Mind Bend - Dimir Equipment
(Scott Murphy) | Art by
Slice and Dice
"It's not a matter of deserving. It's a matter of strength. The power to hold versus the power to take."
Although we're deep into Core Set 2020 spoilers, it's hard to forget about the set that just came out a few weeks ago: Modern Horizons. Magic content creators everywhere are still piecing out all the new playables from this supplemental set, and since new card spoilers are popping up more than those pesky summer weeds, it's easy to lose track of all the cool stuff we can now get our hands on.
That's not to say that Modern Horizons isn't chock full of crazy Commander cards - it is - but some cards might still need some highlighting, lest they forever be lost in the category of "hidden gem". One of those cards, for me, is .
This is Just a Tribute
Admittedly, this card isn't going to be anyone's "#1 Pick" for the set, but it is the kind of role player that wins you games, albeit sneakily, by grabbing what you need, exactly when you need it. comes from a proud lineage, starting with , and moving up to .
Each card has its use in Commander. is perfect to grab a or some key answer, like . provides you with big beats or shut-down artifacts like .
The one I wanted to focus on most is . According toits EDHREC page, it's being played in near 7,000 decks, and that's nothing to scoff at. However, when you look at the High Synergy section, and even the Top Cards section, you'll see exactly zero artifacts with a converted mana cost of three.
Perhaps the data is skewed by each deck's preference for what it wants to do at three mana, but it's hard to believe that not a single three-mana artifact made the top of the page. Even in the artifacts section on page, those that cost three make up less than a quarter of the choices, and many of them are just simple mana rocks, like and
Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. I mean, everyone needs mana rocks. However, it doesn't match what I first thought about what could grab. The art depicts someone holding a sword! There are some really sweet Equipment at the three-drop slot!
And now, with 's little sister coming along, we can also dig up Commander-staple Equipment like and ? Count me in!
Since this is Mind Bend - the article series meant to break down conventional notions of deckbuilding and the color pie to forge new ground outside the confines of the already established - let's build a Boros Equipment deck... in blue and black.
How did I decide on using Boros as inspiration? It's simple: all 10 of the top 10 commanders on EDHREC's Equipment Theme page are either white (like ), red (like ), or both (like ).
The High Synergy Cards section on the Equipment Theme page lets us dig a little bit into what an Equipment deck is trying to do. First, of course, is a whole slew of Equipment. This isn't surprising - I sure hope the Equipment deck has Equipment in it.
Beyond that, though, things get more interesting.
No Extra Fees
, , and all have something in common: they reduce the overall mana you need to spend on Equipment, by way of making the first (or in Puresteel's case, all) equip costs free. This means that you get a total cost reduction between 2 and 6 on all Equipment you play. That's a sweet deal.
The Right Tool for the Job
Additionally, there are some great spells to search for Equipment: and are terrific low-mana tutors. Additionally, you have the Equipment powerhouses of and that act as tutors and cheat costs of high-cost weapons.
The creatures section of the Equipment theme page has a few more things to say about the game plan. You will find creatures that want to be suited-up as much as possible like , similar to the previously mentioned . Beyond this, you'll find general protection in the likes of and .
So the game plan is thus:
- Build up a board of Equipment cost reducers.
- Tutor for high-impact Equipment.
- Resolve large threat.
- Attach as many Equipment as you can to aforementioned threat.
Into the Shadows
To convert this to Dimir, we might need to make some changes to the strategy. Currently, there are no curve toppers that care about Equipment in blue or black, so we'll have to be more sneaky with how we utilize our Equipment. Instead of crashing in with a giant mech, we'll gracefully glide in with our scalpels - cutting only exactly where we need to cut, which, I have to say, is very Dimir-like.
But first, let's go back and look at how we can reduce some Equipment costs in blue and black.
First and foremost is . I have been a fan of this card since I first played it in a janky mono-blue artifact deck in Standard. This card does so much, and it will be essential for our Equipment dreams. The key ability of is tapping our blue creatures to get two colorless mana which we can use "only to cast artifact spells or activate abilities of artifacts".
Let's break that down a bit more. Of course, getting two mana to help cast the likes of et al is sweet on its own. But it gets even sweeter when you realize that can also help pay for equip costs, as those are an activated ability of an artifact.
is cool, but that's just one card in the 99. Are there other effects like this? You betcha!
and both essentially have the ability stapled to them, whereas is a little more narrow, but still helps out when we need it.
That's not to mention a few cost reducers that we have access to.
paired with is oh so tasty. With just these two cards, we can cast and equip without touching our lands. Swap Sculptor with and that interaction only costs you one blue mana.
turns any available creatures into additional mana sources for casting our Equipment, akin to , though we will still be left to pay the equip costs.
Out to the Red Zone
With all this talk about Equipment, let's look at our payoffs for sticking to this strategy. Much like the previously mentioned , we should utilize triggers from dealing combat to players.
Dimir has no shortage of evasive creatures that can give us more cards to play and/or force opponents to discard cards. For example, naturally has menace, and can strip an opponent's hand based on how much damage it deals. Sending it in with a would mean that Dreamstealer could force an opponent to discard four total cards.
is a fantastic card for this strategy. She has built-in evasion with Islandwalk, and her combat damage trigger can help remove powerful artifacts from other player's decks. At worst, we get to take everyone's s.
is a flyer that does a nice impression of every time we connect with it.
Of course, our Equipment can get in on the combat damage game, too. Most players are familiar with the potent "Sword of X and Y" cycle, so I'll highlight some lesser-known Equipment that are worth playing.
The three Equipment above all result in card advantage in their respective ways. lets us dig two cards deep on each hit. adds extra evasion to its wearer and gives us an extra card. boosts a creature's power and turns any creature into a psuedo- . While an opponent discarding a card isn't as great as us drawing a card, we can be smart about which opponent we want to lose cards, which can help point the game in our favor.
Best of all, each of the above Equipment cost two mana, so we have a wide array of tools for our to find!
The Fatal Blow
While it's great that we have all this chip damage and incremental card advantage whenever we connect with a creature, we will still need a way to close out the game.
The above cards turn this deck from chippy aggro to downright murder. Remember earlier when I mentioned that we'd have to use our blades like scalpels instead of going full Voltron? It's because of the above. One thing that we don't have in these colors is a way to suit up one giant threat and smash face. There's no for us. To compensate, let's let the Equipment (and in the case of Virtus, the creature) do the work.
and , in just one hit, can rip a healthy opponent, from 40 life to less than 20 all on their own. Strap one of these on any of the many evasive creatures in the deck, and you can carve up opponents with ease.
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For our commander, I've selected because the deck should not have any problems dealing three damage each turn, and we can also net cards when other players hit each other. However, if you want to have an alt-win option with commander damage, you may want to swap out for someone beefier. The only issue there is that most of those commanders are 5+ mana, and can make the sequence of casting and then equipping the commander awkward and inefficient. However, I'm certain there's a way to do it, perhaps with less evasive creatures and more ramp.
Have we found a way to make Boros better by turning it into Dimir? That'll be up to you to decide. The Equipment strategy was strong to begin with, for anyone that has been on the receiving end of one. However, you'll see that Boros doesn't need to be the only color combination to hit people with a brand new . You can do that in any colors you want and have fun doing so!
See you again next time for more color-bent insanity!