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February 5, 2013

23

Gatecrash: Dimir Dementia Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

The Boros are back, this time in the role of foil in the capable hands of Jimi. Meanwhile, I’ll be piloting the shadowy DImir Dementia, as we look to give it a thorough stress test to see how well Blue/Black cipher-mill holds up!

Game One

After swapping opening land drops, Jimi opens her account with Wojek Halberdiers, while I simply play a Dimir Guildgate and pass. A next-turn Skyknight Legionnaire sees Jimi get out in front quickly, attacking for 5 with both creatures to leave me a quarter-dead. For my part, I summon a Sage’s Row Denizen.

Now turn 4, Jimi attacks for another 5, and to her surprise I accept the trade of the Denizen for the Halberdiers. That leaves me taking 2 from the Legionnaire, going down to 13. She replaces her loss with a Canyon Minotaur and passes. Back to me, I play a Dimir Keyrune, using it to fund a Wight of Precinct Six– which immediately is a 2/2 thanks to the fallen Halberdiers. Next turn, Jimi attacks for 5 unopposed, as I go down to 8. I counterattack for 2 with the Wight, then expand my board with a Mindeye Drake and Jace’s Phantasm.

Jimi leads off turn 6 with a Warclamp Mastiff, then takes my Drake for a ride with an Act of Treason. Attacking for 7, I chump the Minotaur with my Phantasm to limit the incoming damage, ending at 4 life. My turn, sadly, is a blank. When Jimi then summons a Foundry Champion, it’s 4-point blast is all she needs to claim the opener.

Game Two

The first play of the game outwith landdrops is my second-turn Gutter Skulk, which Jimi meets with a Daring Skyjek. Next turn I send the Skulk through for damage, then summon the Wight of Precinct Six. For Jimi’s part, she adds a Skyknight Legionnaire, sending it into the red zone for an attack while holding back her Skyjek. This brings us level at 18 apiece.

Consuming Aberration

Consuming Aberration

Now turn 4, I send the Skulk through again, and Jimi once more declines the block. I then follow with a Balustrade Spygrinding Jimi’s library. Luckily for her, the first card turned over is a Mountain, so that’s where it ends. For her part, she summons a Bomber Corps and passes. Back to me, I play Coerced Confession, seeing two creatures off to Jimi’s graveyard from her library. This not only lets me draw two cards, but it pumps the Wight into a 3/3. Unwilling to give me the gift of time, Jimi then attacks with all three of her creatures, triggering battalion and sending the Bomber Corps’ ping directly to the face. I block the Corps with the Skulk, then block the Legionnaire with my Spy drawing an Arrows of Justice to blast it from the sky. Jimi clearly had been hoping to draw my Wight into a blocking assignment while it was still of a manageable size, and seems almost tilted that she didn’t. Still, it’s a successful attack, as I’m now down to 14.

I counterattack with the Wight and Skulk on turn 6 for 6, dropping Jimi to 10. For her part, she plays a Mountain and passes, preferring to hang back on defense. I send in the Skulk for 2 alone, then add a Dimir Keyrune. Jimi bolsters her population with a Warclamp Mastiff.

Now turn 8, I send in the expendable Rat once more, and Jimi declines a trade going to 6 as a result. I then add a Deathcult Rogue. It’s not long for the world, though, as Jimi immediately solves it with a Mugging. Next turn, I activate the Keyrune to attack for 4 alongside the Rat. The Keyrune is unblockable, but Jimi’s forced to chump the Skulk with her Mastiff- making the Wight a 5/5. Down to 4 life, she plays a Boros Keyrune and passes.

A turn-10 Death’s Approach kills the Legionnaire, while Jimi’s Skyjek then ends up Totally Lost. With no blockers, a lethal attack is inescapable.

Game Three

Jimi’s back on the play for our final game, and she opens with a Warclamp Mastiff which gets in for damage on turn 2. My first play is the Gutter Skulk, plugging that defensive hole.

Now turn 3, Jimi counters with a Skyknight Legionnaire, attacking in with it for 2. For my part, I summon a Mortus Strider and pass back. After another attack in the air I can do nothing about, Jimi then summons her Warmind Infantry. Aside from a Swamp, my turn is a blank.

Jimi finds a Boros Guildgate on turn 5, but aside from the Legionnaire opts to keep her creatures at home. Down to 13, I play a Swamp and pass. Next turn, Jimi drops me to 11 in the sky before adding a second Warmind Infantry, after which I unleash a Dinrova Horror. This bounces one of her Infantries to hand, then compels her to discard. She has a few cards to choose from, though, and ends up dumping a Shielded Passage.

Now turn 7, the Legionnaire continues its grim work on my spindown life counter, seeing me down to 9. She then replays the Warmind Infantry, adding a Firefist Striker for good measure. Over to me, I play Paranoid Delusions to mill Jimi for three, then ‘encode’ it onto my Horror thanks to cipher. Then I summon a Consuming Aberration (a 4/4), and pass the turn.

Next turn sees Jimi use Mugging to falter my Horror, rendering it damaged and unable to block. She then attacks with everything, triggering battalion. The Striker falters my Gutter Skulk, clearly signaling that she’d love to see my Aberration committed to defense. Sadly, I dont have a lot of choice in the matter. I chump a Warmind Infantry with my Strider, which returns to hand, and I block the Striker with the Aberration. Naturally, this draws an Arrows of Justice. Thanks to her having casted Mugging, though, the Aberration is a 5/5, meaning even with the Arrows it still manages to kill Jimi’s Striker as it dies. For all that, I’m left at 2 life. Desperate for an answer but knowing Im not likely to find one against these odds, I cast Whispering Madness. This helps Jimi more than me, since I discard three cards to her one, but we both re-draw three. I then encode it onto the Horror and attack with it for 4. The first damage she’s taken, Jimi falls to 16, then both encoded spells trigger. The Paranoid Delusions mills another three cards, while we each pitch our hands and re-draw three more cards from the Madness. Sadly, nothing promising turns up, and I concede the game and the match.

Thoughts & Analysis

It’s always a good sign when you have a blast with a deck, even in defeat. Though Jimi’s righteous do-gooders in the Boros Legion put paid to my plans for domination of Ravnica, this was the most fun match-up we’ve had yet. Dimir Dementia works, and it’s a thrill ride of a deck if you enjoy the challenge of an alternate win condition. In fairness, the deck more than hedges its bets by packing in more conventional threats (like the 35/35 Consuming Aberration I was able to assemble in our pregame friendly), and actual mill-out wins will be fairly uncommon. Credit the deck for giving you the opportunity for both paths to victory, without one precluding the other.

Dinrova Horror

Dinrova Horror

That’s a central point of the deck, the idea that moving forward with one tactic actually helps advance the other. Successfully milling your opponent has benefits in your creature army, as with the Aberration as well as the Wight of Precinct Six. Meanwhile, deploying a number of your creatures in return helps advance the milling aim, either with a creature that has the ability to do so directly (such as the Vedalken Entrancer or Balustrade Spy), or by using Paranoid Delusions on one of your evasive creatures, like the Incursion Specialist or Deathcult Rogue.

These examples suggest a bedrock of smaller interactions between cards that offer tremendous synergy, and at times the deck hs little moments of interactive discovery that are reminiscent of making connections between cards in a Duel Deck. For instance, realising that cipher lets you cast a copy of the spell makes the Aberration’s mill trigger just that much more potent. We’re always excited to see decks that offer a little more than the plain “cast creatures and turn them sideways” strategy, decks that offer a little subtlety and nuance. Though it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Theme Deck levels of complexity in this level of product, such as the ridiculously intricate Beyond the Grave from Coldsnap, Dimir Dementia is as good as it gets here.

In comparison to what it gets right, the slights against the deck almost seem petty. The noncreature spells were a bit of a mixed bag and somewhat pricey, but it’s hard to take the removal suite to task- conditional as it is- because of how well it ties into the deck’s central theme. Although we’re in the middle of our reviews for Gatecrash, it will be a high bar for any of our final two decks if they want to displace the Dimir for claiming best in set distinction.

Hits: Superb synergistic overlay between its two victory conditions (conventional creature kill, milling); good mix of evasive creatures; reasonable mana curve; “grind” mechanic offers an added level of fun thanks to its unpredictability (similar to what made cascade a lot of fun)

Misses: Deck can struggle to get its engine together if it finds the wrong parts early on, falling behind while struggling to catch up; cipher sadly underrepresented

OVERALL SCORE: 4.75/5.00

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Morten Dall
    Feb 5 2013

    So ein ding muss ich auch haben – that’s it, I have to get this deck :-). It played just as nicely as I’d have hoped for. Only thing that bugs me is that we couldn’t see how the friendly prematch went – I’d have loved to read the bit about a 35/35 consuming abberation ^^

    Reply
    • Feb 5 2013

      Too true – that card is a beast. At the prerelease I went to, one of the matches that went to time involved two gigantic dueling Aberrations. The game timed out one turn before the player with 0 cards in his deck would have lost.

      Reply
  2. Lee
    Feb 5 2013

    Wow. Was not expecting it to work as well as it does. High praise for this and the poor showing of simic is making me re think a purchase… 🙂

    Reply
  3. Pix
    Feb 5 2013

    This is a mean deck with some subtle tweaking. I managed to combo cipher with some invisible stalkers (1/1 unblockable hexproof), plus getting Talrand Sky Summoner on the board gives you a 2/2 evasive body for every free cast in cipher. Great for the kitchen table and both those cards are in standard right now. A blast to play!

    Reply
    • Feb 5 2013

      Love the Talrand interaction, that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Makes me want to jam in a couple Guttersnipes too. I’ve been enamoured of the soceries/instants.dec ever since Galvanoth…

      Reply
  4. TheB00kah
    Feb 5 2013

    I really love these Deck Reviews. There is only the problem that it takes so long till new ones will be released. Btw would it be much trouble to make videos of your Deck Review Matches?

    Reply
  5. Boros is really tough to beat. I drafted Dimir twice because I pulled Lazav twice. The second time I even pulled a Gideon. It didn’t matter. Boros rolled my because I just didn’t have enough time to stabilize.

    I will say that the combination of Lazav with milling is fun as hell. Make a copy of their best creature that’s also hexproof? Yes please! I think Lazav and Dimir will be far more fun to play in Commander.

    Reply
  6. Jon S
    Feb 5 2013

    I like the mill strategy, and the fact that this deck has creatures to take advatage of that is a bonus. Duskmantle Guldmage, Consuming Aberration and Wight of Precinct Six make me wish that Bonehoard from the Scars block was back too.

    Reply
  7. Varo
    Feb 5 2013

    I was right about the deck: Somewhat slow because of the mixed win-cons, but interesting and a blast to play with.

    It is really a shame it got paired with the Boros deck (that guild’s a powerhouse in Gatecrash), it could have won every match against the Simic deck.

    Reply
  8. Chris X
    Feb 5 2013

    Interesting to see the deck do so good. I underestimated it by alot

    Reply
  9. Feb 5 2013

    Huh. I was slightly worried for this one, but it at least managed to take a game from Boros. Currently, I’m thinking the Boros deck might just be a complete beast.

    Still, this deck might have been better than I thought.

    Reply
  10. Excel
    Feb 6 2013

    Having played Dimir at the prerelease, I agree that their deck archetype is a blast. I’m glad to see their intro pack gives a good showing, as I was thinking of picking it up to combine with my Sealed pool. To anyone wishing to meddle this list, Dimir Charm is amazing and needs to be in there.

    Reply
  11. Zack
    Feb 6 2013

    I’m still a bit disappointed that Cipher doesn’t have more of a presence in this deck, but it’s hard to be too upset when a deck combines a strong theme and a viable strategy.

    I, too, would like to hear more about this 35/35 Consuming Abberation.

    Reply
  12. outhouseinferno
    Feb 6 2013

    This deck when compared to the old Dimir one feels a bit more offensive, it has to be to take advantage of cipher. But mill works better in a defensive manner with the big butts in the older precon. But mill to fuel offense still has a few ways to work. Maybe more Wight of Precinct Six?

    Speaking of things that derive P/T from an opposing graveyard, Sewer Nemesis would have been a perfect reprint in RTR block given the small rat subtheme it has.

    Reply
  13. Matt
    Feb 7 2013

    I LOVE this deck! An relatively inexperienced player like myself can pick this up and learn its mechanics in no time. It’s so fun to mill an opponent until they have nothing and the cipher ability is icing on the perverbial cake. Highly recommended.

    Reply
  14. Limbonic_art
    Feb 7 2013

    I had much lower expectations from the deck just by reading the initial and looking at the decklist. I’m surprised it was able to come together so well. I’m quite happy with the results, that both strategies actually help each other. Congratulations to the developers for finding ways to combine milling with evasion. I am still a bit dissapointed by cipher since it is quite costly, in the three games it was only able to go off a handful of times, and the last game you didn’t even encode an evasive critter. Seems like I will have a blast with it once I get it and am able to playtest it.

    Reply
  15. necrotyr
    Feb 8 2013

    Cipher seems to be quite the underwhelming mechanic. Useful at times, but I get the feel its always just a side thought. Or is that just the dimir way of making me feel it isn’t powerful until it kills me…?

    Reply
  16. Jacopo Sassi
    Feb 9 2013

    The deck managed to beat the Boros Legion in one of the matches, which is a good show of strength. That being said, I’m sad that the Cipher cards had little impact on the games- as I said in the first review the suite is a bit inconsistent and slim, but I don’t think that upping its number would have changed the balance, while it could have certainly offered more options to the players.

    Reply
  17. alza6991
    Feb 9 2013

    I really was not expecting much from this Intro Pack, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even with so few of the Cipher cards, Wizards was able to produce something that is still very Dimir and even has a lot of synnergy. This shows that you cant judge how something will work based on just WHAT the cards are, you need to actually see HOW they complement each other.

    Reply
  18. torsoboi
    Feb 10 2013

    I was originally pretty skeptical of the Dimir portion of Gatecrash – I worried that Cipher would struggle to find space in a deck when it needed evasive creatures to work and it competed for space with mill cards. Yet, to my surprise, Dimir ended up being super synergistic and fantastically done – it really feels like the sneaky guild of the shadows when all of its seemingly awkward parts come together to create a cool master plan. That being said, I am also saddened by how underrepresented the Cipher cards are. Cipher is undoubtedly one of the more interesting mechanics of the set, and the general lack of them in the deck is a bit of a letdown.

    Reply
  19. outhouseinferno
    Feb 10 2013

    Having lots of cipher cards all onto one creature is really funny. Putting bunches on an Invisible Stalker will show you why cipher needed to carefully tuned powerwise.

    Also cipher has great synergy with extort. A single Call of the Nightwing with a bunch of defending extort guys ruined the opponent’s games for me at the prerelease.

    Reply
  20. mcc1701
    Feb 14 2013

    Cosuming aberration a very powerful card. During the prerelease in 2-headed giant, I used purge the profane against a dimir opponet and made them chuck a consuming aberration and a mind grind, while my Orzhov partner played a a consuming aberration of his own. We had no idea how big it was at the end, it was always just considered “big” and between him, me connecting with lord of the void, and lastly a laughable paying for soul random to make an opponet draw the last cards in their GY, it was a fun match.

    Reply
  21. Gabriel
    Feb 15 2013

    Always loved Blue/Black!

    I’d like to see more cipher cards. As it is I borrowed three of them for my Orzhov deck and they’re great.

    Reply

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