Standard Dimir Control Deck Guide: Seriously Slap Sultai

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing you the quintessential Sultai slapper, suplexer, and smasher: Dimir Control. I’ve had quite a love affair with Dimir Control for awhile, but after Zendikar Rising, I didn’t touch the archetype much thinking it wasn’t well positioned. When Kaldheim came out, DanyTlaw had to prove me wrong by going on an absolutely insane tear with his take on UB. Let’s take a look at this list.

DimirTlaw 

Creatures (6)
3
Brazen Borrower
3
Gadwick, the Wizened
Spells (26)
2
Jwari Disruption
1
Silundi Vision
1
Erebos's Intervention
2
Disdainful Stroke
2
Eliminate
2
Heartless Act
4
Saw It Coming
1
Soul Shatter
4
Behold the Multiverse
4
Extinction Event
3
Alrund's Epiphany
Artifacts (1)
1
Midnight Clock
Enchantments (4)
4
Shark Typhoon
Lands (23)
1
Castle Locthwain
2
Castle Vantress
4
Clearwater Pathway
3
Crawling Barrens
1
Fabled Passage
4
Island
4
Swamp
4
Temple of Deceit
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Cling to Dust
2
Duress
1
Erebos's Intervention
2
Eliminate
3
Negate
3
Mystical Dispute
2
Soul Shatter
1
Thryx, the Sudden Storm

This list looked clean. It had a lot of elements that I liked in a control deck: robust interaction suite, good top end, and saucy one ofs, I had to give it a go. Generally speaking, whenever I’m trying a deck for the first time I give it 3 matches before making any changes to see how it felt. Well, with a swift 3-0, the deck definitely felt great, but was in need of a bit of a face lift for the new Strixhaven metagame. Let’s take a look at what I came up with.

Dimir Control v2 

Creatures (1)
1
Gadwick, the Wizened
Spells (28)
3
Jwari Disruption
1
Erebos's Intervention
1
Eliminate
4
Heartless Act
2
Negate
4
Saw It Coming
1
Soul Shatter
4
Behold the Multiverse
4
Extinction Event
4
Alrund's Epiphany
Artifacts (3)
2
Mazemind Tome
1
Midnight Clock
Enchantments (4)
4
Shark Typhoon
Lands (24)
1
Castle Locthwain
2
Castle Vantress
4
Clearwater Pathway
3
Crawling Barrens
1
Fabled Passage
5
Island
4
Swamp
4
Temple of Deceit
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Cling to Dust
2
Duress
2
Test of Talents
3
Elspeth's Nightmare
3
Mystical Dispute
2
Crippling Fear
1
Shadows' Verdict

Most of the elements of Dany’s list remained, just some number adjustments all around. Although I love Gadwick, the Wizened, playing 3 felt risky as drawing multiples was rough and tapping out is bad most of the time. I kept one in as it’s a great way to refuel in the late game, but that could easily be something else too. Alrund's Epiphany absolutely overperformed for me and this deck completely changed my view on the card. I always viewed it as a midrange card since how good could it be if you don’t have a board state? Well apparently just getting a few birds and taking a turn is good enough as if it resolves, it’s functionally a free spell; with a Shark token or a Crawling Barrens, you can easily get lethal out of nowhere.

I added Mazemind Tome to the list as we were tapping out so infrequently anyway having a constant source of card advantage proved invaluable in a lot of my matchups. Saving the best for last, I thought Alrund’s Epiphany was going to be the biggest surprise coming out of the deck, but that spot easily goes to Midnight Clock. I know Midnight Clock was great in Limited, but I never expected it to be absurd in Constructed too. If you get this down in the early game, you have such ridiculous inevitability as at a maximum of 6 turns later you can refuel your entire hand. Couple this with your 12 Foretell cards and you can be untapping with functional 10 card hands in the mid game! The final cherry on top as well is that Rogues can’t really beat Clock if it resolves as it undoes their entire game plan. I feel like the Gadwick could just be a second Clock and even considered swapping some Tomes for Clocks, but I’ll leave that determination up to you. The rest of the deck is what you’d expect from a UB Control shell, lots of interaction, some Shark Typhoon, and a ton of fun.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Alrund's Epiphany Art by Kieran Yanner
Alrund’s Epiphany Art by Kieran Yanner

TEMUR ADVENTURES

INOUT
+3 Mystical Dispute-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-2 Alrund’s Epiphany
-1 Erebos’s Intervention 

This matchup can be rough as they have the value packed Adventure package with a lot of interaction to mess you up. You have to be really patient on timing your spells as going for a big turn and getting it countered will be a one way ticket to losing. Kill their Edgewall Innkeeper on site and hope your interaction lines up well.

NAYA ADVENTURES

INOUT
+2 Crippling Fear-2 Negate
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-1 Soul Shatter

This matchup is simple enough as you just need to make sure you don’t get overrun by dudes or way out carded by Showdown of the Skalds. Keep plenty of permission in hand, be wary of Giant Killer, and this matchup shouldn’t be too bad. 

ROGUES

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+2 Test of Talents-4 Alrund’s Epiphany
+3 Elspeth’s Nightmare-1 Erebos’s Intervention
+3 Mystical Dispute-1 Soul Shatter
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-4 Saw it Coming 

My board has a lot more tools to fight Rogues than Dany’s, but the matchup seemed reasonable even then. The matchup is fought on two front: don’t let them resolve an Into the Story and don’t get run over in the early to mid game. As long as you can stall, you should be able to grind them out eventually. We take out the clunkier cards and bring in cards that are either cheaper or higher impact overall. You could board in Duress if you want, but I found that games tend to go really long against Rogues and drawing Duress over a counterspell in the late game can be devastating. 

SULTAI ULTIMATUM

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+2 Test of Talents-4 Extinction Event
+2 Duress-1 Erebos’s Intervention
+3 Mystical Dispute-1 Eliminate
-2 Heartless Act

The Sultai matchup is more or less the reason to play Dimir. Even with your most awkward draws, as long as you can stop them from resolving any of their expensive spells it shouldn’t be too hard to piece together a win. Post board both sides of the matchup get access to a lot of interaction, but you still have an obscene amount of permission they have to work through and all your threats and cheap or instant speed unlike theirs. Be patient with your counterspells and you should be just fine.

MONO RED

INOUT
+3 Elspeth’s Nightmare-2 Alrund’s Epiphany
+2 Crippling Fear-2 Negate
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-2 Mazemind Tome

Monored can be easy or hard depending on how both players draw. If they have a fast start and you can’t stop them, you’ll easily get run over. Conversely, if you can pick apart their aggression then land a big Shark token, this feels like a cakewalk. I would say don’t compromise with your hands and make sure you keep your life total as high as possible.

MONO WHITE

INOUT
+2 Crippling Fear-1 Alrund’s Epiphany
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-2 Negate

This matchup is similar to Monored, but generally easier. They do have a lot of creatures that can protect themselves or others, but since they don’t pressure your life total as effectively I prefer this matchup to Monored. Like Monored, preserve your life total above everything else as they can still bonk you out of nowhere with Faceless Haven.

IZZET DRAGONS

INOUT
+2 Duress-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+3 Mystical Dispute-2 Extinction Event
-1 Erebos’s Intervention
-1 Eliminate

Izzet can definitely be rough as they have a similar game plan to you, but with more proactive threats. You need to temper their Dragons while accumulating card advantage so you can eventually sneak in a win. The biggest issue is that they have 4 Brazen Borrower and you don’t which makes Shark Typhoon a really unreliable win con. My best advice is to try and tap them out, land a Shark, and protect it like your life depends on it, because it probably does.

RAKDOS 

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-3 Alrund’s Epiphany
+3 Elspeth’s Nightmare-2 Negate
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-1 Soul Shatter  

Rakdos is very synergistic, but the individual card quality is low, meaning they don’t do well when they’re picked apart by interaction. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is your predominant concern as it can kill you very quickly, but we have plenty of tools to stop it as well. Don’t let their board get too big as Plumb the Forbidden can easily refuel their hand.

CYCLING

INOUT
+2 Duress-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+2 Test of Talents-2 Extinction Event
+3 Elspeth’s Nightmare-4 Alrund’s Epiphany
+1 Shadows’ Verdict-1 Soul Shatter 

Cycling is very difficult to beat as they can get on the board quickly while also grinding insanely well in the late game. Test of Talents and Elspeth’s Nightmare are both excellent against them, but that’s only if you have them in time for the Zenith Flare. Try not to put yourself into a spot where you need to tap out against a Zenith Flare as they can likely one shot you in the late game.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas
Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas
  • If you have a Gadwick out and you need to tap down permanents desperately, you can even cast a spell and counter it if it lets you live. 
  • If you have a choice between Foretelling something on turn 2 or holding up interaction, it entirely depends on the matchup. Generally speaking, I’ll hold up interaction against fast decks and Foretell against slow decks.
  • Countering something with Jwari Disruption is a beautiful thing, but land drops are critical for Control decks, so don’t be afraid to play it out.
  • Although it’s niche and everyone forgets, Eliminate and Shadows’ Verdict can kill 3 CMC Planeswalkers as well.
  • Get Mazemind Tome down ASAP, even against aggressive decks. Aggressively scrying and gaining 4 life a few turns down the line is still a fine use of the card.
  • Try not to play Midnight Clock until you can do it and do something with the mana immediately whether that’s Foretelling a card or holding up interaction.
  • As a general rule, try to Foretell cards only when you have nothing else going on. Foretelling a Behold the Multiverse may seem free, but if you have to engage in a counterwar the turn after, you may have accidentally shot yourself in the foot thinking that it was an inconsequential play.
  • You have a lot of utility lands in the deck to work with and it can be hard to know which ones to activate at the end of your opponent’s turn. Generally speaking, I prioritize Castle Vantress, then Crawling Barrens, then Castle Locthwain. Sculpting a good hand is usually better than trying to end the game quickly as Dimir is great at sitting back and letting the opponent flounder.
  • Although the list only plays 1 Fabled Passage, try to play that before using Castle Vantress as that will mess up your scries. 
  • Make sure to always name a funny Creature type with Crippling Fear as that’s the main reason to play the card.

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 teaching! Twitch Discord

3 Responses

  1. grokking says:

    thx for the awesome guide! I cherish the memory of dimir control (yorion version), hope for some updates if it’s still competent in the current environment!

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I would probably just add 10 lands, a few more Verdict, Omen of the Seas, and a few spicy one ofs for the Yorion version. That being said, I think 60 card is likely better right now as most of Standard is better at putting you to the test of having the right answer compared to Znedikar.

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