Pauper Dimir Prison: Win Games, Lose Friends

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Typically, in Magic, a deck is either interactive, or it is not. The former begets a fun environment where you and your fellow mages battle for supremacy, trading spells back and forth until only one is left standing victorious. The latter implies some variety of 1-turn combo-kill, stalled out board-states, or forced scoop by your opponent, leaving only one player smiling at the end. In this updated version of a Dimir Prison Lock, that player will likely be you. Get used to a lonely, friendless existence. But hey... at least you'll have fun.

For those of you unfamiliar with this archetype, taxing and denial effects are a popular, quietly powerful way to deny your opponent of their resources, whether through taxing effects, pressuring them to make decisions that will result in the loss of life, or direct removal of their board pieces. Put together a wonderful, synergistic combination of all three of these strategies, and you've got Prison Lock.

This is a temperamental list that, when the chips aren't on your side, can leave you with little to nothing to do but watch your life total dwindle to zero. However, when the going is well - which is more often than not - this deck's ability to completely shut down your foe is an exhilarating ride. Not to mention the fact that there is a near-zero chance of you ever running into a mirror-match. It'll be a blender to your local meta, as well as online. Dimir Prison makes no friends and doesn't ever suggest the opposite. Don't let anyone tell you this is a jank list that requires no skill or strategy to pilot. Do expect, however, plenty of rage-scoops and angry eyerolls. If you've got thick skin, I highly recommend this deck.

dimir prison lock

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As you can likely see, this deck starts firing with disruption and denial right off the bat. With a Paralyze or two in your opening hand, you should be able to stop any turn-one threat they are able to put in front of you. After that, you can start locking away their lands to Contaminated Ground, and Psychic Venoms. For some reason, if your opponent is able to stable a board full of creatures, a playset of Vapor Snag, or a boarded in Fade Away will handily take care of them as well as bring their controller closer to zero. The beautiful synergy here is that once a creature is bounced back to their hand, it's nearly impossible for it to be cast again thanks to the sudden bevy of Swamps under your opponent's control. This is extremely powerful versus mono-colored decks. I mean, what is Burn going to do with 4 Swamps?

I simply love Rhystic Study in this deck because not only does this deck already punish your opponent for using their lands, but it also draws you a fresh card unless they pay 1 generic mana which, in turn, punishes them even more. If you're budget conscious, like me, I think you can replace Rhystic Study with Mystic Remora for 25% the cost.

I love sideboarding in Organ Grinder versus any and every Tron list as ways of inflicting non-combat damage are paramount to victory while that strategy has ways of fogging or directly locking you out of your combat phase.

There's not many opening hands that you'll want to mulligan away, mainly due to the fact that all of the enchantments are cheap to cast and will target something your opponent has on the first turn: lands and/or creatures. Failing either of those two hitting the battlefield, there is a full playset of Tryant's Choice to start chipping away at their life total. That's extremely unlikely, though, as I've never seen an opponent not play at least a land on turn one. From there, you're off and running... well... jogging... eh, sort of sauntering because this deck can be slow, at time. Effective but slow.

This deck was already somewhat of an annoyance before Theros: Beyond Death released, but now, with Thirst for Meaning, you'll have so much late-game gas that slowing down shouldn't be too much of an issue. This is one of the few decks I've seen that can take advantage of the Instant-speed, draw-three spell, and not have it be a hinderance. With 19+ enchantments at your disposal, pitching one of them to keep three fresh cards in your hand seems powerful. Scratch that... it is powerful.

As always, thanks for reading and leave some comments with your suggestions. Thanks!

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