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Pursuit of Knowledge – Dimir
The Lights are Getting Dimir
Since our last article in the Pursuit of Knowledge series, I have been able to enter an additional 57 EDH games to our extended gameplay data. The Command Zone gameplay data originally covered 316 games. Our current extended gameplay data now covers 432 games. The extended gameplay data brings better card ranking and provides us ranking for a larger card count, including preliminary ranking for the latest two sets, Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance. In this article, we will analyze the Dimir guild using a card pool that now covers 762 spells and 156 lands. We will present the best cards in different categories and build a deck around a Dimir legendary creature using this gameplay information.
30 Dimir commanders have some representation in EDHREC’s commander deck database of 11,800 Dimir decks.
Looking at gameplay data, 17 of 74 games were won with a Dimir commander (23% win rate), which is lower than the 25% win rate that we would expect from a four-player game, all things being equal. Interestingly, one commander fared a little bit better for its small sample size:
Adding Flashback to spells in our graveyard, extends the graveyard to our hand, giving us substantial card advantage. If we can fill our graveyard with good cards, there will be plenty of options at our disposal to respond to varying game situations. However, Dralnu has a big drawback. If he is dealt damage, we have to sacrifice that many permanents. We would not want a spell like to resolve with him in play.
When looking at EDHREC, we can see three main themes for Dralnu decks: Zombie Tribal, Mill, and Spellslinger, each using a slightly different card distribution. For our deck, I have decided to focus more on milling and spellslinging. Although we will keep in store a couple of combos that can help us mill our opponents for victory, this is not the main focus of this deck. Our first goal while milling cards has more to do with putting value into all graveyards, value that can be reused for our own purposes. With Dralnu, self-milling in this deck is as good as card draw.
Average Card Type Distribution
For our deck, we will implement a core control shell to keep our opponents at bay while we search for one of our primary win conditions:
- Play one of the big X spells (like ), with X large enough to secure the win
- Draw a card with in play and an empty library
- Mill our opponents
We will now present a breakdown of the Dimir card pool in the following categories: ramp, card advantage/filtering, disruption, mass removal, standalone creatures, noncreature spells, and lands. We will also look at three categories more specific to our deck: mill, reanimation, and spellslinger. As we present each category, the cards selected for our deck will be marked with a shaded background in each table. The ranking in our pool will also be outlined beside each card name.
With no access to green, we need to rely a lot more on mana rocks for ramp in Dimir. With an average CMC of 3.56, a little bit on the high side, and with a five CMC commander, ramping is important in this deck. We will reserve 12 slots from our deck to this category.
reduces the casting cost of our instant and sorcery spells, which constitute the majority of the spells in our deck. In addition, once transformed, the Amulet provides us some ramp and can be used to copy any instant or sorcery spell we cast each turn at no extra cost.
is the highest-ranked mana rock in our card pool. Early on, we can cast this rock for three mana to ramp for one, but later in the game, we could tap for six to double the ramp from this rock.
is not so much a ramp spell as a way to generate infinite mana. Imprinting on with a combination of mana rocks in play that generate three or more mana, we can tap all or our mana rocks, then activate the Scepter to cast . This will untap all of our nonland permanents, including the Scepter and the mana rocks. We can then repeat this process as many times as we wish to net infinite mana, and with the right cards in hand or in the graveyard, access to infinite mana secures us the win.
reduces the casting cost of each spell we flash back from the graveyard.
In addition to our commander’s intrinsic ability, this deck is packed with card advantage/filtering.
As our commander’s main ability opens our graveyard for us to cast instant and sorcery spells, we can leverage filtering a bit more to increase our chances to draw the right cards at the right time. Black and blue offer some of the best tutors and we include five of them in our deck. This gives us lots of flexibility. Exclusive to Dimir,
With Dralnu, self-milling is as good as card draw. lets us draw an additional hand of cards. Although we need to send a number of cards to the graveyard, we decide which cards go where, which should allow us to play most of these cards over time.
We still include a handful of spells that provides us card advantage.can be used for pure card draw, but also, if we get access to infinite mana, it can be used to mill either ourselves, with out, or mill our opponents. and , double up as both card draw and self-milling.
As a control deck, disruption is important in this deck. We find a mixture of target removal spells and counterspells that can protect our board or disrupt our opponent.
A number of counterspells are present in this deck. Some, like
Imprinting a counterspell onmay help us control the board in the early game.
prevents our opponents from gaining card advantage, and if played in response to an opponent casting a big card draw spell, could allow us to draw many cards.
provides us a means of repeating Dralnu’s Flashback ability. With infinite mana, the staff lets us draw our whole deck.
Since we have a low creature count, to survive we will need a good number of mass removal spells.
Our commander’s CMC is high enough that our mass removal spells have been picked to ensure our commander can survive most of them. This is the case at least for
does not fully clear the board, but its mana requirement is quite respectable and works at instant speed.
should also not affect us as much as our opponents, due to our low creature count.
Core Synergy: Mill
We select mill as the first core synergy for our deck. Two different kinds of milling are present in this deck: self-milling and milling our opponents. We will discuss more about self-milling in the Reanimation section. As far as milling other opponents is concerned, our ultimate end goal could be to force one or all of our opponents to put their whole library in their graveyard, but this is a tall ordeal in a four-player commander game. However, we can build our deck to take advantage of graveyards augmented through milling with cards like, , or .
In the table below, we list cards that mill and cards that take advantage of milling.
Some of the cards in our deck convert milling into resources. Such is the case with. Oona creates tokens for each spell that we mill and for which we have correctly guessed the color. converts milled creature cards into Zombie tokens.
We can leverage the cards in all graveyards with spells like, , and .
helps with the milling, and acts as sizable threat that can spell the end of an opponent with no creature on board if left unaddressed.
and provide us tools that make milling opponents a legitimate possibility. and converts our card draw into milling. Playing with one of these enchantments on the battlefield can have a similar effect as playing a on all of our opponents.
Core Synergy: Reanimation
This category is twofold. On the one hand, we have a desire to grow our graveyard, to get better options for Dralnu. Knowing we aim at populating our graveyard, we also plan to include cards to reuse its content, especially for cards that could not be targeted by Dralnu.
To fill our graveyard, we bring in spells like, and . They provide the added benefit of helping us with the card draw. In addition, some cards like , and can be used for self-milling to get more tools into our graveyard.
We include some creature reanimation cards:, , , , and . As we have seen in the previous section, Geth also helps us with milling.
Since we plan to play spells from the graveyard,brings us good card advantage.
To reanimate lands and artifacts that make their way to our graveyard, we include cards like, , and .
Core Synergy: Spellslinger
Our last core synergy revolves around spellslinging. A spellslinger creature leverages its own abilities and others present on the board to make the casting of instant or sorcery spells more attractive. Such a creature normally leads to decks with a higher count of instant and sorcery spells, which is the case for our Dralnu deck.
Putting most of our focus on milling and reanimation, we are not spending too many resources to leverage this synergy, but the ability to duplicate an instant or sorcery spell with cards like, and can easily tilt the balance in our favor.
and makes casting spells more affordable and lets us play our opponents’ best spells, extending the reach of the instant and sorcery spells we can play.
This deck does not have a strong focus on creatures, so all of our creatures support our core synergies and there is no room for standalone creatures. However, I included the list in the table below to use as a reference in case we would want to create other Dimir decks with different archetypes/synergies. Looking at this list, the Aristocrats category provides a good portion of the highest ranked spell for this color identity.
Standalone spells are spells that work well alone or in concert with the commander. With three core synergies however, we are not going too deep with the standalone spells. The table below is mostly there to present spells that fall outside of our base categories and our core synergies for the deck.
One standalone spell shines in this deck: . With a mana rock, some ramp spell like or and Dranu in play, is the perfect enabler for our spellslinger deck. Any time we play a spell, all of our nonland permanents, including Dralnu, untap. We have designed our deck with enough card draw to make for explosive turns when the engine starts clicking. Each spell we play from our hand can be replayed with Dralnu’s ability to give Flashback to instant and sorcery spells in the graveyard. also plays well with , as the Scepter untaps as soon as we cast the copy of the Imprinted spell and can be reactivated if the mana is available.
Our land base provides us with the right balance to play our blue and black spells, in addition with some ramp, and utility lands.
Our utility lands enhance the milling (and ), reanimation ( ) and spellslinging ( ) aspects of our deck.
Some of these lands, like, can be brought back from the graveyard with for multiple activations. may also target our fetch lands in the graveyard to bring more consistency to our land drop.
Putting It All Together
The Dimir color combination is well suited for control. However, in a multiplayer setting, a spellslinger may run out of ammunition. Dralnu gives us the opportunity to reuse the instant and sorcery spells we cast and makes the control aspect of this deck more sustainable. The end result is a deck that can stall our opponents’ progress while we establish our winning conditions. In the process of building this deck, we have identified key cards in various categories that have performed well in a wide variety of EDH matchups and comply with the Dimir color combination. We can make use of this information to build other Dimir decks with similar or different archetypes.
In our next article, we will see what surprises Boros has in store for us. Per reader request, we will useas our featured commander, a commander that plays well with the strengths of Boros in the combat aspect of the game.
Have you ever been successful implementing milling as the primary win condition for an EDH deck? Which commander worked best for you in that respect? As always, I am curious to hear your feedback on the material presented in this article.
Cards up my Sleeve
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