Vraska, Betrayal's Sting | Phyrexia: All Will Be One
5, Jun, 24

Intriguing Dimir Poison Deck Dominates 400-Player Event on a Budget!

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Article at a Glance

This past weekend, another round of Regional Championships concluded. Players from the United States, South America, and Southeast Asia put their Standard prowess to the test. While Esper midrange is still an excellent archetype to play, these Regional Championships proved a bit more diverse than Pro Tour Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Other strong choices, such as Boros Convoke and Temur ramp, were highly represented as well.

On top of that, we saw some intriguing archetypes perform quite well over the weekend. For instance, in the U.S., Gruul aggro bested a field of over 1200 players, showcasing the deck’s capabilities on the big stage.

Looking beyond just the main event, a really unique Dimir Poison strategy made top eight of the 400-player $10k. This deck is quite different than typical Bant Toxic shells and is extremely budget friendly. Its elite performance really caught our attention, and it’s certainly worth going into more detail about what the deck is trying to accomplish.

An Interesting Take on Poison

Infectious Inquiry

In general, the most common Poison decks in Standard are built around attacking with lots of Creatures in combat. Bant shells work to go wide with Toxic Phyrexians thanks to the power of Skrelv’s Hive, then use cards like March of Swirling Mist to protect their big battlefield.

This Dimir deck is very different. There are very few Creatures present at all. Bilious Skulldweller has the potential to get a few hits in, but the deck is not reliant on using Creatures to cross the finish line. As such, this deck is barely vulnerable to opposing removal spells. This begs the question: how does this deck win the game?

Well, the goal is still to give the opponent 10 Poison counters, but this is mostly done by casting spells over the course of a long game. This really is a control deck at heart. Cards like Prologue to Phyresis and Infectious Inquiry, while a little slow, get the Poison train rolling and ensure you don’t run out of gas.

From there, removal spells like Vraska’s Fall provide you with interaction that simultaneously Poisons the opponent. Once you give the opponent even one Poison counter, a whole new section of the deck becomes unlocked.

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Proliferation Station

Vraska, Betrayal's Sting

Beyond giving the opponent Poison counters in traditional ways, this deck features a multitude of Proliferate cards that quickly become threatening. Disruptive elements like Drown in Ichor and Reject Imperfection slow the opponent down while increasing the number of Poison counters they have in the process.

Experimental Augury provides some basic card selection and Proliferates all the same. If you’re able to keep pressure off of you, one of the best cards to dig for is Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting. Obviously, Vraska’s 0 ability can take over the game in unchecked. On top of that, though, your Proliferate cards can quickly add extra Loyalty counters to Vraska itself. As such, reaching the ultimate ability is easier than you might think.

Notably, Vraska isn’t the only Proliferate payoff in the deck. Venser, Corpse Puppet generates value when you Proliferate. Meanwhile, Voidwing Hybrid acts as a pesky evasive attacker that is difficult to deal with long-term.

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Exceptional Control Elements

Mirrex

While it may seem a bit strange for a control deck to use Poison counters as its primary win condition, there are some nice payoffs for sticking with this strategy. First and foremost, the two-mana interaction options this deck has access to are top-notch.

Bring the Ending does a solid Quench impression early in the game, but later becomes an efficient Counterspell for anything the opponent plays. Similarly, Anoint with Affliction goes from an answer to small Creatures to a full-on Terminate in this deck. Being able to answer anything the opponent plays for cheap over the course of the game is a huge boon.

Finally, this deck gets to fully maximize Mirrex as a late-game closer. As a control deck that primarily casts things at Instant speed, you have the luxury to react to what the opponent does. If they don’t cast anything super important, you can make a token on their end step and start attacking. Eventually, your hoard of tokens will help you emerge victorious.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Urabrask's Forge

Given how this deck is constructed, it’s strengths and weaknesses are quite different from traditional Bant Toxic shells. Bant relies heavily on going wide with small Creatures, so cheap, burly blockers including Raffine, Scheming Seer can be a bit annoying. Mass removal like Temporary Lockdown is rather problematic, and a strong mono-red aggro start backed up by End the Festivities is nearly unbeatable.

Dimir, on the other hand, thrives against decks with lots of removal. This deck gets a lot of its mileage outside of combat. Further, this deck plays tons of answers to Raffine and other strong midrange Creatures. As long as you’re given enough time to make use of your Infectious Inquiries and Experimental Auguries, you’re in good shape.

Where this deck can struggle a bit is against decks that flood the board early with Creatures. Even though this deck plays ample two-mana removal, it’s easy to fall behind against fast mono-red starts. Urabrask’s Forge in particular can spell doom if it sticks. Additionally, this decklist doesn’t make use of sweepers, so cards like Gleeful Demolition out of Boros Convoke or Skrelv’s Hive out of Bant Toxic can be tough to deal with.

Considering how popular Azorius control, Esper/Golgari midrange, and various ramp strategies are in Standard right now, this Dimir deck seems pretty well positioned. It attacks on a very different axis that many players simply aren’t prepared to handle. Plus, this deck is almost entirely made up of commons and uncommons from Phyrexia: All Will be One, which will not rotate out this year. So, if you’re looking for something innovative to craft on MTG Arena or cheap to build in paper, look no further.

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