Black and Blue and Read All Over
Throughout the life of Pioneer, no color combination has had quite the polarizing presence on both sides of the spectrum as Dimir. At its height, we obviously had Dimir Inverter, which was possibly the most powerful deck Pioneer has ever had within a certain Meta-game. After the Inverter ban, it took a while for Dimir to find its place again. Eventually it landed on Dimir Control, featuring cards like Torrential Gearhulk as its main win condition. With the introduction of cards like Portable Hole, Fateful Absence, March of Otherworldly Light, and The Wandering Emperor however; Dimir has found itself playing second fiddle behind Azorious control. Once again, Dimir was left by the wayside. Through minor blips of Pioneer since the rise of Azorious control, Dimir has popped up every now and then with Archetypes including Dimir Control, Dimir Midrange utilizing Leger Shredder and/or Thing in The Ice, and Dimir Rogues featuring Kaito Shizuki. Though with all of these small moments in time, we have yet to see anything even close to the dominance of Dimir Inverter or the representation of Dimir Control prior to Azorious receiving massive upgrades. Today, we’ll try to find the winning formula to make Dimir truly competitive once again.
First up, we have Dimir Valki — a deck that saw some play early on during the release of Kaldheim, after players realized the interaction between Valki and Release to the Winds. By exiling Valki with RTW, it allows you to recast it for the backside of Valki for free, getting a Tibalt as early as turn three. In Modern, before the change to Cascade, a turn three Tibalt was a backbreaking play that was incredibly hard to come back from. This deck was short lived though as it was shown to have consistency issues and no real plan B to pivot to in case your Valki was destroyed prior to being able to Release him. Now, with the addition of Leger Shredder, the deck has access to not only a Plan B, but one that actually can accelerate your initial gameplan of finding either Valki or Release to the Winds. As you continue to loot with Shredder, your opponent will be forced to deal with it before it gets out of hand. By forcing your opponent to use removal on your Shredders, this opens up a window for Valki to survive before Exiling him with Release. Otherwise, the deck looks to play a straight forward midrange strategy by interacting with your opponent with Thoughtseize and Fatal Push, as well as making use of the blue in our deck for some counter magic to help protect our Valkis or Shredders. The sideboard has some straight forward choices, but the one I want to focus on is Graveyard Trespasser. There is genuine reason to consider playing these in the main over Brazen Borrower, or even Censor. I could also see the reason for playing some number Kaito Shizuki as an additional engine of card draw that is another must kill threat.
Initially, I wanted to create a Dimir Mill deck similar to what we see over in Modern. There are unfortunately two glaring issues with that however. First Pioneer is lacking excellent mill cards such as Archive Trap (which admittedly wouldn’t even be very good in Pioneer thanks to the lack of fetchlands) Fractured Sanity, Hedron Crab, and Visions of Beyond. The other issue is that with the existence of Delve Spells in Pioneer, as well as the prevalence of Izzet Phoenix, milling your opponents deck is actively a poor strategy. So, I decide to turn that weakness into a strength, and mill over our own library instead. The goal is simple: use cards like Chronic Flooding, Ashiok, and Jace to Mill ourselves while we try and search for our delve spells and Temporal Trespass in particular. Eventually we can close out the game by using Jace or Thassa’s Oracle, and along the way keep our opponents at bay with Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, and Fading Hope.
The concept of Mill being bad in current Pioneer due to Phoenix, Greasefang, and Delve spells is certainly one that is true. So what if we took a more exile based approach to the gameplan? The usual suspects of Mill are there, but with a focus on cards like Tasha’s Hideous Laughter and Ashiok Dream Render. Our goal is to ensure that we have the tools available to both Mill out our opponent, but also ensure that graveyard centric strategies are kept at bay. Even with cards like Ruin Crab, Secretkeeper, and Maddening Cacophony milling in the traditional sense, we have access to some spot exile in all star Unlicesned Hearse and Cling to Dust. Out of the board we try to keep things clean with a lot of four-ofs, with my personal favorite being four Aether Gust. Being able to put a card on top of our opponents library and then simply mill it over/exile it is just *chef’s kiss*.
Mr. Steal Yo Girl
As always, I have to include a more fun deck than anything, and this deck is certainly that. The entire idea is built around stealing our opponents cards and using them against them, and we have a lot of ways to do so. Siphon Insight, Thief of Sanity, Nightveil Specter, Gonti, Hostage Taker, Covetous Urge, The Scarab God, and Xanathar, Guild Kingpin. The fun thing is that both Thief and Specter have flying, and by throwing in Ledger Shredder into this list, we now have twelve fliers to be able to consistently have Lofty Denial online. The downside of Specter is that it doesn’t have the phrase “spend mana as if it was mana of any color” attached to it, so we throw in a couple of Mana Confluence to be able to make up for that. One thing that I think would be fun to do with this deck is turn it Grixis so we can play Robber of the Rich to really have a great aggressive turn two play. This will also give us access to Fable of the Mirror Breaker as a nice turn three play, and more steal spells in red like Claim the Firstborn. However, this is Dimir’s time to shine, so no red will be included today.
Dimir really has access to a lot of interesting playstyles and archetypes for players to brew around in Pioneer. Of course, Dimir Control and Rogues are a tried and true archetype for those wanting something competitively ready to go, but out of all the color combos, Dimir really stands out to me as the most flexible. So like always, get out there, start brewing, and don’t forget to share you sweet brews in the comments below, or join the Discord via the Playing Pioneer Patreon and show off your brews there!