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Budget Magic: Dimir Thieves (Modern)


Merhaba, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! If you've been following Budget Magic for a while, you'll probably know that one of our goals is to keep all of the decks in the series to $100 or less. The sad truth of Magic is that the best cards in a format are often also the most expensive cards in the format, which means we typically can't play them in our budget decks—the Teferis, Force of Negations, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferers, and Esper Sentinels of the multiverse are simply too expensive. However, there is one way that we can play these cards and still keep to our budget: stealing our opponent's copies! And that's the goal of Dimir Thieves: use cards like Siphon Insight, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Thief of Sanity, Xanathar, Guild Kingpin, and more to steal our opponent's expensive cards and (hopefully) use them to beat our opponent. Can the plan work in a fast, powerful format like Modern? What's the most expensive card we can steal? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Dimir Tokens

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The Deck

Dimir Thieves is a somewhat controlling midrange deck looking to use a ton of theft cards (cards that, in one way or another, can steal the opponent's cards) to steal powerful threats and answers from our opponent's deck before using those cards to beat our opponent down and maybe even pick up a win!

Thief Cards

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The main reason we're playing Dimir Thieves is the printing of Siphon Insight in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. During spoiler season, I was a bit skeptical of Siphon Insight because stealing cards from our opponent's deck is inherently risky since our opponent's deck may or may not synergize with our deck, which makes the whiff potential somewhat high. But Siphon Insight ended up a lot better than I expected since right now, many constructed decks are built around generically powerful cards that are good in most decks. Furthermore, Siphon Insight is the perfect budget card because budget decks naturally have their power level somewhat capped by the budget. Sure, Teferi, Time Raveler or Force of Negation would be nice additions to our deck, but there's just no way we can play those cards (and many other format staples) while remaining under our $100 budget. Siphon Insight gives us access to the most powerful cards in the Modern format since we can steal them from our opponent's deck, at the low, low cost of $0.79 a copy!

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Backing up Siphon Insight are a ton of thieving creatures. In fact, every single creature in our deck allows us to steal our opponent's cards in one way or another. In the three-drop slot, we have two Specters in Thief of Sanity and Nightveil Specter. The two cards are pretty similar—when they deal combat damage to our opponent, we get to steal a card from the top of our opponent's deck—although each comes with a drawback and an upside. The downside of Thief of Sanity is that we can't use it to play lands, although it makes up for this by digging three cards deep in our opponent's deck to snag the best cards and also fixing our mana for the cards it steals. On the other hand, Nightveil Specter can steal lands, which is a nice upside, but because it was printed nearly a decade ago, it doesn't fix our mana for the cards it steals (it's our only theft card that doesn't), so we either need to hope that our opponent is playing blue and black cards that we can cast with our mana base or hope that we can use Nightveil Specter to steal some lands of the proper color before moving on to casting nonland cards.

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In the four-drop slot are Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Hostage Taker, which both steal our opponent's cards but in very different ways. Gonti, Lord of Luxury lets us grab the most beneficial card from the top four cards of our opponent's library, which means it usually should hit something good. Meanwhile, Hostage Taker can steal an artifact or creature from the battlefield, making it a weird removal spell with upside. 

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While our main plan for winning the game is using whatever cards we can steal from our opponent, we do sort of have a finisher in our deck as well in Xanathar, Guild Kingpin. We can play cards from the top of our opponent's library if we can get Xanathar on the battlefield and have it stick for a turn, which is actually super powerful. In general, the best way to play Xanathar, Guild Kingpin isn't to simply cast as many of our opponent's spells as possible but to play some cards and then try to leave our opponent with a useless card (most often a land) on the top of their deck, which is almost like making our opponent skip their next draw and, if our opponent is empty-handed, pretty close to making our opponent skip their turn. The biggest problem with Xanathar is that it's pretty expensive at six mana, so it's more of a late-game finisher than anything else. Yet, once we get it on the battlefield, we're pretty likely to win the game unless we're super far behind on board. 

Interaction

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The rest of Dimir Thieves is interaction. Fatal Push gives us some removal. Drown in the Loch can be removal or a counter, depending on what we need. And while we don't have many ways of filling our opponent's graveyard, it normally works out, between Thief of Sanity mills and opponents cracking fetch lands and casting cheap spells. Counterspell can stop anything on the stack. We've also got Inquisition of Kozilek for discard and a Turn 1 play and Cling to Dust for graveyard hate and incidental lifegain against aggressive decks.

The Mana

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The mana of Dimir Thieves is passable for a budget deck but not great. One thing I realized while building the deck is that there's a big price jump for Dimir dual lands between the lowest tier and the medium tier. Choked Estuary, Sunken Hollow, and Temple of Deceit are all super cheap, at $2–3 a playset. The next tier up, including cards like Drowned Catacomb and Clearwater Pathway, shoots up to $20–30 a playset. There isn't really much in between. Since $25 / playset is a huge chunk of our $100 budget for a playset of a land, we're getting by with the cheapest lands in the format. Things usually work out in games where we draw a couple of basic lands, although we do sometimes have games where we draw all tapped dual lands and get off to some really slow starts.

Wrap-Up

Overall, we went 2-3 with Dimir Thieves (and 2-4 when counting a rematch against Carth that we lost), which isn't the best record we've ever had on Budget Magic, although the deck is still really interesting and fun to play. In some matchups, the plan worked to perfection. We were able to beat Living End by stealing our opponent's Force of Negations to counter Living End itself, and against Carth Friends, we managed to snag the combo of Carth the Lion and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper to repeatedly answer the 9/9 our opponent was getting for free each turn thanks to a Kiora emblem. Even when we lost, the deck still did some cool things and put up a fight, taking Esper Control, Mono-Red, and Tron to three games almost exclusively based on the cards we were snagging from our opponent's deck. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, there really aren't many that don't increase the budget. If you have better dual lands (anything from Polluted Delta to Watery Grave to Drowned Catacomb to Clearwater Pathway), adding them to the deck over the current duals (starting with Temple of Deceit and Choked Estuary) will improve the deck, although I probably wouldn't run out and spend hundreds of dollars on lands just to upgrade Dimir Thieves. Otherwise, I think the deck is about as good as it can be while sticking to a $100 budget.

So, should you play Dimir Thieves in Modern? I think the answer is yes, but just because it's fun. I'd rank the deck as average to below average for a budget deck in terms of how good it is a winning games but above average in terms of how much fun it is to play. There's something special about winning with the opponent's cards, and the deck does that really well; it's just high variance (in some matchups, the opponent doesn't have many generically good cards to steal, which makes things tough). Either way, I find the play style super fun and unique, and if you're looking for a way to annoy your friends or LGS at an FNM, Dimir Thieves is the perfect option to break out once in a while for fun.

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Getting Dimir Thieves down near our $50 ultra-budget price range is tricky, mostly because the deck doesn't have any super expensive cards but has a bunch of cards worth a couple of dollars, which means it takes a ton of changes to lower the price. I'm not going to go through them all here, but you'll notice that we mostly downgrade our interactive spells, with things like Fatal Push becoming Bloodchief's Thirst, Inquisition of Kozilek turning into Duress, Counterspell becoming Mana Leak, and so on. The deck should play the same—we didn't have to cut any of our Thief cards other than one copy of Xanathar, Guild Kingpin—but be a bit less powerful than the one from the video thanks to the downgrades among our support cards.

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The non-budget build is essentially the ultra-budget build in reverse: we keep the same theft cards but upgrade the mana base and utility spells, with Inquisition of Kozilek becoming Thoughtseize, a fetch land–for–shock land mana base better supporting Fatal Push and a small white splash for Prismatic Ending in the sideboard as a catch-all removal spell. Again, the deck should play very much like the build from the video but have a bit more power, thanks to the upgraded support cards and much-less-clunky mana.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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