Thursday 9 November 2017

Dimir Raid .dec

Fatal PushDimir aggro/tempo decks have always been a bit of a joke in cube. They are what you end up with when a draft goes wrong. Dimir, while very powerful, really doesn't lend itself to tempo creature strategies. Black and blue share a lot of the same good things hence being an excellent combo pairing however they also share many of the same weaknesses. One of those weaknesses it a lack of well rounded cheap robust tempo dorks. Mono black and even mono blue tempo strategies work better than Dimir ones as you get to exploit things like devotion and powerful cards like Phyrexian Negator and Vedalken Shackles. You got better consistency too from being just one colour.

I recently had a bad sealed deck pool and ran a Dimir tempo list. I was resinged to losing but at least I was going to get to play with a bunch of the new cards and that would be good. What happened instead was much winning. I don't want to lay this entirely at the hands of the new cards but they certainly helped. Cheap evasive creatures combined with cheap spot removal and disruption. Nothing new in principal but lots of newer cards helping out. Dimir has a very easy time of having raid and that is now something you can put to some use. It isn't any specific cards that have really changed things, Fatal Push would be the biggest contributor if I had to name one. It is more the case of having sufficient options of sufficient stand alone power that are on theme. You had to have and play everything good before and even then you were plugging holes with off theme dorks and struggling to get nice curves.

Red certainly offers far more redundancy. It has more cheap removal, more cheap tempo threats and generally all of them are better than what black brings to the table. The Dimir deck makes up for this with better value cards and substantially better control and disruption tools. It doesn't have the same burst and so it is looking to go a bit longer in the game. This in turn makes loads of higher cost tempo cards more viable. Your control elements let you play a higher curve and that in turn makes up for your lower number of early tempo plays.

24 Spells

Skyship PlundererBloodsoaked Champion
Mausoleum Wanderer
Cloudfin Raptor
Delver of Secrets

Fatal Push

Skyship Plunderer
Baleful Strix
Kitesail Freebooter
Looter il-Kor

Hostage TakerRemand
Go for the Throat
Chart a Course

Ruin Raider
Jace, Cunning Castaway
Sword of Fire and Ice
Liliana of the Veil

Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Nimble Obstructionist

Hostage Taker

Force of Will

16 Lands

Kitesail Freebooter
I have had a couple of Dimir tempo decks recently and faced off against at least one other. This list is an amalgamation of those. It is intentionally stripped of some older and obvious power cards so as to showcase the newer things and greater depth. I have listed many of those good potential cards at the end of the article.

I'm not going to go over every card in detail here at all. This was mostly done just to say this archetype is a thing again. I do want to mention some of the highlights however! Skyship Plunderer was one of those. He is pretty frightening to leave unchallenged even when there are no counters or things that generate them in play. The threat of dropping something and getting an immediate boost is enough to ramp the threat level of this little 2/1 flier up quite significantly. Far more relevant that a Rattlechains or Dimensional Infiltrator. Another stand out two drop flier was the Freebooter. Despite his low power the high number of fliers in this list made it feel like you always had a Lingering Souls just cast! Your evasive chip damage really adds up. The selection of useful cheap fliers made raid pretty consistently available and turned on. Your tempo and disruption makes it hard to deal with things sensibly and so Freebooter was pretty effective disruption. The information gain was lovely too.

Ruin Raider
Ruin Raider was fantastic. He came down, drew a card right away and made a decent impact on the board. He trades up pretty well too. Ruin Raider was both a Rogue Refiner and a Dark Confidant. Often I was super happy flopping it out, trading and taking my two for one. Occasionally I would try and preserve his life and milk him for a bit of gas.

Mausoleum WandererHostage Taker was another nice new card. It was more the flexibility of it than the raw power than made it so appealing. Most of the time it was stealing 2 and 3 mana cards so it could instantly play them on the same turn. It was certainly a card that was held back for the right moment quite a lot but not in a bad way. It made you feel safe when you had it. If desperate you can run it out turn four and hope it survives. The ability for Dimir to deal with artifacts is great too. It used to have to bounce and then counter or discard something like a Jitte else it was just game over. That being so long winded ususally just meant the deck was cold to a number of artifacts. Hostage taker plugs a pretty big hole that was previously in the archetype.

Lastly we have Mausoleum Wanderer! In this list it is basically a Judge's Familiar although I did have a Sword on it once and felt very safe indeed. You don't really need spirits or pump to empower it in this kind of deck, it is good enough baseline. It adds a great deal to the chip damage and raid reliability and makes life super uncomfortable for your opponent. You get a surprising amount of mileage from the card. Both Wanderer and Familiar have recently started to perform really well in the cube. The early game has become so important that making a play that gets you active and on the board but that also disrupts your opponents plan really gets the momentum going.

Other good cards for this kind of thing;

True Name Nemesis
Glen Elandra Archamge
Gonti, Lord of Luxry
Vendilion Clique
Collective Brutality
Snapcaster Mage
Other counter magic and discard


  1. I have a drafter who is obsessed with UB Tempo and tries to draft it above most other decks. It's surprising how low to the ground the deck can be. The best version he's built had Opposition (with Vamp / Demonic to grab it), together with Bitterblossom, Whirler Rogue, Wharf Infiltrator (!) and Phantasmal Image. And a bevy of Carnophages and cheap interaction. Tempo shells are also the best home for Control Magic effects I'd say. The comparison to UR Tempo (and UW Tempo) would be an interesting one!

    I agree, Hostage Taker and Ruin Raider are great additions. I'm also curious to try out Freebooter. Would you run her over Mesmeric Fiend?

    Here's what this deck generally looks like in my Cube:

    Finally, If I may, a rant about Delver of Secrets. This guy is criminally overrated in Cube. I'd love to see statistical Data for his flip rate over a thousand games. Either a) he putters around as a one mana 1/1 the majority of his turns on the battlefield (which is a disastrously low floor) OR b) he flips consistently but now you've contorted your draft around a payoff that isn't at all worth it if you're building tempo. Especially considering how creatures are getting so much better all the time, being intentionally spell-heavy seems unwise.

  2. Opposition is totally one of those carry cards like Jitte or Shackles. You can have a deck full of Wandering Ones and the carry cards will still win you games. Historically any wins from UB tempo decks have been the result of such cards. It is the fact the deck can operate well without the need of them now that is most interesting. Obviously being able to add them into an already good deck stands to make them even better additions.

    Whirler Rogue is so good! I cut it from my main cube due to infrequent play but when it was used I was really really impressed. One of blues most rounded dorks that I hope to bring back soon.

    I totally agree that tempo is the best shell for Control Magic effects. This makes me think that I should put Threads of Disloyalty into the cube with everything being so cheap and tempo driven presently.

    I have an UW tempo article in the works, I'll try and look at some comparisons in that. I'll also do a quick Kitesail Freebooter spotlight rather than answer than question in the comments.

    Lastly, you absolutely may have a rant about Delver. Both bad card design and overrated as you say. Now, to poorly prove my point I am going to compare Devler to Library of Alexandria (another overrated card). A turn one Delver you flip is pretty much the best one card opener you can have and will result in a lot of free wins. After turn one or if you fail to promptly flip the card is about as weak as it gets. It is super polar. You need both Library and Delver early and you need the right conditions (either a card to flip or a slow matchup respectively) else they are weak. Sadly they are sufficiently potent that you often take those risks and this is why they are badly designed cards. The list here gets away with Delver as it has enough looting to convert a late game Delver into something useful. It certainly isn't a consistent card in this list nor one of the standouts but it did still win a game or two and that makes it more than worth it in my books. A one drop that wins games is great, most one drops are fairly poor come the mid to late game and so the fact that Delver is incredibly poor isn't overly significant. I would say that as a general guide you should only run Delver in lists that have a prowess/delve theme and a lot of cheap cantrip instants and sorceries. Provided most of your spells are cheap cantrips you get through your deck that much quicker and see your fewer dorks more frequently. As such you can make a threat light deck seem sufficiently threat dense and not compromise much at all on tempo. I don't have any love for Delver but given how little blue has for tempo in the one slot the cards gets a lot of attention in both appropriate and inappropriate places.

  3. That was a well-reasoned defense! Great point about blue's looting effects, that certainly does help with cards which are poor late game topdecks. I would argue that a blue tempo drafter would be better off sourcing 2-power onedrops from W, B or R. Like you say, the key thing about Delver is to recognise his super-low floor and his (infrequent) high ceiling in cube. It's unfortunate, his dominance in legacy and modern can really throw people off. I wonder what might happen though when one breaks singleton and goes to say 4 copies... Perish the thought!

    Ultimately, I see so many run cubes run Delver but there's zero love for something like Boompile (which has been very decent here). Variance double-standards, haha.

    I'm looking forward to the UW and Freebooter articles. Have a great weekend!

  4. God, Boompile, great example. I am super reluctant to try this because it looks dangerously good and is exactly the kind of card I hate. Terrible design from a game balance perspective. While Boompile is likely a better cube card than Delver the Delver is at least low risk high reward while the Boompile is high on both risk and reward. It is still totally a double standard though. People don't feel the need to force cards like Boompile as they are not established constructed powerhouses. Cube not being a tournament or highly competitive format means these kinds of refinements and community consensus are super slow to take root.

  5. How about Skullclamp? Or is it bad in this archetype?

    1. Skullclamp is rarely bad in any deck with a decent creature count. That being said card draw is not what Dimir lacks and Clamp is not a tempo card. I would happily play a Clamp but I wouldn't pick it with high priority nor would I be afraid of cutting it for something that seemed more needed.

    2. I was able to draft a UB tempo last night because I added some cards to my cube and it was sweet. Mausoleum Wanderer was such a gamechanger in this deck. Night's Whisper was good when I needed that gas, Bloodsoaked and Dread Wanderer really were doing damage everytime it was a turn 1 play. I had Ashiok in it and though he didn't generate tempo, it was able to take out a lot of important cards which made my opponent concede because I got it to 11 loyalty counters already.
      A card that I was disappointed to not perform good in this shell is Scrapheap Scrounger so I boarded him out for a counterspell instead.

      Anyway, I just want to say thank you for your content I really learn a lot about cube.

  6. Oh I forgot, is Jace, Cunning Castaway very good in this build? I'm thinking of getting one just to try out.

    1. Jace is pretty fair. It is rare that he dominates a game in the way some of the more powerful walkers can but I do like the card. He feels on a similar power level to Nissa, Voice of Zendikar but is a little lighter on the ideal support cards in blue so perhaps will wind up getting less play.

      Ashiok is a beating pretty much regardless of the deck you play him in!

      Cheers for the support and glad the UB tempo worked out for you.

    2. I like Nissa VOZ! do you think it's ok to swap this Jace for Jace Architect of Thought, I'm only running two walkers per color since I have a small cube, the other is Tamiyo.

    3. Architect is more powerful and more playable all round imo. They are such different cards in terms of function and where you play them both that I really don't consider it to be a like for like swap. I also try not to get bogged down with exact numbers or ratios for things in my cube design. I find trying to do so leads to greater imbalance rather than less. Some colours just have more cube worthy cards in certain areas and less in others. Overall, the only thing I now really look at for new additions and potential cuts is how much they get played. If you want to play with Cunning Castaway you would be better off replacing your least played card than specifically a blue card, a 3 drop, a tempo card or a planeswalker.