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Playing Pauper: Dimir Handlock

Welcome to an awesome week of Playing Pauper! This week I'm playing a control deck so the games are longer, the decisions are more plentiful, and our opponents' dreams are just a little more crushed (for the matches that we win, at least).

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Dimir Handlock Intro


Dimir Handlock vs Temur Tron


Dimir Handlock vs Temur Tron


Dimir Handlock vs Izzet Blitz


Dimir Handlock vs Izzet Control


Dimir Handlock vs Mono White Soldiers

The Deck

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The creatures in this deck are all card-advantage based and all work well with Ghostly Flicker

Chittering Rats + Archaeomancer + Ghostly Flicker can even lock an opponent out of the game by putting their card pack on top of their deck during their draw step before they get a chance to use it. If it's an instant and they can cast it, you simply try again with their next draw step. When it works, it means your opponent can't cast spells for the rest of the game. This combo isn't needed to win, but it does pop up from time to time.

The singleton Unearth is one of the weirder cards in the deck, but it can be very efficient to replay a Chittering Rats or Sea Gate Oracle for just one mana, and for that it makes the cut.

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These black removal spells make up the backbone of the deck, allowing us to control our opponent's side of the board so that we can survive and make use of the deck's countermagic and card draw. 

Having one Echoing Decay in the main deck is a concession toward the prevalence of white token decks in the current metagame.

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Counterspell and Exclude are efficient ways to trade with opposing spells such as Mulldrifter that you can't simply Doom Blade.

Preordain helps filter through our deck and find what we need. It's an essential part of the deck's ability to function given that it has so many 1-ofs and 2-ofs that would otherwise be harder to find.

The one-of Reaping the Graves helps refill our hand with threats in matches where all of our creatures get traded off, and we run out of ways to win the game.

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In addition to Islands and Swamps, these lands round out the manabase, providing lifegain and card advantage to help in aggressive and controlling matchups alike.

The Sideboard

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Dispel and Hydroblast offer additional counterspells against specific types of decks.

A single Relic of Progenitus can keep a graveyard deck unable to function properly for an entire game.

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Nausea is boarded in against token decks and sometimes against Mono Blue Delver and Elves.

Stormbound Geist and Deep Analysis are for the controlling matchups when we need more pressure and card advantage effects. After playing a bit with the deck, my guess is that Deep Analysis is one of the less-used and weaker sideboard cards, and I'd be interested in trying an Evincar's Justice and/or Reaping the Graves in the slot.


Dimir Handlock is a fun deck for fans of control, and between the removal, card advantage, and efficient blockers, it's hard to find decks that are very good against it. It is probably worst against Burn and Tron, two decks that force Dimir Handlock to try to win quickly since they can win without attacking and thus force Handlock to accumulate a hand full of countermagic or race and win very quickly (which the deck struggles to do). 

Thanks for watching! Be sure to let me know in the comments what decks you want me to play next and see the details below for how to submit a specific decklist to me. Until next time, keep playing pauper!


Viewer submissions are open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Decks created from viewer challenges (e.g. build a deck around Horned Kavu)
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Aether Revolt)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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