Dimir Rogues Historic Deck Guide: May 2021 Update

Hello everyone! Welcome to our Dimir Rogues deck guide for the Magic: The Gathering Arena Historic format, updated for Strixhaven: School of Mages! Here, you will learn how to play this blue-black tempo deck for the best of three (bo3) game mode from explanation of card choices, potential inclusions, tips and tricks, to a complete matchups and sideboard guide.

Today I’m bringing you one of the most polarizing decks in Historic: Rogues. Rogues was attempted plenty of times before in Historic, but with extremely little success. However, the Mystical Archive had big plans for Rogues. Getting not just one, not two, but 3 new cards to use is a huge boon to the archetype in general. I had a feeling that any deck that could use multiple Mystical Archive cards was going to be busted, and here we are. Today we’re using an iteration of Vendilion’s list:

DECKLIST

(H) Rogues 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (12)
4
Merfolk Windrobber
4
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
4
Soaring Thought-Thief
Spells (25)
1
Agadeem's Awakening
4
Brainstorm
4
Fatal Push
4
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Memory Lapse
4
Into the Story
Lands (23)
1
Castle Locthwain
4
Clearwater Pathway
4
Drowned Catacomb
4
Fabled Passage
3
Island
3
Swamp
4
Watery Grave
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Cling to Dust
2
Grafdigger's Cage
2
Aether Gust
2
Negate
2
Tyrant's Scorn
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Crippling Fear

OVERVIEW

Inquisition of Kozilek is the first amazing addition to Rogues. Rogues did have Thoughtseize before, so it seems weird that a less versatile version would be so good, right? Well Inquisition has a huge advantage over Thoughtsieze, no life loss. Considering Rogues is predominantly afraid of cheap spells, we definitely want an efficient way to get rid of them. That being said, one of Rogue’s largest weaknesses is that it has no life gain, so every point of life lost is very detrimental. Thoughtseize is a great card, but if you’re facing a deck that’s looking to race you, the 2 life is anything but marginal.

Brainstorm is the next addition that Rogues is abusing. This goes against my initial philosophy of what decks should play Brainstorm as you only have 4 Fabled Passage to shuffle. Although I still don’t love it here, it definitely has two great advantages to warrant it’s inclusion. One, it gives you an advance on your important cards. Having a good curve is crucial for Rogues to win, so although Brainstorm isn’t card advantage, it’s card filtering that allows you to find the spells or lands you need and to put back cards you don’t want immediately. Second, it’s insulation against other Thoughtseize decks. Rogues by nature is a strategy that’s trying to 1 for 1 the opponent out, however, cards like Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Into the Story help break the parity by giving you multiple cards in one. With that, hand disruption is generally very good against this deck as nabbing one of the few cards that can accrue a lot of value can be extremely brutal.

The last and easily the best addition to Rogues from the Archives is Memory Lapse. If we were just playing a normal tempo deck, Memory Lapse would already be excellent. If you counter a spell that uses all their mana, you functionally cast a Time Walk as they did nothing with their turn and you’re robbing them of their next draw step. However, once we factor in that we can mill the top card very easily with all our Rogues, at best we have an easier to cast Counterspell. One of the issues I had with Rogues in the past was your Drown in the Loch was pulled in too many directions, but Memory Lapse helps keep your counterspell count high.

Beyond the new stuff, we have a very classic Rogues shell. This version doesn’t utilize Ruin Crab which makes perfect sense. Historic is a higher powered format and generally speaking, the stronger the format the faster the format. Ruin Crab is great in Standard as a lot of games can drag on, so having a mill win condition is a nice backup plan if you can’t attack them down. For Historic though, the need to fill the graveyard quickly is not as important as we have more ways to naturally put cards into their yard (Fatal Push, Inquisition of Kozilek, etc)  and most of the games don’t go long enough for Ruin Crab to be relevant. So without Crab, we have our classic package of the cheap Rogues, a bunch of cheap interaction, and Into the Story.

POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

Skyclave Shade Art by Daarken
Skyclave Shade Art by Daarken

Unlike most other potential inclusion sections, this will mostly be focused on the sideboard as the main deck is so solidified I can’t imagine swapping any of those cards out for other options right now.

Pharika's Libation

Rest in Peace and Klothys, God of Destiny are absolute nightmares for this deck. Although this isn’t the most exciting card to play, it does answer both of them quite cleanly.

Feed the Swarm

Similar rationale to Libation, but this is a bit more versatile at the cost of not being able to kill Klothys.

Lullmage's Domination

This is an interesting answer to have if creature decks like Gruul and GW keep picking up steam. It’s narrow, but it can be devastating if you steal a large creature from them.

Noxious Grasp

Grasp is a versatile spell that kills a lot of the relevant creatures in the format while also netting 1 life! Play this if you’re seeing a lot of Green or White creature decks.

Skyclave Shade

The old anti-mirror tech from Standard. This card is a nightmare in the mirror and still very good against Control decks as well. If Rogues gets popular enough, I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing these in the board.

Search for Azcanta

This may seem weird, but it’s excellent in both the mirror and against Control. I don’t like this as much as Skyclave Shade, but it’s interesting to keep in mind.

Legion's End

If Auras really picks up in popularity, this is one of the best Historic cards against them.

Dead Weight

If small creature decks become really popular, Dead Weight/Lurrus loops are insane against them. 

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Cling to Dust Art by Caio Monteiro
Cling to Dust Art by Caio Monteiro

AURAS

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-4 Brainstorm
+2 Tyrant’s Scorn

So this goes against the grain of most board plans, but if all your spells are good, I’m taking out Brainstorm for room. It’s a shame since Brainstorm is good at protecting our hand from Thoughtseize or Duress, but I can’t see what other cards we could realistically board out. Merfolk Windrobber could be a consideration to board out over Brainstorm, but enabling your graveyard matters cards early then being a great chump blocker late I think will be, on average, better than Brainstorm.

Our general gameplan is pretty strong against them inherently as Auras doesn’t want to face something with a lot of interaction, but Auras is also excellent at pressing an advantage when they find an opening. Nevertheless, don’t keep any hand that isn’t loaded up with interaction as you need to stop them in the early game or they’ll easily outgrind you.

GW COMPANY

INOUT
+2 Tyrant’s Scorn-4 Inquisition of Kozilek
+2 Crippling Fear

Here we have an interesting choice to either take out Brainstorm or Inquisition, but I think Inquisition is the worse of the two. The card we expressly care about is Collected Company and Inquisition misses that. We do very much care about Rest in Peace as well, but that forces you to have Inquisition immediately to tag it, otherwise it’s not doing much later in the game. All that being said, I can still see it being better than Brainstorm as a means to tag Archon of Emeria specifically, but I still like Brainstorm more.

This matchup can be rough as they’re very good at applying pressure, so your best bet is to have a faster start yourself and try to race. If you see a bunch of Shifting Ceratops you can consider boarding in Aether Gust as Gust normally doesn’t have many targets (That being said, I don’t think GW should be boarding Ceratops against Rogues, but a lot of players do).

GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Aether Gust-2 Merfolk Windrobber
+2 Tyrant’s Scorn-4 Brainstorm
+2 Crippling Fear

Gruul is excellent at putting on the pressure so we need to stabilize as best as we can and as fast as possible. Keep your life total high and try to grind them out with Lurrus/Enforcer loops or Into the Story.

MIRROR

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-4 Merfolk Windrobber
+2 Negate-4 Memory Lapse 
+2 Tyrant’s Scorn
+2 Mystical Dispute

The mirror is going to be a grindfest so you want to get rid of any card that’s not helping you get later into the game. Merfolk Windrobber isn’t terrible in the mirror, but getting blanked by Soaring Thought-Thief is obviously not great. Memory Lapse can be good as a means to counter an Into the Story or Lurrus in conjunction with mill, but guaranteeing a mill is difficult in the mirror so using Lapse as a means to delay the inevitable is a really poor use of it. Remember that this is a Control mirror, not a tempo mirror.

TAINTED PACT COMBO

INOUT
+2 Negate-4 Fatal Push
+2 Mystical Dispute

Your game plan is beyond excellent against Pact, doubly so if they are completely relying on the combo to win. All you have to do is establish any sort of pressure and hold up a few counterspells to KO Pact. You can consider boarding in Cling to Dust against the Lurrus versions if you want, but it’s not the most high impact card overall.

CONTROL DECKS

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-4 Fatal Push
+2 Negate-2 Memory Lapse
+2 Mystical Dispute

There’s a lot of different flavors of Control, but this is a good general plan to attack the matchup. You want to grind them out which isn’t the most difficult considering your cards are all so much cheaper than theirs. The easiest way to win is to make them tap out for something then slam Into the Story to refuel your hand. Don’t be too hasty to deploy your high impact spells as Control won’t be able to double spell as effectively as you.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Brainstorm Art by Alexis Hernandez and Justin Hernandez
Brainstorm Art by Alexis Hernandez and Justin Hernandez
  • Don’t be afraid to keep low land count hands as this deck works well on a few lands and Brainstorm can help bail you out.
  • Merfolk Windrobber is excellent with Lurrus as a means to draw a card every turn. Similarly, since the draw effect is free make sure you activate it as late as possible, for whatever reason, I see a lot of players tempted to crack it when they’re tapped out.
  • All your Rogues get additional abilities when the opponent hits 8 cards in graveyard, but Into the Story gets the cost reduction at 7.
  • Knowing when to get back Lurrus is difficult, but I tend to get it back more aggressively than most. If you don’t have any proactive plays and you don’t need to hold up counterspells for something scary next turn, getting it back gives you so many options for future turns.
  • Save your Brainstorms as long as possible, when possible. Similarly, Brainstorm is one of your best cards in the mirror as it can both protect your hand from a Inquisition of Kozilek and their creatures can mill your library which can “unlock” you from Brainstorm.
  • Try to save your Drown in the Loch for last as it’s your most versatile answer. 
  • Although you want to save Fabled Passage for Brainstorm, if you have to choose between having a better curve or saving it for a future Brainstorm, always opt for a better curve.
  • I rarely keep hands that have multiple Drown in the Loch and Into the Story, but no ways to start putting cards in the graveyard. It may be tempting since one spell can start working towards those, but whiffing for even one turn as Rogues can mean death.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, GW Company in Historic, and Temur Koma in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

6 Responses

  1. EliteTriarii says:

    Rogues is a powerhouse for sure. It’s the best long term and fun deck for bo3 too if you are on the budget and want to invest all your wildcards. They can even stuff my ultra fast burn brew list in the best of 1 when I’m on the play sometimes.

    Offtop: there is nothing more to add, great article as always. I can post my burn list here, since I didn’t see ppls running anything similar on the ladder. It’s bo1 daily quest killer — it’s fast, fun, consistent and requires thinking. It can even beat lifegain near-dream draw like 3/10 times when on the play.

  2. BazaarOfBaghdad says:

    You’re not running Aether Gust against GW decks, which I agree with, but then it tends to underscore the fact that not replacing those 2 slots with Cerulean Drake, which can instead blank multiple rounds of offense and counter a burn spell, makes little sense.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Well they’re very different cards and if Red becomes way more popular than I could definitely see that. Right now I still think Gust is versatile enough that it warrants its inclusion, but I always recommend trying out different configurations to see what you like!

  3. Matthew Mahar says:

    I don’t think I’m very good with the deck because I can’t beat anything with it. It feels powerful but I just can’t win with it.

  4. LightningBolt says:

    What can replace Brainstorm now that it’s been suspended? Will the deck still be viable even with it out of the question?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think the deck is fine without it. The easiest swap would be opt, but you could go more interaction.

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