Last updated on March 9, 2023
The Scarab God | Illustration by Lius Lasahido
Picking a commander can be tricky. You need to figure out what kind of strategy you want to play, how expensive and powerful you want your deck to be, and even what colors you want to play in the first place.
Today I’d like to showcase the Ravnica guild of Dimir (), talk briefly about why it’s such a great color combination to play, rank the top commanders, and even go over a sample Satoru Umezawa decklist that’s so good you’ll want to buy it off TCGPlayer immediately.
Let’s get into it!
Why Go with a Dimir Commander?
Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow | Illustration by Yongjae Choi
Dimir is a guild all about theft, betrayal, sacrifice, and generally spooky things. It combines all the best things about blue and black and makes one nice sneaky soup out of them both.
You have counterspells, kill spells, sacrifice outlets, copy effects, mill strategies, and Zombies all under one roof. Regardless of whether you like creature-based commanders, control ones, or not letting your opponents play with their cards, you’ve found the right colors.
#21. Narfi, Betrayer King
Starting off today’s rankings is Narfi, Betrayer King, a Zombie tribal commander that loves the snow. Narfi is a simple zombie lord that can come back from the graveyard for just three snow mana. Build your deck correctly (read: use snow basics) and you’ll always have a nice bonus to your Zombie army.
Narfi doesn’t do too much when it comes to actually influencing the board despite being a strong creature overall. It’s a nice commander and Zombie creature in general but it’s no Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver.
#20. Etrata, the Silencer
Etrata, the Silencer is a 3/5 unblockable vampire assassin that exiles your opponent’s creatures with “hit” counters. If anyone has three cards with hit counters they lose.
You’ll naturally be able to support a ninjutsu theme since the whole idea with Etrata is to connect with your creature three times. Etrata is kind of a side quest in this case. You don’t need a lot to support it since it’s already unblockable and Dimir doesn’t have extra combat steps built in like Gruul (). Just throw in Fallen Shinobi and some cheap unblockable creatures and call it a day.
#19. Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker
In the #19 spot is Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker. This is the first (but not the last) mill commander to appear on today’s rankings. Mirko Vosk is a 2/4 flying vampire that mills the top of your opponent’s library until they mill four lands whenever it deals combat damage to them.
This commander helps mill decks win because it consistently mills for six to eight cards per combat. That can start to add up but is kind of ironic when you realize you’ll win from commander damage before milling alone. In a multiplayer pod you’re going to have to mill over 200 cards on average which makes this is a welcome ability to have.
#18. Kels, Fight Fixer
In the #18 spot is Kels, Fight Fixer, a 4/3 azra warlock with menace that gives you the ability to sacrifice creatures and draw cards whenever you do. This is a classic aristocrats commander, and you love to see that in black.
Blue isn’t anything close to the color of sacrifice but its proactive removal and card advantage helps support black and its quest to kill its own creatures. But there are some synergistic cards that help feed the machine.
Nadir Kraken lets you make a 1/1 whenever you draw a card, which works perfectly with your commander’s ability. Chasm Skulker does a similar job but all at once. And Reef Worm consistently replaces itself when it dies which can help create sacrifice chains and draw a lot of cards in a single turn.
#17. Sygg, River Cutthroat
It wouldn’t be a Dimir commanders list without an appearance from Sygg, River Cutthroat. But don’t get too excited about that Merfolk creature type.
Sygg is actually much better suited as a rogue tribal commander. Not only because rogues are a much more powerful and widely supported tribe in black, but also because rogues are great ways to deal combat damage and trigger its ability and draw you a card.
#16. Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth
Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth is another sacrifice commander. Eloise creates a Clue token whenever one of your creatures dies and also lets you surveil whenever a token you control is sacrificed. This gives you so much value from sacrificing your creatures that it feels like you’re getting away with something you shouldn’t be.
Sacrifice is as strong as it is because of the added value you get from so many sacrifice triggers. A single Viscera Seer trigger isn’t much to be happy about but it quickly becomes too much for your opponents to handle when you draw a card, make a Clue token, deal a bunch of damage, and gain life.
#15. Lazav, the Multifarious
In the #16 spot is the first but not last appearance of Lazav, this time as Lazav, the Multifarious. This (slightly worse) Multifarious version of Lazav surveils for one when it enters and can become a copy of cards for X, where X is the creature’s mana cost. Having to pay mana to become the copy isn’t great but it does give some more options as to what you want Lazav to turn into and when.
Mill is the ultimate strategy for this commander. It gives you a consistent and diverse creature base to copy on top of options on how to interact with your opponents. Being able to shapeshift at instant speed is really good as long as you can afford it. But not having the mana to become a copy can really hurt you and set you behind.
#14. Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
Following Multifarious is the stronger version, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind. This Lazav copies cards that enter the graveyard, which makes for a great mill commander. Milling isn’t a strategy that puts any pressure on your opponents other than giving them a clock, so being able to make use of things you force others to throw stuff away is a great way to actually do something.
There are some great mill cards in Commander, which is why it’s one of my favorite casual strategies in the format. Whispering Madness gets rid of a ridiculous number of cards if you’re able to get multiple attacks with the creature it’s ciphered onto. Maddening Cacophony is also a notable card that gets better if you’re able to copy it. Half the deck is no joke in Commander and you’ll want to cast it as much as possible.
#13. Gyruda, Doom of Depths
In the #13 spot is Gyruda, Doom of Depths. This demon kraken commander loves taking cards from graveyards and is a great choice to be the commander for a clone deck. There are lots of ways to clones cards in Magic since it’s actually a pretty common mechanic.
Phyrexian Metamorph is a great example, as is Rite of Replication. Cards like Panharmonicon and Deadeye Navigator can help keep the engine running and copy the newest and most powerful creature. The only downside to a cloning strategy (and why it’s lower on the list) is that it relies on good targets to clone in the first place. You’re not guaranteed to see anything worth taking, especially if you don’t draw any of your own bombs.
#12. Umbris, Fear Manifest
Umbris, Fear Manifest is up next as one of the stronger “exile” commanders in Dimir. Umbris has a huge wall of text, but all it does is exile the top card whenever it or something else enters the battlefield and it gains +1/+1 for each card your opponents have in exile. Pretty simple, yet powerful stuff.
Exile is where Dimir really shines. Some of the most iconic exile cards are in black, like the various Ashiok planeswalkers, Leyline of the Void, and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, all of which are auto-includes. There are also some great midrange creatures like Dauthi Voidwalker and Circu, Dimir Lobotomist to keep in mind.
#11. Gisa and Geralf
Next up in the #11 spot is Gisa and Geralf, a Zombie tribal commander that mills you but then lets you cast a zombie creature from your graveyard each turn. Zombies basically never mind being thrown into the graveyard. So many black and blue zombie cards either reanimate them, do things when they get there, or get stronger every time it happens. Milling cards in Dimir can often be almost as good as drawing them when played right.
While Gisa and Geralf lets you play cards from the graveyard you don’t want to go heavy into a self-mill strategy. Instead you’d rather use your commander’s ability as a nice tool to continuously apply pressure. It’s far more worth it to have this commander be a reanimation engine after cards like Tomb Tyrant sacrifice your other cards than it is to try to mill yourself only to play one card a turn from it.
#10. Xanathar, Guild Kingpin
In the #10 spot is the infamous Xanathar, Guild Kingpin. This creature absolutely tore up Forgotten Realms Drafts and it’s here to do the same thing to your local game store’s Commander night. Xanathar can do a wide variety of strategies decently well just like a lot of other commanders, but its main ability allows you to lock opponents out, which is as powerful for you as it is annoying for them.
A general theft theme is always fun, and it’s what I’d recommend running if you’re interested in the Guild Kingpin. Cards like Diluvian Primordial, Wandering Archaic, and Opposition Agent let your opponents play the game for you. Why build a deck when you can use somebody else’s, right?
#9. Oona, Queen of the Fae
In the #9 spot is Oona, Queen of the Fae, an excellent faerie commander that exiles cards off the top of your opponents’ library while making you 1/1 Faerie tokens. Faeries is a tribe that very much finds strength in numbers. Lowly 1/1 fliers aren’t much to write home about when you need to do 40 damage to kill somebody.
Faeries gets its strength through various lord cards like Scion of Oona and Glen Elendra Liege. These keep your wide armies powerful and work wonders when it comes to damage. A lot of faerie creatures also have flash and other abilities that make them great tempo creatures. Some of the best are Spellstutter Sprite, Glen Elendra Archmage, and Nymris, Oona’s Trickster.
#8. Phenax, God of Deception
Phenax, God of Deception from the original Theros block is up next in the #8 spot. Phenax is a powerful mill commander that gives all your creatures the ability to tap and mill a player for X, where X is that creature’s toughness. Mill is (again) one of my favorite casual strategies, so I’ve always been a big Phenax fan.
Since Phenax’ mill ability works off toughness you can do a semi-mill, semi-toughness theme to give you some extra synergy and power. Mill can be a difficult strategy to pull off when you’re taking on three opponents and the toughness aspect helps fortify you while giving you more things to do. Wall creatures shine bright here since they work well with both sides of the coin. They defend you through your opponents turn and keep the option to use the mill ability on the end step before your turn.
#7. Toxrill, the Corrosive
In the #7 spot is Toxrill, the Corrosive, a 7/7 slug horror (ew) that gives -1/-1 counters to creatures you don’t control on your end step. You also get to draw a card when those creatures die. Toxrill has an ability that costs that lets you sacrifice a poor Slug to draw a card.
Toxrill is a pretty versatile card that can do a lot of strategies well. Infect can be effective since Toxrill will keep your opponents’ blockers down and offer some much needed card advantage. An aristocrats theme where you’re using your Slug tokens as cannon fodder for your sacrifice outlets could also work.
#6. Araumi of the Dead Tide
Next up is Araumi of the Dead Tide, a 1/4 merfolk wizard that makes copies of creatures in your graveyard based on the number of opponents you have. This is very clearly a self-mill commander and you want to build the deck with that in mind.
In the ideal scenario you’ll mill some huge creatures like Blightsteel Colossus or Rune-Scarred Demon and then be content to make three copies of them. One Colossus is already hard enough to get rid of, let alone three. Somebody is dying that turn if you pull that off and manage to resolve all three copies.
#5. Satoru Umezawa
In the #5 spot is Satoru Umezawa, a commander from Neon Dynasty that gives all creatures in your hand ninjitsu for . That’s an awesome ability and it gets pretty out of hand when you start cheating Sheoldred, Whispering One in on turn 4. Hint: that’s the whole idea!
Since the whole plan with Satoru is to cheat out huge creatures with ninjitsu you want to include plenty of cheap and hard-to-block creatures. Faerie Seer, Siren Stormtamer, and Gingerbrute are all pretty good at this. You can just ninjitsu out some game-ending bombs and hope for the best Once you have that set up and your commander in play. Sheoldred, Whispering One and Rune-Scarred Demon are some of my favorites, but you can pretty much drop whatever pet Eldrazi or Demon you want and call it a day.
#4. Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver
Up next is the Dimir precon commander Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver. This commander took Dimir by storm when it was released in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Commander. Wilhelt creates a 2/2 zombie with decayed whenever one of your non-decayed zombie dies, which is perfect. Zombie tribal decks love throwing their creatures into the meat grinder. Even Wilhelt sacrifices its army to draw you cards.
One of the most powerful spells you can include in any Zombie tribal deck is Rooftop Storm. It literally makes all your Zombie creatures free which is good for smaller creatures like Cryptbreaker but absolutely amazing for top-end cards like Sidisi, Undead Vizier. Oh, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel is apparently a Zombie but I’d include this no matter what because it’s just too good to pass on.
#3. Anowon, the Ruin Thief
In the #3 spot is Anowon, the Ruin Thief, which is by far the best rogue tribal commander in all of Magic. Anowon is a 2/4 vampire rogue that gives all other rogues +1/+1. Anowon also mills your opponents whenever they take damage equal to the damage they took, then draws you a card if a creature card is milled this way. That’s pretty powerful and helps keep your hand full while hopefully carrying out a pre-emptive strike on your opponents’ board wipes.
But the Ruin Thief isn’t the only amazing rogue. Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire is a Vampiric Tutor on a stick and Lazav, Dimir Mastermind can help keep your powerful threats up and running.
#2. The Scarab God
The Scarab God has earned the #2 spot today. This god is a 5/5 creature that drains each opponent for X and lets you scry X, where X is the number of zombies you control. It also has an activated ability for that exiles a creature card from any graveyard to make a token copy of it as a 4/4 black Zombie. This just screams zombie tribal.
If you like the idea of playing zombie tribal, you’re in luck as it is by far the most supported and strongest tribe in Dimir. Cards like Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver, Rooftop Storm, and Necroduality are all auto-includes that completely take over the games they’re in.
#1. Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow
In the #1 spot is, as you may have guessed, Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow. This commander has taken over casual Commander pods while also seeing some play in the budget cEDH realm. Yuriko has an ability that deals damage to all of your opponents equal to the mana value of the top card of your deck whenever a ninja you control deals combat damage to a player. This effect gets really crazy really fast, especially when you fill your deck with cheap ninjas and high-cost spells to blow up the table.
As for the small ninjas, there are a lot. Changeling Outcast, Skullsnatcher, Mistblade Shinobi, and Throat Slitter are all ninja creatures that can trigger the Tiger’s Shadow’s ability. You’ll have a lot of ninjutsu triggers to activate since the deck should have plenty of ninjas on top of your commander. This makes small unblockable non-Ninja creatures valuable, giving cards like Ornithopter, Triton Shorestalker, and Mist-Cloaked Herald a spot on the list.
After that just throw in a bunch of ridiculously expensive spells that will hopefully be revealed by Yuriko’s ability. My favorites are Temporal Mastery, Sea Gate Restoration, and Devastation Tide. Oh, and don’t forget Sensei’s Divining Top to help stack your deck to get the best triggers possible from Yuriko!
Decklist: Satoru Umezawa in EDH
Satoru Umezawa | Illustration by Anna Pavleeva
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Nashi, Moon Sage’s Scion
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Thassa, God of the Sea
Toxrill, the Corrosive
It That Betrays
Higure, the Still Wind
Sakashima of a Thousand Faces
Razaketh, the Foulblooded
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Emrakul, the Promised End
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Force of Negation
Force of Will
Feed the Swarm
Show and Tell
Sea Gate Restoration
Sensei’s Divining Top
Snow-Covered Swamp x4
River of Tears
Snow-Covered Island x5
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Satoru Umezawa is one of my favorite commanders in Dimir. It holds explosive power on par with Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow and brings a unique style of deckbuilding and gameplay that’s as refreshing as it is powerful. That’s why I’ve chosen to feature a Satoru deck here for you today.
Your commander gives all the creatures in your hand ninjitsu for , which works perfectly on curve with its mana cost. To make sure you use this as much as possible the majority of the deck is creatures that are either cheap unblockable attackers or huge bombs that wreak havoc when ninjutsu’d in.
For the first half you have access to cards like Wingcrafter, Tormented Soul, Spectral Sailor, Triton Shorestalker, Gingerbrute, and some others. Having so many cheap creatures gives you an incredibly high chance to have one ready to go when the time comes, which is the most important thing with this commander.
Now for the fun part. This deck is filled with powerful creatures like Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, the Eldrazi family, and Fallen Shinobi. Successfully ninjutsu’ing even one of these on turn 3 or 4 will generate a massive lead. Plus it’s just a super fun deck overall.
Anowon, the Ruin Thief | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
That wraps up everything I’ve got for you today! Dimir is one of my favorite color combos in all of Magic. I just love the playstyle of stealing things, drawing cards, and countering spells. What’s not to love?
What did you think of the rankings and decklist? Are there any changes you’d make to either? Were there any commanders you wish I would’ve included, or possibly excluded? Let me know in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
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