Multicolor Mixup – Dimir
When I last left off, everyone was gearing up for the holidays. It’s now a new year! I got caught up in the whole affair and didn’t get a chance to finish my series of posts on multicolor cards in cube. Dark Ascension is just around the corner, and some cards are already threatening to replace others in my cube. Let’s get writing, quick, before I’m overwhelmed by the spoilers and new card considerations!
Today’s post is about Dimir, and how the cards within the Dimir section of my cube help its archetypes.
When I last left my cube (poor choice of words, trust me, it’s safe and sound!), it contained the following blue-black cards:
Creeping Tar Pit
Polluted Delta *
Nemesis of Reason
Oona, Queen of the Fae
* Polluted Delta is part of an unfinished cycle in my cube, and does not count for balancing purposes. Each color combination currently has 8 cards, and some sections have fetchlands in addition to that.
Dimir occupies part of the blue spectrum of cube, and is thus mainly oriented toward control strategies. To that end, the cards within it (other than lands) support the kinds of things control decks want to do, like generating mana, drawing cards, stalling a game, finishing a game, and minor archetype support. Let’s examine each card to see its role in the cube:
Dimir Signet – Dimir Signet helps keep control alive by ramping you past the point in the game in which you’re the most vulnerable: the beginning. Jumping to 4 or 5 mana on the 3rd or 4th turn can mean the difference between being able to handle the current opposing threats plus the ability to counter more, or passing the turn with no actions, hoping your opponent stumbles. I include less than the full cycle of signets because many color combinations do not want to waste the time and card slot in their deck with ramp. UB decks, however, love it.
Nemesis of Reason – Nemesis of Reason is an odd fellow. A surprisingly efficient 3/7 body for 5 mana, with a non-typical win condition strapped to its back. One only need be attacked by Nemesis to be milled, making it nearly as potent as Jace, Memory Adept at winning the game with as little risk as possible. Nemesis of Reason also comes down quicker than the average finisher in the cube due to the 5 mana cost, making it slightly easier to protect than a typical finisher.
Oona, Queen of the Fae – A typical dragon-sized finisher that has a relatively easy casting cost. Oona can generate a sizable army once you untap with her in play. You can win by milling your opponent out, but once the game has progressed to that point you are likely going to win anyway. I have seen some people take her out of their cubes, because of her similarity to other finishers (6-mana 5/5) available in black and blue.
Psychatog – The little guy with big teeth. Psychatog serves multiple roles. In an early game, it can behave as the potentially biggest creature on the table, protecting your life total . As a discard enabler, it supports reanimation strategies (and to a very minor extent, a Madness enabler, i.e. Basking Rootwalla). In the end game, it can serve serious Upheaval-fueled beatdowns.
Shadowmage Infiltrator – A fairly innocuous looking card, Shadowmage Infiltrator won’t usually win the game on his own. But smart players, like the man whose likeness appears on this card, know its true potential. Drawing additional cards is one way a control deck will overwhelm an opponent with answers and threats.
One card that does not have a home in my cube yet is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. I’m still trying to determine if he will be powerful enough to be worth a slot. Considering that my cube runs almost 60 artifacts, and my cube is around 540 cards, this means that about 1 in 9 cards are artifacts. If I have a full table of 8 players drafting, I can see an average of 40 artifacts in the draft. If I could guarantee this happening every time I drafted, I would likely try to include him in my cube. Unfortunately, I typically only have 4 drafters, cutting the number of artifacts available in half. Considering the power level of many artifacts, and how other drafters will also consider them high picks, I think it would be difficult to consistently build the kind of deck that Tezzeret requires even when you encounter and pick him early in the draft. This is not unlike Tezzeret the Seeker, which is slightly easier to support – in the worst-case scenario, the Seeker is a 5-mana tutor for 85% of the artifacts in the cube, and isn’t multicolor, so it has a bit more potential at occupying a deck slot.
There are other options for Dimir cards, ranging from extremely narrow (Glimpse the Unthinkable), to awkward (Undermine), to somewhat weak (Agony Warp). There are a variety of 3-mana utility spells that either draw cards, bounce permanents, counter spells, or force discards. One card that I have my eye on is Lim-Dul’s Vault. It is somewhat similar to Vampiric Tutor, with a slightly higher cost involved. In limited decks, you should not need more than a few life to find what you need, and you get additional information for your next few draw steps as well. It has the potential to help enable combo-like decks like any other tutor, and that’s something that I may want to encourage in my cube in the future.
I’m not changing any cards today. It’s bittersweet, because I like my current selection, but love playing with new cards. Each of the cards I’m using has their role in the cube. The one that seems the most likely to leave in the future is Oona – her similarity to other finishers in the cube and lack of immediate board impact means that she doesn’t fill a very unique spot, and may be replaced with something more archetype-defining like Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, or a consistency-enabler like Lim-Dul’s Vault.
What do you think? Do each of these cards pull their weight in your cube? Have you backed away from the typical cards in favor of something more unique? Let me know. 🙂