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Easy Peasy Eloisey

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Readers,

You HAVE TO know that when a commander is in prime "stuff swiping" colors, I am going to be all over it. Dimir is very well suited to the kind of Commander I like to play and it would be easy for me to come up with a Dimir list based on a commander from the Undead Unleashed precon that is an excellent 75% build. Perhaps... too easy. If I build a deck I've built a ton before, I haven't really taught you anything. On the other hand, lately when I have built the same deck a lot (Simic landfall in this case), it eventually taught me something about what I really wanted to be doing with those decks and made me have an epiphany about what I really liked about those decks and sometimes recontextualized how I thought about the decks. I'll give you a quick example.

Two years ago, I wrote about Burgeoning in this article about Korvold.

I may even leave Burgeoning in the deck even though I ALWAYS cut Burgeoning because it's almost always bad. It could be that I only think to play Burgeoning in decks that have lots of other ways to play lands and by the time it gets to someone else's turn, your hand is empty, so maybe I should play Burgeoning in decks that DON'T have lots of ways to play lands and therefore need Burgeoning's help. But also this one.

Lately, I feel like all of my landfall decks are way better off with Burgeoning than Exploration and I find myself actively swapping cards like Explore out for Sakura-Tribe Scout. Two years makes a big difference (as does the printing of Omnath, Locus of Creation, to be super fair), so why do I want to think about how 2019 Jason would build Dimir now? It's likely I've learned some tricks since then, so let's see what they are. But first, let's talk about our guest of honor, the Dimir commander in question.

Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

Eloise has two very cool abilities that work together surprisingly well. The stock lists of this deck are either treasure-based or aristocrats decks for the most part, and those are both very cool takes on the deck. Generating a lot of treasure means a lot of Surveil triggers, and you use that to sculpt your hand by pitching cards you don't want to draw and leaving the good stuff on top. It's a solid strategy and elements of it are very appealing, especially this one.

March of the Machines

March of the Machines makes your clue tokens into 0/0 creatures which die when state-based effects check and generate a new 0/0. End the game with Blood Artist or an infinite loop that stalls the game entirely- there's no wrong way! This is a cute but effective way to win a game and whether or not I include the combo in this, looking at what makes this card such a perfect combo piece in this deck can help you figure out other cards that should be in the deck.

Another popular card, Time Sieve, is another dirty include in the deck that got me thinking. Sure, Time Sieve is a straightforward card that needs no explanation, but the fact that so many people building this deck think they can reliably generate enough tokens to get value from Time Sieve makes me think they're onto something. If we have enough tokens to sac to reliably take extra turns, we should have plenty left over for other purposes. Specifically, I want to make sure the tokens we sac trigger more than just Eloise. We're building a Grave Pact deck.

Grave Pact decks can be kind of annoying to play against and more than a few times, annoying to play with. Something the most popular Grave Pact decks like Mazirek, Korvold and Teysa Karlov lack is reanimator spells in a lot of their builds. It's easy to keep the board clear but if all you're doing is making the game take longer by failing to wrap it up, you're doing it wrong. With enough of a reanimation package, you can have the pick of their best creatures and sac the ones you don't need to keep them from mounting any kind of defense. Used correctly, Grave Pact will speed the game up by stripping them of their blockers, rather than slow the game down by keeping the entire board clear. We want to run as much Reanimation as possible, and if we're going to bother, why not have our own creatures to reanimate?

In order to make sure the tokens we sac are creatures, we're going to look to Brudiclad decks for help. Brudiclad decks had plenty of ways to create tokens that are copies of creatures, which means we'll copy ETB triggers on our creatures then sac the tokens to dredge creatures into the graveyard and wipe their board with Dictate of Erebos. It will take a minute to get the engine up and running, but when it's going, it is hard to slow down. We're going to want to run some ETB creatures that are big enough to be worth reanimating and which have ETB abilities that give us more tokens to sac, and we're in luck because Black has a lot of that. Do we want to run Blue creatures, too, though? I think we might, and that's because I found some old Aminatou tech that might want to get in on the fun.

Dreams of the Dead

You can't do this to your Black creatures, but you can do plenty of work with Blue ones. Diluvian Primordial, Gyruda, Doom of Depths, Sower of Temptation - even Mulldrifter and Peregrine Drake seem pretty saucy if you can re-buy them for a mere 2 mana. Feel free not to pay the cumulative upkeep - sac them to an altar for mana and a Grave Pact trigger instead. We're not built around this card per se, but I do feel like when we draw it, we'll be pretty happy.

What would a pile based around Pacts and Reanimation look like? Put simply, it looks like fun.

Sleuth, There It Is | Commander | Jason Alt


This looks like a lot of fun! There are a couple of specific cards I want to highlight that I think are especially good in this deck.

This may be the best home for Chamber of Manipulation that I have ever built. You like discarding cards in a deck like this where you can pitch a big creature to bring back with a reanimation spell. Having some targeted discard and ways to make surveil triggers better and more frequent means you don't have to resort to milling yourself to fill the 'yard. This is good because you have lots of utility spells and artifacts it's better to draw and we don't want to mill those. Chamber of Manipulation isn't just a discard outlet, though, it allows us to borrow a creature to hit them with, make token copies of and give back in the form of a corpse that you've sacced to an altar effect. It's quite good in this deck.

I've seen people run Whisper, Blood Liturgist in a deck like this, and I would remind people that Hell's Caretaker exists, also. I don't have it here, but if you're going to run Whisper, I'd look at Hell's Caretaker before I did. This is the deck for it for sure. I had to cut some to get this deck down to 100 cards, but this is one I'd consider adding back in, summoning sickness, low toughness and all. I bet you'd play if they changed the name to Goblin Welder.

Don't be afraid to sac an ETB creature to rebuy another ETB trigger, especially on something like Sepulchral Primordial or Agent of Treachery. Those creatures cost extra mana because you don't lose what you get if the creature dies, so make it die if it's the only way to get more triggers.

If you wanted to cut the cards that produce token copies of your creatures and the Grave Pact stuff, you could steer into being a Dreams of the Dead deck a bit more. Blink would be very welcome in a deck like this, especially since you could then run a few cards like Goryo's Vengeance. We have a lot of good ETB creatures, adding a bit of blink would absolutely not suck.

That does it for me, readers. What is your take on Eloise? Treasures? Full Surveil shenanigans? Pirate tribal? A lot like this but with no March of the Machines? Leave it for me in the comments section below. Thanks for reading - until next time!

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