13, Aug, 23

Dimir is Completely Dominating this MTG Format!

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Article at a Glance

Its no secret that many MTG players were looking forward to the ban announcement that passed this Monday. There’s also little doubt that what some MTG players were hoping to see did not happen. I personally think the ban decisions were correctly from a winrate perspective. There doesn’t appear to be any problematic archetypes in Pioneer or Modern in terms of being too powerful. Nykthos Ramp in Pioneer is arguably putting the format in a stranglehold in terms of deckbuilding space.

Most of players’ complaints, however, only reached the Modern and Pioneer formats. Thanks to the recent Pro Tour, many players were expecting to see The One Ring pop up on the ban list, and players haven’t been looking kindly on the state of Pioneer for quite some time.

This is rather ironic considering that Standard may have actually been the format that needs help. A recent ban wave for that format saved it from its Rakdos overlord, but with the passing of time, it seems that this conqueror was simply replaced with another. There’s a good chance that Wilds of Eldraine fixes this but, for now, Dimir might be a little too good for Standard.

Dimir is Everywhere

Ulimately, the thing that has stopped Wizards of the Coast from taking ban-related action in Modern or Pioneer is that there isn’t any domineering strategy. There are a lot of broken things to do in Pioneer and Modern, but they all seem to be, more or less, equally broken and balance each other out.

Standard, however, looks like a different story. Looking at results in Magic Online tournaments, which are the highest-profile options we have at this point, details a worrying trend. The winners metagame is absolutely dominated by Dimir decks.

In last Saturday’s metagame challenge, five of the top eight decks were Dimir. Last Sunday’s challenge was even worse, with six of the eight top lists hosting the Dimir menace. Nine additional decks in the top 32 were Dimir on both Saturday and Sunday, with mono black also being a popular archetype.

There weren’t quite as many Dimir decks in this Saturday’s top cut, but 4 of the top 8 were Dimir, including the winner. 9th, as well as 5 of the other decks in the top 32 were also Dimir Midrange.

This means that there is more diversity than the top eight to these events would suggest, but Dimir definitely seems to be the de-facto best deck in Standard by a margin.

A Disturbing Metagame Share

Looking at metagame shares over the past two weeks offers an even more disturbing statistic. According to mtggoldfish.com, over 40% of the Standard metagame is Dimir Midrange. The second most popular deck is Azorius Soldiers at just 10.9%.

Comparing this to Modern and Pioneer can help reveal just how abnormal these metagame conditions are. Rakdos Scam, considered the best deck in Modern by some margin, represents only 18.2% of the two-week metagame, with the next most popular deck representing 8.7%. Pioneer is a similar story, with Nykthos Ramp only representing 18.9% of the meta over the last two weeks. This is followed by Rakdos Sacrifice at 11.3%. The Standard metagame is, needless to say, quite the anomaly.

What is Dimir Midrange?

The archetype has evolved quite a bit from its origins, but Dimir Midrange in March of the Machine Standard is undeniably a newcomer. The deck existed prior to the Fable of the Mirror-Breaker ban, but there wasn’t much of a reason to play blue over red before that. Now that the Fable is gone, blue’s benefits seem to outshine the other colors.

At the beginning, the deck used evasive threats like Aven Heartstabber to provide a huge amount of conditional value. New cards from March of the Machine and a shift to beat the mirror have caused the deck to innovate in recent days.

This ends up playing like true and told tempo deck. Offering fast threats with a mix of removal and counterspells, Dimir Midrange wants to establish its presence early and keep the game going at its speed. You can find the above decklist here.

All of the threats in the best-performing Dimir Midrange decks are value engines that also pressure the opponent quickly. Faerie Mastermind seems to be the newest inclusion ticking up towards four slots. Since opposing Dimir decks are trying to draw cards with all their threats, it makes sense that Faerie Mastermind is becoming better. Able to profit off your opponent’s draws, the Mastermind allows you to keep up with your opponent without spending a lot of mana. Mastermind is particularly good versus a resolved Phyrexian Arena, as it, basically, takes away the advantage provided by the enchantment.

Otherwise, this deck utilizes a lot of the cards that have made mono black such a force to be reckoned with in the Standard format. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, arguably the most powerful card in the format, makes an appearance, and is surprisingly effective thanks to all the draw effects running around. Otherwise Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor, Evolved Sleeper and Tenacious Underdog all come in on-curve and provide extra value when needed.

By adding blue, Dimir gets access to some counterspells and card advantage like Kaito Shizuki. This Planeswalker fits into the Dimir Midrange deck like a glove. Since the deck’s threats come in on-curve and want to attack, its not uncommon for Kaito to draw a troubling amount of cards with his plus ability before he gets dealt with.

Looking at the sideboard of the Sunday challenge’s winning list helps detail just how much this deck is taking over. Phyrexian Arena seems like a blast from the past, but it offers the deck a huge leg up in a tempo mirror – so long as you can get onboard early enough that the tempo turn off won’t hurt too much. That said, be careful about Faerie Mastermind if you choose to bring in this card in the mirror.

This is What an Unhealthy Metagame Looks Like

Dimir Midrange’s stranglehold over the Standard format seems to be tightening. Throughout the weeks, Dimir’s metagame share is only increasing. The silver lining is that the Wilds of Eldraine stands to potentially have a heavy impact on the Standard format. Thanks to some unofficial leaks, we already have a look at some of the interesting cards making an appearance. Just note that these aren’t guaranteed to be the real deal, but they certainly look like they are.

Since Wilds of Eldraine is so close to releasing, Dimir may not be super oppressive for too long. That said, this deck could persist if none of the new cards keep up. We’ve certainly seen it happen before with Fable of the Mirror Breaker needing to be banned to shake things up. For now, though, Dimir seems to be king of Standard. Learning how to play this archetype on MTG Arena could be a great way to rank up before the new set drops.

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