A World Without Revelations – Dimir Control Primer

It’s been a while since I last wrote an article, and with the PPTQ season getting underway I figured now would be a good time to write about Standard. Of course, me being the control mage that I am, I’ll be writing about U/B Control. I’ll go over some more of my specific card choices later on, but first I want to go over some of the major changes that have occurred during rotation that I believe have pushed some people away from playing control, thus it’s lack of appearances at major tournaments.

First and foremost, losing Sphinx’s Revelation was huge. Revelation was one of the most overpowered cards I have ever had the privilege of playing with. It allowed you to often make sub-optimal plays and get away with it because you could always cast Revelation to bail you out. There is no card of that power level in the current standard format, though Dig Through Time does its best. Still, even small mistakes can cost you a game now, hell even playing a game perfectly you can still lose right now. The current decks have so many working parts right now that it is very easy to draw the wrong cards.

Second, the lack of effective sweepers. Yes, I know End Hostilities and Perilous Vault exist and can be used to an effect, but the issue is that they are often too slow. End Hostilities costing five mana cn often be too late because you don’t have anything to stem the amount of early damage you take building up to five mana. Also, with the format being dominated by decks with Whip of Erebos, sometimes it’s not effective enough. Now, Perilous Vault can deal with all of those problems, including the Whip. The problem with Vault is that often you have to just run it out on to the battlefield and wait a turn to activate it, hoping your opponent doesn’t have an answer for it. When they do, it usually means game over for you.

These problems considered, I still feel that the current control decks are more then playable. The format seems to be slow enough to make up for some of the shortcomings of the current builds. Whip decks don’t come blazing out of the gates, and you have enough spot removal to get you by in some of the more aggressive matchups.

Now on to the important stuff, this is the current U/B Control list that I am playing and the reasoning for some of the numbers that I’m playing.

The think I like about this deck right now is that it is packed full of creature removal, and with the format being dominated by creature decks, this deck is rarely without outs to a bad situation. I feel like it has a positive matchup against the midrange decks like Mardu and Abzan, but not a dominant one. They generally lack the amount of threats to fight through your removal and counter magic. Mono Red is probably the worst match up you have, but that is not to say you don’t have the tools to win. Drown in Sorrow and Bile Blight go a long way in that matchup, so aggressively mulliganing to a better opening hand against them is acceptable. The next worst match up is probably the Whip decks mainly because they are able to grind through a lot of your removal due to the high impact of their creature and Whip. A well-timed Perilous Vault usually does enough work to win, but the main thing is to not allow Whip to resolve because you can usually fight through their first wave of creatures, but become gassed if they have a second and even third wave coming from their graveyard.

The biggest issue the deck has in general is closing out the game, and while Pearl Lake Ancient is a solid win condition, it is not exactly the fastest, and sometimes you just don’t find it in time. So as long as you don’t mind losing some games to not finding a win condition and enjoy playing control, this deck is probably a good place for you to start.

 Individual Card Choices

3 Perilous Vault

As I had said earlier, Vault can sometimes be too slow given the situation and it also seemed that I had been drawing an additional one too many every game I played with it so I have decided to cut back on one of them.

2 Disdainful Stroke

I feel as though this card should be seeing more play in main decks. It is very good against the Whip deck as is can deal with threats and Whips alike, but also is rarely a dead card in any matchup.

1 Aetherspouts

I wanted to still have another wrath-like effect in the deck after cutting the fourth Perilous Vault and Aetherspouts seems to fill that role nicely as it matches up well against the Jeskai token deck, effectively wrathing them. It can also by you the time needed against the Whip decks since they have such a high curve, getting two or three creatures with it can put them way behind. Note that once this card has been seen it is fairly easy to play around so I believe that only one copy of this card is all that’s playable.

2 Silence the Believers

Silence the Believers is amazing against Whip decks, as it takes away their ability to continuously grind you throughout the game. It in a way takes Whip and Soul of Innistrad out of the game because they will have nothing of any real value to get off of them. Silence the Believers is also a great late game draw as you will more then likely be able to use it as a two for one.

3 Thoughseize/1 [card]Despise

Most list I have seen have been running two Thoughtseize, two Despise, and while I don’t really have a problem with this I just feel like being able to hit Whip of Erebos is worth the extra two life.

3 Jorubai Murk Lurker/1 Pharika’s Cure

With all of the Jeskai decks seeming to switch over to the token version I feel like Murklurker is becoming better positioned. Four might be the right number but I like Cure against the Mono Red decks better so I have left one in the board.

3 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

This card is at its best against the Abzan and Whip decks. The reason I don’t have it in the main though, is that I don’t like its matchup with any of the other decks right now so I would rather have Ashiok on the bench to start.

0 Murderous Cut

This is nothing against Murderous Cut. The card is great against decks like Monsters and is an efficient removal spell, but I wanted to make the Whip matchup better by cutting it for Silence the Believers.

0 Nullify

Nullify is fine when your playing Azorius Control, but with Dimir you just have better options, like removal spells which will not be stuck in your hand as often as Nullify.

0 Divination/Font of Fortunes

Of the two, I would play Font first because you never really want to tap out after turn two, but to be honest you don’t need these. Jace’s Ingenuity and Dig through Time are very efficient and will often fine the answer your need at end of turn instead of having to waste your mana during your turn.

Honorable Mention: Whelming Wave! Yes I believe this card is worth playing to a point. It would be good against the Jeskai Tokens deck, but I think it ends there. In that matchup it would be a cheap way of clearing the board and allowing you to spend your next turn to cast Jace’s Ingenuity.

 Sideboarding

I don’t have a specific board plan as I tend to board different numbers depending on what I see from people’s decks but I will mention cards that I feel are better or worse based on the matchups.

 Whip Decks:

I like:

Thoughtseize

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Disdainful Stroke

 

I don’t like:

Hero’s Downfall

1 Pearl Lake

Bile Blight

 

Abzan Midrange:

 I like:

Disdainful Stroke

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Thoughtseize

Negate (depending on build)

 

I don’t like:

Bile Blight

Aetherspouts

 

Mono Red:

I Like:

Drown in Sorrow

Murklurker

Pharika’s Cure

 

I don’t like:

Disdainful Stroke

Dissolve

Perilous Vault

Thought Seize

Silence the Believers

Despise

 

Jeskai Aggro/Tokens:

I like:

Drown in Sorrow

Negate

Murklurker

Pharika’s Cure

 

I don’t like:

Silence the Believers

Hero’s Downfall

Despise

Disdainful Stroke

 

Mardu:

This match is fairly hard to game plan against as it can have many different builds so the board plan is kind of all over the place. I would recommend boarding at your own discretion.

 

Mirror:

 I like:

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Negate

Thoughtseize

Disdainful Stroke

Jorubai Murk Lurker (depending on how they board)

 

I don’t like:

Aetherspouts

Silence the Believers

Bile Blight

Perilous Vault

Despise

Hero’s Downfall (Unless opponent has planeswalkers)

 

 Azorius Control:

 I Like:

Thoughtseize

Disdainful Stroke

Negate

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

 

I don’t like:

Aetherspouts

Silence the Believers

Bile Blight

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you pick up and try a version of Dimir Control. It may not be as easy to play as last year’s Revelation decks, but it’s extremely rewarding to play and win with!

Mike