The Guilds of Ravnica Limited format has been upon us for quite a while between the early online release and the paper Release Events last week. Pro Tour Champion Martin Dang has surveiled the available options and already got an early frontrunner for favorite deck: Dimir Control. Today he shares what makes the archetype strong, how to draft it and what to be careful about.
Having played three Prereleases and 15+ Drafts, trying out all the guilds, I can with certainty say that I prefer Dimir in this Limited format, usually with a little splash. In this article I will explain why that is, how I would draft and build it and also a few tips on how to play the decks.
The Power of House Dimir
Why is Dimir so powerful in this format?
Well to answer that, we’ll take a look at the guilds in this set. Dimir is a control archetype, while Izzet and Golgari, which each share a color with Dimir, belong in the slower end of Midrange decks. Therefore most of the blue or black card that are supposed to fit into Izzet or Golgari also sits well with Dimir. In other words, Dimir will have a bigger cardpool of playable cards for you to choose from.
The same cannot be said about any of the other guilds. Take Izzet as an example – you risk only getting blue control cards fit for Dimir Control, and red Aggro cards designed to fit a Boros Aggro strategy. You’ll have no proper gameplan and end up with a deck filled with red aggro creature and slow blue counterspells or card draws.
Another reason why I prefer Dimir is because Control strategies seem strong. Aside from Boros I think the format has slowed down considerably and has become more Midrange. Control has always been favored against Midrange strategies.
Guilds of Ravnica supplies us with plenty of mana fixing in the form of Guildgates in every pack, shock lands and Lockets. If you play a deck that has the time to draw more cards, splashing really isn’t that hard. An Aggro deck on the other hand, has a harder time splashing, since you need most of your cards early to overrun and finish your opponent, and don’t want to risk stumbling over the mana.
How to draft Blue-Black
How do we go about drafting it then?
I never force Dimir and sometimes don’t even first pick a blue or black card, but still often see myself end up with a Dimir deck. I have tried various approaches of drafting the deck. I’ve tried prioritizing every card with the Surveil ability printed on it, but this tactic often ends up in too much durdle and not enough power. I saw myself lose to decks with regular game plans. I’ve tried drafting loads of spells and just playing approximately 10 creatures, like I would with Izzet, but I often get overrun and the Dimir spells are just too expensive and slow to deal with guilds like Boros or other decks with a good curve.
As stated above, Control is usually good against Midrange and so I try to draft my Dimir decks to have the best possible matchup against Boros. Because the format has slowed down, all in aggro strategies decks like Boros are a strong contender for best archetype, mainly because it has a good matchup against control decks that underestimate early interactions.
With that in mind, I try to draft my Dimir deck as if I would make a control deck in Constructed. I would want my deck to be filled with early drop to survive, card draw or other types of card advantage and then very few win conditions. Cards with Surveil are a great way to mitigate mana flood later in the game.
The best way I found to drafting this format is to pick the most powerful card even if it’s a multicolored card, since splashing is easy in this format and getting the finishers seems to be the hardest part. This strategy often puts me in Dimir because they have the best Control cards, getting enough playable and/or fillers has not been an issue for me in this format.
A problem I’ve had though, is that sometimes your win conditions are so slow at winning you the game and you might run out of cards, so lately I’m valuing card like Devious Cover-Up higher. More than a few times I’ve seen others just die to decking simply because Dimir draws so many card – and I’ve experienced it myself. You may have board control but killing people with Muse Drakes, Wishcoin Crabs and Burglar Rats just takes too long.
Surveiling the Decklists
Some examples of my Dimir decks that I drafted online
Let’s start off with an example of how NOT to draft the deck. The cards are there to prolong the game, but there are no good win conditions in the deck, so even if you survive for a long time, you will sooner or later just die to no more cards in your deck. I lost the first round with this deck to a better control deck which just out-grinded me. At this point I only move into Dimir if I can pick up some solid win condition, usually in the form of good fliers.
The following two decks both went 3-0.
Playing the deck is basically like any Control deck. Stay alive in the early game. The combat tricks of this format are not that good, so don’t be afraid of blocking. Trade off creatures if you can, surveil and your card advantage will make sure you have a better chance of getting more action cards than your opponent during the midgame and then just find your win conditions to finish off the game.
I hope you’ll give this strategy a try and good luck to you in your upcoming tournaments!
This article was written by Martin Dang in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com