all creatures, turn them around, and kill your opponent using *their* alpha strike? If nothing else, include for its potential for hilarious victories torn literally directly from certain defeat. Combos with greedy opponents playing out all their guys and not playing out all your guys.
Would you like a Lord of the Unreal, Jace? *Crushes in hand* Wouldn’t we all. You do need some knowledge of the enemy deck to use this card to its full potential, but beyond that, it can completely ruin certain decks. That it comes out mostly after such decks have already murdered you is unfortunate, but there are plenty of things that this can still hit.
Mental Vapors: 1.5
It has the potential to be more than Mind Rot for but one mana more. Realistically speaking, it will be less than Mind Rot, for one mana more. Even if you can score consistent hits, your opponent just won’t have any targets for it.
It’s like an Overrun in blue. Or perhaps Overrun is the same in green? Regardless, though costly, this beauty will completely negate your opponent’s creatures (except for static abilities, of course) until the end of your next turn. Count it, that’s two free attacks between which you will not have to fear retaliation, except for creatures that are played on the tapped turn. It’s just too much damage potential to pass up. If nothing else, it’s a free turn for most intents and purposes.
Ghastlord of Fugue: 5.0
BFM: Big Furry Monster. That can’t be blocked. And causes immense card advantage when it inevitably hits. Too bad that you only get one, but… well, we have ways to make more. Also, can you imagine a deck with more than one of its respective spirit avatar? Four, even? Ridiculous just to think about it, isn’t it? Good thing that would never happen in DotP.
Shadowborn Demon: 2.0
Now THAT is some amazing card advantage… FOR THE OTHER GUY!
Dire Undercurrents: 3.5
Okay, it comes out late. No, it doesn’t do anything about the board. However, it’s far from being so late that you wouldn’t have any creatures entering after it. In fact, I’d say it comes in just in time for the clone forge to start rolling. Also, think about it this way: A single multicoloured creature will already put you at card advantage. Having all your stuff that comes after cantrip is just cream on top. Once again, be careful with targeting. Then again, using both triggers on your opponent, perhaps after a Time Ebb, is a wonderful way of being a dick and establishing moral dominance. After all, isn’t that what Dimir is about?
Painful Quandary: 5.0
“Do you expect me to discard?”
“No, Mister Beleren, I expect you to die!”
Painful jokes aside, this alone will kill your opponent. Combine with Dimir Guildmage to confine your opponent to one card in hand to make the life loss an inevitability.
Followed Footsteps: 3.9
I hesitate to rate this 4, since its sheer size as a removal magnet might cause the moon to deorbit and crash on your dude in case there aren’t any Doom Blades, Corrupts, Mutilates, sacrifices, or other black removal which is surprisingly plentiful in this game already aimed at it. Still, if it survives, imagine what you could do. Two things about it though, Evil Twin’s token will be a copy of what the original is copying*** and for the love of SUBJECT DEITY HERE, do not put this on Moroii. There is cutting into your veins to release the sweet venom within which will carry you to victory and then there’s shoving a kitchen knife into your stomach. It can become ugly quickly if your opponent doesn’t die immediately afterwards.
Fool’s Demise: 3.0
Sort of obsoleted with Gift of Immortality in Theros if you’re using it for, well, immortality. Okay, it came out a good few years before that, and is a different colour, and doesn’t allow for stealing creatures. Still, with what it does, one can’t help feeling like it just doesn’t do enough, when it could also be a Ghastlord or even a Shadowborn Demon.
Shadow Slice: 2.0
Useful, except not really. In all likelihood, the Ciphered creature will do more damage to your opponent than this will.
Beacon of Unrest: 4.0
Ooh, the Zenith cycle mimics this original cycle, in its doing something iconic and then reshuffling. Lovely. Aside from sudden realisations, this beauty gives you whatever happened to land in the graveyard on either side for a measly five mana, with free refills if you can find it again. With as much draw as there is within this deck, that’s not too unlikely, either. It depends on stuff dying, but once stuff dies, that stuff will be yours.
Illusionary Armour: 1.0
Terrible and you should know why. Even if it isn’t popped midcombat, did you really expect this to stay on the creature for more than half a second?
Dinrova Horror: 4.5
Although I don’t think it has feet, just imagine for a moment this with a Followed Footsteps stuck onto it. Not only do you get a considerable body, it also allows you to kill anything on the board, with no strings attached. Nothing short of shroud will save it. I think that an ultra-Vindicate which allows for creature shenanigans and has a large body for just six mana is well worth it. (If your opponent does happen to have any cards left in hand by the time this comes out, maybe you’re not playing it right.)
Vedalken Dismisser: 3.0
I want to see this card being good, but at the same time, it’s just Time Ebb with a 2/2 chump. Worth it? Perhaps, if you’re willing to endure running this. Fun and not bland? Nope.
Stolen Identity: 4.0
Sharing is caring. Doesn’t murder the original like Evil Twin does, but can be repeated each turn if necessary. Also, this can be Ciphered onto the token it just created, so if you’re short on carriers, why not use your opponent’s? I know the only thing better than copying your opponent’s Baneslayer is to do it a lot of times.
Necropolis Regent: 2.5
Weaker than one would expect. If you can consistently hit your opponent even with this out, you have probably already won.
Diluvian Primordial: 3.5
It’s unlikely that its ability will be a gamechanger, but even without it, it’s a big guy ideal for lategame facepunching. What more needs to be said?
Smog Elemental: 2.5
Sure, he basically gives all your fliers +1/+1. If only there were many small fliers in the game that really care about its effect other than going from 6/6 to 5/5. For that price. it could at least affect all creatures.
Vengeful Vampire: 1.0
” … and unsupported by anything but complete incompetence.” Terrible before it dies, useless afterwards, all around waste of air.
Avatar of Will: 4.5
You’ll never pay more than 2 mana for this, and it will never be later than turn 5 or 6 at best, leaving you with enough to buy lunch for the next turn. Immensely cheap for what it does, which is a lot.
Spinal Embrace: 3.0
Can lead to some amazing plays, but relies not only on your opponent having things, but having things that are worth the effect and generally better than yours. In a meta dominated by swarms, usually not worth the price.
Guardian of the Ages: 3.0
Big. Strong. Conditional. It triggers off of fliers, but for that price, it better have some big payoff other than eating removal.
Colossal Whale: 2.5
If it ever swings and survives, it will omnomnom the opposition. If. The problem is that it can either just be swarmblocked or faces a deck with Islands, which generally have no problem disposing of it to get their guys back.
Demon Barghest: 2.0
All new! 10 turn clock, for just seven mana! If you trigger its first ability, you are already losing. Nice body, but suffers compared to the alternatives. Hell, Guardian of the Ages is better if you want a body.
Every player who uses it will have stories about jacking that 20 point Banefire for the victory. Likely scenario? No. Very few spells in the game would be worthy of its effect, and fewer yet are worth the price.
Mindleech Mass: 1.0
Okay, now that it’s not our only option, sort of bad. Sort of really terrible.
*If you answered yes, I’m afraid I’ll have to meet you outside. No one questions my card wife, alright?
**Which happens to coincide with that 90% of all decks that are played are fucking Illusions. Isn’t statistics something?
***There is literally a separate rule in Magic’s rulebook which treats what happens when you clone a Clone. I love this game.