Wallet Warriors: Lasav, Dimir Mastermind
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! Today I’ve got one for the control fans in the audience. This is $70 Dimir Control with a splash of mill. The deck is led by none other than the Dimir mastermind himself: Lazav!
Typically Lazav has accompanied Phenax, God of Deception, Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker, and Oona, Queen of the Fae as the premier commanders aimed at getting their opponents libraries down to zero cards.
Lazav does synergize well with the mill plan however this is not our decks main focus. Our goal is to control our opponents with countermagic, clear out big threats with kill spells and wipe the board if necessary. We want to get to the late game and ultimately win either through mill or copying a big creature with Lazav and swinging in.
Now here is the deck list:
If you want to see the deck separated into the groups I talk about click here.
Traditional control decks are not able to function in the same way they do normally when put in the context of commander. This is because a control deck you might find in Standard or Modern leans heavily on it’s one-for-one removal spells and countermagic. These types of spells are much less powerful in a multiplayer game due to how beneficial they are to the players not being affected by them. If there are four people in a game and you spend a card to remove a card from one of your opponents, you and that opponent are both down one card whereas the other two players are still neutral.
Now even with this in mind you will notice that there are plenty of one-for-one spells in our deck. These are still important to a control strategy in commander since you need answers for the threats that are likely to kill you and they work well with Lazav when you are taking creatures down.
The trick is to identify what falls into the category of “likely to kill you”. Playing control in this environment almost requires a strong political game to succeed. You need to be willing to let certain things resolve because you won’t be able to deal with everything. A lot of the time a counterspell in your hand with mana open is more valuable than actually casting it. The threat of countermagic will often slow down your opponents since they will want to play their weaker spells first to play around it.
A useful trick is to make a deal with the player who wants to resolve some scary threat. With the spell on the stack you can threaten to counter it but give them an ultimatum. If you let it resolve they have to do something to help you. This can be anything from not sending that threat at you for a certain number of turns to letting you resolve your own threat on your next turn.
Kill Spells and Hand Attack
Murderous Cut and Curtain’s Call are both efficiently costed removal spells while Slaughter is our spell that keeps on giving at the price of some life. Remember that Slaughter does have the traditional drawback of not hitting black creatures which can be relevant in our format since black is very popular.
We have a suite of creature-based removal spells for some versatility. Royal Assassin and Avatar of Woe are especially good as they have reusable abilities that can act as great bargaining tools. Be sure to remind people that you don’t need to kill their creature if they don’t send it at you.
Following that we have a small suite of hand attack spells. Distress, Coercion and Brainbite let us deal with certain permanent types that our colors have issues with, such as artifacts and enchantments, while giving us extra information. We also have the opportunity to make our opponents discard a giant creature if we have Lazav in play to preemptively get rid of it and get a hexproof copy for ourselves.
Keeping Our Hand Full
Cards that let us refill our hand are very important when our strategy is based on one-for-one spells. This is true in traditional control strategies but it is even more important in commander where our removal is less impressive and games tend to go long.
The most important cards here are the persistent sources of fuel. Nezahal, Primal Tide is a card I may have undervalued in my Rivals of Ixalan Legend Review.
Nezahal is no Consecrated Sphinx but I never imagined I would have placed them in the same spot on my shelf. The blue elder dino will almost certainly draw you a lot of cards if you get to cast it and has a lot of built in protection (which Consecrated Sphinx does not).
Along with the Ol’ Loch Nezz we have Bloodgift Demon, and Underworld Connections to keep our hands full. We also have a few Windfall effects which, when timed correctly, can draw us a bigger hand than we started with while also triggering Lazav.
Then to top it off we have some powerful single use card draw in Syphon Mind and Fact or Fiction.
Clearing the Board
Wiping the board with a single spell usually provides the most bang for your buck in commander in terms of card advantage so we want access to a few of these effects. Tetzimoc, Primal Death, Hex and Reiver Demon are great since they are capable of clearing out big threats while leaving Lazav around to reap the benefits while Necromantic Selection and Decree of Pain wipe the field clean with some extra utility.
Evacuation and Aetherize help us deal with pesky indestructible boards while occasionally pleasing Lazav if it forces our opponents to discard some big creatures.
As I’ve already stated, milling is not our main goal but it is one of our win conditions once we get to the late game.
Consuming Aberration, Stitcher Geralf, Dreamborn Muse and Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker give us some creatures to contest the board while also destroying our opponents libraries.
We also have a couple combo kills here that can end the game on the spot if you’re given enough breathing room.
Fleet Swallower gets the top half of our opponents library then Fraying Sanity or Keening Stone can finish the job. Duskmantle Guildmage’s first ability combines with Mindcrank to get rid of all the cards in one players library if they take any damage or if any cards go into their yard.
If your playgroup is not a fan of infinite combos you can always swap out one half of these combos for other cards with similar effects.
One of the big issues with Lazav’s ability is that we need to send our opponents creatures to their graveyard to get the trigger. This has some unfortunate implications because there are plenty of strategies in the format which actually benefit from their creatures dying or their library being put into their graveyard.
To counteract this we have some cards to attack our opponents graveyards, either through exiling them or taking the creatures for ourselves.
Crypt Incursion, Nihil Spellbomb, and Nezumi Graverobber are great ways to hit graveyards at instant speed and all have some incidental value. Incursion gains life, the spellbomb replaces itself and the graverobber can flip into a reusable reanimation engine which can still hit our opponents graveyards!
Mimic Vat, Dimir Doppelganger and Chainer, Dementia Master all have double utility since they not only get creatures out of our opponents yards, they let us use them instead.
When looking to increase this decks power we want to start with the efficiency of our removal and countermagic. Confluence and Cryptic are just a couple examples of great value counterspells although we want to make sure we don’t have too many mana-intensive ones. Along with these, Thoughtseize is almost a strict upgrade to Coercion so that’s a no-brainer.
To increase our mill potency we can replace the cards that need to attack or deal combat damage with more consistent and powerful options such as the other mill commanders I mentioned, Oona and Phenax.
Another area we want to improve is the card draw. Arena is essentially a better version of Underworld Connections so that’s an easy one. Mystic Remora is an interesting card that needs to be timed well to get the most reward out of it. The remora synergizes with Lazav in a weird way since your opponents will be incentivized to play creatures which you can then counter or kill and then copy with the mastermind.
Well that’s it for this sweet Dimir control deck. I know control isn’t everyone's cup of tea but I hope this deck will find its way into the hands of someone who loves to leave two blue mana open.
Let me know what you thought of the list in the comments and what you’d like to see next!
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