The Best Combination in the Format
Hello guys, I hope you are all doing well during this difficult time.
Today, I am going to talk about my favorite deck in Pioneer: Dimir Control.
A few weeks ago, I played in a tournament at the Hareruya Tournament Center Tokyo. I started to test Pioneer and tried a lot of decks, from which many were cool, like a sweet Orzhov Enchantment deck. That said, nothing could be compared to cast 《Dig Through Time》 into 《Torrential Gearhulk》.
Decklist: Dimir Control
These 2 cards are, as I believe, the strongest combination of cards in Pioneer. Being able to search 4 cards in the top 14 is absurd and it’s almost impossible to lose when you arrive at this point of the game. So, I decided to focus on the strongest decklist possible with these two cards and this is what I played at the tournament.
2 《Fabled Passage》
4 《Fetid Pools》
4 《Watery Grave》
4 《Clearwater Pathway》
3 《Drowned Catacomb》
1 《Castle Locthwain》
1 《Castle Vantress》
2 《Field of Ruin》
-Land (26)- 2 《Torrential Gearhulk》
2 《Hero’s Downfall》
4 《Sinister Sabotage》
2 《Glimmer of Genius》
1 《Hieroglyphic Illumination》
1 《Vraska’s Contempt》
3 《Dig Through Time》
4 《Shark Typhoon》
I really wanted to have 4 《Clearwater Pathway》 in the deck. Having an untapped land turn one which can help you to cast 《Fatal Push》, 《Opt》 or to use Cycling is super important in a deck which tries to feed the graveyard to play 《Dig Through Time》. The bad point is that this land is not an Island or a Swamp and this is the reason I ended up cutting a 《Drowned Catacomb》.
4 《Clearwater Pathway》s, 1 《Castle Locthwain》, 1 《Castle Vantress》 and 2 《Field of Ruin》s. These lands don’t help 《Drowned Catacomb》. An opening hand with too many of those just didn’t work and you want to avoid mulliganing because of that.
《Fetid Pools》 is a pretty good one. Yes, it arrives into play tapped but the ability of this land to fight mana flood and to feed your graveyard is important.
《Field of Ruin》 also helps with Delve but it does much more in the deck. Like 《Fabled Passage》, it makes 《Fatal Push》 better and it’s a very useful card against Castles and 《Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx》. It’s also a powerful 《Wasteland》 against the Oops! all spells.
You don’t want your opponent’s removals to be actually useful and this is why I only go for creatures which create value and have flash (so they can dodge sorcery removal like 《Dreadbore》 for a turn). 《Torrential Gearhulk》 is going to Flashback a 《Dig Through Time》 which will actually most likely find another Dig / Gearhulk or something like 2 counterspells and then, it’s game over.
The other creatures in the deck are the sharks you create from 《Shark Typhoon》. I’m cycling typhoon 95% of the time. Instant speed, feeding the graveyard, drawing a card and having a board presence which can block a creature or put pressure on are so good. It deals with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and doesn’t care if it says you can’t cast spells at instant speed.
In some games, your opponent deals with a threat one by one and it might be better to actually cast a 《Shark Typhoon》 as an enchantment to create more threats from it.
I usually don’t like to protect my creatures with counterspells and will just let them die. The deck has the best value and the most powerful late game of the format and it’s totally fine to wait for the next creature and to save counterspells for spells that really matter.
Instant / Sorcery
I saw some people not running the full play set and I don’t understand why. It’s an absolute necessity in Pioneer against all the cheap creature decks. It kills 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 or sharks in slower matchups and the cheap mana cost allows you to interact with the board and cast the next spell in the same turn. The mana base is also much better now with 10 untapped black sources turn 1.
I love how 《Censor》 works as a 2 mana counterspell until the moment you replace it with a new card. You need to cast cards to increase your graveyard and if your opponent plays nothing you can just cycle it to accelerate in your Delve plan.
Of course the quantity of this card depends on the metagame but at the tournament I played I was ready to have enough stuff to counter 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, 《Bring to Light》, 《Wilderness Reclamation》 and 《Fires of Invention》. You can replace a few by some 《Essence Scatter》 if you expect a different metagame.
Same as above, but with the upside of gaining life and being a way to exile Uro.
This card might remind you of 《Cancel》 but it does much more. It fits perfectly with the Delve plan by potentially putting multiple cards in your graveyard. It also helps you find your key cards, or if you already have them, lands to cast it. The second-best card to flashback with Gearhulk after Dig.
This kind of deck needs some intermediary card draw effects to add up to the value given by 《Dig Through Time》. I think 《Glimmer of Genius》 is a better card to resolve but it doesn’t stack very well in multiples, while 《Hieroglyphic Illumination》 can be cycled early instead of getting stuck in your hand.
Here is the big catch with Control decks: They would be invincible if they had 25 sideboard cards. So, the trick is to identify the metagame you are expecting and to narrow down to your allowed 15. Here is the list of cards I recommend:
The card is so versatile in this format, dealing with Mono-Red Aggro, Mono-Green Ramp, Gruul Aggro, and also Niv-Mizzet, Oops! all spells, Uro and Reclamation. I love it because it’s a good turn 2 spell and it doesn’t decrease in powerlevel in the late game. A very strong cheap instant speed answer to many problems.
《Mystical Dispute》 is also a very good one. It fights 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 who is a big threat for the deck. It deals with Uro, 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 and helps to win counterspells wars by a single mana. A very strong card against combo decks like Lotus Field or Oops! all spells.
It’s your 《Fatal Push》 number 5 and 6. Killing the first threat turn one makes your counterspells even greater on the next turns if the board is empty. Mono-Red having 12/13 turn 1 creatures is something real and not only 《Disfigure》 kills all of them but also kills 《Eidolon of the Great Revel》. 《Disfigure》 is also great against Gruul or Winota since it kills all of their mana creatures and their turn 3 《Goblin Rabblemaster》 / 《Legion Warboss》.
The card might look weird but it is really important to stay out of reach in the red aggro matchups. Think of it as a removal spell that kills a guy and counters the next burn spell. It’s the perfect card to be cast from the graveyard with 《Torrential Gearhulk》.
A lot has been said already about 《Thoughtseize》, and it’s a must in all decks playing black. It’s here mostly for Combo decks and Control mirrors.
《Brazen Borrower》 is an instant speed threat which can deal with annoying permanents like enchantments and artifacts that usually blue and black have a hard time against. It’s the best card you can have in a 4-shark typhoon mirror match too.
The card is incredible, especially against Uro where it totally reverses the power level of the card. Super good against cycling lands, 《Omen of the Sea》, 《Shark Typhoon》, 《Expansion/Explosion》… but my favorite is when you cast it against a Lotus Combo deck that is trying to resolve a 《Pore Over the Pages》.
《Cry of the Carnarium》 is here to punish Mono-Red, Gruul, Mono-Black and Orzhov Auras for overextending with multiple cheap creatures. A good 3 mana wrath in a lot of matchups.
《Enter the God-Eternals》 is basically replacing 《Shark Typhoon》 in the aggro matchups where it might be too slow. For 5 mana you got a 3/3 shark which dies on 《Lightning Strike》. Here you have a removal which creates a 《Loxodon Hierarch》. It also puts 4+1 cards in your graveyard to play a 2 mana Dig easily.
The 4 toughness and the combination with the six 1 mana removals makes Kalitas a very strong card against aggro decks.
I ended the tournament at 15th place, losing the win and in for top 8 against Mono-Red. My sideboard was too light for the matchup and I regretted that I did not have more cards against aggressive strategies.
Anyway, the deck was a blast to play and I enjoyed it a lot. I love the feeling of winning a game by just trying not to lose. A pure traditional control deck with a very few win conditions.
Hope you enjoy reading, stay safe.