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A complete walkthrough of drafting the aggressive Dimir archetype.

Taking Dimir to the Air

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The letter N!ow that Ravnica has finally arrived online we can at last get down to some real drafting. The triple Ravnica format will be the format of choice for the next four months online and with everyone scrambling to find Ravnica cards for their new standard format decks the format is going to very popular.

I've already expressed my appreciation of the format in previous columns, but I am still enjoying Ravnica drafts immensely and continue to believe this is one of the better Limited formats we've had in the last few years.

Enough preamble, there's no need to explain further as I'm sure you all know the format by now. It's a triple Ravnica booster draft so let's get on and open the first pack!

Pack One

The opening pack of the draft presents us with the following goodies:

Pack 1, Pick 1

Pack 1, Pick 1: Golgari Rot Farm, Dogpile, Civic Wayfinder, Sparkmage Apprentice, Nightguard Patrol, Boros Recruit, Quickchange, Infectious Host, Selesnya Signet, Snapping Drake, Dimir Signet, Moroii, Golgari Thug, Drooling Groodion, Helldozer.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 2: Golgari Rot Farm, Sparkmage Apprentice, Civic Wayfinder, Muddle the Mixture, Stinkweed Imp, Grayscaled Gharial, Necromantic Thirst, Perplex, Conclave Equenaut, Golgari Signet, Frenzied Goblin, Rolling Spoil, Watchwolf, Autochthon Wurm.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 3: Dizzy Spell, Stasis Cell, Fists of Ironwood, Centaur Safeguard, Infectious Host, Rally the Righteous, Elvish Skysweeper, Dimir Signet, Brainspoil, Telling Time, Undercity Shade, Frenzied Goblin, Cloudstone Curio.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 4: Boros Garrison, Tattered Drake, Mortipede, Ordruun Commando, Golgari Rotwurm, Perplex, Gate Hound, Zephyr Spirit, Disembowel, Vindictive Mob, Blockbuster, Reroute.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 5: Terrarion, Woodwraith Strangler, Surveilling Sprite, Dimir House Guard, Sabertooth Alley Cat, Zephyr Spirit, Lurking Informant, Surge of Zeal, Root-Kin Ally, Recollect, Wojek Apothecary.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 6: Stasis Cell, Vedalken Dismisser, Dimir House Guard, Seismic Spike, Elvish Skysweeper, Boros Recruit, Transluminant, Snapping Drake, Perilous Forays, Remand.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 7: Terrarion, Woodwraith Strangler, Incite Hysteria, Scatter the Seeds, Shred Memory, Surge of Zeal, Golgari Brownscale, Netherborn Phalanx, Glass Golem.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 8: Stasis Cell, Roofstalker Wight, Leave No Trace, Zephyr Spirit, Boros Recruit, Sell-Sword Brute, Wojek Apothecary, Golgari Germination.

My pick:

Pack 1, Pick 9: Golgari Rot Farm, Dogpile, Quickchange, Infectious Host, Selesnya Signet, Dimir Signet, Golgari Thug.

My Pick:

Pack 1, Pick 10: Golgari Rot Farm, Muddle the Mixture, Grayscaled Gharial, Necromantic Thirst, Perplex, Golgari Signet.

My Pick:

Late picks: Undercity Shade, Perplex, Surveilling Sprite, Vedalken Dismisser.

There are some very nice late picks here with several of the above cards potentially making the deck. You tend to know for sure that you're in the right colours when the filler cards like Surveilling Sprite and Vedalken Dismisser make it all the way around the table back to you.

So far the playable cards I have amount to this:

1CC: Disembowel

2CC: Roofstalker Wight, Surveilling Sprite, Golgari Signet

3CC: Perplex

4CC: Moroii, Dimir House Guard, Snapping Drake

5CC: Undercity Shade, Brainspoil

6CC: Vedalken Dismisser, Netherborn Phalanx

Land: Golgari Rot Farm

There's a high mana curve here already and the deck is in need of three-drops at this point in time. Drift of Phantasms is a card I'm definitely on the look out for in the next set of packs to fill that hole. Many of the above cards I don't want to have to include in the main deck but they'll hopefully get replaced by better cards as the draft progresses.

Time to move on to the second pack.

Pack Two

The second pack gets opened to reveal:

Pack 2, Pick 1

Pack 2, Pick 1: Dimir Aqueduct, Courier Hawk, Convolute, Bramble Elemental, Ordruun Commando, Nightguard Patrol, Goblin Spelunkers, Rally the Righteous, Dromad Purebred, Shambling Shell, Fiery Conclusion, Flame-Kin Zealot, Telling Time, Undercity Shade, Hunted Lammasu.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 2: Strands of Undeath, Barbarian Riftcutter, Terrarion, Sabertooth Alley Cat, Bramble Elemental, Benevolent Ancestor, Quickchange, Sewerdreg, Seismic Spike, Seeds of Strength, Galvanic Arc, Festival of the Guildpact, Golgari Thug, Spawnbroker.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 3: Goblin Spelunkers, Greater Mossdog, Selesnya Sanctuary, Sadistic Augermage, Thoughtpicker Witch, Goblin Fire Fiend, Sundering Vitae, Selesnya Signet, Veteran Armorer, Dimir Signet, Stoneshaker Shaman, Recollect, Hunted Horror.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 4: Boros Garrison, War-Torch Goblin, Boros Fury-Shield, Goblin Fire Fiend, Perplex, Gate Hound, Skyknight Legionnaire, Peel from Reality, Seeds of Strength, Halcyon Glaze, Darkblast, Stoneshaker Shaman.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 5: Terraformer, Consult the Necrosages, Barbarian Riftcutter, Sabertooth Alley Cat, Gather Courage, Boros Fury-Shield, Caregiver, Dizzy Spell, Thoughtpicker Witch, Clutch of the Undercity, Voyager Staff.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 6: Roofstalker Wight, Torpid Moloch, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Muddle the Mixture, Sadistic Augermage, Dimir Infiltrator, Necromantic Thirst, Goblin Fire Fiend, Boros Signet, Overwhelm.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 7: Dimir Aqueduct, Courier Hawk, Convolute, Thundersong Trumpeter, Gather Courage, Thoughtpicker Witch, Seismic Spike, Elvish Skysweeper, Leashling.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 8: Boros Garrison, Induce Paranoia, Mortipede, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Leave no Trace, Drake Familiar, Seeds of Strength, Flight of Fancy.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 9: Bramble Elemental, Ordruun Commando, Nightguard Patrol, Dromad Purepred, Fiery Conclusion, Flame-Kin Zealot, Undercity Shade.

My Pick:

Pack 2, Pick 10: Barbarian Riftcutter, Terrarion, Sabertooth Alley Cat, Quickchange, Seismic Spike, Seeds of Strength.

My Pick:

Late Picks: Sadistic Augermage, Peel from Reality, Dizzy Spell, Muddle the Mixture, Seismic Spike.

Not so many late picks this time although the Peel from Reality is a welcome addition and another card I might want to include in the deck.

Adding these cards to the pool gives the following selection:

1CC: Disembowel, Terrarion

2CC: Roofstalker Wight x 2, Surveilling Sprite, Golgari Signet, Telling Time, Peel from Reality

3CC: Halcyon Glaze, Perplex

4CC: Moroii, Dimir House Guard, Snapping Drake, Greater Mossdog, Clutch of the Undercity, Flight of Fancy

5CC: Undercity Shade x 2, Brainspoil

6CC: Vedalken Dismisser, Netherborn Phalanx

Land: Golgari Rot Farm, Dimir Aqueduct

The deck is looking reasonable, although still light at the three mana slot. I'd like to get another Signet so I can run 16 lands and two signets and hopefully not need the three mana slot quite so much. Given the great late picks in pack one I'm optimistic that I should be able to get a few nice late picks in pack three as well.

Pack Three

Pack 3, Pick 1

Pack 3, Pick 1: Drift of Phantasms, Strands of Undeath, Coalhauler Swine, Surveilling Sprite, Clinging Darkness, Gate Hound, Lurking Informant, Sewerdreg, Elves of Deep Shadow, Selesnya Evangel, Peel from Reality, Congregation at Dawn, Sandsower, Psychic Drain, Plague Boiler.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 2: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Viashino Slasher, Farseek, Fists of Ironwood, War-Torch Goblin, Screeching Griffin, Quickchange, Infectious Host, Selesnya Evangel, Golgari Signet, Viashino Fangtail, Golgari Guildmage, Ribbons of the Night, Hex.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 3: Drift of Phantasms, Strands of Undeath, Bramble Elemental, Sundering Vitae, Caregiver, Dizzy Spell, Compulsive Research, Last Gasp, Golgari Germination, Vigor Mortis, Flash Conscription, Spawn Broker.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 4: Golgari Rot Farm, Consult the Necrosages, Tattered Drake, Surveilling Sprite, Terraformer, Smash, Golgari Brownscale, Conclave's Blessing, Siege Wurm, Peel from Reality, Halcyon Glaze, Flash Conscription.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 5: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Viashino Slasher, Farseek, Tidewater Minion, Sadistic Augermage, Scatter the Seeds, Conclave's Blessing, Dimir Infiltrator, Necromantic Thirst, Siege Wurm, Rolling Spoil.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 6: Votary of the Conclave, Dimir House Guard, Boros Recruit, Fists of Ironwood, Dryad's Caress, Caregiver, Drake Famaliar, Boros Signet, Leashling, Darkblast.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 7: Farseek, Woodwraith Strangler, Induce Paranoia, Incite Hysteria, Centaur Safeguard, Elvish Skysweeper, Conclave's Blessing, Dimir Signet, Instill Furor.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 8: Dogpile, Selesnya Sanctuary, Tidewater Minion, Lurking Informant, Surge of Zeal, Sundering Vitae, Compulsive Research, Nullmage Shepherd.

My Pick:

Pack 3, Pick 9: Strands of Undeath, Surveilling Sprite, Clinging Darkness, Gate Hound, Lurking Informant, Elves of Deep Shadow, Peel from Reality.

My Pick:

Late Picks: Golgari Guildmage, Compulsive Research, Golgari Rotfarm, Terraformer

The Deck

Adding all of those picks from the third pack to the card pool gives:

1CC: Disembowel, Terrarion

2CC: Roofstalker Wight x 2, Surveilling Sprite, Dimir Infiltrator, Golgari Signet, Dimir Signet x 2, Telling Time, Last Gasp, Clinging Darkness, Peel from Reality

3CC: Halcyon Glaze x 2, Perplex, Plague Boiler, Compulsive Research x 2, Terraformer

4CC: Moroii, Dimir House Guard x 2, Snapping Drake, Clutch of the Undercity, Flight of Fancy

5CC: Undercity Shade, Brainspoil

6CC: Vedalken Dismisser, Netherborn Phalanx, Hex

Land: Golgari Rot Farm, Dimir Aqueduct

Not including the lands that's a total of 32 playable cards, which gives a lot of choice when it comes to deck building.

The first run through I make takes out the worst of the cards in the pile that will get left out simply in favour of better cards. Terrarion, Perplex, and Flight of Fancy are the first to go.

I next make the decision that I want to run 16 lands – including the two guild lands – along with two Signets. One of the Dimir Signets therefore gets cut, as I want to include a Golgari Signet because of the Guildmage and the Plague Boiler.

That's 28 spells left, and 24 needed for the deck.

With two Halcyon Glazes in the deck I'd much rather cut spells than creatures. I still want to include the card drawers though as I want to increase my chances of drawing into Moroii, Plague Boiler and Hex. I decide to cut the Peel from Reality and Clutch of the Undercity first. I feel that there's enough removal in the deck to survive without these spells and I'd rather just have other creatures. I also cut one of the Compulsive Researches. I'd rather have the Telling Time in my opening hand as it increases the chances of a third turn Halcyon Glaze while still digging the same depth through the deck in the late game. While it doesn't provide the same card advantage it's cheaper to cast and instant too, which makes it a better inclusion for me.

With those gone there's just one left card to cut. I eventually decide on the Terraformer as it is probably one of the weaker creatures in the deck.

Putting this all together gives the following decklist:

Round 1

I win the flip this game and start with a Roofstalker Wight on turn two and one of the Halcyon Glazes on turn three. My opponent passes his third turn with two Plains and a Mountain open, which just screams Devouring Light to me. As a result I elect to hold back the Glaze and just develop my board with a Signet while attacking for two.

Another turn of draw, attack, go takes place and then I finally elect to cast an Undercity Shade on turn five as I figure even if my opponent has the Light, I still then have a Shade and a flyer. Sure enough, he has the Devouring Light and it's bye-bye Halcyon Glaze. He's on 12 already though, and still facing two evasion men while I still have plenty of gas in hand. He has a Conclave Equenaut on his next turn but the Dismisser undoes that while allowing me to drop him to 12. The next turn the Equenaut takes it's Last Gasp and that's basically all she wrote.

In game two I again have the Halcyon Glaze in hand and elect not to make my Infiltrator on turn two when my opponent inexplicably elects to draw first. The Glaze comes down on turn three and gets powered up by the Infiltrator and the Undercity Shade on subsequent turns. One of the attacks sees the damage thrown back at me via a Boros Fury-Shield but I'm quite happy for my opponent to spend a turn and a card doing that so early in the game.

Faith's Fetters takes care of the Shade but the Glaze continues to hit thanks to a Surveilling Sprite. I still have my Netherborn Phalanx in hand along with a Clinging Darkness that soon takes out an opposing Ordruun Commando. I then get a little lucky and peel my Peel (from Reality), which returns my Shade to my hand along with an opposing blocker giving me another guy to switch on the Glaze next turn. My opponent is behind on tempo and lacking answers to either the Shade, the Glaze or even the Infiltrator, and the game ends the following turn with the Phalanx.

Round 2

Another game, another coin flip won. My opponent is playing Boros again and opens with a Veteran Armorer and Viashino Slasher. This time a second turn Telling Time for me sets up the third turn Halcyon Glaze. Moroii threatens to really make things unfair but I elect to block the Veteran Armorer with it to not get too behind on the damage race as Boros Fury-Shield and Rally the Righteous can easily swing close damage races in favour of the Boros deck. My opponent shows me a Lightning Helix to finish off Moroii but I'm happy with that two-for-one trade.

The Netherborn Phalanx shows up to allow the Glaze to deal another four while stalling the ground and dealing three itself.

My opponent stalled for one turn with a Festival of the Guildpact and at that point I ran out of creatures with him sitting on a precarious two life. I top-decked Plague Boiler at this point and along with the Golgari Rot Farm I was able to pop it up to two counters right away and then remove one every turn to stop it blowing up the world. My opponent had to wait to draw some men to get past the Phalanax while I drew lands for a couple of turns and sat behind the Plague Boiler.

I finally draw a creature – a Dimir House Guard – but my opponent had a Boros Fury-Shield for the subsequent Halcyon Glaze attack. He made a mistake playing it though, as he waited until damage was on the stack and perhaps wasn't aware of the interaction with my freshly cast Dimir House Guard. Because he waited until damage was on the stack I was able to simply sacrifice the Halcyon Glaze to the House Guard and fizzle the Boros Fury-Shield. Damage then resolved normally to take game one. If he'd just cast the Shield before combat damage I couldn't really sacrifice the Glaze (as I needed it to win) and he would've prevented its damage and dealt me four, definitely giving him at least another turn.

On to game two, where my opponent led with Veteran Armorer while I had my Infiltrator to block. Two Viashino Slashers combined nicely with the Armorer and became even more threatening when a Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion showed up for my opponent. My hand was full of tricks though with Disembowel, Peel from Reality and Last Gasp all present. The next activation of the Sunhome on a creature met with the Disembowel and a wasted turn from my opponent. A Glaze then showed up to provide some offence.

Just as I was planning to activate the Glaze the second came off the top! I obviously waited a turn before casting my guys. A Surveilling Sprite let the Glazes hit for eight, then a Roofstalker Wight let them hit for eight more. During my opponent's next turn I blocked both his men with the Sprite and Roofstalker Wight and used the Peel to bounce one of his unblocked guys and my Wight. The Wight let the Hazes hit for eight more and make sure one Boros Fury-Shield would not be enough to stop a second 2-0 win.

Round 3

The first game was all about setting up Hex. I drew it on turn two while casting my Surveilling Sprite. I had another Boros opponent this round but his Boros Recruit and Veteran Armorer stayed at home when a third turn Infiltrator came down for me. A Skyknight Legionnaire started hitting and then a second showed up to join it. I took the damage for one turn while making a Dimir House Guard of my own. My opponent was then kind enough to make a Viashino Fangtail that allowed me to Hex away all five of his men along with my Surveilling Sprite. Hopefully no further explanation is required as to the outcome of that game!

The second game demonstrated the value of the two Signets that were included. A second turn Signet allowed me to get Moroii in play against an opposing Nightguard Patrol. My opponent didn't even try and bluff a trick with an attack and the Patrol stayed at home. I had an Undercity Shade on turn four and then the Vedalken Dismisser on turn five. There's not much an opponent can do about that draw and with no removal coming from his side of the board the game ended on turn seven.

Wrapping Up

Overall the deck felt very powerful. The two Glazes showed up a lot but with two in the deck and some card drawing too that isn't all that surprising. They were both excellent and dealt tons of damage. Getting them both quite late suggests maybe people are undervaluing them slightly but I doubt that'll continue for long.

The other cards in the deck all fulfilled their role. It's interesting that I often had the Phalanx in hand but never once needed to Transmute it into the Hex. Perhaps if I had been up against a Selesnya deck things would've been different. With the Phalanx and the card drawing in the deck I could've potentially cast Hex in every match with this deck and feel confident that the deck could've taken on anything.

The last card I want to note is Vedalken Dismisser. This guy is a fine inclusion in any aggressive deck and yet I somehow managed to pull one 15th pick. Some people perhaps ignore him as a six mana 2/2 but the ‘Time Ebb' effect is powerful and getting a 2/2 body attached isn't something to complain about. Overall the card is quite fairly costed; think how good it would be compared to Kiri-Onna from Saviours of Kamigawa at only five mana.

The sheer number of evasion creatures in this deck was very good, with 11 of the 14 men being able to attack through the defence of most decks. I think that too is a key factor when it comes to drafting the damage-based Dimir decks. Roofstalker Wight and Dimir Infiltrator are both solid little two drops that are useful in the early game while still able to deal damage when drawn later on too.

Overall, a very nice deck and a 6-0 game performance to back it up. Dimir was definitely underdrafted at that table and it was clearly the right colours to be in. Next time you open up a Moroii this is exactly the sort of deck you might want to think about aiming for.

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